What made you choose adoption?
Tim and I have been trying for years to have children. We have had 4 unsuccessful pregnancies that were very painful and emotional. We had always talked about adoption even before we found out about our infertility issues. Some of you may not know, but Tim was also adopted from Korea and raised by an American family. I was so moved by the stories and experiences Tim's adoptive mother talked about, that it ignited the same passion in me.
As i said, Tim was adopted from Korea, so we thought it would be a great option for us too as our child would have a bond with Tim that i won't have and it will be special. We almost didn't get to adopt from Korea due to age limits on adoptive parents. The cut-off age was 43 and Tim just turned 43. But they recently raised the age to 45, so we instantly jumped on it so we didn't miss out. Other than that, we have heard such great things about the way Korea handles adoption and how they place almost all children into a foster family and not in orphanages. This helps the child to bond with a mother and also allows the one on one attention that a child needs. They also keep amazing records of medical check-ups and family background (if available). We just knew Korea was a fit for us :)
How long does the process take?
The process is different for every case and every family. There are so many variables involved. It all depends on the following:
- If you want a boy or a girl (or both)
- How old the child has to be
- If you are willing to take on a child with minor to severe special needs
- How quickly you fill out paperwork, get fingerprints, doctor's visits, police records, etc...
- Which agency you go with
- How many visas are available at the agency you pick
- Korean government rules and pace
- American immigration pace
and so much more!!!
How much does it cost?
I get this question a lot, and though it is no-one's business how much we paid, i can understand the desire to know. Each country has different rules and fees for adopting their children out. It is sometimes based on your income as well (Kind of like a YMCA membership). There is also a difference between adopting from America and adopting internationally. It is much more expensive outside of the country you reside for obvious reasons. You are dealing with immigration and government of that other country to make your baby an American citizen. Most people feel that you shouldn't have to buy a baby when they so desperately need a home. Let me just explain how this works. Every penny you spend goes towards services rendered. These are non-profit organizations and the money spent goes toward the baby's care, the legal fees, immigration form fees, homestudy fees, etc...There isn't some guy in a back room rolling in a mound of money he just made by selling a child illegally. It is a very legal process that requires background checks on us, on the agencies, and the parents of the child. Everything has to go through the courts of both countries. So with that said, it can range from $20,000 to $32,000 to adopt a child internationally.
Do you get to pick your child?
I will admit that i went into this process a little ignorant and thought that you got to select a child from several pictures and profiles. But I was quickly and justifiably corrected on this issue. You see, the way they see it is "how badly do you want a child?". You don't get a line up of mugshots so you can pick the cutest one like they do in the movies. Each child is worthy of a home and parents who love them and care for them as their own child. To a certain extent you get to define what you will and won't accept medically, their age and whether you want a girl or a boy or siblings etc...But you're matched with a child that meets your request. If you choose to pass on a child, it is usually because they have more medical concerns than you are ready to take on. We fell in love with our son the minute we saw his picture. He had some minor medical concerns, but nothing we couldn't deal with.
Will you go over to Korea to get your baby?
YES. Once we get THE CALL, we will likely have a couple of days to book plane tickets and hotel and then leave immediately. It is a long wait up until this point and then it's crazy fast. They usually call you on a Thursday, and you are on a plane Monday to Korea. We will take a day to settle in. The next day you go to the agency to meet your baby and his foster mother for the first time. It is a very emotional time for us. This usually lasts about an hour to an hour and a half. Over the next day or so, you take your baby to the doctor in Korea to have a final check-up, sign a bunch of paperwork, visit sites, shop, and then the dreaded and beautiful handing over of our son. I say dreaded because the foster mother knows this is it for her. All the months she has spent raising your baby, getting up in the middle of the night, feeding, bathing, laughing, reading, singing, playing is all over and now she has to abruptly say goodbye to her pseudo son. And our son has to go through the whole, "who are you, why are you taking me away from my mother, where are we going" panic. Between the foster mother crying, the baby crying, and us crying, it is a bitter sweet moment. I know i will ache for the sweet foster mother's heart and my precious son's heart too. For a while we will be the bad guys in his eyes, and we are fully expecting that. But babies adjust fairly quickly and this will pass. He will soon come to know that we are not going anywhere and he has a forever family now.
Is your baby in an orphanage or with a foster family?
As stated above, all Korean adoptees are placed into foster homes.
When do you get to bring him home?
This is a complicated question to answer but i will try my best. There are 4 main agencies that handle adoption in South Korea. Each agency is allotted a certain number of visas per year that allow the babies to travel overseas. For instance, one agency might be allotted 1,600 visas. If there are 3,000 families waiting to bring their babies home, then only 1,600 will get to that year. It is now November and we are told that the visas have likely run out and we are looking at January 2011 when the new batch of visas are allotted. It also depends on when U.S. immigration approves his travel permit into the U.S. as well. So it is a juggling act and you never know when you will get THE CALL.
When do you officially become the parents?
Our son will remain under the legal guardianship of us from the moment we sign the papers in Korea. But he will not officially be our son until about 6 months after we bring him home. The caseworker has to do what are called "post-placement" visits to ensure that the child is adjusting and is in a safe environment. They have to do 3 separate visits over a 6 month period. They then submit their findings and we will go to court to make it official.
How will the baby adjust to the new environment?
Once our son is home, he will go through some major abandonment and attachment anxiety. For this reason, it is highly suggested that only Tim and I hold him for the first month so he can determine who his parents are. Once he knows and feels comfortable, we can start allowing others to hold him. Most babies take anywhere from 2 - 4 weeks to adjust, but usually feel right at home after that.
Will you tell your baby he is adopted?
I think this will be a given. He's going to figure it out on his own :) But we fully intend to be open about it. He is going to be subjected to comments made to me in his presence and we want him to feel confident and assured that he is loved and chosen by God to be our son. If he asks us questions, we will answer them in an age appropriate way. We ask that our friends and family don't take liberty in telling him things about his birth family and background, as this is our job and in our timing. Most people mean well, but don't understand the sensitivity of timing and detail. We want him to have as much information as he wants and when he is 18 and decides whether he wants to look for his birth family, we will support him in that.
If there are more questions you have that are not addressed here, let me know and i will add them and answer them as best i can :)