Info for Kids adopted from Russia

We receive several questions from people adopted from Russia, especially as they become adults.

  1. I would like to travel to Russia.  Am I still a Russian citizen?
    1. You are still a Russian citizen unless you have formally renounced your Russian citizenship by sending your Russian passport to a Russian consulate in the US, and they have confirmed that your citizenship has been revoked.
    2. The Russian government is currently not issuing visas to individuals with U.S. Passports who are Russian citizens, but require them to travel to Russia on a Russian Passport
    3. If you are male, and you have not renounced your citizenship in the manner above, it is possible the Russian military can conscript you to service upon entry to the country
    4. You may travel to Russia on your valid Russian passport if it is still in your possession. No visa is required.  But you will need your US passport to return to the US.
    5. If you do not have your Russian passport, or it has expired, you will have to renew it with the Russian consulate.
    6. You are not able to travel to Russia on a US Passport unless you have renounced your citizenship in the manner above.
  2. I would like to find my birth family in Russia.  May we suggest you contact an expert named Tony Carruthers
  3. I have money in a bank account in Russia.  Can I get access to it?  We may be able to help.  email [email protected]

We also recommend contacting David Schunk, who consults with adoptees about getting Russian records.

https://russianadoptees.wordpress.com/contact/

 

 

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Open Adoption

 

The concept of “open adoption” has become much more accepted in the last 30 years. Today, roughly 90% of adoptions are open, according to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Many families, however, still have questions and concerns about what that relationship actually looks like and what it means for them and their child. Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to domestic adoption:

  1. What exactly is open adoption?

Open adoption is where there is some kind of direct contact between the birth family and the child and his or her adoptive family. This could include letters and pictures sent via email, text messages, phone calls, virtual meetings, or in-person visits. The amount of openness in an open adoption varies depending on the arrangement agreed upon by the birth and adoptive families at placement and the level of contact the birth family is comfortable with.

  1. Is open adoption confusing for a child?

I think this is one of the most common fears experienced by adoptive families prior to starting the adoption process– and understandably! Adoption can be a complex experience with a number of unknowns. However, studies show that when an open adoption is talked about honestly and openly, not only is it not confusing for a child but it is beneficial. When a child’s adoption story and their birth parents are discussed and/or introduced early in the child’s life, the child has a more secure and trustworthy view of themselves and their parents.

  1. Is open adoption the same as co-parenting?

Not at all. Once an adoption is finalized, the child is legally a part of your family, as if you delivered them at the hospital. You, ultimately, have say over how they are raised and their beliefs about their adoption and their birth parents. An open adoption just means that a relationship gets to be built between you, the child, and the birth family. Secondly, this birth family has chosen you to be the child’s parent for a reason. As your relationship with them develops, so does their trust and respect for you and what you decide is best for your child.

  1. What if my child grows up with an open adoption and decides they like their birth parents better?

Just as your relationship with the birth parents grows more secure over time, as does your child’s understanding of their birth parents’ role in their life. You are their parent. In an open adoption, the child grows to develop a more well-rounded perspective of who they are and where they came from. Through open communication, the child will grow to love their birth parents and establish a relationship with them as they age but it will not take away from the amount of love they have for you.

  1. What if there is a difficult situation in my open adoption and I don’t know how to handle it?

An open adoption will require difficult conversations at times, as does every important relationship. There is no guarantee that your open adoption will always be easy, but it will be worth it. Nightlight and other agencies are in place to help navigate the difficulties that can accompany adoption, including conversations about open adoption. If your family is ever confronted with a situation in your open adoption that you would like assistance navigating, we are here to help and support you.

written by Paige Lindquist

What Are Your Home Study Options For An Embryo Adoption?

Requiring a home study as part of the embryo adoption process follows the best practices of adoption.  Regardless of whether government entities recognize or regulate the adoption of embryos, the end result is that a child will be placed with parents to whom he or she is not genetically related.  The home study involves several elements, including assessment, education, and preparation.  It also provides peace of mind to the placing parents involved.

