We’re facing a lot of unknowns. All parents (and people!) face uncertainty but adoption adds a complicated layer.Read More
We are matched!!
Our dossier was “logged in” to the CCCWA system on January 8th. Later that afternoon, I received a phone call from our agency. “Now that you’re logged in, we can send you referrals!”
I thought, “Great! Thanks for the call!”
But she continued, “There’s a little boy…”
Wait.. what??? Already???
She told me about Xin Yu. He’ll be 2 in March. He’s in Henan. Would we like to learn more about him?
We took time to talk and pray and consider - but we knew he was ours. We officially said yes two days later and then anxiously waited for China to say “yes” to us!
Because our dossier had just been logged in, it hadn’t been through the whole review process yet. We had to wait for them to translate and review it before we received our letter of acceptance.
We got confirmation on February 13th that our LOA was coming in the mail and that gave us the confidence in the process to tell everyone about our precious son. On February 15th, we saw a scan of our actual LOA and we’ll receive it in the mail next week.
We are thrilled and so, so, so thankful that we have confirmation that he is ours and we will be his. Thank you for all your support and prayers.
Next steps are filling out more paperwork, preparing for travel, and preparing our home for him! We don’t know yet when exactly we will travel but we anticipate May. We’ll go to China for about 17 days. We will meet him on Day 4(ish) and we’ll immediately take custody of him. Then we have to wait for more paperwork and government processes before we get to bring him home. We can’t wait!
In the spirit of sharing a Disney song that relates to our feelings... here's "Almost There" from Princess and the Frog. :)
Preface: Please don’t think of this post as saying “This is how much our child will cost.” This post is an honest look at how much international adoption costs. It’s how much the PROCESS costs...not a child.
Ok, buckle up. We’re going to talk money. It’s uncomfortable to do so, but I think it’s really important for people to understand the financial commitments surrounding adoption.
Like I’ve mentioned before, we know a lot of people who have adopted. We’ve always known this was expensive and adoption fundraising is completely normal to us. However, I know that’s not the case for everyone.
I have read articles that say people who adopt from other countries are buying babies. I have heard people say “if you can’t afford to adopt a child, you can’t afford to raise a child.”
International adoption is really expensive. We are anticipating spending more than $40,000 after travel. I’ve never researched how much it costs to give birth to a child, but I’m pretty sure insurance goes a long way to help cover the costs...which isn’t the case with adoption. We can afford to raise a child, but spending $40,000 to bring them home doesn’t set you up to be in the best financial position once they’re in your arms.
We chose this path, so we are fully prepared to be responsible for all the finances. We will do what it takes to bring our child home.
However, we have witnessed that people are eager to be a part of an adoption journey. A lot of people care deeply about adoption but don’t feel called to actually adopt. We are fundraising because we want our child to know that there was a community who was praying for them and eager for them to join our family.
Why is adoption so expensive?
I don’t have all the answers on why it costs so much, and while it may seem counterintuitive, we pay fees so that the adoption is handled ethically. When you work with a reputable agency, you pay for their experience, wisdom, and professionalism. You aren’t buying a baby.
Like any parent, you would pay whatever it cost to make sure your child is safe and healthy. You are paying knowledgeable people to do their job so that your child is brought home in a safe and ethical way.
What are some of the specific (perhaps unexpected) expenses?
- Documents. Lots and lots and lots of documents. You have to pay to source nearly every document you have to turn in. Certified copies of birth certificates, our marriage certificate, background checks, immigration application, etc. The fee to apply to US Immigration to adopt from another country is around $900. Yikes!
The sealing process. You have to have all your documents notarized and certified, which costs at every step. You have to pay the county clerk, the Secretary of State, the State Department, and the Chinese Embassy to certify your documents.
Postage. Lots and lots and lots of postage. You have to mail a lot of documents all over and you want to make sure they get there safely and securely, so you pay extra for tracking and insurance and speediness.
File reviews - it can cost around $500 to have a pediatrician well-versed in international adoptions to review a potential child’s medical files and discuss it with you.
Translation. Sometimes you have to pay to have documents translated.
Those are the major categories that we know about at this time. As you can see, there’s a lot to juggle.
It’s hard to ask for help and it’s uncomfortable knowing that some people view adoption fundraising in a negative light. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out. If you haven’t read why we’re adopting from China, you can do so here.
If you feel led, you can contribute through our YouCaring fundraiser.
We are also accepting used media to re-sell to raise money for fees. Let us know if you’re decluttering and have books, CDs, DVDs, etc to pass along.
