international adoption

International Adoption Process Q & A

Lucy, our youngest daughter, was just 5 months old when Scott’s sister and brother-in-law brought our nephew home from China.  We had walked with them through their international adoption process.  Never in a million years at that moment, did I think we would walk through it ourselves.  Yet, here we are on the brink of bringing home our son from China.  Anytime, I mention that we are adopting I get lots of questions so I thought I would answer some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to the international adoption process.

My husband and I also did a Facebook Live and covered many of these questions, you can watch it here.

Why did you choose adoption?

Many people assume adoption is reserved for those that cannot have biological children of their own and while that is a reason, it’s not the only reason.  We have 3 biological children and actually thought our family was complete.  You can read this blog post to my last child (God has a sense of humor!).

Shortly after my nephew came home from China, I started to feel this “pull” to adopt.  I remember with trepidation voicing the desire to my bible study small group and shortly after to my husband.  Like I said we were done having children, so my admission was a surprise to everyone, even myself.

I asked Scott to pray about it and he didn’t.  He didn’t know how serious I was so a year later on our 10th wedding anniversary cruise, I asked what he thought about us adopting and he had to admit he hadn’t prayed.  He agreed to pray and over the next 6 months, God revealed to him that we should adopt too.  We started the international adoption process in late August 2016!

We chose adoption because we answered the call God placed on our hearts.  It sounds silly but it’s true.  On average 1/3 Americans have considered adoption but only 2% actually adopt (source).

Why did you choose international adoption, specifically, China?

For us, there was no question in our mind.  We felt called to China.  We will never understand fully what it feels like to be adopted but we could give our child 2 cousins that would share their heritage and experience.  They would have cousins that looked just like them in photographs and they could grow up together knowing others like them.

Not only that, as far as adoption goes China has a very reputable long-standing relationship with the United States and the process, although slow, is very straight-forward and by the book.

What does the International adoption process look like?

We started by locating an agency that specialized in the China adoption process.  We were given the advice to go by word of mouth recommendation so we opted to go with the same agency as my husband’s sister’s family used.  We filled out the application and were accepted into their program.

Home Study

The next step was completing our home study.  Since our agency was located out of state, they recommended a local agency to do our home study.  A social worker within that agency was assigned to our case and made several visits to our home to interview both my husband and I as well as our kids.  The social worker than compiled all of the personal and financial information into a large document that would eventually be sent with our file to China.

I-800 & Dossier

When that was complete, we started the immigration process by filling out the I-800 which is the pre-approval necessary to immigrate a child into the United States.  Once we got that back, we could compile all the collected paperwork and submit our dossier (all collected paperwork) and submit it to China.  When they received our dossier and accepted it, we were officially logged in.  We were officially logged in (LID) July 2018!

Waiting for a Match

Then, we waited for a match.  This by far was the hardest part of the process because there was literally nothing we could do except pray and wonder when we would receive a file.  Then, on February 26th we got a file and accepted our match.  You can read more about our match day here.

Prepare to Travel

Once, we got matched we officially accepted with a letter to China and waited for our letter of acceptance (LOA).  Once we got that back, things were official and we could start the ball rolling to go get our son.  We sent in the rest of our immigration paperwork (I-800A) and started filing for our Chinese visas.

Once we get the I-800A paperwork back (takes 4-7 weeks) then we can schedule the day we pick up Quincy (gotcha day).  They are always on a Monday and book plane tickets based on that.

What will your stay in China look like?

We plan to fly into Beijing 4 days ahead of our scheduled gotcha day to acclimate to the time difference.  It’s literally halfway around the world (13-hour time difference).  We will use the time to acclimate and sightsee around Beijing.

Then, we will travel to our son’s province.  During our stay there, he will officially be placed in our custody and we hope to see his finding place (the place he was abandoned) and visit his orphanage.

Then, most likely after that, we will travel to Guangzhou where the US Embassy is located for the remainder of our stay.  There, we will have a variety of medical and consulate appointments.  In between, appointments a guide will take us to different sites in the area like the local zoo, a river cruise and a visit to the pearl district to name a few.  We will travel by train to Hong Kong and then fly out of Hong Kong back to the United States.

Our agency helps us plan the entire trip thankfully since we probably will be in a bit of a new child haze most of our time in China.

Will you travel to China as a family?

Yes!  Our kids have been part of the entire adoption process and we want them to experience our son’s birth country and culture.  We want them to learn the value of global citizenship beyond the scope of central Iowa.  There are lots of opinions on this but for our family, based on the recommendations of those we trust, we have chosen to all go!

How much does adoption cost?

The short answer is between $25,000-$35,000.  The fluctuation in numbers is due to travel expenses based on the time of year you travel and how many people will be traveling.  The thing I didn’t know about that number is not all of the money is due at one time.  Our international adoption process has taken 20 months so far and we have paid portions of that throughout.

When we were praying about adoption, everyone who had adopted said do not let money stop you, God will provide.  It’s true.  In a million different and unexpected ways, God has provided.  We have learned a lot about what contentment and have really refined our spending habits in this process, definitely an unexpected benefit.

How much do you know about your son?

Before we ever got matched, we had a conversation and training on what we were willing to accept.  It’s heart-breaking to have to decide but it’s a life-long commitment and we had 3 other children to consider.

So, when our social worker sent us our match she knew exactly what we were looking for.  So, before I even opened his file I was pretty sure he was our son.  We got a fairly extensive medical record and all the information they knew about him plus a few pictures and 2 videos.  We had that information to make our decision.

We consulted our local pediatrician and she looked over his file too.  We were going to have an international adoption specialist review his file but it wasn’t necessary in our case.  We most likely won’t get any more information on him until we meet him on Gotcha day.

How can others be supportive of adoptive families in the process?

Ask questions.  The biggest difference I noticed when adopting is that since there was no protruding belly, there was no visual reminder to prompt people to ask how it was going.  The adoption process can be lonely and the wait can be extremely hard.  Just asking how it’s going means so much.

Prayers.  Knowing you are being prayed for is huge.  Even though we are matched, we still covet prayers for smooth paperwork, safety in travel and bonding for our whole family.

Support.  Whether that be a financial contribution, help with fundraising, taking care of the housework while they are away or a meal when the family gets home.  Just knowing there is a community there to support you is huge.  We invite our friends and family to meet us at the airport to meet Quincy when we get home.

Understanding.  Due to the need to bond, the adoptive parents need to be the primary caregivers for the first 3-6 months which means they can’t attend a nursery/daycare setting.  In addition, his primary needs like feeding, diapering, and holding should be done by his parents alone.  Although it seems different, it’s essential the child feels bonded to the parents.

What adoption resources would you recommend?


How do you find an adoption agency?

We had been given some good advice to go with a word of mouth recommendation.  If you know someone who has adopted, ask them who they used for their adoption.  Then, set up a time to chat with them in person or over the phone and ask your questions.  It’s important you feel comfortable because they will walk you through the process, you want to have a good rapport out of the gate.

 

Bringing awareness to adoption

We love to bring awareness to the international adoption process and share our adoption journey with others.  Keep in mind, every country and adoption is different and the international adoption process looks different than the domestic adoption process. However, When we were deciding whether we should adopt, I loved reading about other’s adoption journeys.

Also, if you have any questions, please email me at erin@simplepurposefulliving.com.  Plus, don’t forget to watch our Facebook live where we share more about our adoption journey and answer more questions!  Watch it here.

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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