The Journey of a Social Worker

 

The Beginning: I walked up the trail to the lake.  Looking around I saw a group of teenagers sitting and talking.  I walked over to the group and began talking about the beautiful day.  Then I looked at Kristen and asked, “Are you ready to go?”

Kristen was a 14 year old foster child and I was her social worker.  I had received a phone call from the school stating Kristen had skipped school.  I knew where to find her and went to the lake.  There were no harsh words but there was an expectation that Kristen would come with me to return to school.

The Impact: Kristen was a beautiful girl but she had experienced a difficult life.  She needed someone to stand with her and support her as she tried to discover the life that God had always intended for her.  There are many stories I could tell of my time with Kristen.  I always wondered if anything I did or anything I said would have an impact on Kristen’s life. Years later I discovered that Kristen was married to a wonderful man and had twin boys.  And she remembered me and the time I spent with her.

The Example: Working with Kristen made me see how important it was to take time with older children.  To set an example for them in life.  To be a confidant.  To support their dreams.  To walk with them through the difficult times.  I began to see that in order for a child to succeed, he or she needs a firm foundation.  I began to think of ways that I could help young pregnant women learn how to parent their child so that the cycle of foster care would end.

After raising my own children, I began working with Nightlight Christian Adoptions as a pregnancy counselor and then a Domestic Program Coordinator.  I began to live my dream of assisting women in parenting their children.  Being a parent means loving your child so much that you make decisions that are best for them even if it makes your heart aches.  I have walked with woman after woman as they made the most loving choice for their child: to allow an adoptive family to raise them as their own.

The Support: I left Nightlight for a short time to work with a pregnancy center in my hometown with the goal to create a safe place for women who are hurting.  Women who think abortion is the only answer.  Women who are struggling to break the cycle of abuse, neglect, domestic violence.  To help women provide a firm foundation for their children.

God eventually led me back to Nightlight as an International Program Coordinator.  Now I work with orphanages and central authorities, attorneys and private investigators, government officials and others to help find homes for children who are orphans.  To help children to be placed in loving families who can provide that firm foundation for the child to live and thrive.

The Ever Changing Field: The amazing thing about being a social worker is that it is an ever changing field.  Seeing new opportunities to help people.  Learning new ways to make a difference.  Reaching out a hand to the hurting and the confused.  Sometimes taking on more than I can handle, which is typical of almost every social worker.  Always knowing that God has made some to be teachers, some to be caregivers, some to be authorities, and some to be social workers.  I am honored that God chose to create in me the heart of a social worker.

 

No matter where you begin your journey as a social worker, you will find so many rewarding opportunities to impact, to lead by example, and to show your support to those who need it the most.

Transracial Adoption Panel 1

There are many places to receive education and training during the adoption process. In addition to books, online resources, and professional trainings, we want to offer personal experiences from some of our transracial adoptive families through an online Q&A panel. These parents offer just some of their personal perspectives for you to read and consider for your individual family situation.

  1. Introduce us to your family.

 

S Family: We are white parents to five adopted children. Three of our sons are adopted from Uganda and they are 9, 10, and 12. We have a 5-year-old daughter from embryo adoption who is black and a 3-year-old biracial (Hispanic/White) son through embryo adoption.

 

P family: We are Adam and Ashley (Caucasian) and have adopted son: Arkyn (afro-Colombian, age at adoption was 13, currently age is 15), and biological sons (two): 1-Auden (Caucasian age 12) 2- Asher (Caucasian age 9)

 

  1. When starting the adoption process, what made you open to adopting a child outside of your race?

 

S family: We specifically started the adoption process to adopt from Africa. My husband’s uncle is from Uganda. My husband had been as a pre-teen and had wanted to adopt from Africa since his first visit.

