Adoption Woes

There may be those of you out there who know that my wife and I adopt from China. We have one little girl who’s almost 6 and we are about to get the referral for another one.

We get a lot of Kudos from people who think what we do is great, and that’s nice. It’s not really necessary – one hug from the kid is all we need – but it is nice.

But the whole process is so much more of a pain in the ass than it needs to be.
So many companies are now attempting to cover their asses in ways that’s just so disparate from the way normal people get pregnant that it’s ludicrious.

So I thought I’d list the hoops we have to jump through to actually adopt a child. Apparently Arizona is the worst state in the nation to actually adopt in – it requires more from you and won’t accept documentation from out of state, so if you are half way through an adoption and you move here you have to dump all of your adoption documentation and start it all again since they won’t accept it here.

So whats involved?
Well, a finger print report from the local police to state you aren’t a felon or have any outstanding warrants. It’s not clear exactly what the filters are on that – what would stop you getting an adoption license – or not, just that obviously you want to be clean.
There’s actually two sets of fingerprints that are required – one for the local cops and one for Home Land Security.

Letters from your employer stating you are employed by them. If you haven’t been employed by your current employer for at least a year, a letter from the last one too.

Letters from your medical insurance stating the child would be covered.

Three interviews from a social worker, who will quiz you on you relationship with your father (and want to phone interview them), your religion (which I didn’t think was legal, there being that pesky State / Religion separation thing, but apparently it’s legal for states to require that question asked. I took objection to that and asked if any decision was based on my answer. I was assured it was not, in which case I wondered, why is there an invasion of my privacy by asking the non pertinent question in the first place?), your views on corporal punishment and other pretty invasive questions.

The social worker than has to complete a report on you.

Three letters from friends who are not relatives but that have known you for more than 5 years who will recommend you as potential parents.

Your wedding certificate.

Your birth certificate – originals only, which can be chore if you have to go to England to get it.

A comprehensive medical check, involving cholesterol levels, an HIV test and so on.

Your bank records for the past year, proving that you have the money to pay for an adoption in your accounts. No ‘gifts from family’ there.

Oh and all of this has to be notarized.

Then thats taken to a judge, who looks through it all and then grants an adoption license. If he doesn’t like any of what he sees, well, you are stuffed. You aren’t there when the judge rules, he just does it on his own time. So no talking to him at the time or answering questions.

Then you get to the petition for adoption via Homeland security. Basically you have to ask their permission to adopt from outside the country, fill in a form and submit them all of your documentation. That gets approved then sent to the consulate in whatever country you are going to adopt in, so when you do the adoption in that country you can go to that consulate and get a visa in the passport of the new baby to be able to bring them back in the US.

Then, on?e thats done, the entire dossier gets converted to Chinese (at cost ?o you), notarized again, and finally submitted to China for them start the process of finding a child for you.

Now all of this costs money and takes time. The report from the social worker alone can cost up to 2.5k. All the other forms nickle and dime you to death, including the notaries. The submission of the form to Homeland Security is $740 all by itself. Finger prints cost $50-$100 a pop depending on where you are doing them etc etc.

Generally, once the entire process is done (Including travel to China, the $3k “gift” to the orphanage, medical reviews in China, etc etc) you’ll have spent anywhere between 22.5k and 25k. All non refundable if anything goes wrong.

And any bad submission – you miss anything or get anything wrong – and you are stuff and you have to submit again with new payment.

Generally it takes about 3-6 months (depending on your urgency) to get all this stuff together and in shape ready for submission.

Whats even worse is that almost all of this stuff has finite lifetime dates on them. The submission of the form for Homeland Security (the I600a), for example, only lasts for 18 months from the date of submission. Well, that should be enough, right?

No.

China, at last count, is taking roughly 2 years from submission to actually finding a child for you. Our submission date was December 9th 2005. We should get a referral around that date this year, in 2007.

But since you can’t start the process until you have this document – the I600A, you are effectively going to end up getting it twice because China can’t pull it’s finger out. So that’s *two* sets of $740.

Wanna know something even weirder? The finger prints that go along with this document only last for 15 months. How weird is that?? So the last 3 months the I600a is valid for, your fingerprints are not.

Quite apart from the fact that the finger prints shouldn’t expire anyway (What are they gonna do, change??) the fact that they have different lifetimes is just plain stupid.

And now, to crown it all, the agency has required us to produce several essay long reports on questions about how we intend to handle the adoption. They are designed to require mountains of reading and are very oriented to the way the adoption agency thinks we should do it, rather than any ideas of our own.

Look. I understand you want to cover your asses. I understand you want to make sure that prospective adoptive parents are sensitive to the needs of their children. I get that this is all oriented towards making sure we are the best parents we can be.

But we’ve already adopted a kid. If you want to be sure we know what we are doing, and that we are doing it well, then ask the kid – see if they are happy, contented and enjoying life. That’s the whole point of the exercise right? Writing essays isn’t going to prove anything besides the fact that we have the time to sit down and churn out words for you. Just ask the kid. If she’s happy, then we are done.

This process sucks in terms of just want it is – it’s overly top heavy with everyone desperate to cover their asses. Please stop adding new ways to piss off your clients – I know you think you are doing it for the best, but Stop And Think about who and what your clients are. Don’t make this dismal and time consuming process any worse for the sake of it. Please.

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