 

When adopting embryos, whether through an adoption agency or another entity, a home study is often required.  In addition to a domestic home study, Nightlight Christian Adoptions offers another option, the Snowflakes Family Evaluation (SFE).  Here are some things to consider when comparing the home study and SFE:

 

  • Cost:  Managing expenses is an important consideration for adoptive families.  The cost of home studies varies greatly and is often influenced by the cost of living in the region where you live, as well as the supply/demand factor.  You may be able to find an agency who will complete a home study for $1,200, while others charge $3,000 or more plus travel expenses.  Many agencies also charge a separate application fee.  The fee for an SFE is $1,500 plus travel expenses.  There is no application fee.
  • Availability: The SFE is offered to all families, regardless of what state or country they live in.  Traditional domestic home studies must be performed by an adoption agency that is licensed in your state of residence.
  • Modification: Some adoption agencies will permit a home study to be amended for the purpose of a domestic or international adoption if, for example, you begin the embryo adoption process and later decide to switch to a different adoption program.  The SFE cannot be modified to support any other type of adoption.
  • Timeline: The amount of time it takes to complete the SFE is mostly controlled by the adoptive family and their speed in gathering and completing the necessary paperwork.  It is possible to complete the process in 1-2 months, but the average is 3-4 months.  The time it takes to complete a domestic home study varies greatly depending on the agency you use and the state in which you live, but is generally a longer process.
  • Number of visits: Every state has different home study requirements, and that includes the number of face-to-face visits that home study providers must make before they can complete a home study.  Most states require 2-4 separate visits for a licensed home study.  The SFE requires only one home visit with an SFE provider, which can often help speed up the overall timeline of your adoption process.
  • Paperwork: SFE paperwork is similar to what is used in a home study, since we follow an adoption model.  However, it is often a smaller amount than what’s required for a home study and the requirements are more flexible since we aren’t having to follow the regulations of any government entity.

written by Beth Button 

When You Are Ready to Adopt But Your Spouse Is Not

 

Growing your family through adoption is a big decision that requires both parents who are fully committed and ready to adopt. It isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, or made on a whim, or without a lot of discussion as a couple. It is a mutual decision where

 

both parties have to be ALL IN.

 

I tend to plow into making decisions with my heart. I wanted to adopt as soon as I got married. My husband, thankfully, is the logical one who counterbalances my heart lead brain, and he made some compelling arguments for us to wait to adopt. Good arguments like waiting to finish our degrees and have stable good paying jobs and buy a house. Even when we were more settled and I still felt called to jump in headfirst, he still wasn’t ready. Then when we were both finally ready there were more major decisions that we had to agree on. I thought we should adopt siblings, but he only wanted to adopt one. Before we could plunge ahead, we had to

 

agree on what we wanted together as a couple.

 

Relationships in general are about compromises and finding a common middle ground where both feel comfortable. The key is patience. Couples should wait to adopt until both can agree it’s time to move forward. Don’t try to wear your spouse down or convince him or her before they’re ready, because the impact of adding a child through adoption is too huge and requires a lot of faith and commitment. If both parents aren’t on the same page the adoption may not be successful and the marriage may suffer as a result.

 

the key is patience.

 

Our family recently took a vacation to the Atlantic side of Florida and we were able to try surfing for the first time. If you’ve ever tried to surf you know that it isn’t easy. It takes patience and if you’re not ready for a wave it will knock you down. Adoption is kind of like those waves. If you’re not ready, patient, and prepared, the waves will knock you off balance. I’m a huge advocate for adoption but it isn’t for everyone. For those who decide adoption is for them they need to have a solid relationship with both fully committed before diving in. It was the best decision for our family to wait to adopt until we were both ready. Had I dragged my husband into the water before we were both ready,

 

we would’ve drowned.

 

To this day my husband says he was right to wait and have biological kids first because he said we needed practice parenting first. He will also tell you he was right to only have adopted one because our one child had many needs that require a lot of our attention. He may have been right on both accounts. I’m glad to have such a great partner on this adoption journey with me and to make these decisions with. Our family may not be done growing, but until we are both fully committed and ready to move forward again, we will be patient and trust God’s plan for our family.

 

If we are meant to adopt again, we will both be ready to face the waves together.

 

written by Angela Simpson, BSW | Home Study Manager | Domestic Program Coordinator

Steps to Take if Your Agency Loses Accreditation

 

Since January, 2018, on average, an international adoption agency has lost accreditation every two weeks.  In fact, there were 168 accredited adoption agencies beginning in 2018, and today there are only 112.  The main reason agencies are losing accreditation regards disputes with the accrediting entity about how to interpret regulations.

