Once we decided that international was the way to adoption for us, we needed to decide where in the world to adopt from. International is a pretty broad term, after all. Since we had already chosen Nightlight Christian Adoptions as our agency, that narrowed our country list very dramatically. Nightlight has a program in the following 14 countries: Bulgaria, Canada, China, Ghana, Haiti, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Nicaragua, Panama, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Romania.
Let me walk you through our process.
Canada and the UK were out because Nightlight only processes relative adoptions in those countries.
Romania was next to be crossed off because one parent must be a Romanian citizen.
Latvia, Panama, and Ukraine went next because there are primarily children available older than ours.
Uganda and Nicaragua were both eliminated because they require visits of 45 days and 90-120 days respectively. Kyrgyzstan requires three separate visits. Those travel requirements seemed logistically prohibitive with 3 small children. This was a serious consideration for us. We simply could not imagine taking our children with us for those visits, nor could we imagine leaving them home for that amount of time. The travel requirements became a real factor in this process for us.
Bulgaria and Ghana can take up to 30 months for a referral after your dossier is logged in country. That could make the entire process 3 years- that's a long time to be in limbo.
This left China, Hong Kong, and Haiti.
Haiti has the highest program fees of the three. And since we were already looking at very high costs, it scared us to walk into an especially pricey program.
Down to 2.
Hong Kong and China. Now, I wish I could say that we received super clear direction from the Holy Spirit and we simply walked in obedience. But honestly, it was a much less spiritual experience. Both Hong Kong and China have primarily children with special needs available for adoption. I won't lie, that SCARED us. We have three super healthy children today whose biggest health challenges included lactose intolerance as an infant and ear infections requiring tubes. So to walk into an adoption expecting a special needs child was scary. We wrestled with that. We talked with a representative from our agency as we walked through that.
What led us ultimately to China was two-fold.
One, many children available in China have "minor or correctable special needs". That seemed like something we could handle. It was explained to us this way- if a child was born to us in the States with these needs, the issue would be addressed early on with little to no residual effects. However, because of the Chinese "one child policy" and its lasting effects on parental expectations, children are abandoned. Hong Kong has children primarily with more severe special needs.
Two, they offered a discount. I know that sounds awful, but the cost of this whole endeavor was, and continues to be scary. So, we thought it seemed prudent to take into account the cost.
Additionally, Nightlight has had a Chinese adoption program for 19 years and has upstanding relationships with 4 different orphanages in China. They have had the opportunity to provide training and support to the caregivers in these orphanages which in turn allows for better care of the kids placed there. With these relationships also comes more complete information about the kids- information is gold in an international adoption. Nightlight is also given the first opportunity to place children from these orphanages which can make for shorter referral times and an overall smoother process.
Obviously this process is unique to our family- the ages of our children, the issues we feel prepared to parent well, our financial resources, our support system, the people in our lives, where we live, medical resources available to us, and our agency. This process will look very different for each family. But we figured we could provide a candid discussion of how we chose the international program to pursue.
The information provided about children available from specific countries can vary by agency. Different agencies may work with different orphanages. Also, program fees vary by agency. So, if you are considering adoption and have your heart set on a specific country, don't let this information change your mind. Find an agency you trust and work with them to make it happen.