Friday, November 30, 2012

8 Adoption Facts That Will Surprise You!

Today is the last day in National Adoption Month. I set the goal of having a blog post every day because I wanted to promote adoption and adoption education. I succeeded! This is my last post for National Adoption Month. Just a short video with 8 adoption facts that will surprise you!

PS. During December, I will have a few blog posts, but I will be taking a break from blogging for the Christmas! So don't expect a post everyday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Myth & Realities: Fostercare Adoption

Nearly 81.5 million Americans have considered adopting a child. If just one in 500 of these adults adopted, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family.


But foster care adoption is often misunderstood, preventing children from finding forever families. Discover some of the most common misconceptions, and read about the reality behind each.


Foster care adoption may cost less than private infant or international adoption, but it’s still expensive.


Foster care adoption normally costs little or nothing. The average expenses totaled $2,253 in 2011. Click here for more information on how much it costs to adopt.


A biological parent can come to take an adopted child back.


This is a fear for two-thirds of the people considering adoption. However, biological parents have no way to gain back custody of the child or children once their parental rights are terminated.


Children enter foster care because they committed a crime.


This belief is held by 45 percent of Americans, but actually, children enter U.S. foster care through no fault of their own. Usually, they are victims of neglect, abandonment, or abuse.


A single parent can’t provide a healthy environment for an adopted child.


A single parent can provide a loving, stable home. For more information, read this blog post about single parent adoption.


No person over 55 can provide a healthy and loving environment for an adopted child.


This belief is held, erroneously, by 63% of Americans. In truth, almost one in four adopted children lives happily with an adoptive parent 55 years or older. For more information read this blog post.

Interested in Fostercare Adoption? Read these blog post for more information.


 This article was republished (with my cuts and additions) from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. All statistics are from the National Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey, commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and conducted by Harris Interactive, November 2007. Read the study here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Employee Adoption Benefits

What are Adoption Benefits?

Think retirement, health insurance, and paid vacation are the only benefits your employer offers? Maybe not. Many companies offer adoption benefits as part of there benefit packages. These companies provide their employees with paid and/or unpaid time off for adoption, financial assistance to adopt, and other benefits designed to promote adoption. The average adoption benefit includes $6,800 reimbursement for adoption expenses and four weeks of paid leave. But financial reimbursement can vary from $500 to $25,300, and one to 18 weeks of paid leave. Unpaid leave for adoption ranges from one week to three years.

Who Offers Adoption Benefits?

Who knew that Wendy's and Starbucks helped their employees pay for adoption expenses?! They do, (along with hundreds of other companies.) Every year, the Dave Thomas Foundation compiles a list of companies with the best adoption benefits for employees, including the best small, medium, and large employers. Here are the top 100 adoption-friendly workplaces in 2011 and in 2012. You company may still offer adoption benefits even if they are not on this list, as this list is only the top 100 companies.

Who is Eligible to Receive Benefits?

Nine out of 10 employers offer the adoption benefit immediately upon hire, or within the first year of
employment, and 65 percent offer the benefit to both full- and part-time employees. Most employers reimburse for specific adoption expenses, such as home studies, application fees, legal services, court proceedings, parental counseling, transportation, lodging and immigration. While financial adoption benefits generally apply equally to all employees who are eligible, employers sometimes graduate paid leave based on years of service and stipulate that if both parents are employees, they must share the leave.

My Employer Doesn't Offer Benefits

Your employer doesn't give adoption benefits? Use the Dave Thomas Foundation's Adoption-Friendly Workplace Toolkit. It will  help you propose an adoption benefits policy to your employer. Learn more about free Adoption-Friendly Workplace kits.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Orphanages Are NOT the Solution

Orphanages are not the solution to the millions and millions of children who are unable to grow up with their birth families. Orphanages should only be a temporary home for children until children can be adopted into a forever family.

Why do I think orphanages should only be temporary homes, not permanent solutions? Because research has shown that living in institutions has an adverse effect on children socially, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Children in orphanages often have to compete with other children for food and for attention from caregivers. Poor nutrition is common in orphanages.

Children raised in orphanages have developmental delays. Without mommy and daddy there to clap and cheer for every new accomplishment and without proper developmental stimulation, children are much slower to developmental milestones such as sitting up, walking, talking, etc. Not only are children in orphanages slower to reach developmental milestones, they are also behind in growth. Slow growth results from the lack of loving care and the lack of proper nutrition.

Children left in cribs for hours on end do not receive proper loving care or sensory stimulation for development.

Because of the lack of a stimulating environment, children often develop self-stimulating behaviors including unusual posturing, head banging, pulling hair and biting one's self, swaying and rocking. These behaviors result from a lack of a primary mother figure that would love, nurture and soothe the infant, and from the lack of a stimulating environment including toys and human interaction. "Self-stimulating behavior is a normal reaction to an abnormal environment. This behavior occurs because of the child’s need to restore the sensory requirements necessary for their brain development." (

What does the future hold for these children? If they aren't adopted into forever families, their future holds prostitution, crime, homelessness, slavery, and suicide.

Children who grow up in an orphanage will eventually age out of an orphanage (usually at around  15-16 years of age.) Since they have had very little contact with the world outside the orphanage, they are ill prepared to live in this world. (Many children in orphanages are never taken outside the orphanage.) Children who age out, must leave the orphanage with no where to go and no family to turn to for help. "In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18, 60% of the girls are lured into prostitution, 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves. Millions of girls are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans. Reliable statistics are difficult to find, even the sources often list only estimates, and street children are rarely included. But even if these figures are exaggerated by double, it is still an unacceptable tragedy that over a million children would still become orphans every year, and every year 7 million children would still grow to adulthood as orphans with no one to belong to and no place to call home." (

Just improve orphanage conditions, right? More caregivers, more toys, better nutrition, better education and job training. That is all these orphages need.


