Monday, October 22, 2012

Q & A: Answers to Your Questions

Since we have decided to adopt, we have been asked lots of questions - mostly in person and a few on Facebook.  Because our adoption is my current favorite topic, I love when people ask!  Here are some questions we get asked - and our answers. (I also included a few questions I know people must be wondering, but are to polite to ask - such as the infertility question.)

What We Can’t and/or Won't Be Sharing  - Private or Identifying Information

I began this blog for my family and friends to stay informed about our adoption. Strangely enough, since starting this blog, we have had readers all over the world.  While we love that people are interested in adoption, we have decided to protect our private information and the privacy of our children.

For Now, the Questions We Have Gotten/Expect to Get and Are Willing to Answer:

Boy or girl? Age?
We are requesting a sibling group of 2 children ages 5 and under. We have no gender preference. We would love one of each, but would also be excited with two boys or two girls! 

Do you want to have biological kids?

We would love to add to our family by having biological children someday. But we are also open to the possibility of adopting again someday.

And the answer to any infertility questions is this:

We don't honestly know, because we haven't tried to "get pregnant."  We want to adopt first! (Read more about that here.) We do know family members and friends who have experienced or are experiencing infertility.  I am sure this must be painful. Please respect and love them. Be tactful in your questions and comments. Some people choose adoption for a variety of reasons.  Some do not choose adoption. 

What will you know about your child's birth family?

Bulgaria is very good about giving any known information about children to adoptive parents.  However what we will know depends greatly on our children's histories.

We do not plan on sharing any information about our children's birth families with anyone.  We view this as their private information that they can choose whether or not to share when they grow older.

If and when will you tell your children they are adopted?

 It will never be a secret - They will always know.  We will share that with them from day 1, have pictures in the scrapbook, celebrate "Adoption Day" every year, and talk with them freely about any questions they may have as they grow older.

What if your children want to find their birth parents?

When our children are old enough, if they want to search for birth parents or extended families, we will support and help them in their search. We haven't always felt this way.  But the more we learn about adoption, the more we feel this way.

Think about it.  If I were adopted, I would want to know who my birth family/parents were.  I would wonder - Who do I look like?  Do I have any personality quirks like anyone?  Where did I get my sense of humor?  Yes, If I were adopted, I would probably be curious about all these things.

We aren't in competition with birth families. We will be their "real" parents in that we will have "really" raised them.  We will have fed and cared for them, comforted them, laughed, cried, and played with them.

Are you worried about how you children will turn out after you have finished raising them?

We know every parent, whether of biological or adopted children, wants their child to be successful in life. We also know that sometimes children, adopted and/or biological, disappoint their parents with choices they make once they reach adulthood.  Of course their is "risk" of children later making poor lifestyle choices when parenting any child.

Our primary goal in parenting will be to raise children who love God with all their hearts and love their neighbor as much as they love themselves.  We also want to support our children in the choices they make in their life's work.

However, if by asking this question, you are wondering if we are worried that our children will turn out "bad" (for lack of a better term) because they are adopted, the answer is no. Ultimately, we adopted these children, yes because we wanted too, but also out of obedience to God.  This is not about us or how we will feel if our children make poor choices as adults.  This is about giving a loving Christ-filled home to two children who otherwise would grow up without a mommy and daddy and be turned out on the streets when they aged out of the orphanage.

Although this was NOT a factor in our choice to adopt, statistics are actually quite good for children who are adopted, similar to outcomes of children raised in their birth families.  For more information about this, read this blog post: Adoption Myth Busters: Adopted Kids Grow Up To Break Their Parents Hearts.

Will you change your children's names?

Maybe.  Obviously we are going to give them at least one new name - our last name!

When it comes to whether or not to change first and middle names, there are three options.  First, we could change the child's name completely.  Second, we could keep part of the name and change part of the name. The third option is to not change their name at all.

When we originally started thinking of international adoption, we assumed we would change our children's names.  However, after learning more about adoption, we are now hoping we will not need to change our children's names.  Whether we change our children's name will depend on the following factors:
  • Is the name able to be easily pronounced in English speaking America?  Or will it be a burden for our child to have to always be explaining how his/her name is pronounced?
  • Was the name given to the child by someone significant in their life, such as a birth parent or caregiver? Or was the name assigned by someone at the orphanage?
Think about it. A name is equal to identity.  Our children will have lost so much already - their birth family and culture, their first language, etc.  We don't want them to have to lose their name too.  If possible, we will try to keep their first and middle name.  If not possible, we plan to give them a new first name in addition to their original first and middle name.

Will you be traveling to pick up your child?

Yes,  we will be making two trips to Bulgaria. On the first trip, we will meet the children we have been matched with and formally accept their referral.  Then we will return home for a short time while the Bulgarian government completes all the legal steps and paper work.  On the second trip, we will bring our children home!

Have you considered adopting children from the USA?

Yes, we did research Domestic Infant Adoption and Domestic Adoption from Foster Care before deciding to adopt internationally.

We decided Domestic Infant Adoption did not meet this basic purpose of why we wanted to adopt. There are lots of couples who can't have kids waiting for a birth mother to choose them to parent her baby.  We did not want to compete with other childless couples for a baby.  (Domestic adoption of infants is what someone has called the "adoption Olympics" - families competing to get the birth mother to choose them.) We want to give a orphaned or abandoned child a family. We decided this was not the route for us.

