Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why China?

This is a question we've been asked quite often lately.  "Why are you adopting from China?"  I think most people are under the impression that there are plenty of babies available for adoption in the U.S.  We have already determined that domestic adoption and foster-to-adopt programs are not the right choices for us.  So rather than try to explain all of the issues we have with those programs, we find it best to explain why we decided to pursue an international adoption through the China Waiting Child program.

Of all the programs we were considering, the China program was the most established and stable of them all.  The program is run by the Chinese government (Chinese Center of Adoptions Affairs or CCAA) with structured and consistent procedures.  We felt more comfortable knowing exactly what the process would be from start to finish, regardless of which agency we use or where our child is located in the country.  All adoptive families must submit the same information which is called the Dossier and are then registered when the package is received by the CCAA.  The date the dossier is registered is called the "Log in Date" (LID).  This is the official date the wait begins for the regular program.  The referral of children are made each month according to the next Log in Date, so families with the same LID will receive the referral of their children on the same day and usually travel to China about the same time.  Those families choosing the Waiting Child route will be logged in and wait for the agency to match them with a child, unless they "find" their child first, in which case they will be paperchasing and LID for a specific child.

The children are cared for in orphanages (Social Welfare Institutions or SWI's) or live with foster families.  The level of care in most SWI's is considered much better than in other countries with international adoption programs.  There are babies as young as six months old available and families are able to request an age range and gender of the child they wish to adopt.  The CCAA attempts to honor these requests if at all possible, and even tries to match children and families based on facial features and characteristics of the family.

China implemented a one-child policy per couple in the 1970's in an attempt to curtail the skyrocketing population and prevent a shortage of food.  Because of a cultural preference for male children (males traditionally care for their parents as they age), the one-child policy and the stigma that comes with raising a child with special needs or an unmarried woman having a child, many of the baby girls and a small percentage of boys of are abandoned.  Most of the children in the SWI's are abandoned at or shortly after birth.  Because abandonment is a serious crime in China, the parents of the abandoned children almost never come forward to claim the child so they are considered orphans and are available to be adopted within a matter of months.

China also made more sense to us financially because we'd like to adopt more than one child.  The program is fairly affordable and we felt we could pay all of the paperchasing and agency fees without a loan or using credit cards.  The agency fees are spread out over time and the orphanage donation is paid at the time of adoption in China.  The travel fees are due shortly before you leave for China.  This gives us time to raise the money necessary for the remaining fees.

There is only one trip required to China and the adoption is completed while in country if both parents travel to receive their child.  The trip is 12 -17 days with sightseeing in Beijing for the first few days, then travel to the province where the child is located.  Then it's off to Guangzhou for an interview with the American Consulate and a medical exam for the child.  Once the child's visa is ready, families fly to Hong Kong and then back to the U.S. and home sweet home.

Most importantly, China has an amazing Waiting Child Program.  The initial paperwork and travel process is pretty much the same, but different in the agency will match you with a child or you can find your child from an agency's list.  You can review medical information and photos and often video of children waiting.  There are many children with minor, moderate and severe medical needs waiting for their forever family.  So, families who feel they are able to parent one of these children can bring them home fairly quickly.

So, that is why we decided to adopt from China.  Stability of the program, many children waiting for families, works for us financially and the travel portion is "doable".   When we went over the various programs we just felt this was the one for us.  We were comfortable with every aspect of it.