"The institution itself places children at-risk. The regimentation and ritualization of institutional life do not provide children with the quality of life, or the experiences they need to be healthy, happy, fully functioning adults. In group care, the child's needs are secondary to the requirements of the group's routine. Relationships between adults and children are usually superficial and brief, with little continuous warmth and affection. Institutional staff do not connect emotionally or physically with children in quite the same way that families connect with children. Finally, the age at placement and the length of institutionalization have an effect on children. The younger the child when placed and the longer he/she remains in the institution, the more negative the effects on cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development." ( )

God designed children to grow up in a family. Family is the solution for children who are orphaned, abandoned, or who have had their parents rights terminated due to neglect or abuse. Permanent, loving family is the solution. Not orphanages. Not even foster care. (I am a big fan of foster care as a temporary family and home for children who need to be temporarily separated from birth family, but not for long term care of children available for adoption. Foster care is an even better temporary solution than orphanages. But foster care should also always be temporary.) Adoption is the solution! Sponsorship of children so they can stay with there birth families instead of being abandoned or left at an orphanage because a family can't even afford to feed them.

These documentaries are further examples of what orphanage life is like and why children should not be living in orphanages!

Ukraine's Forgotten Children

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Becoming a Multicultural Family

Somewhere Between

Children adopted internationally are somewhere between cultures. They have the heritage of their birth culture and they become part of the culture into which they are adopted. Sometimes they may feel as if they don't fit into either culture. The video below is a trailer for a documentary explaining what it is like to be adopted internationally.

A Multicultural Family

Since our children will be Bulgarian and American, our family will be multicultural. Andrew's and my job will be to help our children adjust to becoming Bulgarian Americans. We want to teach our children to be proud of the ethnicity and their birth country.  We also want them to love and become apart of their new country.  Our family will be changed when we adopt internationally. Andrew and I do not expect our children to make all the adjustments.  Andrew and I will also be adjusting our lives to become a multicultural family.

We hope to incorporate the Bulgarian culture into our lives by:
  • Learning and teaching our children about Bulgaria and their cultural history
  • Learning about and celebrating Bulgarian holidays and traditions
  • Reading stories from Bulgaria
  • Listening to Bulgarian folk music
  • Learning to cook Bulgarian foods (I found some great cook books on Amazon. Andrew and I were very excited to find a international grocery store in our area that caries traditional foods from Bulgaria!)
  • Hopefully, traveling back to Bulgaria with our children when they are either preteens or teenagers
  • Possibly attending culture camp together - I am having trouble finding a camp near us with a  Bulgarian or Eastern European program.
Do you have any other ideas for incorporating culture from birth country into everyday family life? I would love to hear them!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Responding to Rude Questions, Part 2

If you have not read Responding to Rude Questions, Part 1, you may want to read it first.

Before you read this post, I want you to know, you can feel free to ask me questions about our adoption. I love to talk about our adoption.  I love when people ask questions.  But it is one thing to be asked questions by friends who are excited for us and are asking because they care.  (I also don't mind talking about adoption with strangers, if they have genuine interest in adopting.) But it will be a completely different thing to be asked rude questions in front of our children by complete strangers.

Typical Questions and Examples of How to Answer Them 

The Money Question: 

"I bet they cost a lot. How much did you pay for him?" or "How much did she cost?"

Our planned response:
"Of course, children aren't bought and sold.  That is illegal. But there are expenses in adopting, just as their are expenses in birthing a child. There are document fees and court fees, as well as the cost of travel and airfare. If you are interested in adopting, I know of a great adoption agency."

The "Real" or "Own" Questions 

(What people mean by "real" or "own" is biological.  This is offensive because it insinuates that we aren't a "real" family and adopted children aren't our "own." News flash: DNA doesn't make a family, love does!)

"What is her real father like?" or "Do you know anything about his real mother?"

Our planned response: "My husband Andrew is..." (Then give a description of Andrew. Hee. Hee.) or "I am his real mother."

"Are they real brothers?" or "Are your children real siblings?" or "Are they related?"

Our planned response: "Yes, of course." (Said with a look of confusion.) Next, say something to change the subject.

"Did his real mother give him away?" or "Was his real mother married?"
(Um. Hello? I will be our children's real mother! Of course birth parents are also real.)

Our planned response:
"I am his real mother.  Did you mean his birth mother? That is personal information. But children are adopted for many reasons. Sometimes it is because a birth parent is unable to parent a child, other times it is because of the death of parents or because parents' rights are terminated." Time to change the subject!

"Are you ever going to have real children?"

If we ever get this I will be so tempted to say "No, we are perfectly happy with our plastic ones." But I know I shouldn't be rude just because someone else is rude.

What I will probably say is: "Our children are real." (Said with look of confusion.) I might also add. "Did you mean to ask if we are going to have biological children? We have talked about it. We have also talked about adoption again. Why do you ask?"

"Did you adopt because you can't have your own children?" or "Can't you have your own children?"

 Our planned response:
"All our children are our own no matter if they come into our family by adoption or by birth. We have talked about having biological children. We have also talked about adopting again."

"What if she wants to search for her real parents?"

Our planned response:
"We are her real parents. If and when she wants to search for her birth family, we plan to support her." Time for a subject change, again.

The So Lucky Comments

"He is so lucky!" "She is so blessed to be adopted"

I understand that people think our children will be blessed or lucky to be adopted into our family. But I don't consider children whose parents died or abandoned them or who had their parent's rights terminated due to neglect or abuse to be lucky children. I also don't consider it lucky to be a part of a family. I consider it normal. Having family is a basic need, not a prize like winning the lottery.