 

P Family: Our story is a little different than most as we were not actually seeking out to adopt but were rather lead by the Lord to adopt.  If you’d like to know more details of our story, you can read it here:
https://www.lovewhatmatters.com/two-kids-that-was-our-plan-i-expected-a-no-way-but-he-started-talking-about-it-before-i-did-family-adopts-after-hosting-foster-child-he-was-meant-to-be-here/?fbclid=IwAR0ZAmKWbe2khAB6DdGw4aIf3a4W4dxSIwA8PqS7af0xgEanx1AtfhD_EBI

 

  1. What is something unexpected you have experienced, either positive or negative, as a transracial adoptive parent?

 

S family: We have had a lot of experiences due to having been transracial parents for over 10 years. I think the most frustrating thing is the common occurrence of intrusive questions from strangers who are curious about our family. Asking questions about our children’s story in front of them can be very difficult for our kids. Another fairly common occurrence when my daughter was young was that white women would frequently want to touch her hair. I have always intervened to confront someone when it happens, but now that she is older she is empowered to confront people on her own.

 

  1. What have been the reactions from members of your community that share your child’s race? Any comments, questions, or experiences with them you’d like to share?

 

S family: I think one of the most encouraging parts of this journey has been the interactions with members of the black community. They have always been encouraging and helpful. I have been in the black haircare aisle and had women come up to me to ask me if I needed help or tips. Whenever I have reached out to a black woman for hair help, questions, etc—I have been welcomed. When we attend church services of our local black church, the staff and congregation has been overwhelmingly kind. We have even developed a relationship with the pastor and been able to share concerns and thoughts about raising black children in our town.

 

P family: Most people have been very supportive.  We live in a small town where most everyone knows each other to some degree, so when we hosted Arkyn and needed to advocate for him the community “followed along” so to speak and so when we began the adoption process everyone rallied around to help in fundraising and supporting that process.  So with that being said there are lots of people that already “knew” Arkyn before he was home. The most questions we have gotten have been about hosting and the program and how that all works.

 

  1. There has been a lot of learning, discussion, awareness, and conflict this past year regarding how people of color are seen and treated in our society. What lessons learned this year would you want to pass along to other families considering or currently parenting a child outside of their own race?

 

S family: I spend a lot of time talking to white families navigating this journey. I think the first step if you are new to the discussion and opening your eyes to systemic racism—learn to sit in the uncomfortable. The initial reaction to any type of information that goes against the filter with which we have seen the world is challenged, it can be easy to shut down and get defensive. Parenting a child of a different race requires the humility to learn and listen, really listen, to those who share the culture and race of your child. My second recommendation is to fill your life feed — whatever media that may be that you allow to inform your mind—to have more voices that resemble your child than you. Whether it be podcasts, books, social media or movies…start shifting the content to creators that are the voices of your child’s culture, race and journey. It is especially important to listen to these privileged voices in the space of transracial adoption. The voices that carry the most weight with how you navigate this journey should be adult transracial adoptees. They are the best representation we have of what our children might be feeling and experiencing as they grow.

 

P family: It has been a hard year in that area for sure and I think the hardest thing was having to have those hard conversations with our son who came from a place and country that he had never experienced such harsh discrimination.

 

  1. What books, resources, or people have challenged you to consider your own racial biases?

 

S family: The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tigsby, Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

 

  1. What is something you wish you had considered or learned more about before bringing your child into your home, specifically in regards to racial identity development?

 

S family: I think I was just unprepared for how hard it is for those who have grown up with privilege to recognize it. It costs a lot to admit that your trajectory in life may not have been determined only by your merit. People can really have difficulty realizing that just because you overcame difficult circumstances or challenges doesn’t mean that systemic racism doesn’t exist. I think the often used quote that white privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard, it just means that the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder.

 

P family: I can’t think of anything specific but I don’t think you can ever really learn enough or stop learning about their specific culture and where they come from and include it in your family as much as possible!

 

  1. Do you have any good resources to share on how to learn more about your child’s racial experience in the U.S.?

 

S family: There are a lot of adoptee voices being highlighted on IG, FB and podcasts. Never stop trying to understand because it is a lot to try and comprehend when cultures is just something that washes over you from the day you are born. Understanding a different racial identity will be a lifelong learning journey.

 

P family: I would say staying involved as much possible in their culture and connecting with other transracial adoptive families.

