I'm currently active military serving domestically. Does anyone know what type of benefits the military offers that might be helpful in my adoption quest? Does the Family Medical Leave Act cover my absence while making the two trips to Russia? Does my trip to Russia need to be approved by some specific office? Can "Space A" be used on my first trip if I go alone?
Adoption must not come very up often where I'm stationed because the folks who should know the answers just look at me funny.
We would appreciate any information you might have in this area.
Amy,
I know you're busy, so thanks for the information. We've just begun our adoption journey. I'm to have a total hysterectomy in December while we're on Christmas break, so I plan on doing most of my searching then. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to get back to me!! Keep us posted!!! And Best of luck to you--
Angi
Thanks Angi- we are so excited! I just wanted to tell you that there is a good magazine out there as well. Adoptive Families- I think it is called. It has a yearly supplement that is out right now with a break down of the agencies and the process. I wish I would have known about it when we started. Oh- and I get to have a complete hyst when we finally settle down from the adoption! Not really looking foward to it. Good luck!
amy
Hi
We are a military family and are stationed at Ft. Huachuca right now in Arizona. We are looking at moving to Germany. We were almost done with our homestudy here but I guess we will have to start all over.
How do things work when we get to Germany? Is it the same as here because we are military, plus we would have to go through the extra International Adoption stuff right? I mean... we would have to do the homestudy again, then pay for INS, VISA, etc.
We would like to visit some orphanages in Germany and adopt from there. Does Jag help at all or do we need a private attorney?
In AZ, we were just going to go through the Foster to Adopt option and go that route... now we are mind boggled at what we need to do in a different country etc.
Thanks for any input.
... that you probably will not be able to adopt from Germany, unless you are willing to consider a much older child or a child with significant special needs.
People from Germany, like many American families, go abroad to adopt. The reason is that there simply aren't many healthy infants and toddlers available. The reasons are many:
1. Germany, like other Western European countries, the U.S., Canada, the British Isles, and so on are very prosperous. Hardly anyone places a child for adoption because of poverty -- one of the main reasons children become available in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. And when a parent cannot care for a child, there is almost always someone in the family or community who is able and willing to assist. In many countries, few people are able to take in a child, because they simply cannot afford "another mouth to feed".
2. In Germany, like almost all of the West, family planning is common and accepted. Few people have large families anymore. In some countries, married women still may have six or more children, and may make an adoption plan because they cannot feed so many.
3. Fortunately, Germany has not seen major natural or manmade disasters recently. In many countries, children are routinely orphaned as a result of earthquakes, famines, epidemics, and civil wars. These children need homes, but there may be few intact families able to accommodate them.
4. In Germany, as in most of the West, the stigma against having a baby outside of marriage has lessened. Many single women decide to raise their children, often with the assistance of family members. There are parts of the world, however, where it is still a tremendous scandal if a woman conceives outside of marriage, and where the entire family, not just the woman, loses the respect of the community.
5. In Germany, as in most of the West, there is little cultural bias against adoption. Sure, you will meet an occasional person who wouldn't DREAM of parenting a child who was not genetically related, and wouldn't DREAM of parenting transracially. But most people do consider adoption a viable option, especially if they are infertile. There are parts of the world where the notion of bringing an unrelated child into one's family, giving him/her inheritance rights and the family name, is absolutely preposterous. And there are parts of the world where there are many adoptable babies born to women in the indigenous ("Indian") population, but people of European ancestry won't adopt them because of their ethnicity.
6. Many countries in the West have laws that make adoption by foreign nationals difficult. As an example, even if an Irish baby needed a home, any American wishing to adopt him/her would have to reside in Ireland for at least a year before being considered. I don't know the situation in Germany, but I can imagine that German nationals will have first rights to any available children, especially healthy infants and toddlers.