Planned response: "Actually, we are the blessed ones to be privileged to parent these children."

The Pregnancy Comment
"You'll probably get pregnant now that have adopted."

I have a problem with this comment for four reasons. First, this comment assumes that the only reason people adopt is because of infertility. (People adopt for many reasons.) Second, it also insinuates that children by birth are superior than children who join a family through adoption.  Third, this comment is insensitive to couples struggling with infertility. And last, adoption is never a hoop to be jumped through in order to become pregnant.

Planned response: "Actually, my husband and I did not adopt because of infertility. We chose to adopt because we wanted to. We are considering having biological children someday. We also may adopt again." Change the subject.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Responding to Rude Questions, Part 1

Most people would never dream of approaching a stranger and asking, "Is that your husband? How much did your car cost? What is your salary? Do you plan to have children?" But apparently when it comes to questions about adoption, rules of etiquette don't seem to apply. As part of our adoption education, we have to start thinking about how we will answer the nosy and rude questions and comments we will get about our family.

Before you read this post, I want you to know, you can feel free to ask me questions about our adoption. I actually love to talk about our adoption.  I love when people ask questions.  But it is one thing to be asked questions by friends who are excited for us and are asking because they care.  I also don't mind talking about adoption with strangers, if they have genuine interest in adopting. But it will be a completely different thing to be asked rude questions in front of our children by complete strangers.

Examples of Rude Questions and Comments!

The humorous video below gives an example of some of the things people will say to families who have adopted. (Please pardon the four letter word. I thought about not posting the video because of the word, but decided to post this video anyway because it is a funny way to show the kinds of questions and comments that people say to families who have adopted.)

Our Plan of Action!
  1. The most important thing is to protect our children.  When complete strangers come up to us and ask nosy or rude questions, our first obligation is to our children. Personal information is just that - personal! We are under no obligation to strangers. We plan to protect our children's privacy.
  2. Always assume good intent. People may just may not know the correct way to ask.
  3. If the opportunity is right, share educational information about adoption in general, not private information.
  4. In the stress of the moment if I can't think of an answer my plan is to smile and ask "Why do you ask?" with the possible addition of  "Are you interested in adopting?"
  5. When all else fails and the nosy questions keep coming - change the topic! "I love your shoes! Where did you get them?" or "What lovely weather we are having.  How long do you think it will last?"
Responding to Rude Questions, Part 2 gives examples of questions and comments and our planned response.
Why did you choose international adoption when there are so many kids who need homes here?

Read more: Adoptive Families Support - How to Talk About Adopted Children - Woman's Day
You’ll probably get pregnant now that you’ve adopted.

Read more: Adoptive Families Support - How to Talk About Adopted Children - Woman's Day

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Am Thankful For....

I love all the Thanksgiving traditions like the turkey and pumpkin pie.  I love the time spent with family. But once again I am reminded what Thanksgiving is really about, giving thanks to God for our blessings.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for:
  1. God's love for me and His grace in my life
  2. My wonderful husband Andrew
  3. The blessing of growing up in a family and having loving parents
  4. The family I gained when I married Andrew
  5. The wonderful privilege of expanding our family with two little ones from Bulgaria
  6. My church family
  7. Our home
  8. Andrew's job and my two jobs
  9. Having a Bible
  10. The ability to read

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting for a Family

"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes…"
 – David Platt, Radical
Children in the US Waiting for a Family
The pictures and descriptions listed below are of children in the United states that waiting for a forever family. These children are just a few out of the hundreds of thousands of children waiting for family in United States. Could your family be that family?

Meet Olivia (for more information visit AdoptUsKids)

Olivia - Female, age 9

Olivia is a nine year old, beautiful young lady with blue eyes and blonde hair that she loves to have braided. She is described as a girly girl who loves to wear dresses and look nice. She wears glasses due to being blind in her right eye. She is currently a 3rd grader in regular classes. Her favorite food,that she would eat everyday if she could is grilled cheese and tomato soup. Olivia likes to rider her bike and go swimming. She loves to read, color and paint. She is involved in therapy and takes medication to help with her behavioral challenges. Olivia can be possessive of her things, which can lead to her behavioral problems because she gets upset with others when they touch her things. She thrives on and loves one on one attention from adults.

Meet Andrew & Dontez (for more information visit AdoptUsKids)

Siblings Andrew and his big brother Dontez are healthy and energetic boys. Andrew is eight years old and in the second grade. He loves to build and create things with Legos, blocks and play dough. Andrew likes to play outside and his favorite sports are baseball and basketball. Dontez is an active and rambunctious eleven year old who is very popular with peers and teachers alike. He wants to be basketball player when he grows up. Dontez is described as “an endearing and engaging youth who is friendly and polite, with a good sense of humor. He is a positive child and has good relationships. He is loyal to his family, despite hardships he has endured in the past. Andrew and Dontez have experienced significant trauma including physical abuse, separation and loss. Dontez feels emotions deeply and is described by his worker as "a very kind soul.” The boys are bonded with each other.  The boys' worker seeks a family able to provide a loving home with firm structure, clear expectations, and frequent reinforcement of pro-social behavior including the use of healthy coping strategies. Their family should also help them learn to have fun in family activities. These delightful boys are eager for a sense of love and security.

Meet Sarah & Savannah (for more information visit AdoptUsKids)

Siblings Sarah and Savannah area wonderful sibling group of 2 who are uniquely different; but share a common need for a special forever family. Savannah has a carefree personality and is happy and content for the most part. She has relied on her sister heavily in the past. Savannah has been diagnosed with a speech delay. She made great progress her kindergarten year but is still behind academically.

