How much does it cost? Why does it cost so much?
All said and done, we are looking at around $30k for this adoption. It could fluctuate a little depending on travel expenses, but the only thing that would make it go significantly higher would be adding a second child to the process. Umm, and yeah, there is nothing that would make it go significantly lower.
I have read a lot of blogs that explain adoption isn’t “buying” a child, but I’m hoping that the people reading this blog already know that. Please say yes. Anyway, it is actually a LOT of smaller fees that sort of add up. For instance, there are application fees and document fees and translation fees…then there are fees for specific people who help both in the US and in-country (interpreters, attorneys, facilitators)…there are obviously travel expenses like airline tickets, meals and hotels…then more fees for all the required things to make our new love a US citizen (visa, medical appointments, etc)…and that’s only a small sample. So, in the end, there are a lot of different expenses needed to make it all happen. Each country has different required amounts for each thing, so two individual international adoptions could vary by as much as 10 grand.
How long does the process take?
Again, there can be a significant difference based on the exact country you are adopting from. Also, adoption for pre-identified special needs kids tends to be much faster than what might be considered a “typical” international adoption. I will explain a VERY basic process:
You apply to adopt. Your application gets sent to chosen country. You go on a waiting list for a healthy child. You wait for a “referral.” You can accept or deny that referral. You finish final application for referred child. You wait more. You get travel dates.
I apologize to anyone who has been through the process for the overly simplistic and not 100% accurate description, but that is the gist. In our case, and many of the children waiting on Reece’s Rainbow, it’s a little different in that we won’t go onto the “waiting” list. When we send in our application to our country, we are asking to be matched with our boy. This speeds the process up a bit.
The long answer is, there is no guarantee of any timeline. The short answer is, from what I can tell, I’m expecting it to take about a year. So hopefully, our babe will be home by Mar 2015. Of course, one thing I’ve learned from my internet stalking is that adoption is never straightforward, so there will be bumps in our road.
How long will you be in country?
Technically, our country could require two or three separate trips. Many countries do. However, hearing from recent families returning, it seems like most families are able to do everything in one trip. Approximately two weeks in country. One hiccup is that the judge who makes the final say on whether or not you are a good fit for the child is allowed to “waive” (or not) a waiting period. So, sometimes you go to court and the judge says, You are granted custody but you need to wait 30 days to bring home the child. Other times, they say, waiting period waived, take off! Clearly, we are hoping for a shorter trip.
Why are you using nicknames for your kids when you blab all over social media about your life?
Fair question, fair question. Truth is, Daddy K really hates all this social media, connecting of worlds business. Okay, hate is a strong a word, but it makes him nervous that people we don’t know us could read about our family…I feel like on FB at least the people reading are our “friends.” Since adoption blogs tend to get read by people from all over, we wanted to give the kids a little privacy. I mean, they are three of the cutest kids on the planet, and in the event that someone conspires to come snatch them when I’m not looking (certain afternoons would make that much easier!), we want to at least give a little buffer so they can’t yell their names from the van while dangling lollipops. I know we are probably worrying about nothing, and my true intent is not to hide their identities as much as to just give them some space.
So how did we pick these lovely little names? We choose Sissy for our sweet girl E1, because somehow we started pretending we were the Berenstain Bears and haven’t been able to stop. Okay, I started pretending and I haven’t wanted to stop. When she was little. my friend Laura, who is from Kentucky, would call her Sis from time to time, and I thought it was cute. And we have some friends with boy/girl twins and one morning their sweet mama was picking them up from the church nursery and asked her girl, “Where is brother?” And for some reason I just loved this idea that even though they know one another’s name, they identify with strongly with their sibling relationship. So, amongst her many nicknames, Sissy wins out a lot.
And Bug for the handsome E2, because that’s already his nickname, and isn’t he the cuddliest little love bug you’ve ever seen? Our awesome neighbors and friends in Tacoma called their little guy Judah Bug, and again, somehow I started calling our little man Bug, and often Buggy and any other variation. When he was almost a year I asked Sissy her brother’s name and she said, “Brother, no. . .Buggy. . .no, brother. . .no E. . .” and finally landed on his name. 🙂
Our new prince charming will be Boo, mostly because — Bug and Boo — I mean, come on! These two will be thick as thieves, and if I can get anyone to call them Bug and Boo even just once, my world will be right. 🙂 We aren’t allowed to share his real name anyway, so Boo will suffice for now. Although Sissy keeps saying she wants to name him Hello Kitty.
How did you pick a country?
This actually ended up being pretty easy for us. We were already decided on Eastern Europe, mostly because of Daddy K’s family background, but also because of what we learned about children with special needs in that region. We tossed around the idea of Poland for some time, but ultimately, their travel times just didn’t make sense for our family. You have to be in country for 6+ weeks, and most of that is bonding time with your new child. Which is awesome, except that Daddy K could never get that much time off work. And I’m not sure I could leave my little two for that long. So then I started picturing myself alone with three toddlers in a cramped, rented apartment, in a country where I didn’t speak the language, in the freezing cold winter (because, come on, Murphy’s Law) and I think I had a smallish panic attack. Although I know a certain military mama who probably lives this scenario daily! (You rock, girl!) For the sake of my sanity, we started looking at Eastern European countries with a more feasible travel schedule for our current family makeup. Once we had narrowed that down, we started looking at children available in those countries. We chose our country because we then chose our child. We aren’t allowed to share our specific country just yet, due to regulations in place to protect the privacy of the children. We are still learning what those are and how to operate within those contexts.
How did you decide on a child?
An even better question is: how do you choose just ONE child? Just one baby to save, just one life redeemed. I think I will have to save the entire emotional response aspect of this for another blog post. But, we narrowed it down to three countries that had the most feasible travel times for our family. Then I started looking at all children 5 and under in those countries. I would just look at their pictures and read their stories. Truth be told, we were looking for a child with as few other medical conditions as possible. I hate even typing that, because it reveals my selfish heart. And I can say its because of our nomadic military life, and wanting to make sure we always have easy access to health care without severing limiting Daddy K’s career options, and that’s part of it. But also, we were scared. We are scared. We don’t have any first-hand experience with special needs, and I’m not sure what we are capable of handling. But I’ll tell ya what – my heart is being changed and stretched and molded by the minute. Every second of this process is growing me, and I am WAY less scared of that aspect than before. We were also looking more intently at younger children, specifically the ones on the 0-2 list. Our thought was the sooner we got the babe home and into capable medical hands, the better off the rest of his/her life. Again, this was really way more about US than the child. Man, if I am learning anything through all this, its that the depth of my selfishness is nauseating. But I also wanted to narrow things down as much as possible, because I didn’t WANT to have to look at two pictures and choose. I didn’t want to feel like I condemned another little beauty to life in a orphanage. And in the end, our little Boo was the only one who fit our search.
Even in just a short time, my heart has grown tremendously for older children and for other needs. But I already felt committed to Boo, and saying yes to someone else at this time would mean saying no to him. So he our main man, for now. If I become a crazy lady with a van filled with ransomed children, you can say you knew me when.