 

  1. Do you have any children’s books that you’ve read to your child regarding racial identity and/or adoption that you would recommend?\

 

S family: We keep a house full of books with racial mirrors. Young Gifted & Black, The Crown, Chocolate Me, The Little Leaders Series

 

  1. What has been the biggest challenge for you as you learn to parent a child outside your own race?

 

S family: I think the biggest challenge is having to try and lift the veil of white privilege from the eyes of friends and families. It’s an enormous undertaking to try and get those you love to see what persons of color are dealing with on an everyday basis. If white people can start to unpack their privilege, it would have such a ripple effect on our communities.

 

  1. What do you see is the main role a parent can play in the lives of their child concerning their racial identity development?

 

S family: I consider my role to be a facilitator to give them experiences and relationships with those who can really help them develop a positive racial identity. There is so much that I can’t teach them due to the differences in our racial identities. Another role I consider really important is having a relationship that fosters the openness that any question or topic is welcome in our home. We use current events and their own personal experiences with discrimination to help them process what it means to be black in our current world.

 

P family: Just being supportive and meeting them where they are and answering any questions they may have.  Supporting them as they choose to explore their heritage and not pushing your own ideals or heritage on them.  Leave stigmas out of it and let them choose their path and who they feel they need to be, they come from hard places and don’t need any added pressure.

 

  1. Anything else you want to share that wasn’t covered by the questions above?

 

S family: I just encourage families to keep learning and sitting with the feelings of discomfort that come with changing and altering your view of the world. We are choosing to educate and learn for our children. Research is continuing to show that transracial adoptees struggle with racial identity plus the trauma and loss that comes with losing their birth families. Adult adoptees are asking us to combat the colorblind mentality that was typical of most of our upbringings and asking us to see the world as they see it. Our children can only be more prepared for discrimination and bias if we are open to having the hard conversations and believe the experiences that people of color are sharing to those who listen.

 

 

Couples Weary of Domestic Adoption Find Success in Embryo Adoption

 

Domestic adoption has been an incredible choice for many families, but for others it simply does not work out in the end. They become weary of domestic adoption because of long waiting times for the child of their dreams.  That was the experience of Dana and Tim Ericksson, who had two birth mothers change their minds during their domestic adoption journey. The couple went on to successfully give birth through embryo adoption.

After trying to conceive a baby for eight years, Dana and Tim never thought they would see a positive pregnancy test.

Thanks to embryo adoption — an option that allows the adoptive mother to experience pregnancy and give birth to her adopted child through the transfer of donated frozen embryos — Dana became pregnant.

“We had been married 15 years and we had been trying for eight years and never once been pregnant,” Dana said. “I never thought it would happen for us. It was surreal to be able to experience it.

Having a biological parent change their mind is not the only concern, though. For many, the cost of a domestic adoption can be a huge deterrent. Domestic adoption can reach upwards of $30,000 or more. That price simply puts domestic adoption out of reach for many couples without taking on significant loans or personal debt. The health of a child can be a concern, as couples won’t have an opportunity to control the prenatal environment and may be unsure about what conditions their child experienced before they were born. Domestic adoptions can also take years, making the timing of growing a family unpredictable.

Many couples who are pursuing a domestic adoption have not yet learned about the option of embryo adoption. It might be that they have heard of it, but are afraid of entering the world of assisted reproduction again. Most of the couples who choose embryo adoption have experienced failed IVF. They finally find success by adopting embryos. The cost of embryo adoption is about ½ the cost of domestic adoption and takes it about 8-12 months to be matched with a placing family with remaining embryos.

Curious? Learn more about frozen embryo adoption, visit Snowflakes.org.

 

Creating Your Profile Book: 5 Steps to Putting Your Best Foot Forward

 

 

As a family adoption advisor and pregnancy counselor, I get the unique opportunity of working with both adopting families and expectant mothers. It gives me great joy to be a bridge between families and moms, and also gives me a chance to help the two understand each other’s perspectives just a bit more. These two worlds are brought together during the profile viewing and matching processes.

