Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why we chose Vietnam and Dillon International...

People are always asking us how we ended up adopting from Vietnam and why we chose Dillon International as our agency. The answers are linked, so I'll address the questions together.

Even before we had decided to pursue international adoption as a means for expanding our family, I had done quite a bit of research on-line. I had always loved the idea of providing a home for an orphan - especially one who would otherwise grow up in an orphanage - and Dan shared my enthusasim. In my research, I came across the Shaohannah's Hope foundation, started by Steven Curtis Chapman (a Christian recording artist) to help Christian families adopt. My respect for what they do was increased when Steven visited our Sunday School and shared his love for their adopted daughters. So, when it came time to settle on a country and an agency, I started with the Adoption Resources section of their website (www.shaohannahshope.org), made a list of the agencies they recommended, and compiled a list of the country programs sponsored by each agency.
We quickly found out that it's not as easy to select a country as one might think. There are a limited number of nations that allow international adoption and each one has its own requirements: Some countries want both parents to be over a certain age, others require that you live in their country for 30 days or more - or make multiple trips, some don't have children under 3 years old available for adoption -- to name a few. So after much thought, research and prayer, we determined that India was the best fit in terms of their rules and our preferences. Hand-in-hand with that decision was our belief that Dillon International (www.dillonadopt.com)had the best India program. They're in Tulsa, OK and we're in California, but since just about everything can be done via e-mail or phone these days, that didn't present a problem for us. Our only hope is that someday we might be able to meet their staff face to face to thank them for all they've done.
So for 9 months we operated on the premise that our little girl would be Indian. We completed our Home Study (where a social worker comes out to make sure that we're normal and stable enough to be good parents -- too bad we can't make such evaluations for some biological parents!) and finished our dossier (a mountain of paperwork which proves to the Indian government that we're honorable in our intentions and prepared to provide a good home), and for about 2 weeks were officially on the waiting list for a referral from India. THEN, we received a letter from Dillon informing us that the original wait time of 18-24 months was looking more like 25-37 months, but by the way, they had received their license to start faciliating adoptions from Vietnam. Vietnam had been closed to adoptions to the U.S. for several years, so we hadn't even considered it as an option when we began the process in August 2005. However, when we found out that our wait time could be a year shorter if we switched, we asked our agency for more information. After just a few days of praying and seeking counsel, we decided to start the process over again for Vietnam. Fortunately, Vietnam's dossier requirements are significantly less than India's, but everything was just different enough that it ALL had to be redone. We have had so many documents notarized and re-notarized over the past year that our 3 1/2 year-old has begun playing "notary." She makes us sign a special notebook and make a thumbprint! Needless to say, I'm glad that most of our paperwork days are now over.
So now we're waiting again. We're the third family on the list waiting for a girl under 24 months. We've been waiting almost a month - the family at the top of the list has been waiting 2 1/2 months. So it could be soon! Our agency said to plan on being on the list 1-3 months, but it is a new program and everything is subject to change. I'll keep you posted!


Anonymous said...

I love your story. Thank you for sharing it. Your family is beautiful! I hope your wait is a short one.

Keep updating!


Anonymous said...

Laura, I just love reading this. It almost takes the place of the phone call we haven't managed to make happen. I'm looking forward to your exciting news. We'll talk soon...Rebecca Pierce