Do be aware that "orphanages" are not common in the West. The prevailing Western opinion is that congregate living is not good for children. That is why most children in the U.S. go to foster homes, not orphanages, when they are removed from their birth families or abandoned or relinquished. It is highly unlikely that you'll be able to go around visiting German orphanages, because group living situations will be rare, except in the case of adolescents in supervised residential settings.
I would urge you to go to the website of the U.S. State Department where you will see information on the adoption organizations in Germany. If you feel that you are truly determined to adopt from Germany, contacting some of those organizations is a place to start.
Otherwise, I hope that you will consider adopting one of the many children available for adoption in the countries of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, or Latin America. Military families DO adopt from these sources. These children need your help -- and can help you fulfill your dream of becoming parents.
Sharon
The only reason we picked Germany is because we would be stationed there... I thought that would be easier than going to another country to adopt.
I have heard of many people going to the Ukraine and adopting and have seen that the children look just like American babies and would blend right in with my family.
I am not even familiar with what countries are close to what... I had to look at a map just to see where Ukraine is... I'm only familiar with the US... sad I know.
Anyway, we are interested in adopting, yes. What we are not interested in is all the extra fees that go with it. Keep in mind that we were all signed up and ready to go with the Foster to Adopt program that was FREE. :) Now we have to think about INS costs and VISA costs, etc.
These are not what we had in mind... although we will have to save and see what we can do. We can't afford 20k, which is the "norm" for international adoption at a minimium. We don't have that kind of money nor do we have access to such. We don't have rich family to borrow from, or a house to 2nd mortgage... or anything now. We are military... we can't have anything substantial until we are settled in one place.
Anyway.. thanks for the long response. I was just throwing some things out there to see what Germany is like. I have no idea about the different countries. I do know that we would like a child from a country that would "physically fit in" with our family. We have several friends that have gone through horrible situations with children who are of a different color. These kids are horribly teased at school and the families are going through a lot just at the grocery store etc. We want this to be as "smooth" of a transition as possible and we want for this little girl to "look" like I could have given birth to her myself. I know this all sounds shallow... but we have heard too many horror stories of the other.
We were looking into Chinese adoption of little girls as they do not want their little girls and I have read countless stories of things going on in that country... and then I met a girl at a play group that adopted a little girl from China and she is getting teased at school because she has a "white mommy". She's only 6... she has no IDEA why people would say such a thing! I don't either... but I know that I don't want my child going through that. So we changed our minds to a child of our race so that we can shield her as much as possible from things like that. Kids will be mean no matter what... but at least that is one less thing they can be cruel about.
Thanks,
Kianne
... and I must tell you that Chinese families DO love little girls. They are NOT just thrown away, contrary to what you may have heard.
One of the problems in China is that there is no Medicare or Social Security to protect people when they grow old. They tend to rely on their children to support them and care for them in old age. In traditional Chinese society, the responsibility falls on the sons. Daughters go with their husbands to care for their inlaws. Normally, a family might choose to have several children in order to be sure of having at least one boy to fulfill this role. Parents with no sons could wind up in what amount to nursing homes attached to orphanages. My daughter's orphanage had an old age home attached to it.
But the Chinese government has been trying to increase the prosperity of the Chinese people by encouraging them to defer marriage and childbearing until they are at least 30, and to have only one or, at most, two children. In some parts of China, the so-called "one child policy" was implemented harshly. People could lose their jobs if they had more than one child, for example. And some corrupt officials would sometimes offer to look a blind eye at larger families -- but only if they were paid huge sums of money as a "fine." Fortunately, an effort is being made to correct these abuses. But damage has been done.
What could a family do? On one hand, the parents needed a son. On the other, they could have only one child. Sometimes, if a girl was born, they would quietly find a location that was well-traveled, but where they were not likely to be seen, and place the child there. A member of the family sometimes hid to ensure that the child was picked up speedily by a reputable looking person. If the child's birth went unnoticed, and no child appeared around the house, then the parents could try again for a son.