This part of the process can be nerve-wracking for families and expectant mothers alike! As someone that has had the opportunity to review many families’ profile books, and also sit with expectant mothers as they view them, I have come up with five tips to help families create a successful book and put their best foot forward.

Remember that authenticity is key. While the visual appeal of your profile book is very important, remember that the goal of your profile book is to show the expectant mother what life for her baby would be like as part of your family. While it is great to include professionally done family photos you may have or selfies of your lovely faces, it is important to have photos of you being yourselves and enjoying regular family life. Include candid photos, photos of visiting the park, walking the dog, or baking in the kitchen; include put-together photos, casual photos, fun photos, and photos of normal, average life alike. This type of variety shows the down-to-earth humanness of your family, and will make your book feel relatable. Authenticity opens up the door to connection!

Embrace Vulnerability. Putting your life on display for a stranger who is making a big decision to see may feel daunting and overwhelming, but I encourage you to be vulnerable as you create your book. There are a number of reasons why expectant mothers will select family profiles, but many times whether or not the expectant mother feels a connection to the family plays a significant role in this process. There are many wonderful, loving families waiting to adopt, but your story is uniquely yours – share it! Expectant mothers will view many profiles and see photos of many different families, but your story is what sets you apart and makes you unique.

Create a Design that Catches the Eye. While the content of your book is most important, the design and layout of your book can at times be almost equally important. Your profile book shows the expectant mother who your family is, and we want to see you put your best foot forward. If design is not your forte, don’t stress! There are companies, such as Kindred + Co. and Little Ampersand Co., who create custom or semi-custom profile books from start to finish. These companies create lovely, appealing books that are designed with expectant mother’s perspectives in mind. If going this route is not for you, viewing example profile books or browsing Pinterest for inspiration is a great way to create your own book with a little bit of design help from those that have done this before.

Know that your story matters.  Share who you are! Your childhood, love story, interests, faith background, passions, hearts for adoption, thoughts about each other, and day to day life are part of who you are and who you’ll be as parents. This provides more opportunity for connection, and gives expectant mothers an even greater glimpse into who you are. There are many factors and details that may lead an expectant mother to her decision when it comes to choosing a family, but often times it comes down to these details.

Have Fun! While creating your profile book may feel overwhelming or stressful, try to have fun with it and embrace this unique opportunity to creatively share who you are as a family. No family is perfect, and creating profile books is not a contest amongst families; being your authentic selves will go far. You are absolutely not alone; our team is excited to assist you as you prepare to create your profile book and will help you throughout this process. No matter how you choose to create your book, your book and your story will connect with the right expectant mother. Though creating your profile may feel daunting at first, I pray that you are able to have fun and embrace this opportunity of sharing your story!

 

What You Can Do to Become an Adoption Advocate in 2021

 

Advocacy in adoption can be surprisingly easy and straightforward when aware of the available resources. Below you will find some ideas of how you can support families and help orphaned children find their forever families.

  1. Be supportive of adoptive parents going through their adoption process by providing donations, offering respite care, or completing small acts of service. Some examples of small acts of service include cleaning the adoptive family’s house, cutting their grass, preparing a meal for them, or providing them with a listening ear for emotional support. A little goes a long way here! Nightlight Christian Adoptions provides many routes to help financially support prospective adoptive parents and children in need:
  • Click here to view our donation page.
  • Click here to donate to a specific family or child on Adoption Bridge.
  • Click here for more information on respite care.
  • Click here for other ways to give.

 

  1. Become a Foster Family. During COVID-19, there has been a strong need for foster families due to mandatory shutdowns of schools. In turn, this has become detrimental to many at-risk children who would normally view school as their safe haven from difficult family situations such as abuse, neglect, or both.
  • Click here for information on how to become a foster family.

 

  1. Sign up for National Council for Adoption (NCFA) newsletters that will guide you on advocacy efforts through research and best practices.
  • Click here to subscribe to NCFA’s newsletters. Simply scroll to the bottom of their page to subscribe.