If your agency loses accreditation, we recommend the following steps:

  1. File a complaint with the US State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues if you suspect the accrediting entity has acted unfairly toward your adoption agency.  You can contact them at [email protected]
  2. Look for a new accredited adoption agency to represent you as a Primary Provider. You can see the list of possibilities here.
    1. Please be advised that fees you paid to your prior agency are not likely to transfer to the new agency. The fees you paid were for services rendered, and your agency did provide services.  It is possible that your new agency will provide a courtesy waiver of some fees.
    2. Also please be advised that if your agency goes out of business, which is often the case, you are not likely to recover any of the documents for your case because there will not be any employees to help you. So you should gather all the documents you can immediately.
  3. If you are unable to find a Primary Provider after a diligent effort, notify [email protected] that you have not been able to find an agency.
  4. Consider joining a class action lawsuit with other families who have been affected. If you would like your name on a list of possible families affected, email [email protected]  Keep in mind that in order to join a suit, you must have suffered a loss such as
    1. Inability for you to complete your case
    2. Loss of documents
    3. Loss of fees

How to Prepare Your Marriage for Your Adoption Journey

 

You and your spouse have decided to adopt!  You are both probably feeling an array of emotions; excitement, anxiety, overwhelmed and even fear.  Deciding to begin the adoption process is a big decision, and one that you may have gone through many hurdles to get to.  Maybe you have gone through infertility or maybe you just feel the call to adopt.  The adoption process is stressful and can put a strain on your marriage. It is important that you prepare your marriage for the adoption journey. Whatever the reason you are preparing to adopt, here are some things to consider before beginning the adoption journey.

If you and your spouse have experienced the pain of infertility, give yourselves time to go through the steps of the grieving process.  This is a very personal process and the timeline will vary from person to person.  It may also vary between you and your spouse.  You may find counseling beneficial.  Look for ways to support one another during this time as well as give each other space to grieve on your own time.  Wait until you are both on the same page, and once you have moved into the acceptance stage you will be ready to look at alternative family building options such as adoption.

Once you have decided to adopt, you and your spouse can research the various types of adoption to see which type would be best for your family.  Ask yourself questions such as what age of child are we interested in? Do we want a newborn or older child?  If you have other children in the home, consider how the adoption of another child will impact your children already in the home. Are you open to special needs?  Talk to other families who have adopted.  These are all things to consider when deciding which path of adoption to take.  Don’t pressure each other into a decision.  One of you may need more time than the other, and that is ok.  Once you are both on the same page, then make the decision together.

After you have decided which adoption path to take it is important to decide how to finance your adoption.  Adoption fees can be expensive, but there are many ways to finance your adoption as long as you have a plan.  Financing an adoption can put a strain on your marriage, but having a financial plan can help ease that strain.  If you have undergone fertility treatments, they may have drained your savings.  Start an adoption savings account and contribute money each month to it, pay off any debt, and plan for ways to fundraise.  Adoption fees are generally paid at the time services are rendered, so you will be able to space out when the fees are due and plan for them.

Communication is vital to any marriage, but especially for families going into the adoption process.  It is important to keep open communication, respect each other and remain committed to each other.  The adoption process consists of a lot of paperwork, home study visits, lots of waiting and often times unpredictability.  Processes can change, wait times can change, and the stress of the uncertainty and waiting can cause anxiety.  Find ways to support each other during these stressful times. Pray together. Spend time with each other doing fun things that are not adoption related.  Go out to eat, take walks or even try to get away for a vacation.  Make sure to give each other space as well.  Find a trusted friend to talk to or an adoption support group of other families in the adoption process.  Lean on your church for support.

Making your marriage a priority and following these suggestions should help your adoption process go more smoothly.  Support each other, set realistic expectations, have a financial plan and be on the same page and you will make it through the adoption journey.  It will be well worth it!

Angie Thorn

International Program Coordinator

Adopting Embryos Created with an Anonymous Donor

 

Even though embryo adoption has been around for more than two decades, sometimes this kind of adoption can be a bit of a brain bender. But when you consider that life begins at conception, embryo adoption is such a beautiful way to build your family and rescue embryos from being frozen in time and space. At the beginning of a couple’s embryo adoption process, oftentimes the idea that the embryos are created through the placing family’s egg and sperm begins to form in their minds.

What surprises many adopting families is learning that nearly 50% of donated embryos are created through donor egg or sperm.

But if you put yourself in the shoes of the placing family, this decision is not so surprising. The desire to build a family can be extremely strong. Perhaps a family has gone through three rounds of IVF with no success, and the doctor advises them to consider using a donor egg. Many infertile couples continue their journey with a resounding YES! to donor egg and/or sperm.

What are the Pros and Cons for adopting couples thinking about adopting embryos created with a donor?

PROS:

  • Due to the average age of the donor, these embryos are typically more rigorous in achieving pregnancy.
  • Careful screening of donors for genetic, medical, and psychological issues is done.
  • You will receive a donor profile from the fertility clinic as part of the matching process.
  • Many adopting couples’ hearts and minds are put at ease when they realize that children have been born to the placing family resulting from these embryos.

CONS:

  • Discovering the identity of the donor can be difficult, as anonymity is still common-place in the fertility world.
  • The donor’s health history is not updated after the time of the donation.