That, in brief, is one reason for the fact that a large number of Chinese adopted children are girls. However, you should also know that children of both genders do wind up being adopted from China. We had a boy in our travel group. In some cases, parents arrange for the adoption of a child because they are too poor. In others, parents may feel that the child has a disability that they can't cope with; the boy in our group was born with an undescended testicle, and I'll bet that his birth family didn't know about or couldn't afford the simple medical procedure that could easily fix that, with no impact on fertility or manliness. In yet others, the birthmother is unmarried; while the stigma of out-of-wedlock pregnancy is diminishing in the U.S., it is still alive and well in many countries, including China. And, of course, there are probably some less talked about reasons -- the birthmother may have been a prostitute, or the birthfather may have been a drug dealer, or whatever, just like in the U.S.
I adopted my daughter when she was 18.5 months old. She appears to have been with her birth family for the first 9.5 months of her life. I have no idea why she came into care, but I must tell you that she had to have received a lot of love. She is the huggiest/kissiest/smiliest kid around (not to mention the cutest, smartest, etc. -- but, of course, I am biased.)
I do agree that parenting transracially is not for everyone. But don't assume that all Asian kids adopted by White families have problems adjusting. My daughter is a quadruple minority. She is Chinese. We are Jewish. There's no Dad in our home. And I adopted when I was 51. You don't find a whole lot of Chinese Jewish daughters of old single Moms, although there's another one in Becca's class at school! But we have a surprisingly easy time of it.
A lot is due to the fact that I don't mind being a little conspicuous. Yes, we are very noticeable in the grocery store, and yes, we get questions. But we love to talk about adoption, and have no problems answering well-meaning questions. Becca (now 8 and in third grade) answers them almost as well as I do. She knows about birthparents, abandonment, the one-child policy, and lots more.
And most questions ARE well-meaning, even if some are insensitively phrased. Is she your OWN child? Yes, she's my own. I adopted her. How much did you pay for her? Well the fees for the homestudy are x, the fees for the USCIS clearance are y, the airplane fare to China is z, and so on; I did not "buy" a child, but I paid for some services to help me bring a child home. Is she normal? Well, I don't know too many kids that read and write Hebrew as well as English, like she does, but if you mean, is she healthy, then absolutely -- 100%.
At this point in time, Becca is wildly popular, partly because she is a warm and empathic little person. She attends a Jewish day school, and is much loved by the kids there, as well as by their parents. (The face of the Jewish community is changing, and her school has quite a few Asian, Hispanic, and Black Jewish children.) She is also popular in our neighborhood, which is primarily White and Asian. We have a huge chapter of Families With Children From China in our area, so she also knows lots of kids like her -- Asian kids in White families. Sometimes, I think we live in the car, since we go to so many birthday parties and sleepovers.
Becca already knows that there are racists in the world. We have even talked about the fact that some parents don't want their sons and daughters to date or marry children of other races and backgrounds. Moreover, we've talked about the fact that some Asian will feel that she acts too White; the Asian slang term is "banana" -- someone who's "yellow" outside, but "white" inside. I'm sure that she may face a slight or two as she grows up. But I feel that the slights will be few and far between, and that Becca has the self-esteem to weather them well.
I know that you may find international adoption pricey. Still, it's not completely out of reach. Many, many families of modest means adopt. As an example, there is a $10,000 adoption tax credit, which really helps most adoptive families except for the very richest (who don't need it anyway.) The military also offers some benefits. Moreover, not all of the expenses are payable at the outset; in fact, most tend to come late in the process. So even after beginning the process, most families have at least a year to amass the needed funds.
I do hope that you find a way to make your dream of having a child come true.
Sharon
Kianne,
Hello! Welcome to the group. My husband is active duty and in command at Fort Knox currently. We are adopting two little girls from Russia. We were stationed in Germany from 99-01 and our neighbor fought like heck to adopt a sibling group from Poland. I can get you her email if you would like. There are adoption magazines now that have groups that sepecialize in Polish adoptions. (I have traveled to Poland several times. The children look like us. Their economic situation is such that they need help.)