 

  1. Write your congressman about the need for permanency for children worldwide and the need to reduce barriers to intercountry adoption. I encourage you to keep it brief, and limit it to only one issue and one page. If you have another adoption issue you’d like to write about, write a separate letter.
  • Click here to find your representative.

 

  1. Attend seminars and workshops to further your knowledge regarding our adoption programs and how you can support the different types of adoption that Nightlight offers. These classes will provide families with useful information and support.
  • Click here to view our schedule of our offered classes.

 

  1. Support children that are hard to place. Generally, Nightlight will place eligible waiting children that are in need of forever families and who are ready to be adopted on the secure site known as Adoption Bridge . We encourage families to be home study ready before inquiring about a specific child. However, you can still inquire without a completed home study. You can also donate to our Bubushka Fund that supports international children that are harder to place.

 

  • Click here to donate to the adoption of hard to place or special needs children. Simply select “Bubushka Fund” from the dropdown menu on the page.

While not every individual or family finds adoption is something they can commit to, there are numerous ways to help vulnerable children and to support prospective adoptive families who wish to provide a forever home for these children.  Understanding that these processes can be emotional and lending support efforts are also extremely valuable to the world of adoption. All efforts towards this end should be acknowledged.

 

Will COVID-19 Cease International Adoption?

 

Borders closed and lockdown began. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early last year many countries suspended their foreign adoption programs as borders closed and lockdowns began. While many view this as a reaction to the inability to travel, it was also necessary as many countries temporarily closed courts and adoption central authorities – or determined how to move cases forward with new work-from-home protocols. Countries with weak infrastructures, particularly the third world countries we work in, were truly challenged by this due to lack of technology and processes that required in person contact. We had many families whose cases came to a standstill while others were impacted by additional quarantine time in country–requiring safety protocols such as testing prior to travel.

Accommodations were made. Some countries made adjustments that loosened some of their adoption requirements. For example, Haiti accommodated the required bonding time between the adoptive parent and child through virtual meetings. A Jamaica family also had their court process take place over Zoom.

COVID-19 will not cease intercountry adoption. Intercountry adoption is an emotional journey for parents so understandably many of the unknown obstacles from COVID-19 were, and continue to be, difficult for families working to bring their child home. But COVID-19 will not cease intercountry adoption. It is apparent that adoption central authorities and other countries’ commitment to working toward the best interest of children who need families has not waivered.

COID-19 has strengthened our resolve: If anything, the pandemic has strengthened the adoption communities’ resolve to work harder for waiting children. We have been successful in matching more waiting children and moving families through the home study and dossier process. It seems as though the time at home has allowed parents to make a decision to adopt and focus on the plethora of paperwork required. We are very optimistic that we will see travel restrictions lifted and processes moving at a more normal pace by summer.

The time to adopt international is NOW. Orphans are mentioned in the bible over 40 times which tells us there will unfortunately always be children who need safe and nurturing families. We are called to take care of these children because, for whatever reason, they have become orphaned from their biological family. If ever there was a time to adopt internationally, it is now. This is the perfect time to prepare, start a home study process and review waiting child profiles. While the effects of the pandemic may slow the process, delay travel, or worse, add risk to the process, we cannot become apathetic toward the needs of children all over the world.

Learn more about how to help. Intercountry adoptions have declined by 87% in the past 15 years while the number of orphans in the world has increased to over 140 million*. The pandemic adds another layer to this juxtaposition that potentially increases children’s need for families both domestically and abroad. At the least, please visit www.saveadoption.org/the-crisis and learn more about how you can help intercountry adoptions to the United States continue to place children who have not been able to find families in their own countries.

Is 2021 Your Year to Donate?

 

The turn of a new year tends to bring about themes of renewal, fresh starts, decision making, and conquering goals. For those of you who have found yourself at the end of your IVF journey, you may have come face to face with the decision this past year of what is to be done with your remaining embryos. This decision may be one you never thought you’d have to face and wish you didn’t have to. It may seem daunting, or you may not feel emotionally prepared, but it is never too early to search out the answers you seek. Now is a good time to take the first step.

