Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Here we go again . . .

So. We've decided to adopt. Again. We always planned on having three children, and even though Marcie hasn't been home for very long, by the time the adoption processes, she will have been. Home for years, in fact. So it's time to start.

When we selected Marcie's agency, CCAI, we researched a bunch of places, narrowed it down to a couple. Checked their BBB records. Did a search to see if there were any pending or settled law suits. And then called every single reference in Southern California on their multi-page list. And talked to them all. They ended up being a fantastic choice. Did they make mistakes? Yup. They did. They are an organization of humans, so mistakes are kind of par for the course. But they apologized. They fixed it. Fast. They cared. And we would use them again in a heartbeat. Except. . .

Except the wait for China has grown so long, that we estimate if we started the process tomorrow (which we wouldn't, given final exams and pending law school commencement), we would probably meet our child some time in the year 2011. And by then Marcie will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 years old. So there'd be about 4 years age difference between them. Which isn't insane or anything, it's just a little more than we were planning. Hoping. We may still end up going with China, but we're exploring our options.

We had been contemplating Africa-- Ethiopia in particular. And if we were going to, I'd be leaning toward AAI- Adoption Advocates, International. Though I've also heard good things about CHI- Children's Hope, International. So I'd have to do my background homework, check references, and make a decision. But if you happen to be in the same boat as me, that's where I'd start. The Ethiopia program is relatively centralized and stable. Things seem above-board. There is a great need for families for the children (of course, that's true everywhere in the world).

And some people-- a lot of people, actually-- have suggested we look into Latin America: Colombia or Guatemala seem to be the two recommendations we receive most. Unsolicited, of course, because we are not interested in adopting from Latin America. The children are beautiful, but I'm a really risk-averse person, and it just seems like so much depends on the in-country facilitator and there are risks about the "baby market" and so on. I know it works for a lot of people. And I'm happy for them. It's just not a good choice for me. It'd give me an ulcer. And even if I'm totally wrong about my impressions about the stability and potential ethical issues, it doesn't matter. Because that would always be at the back of my mind.

Ultimately, though, I'd like to stick close to China. It just makes sense. We've already made a commitment to our children-- that they will know their roots, whatever we can share with them. And since that takes us to Ohio and China already, it seems like it'd be most convenient for us to stay in the general region of China, at least. Plus, it just fits our family-- my husband being half-Chinese and all. I know that's not important to him, that our kids share his ethnicity. But between Jason's family and our many Chinese and Taiwanese friends, this is a culture we know something about. So it works for me.

So that brings me to Taiwan. The thing about Taiwan is that it is really decentralized, which means that the agency you work with more or less dictates your experience. With China, even though I love, love, loved our agency, I think most people have a pretty similar experience. Everyone submits the same paperwork. Everyone goes on the same waiting list. Everyone travels about the same length of time after their referral. And so on. Not so with Taiwan.

I am learning that Taiwan is like doing a domestic adoption, but in a foreign country. And that's okay. But that means there are some risks, too. For instance, in Taiwan, a referral can come when the child is very young-- a couple weeks or a couple months. And after you accept the referral, the child moves through the court system. This is just like in the United States. Except in the U.S., you can foster your own child while the paperwork process (and I think you can if you move to Taiwan, for that matter-- but that's another issue entirely). Anyway, during the 4-6 months it takes for the paperwork to proceed, the birth family can change its mind and opt to parent the child. Which means you may think you have a child coming, but it turns out he or she is not your child. Which I imagine is heart-breaking.

Another thing about Taiwan is that the type of program you enter more or less dictates the wait you have and frequently the relationship you have. Some programs are birthmother programs. That means the birthmother selects your family. You get to meet her (often). You get a full medical history. You may have ongoing contact with her. Other programs operate more like China did-- you wait until your paperwork gets to the top of the list and the in-Taiwan agency (which they call a nursery and we call an orphanage) matches you. You get all the medical information provided by the birth mother, but it's a closed adoption-- usually no ongoing contact and no exchange of information over time. So the agency you choose needs to reflect the type of adoption you'd like to have. (As a side note, I have been told that there is an adoption registry for international adoptees so they can find their biological families later in life if they want, but I haven't researched this yet.)

So this is where we are. Searching for an agency. Finding one with the right fit that offers the type of adoption we want and works with a nursery we like in Taiwan. Later, I'll post how I've approached my search. I've read articles about how to select an agency, but I think they are rather cursory-- especially for such an expensive and emotional endeavor. But for now, this is where we are. Getting ready to start our paperchase.

And yeah. I'm in the middle of finals. And preparing for graduation. And getting ready to start my Bar prep class to take the big exam in July. Doesn't this make it the perfect time to select an adoption agency and begin our homestudy? Heh, heh. Anyone who knows me and is reading this must be chuckling. This is such a Karen-thing to do. To launch an adoption journey in the midst of everything else. . . but I know it'll be well worth it in the long run. I've got evidence of it at home already. Double proof, in fact. I just can't imagine my life without Casey and Marcie.

Once we figure out what we're doing-- who we're using, and the whole shabang, I'll start a new blog just to document that journey. But no worries, this one's not going anywhere!


Sarah said...

Hi guys! I posted an answer to your question on the Adopting from Taiwan Yahoo group. If you need have any more questions, you can see my private e-mail address on the Yahoo group. Feel free to ask me anything you want. I have lots of links to Taiwan adoption blogs on my blog. When researching an agency for a Taiwan adoption, reading other families experiences really helped me choose what kind of program I wanted for our journey. Best of luck with your decision. No matter what you decide, it will be the right one for your family.

J said...

Wow, congrats!

I would be curious as to the logic and information you garner through your research about Taiwan.

Larry and Kyndra said...

Funny. we have been contemplating a lot of other counties also, mainly Ethiopia and Vietnam.
Good minds think a like!

Mayhem said...

Wow! Congratulations and good luck!