I must say that every family who adopts have to be able to be totally honest about what they can accept as far as race, sex, age, health... I admire you for being honest and telling your heart. Follow that. Read everything and forget what is not useful to you.
There is a yahoo group for military adoptions that is very helpful. I know of at least one couple on there that adopted while they were stationed in Germany, but I am not sure from what country.
Also please read all the info about the military benifits. We are getting $4000 back when the adoption is final, plus the $20,000 credit. I am not pushing international adoption with an expensive agency, just trying to share what has worked for us. We are by no means rich, but since we have no other debt we can afford to do this. And one child would be much cheaper than two. Our girls our three and one and we are thrilled to add them to our family- but every family is different.
ACS was NO HELP to me on the adoption front. But maybe you state agency knows of some way to get on with a "cheaper" adoption agency? Ask questions. We switched agencies and have loved our new agency. Our social worker casually mentioned that she had been working with a local agency who was accreditied in Russia. She did not know we were going to switch, so I thought her opinion was honest and helpful.
I wish you all the best. A couple using our agency is working in Frankfurt and just got home with their Russian daughter a few weeks ago. There are options out there- it just takes research. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all- I will try to help.... amy
Thanks for your reply, you are kind in your words.
After a little research (and i see i need to do much more) we would probably be interested in looking into Russia, Poland, Chec (can't spell it) and Ukraine. They all seem to have children that would "blend" right in with our family and no one would be the wiser.
If we are stationed in Germany do we still have to go through all the international adoption "rules" sort of speak?
Thanks,
Kianne
Hi,
Please remember that posting URL's on the forum is not permitted, I have edited the above post's to remove the URL's
Thanks!
I hope that, when you say, "no one will be the wiser", you are referring to strangers in the supermarket, and not to your child. The experience of many, many adoptees has taught the adoption community that no child should ever be kept in ignorance of the fact that he/she was adopted.
A child's adoption should be discussed from his/her earliest days with you, even when you think he/she could not possibly understand. As an example, when you rock your baby girl to sleep, you might say something like, "You needed a Mommy and a Daddy, and your Mommy and Daddy needed a little girl (boy). So we flew all day and all night on a big airplane to get to you in Russia and to bring you home so that you would be our little girl (boy) forever and ever." You will be surprised at how soon the child will begin to repeat what you have said, and to make it part of who he/she is.
You don't need to talk about birthparents and such initially. A child who does not understand that every baby comes out of a woman's uterus will not understand that he/she grew in some other woman's tummy, not yours, and that sometimes a person who has a baby cannot take care of a baby at that time and makes arrangements for some other family to adopt him/her. You can flesh out the adoption story every year, as the child grows.
As your child grows, you can talk to him/her about the concept of privacy, and let him/her decide how much of his/her story he/she wants to share with others. As an example, if you inculcate pride in his/her cultural heritage, which you absolutely should, he/she may WANT people to know that he/she is from Russia/Ukraine/wherever. But he/she may not want to answer questions about his/her birth family, or to have you tell people about his/her birth family. This is perfectly appropriate. There is a wonderful program called "WISE UP", which teaches children how to deal with questions that are nosy and inappropriate.
As to your question, any time you adopt a child who is not a citizen of the same country as you, it's an international adoption. This has some important implications -- for example:
1. You will need to comply with the rules of the child's birth country, concerning adoption of children by foreigners. Most foreign countries give priority to their own citizens when it comes to adoption. So if you adopt from Russia, for example, you will be able to adopt a particular child only after he/she has been on a registry of adoptable children for several months, without being adopted by a Russian family. And you will have to follow Russian laws regarding how you pursue the adoption. For example, most regions of Russia require the prospective parents to visit Russia twice, first to meet and officially decide to adopt the child, and then to go through a court proceeding.