The Donation Option

Have you ever looked into embryo donation and adoption? Did you know there was such a thing as an adoption model for donating your embryos? The thought of your embryos belonging to someone else may be one that seems unbearable, but many who have faced these fears have found placement through an adoption program was right for them.

Reasons to Donate:

  • Embryo donation is a life-giving option for your embryos!
  • Through embryo donation with adoption agencies such as the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, you have the ability to choose who will adopt your embryos and the peace of mind that they have been deemed physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared to raise a family by adoption agency professionals.
  • You created your embryos because you wanted a family. Now you can help someone else do the same.
  • Certain embryo adoption agencies (like Snowflakes) allow for communication with adoptive families and updates on children born from the embryos.
  • Many clinics will not accept embryos that have been frozen before a certain date. The sooner you donate your embryos, the more likely they are to be accepted by an adoptive family’s clinic.
  • Storage costs have become difficult to manage.

Take the First Step

It all starts with one simple step: asking questions. Often, it is the fear of the unknown that keeps us from moving forward.

Where to Start:

In this New Year, make your resolution one of gaining knowledge, educating yourself, and taking time to reflect on tough questions and emotions you may have been avoiding. The fear of the unknown can be crippling. The good news is that one small step can be all you need to allow yourself to take another, and then another, and then just one more until you find the answers and peace of mind you have been seeking.

To learn more about embryo donation, visit EmbyroAdoption.org.

 

Facing the Unknowns in Adoption

 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. Unpredictability and unknowns often leaves us uneasy and uncomfortable. This causes us to find ourselves trying our best to control situations because control leads to more security and less anxiety. It’s our human nature to desire a clear picture of how things are going to happen, but the truth is, adoption is an unpredictable process and no two cases or situations are the same.

 

As a social worker in the domestic adoption field, here is some advice I would give to potential adoptive families:

 

  1. Prepare for every situation.

When working with prospective adoptive families, sometimes I hear them say things like, “I don’t even want to think about the possibility of the expectant mother changing her mind because it’s too hard to think about.” Instead of this mind set, I want to encourage any potential adoptive families to prepare for the outcome of the expectant mother choosing to parent, because it does happen, and that should be celebrated and not dreaded. Before birth. expectant mothers can make an adoption plan, but this plan cannot become concrete until she signs relinquishments. It is important to understand the struggle and hardships the expectant mother is going through while she makes this decision and love her through the process despite what the outcome may be.

 

  1. Be flexible and understanding.

When you are going through the adoption process, your social worker is not going to be able to tell you exactly how things are going to happen, because even they do not know how things will unfold. Adoption is a fluid process and although we can do our best to educate and prepare for the birth and hospital time, there is no way to clearly know how that time will look. For example, before birth, an expectant mother might make a tentative hospital plan stating she does not want to spend time with the baby, but post-delivery, she may decide she wants the baby in her hospital room.  Don’t be alarmed by this kind of change, but be understanding of the mother’s wishes and desires. Changes like this does not necessarily mean the mother is choosing to parent, but she may realize time with the baby is the best thing for her emotional and mental health. It is helpful to remember that she is the child’s legal mother until relinquishments are signed, and it is our job to best support her in any way possible.

 

  1. Realize that when you are struggling, she is as well.

Adoption is scary for potential adoptive parents, but it is scary for the biological parents as well. While you are thinking about your lack of control in the situation, the expectant mother often feels the same way. Many women pursuing an adoption plan are in crisis situations, feeling out of control of their life as they never thought this would be a chapter in their story. This can be terrifying and they often fear that the adoptive family will not like them, will not love their child as their own, and the post adoption plan and contact they are being promised will not come to fruition. As a potential adoptive parent, make it your goal to get to know the expectant mother and ease some of these fears for her. Often, this will also make you more at peace with the situation as you get to know and love her during the process.

