Thursday, January 3, 2013

Looking Beyond Russia For Adoptions To Older Children

As this author writes, many countries have imposed increasingly
stricter adoption regulations. Adoptive parents should consider
Ukraine and older children for adoptions.

Would-be adoptive parents look beyond Russia

December 31, 2012


Russia's new ban on US adoptions is the latest setback for
hopeful American parents as countries increasingly impose
restrictions. Other countries, including China and Guatemala,
have erected hurdles for adoptive families as they create their
own domestic adoption programs. The signing of the Hague
Convention on adoption in 2008 drastically improved regulation of
the process, which had been rife with corruption.But it has also
led to a slowdown in adoptions or shutdowns in some countries.
Internal politics and abuse concerns are additional reasons why
countries have tightened controls. In 2004, US citizens adopted
22,991 children who had been born abroad, an all-time high,
according to Adoptive Families magazine. By 2011, that number had
fallen to 9,319.There are still other options for Americans
wanting to adopt an international child. Bulgaria, Colombia and
many African nations are some of the new, go-to countries for US
adoptions.But even that's not a sure thing. For would-be adoptive
parents the best bet is to widen their search to include special
needs kids, sibling groups and older children.AFRICA'S ADOPTION
EXPLOSIONAfrica, which represented 22 percent of adoptions in
2009, is expected to be a bigger player in the future. "A decade
ago, there were very few adoptions (in Africa)," according to
Susan Soonkeum Cox, vice president policy and external affairs at
Holt International, a Christian adoption organisation. "Now,
there's an explosion."African countries seeing an increase in
adoptions include South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Ghana, Kenya and Ivory Coast. Adoptions in Ethiopia,
meanwhile, have declined from a peak of 2,511 in 2010 as the
country overhauled its oversight process. But it is still a
viable option, Cox said.Cox advises working with an adoption
agency that has staff on the ground in Africa and other countries
to handle paperwork and advocate for US families.Other countries
that still welcome American adoptions include Bulgaria and
Colombia, said Megan Montgomery, international adoption
co-ordinator for Adoption Star, based in Amherst, New York.
Adoption Star primarily deals with adoptions from Bulgaria, a
country that has gone from five placements in 2008 to 75
adoptions in 2011. Placements from Vietnam and Cambodia, which
shuttered their US adoption programs, should resume soon,
adoption experts say.FAMILIES CAN'T FLIP A SWITCHAdoptions of
Russian children peaked in 2004, according to Dale Eldridge,
co-ordinator of adoptive services at Jewish Family Services'
Adoption Choices, a non-profit adoption program based in
Framingham, Massachusetts. Right now, fewer than 50 US adoptions
of Russian children are formally in the works while another 250
US families have identified kids they would like to adopt,
adoption experts said.Unfortunately, families that already have
started an adoption in Russia can't just flip a switch and
redirect their efforts to another country. "I wish it was as
simple as taking some families who have been waiting (for Russian
children) to just move over to another country," said David Nish,
chief program officer at Spence-Chapin, a US-based adoption
agency that finds homes for children in the United States and
around the world. "But it's a whole other process."That's because
every country has its own eligibility requirements. Criteria can
include parents' marital status, age of the parents, employment,
financial status, medical issues, and even the age difference
between the adoptive parents and adoptee child. The adoption
process remains restrictive for single-sex couples.And the cost
can be prohibitive. For example, the median fee in 2011 was
$8,000 for the Dominican Republic, $15,355 in Panama and $26,063
in South Africa, according to the US State Department's
Intercountry Adoption Annual Report. Adoption fees for many of
the 30-plus countries on the State Department's list are in the
range of $20,000. That's not including travel costs.Even so,
international adoptions are often cheaper than domestic ones for
new-born babies, which can cost $40,000 or more.OLDER CHILDRENTo
speed up the process, would-be adoptive parents should consider a
school-age child, experts say.According to the State Department,
233,934 international adoptions were made by Americans from 1999
to 2011. Nearly 94,000 of those adoptions involved children under
the age of one. Just about 20,000 children aged three or four
were adopted during that period. And for kids aged 5 to 12, it
was 29,712.The benefit of adopting a school-age child is that it
is easier to identify developmental and emotional problems ahead
of time. "There's more you can do to prepare and put resources in
place to support what they need," Spence-Chapin's Nish
said.School-aged children can be challenging if pre-adoptive
experiences affect their development, he said. A special needs
child is also a possibility. One way to fast-track an
international adoption may be to apply for a child with known
medical or special needs, said Adoption Star's Montgomery. "For
families with resources, it can be great option," Montgomery
said. "Of course, you really have to find the right family to
take on that kind of known medical need."Special needs can range
from a baby born with a minor medical problem, such as a cleft
palate, to more serious issues, such as a heart condition,
blindness or spina bifida. "It's not about families getting a
child quicker," Nish said. "It's about a family accepting a child
into their household that they can provide for and love and
nurture."China's Waiting Child program, which includes children
who have special needs or correctable medical conditions or are
part of sibling groups, has wait times that are typically much
shorter than the traditional program, according to Adoptive
Families magazine. In 2011, more than half of adoptions from
China were through this program.Would-be parents must be prepared
to wait. The Associated Services for International Adoption, a
non-profit adoption group, says the wait time for an adoption
referral in China is 73 months as the country has clamped down on
US adoptions. "If the wait time is becoming impractical, it's
better to close the intake process" and start again, advised
Holt's Cox.Tracy Downey and her husband, Jason, who live in
suburban Des Moines, Iowa, tried to go the traditional
international Chinese adoption route in 2006. But after waiting
for 18 months to bring home a baby from China, Tracy switched
gears and started combing the official Chinese list of children
with special needs along with additional lists from adoption
agencies and orphanages.The Downeys have since adopted a
daughter, Angel, along with two sons - Corban and Tegan - from
China, all with large, potentially disfiguring moles known as a
giant congenital nevi. They started the process to bring home the
two boys, now aged 3-1/2, last January. It took about 10
months.Aside from their large moles - which are on two of the
children's faces and on the other's lower body - all three kids
are healthy and thriving, Tracy said. "If we wanted a non-special
needs child, we'd still be waiting," Tracy said.

Copyright Reuters 2012

Adoption Services International unites loving
US families with Ukrainian children. We provide a unique
combination of professional, individualized, quality service
(including a maximum guaranteed adoption fee), personal adoption
experience, affordable cost and 20 years Ukrainian

If you or someone you love would like to expand your family,
provide a permanent home for a needy orphaned child, welcome a
sibling for an existing child or discover an alternative for
infertility treatments-contact us to learn more about Ukrainian
adoption, Adoption Services International can help.




Upcoming Events:

Opportunities and Challenges of Ukrainian Adoption: Free
Informational Presentation

Monday, February 4, 6:00-8:00 PM

Healthy U Fitness Studio, Bishop's Plaza, 431 Route 22 East,
Whitehouse, New Jersey, 08889

Free Presentation: International Adoption From Ukraine

Tuesday, February 12, 6:00-9:00 PM

Bernardsville Public Library, 1 Anderson Hill Road,
Bernardsville, NJ 07924

The Ukrainian Adoption Process: Free Informational Meeting

Thursday, March 14, 6:00-8:00 PM

Location: Wellness Rocks: 133 Rupell Road, Clinton, New Jersey

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