What are some special considerations to keep in mind when adopting embryos created with a donor?

  • Work to understand the placing family’s motivations. Start by remembering your own grief work around not being able to have a genetic child and your own family building expectations.
  • Know you can choose to not adopt embryos created with anonymous donors, but be prepared for a longer matching time.
  • It is your responsibility as a parent to build a solid foundation for your child by telling them their whole story. You don’t want your child to learn about their beginnings from someone else.
  • There are resources available to you to help you explain to your child about their beginnings.

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

 

 

In 1988, President Reagan established October as National Observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  His intention was to offer Americans “the opportunity to increase (their) understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies” and to use this time to consider how we might support bereaved parents and family members.  Reagan aptly stated, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”

 

The loss of a child is a devastating, life-altering experience. These heart-wrenching losses can come through the death of an infant or child, stillbirth, miscarriage, SIDS, abortion, among others.  All losses are, at the core, painful; however, the loss of a child is uniquely difficult, as a parent doesn’t expect their child to die first.  Many moms and dads-to-be have longed and dreamed about being parents, so these tragic deaths of their infants or children are tantamount to the loss of a dream.

 

When I lost my daughter through stillbirth, my life changed forever. I have  described this experience as the “day my life fell apart.” After the heartache of years of infertility, her loss broke me, shattered my heart, my hopes, my dreams. I was haunted by thoughts of what might have been: the child I dreamed of holding, rocking, caring for, and watching grow up.  My arms ached to hold her; my body felt like it had betrayed me.  I couldn’t sleep, eat, or enter her nursery.  Like many women long desiring to be mothers, my baby represented to me the end of my infertility journey, my happy family.

 

With between 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies ending in miscarriage and the tragedy of stillbirth and infant loss, how do we remember babies gone too soon and those with “angel babies?”  How do we grieve the “what might have been” or support those who have suffered the tragedy of infant or pregnancy loss?

 

These are some things I learned as I fumbled my way through my grief journey: be kind to yourself, learn to recognize and name your feelings, know that your experiences do not define you but shape you. Consider talking to a therapist who specializes in infertility and infant loss.  Use good self-care, journal, get rest.  Be a student of yourself: learn about yourself, what you need, how your friends and family can support you. Ask for what you need, directly. Find others who understand your experience and your pain. Your journeys will not be the same but find someone to walk alongside you-a friend, therapist, or support group.  Talk about your experience. I was shocked to learn of how many women I knew who had suffered a stillbirth. Their stories gave me hope. Hope that I could survive my personal tragedy and hope that I could go on without my daughter.

 

In my journey of healing from the loss of my angel baby, I have had the honor to meet a fellow loss mom who has used her tragedy to minister to hundreds of women.  After the death of her infant daughter, Finley, due to medical malpractice, Noelle Moore saw “a large gap between the hospital and the home.”  She states that her care ended when she left the hospital after the death of her baby. She was left to navigate the pain of her tragic loss on her own and determined that she wanted to change this lonely, heart-breaking experience for other women.

 

Noelle started The Finley Project, a Central Florida-based agency that serves clients nationwide. The Finley Project is the nation’s only holistic program for mothers after infant loss and bridges the gap in care.  Noelle states that The Finley Project’s unique holistic approach is more than just a support group; it is a 7-part program that is free to the mother. Care for the mother who has lost her infant includes funeral planning and support, grocery gift cards, house cleaning services, massage therapy, counseling, support group placement, and support from a volunteer, the majority of which are other loss moms or grandmothers.  Noelle and her staff are uniquely positioned to support grieving moms after infant loss.  Please visit https://www.thefinleyproject.org for more information.

 

Like Noelle, I will never forget my daughter. September 11th marked the day that would have been Hannah Catherine’s 18th birthday. I was struck by how much her brief life affected me. She changed me. Being her mother has shaped the way I look at life, family, parenting, and the gift of a child.  God promises to work good in all things for those who love him. 18 years ago, as I walked out of the hospital, heart broken, arms empty, without my baby, I could not have said this. Today I can. Have hope, care for yourself, give yourself time to grieve and heal.

 

written by Megan White

Home Study Skills Workshop

 

Thank you for registering for our Home Study Skills Workshop.

The fee for this workshop is $95, and can be paid bellow:


Training For Adoption Home Study

Oklahoma’s Leading Source of Adoption Home Study Training for 21 years

Sponsored by the Oklahoma office of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, A Non-profit Adoption Agency

Adoption Home Study Skills Workshop

Doing Home Studies & Understanding Adoption Trends

Who Should Attend:

  • Professionals: LCSWs, LPCs, LMFTs: Clergy and others with a Master’s Degree in human services who wants to become qualified to conduct adoption home study assessments.
  • Professionals who need to update the training required by law

(Note: Persons with only a Bachelor’s Degree are not eligible by law to do adoption studies unless employed by a licensed adoption agency.)