Of course, we'll always accept prayers and good thoughts. :) Thank you for joining us on this journey!
And, per our tradition, a Disney song that somewhat relates!
Merry belated Christmas and happy new year! This update will be a little bit all over the place.
We found out on December 26th that our dossier is now complete and moving into translation. CCAI said it would be sent to China in a few days - which is much faster than I anticipated! I thought translation would take much longer. It will be mailed to the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) and we’ll get “logged in” which means we are then eligible to be matched. We have no idea how long it will take to match, however.
It’s been hard to go through the holidays with the intense desire to have a child to experience everything with. This time last year, I was just on the cusp of being ready to start the process. Now, I’m all in and it’s all I think about. My heart always went out to my friends who struggled with infertility, but I never understood how painful it can be to wait until now.
I’m off work for a while which can make me a little stir crazy. To pass the time and to not go crazy from obsessing over waiting, I have been reading about Chinese cooking. (My main source has been Omnivore’s Cookbook - she has great recipes and info on ingredients.) I went to K&S World Market today and bought dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil and took a trip to the liquor store for dry sherry. I made beef & broccoli tonight and it was decent for a first try. My next experiment will be a dumpling soup. I’m also intrigued by a recipe called Ding Ding Chao Mian (Fried noodles in lamb tomato sauce) that I might try soon.
In other learning-Chinese news, I signed up for a Mandarin class that begins in mid-January and I’m really excited to start learning the language. I’m also starting to learn more about Chinese New Year and I’m trying to figure out how we will celebrate it.
If you’re curious about China adoption or want to see the cutest little girl ever, I recommend following Elsie Larson (@elsielarson) on instagram and reading her blog The Larson House. I have absolutely fallen in love with her daughter Nova. She will definitely make you smile.
Thank you so much for all your support. I appreciate friends thinking of us during the holidays. We got a Christmas card that made me ugly-cry. You know who you are. :)
A lot of people are surprised to hear the details of what you need in order to adopt. If you're curious, this post is for you! This is a high-level view of what our process has looked like so far...minus the freak-outs, worries, celebrations, tears, and papercuts. :)Read More
Preface: This post is an honest look at what goes into the decisions you have to make when you choose to adopt. We are still learning the most sensitive and respectful ways to talk about adoption. If we have misstepped, please let us know as we are working to learn the right words. Trust that our heart is in the right place as we continue on this journey. Thank you!
We’ve been getting the “Why China?” and the “how much does adoption cost?” questions a lot lately - which is totally understandable! We’ve both been around a lot of adoptions (including international) so I think we take those answers for granted. I wanted to share a little about our decision to adopt from China today - and we’ll talk more about the cost in another post.
Adoption had been on my heart for years. The first time I understood there was an orphan/abandoned children crisis, I was a freshman in college and in a developmental psychology class. We studied cases of children in an orphanage, who spent most of their time in cribs and had little interaction with caregivers, which resulted in developmental delays. I wanted to scoop them up and love on them. My heart was opened to adoption in a major way that day.
After I moved to Nashville and started to work in the music/entertainment industry, I met tons of families who had adopted both domestically and internationally. I cried at every single adoption story I read or heard. I felt even more certain that adoption was the path I’d one day take.
Andy grew up around adoption. His family has several members that were adopted and his love for them has definitely shaped his view and desire to adopt. He also took many mission trips to Matamoros, Mexico to work in a public orphanage as well as working toward establishing a private orphanage. Andy knows that caring for a child that is in need of care is the purpose for which he was designed and made.
I’ll never forget the first time Andy and I discussed our future in regards to children. We had been dating 2 months, had just said “I love you” the day before, and we were out for coffee on his 30th birthday. I asked if he wanted kids. He surprised me by answering, “I don’t necessarily want to HAVE kids.” I froze. I had always wanted to be a mom and I was suddenly worried about our priorities aligning.
“I just want to love a kid,” he clarified and went on to mention adoption.
My heart soared. I had found someone I loved, who loved me, who also chose adoption.
WHY INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION?
When it came time to figure out what kind of adoption we would pursue, we thought, prayed, and talked about a few different options before making our final decision. The choice is intensely personal, yet at the same time, pretty public. Every family has to weigh the decision based on how they feel led and what decisions they feel comfortable making.
In the US, you basically have 2 options for adoption: you can foster-to-adopt through the state or adopt a newborn through a private adoption.
We greatly respect families who choose to foster but we didn’t feel called to become foster parents in hopes of being able to foster-to-adopt. The goal of foster care is to keep families together, so adoption via fostering can be a really long and painful road. Many parents foster for years without ever knowing if the child will actually be able to become a permanent member of their family. We knew that our hearts couldn’t handle that uncertainty.