Sarah is the oldest of the two sisters and has a much stronger personality than Savannah. She will sometimes try to speak on behalf of Savannah. Sarah shows a wide range of emotions. Sarah obtains good grades for the most part and is only slightly behind academically.

Both girls are very needy of attention and have some boundary issues. Both girls are very active. Both girls love things many girls their age enjoy such as shopping, making crafts, and watching movies. Both enjoy being outdoors and love animals. Sarah would like to be involved in dance, cheerleading, or gymnastics.

Waiting Around the World

Not only are children waiting for family here in the USA, but there are millions of children waiting around the world. The children pictured and described below are from China, but there are children waiting in lots of countries. Could your family be their forever family?

Meet Dawn

Dawn is beautiful girl who will age out in Febuary 2013. Dawn wants a family of her own. Dawn is being cared for by a wonderful organization in China. She has spina bifida and is in a wheelchair, but she is able to get into and out of the chair on her own and can get up stairs on her own. She does her own self-care independently.
Someone who knows her personally wrote:
"Dawn is 12 and will age out of the program soon. She is aware of this. She has spina bifida, uses a wheelchair and is studying grade 4 in local school - and doing well. She is confident, articulate and happy. As Dawn is in the adoption program, one of our teachers that has lived abroad in another culture and I took some time to really talk to her about adoption this week. Dawn already has a degree of understanding that adoption to another culture and language would be difficult (she is used to playing and being around non-speaking foreign people that come to the centre on short term teams), however, she has stated that she would like to have a family, and that she would like to go abroad. She is willing to work to overcome language difficulties for that. She is also aware that education, future jobs and life in a place like the USA would be easier for her than in China where wheelchair uses are still not supported well."

Meet Dean

Dean has Thallasemia and is currently waiting  on China's  shared list. (Here is a short video about this special need: Dean does not currently attend school because he has to receive transfusions every 1-2 months. Because of this, his developments in all areas are a little delayed compared with his peers. Now he can walk up and down stairs independently, and he can jump off the floor with both feet. He can walk in a straight line. He can hold a pencil to draw lines and circles. Dean likes coloring and he knows the concept of big and small, in and out, many and few, right and left etc. He can identify different colors, such as red, yellow, green, blue, white and black etc. He can count from 1 to 10. He knows concept of week and he knows what day it is today or tomorrow. His language development is average. He is talkative and can carry simple conversations, but his some of pronunciation is not so clear. He can feed himself and go to toilet on his own. He can put on or take off his clothes, shoes and socks. He likes to be helpful and do things such as fetching bottles for younger children.
Dean is active and precious boy. Every time when people come to his living group he is always the first to call “mama” or “baba”, with loud sound and bright smile. He is very active in outdoor activities, but in his room he likes sitting on his own chair quietly to play toys or watch TV, very attentively. He gets along very well with children in the same group. He is closest to the caretaker who looks after him and other children in the same group. His favorite toy is toy gun.
Dean receives blood transfusions every 1-2 months. Please pray that Dean finds his forever family soon. There is a critical blood shortage in  many provinces in China. It is crucial for the orphans that are transfusion dependent to find their forever families soon. 
Meet Danielle

Danielle is a pretty little girl who is active, fond of listing to music, playing games and watching TV. She has a ready smile. She knows colors and animals, body parts and can button and unbutton clothing. She can put on and take off her shoes and clothes and stand on one foot for at least two seconds. She can draw. She is not picky about food and her favorite food is rice. Danielle has normal mental development. She knows things in her environment. She can count from one to twenty. She can communicate with grown-ups. She often communicates with people she knows. Danielle lives in the institution and her eyes reflect how much she needs a forever family. A plastic surgeon look at her file and said the area in and on the side of her mouth could easily be removed and should be removed as to not interfere with her eating.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas Shopping?

It's that time of year again.  I love Christmas and I love shopping. But I am not such a big fan of Christmas shopping. I don't like the lines, or trying to figure out what people would like, or how crowded the stores get.  I have discovered online shopping.  I must say I like it!

If you are Christmas shopping on Amazon this year, would you please use our Amazon fundraiser link? ( There will be no extra charge to you. We will get a small percentage of the sale to put towards our adoption! Please consider bookmarking this link or adding it to your favorites!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Single Parent Adoption

As I right this blog post, I realize some of my readers may disagree with what I have to say.  That is okay. All I ask is that you read what I have to say before making up your mind on the topic of Single Parent Adoption.

In An Ideal World

In an ideal world their would be no need for adoption.  Every child would grow up in a happy, peaceful home with his/her married, biological mother and father. Social services would never have need to remove a child from a home because there would be no abuse, neglect, or abandonment.  Parents wouldn't die and leave their children orphaned.

The World We Live In

The world we live in is far from ideal.   

Research shows that the best situation for a child is to grow up in a home with his married biological mom and dad. But this isn't possible for millions of kids who can't live with their biological parents because of neglect, abuse, and abandonment, or death of parents. These children need to be adopted or they will grow up in an orphanage or bouncing around in foster care. Research shows that adoption is much better for children than growing up in an orphanage.  Foster care was never meant to be a permanent solution for children.  Foster care has always been meant to be a temporary home with temporary parents until children can either be restored to their biological family or be adopted.

Since the World We Live in Is Less than Ideal

Since the world is less than ideal, I propose that adoption by a single parent is one solution to the huge problem of orphaned, neglected, abused, and abandoned children in our world today.

Isn't one parent better than no parent?  Isn't a stable home better than no home? Aren't children better off being adopted than growing up in an orphanage or bouncing around from foster home to foster home? 


