Saturday, July 12, 2008

The first steps of our adoption journey…

…began about 7 to 8 years ago. Mary and I had been married about 2 years and hadn’t had any success in having a child. One morning in the newspaper, there was an ad for an upcoming adoption seminar being held at a local church. An adoption agency called Living Hope was putting the seminar on and their President was doing the presentation. We decided to go and check this out. Dr. Fang of Living Hope detailed the process of adopting a child from China. While we were interested, we still weren’t ready to give up having a child on our own. We kept the adoption option in the back of our minds.

Fast forward up to 2001…we found out we were pregnant with Katie. Katie was born in February of 2002 and has brought joy in our lives ever since.

Having just one child isn’t enough. Mary and I both believe that it would be good for Katie to grow up with a sibling. Plus, we know there is more love in our hearts to give…so, off we go.
Now most people would be asking at about this point “Well, why don’t’ you just have another biological child?”. Katie was born with Down syndrome and we felt like the chances of having a second child with DS were a little more than we wanted to brave. So, adoption came to the forefront of our thoughts again.

By early 2007 we were once again getting geared up “mentally” to explore adoption. We had contacted Living Hope once again, attended another one of their information seminars and this time walked away with an application for their program. We were ready to begin the adoption journey to getting our little boy from China. We filled out the application, wrote the initial check and mailed it off to Living Hope around summer of 2007. We were quickly accepted into the program.

Of course for those of you who know us, you know that life around here is, well, NUTS. Between our home life, Katie starting Kindergarten, raising a child with Down syndrome, Greg’s career, the work we do for FRIENDS ( , keeping up with our families, etc, etc, etc…, things were slow going initially. Then around the end of 2007 / early 2008 we got serious. Time to get this ball rolling…Time to adopt from China.

Now for those of you keeping score at home you’re wondering “wait…I thought they were adopting from Russia?!?”. Keep your shirts on…I’m getting to that.

We contacted Adoption Consultants of Tennessee and started our home study. At the same time we started gathering the paperwork required by Living Hope and the country of China for the adoption. The paperwork can be almost overwhelming. We’ve heard the expression many times, from many people, “The hardest part of adopting internationally is all the paperwork”. They aren’t kidding…

During our first interview for the home study, we were asked “Why China?”. We explained our initially meetings with Living Hope and the seminars we had been to. We had prepared ourselves for adopting from China. We knew that adopting a little boy from China wasn’t going to be quick. The Chinese value a male heir in the families more than females, thus there are more girls in Chinese orphanages. But, there are boys, and we were convinced that one was destine to be our son.

Sharon, our home study advisor, proceeded to inform us that adopting from China is taking longer and longer. We were told by Living Hope in 2007 that the current wait times for adopting a boy from China was 12-18 months. Sharon informed us that it was closer to 24-36 months. 3 YEARS. Wow…that’s too long to wait…right? Why the big change? At one point in the late 1990s, early 2000s, adoptions from China were taking 3-6 months. Well, times are changing in China. First, with China holding the Olympics this year, they have been working on improving their international image for the past few years. With China being squarely in the international lime-light for the next few months, they don’t want anything reflect poorly on them, and being seen as the “one stop shop for adopting a child internationally” doesn’t reflect an image they want the world to have of them. Second, China has had more than their fair share of natural disasters in the past few years, leaving many families without children. As a result, more and more children are being adopted internally within China than ever before. Plus, China is now beginning to relax their “One Child per Family” stance on family planning.

So, China seemed to be out of the picture…so now what? Sharon recommended we check out Catholic Social Services (CSS), based in Asheville, NC. They have an international adoption group which facilitates adoptions from Russia. Sharon explained that CSS has an excellent reputation and a very active Yahoo support group of families in the process of adopting or have adopted through CSS.

So, after checking CSS out, visiting their offices in Asheville, talking to other families in our region that have adopted through them and even attending their annual picnic, we’ve changed to adopting from Russia through CSS. Going this route allows us to adopt our son, perhaps, if the paperwork shuffle doesn’t kill us, by the end of 2008. That’s right…by Christmas 2008 we could be home with our son from Russia.

1 comment:

beth_starkey said...

What a journey. It certainly shows your willingness to do God's will, and to follow His lead...
I can't wait to meet Daniel, and I know Katie will be a great big sister!