Meet the Legal Requirements to do Adoption Home Study Assessments

Oklahoma law mandates professionals in private practice and ministers doing adoptive home studies must “complete at least once every three (3) years a three-hour course in home study preparation and adoption trends. . .”

Description:  Participants in this workshop will learn:

  • The 4 kinds of Adoption Home Studies
  • The 7 statutory tasks of a home study provider
  • The 4 types of background checks – when & how to do them
  • The elements of adoption home study assessments
  • Criteria for approving or disapproving an adoptive family
  • The 5 kinds of documents required by the Court
  • Trends in adoption practice

CEU’s:           3 Hours – Approved for LCSW, with 1 hr Ethics, Approval Pending for LPC and LMFT

Fee:                            $ 95.00 –  Pre-registration Required

(Includes Power Point and sample forms sent by email)

Waiting For The Lord

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Psalms 27:14 NIV

 

“That sounded like a long time.” We started our adoption journey in June of 2018. On our first call with Nightlight, they told us that it would likely be somewhere around 6-18 months from the time that we were home study approved until we had a child placed with us. That sounded like a long time, but we told ourselves that we were open to a lot of situations and that surely it would be sooner rather than later. By the end of October 2018, we were home study approved and officially waiting. At first, it was exciting! We threw ourselves into preparing, setting up the crib, buying diapers to start a stockpile. Our hearts would race every time the phone rang. We were eager to update friends and family when they asked how things were going. We read books, listened to podcasts, and did all the “right” things to prepare for this. After all, we could get “the call” any day and we had almost reached six months of waiting. Six months came and went, and then we had to start renewing our home study. “This will be the last time!” we told ourselves. Any day now!

“But our confidence was slowly eroding.” We each started having moments of doubt. However, God was faithful and one of us was always steadfast when the other was doubting. We knew God led us to this path, but why was it taking so long? Pridefully, we wondered terrible things like why an expectant mom picked another family and not us. We started to cringe when people asked if there was an update on the adoption. What was wrong with us? We would check in every month and ask for feedback on our profile. We got a lot of good feedback, but someone else was always chosen instead. It was so hard not having anything to “fix.” And I wanted to cry after each expectant mother said that they wanted a family without children. It broke my heart that they didn’t see what an amazing big sister our daughter would be.

“We dug deep into our faith…” During the adoption process we watched family members announce their pregnancy, deliver, and celebrate the baby’s first birthday. It was a constant struggle against pride, jealousy, and negativity. As we ran low on excitement, patience, and hope, we dug deep into our faith to keep us going. We had to rely on God’s strength rather than our own. We did Bible studies, fasted, and prayed more than we’ve ever prayed. Slowly, and with a lot of work, our hearts began to change. We prayed every day that God’s will would be done in HIS timing. We prayed for the expectant mother and all of the things she must be going through. We began to pray that when our profile was presented, the baby would end up in the family God had planned for him/her, rather than just that it would be our family that was chosen. When our daughter asked, we were able to remind her that God knew the perfect baby to join our family and when that baby was ready, he or she would be there. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes struggled to believe those words. But, I continued to repeat what I knew must be true about God’s faithfulness. When the second Christmas came without a match, I was devastated. It had now been 14 months of waiting and we didn’t even have a match yet. The chances of us having a placement by 18 months were dwindling. But, we kept bringing ourselves back to the knowledge that we were certain God had brought us to adoption and we had to trust not only His plan, but also His timing.

“And then, it happened!” In February of 2020, after 470 days of officially waiting and over 19 months since we began the adoption process, we received the call. We had been chosen to parent our daughter who had been born three days earlier and was ready to be picked up just a few hours away. Within a few short hours of that call, we were holding our beautiful baby girl. I know you have heard it before, but it is true that you understand why you had to wait so long as soon as you see your child. It was her that God was preparing us for all along. And along the way, He was refining us as well. He was teaching us to be more patient and selfless. He was guiding us to think more of others than ourselves. He was showing us His sovereignty above all things and increasing our faith. The wait is not fun. Some days it is crushing. While I cannot say that we enjoyed the wait, I can say that we can now look back and appreciate the work that was done in us along the way. We became better people and more supportive spouses. We were able to teach our daughter what it looks like to trust in God’s goodness even when it is hard. No, the wait was not easy, but it was oh, so worth it!

 

written by a Domestic Adoptive Family