Unique Challenges

Single parenting does have unique challenges. One challenge is the need for role models that are the gender of the missing (for lack of a better word) parent. Children of a single mother need male role models.  Perhaps a grandfather or uncle, or close family friend could fill that spot.  Children of a single father need female role models. An aunt or grandmother could help fill that place. Could you be that role model?

Another challenge is the need for support. Because a single parent doesn't have the support of a spouse, they need outside support.  They need your support. A single parent may just need someone to talk to.  She/he may need someone give them a break from parenting by keeping there children for a few hours. Most single parents also have to work. They would probably appreciate freezer meals and help with laundry or housework. If you know a single parent who is fostering or has adopted, please give them your support.


To those parents who are brave enough to foster and/or adopt even though you are single, I to say "I admire you." What courage you have to adopt even when others oppose you! How brave you are to dare to parent without the support of a spouse! I also want to tell you, that "You can do it! You will be a wonderful parent!

Single Parents Are a Success!

This is the story of the Thiel family. Meet a single mother who adopted three children.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Spot Light: Foster Care Adoption

Even though Andrew and I are adopting internationally, I want to do a blog post about foster care adoption. (We chose not to adopt from foster care this time, but are open to the idea if we decide to adopt again. )

Yesterday's post mentioned some of the obstacles to adopting from foster care. Today, I want to focus on the successes of adoptions from foster care.

Adoption Made A Difference in These Kids Life

On amazing success story is Jim Daly, the President of Focus. In this video, Jim Daly talks about the death of his mother, abandonment by his step father, being put in foster care and being adopted.

You Don't Have to be Perfect, to be a Perfect Parent

This video made me laugh, so I had to include it!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy National Adoption Day!

Today on National Adoption Day, 4,500 children in foster care will be adopted. We celebrate with these children that they now having parents, a forever family, and a home.

But my heart saddens as I think of the 130,000 children in the US that are still waiting to be adopted. What obstacles are holding these children back from finding loving parents and a home?

Obstacle 1 - 
Misconception: Children in Foster Care have More Problems than Internationally Adopted Children

It is easy to believe that by adopting a child from over seas that he/she will have no history and will be arriving in your home with a blank slate.  But that isn't the case.  Children world wide become available for adoption for the same reasons children in the US are available: neglect, abuse, abandonment, death of parents, etc. Internationally adopted children have the same problems as children adopted from the US with the added problems of language barriers and culture shock. In addition, internationally adopted children also may have problems from living in an orphanage, like institutionalized behaviors, malnutrition, scabies, intestinal parasites, rickets, etc.

Obstacle 2 - 
Misconception: What Did These Kids Do Wrong to End Up in Foster Care?

This misconception is so sad! Children are not in foster care because of any of there own actions. Children are in foster care because of neglect or abuse by parents.

Obstacle 3 - 
Misconception: Adopted Children Don't Turn Out Well

This is a major misconception that research has proven false.  I have a lengthy blog post about how well children who are adopted adjust. Click here to read the blog post Adoption Myth Busters: Adopted Kids Grow Up To Break Their Parents Heart.

Obstacle 4 - Age

The older children grow, the less likely they will be adopted.  The majority of people want to adopt infants or toddlers.  However, older children can actually fit into a new family and adjust better than toddlers.  Older children understand what is happening and can verbalize their thoughts.  Toddlers only understand that their world has changed and they are living with strangers.  Older children may work very hard to make an adoption work because they know that this is their last chance to have a family.

Waiting to Be Adopted

Hear from some kids who are waiting to be adopted.

What It's Like Being Taken Away

Children adopted from foster care describe what it is like being taken away from their biological family.

The Hope of Being Adopted

Children who were adopted from foster care talk about the hopes they had of being adopted. 

Hear From Parents who Have Adopted from Foster Care

Think you could never adopt from foster care? These parents did not think they could either!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Finger Prints!

Andrew and I were fingerprinted yesterday for three different kinds of background checks.  We were electronically fingerprinted for FBI and BCI criminal checks that will be sent directly to our home study agency.  We also needed to do ink fingerprints on a card for an additional FBI check that will be included in our Dossier and sent to Bulgaria. We got all three done at our local sheriff's office!

It was so exciting to be fingerprinted that we just had to take pictures for the scrapbook. (I thought you might want to see them too.)

Andrew having electronic finger prints for FBI and BCI background checks.
Thumb prints too!

Me, getting inked up for an FBI background check.
Background Checks. Done.

I love the feeling of accomplishment every time I can cross something else of the adoption to-do list!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Will It Be Snips, Snails & Puppy Dog Tails OR Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice?

Are you adopting boys or girls or one of each?

We don't know yet! We won't know until we receive our official referral in about one or two years.

Andrew and I would not be able to choose a gender if we had bio kids. However with international adoption, many times parents can choose to adopt either a boy or a girl. Even though Bulgaria's adoption program does allow requests for children of a specific gender, we decided not to request a specific gender. We will be matched with whatever sibling group is available and waiting for parents at the time. Andrew and I believe that the children we are matched with will be the children God intended to be in are family and will be right for us!

The old poem says:

Girls are made of Sugar and Spice
and Everything Nice

Boys are Made of Snips and Snails 
and Puppy Dog Tails.

We think both sound fun! Although I am secretly hoping for a boy and a girl, I will also be thrilled if we are matched with two boys or two girls. (I also think twins would be really neat!)

Interestingly enough, most people must prefer Sugar and Spice. Adoption agencies, both domestic and international, report that if given a choice, 75-80% of adoptive parents prefer to adopt girls. More girls are adopted internationally every year than boys.  Between 1999-2011, over 60% of children adopted internationally into the United States were girls.