2. You will also need to comply with the rules of the US government, as expressed in the Immigration and Nationality Act, if you hope to bring the child to the U.S. someday and to make him/her a U.S. citizen. The Immigration and Nationality Act governs such things as which children are considered adoptable orphans -- not every child who is legally free for adoption in Russia will qualify for an adoption visa to come to the U.S., for example. It also specifies the qualifications you, as parents, must have to be approved to bring a child into the U.S and to make him/her a U.S. citizen.
3. If you were not living on a military base in Germany, but were simply Americans living in Germany temporarily because you worked for the German branch of an American company, you would also need to meet the requirements of the German government with regard to bringing a Russian child into the country. Fortunately, you shouldn't have much problem with the German government because of your residence on a military base.
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you need additional information.
Sharon
I was referring to people in the supermarket that make smart remarks or ask if your children have different fathers... all things I have heard from people when at the supermarket with daycare kids.... and once when I was with a friend who has different raced children. Some people don't know how to hold their tongue and I'm an adult, I can take it. A child just feels "funny" or embarrassed or whatever...
I will try to watch my words from now on.
But thanks for the additional international info... we will know for SURE if he leaves in the next couple of weeks. All we know is that his name was put "in" to go... so odds are pretty good. Although with as little time as he has left in... we are still hoping DA will reject it and say they want someone else. Then we can just continue like we are here in AZ and adopt from the Foster Care system.
I just wanted to thank you all for the information on this thread. It's been benifical for me to try and get some financing from the Military. I'm a National Guardsman so still looking into the whole thing.
Thanks again.
Lisa
I hate to see that we are not helping each other, but being critical of how one person says something. I would not want to return to the site if some of the things said to pnkholt had been said to me. This should be a place were can talk openly. We can certainly help without being critical. Just my opinion....
I also did not know the thing about leaving out urls. Sorry.
We are still waiting for our courtdate, so we can return to get our daughters. Please feel free to contact me privately if you have any questions/ comments to share. This process is emotional and hard for everyone. Best of luck to you and yours....
Amy
Hey Thanks for sticking up for me. I try to be as nice as I can on here, if I were in person, I'm a little more forceful when people seem to get out of line. I just keep saying to myself that it is hard for people to understand what or how you are saying something online so we have to take that into consideration. :) You can't "hear" tone of voice, etc. on here, so you never know if someone is being a jerk or being helpful and concerned. Sometimes it is hard to tell.
Meanwhile... feel free to email me at: 3holts1@cox.net
I don't know how to find people's emails on here. I didn't know the rule about URL's either. Hope there isn't a rule about my email or that will be removed too.
Anyways... looks like we aren't going to Germany after all, we may be going to Alaska. I WISH THE ARMY WOULD MAKE UP THEIR MINDS! lol For goodness sakes! We should know something soon... its just that every day is longer and longer when you have no idea what in the world to expect.
Good luck with your courtcase... if we move to Alaska do we have to go through another homestudy and everything?! What a bummer.
Kianne
Hey! I know that people mean well, but sometimes we can all get a little too emotional and seem pushy. I hope it helped a little. I totally understand what you mean about tone- it really is hard to "talk" without seeing/ hearing hte other person.
I wanted to tell you that I was told if we had already started our paperwork, and had finished the homestudy when we moved that all we had to do was a "homestudy update". Apparently that meant having a local social worker can and see that we had settled in and were ready to add a new addition to our family. Check with your social worker or homestudy agency to find out. I could be totally off!
I know what you mean about the Army making up their minds. I almost wish they would not tell us anything until they knew- but of course that would drive me crazy too! I hear Alaska is wonderful though... I am jealous! I have liked KY, but am ready to move on (a dsadvantage to this lifestyle is I get bored with one place after awhile!)
Merry Christmas to you and yours.... Amy