 

With all this being said, here is one thing that you can rest assured in- everything will work out and will fall into place the way God intended it to. Despite the fears and unknowns in adoption, take peace in the fact that God has already written your story, and He knows the exact plans for you and your family. The staff of Nightlight Christian Adoptions is excited and honored to walk through your adoption journey with you and support you in any way that we can.

 

An International Adoptive Family Story

 

God’s plan is perfect. God’s timing is perfect. God is faithful. Always.

 

I first received a file from Hong Kong and started advocating for this little girl (referred to as “Ella”) almost 4 years ago when she was only 1.5 years  old.

 

A lot of families showed interest in Ella but none moved forward because her special need was scary on paper with several unknowns regarding treatment. Ella was later matched with a family in June 2017. Several months later the match fell through due to personal reasons from the adoptive family. I continued to advocate for this sweet girl but didn’t receive any serious inquiries or commitments.

 

In April 2018, I received an email from a woman named Mrs. N that started out with saying “I’m not even sure how to begin this email, so please bear with me if I ramble. I was looking online at your waiting children and saw Ella’s profile and was interested. However, we’ve got a few hurdles that may mean it wouldn’t work, so I thought I’d ask before diving in.”

 

They had many hurdles. First, they were a military family stationed in Germany. They had 4 sons in the home. She also shared that they had actually recently been matched with an embryo and would be doing FET in June of that year.

 

At first glance, this just did not seem possible. Hong Kong won’t work with families who live outside of the US. Hong Kong is a guardianship country which makes the paperwork and post placement very complicated  or even impossible for families living overseas. Hong Kong also tends to favor families with 3 or less children in the home. I explained the obstacles and ended up telling the family that since they are already matched with an embryo, maybe they could consider international adoption again after the baby is born.

 

Mrs. N later responded with “Thank you so much for your response. I’m feeling so drawn to Ella, so I have a few more questions for you, if you don’t mind.  I just keep looking at Ella’s picture and thinking maybe the child that is already born and in need is the higher priority. I’ve looked at waiting children sites before but have never felt the pull like I do with her. I just don’t know what it means. My head and heart were so wrapped up in the embryo adoption, I honestly don’t even remember how or why I ended up on your site looking at Ella’s picture. It wasn’t even something we were considering. So I apologize for being very clueless. This has kind of blindsided me – in a good way…”

 

Mrs. N then told me they just received news from the military that they were scheduled to return to the US 2 years earlier than planned and will be stationed in a state where Nightlight is licensed in only 3 months! After a few more discussions, I sent the family Ella’s file to review and they submitted their application to the Social Welfare Institute (SWI). The SWI absolutely loved them! I told Mrs. N that I could not hold Ella’s file for the next 3 months while they are in Germany. She understood but was hopeful. In the meantime I had 2 more families submit an application to the SWI to be considered for Ella. The SWI finally responded and said they are waiting for the N family to return to the US because they want to place Ella with them!

 

Fast forward to February 2020. COVID was spreading throughout China and Hong Kong  and making its way to the US. Being in the military, Mr. N had to receive special permission, a 30 day notice, and top clearance to even travel to Hong Kong. It was a roller coaster of yeses and nos from the military as to whether he could travel or not. The family booked their flights and were scheduled to leave in only 2 days when Mr. N was told by the military that he could NOT travel. Hong Kong typically requires both parents to travel. What does this mean for them and for Ella who was expecting her mommy and daddy to be there in only 2 days to meet her. The family worked with their Congressman and Mr. N’s Commander to try and find some way to get to Ella.

 

The family was on their way to the airport anticipating Mrs. N would be boarding the flight alone when Mr. N received a call from a one star General giving him permission to get on the flight! Ella got to meet her mommy and daddy the very next day and was a daddy’s girl from day one.

 

Ella has been home 10 months now and is celebrating her first Christmas in the US and with her forever family. She is the perfect addition to the N family and her brothers absolutely adore her! She loves to sing and will request whoever is with her to sing along as well.  God knew the N’s were Ella’s family all along. With every obstacle from beginning to end, He was faithful.

written by Stephanie Muth

What is This ICPC Thing?