Sadly, this preference may lead to many orphans waiting longer for a family or never receiving a family at all. There are more boy orphans waiting to be adopted than girl orphans in every country except China. Even in China, there are many boys waiting to be adopted.

Why the preference for girls? No one is sure exactly why. Perhaps the there is a preference for girls because:
  • Many times adoption is driven by the mother, not the father. A hopeful mommy-to-be may be dreaming of a daughter.
  • Some people may view girls as vulnerable and needed protection. (My view: All orphans are vulnerable and in need of protection. All children should be raised in a loving family!)
  • Girls may be viewed as easier to raise than boys.  (Although, the opposite may be true in many cases. I have heard many parents of both boys and girls say that their boys were actually easier to raise.)
  • Boys traditionally carry on the family last name.  Families may prefer to adopt a girl because they are uncomfortable with an adopted child carrying on the family last name.
If you have adopted, are adopting, or are considering adoption, would you/did you request a boy or a girl, or no preference? I would love to hear you feed back! Please comment on your preference (or lack of preference) and why.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What is a Waiting Child?

In the US, waiting children are paper ready for adoption.  These children have already had their parents' rights terminated due to repeated neglect and abuse. They cannot return to their birth families.  They are placed in foster care while they wait for a forever family, parents, and a home.  Sadly, all too many of these children will never be adopted. They will bounce from foster family to foster family until they age out of foster care. They may never have the opportunity to have forever family.

The term waiting children, in international adoption, usually still refers to children that are paper ready for adoption.  Many times waiting children are the children that are harder to place for adoption.  Some adoption agencies or countries use the terms special needs adoption, special focus adoption, and waiting child adoption interchangeably. Don’t let the term “special needs” scare you! Although some medical special needs are very severe, there are many special needs that are minor and/or correctable with proper treatment. Some children in the special needs program don't actually have any health or mental issues at all. They may be healthy older children that are waiting to be adopted. Sometimes sibiling adoption is considered a “special need” because it may be harder to place more than one child together in a family. 

I love how this video explains waiting child adoption programs!  Although it is geared toward adopting from China, the information would be very helpful to anyone who is curious about waiting children or special needs adoption.

Why Adopt a Waiting Child

1. Adopting a child who is waiting/special needs is much faster.  Waiting child adoptions may take a year to a year and a half compared to 3+ years.

2. In the US, adopting a waiting child from foster care is free or very inexpensive.

3. In international adoption, the fees for adoption of a waiting child can be less expensive (depending on country and agency.)

4. Many children with a special need will never have the opportunity of having parents and a family.  These children will be stuck in an institution for their childhood or possibly their entire life.
 Growing Up in a Family with Siblings who had a "Special Need"

My parents did not adopt.  All of my siblings and I came into our family through birth.  Out of the seven of us (yes, we are a large family), three would probably be considered to have special needs.  One of my siblings was born completely deaf in one ear. One sibling is legally blind in one eye. Another sibling was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in third grade.  Their medical needs or physical handicaps did not make my siblings any less valuable members of our family. I can't imagine life without the blessings and joys my family would have missed out on had these siblings had not been apart of our family. 

You say, "That is different.  Your siblings with special needs were all biological." If you had a child born with a special health need of course you would parent that child.  But since your adopting, go for a healthy "normal" child, right?  I ask, "What joys and blessings might your family be missing out on by not adopting a child who may have a special need?" 

Could you be a parent to a waiting child?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Moved with Compassion

Matthew 9: 35- 36  

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 

My role model in life is Jesus. I want to learn to live like Jesus. I want to be filled with such compassion for those around me that I act on my compassion.

My husband and I used to think we would be able to help others sometime in the future. Right now, we need to save as much as possible for our adoption. Right? Then we learned we are in the top richest 25% of the world because we make more than $11,000 a year, and have a home, clothes, and plenty to eat. We feel God wants us to be giving people now.  We have so much.  How could we selfishly keep it to ourselves?

Andrew and I decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International. It has been wonderful. We were able to choose online which child we wanted to sponsor.  We chose to sponsor a child that had been waiting the longest for sponsorship, but you can choose based on birth date, gender, country, etc.  I think it would be really neat for a family to have their children help sponsor a child with whom they share a birthday.  When you sponsor a child, your receive a packet in the mail with the child's picture and some information about him/her as well as directions for how to write letters to him/her.

Maybe your family can't adopt, for some reason or another.  You may be wondering what you can do to help orphaned and abandoned children in the world.  There are many ways to care for the neediest members of our world, one of which is sponsorship.

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.  Your sponsorship will help provide a child with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training. Today, Compassion helps more than 1.2 million children in 26 countries.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ways to Support Orphans if You Aren't Able to Adopt

"Our family isn't able to adopt or be a foster family. We still want to fulfill James 1:27.  How can we care for the need of orphans?"

I am so glad you asked! I would love to suggest some ways you can support orphans.



Pray for orphans world wide. Pray for their spiritual and physical needs. Pray that these children will receive the gift or parents and families. Pray that they will have food and shelter and someone to care for them. Pray that they will learn of Jesus love for them and in return love Jesus.

James 5:16b

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.



The first six months after a family brings their new child into their family can be overwhelming. Support a family you know who is fostering or has adopted. Volunteer to watch the kids so that mom can go grocery shopping or mom and dad can have a date night.  Make up some freezer meals so the family can adjust without the added stress of trying to figure out and make supper.  Volunteer to go to their house and clean or do laundry.  Ask to take the children to the park or library to give mom a few hours break. With the exception of making the freezer meals, all of the suggestions are free.  You can support adoptive and foster families, even if you are on a tight budget. 