We looked at the possibility of adopting a child who is available for adoption, but currently in foster care while waiting for a family.  Of the over 500 thousand children in foster care in the USA, 130 thousand are available for adoption and waiting for a forever family. This definitely fulfilled our purpose for adopting, but most of these kids are school age and older.  We want to start out with as young of a child as possible since we are young and have never parented before.

(Note: It is possible to try to adopt a younger child through foster-to-adopt programs, but there is a risk of children being returned to their birth families - which can be a wonderful thing for the children, but would be heart breaking for us.  We weren't willing to risk the emotional heart ache of attaching to a child only to lose him/her.)

Maybe one day we will adopt a child from the foster care system, when we have some parenting experience under our belt. But for our first adoption, we decided to go a different route to be able to adopt a younger child.

Why Bulgaria?

We decided to adopt internationally because there were many young children who needed parents.  But what country would be a right fit for us? Every country has different rules/eligibility requirements.  Russia or Kazakhstan? Much too expensive for us! China or Korea? We were to young. Taiwan or Haiti? We hadn't been married long enough.  Bulgaria? Just right!

Isn't international adoption expensive?  How much is the average cost?

Yes, international adoption can be expensive.  An average cost of adoption is probably $30,000. Costs very greatly by country and agency.  One reason we chose Bulgaria was that it was less expensive. Cost was also a huge factor in choosing our adoption agency.  We also knew we wanted to adopt again eventually, so we decided to ask for a sibling group.  Adopting two children at once is much less expenses than adopting two separate times.

There are many creative ways to fund an adoption and many organizations give grants to help cover adoption expenses. For more on affording adoption, read this post. 

If you are considering adoption or having biological children, don't forget it can also be expensive to have a child in the hospital, especially if there are any complications.  When you compare the average cost of prenatal care and hospital delivery, you may find there is not as much of a difference in cost between adopting and having biological children as you first thought.

Why is it so expensive to adopt when kids need families?

Adoption doesn't have to be expensive.  Adopting from foster care is free.

Domestic infant adoption can be costly because expenses include the cost of the birth mother's prenatal care and hospital expenses, as well as legal fees and the cost of a home study and background checks.  Domestic infant adoption (Birth Mother Program) is about the same cost as international adoption.

International adoption expenses include the cost of a home study, agency fees, immigration fees, cost of travel and lodging in another country, cost of FBI criminal and child abuse back ground checks, fees for documents, and translator fees.  International adoption includes a lot of people working to make this happen (agency workers, translators, government employees) - all of whom need to put food on the table for their families.  Most foreign countries also charge an "orphanage donation" that helps care for the children who are never adopted and grow up the orphanage.

Why is it so hard to adopt when so many kids need families?

Adoption requirements keep adoption ethical, prevent trafficking of children, and help make sure children are going to loving families.  When foreign countries allow their children to be adopted and move to another country, they want to make sure the children will be safe and well cared for. The only way for these countries to unsure this happens is to require a lot of documentation of adopting families.

Where is Bulgaria?

Bulgaria is located in south-eastern Europe.

How long will your process be?

Time varies greatly based on what sending country you choose and the characteristics for which you are asking in a child.  The wait is longer for young children, healthy children, and for girls.  Waiting children (usually older children or children with special needs) are currently available, and the process can be completed in about a year.

When we were thinking of adopting one child, age 3 and under, we were told the process would be about 3 1/2 years from start to finish.  Since we have decided to adopt a sibling group, the time may be shorter or longer.  Our adoption agency is checking on expected time for a sibling group.

Will you help your children keep their first language - Bulgarian?

We would love for them to be able to speak Bulgarian and English.  However, this it is highly likely that they will loose their first language, Bulgarian.  

Other internationally adopted children say they have to learn to think in English, not think in their first language and translate to English. Andrew and I looked into trying to learn Bulgarian, but their are few resources available (Pimsler and Rosetta Stone don't offer Bulgarian & the public library had one resource which was not very helpful.)  Sadly, with no one to converse to in Bulgarian and their relatively young age, our children will probably forget Bulgarian as they learn English.

What agency are you using?

After months of research and interviewing different agencies, we chose Children of All Nations (CAN).  Several factors went into our choice.
  • First, we were looking for an agency with a Bulgaria program. 
  • The second factor was the price for services.  We loved  that CAN offered dossier preparation included in the already reasonable price.  Most agencies either did not offer dossier preparation or charged extra.  This meant less headache and paperwork for us and a lower price!
  • Third, we wanted an agency with lots of experience.  Although CAN's Bulgaria program is relatively new, they have completed thousands of adoptions from many countries.
  • Last, we wanted a non-profit agency.  We feel that adoption should not be for profit (all though the people working for the agency need to make a living.)
Because our international agency, Children of All Nations, is located in Texas, they are not licensed to do home studies in our state.  We are using a local agency to do our homestudy.   So far we are happy with Children of All Nations.

Are children checked by the Center for Disease Control?

Yes, our children will have a medical exam by a Department of State designated doctor before leaving Bulgaria.  

We also plan to have our children checked by a pediatrician specializing in international adoption medicine when we arrive back in the USA. An international adoption doctor can do blood work to see which vaccines our children have had already, as well as address special nutritional needs our children may have from orphanage diet, and check for parasites, which can be common in orphanages.

What is a Homestudy?

A home study is a report written by a licensed social worker recommending your family to adopt.  The home-study process includes adoption/parenting training, interviews with a licensed social worker, and a visit to your home by the social worker.

We will be having our home study sometime in the next several months.  I am sure I will be nervous, but I should not be.  A social worker's job is to find parents and a home for children.  Social workers are looking to rule people in as parents, not to rule people out.

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