 

One of the best things about adopting through Nightlight is that families have the opportunity to be selected by an expectant parent in any one of our ten offices across the country.  To think that you live in OK and might be considered as an adoptive family in South Carolina is an exciting thought, and brings hope of expanded possibilities. Some families might say it’s also one of the hardest things.  Why? Not because they hesitate one second to travel to get that precious baby  or taking off work a bit longer, but the wait to come home….that long, no specific time period, sit in a hotel room in an unknown city process known as ICPC.  Maybe taking a more focused look at the process will help make it more understandable–and therefore, tolerated a bit easier when the time comes.

 

The ICPC (short for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) has been around since 1950’s when it became evident that moving children from one state to another for the purpose of foster care or adoption, needed some safeguards.  Its goal was to shut down improper, illegal or incomplete processes that left children in new states without proper support, permanency plans or legal parents.  By 1990, every state and the Virgin Islands had passed laws creating ICPC regulations.  So, technically, it is a compact between the states, not a federal law.  It applies to children sent out of state for adoption, foster care, treatment or residential centers.  Every state has a Compact Administrator (generally a staff in the state office) who oversees the coming and going of children between states, and assures that the legal work is done properly and the documents are in place to assure the placement is being done legally and in the best interest of the child.

 

Now, back to the “waiting to go home” process.  Because of the need for each state to approve the move of a child from one state to another, it is required that the child not leave his state of residence until that work has been done.  Let’s a couple lives in Kentucky and they are chosen to adopt a child in Missouri.  They travel to Missouri and are able to be there for the birth of their daughter.  What a wonderful experience to see that birth and be able to take her home from the hospital.  They return to their hotel room, very happy and longing to go home where they can see their family, who eagerly awaits their return.  But things are now at work in the background that will determine when they can go home.  The agency will have prepared some paperwork as before the baby’s birth, including the home study and all supporting documents.  But, we have to wait other documents, such as medical records. The last documents to be completed are the legal consent forms by the birth mother.  Once all the paperwork is collected, it is sent to the ICPC office of the sending state (where the child currently resides).  They review it and approve.  Sometimes they have questions, or ask for additional documents.  Once approval is given, they send it on to the receiving state, where the child will be residing.  That office does the same thing—reviews to make sure all documents are in order. The agency knows when each step is taken.  We are notified when the sending state approves, and also when the receiving state approves.  We’ve learned over the years of doing ICPC, that anxious adoptive parents making calls to check on the progress, or complain because it’s taking too long, is just not successful and actually interferes with the process.  ICPC offices are frequently handling many cases at one time, and they need to focus on their reviews.  We know from our experience that these workers are diligent and very aware that the families are in hotels waiting to leave. They work even harder when big holidays are coming and families are really anxious to leave.  These are the reasons we can’t tell you exactly how long it will take—there are several things we can’t control after the placement, but we do our part of submitting the paperwork as quickly as we can.  As soon approval is given by both states, families are free to leave immediately.

 

In the meantime, the families that plan ahead to be in their “temporary home” for several days fare the best.  So, make the best of it!

Here are some ideas for how to get through:

 

  • Plan to focus and enjoy just being together with your new little family member, whether you’re in a hotel or sitting in the hospital.  These times can enhance bonding and allow for lots of attention and nurturing for the baby.

 

  • Learn some things about the city you’re in, and explore as much as you can, especially if you arrive before delivery day.  This will help pass the time and can become a part of the birth story you will have to tell your child.

 

  • Bring books or computers or things to do in those quiet moments when the baby is sleeping (if you’re not asleep yourself!) It’s a good time to reflect on the journey that you’ve been on and the life ahead of you.  Take lots of pictures and videos, send them out so family can see what you’re doing each day.

 

  • Never hesitate to ask the staff of the office where you are about anything you need–locations of grocery stores, baby stores, restaurants, parks, places to go, and attractions unique to that city.

 

  • Once you are home, life will get very busy and we hope the memories of your entire experience will be a positive one, especially those days and moments created by waiting through the ICPC process.

written by Debbie Nomura, LCSW | Executive Director – OK Office