Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our China Adoption Story (chapter 1)

We've known for a few months that we wanted to add another child to our family, and there was no question that when we did so we would pursue adoption... the question was, when?

In the spirit of honesty I'll admit that I was ready a couple of months before Steve. Steve's the stay-at-home parent and has a much clearer picture of the work involved day in and day out to care for a little one (far clearer than my baby-crazed vision, trust me!). And he needed to take the time to feel like things were under control(ish) with Sasha and he was ready to welcome a new little one. That first year at home is an intense one, and I'm so glad that Steve took the time to evaluate both the decision and the timing. During this time, I unloaded all of my crazy on my grace-filled girlfriends who encouraged me through the utter despair of waiting. I'm a horrible waiter... making paper pregnancy challenging... yet still I jump in with joy and excitement (I say that now - talk to me in 4 months when I'm in the depths of despair again).

But I stayed patient(ish) and Steve kept thinking and praying and researching and in mid-April he decided that he, too, was ready to start pursuing our next child, together in heart and plans.

The decisions came fast and furious - and here are some of the questions we answered in very short order:

Kazakhstan again?
No. Kazakhstan fell off of the list pretty quickly for a few reasons. We are so grateful for the time we got to spend in Kaz getting to know Sasha and her birth culture, but at this stage in our family and employment, taking 60 days off (or even 30 days if we did multiple trips) was just not feasible. Additionally, we knew from the beginning that we were looking for a waiting child program, and Kaz doesn't have a structured waiting child program.

What's a waiting child program?
Waiting kiddos are children who are taking a little longer to find their permanent families. There are many reasons for this - special needs, older children, sibling groups, or a riskier family history. After our experience adopting Sasha, we fell in love with special needs adoption and knew from the beginning that we wanted to adopt another little one who was having a little more trouble finding her family.

Why China?
When we were starting our journey to Sasha, China fell off of the list of prospective countries very quickly because the wait time for the "regular" program in China had already grown to 3 or 4 years and at that time we weren't looking for a waiting child program. This time, China bubbled up to the top of the list immediately - China has a really healthy, well-established waiting child program, we'll be able to take all of the kids with us on the trip if we choose to, and time in-country should be less than three weeks. It's the right fit for us now.

Age? Gender?
We're still at the early phases of these decisions. Right now we're leaning toward a girl somewhere around Sasha's age - maybe a little older. That means that we're looking for a little one between about 2 and 4 1/2 years of age... at least, that's where we're leaning right now.

How long will the process take?
Because we're open to a variety of needs and a slightly older child than your average family, we should be able to come in at just about 12 months start to finish. That means that we should be able to travel to meet our daughter at the end of ski season 2011. That rocks! Of course, all of that assumes that we don't hit any paperwork roadblocks, etc.

Do you already have a specific child in mind?
No, no, no. I can't imagine falling in love already and having to wait a whole year to meet her! I'm staying off of the photolistings until we're paper-ready - I think it's the only way to maintain whatever shred of sanity remains. I have no doubt that I'll fall in love with a little face in a little picture when the time is right :)

What agency?
We tried to do agency selection right and spent several days interviewing agencies, comparing programs, and talking to references. We needed an agency who would allow us to adopt out of birth order, one that supported us bringing all of the kids to China if we choose, an agency with a strong waiting child program, and a program that fit our style. In the end, we chose WACAP and they've been great to work with so far.

So, where are you now?
We've started our homestudy paperwork (background checks at this point), signed with WACAP, and just got their packet in the mail this week. Begin paperchase!


Jennifer said...

Woo hoo! Begin paperchase. I am so excited to follow along on this journey with you guys! Thanks for the info.

Lou Ann said...

Great post Jamie. Those were all the questions I would have asked you (especially why not Kaz since Sasha is such a doll.) I too am thrilled to follow your next journey but my fingers hurt for you already remembering all the paperwork involved. But of course your new little one will be well worth it!

Tracy said...

So exciting... now everytime I am on CHSFS waiting child listing I think of you! There are so many cuties from China.

Hope you can hold off on the looking!


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