Maybe God has been tugging on your heart.
Maybe you’ve fallen in love with a waiting child.
Maybe you’ve never even considered international adoption before, but after following the story of a hosted child or a neighbor’s adoption or the plight of the millions of orphans around the world, some who are literally dying waiting for families to meet their medical needs, your eyes are open. Your heart’s on fire. And you’re not just willing to sit on the sidelines and allow “someone else” to address “that orphan crisis” anymore.
Maybe you want to start advocating. These precious children could sure use your voice.
Maybe you want to start donating. Fabulous organizations like Love Without Boundaries provide medical, foster and nutrition care for orphaned and impoverished children.
Maybe you want to start serving. These angels need advocates, hosts, medical care and HOPE that comes in the form of more than just the families who adopt them.
Or maybe you want to be the one these precious angels, some of whom have been waiting more than a decade, can finally call “Mama” and “Papa.”
Although it may be tedious, the international adoption process doesn’t have to be DAUNTING.
Today, the agency our family absolutely *loves* and used to bring home sweet Superman — the same awesome agency that introduced us to D.J. and will be bringing Joy to our home in just four more weeks — walks us through those first baby steps in the international adoption process.
Because processes and paperwork should never stand in the way of a child’s chance at a forever family.
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION FIRST STEPS
1. Find an agency that is a good fit for your family’s needs. When reaching out to placement agencies and asking about available programs, have questions prepared about the types of countries the agency works with, the special needs and age ranges seen within each program and overall cost and timeline for the process. Families often contact our agency with an idea of what types of needs and age they would be open to, and from there, we can help them decide which country would be the best fit! (Note from Michelle: When choosing an agency, ensure that the agency meets international ethical guidelines. Author and adoptive mama Jen Hatmaker has a great series of posts on the types of questions you should be asking your agency before contracting with them.)
2. Choose the country program. Ask your agency about the differences between each program, including cost, wait times, ages of children, minimum and maximum ages of parents, number of visits needed to complete the adoption, number of weeks needed in country, etc. (Note from Michelle: DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST. Child trafficking is real, corruption can be prevalent and the LAST THING an adoptive parent wants is to be sweeping children from the arms of biological families who want them. Our hearts are in China because of the more than 600,000 abandoned and orphaned children, 98 percent of them with special needs, that fill their orphanages. Our child came with police search-and-find records and notarized reports from the hospital where he was found. Just be diligent, friends. That is our ethical responsibility.)
3. Apply with the agency. After speaking with a caseworker to determine your family's eligibility for the program of your choice, begin the application process. The application is an agency's first indicator of your overall family dynamic, including information about household size, income, net worth, employment and overall health and well-being.
4. Contract with the agency for the adoption process. After your application is approved, you will be sent contract options for the program of your choice. Once you review the contract options and make your decision about which plan best fits your family's needs, you will need to sign the contract and submit it to the agency with the first agency fee.
5. Begin working on your dossier! Once you have contracted with a placement agency, you will be assigned to a dossier specialist to help you begin compiling all of the necessary documentation for the dossier process. This includes the home study, employment letters, medical evaluations and other items. The dossier process typically takes about six to eight months on average for a family to complete.
6. Be matched with your child! With the China program in particular, families are either able to be matched with a Special Focus child (a child with more moderate to severe needs) or a child in the Logged-In Dossier designation (a younger child with mild, correctable needs). With Special Focus children, families are able to be matched with them at any time after they contract with an agency. (Note from Michelle: We submitted our Letter of Intent to adopt Superman BEFORE our first home study appointment.) With the Logged-In Dossier track, families must wait until their dossier is completed and sent to China before they are able to be matched. At this stage, you will be working closely with a matching specialist in your agency to determine which child would be the best fit! Other programs differ in regards to the matching process, so speak with your agency to learn more about the process for specific countries you are interested in!
Great Wall China Adoption is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas. Since 1996, Great Wall has assisted the Chinese government in placing more than 8,000 children with forever families. Children of All Nations, which is run by Great Wall China Adoption, offers programs in 14 countries. Visit www.gwca.org or www.childrenofallnations.com for more information.