Don't worry, I am not asking for your money! At least, I am not asking for myself. I am asking to give your money to a charity that supports orphans. You choose which charity. Sponsor a Child in a poverty stricken country through Compassion International. Donate money to an organization that provides adoption grants and orphan care, like Show Hope or LifeSong for Orphans.
 The following video is from the Chapmans discussing amount of people they have to turn down for grants because of the lack of funds.

Don't think you have enough money to give? Please reconsider. Most of the world lives of $1-2 a day. If you make more than $10,700 a year, keep food in a refrigerator, sleep in a bed with a roof over your head, and keep clothes in a closet, you are in the top richest 25% of the world. If you have a net worth of $60,000 you are in the top 10% of the world.

James 2:14-20

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Myth Busters: We Are Too Old To Adopt!

You may be thinking, "I am too old to adopt" when in fact the opposite may be true! You may be the perfect age to adopt. Andrew and I found that many countries put age limits on how young adoptive parents can be! We were too young to adopt from China and Haiti.

At some point, a couple does become too old to adopt. But that age might not be as young as you think. The couple on the video below were "empty nesters" (they had already raised two daughters) when God lead them to adopt!

What are the age limits when it comes to adoptive parents? That depends on the type of adoption. Many people couples adopt in their 40s and even 50s!

International Adoption 

Every countries all sets their own requirements. If I listed all the countries and their requirements, this blog post would by way too long.  The three countries listed below are examples. You can look up the requirements of all countries that the US allows children to be adopted from at the the US Department of State website. (Some agencies also set additional requirements. You may need to search to find an agency that will accept you.)
  • China - Both the husband and wife must be at least 30 years old and under age 50. If adopting a special needs child, both must be between the ages of 30 and 55.
  • Russia -  For single persons who wish to adopt, there must be a 16 year age difference between the prospective parent and the prospective child. There are no age requirements for married couples. However, there is an unwritten rule that there can not be more than 45 years of age difference between the child being adopted and the adopting mother. (Example: If the child is 9, the mother can be no older than 54.)
  • Ethiopia - If single, the prospective adoptive parent must be at least 25 years of age. If married, there is no minimum age. There also is no maximum age limit for adoptive parents. However, Ethiopian Government practice is to limit the age difference between the prospective adoptive parent and the adopted child to no more than 40 years


Domestic Adoption from Foster Care

Almost one in four adopted children lives happily with an adoptive parent 55 years or older. I have not seen age limits on how old a foster parent can be, only on how young. Check with you local department of job and family services as adoptive parent requirements could vary from state to state.


Domestic Infant Adoption

This may be the hardest way for older parents to adopt because agencies may set their own requirements and birth mothers choose with whom they want to place their baby.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How Long Does It Take To Adopt?

Our adoption of a sibling group ages 5 and under from Bulgaria will probably take from two to three years from the time we applied to our adoption agency to the time we bring our children home.

November is National Adoption Month.  You may be wondering, "If we adopt, how long will it take?" The adoption time table varies greatly between domestic newborn, domestic foster care and international adoption.  Times also depend much upon the characteristics you are seeking in a child.  For international adoption, waiting children, older children, special needs children and boys are much faster to adopt than young, healthy girls.

Adoptive Families Magazine surveyed over 1,500 families who adopted in 2010-2011 to find out how long there adoptions took. 
U.S. Newborn Adoption
Average time from preparation of portfolio to match with birthmother (includes time spent in false starts):
Less than 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 12 months
13 to 24 months
Longer than 24 months

Time between birth and legal finalization:
Less than 6 months
7 to 12 months
Longer than 12 months

  • 39% of respondents experienced at least one false start. Of these families, 39% worked with the expectant mother one month or less.
  • 13% were matched after the child had already been born.
What readers say about the time it takes to adopt a newborn in the U.S.:
"We were open to any gender and any race so we were able to be matched quickly."
"The adoption was contested by the birthfather, so that made the process take longer. There were also delays from the birthmother's being hospitalized for an illness."
"Our domestic adoption progressed VERY quickly. We submitted our dossier to our attorney on December 17, were matched to a birth mom on December 20, our son was born on December 27, and we brought him 'home' to our hotel on December 29. It was a 12-day process from paperwork submission to holding our new son."
"We waited almost two years. The agency had an in-depth educational process which broadened our understanding of adoption and open adoption. They had many services available to us while we waited. I can't imagine not having that support and education."
"Our baby was placed with us at four days old, but he was premature, so he was in the NICU for almost five weeks before he could come home."
"We experienced four failed attempts, including one in which the baby was with us for seven days. We took several months 'off' after each false start, and then it took several months each time to find the new match."
"Our child was relinquished by his birth mother at six months of age, then placed in foster care for three months while legal paperwork was completed. So, our timeline is a bit unique."

U.S. Foster AdoptionAdoptions in FY 2009: 55,684

Average time from foster certification to placement of child ultimately adopted:
Less than 1 month
2 to 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 12 months
Longer than 12 months

Time from placement to finalization:

Less than 6 months
7 to 12 months
13 to 18 months
19 to 24 months
Longer than 2 years

  • 33% had placements that did not end in adoption. For 22% of these families, the placement lasted for longer than one year.
What readers say about the time it takes to adopt from U.S. foster care:
"We had our foster daughter for the six months they require you to have them in your home before you are allowed to adopt. As soon as we were allowed and approved by DCFS to apply for an adoption date, we did."
"Working with government agencies take a very long time. They forgot our completed homestudy and adoption contact on someone's desk and it expired. Then it had to be completed again. Frustrating, to say the least!"
"My son was in the system as legally free for adoption - so things moved quickly."
"you have to go through the legal process of terminating parental rights. In our case, we had to also serve notice to unknown fathers in the newspaper. Once all that is completed, adoption usually goes pretty fast."
"We had to try to reunify the child with his parents. This is the goal of foster parenting. If you go into it with the thought of adoption you will be disappointed. You have to go through all the steps with the social worker and the parents knowing that, if they are not successful, parental rights can be terminated. You also have to have the right judge who drives his/her own schedule, the social worker, and the parents. Our judge held everyone accountable, called them to court when he wanted the paperwork done, and just did not let the clock tick."

