Orphan (Every)Day

November 6th, 2011

southamerica2Today was Orphan Sunday at many churches around the US. This couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Recently, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, reported that, "Last year [fiscal year 2011], US citizens adopted more than 9,000 children from countries around the world." In fiscal years 2004 and 2005, Americans adopted nearly 23,000 children each year from other countries. The number of international adoptions has been on a steady decline since then. And it seems this fiscal year, which ended September 30, is no exception. There are some obvious clues as to why international adoptions have declined. China has dramatically slowed down international adoptions. The Guatemala adoption program was very popular, and the closing… [more]

Going Home

October 13th, 2011

iStock_000009028466XSmallHome is where the heart is.  But, for my daughters, their hearts aren’t just under my roof. As internationally adopted children, I know a part of them still resides in their birth countries.  As they grow up as red, white, and blue Americans, Elle is still Russian, and Bunny is still Guatemalan. And I love that about them. We recently celebrated Bunny’s Adoption Day, the day we brought her home.  Although I punted on making tamales, I did have cake.  While we enjoyed her red velvet cake, she asked when Elle’s A-Day was.  It’s in June.  Then she asked when her daddy’s A-Day was and then when was mine. We told her we didn’t have A-Days because we weren’t adopted.  Then she questioned our citizenship.  Apparently… [more]

Lost Opportunity

October 6th, 2011

iStock_000014869787XSmallI am disappointed.  Disappointed at a lost opportunity. This morning, over a cup of coffee, I read this headline in the Hollywood Reporter. Jillian Michaels Warns Against International Adoption Unless You Have ‘A Lot Of Money’ In the current issue of Prevention Magazine, Michaels, a former trainer on The Biggest Loser, discusses the difficulties she’s had adopting internationally.  She left the TV reality show last December and this February announced she was adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Celebrity adoptions are not uncommon.  Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.  Madonna controversially adopted a boy from Malawi.  Meg Ryan adopted a baby girl from China, and Katherine Heigl adopted a special needs daughter from Korea. When celebrities adopt… [more]

Tamales and Borscht

September 27th, 2011

Tamale, traditional food from Latin AmericaTomorrow is Bunny’s adoption day.  It’s been six years since we brought our little bundle of joy home from Guatemala.  Every year I think about holding her in my arms knowing she was finally mine. In years past we have celebrated with cake and singing, taking time to celebrate the expansion of our family.  Rather than sugary sweet confections this year, I’ve decided I want to try something different.  Tamales.  I want to make tamales. Tamales from Guatemala are different than the Mexican tamales we typically see.  They are usually wrapped in banana or plantain leaves rather than in corn husks, and they are smaller, although there are more variations than there are Guatemalan regions. I’ve been searching around the… [more]

Scissors and Crayons

September 20th, 2011

iStock_000014990202XSmallSometimes international adoption can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. When Elle was in the lower grades of elementary school, she brought home an assignment.  They had been studying the 50 states in school and how the states related to the students.  The worksheet was a map of the United States with \instructions to color in the state where they were born. This presented a problem for Elle.  She wasn’t born in the US.  She was born in Russia.  She could have colored in the state I lived in when I adopted her, or she could have colored in the state that had recognized her foreign adoption, but neither of those choices seemed right. My husband and I stared at each other… [more]

Dating Your Agency

August 9th, 2011

ExcellentPNGChoosing an agency is just like any other big decision. Your agency will be there, ideally, to guide you through the complicated and emotional process of bringing home a new member of your family. Take some time to get to know your agency before you commit. First, make sure the agency is licensed to conduct adoptions in the country you chose. For example, there are 22 agencies in the US that are licensed in Ethiopia to place children. Yet other agencies partner with the licensed ones to conduct adoptions. Acting as third parties, some of these agencies have higher fees, so it might be wise to work directly with the agencies licensed in-country. Ask if your agency is Hague-accredited. Even if you're adopting from… [more]

I Wish I Had Known

April 8th, 2011

wishingI recently came across an article on NPR, Fewer Russian Adoptions Since Mom Sends Son Back. I hadn’t realized it has been a year since Torry Hansen bought a one-way ticket to Moscow and sent her adopted son back to Russia.  I try not to judge others because no one can ever understand the true story behind the scenes.  Like most, I was outraged, but my focus was directed at the system rather than at Torry and her poor decision. When my husband and I started our Russian adoption journey 13 years ago, we were required to attend parenting classes at our adoption agency.  One session was about which particular country we wanted to adopt from.  One session was on the paperwork… [more]

When a Country’s Program is Suspended

March 18th, 2011

closed borderAs a mother of internationally adopted children, it always saddens me to read that another foreign country has suspended their international adoption programs, or are scaling back.  Such is the case in Ethiopia.  I recently read that the Ethiopian government has implemented changes that would result in a 90% decline in the number of adoptions they would process.  The reductions are a result of fraud suspicions and an attempt to lighten the workload of the departments that process adoptions. This does not represent a complete shut down of Ethiopian adoptions, but it will cause further delays in the adoption process.  Ethiopia has because the U.S.’s second most popular country for international adoption.  When I adopted Elle and Bunny, 12 and five years… [more]

Is International Adoption Part Of Your Family Picture? Be Aware of S.S.P.E. Measles Kills Internationally Adopted Children Through S.S.P.E. Complication

February 23rd, 2011

Measles

International adoption is a wonderful way to grow your family and share your love with a child who desperately needs a "Forever Family." If you have adopted from another country, you already know about the large amount of paperwork involved and the time it takes to complete the adoption process. The whole time, your new family member is still in another country being cared for by caregivers who are probably not doing what we would do in our country for a child. You don't know what kind of care your child is currently receiving. There are pieces of the information puzzle that are not going to be filled in by your adoption agency. You have to prepare yourself to look for specific… [more]

Where Do Babies Come From?

February 23rd, 2011

Stork & BabyNow that Bunny has turned six, I am anticipating the question all parents dread…where do babies come from?  Six years ago when Elle was getting ready to ask the question, I did my homework.  Rather than write an elaborate answer with technical terms and diagrams, I did the smart thing.  I bought a book with a lot of colored pictures…age appropriate pictures, of course. Actually, I bought three books, each containing the basic information with cute cartoon characters dressed up as sperm and eggs, and each geared towards a different age range.  I felt it would be easier to hand Elle a book, let her read it, then let her ask me any question she wanted.  My plan has worked well. … [more]