Journey to Our Chinese Princess

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Stats and Info about China Adoption

The China adoption program is one of the most reliable and stable ofthe international adoption programs, and China is the country from which more U.S. citizens have elected to adopt from than any othercountry since the year 2000. According to the USCIS immigration statistics, U.S. citizens adopted 6,859 children from China in 2003,7,033 in 2004, and 7,906 in 2005. Children available for adoption are mostly girls, infants to 6 years of age. About 5% of the children adopted from China are boys - some people request "only a boy" and some people request "a child of either sex" and let China surprise them. If you ask for a girl, however, you will almost certainly get agirl. Older and special needs children are also available. The children typically reside in orphanages, although some may have been in foster care.

Travel required: At least one parent (if married) must travel to China. Only one trip is required, lasting approximately two weeks. The parent(s) go to their child's province of origin to pick her/him up,and remain there for 5-6 days to complete China's paperwork requirements to finalize the adoption. The new family then proceeds toGuangzhou (formerly Canton) to complete all USA immigration paperwork.If only one parent (of a couple) travels, the child enters the USA under an IR-4 visa, and a "readoption" is required with the second parent present to complete the adoption process.

The Non-Special Needs (NSN) adoption process is often likened to pregnancy. The time will vary considerably, depending on the couple's ability to complete therequisite paperwork and the USCIS's ability to approve the coveted I-171H or I-797C form (permission to adopt a foreign-born child). The process can be broken into three parts:

1. Most people take 3-6 months to complete the "first trimester" or"paperchase"... this involves a home-study as required by the State of residence, plus the assembly, notarization, certification,translatation, and authentication of all paperwork into an adoption dossier.

2. Once the dossier is mailed to China and logged in at the CCAA, the family enters the DTC (Dossier To China) or "second trimester" phase (also known as The Wait, The Long Wait, The Interminable Wait). During this currently about 12 month period (two years ago The Wait was 14months, 1 year ago it was 6 months, so clearly, this time frame varies considerably), CCAA reviews the dossier in The Review Room, and if all paperwork is in order, the dossier progresses to The Matching Room where the parent(s) are matched with their child through what many new parents feel is a mystical, magical, heaven-inspired process.China adoptive parents often refer to The Red Thread legend to explain the miracle that results in exactly the right child being matched with exactly the right Forever Family: "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break."--An ancient Chinese belief.

3. The Referral is then sent to the adoption agency - the parent(s) receive the long awaited Call, and then the translated medical and developmental information about the child -- along with (typically) three photographs are presented (via Fedex or an in-office visit). The parent(s) are given several days to review the Referral package and decide whether to accept or decline the child they were matched with. Most parents (95% or better) accept their Referral, which is then sent back to China to generate the next two critical steps: TA or TravelApproval, and CA or Consulate Appointment. This "third trimester" is a frenetic time of activity, as the new parents await approval fromChina to come get their child, obtain visas, make flight arrangements,and pack pack pack!! Travel is generally 6-8 weeks after Referral,and the in-country stay is generally about 12 days (not including any tours arranged for before or after the adoption process).

Adoption costs: China is one of the least expensive international adoption programs (altho Africa and Haiti are MUCH less expensive than China). Typically a couple adopting from China will spend $16-$19,000for ALL costs including agency fees, orphanage donation (~$3000), US and China government fees, plus travel. As a comparison, typical costs for Russia, FSU countries, and Guatemala run $23-30,000. Domesticadoption can run $5-50,000. The US federal government provides a$10,000.00 tax credit for the year in which the adoption is completed(there is a bill in the House which will hopefully increase this amount). Some States also provide a tax credit and/or allowances, as do some companies. Note that China adoption expenses are generally spread over a 12 month period (or longer).

Age of children referred: China considers children under two to be"infants". It is extremely rare for a child to be referred who is under six months of age (the orphanage makes a nominal attempt to locate the birth parents and posts a Finding Ad in the local paper,and then must assemble and send in the child's dossier). Most children referred are between 10-14 months at time of "handover" to the new parents. Many parents ask for AYAP - As Young As Possible. In general, younger parents can be expected to be referred younger children. Agencies will usually tell a couple in their late 40's to expect theirreferral to be between 12-24 months old, however, the CCAA often assigns children differently from the expected way. That's where the Matching Room magic comes into play.

The Beginning of Our Journey

Well, I'm excited to say that I'm finally starting this blog to track our lives along our journey to adopt a daughter from china. I'm not quite sure when it all started, but I remember as a child one of my favorite books was called the "Ready-Made Family" or something like that. It was about 3 or 4 brothers or sisters who were adopted by one family. No, we aren't planning to do the same; one child at a time or even just one child, period, is how we want our future family to be.

Back last August and September, we went to informational meetings for a few local adoption agencies. Due to the cost of international adoption, the fact that we had just bought a home several months before, as well as that our 18-year old furnace needed to be replaced, we decided to temporarily put an adoption on hold.

In the meantime, I continued to visit adoption sites, blogs and forums. This spring, we decided that there is no perfect time and that we are going to go ahead with our dreams to start a family. On Mother's Day, we told my parents, brother, and sister-in-law that we were going to begin the paperwork to adopt. We had mentioned earlier that we were hoping to do this, but we were now ready to announce to them we were going further than just thinking about it. My mother of course was thrilled; the only thing better would have been to tell her we were pregnant!

So now the long journey begins. We still have to send the formal application, but we are working on getting the documents that we need. Today, I finally sent off the forms for Kevin's birth certificate to the Michigan Vital Records Office. Next week, when I'm back at work, I will go to the Vital Records Office of Cook County to order my birth certificates. This week, I also need to write to the correct governmental agencies for our marriage certificate and for Kevin's divorce decree. Also, I hope to start writing my autobiography that we'll need to have before the home study, but actually filling out all of the application, should be a priority since that can be sent in while we are waiting for all of our other documents. Of course, I should also schedule physicals for both of us with our doctor since their our several medical forms that need to be filled out. 3 actually - one for the agency, one for DCFS (Dept. of Children & Family Services) & one for China.

Monday, May 29, 2006

My first blog post

I have been enjoying trying to figure out how to create my blog. I guess I'm officially on my way! If it wasn't getting late I'd actually create some meaningful posts, but since it is, I'll wait until tomorrow or soon after to start. Good night all!!