China AdoptionAdoptions to the U.S. in 2011: 2,587
including traditional and waiting child programs

Average time from completion of dossier to referral:

Less than 36 months
37 to 60 months
Longer than 5 years

Time from referral until child came home:

Less than 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 9 months
Longer than 9 months

Average time from completion of dossier to referral:

Less than 1 months
2 to 12 months
13 to 24 months
Longer than 2 years

Time from referral until child came home:

Less than 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 9 months
Longer than 9 months

  • 93% spent three weeks or less in China.
What readers say about the time it takes to adopt from China:
"China slowed down a lot after our dossier was logged in."
"Once we switched to the special needs program it was much faster than we expected. Our agency told us seven to eight months to referral. We waited less than two months from our switch to referral."
"We identified our child from a waiting child list before our homestudy was complete. There were complications getting the homestudy completed within our state, so that lengthened our wait from referral to bringing our son home."
"We spent longer than two weeks in country because we wanted to visit the foster home that our son had spent two years of his life in."

Ethiopia AdoptionAdoptions to the U.S. in 2011: 1,732
Average time from completion of dossier to referral:
Less than 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 9 months
10 to 12 months
13 to 18 months
Longer than 18 months

Time from referral until child came home:

Less than 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 9 months
Longer than 9 months

  • 68% took two trips to Ethiopia to complete their adoptions. For 34%, three or more months passed between the trips.
  • 55% spent two weeks or less in Ethiopia; 29% spent two to three weeks.
What readers say about the time it takes to adopt from Ethiopia:
"Our process got 'stuck' in the requirement changes that were taking place in Ethiopia in 2010 and 2011."
"We chose to stay between court and embassy in country. It was supposed to be six to eight weeks, but it ended up being five months."
"We adopted an older 'waiting child,' so we did not have to wait for a referral."
"Our agency forged a relationship with a new orphanage while we were in process. Because our agency had access to a new population of children who were waiting for parents, our wait was much shorter than expected. The wait has increased dramatically since."
"Our adoption went relatively quickly because we adopted when Ethiopia required only one trip and before the wait time for approval letters began to increase."
"We were caught in the rainy season!"

Russia AdoptionAdoptions to the U.S. in 2011: 962
Average time from completion of dossier to referral:
Less than 1 month
2 to 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 12 months
13 to 18 months
Longer than 18 months

Time from referral until child came home:

Less than 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 9 months
Longer than 9 months

  • 59% took three or more trips to Russia to complete their adoptions.
  • 47% spent four or more weeks in Russia, total.
What readers say about the time it takes to adopt from Russia:
"I adopted from a Russian region known for its unsympathetic judge. Delays were due to international scandal, local elections (which seemed frequent), hypercritical dossier requirements, and the judge's frequent absences due to vacation and holidays."
"Great agency with long track record = fast, healthy referral and quick process."
"Our dossier was submitted to Russia in June of 2009. In April of 2010, the Tory Hansen 'scandal' broke (a woman who adopted a boy from Russia sent him back on a plane by himself), and this, of course, damaged U.S./Russian relations and showed down our process. This was an extremely stressful time, but, thankfully, while adoptions slowed in the Vladivostok region, they did not cease."
"We requested a boy age zero to three. Our agency said that they love people who want boys and that we would wait about four to six weeks. We received our referral before our dossier was even complete! Our court date came just after they had changed the law to increase the waiting period from 10 to 30 days. Other than that, everything was pretty quick."

South Korea AdoptionAdoptions to the U.S. in 2011: 736
Average time from completion of dossier to referral:
Less than 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 9 months
10 to 12 months
13 to 18 months
Longer than 18 months

Time from referral until child came home:

Less than 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 9 months
Longer than 9 months

  • Of the 82% who traveled to adopt, 35% spent one week or less in South Korea.
What readers say about the time it takes to adopt from South Korea:
"South Korea is decreasing the number of emigration permits (EPs) that are approved each year -- we got caught up in that wait."
"We worked with very experienced agencies both here in the U.S. and in South Korea. They processed everything as efficiently as possible."
"We were waiting for the referral of a female, so it took longer than average. Also, the quota lengthened our wait, and has now extended the wait even longer than ours was."

Ukraine AdoptionAdoptions to the U.S. in 2011: 640
Average time from completion of dossier to referral:
Less than 1 month
2 to 3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 12 months
Longer than 12 months

Time from referral until child came home:

Less than 1 month
2 to 3 months
Longer than 3 months

  • 36% took two trips to the Ukraine to complete their adoptions.
  • 82% spent four or more weeks in the Ukraine, total.
What readers say about the time it takes to adopt from the Ukraine:
"You receive your referral in country. Then you need to request your court date. After court, there is a 10-day waiting period before the adoption is final."
"Our adoption was fairly quick for Ukraine. We knew it would be about six weeks from beginning to end. We are very pleased with the process and the outcome of our adoption."
"We had a failed adoption attempt and were matched with another child. I stayed in country for eight weeks. My husband went home, returned for court, and then went home again. If we hadn't faced this wrinkle I would have been there for about five weeks and my husband would have gone home after three."

Charts and survey information from Adoptive Families Magazine.