So once we decided to adopt again, the next big question was “from where?” For those of you not familiar with the adoption world, you might be surprised to learn that the list of possibilities was rather short. We all hear stories of the millions of orphans around the world, anxious to have families of their own. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of those children are available to Americans.
Most countries’ adoption laws are written specifically to exclude non-residents, or to limit adoption to residents of counties with which they have adoption treaties. Then, even those countries willing to entrust their children to Americans have their own rules regarding what kinds of families they’ll work with. In our case, we are ineligible in many countries because of the size of our family: We’re too big already. Other countries require parents to make multiple and/or lengthy trips to their country to complete the adoption: Given our family responsibilities here, that wasn’t an option for us. We excluded other countries based on the length of their processes: We hope to keep our children rather close in age and Reagan is already close to 4, so a two-year wait seemed a little too long. A few other nations charge significantly higher fees, and therefore were simply out of our budget.
The rest of the decision basically came down to preference. I wanted to work with an agency that had an excellent reputation in Vietnam since that is the adoption environment I am most familiar with: There is only a handful at the top of that list, so we limited ourselves to the countries available through those agencies. After all of those filters were applied, we were left with two countries: Ethiopia and China.
The scales were tipped toward China by two main factors. The first was the relative stability of the Chinese program. While there are no guarantees in any adoption, the policies in Ethiopia are still being shaped. It is fairly new and adoptive parents have faced unexpected hoops to help establish more protections for the birth families and children. Finally, we were attracted to China for the simple reason that Reagan might share some physical and cultural similarities with our newest family member. So… we’re headed to China! A long answer to a short question that may or may not have been on your mind.