We didn’t feel strongly about raising a child from birth, so pursuing private newborn adoption wasn’t a high priority for us - plus, there are so many families waiting to adopt newborns that we had no idea how long it may take for a birthmom to choose us.
It was clear that international adoption was the choice for us. There is a great need in orphanages all around the world. In many countries, children age out of the system at the age of 14 and they’re on their own - even with their medical or developmental needs.
To make the adoption process go as smoothly (and ethically) as possible, American families adopt from Hague Convention countries.
“The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is an international agreement to establish safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child.” (learn more)
I had always felt pulled toward China and as we discussed different countries, China seemed like the best fit. We have seen so many families bring home Chinese children. We’re interested in the culture (art, holidays, food, etc!) and there are tons of resources in Nashville (including many, many families with Chinese children). The US and China have a strong relationship in regards to adoptions - the majority of international adoptions are from China.
WHY SPECIAL NEEDS?
At the height of adoptions from China, most families were bringing home healthy baby girls that had been abandoned to meet the requirements of the 1-child-per-family law. These days, Chinese families can have more than one child which has resulted in a shift in which children are living in orphanages. Today, almost all of the children in a Chinese orphanage have some kind of special need - whether medical or developmental.
CNN covers the abandoned child crisis in China in an eye-opening story you can read here.
Most people are shocked to learn that when you adopt, you have to fill out an extensive medical checklist to determine which needs you anticipate you are suited for. It’s a very hard process and makes you feel like a terrible person, but you have to be honest with yourself on what conditions you feel prepared to address. For example, our house is a split-level and the main floor is only accessed via stairs. If we adopt a child in a wheelchair, we need to be prepared to make accommodations. The list included everything from scoliosis to brain damage to HIV.
We had to say “yes” or “no” to dozens and dozens of conditions. At the end of the day, we will bring home a child of either gender, hopefully under the age of 3, with some sort of special need.
While we are thrilled to start a family and so happy that we are finally on this path, adoption is pretty serious. The process is a series of choices and decisions that are really difficult. If we ever seem guarded or not as excited as you may expect, please understand that adoption involves a lot of hard things for the children involved - loss, grief, and trauma - which is always on our minds.
Please pray for our child (and all the children waiting for loving homes). As we get closer to the real season of waiting (after our dossier is complete), we can’t help but think of the song “It’s a Small World” as a little prayer and a theme of our hearts.
It's a world of laughter, a world of tears
It's a world of hopes and a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small, small world
There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. - Audrey Hepburn
There's a lot of waiting when you are on the adoption journey. You apply, you do paperwork, you send it all over the country, and you wait for it to be finalized. We haven't even gotten to the REALLY hard part of waiting - waiting for a referral for a child.
I'm a 7 on the enneagram which means I loooooove distractions. One of the ways I'm trying to keep myself busy (and focused on something other than the waiting) is by planning a garden. For years I've wanted to plant a cut-flower garden and I'm finally working toward that goal.
The amazing part about a garden is that you can plant bulbs as the temperatures drop and the greenery around you is turning brown and dying. There's such hope that life is at work even in the chill (and waiting!) of winter.
Because of my flower obsession, I was delighted to discover that we could run a flower fundraiser. If you'd also like to plan a garden, you can shop gorgeous tulip bulbs (and much more) at Flower Power and we will receive 50% of the profits.
If you're a newbie gardener like me, I've learned a lot from the Farmer's Almanac. Here's everything you need to know about planting tulips.
This evening, we will ship a huge stack of papers to a courier service in DC who will walk it into the State Department, get everything authenticated... then walk it into the Chinese Embassy and get them to do THEIR thing... and then ship it back to us... and then we're ready to send our whole dossier to our agency. It's a HUGE step and one we've been dilligently working toward since the beginning of March.
We just got done sitting with Natasha, our social worker from ABI, and Dave, our friend who has been notarizing for us - they signed and notarized multiple copies of our home study!
This feels like a big milestone - but just 1 milestone among many. Next, we need to get everything certified and authenticated (which means I have to take the notarized documents to the county clerk who has to certify that the notary is real, then take those documents to the Secretary of State who will certify that the county clerk is real, then we have to send them to the State Department for them to certify that the Secretary of State is real, then they have to go to the Embassy. Then, they come back to us and go (along with many other documents) to Colorado to CCAI, our placement agency.
It feels so good to have this step completed though - so much closer to bringing home a child!