If there is any one question I have been asked the most about adoption so far it is, “It takes 3-4 years?!? What takes so long?”
We started this process on the coat-tails of dear friends completing the adoption process. We knew it would take a long time. We knew going into it to expect an excruciating wait. I didn’t ask questions, I just said, “This is the way it works. Don’t let yourself grow weary of waiting in the first year…..there is a long road ahead.” As we have said before, we trust God’s timing is perfect. We know that a little time between Cora and the new child will have benefits. We have a peace that it will play out as God ordained it from the very beginning. And yet, that doesn’t completely abandon all thoughts of, “But WHY?” from my mind.
So to attempt to answer that question, here is a timeline for our adoption:
1. Choose An Agency/ Fill out Applications/ Get Accepted/ Sign Contracts: About 4-6 weeks
2. Homestudy : 4-6 months
This paperwork approves us at the state level to be an adoptive family. (Learn more about what is required here.) I was convinced given our “vigor and enthusiasm” we could do it much faster, but I quickly found out we can only move as fast as the government offices who produce our documents and schedule our appointments.
3. Dossier: 4-6 months
The dossier includes our approved homestudy in addition to all specific country-required documents. It also consists of being approved by the FBI and Immigration offices to bring a child from another country into the US. This process includes 1 month of waiting for our USCIS scheduled fingerprint appointment, and then another month to 2 months of waiting for our “approval letter” from the USCIS office.
4. Translation: 6 weeks (This is where we are now.)
5. Being Accepted by the Bulgarian Government: 4-8 weeks
After the dossier has been translated, it is sent to Bulgaria to be approved. At this point we are placed on a waiting list, with no way of knowing when we might be matched or where we are on “THE LIST.”
6. I have NO idea what happens here to take 2-4 years….THIS IS THE PROBLEM.*
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for matching children with their families. There are approximately 7,000 orphans in Bulgarian orphanages right now…..waiting. Bulgaria has made HUGE improvements in their orphan care and in their adoption programs in the last few years. We are encouraged to know that our child will be loved and cared for until we can bring them home. But, there is certainly room for improvement. The Ministry of Justice closes down for a month at the end of summer, and then a few weeks here and there for holidays, so for close to 8 weeks out of the year, nothing happens at all.
7. Referral and First Trip
We will receive a referral for a child, review the file and have an international doctor review the health records. If we accept (which would be most likely), we would travel within 2 weeks. We would go to Bulgaria for 7 days to meet and bond with our child. Then, home for 4-6 months or more (if the Ministry of Justice is on their break) to wait for the child to have a Visa and Passport issued for the child and everything is approved in court.
8. Second Trip
This trip lasts 11 days and at the end of that time, we get to bring our child home. Once home, we will continue adoption follow-ups and home studies for the next 2 years.
So, on average, any given international adoption will take 3 years and $28,000. Adoption is down by 50% in the last 10 years in the US, mostly as a result of the frustration and fear of the process. The entire process has been slowed down by government greed, corruption, politics and religious differences among countries. In 1993, US and other countries implemented the Hague convention. It was a process designed to streamline international adoption by:
1) Protecting children and families and accrediting countries
2) Providing an authority to run the system through government mandates
While there are clearly good regulations involved in the Hague, now 21 years later, it not only failed to stop corruption, but dramatically slowed the process of the adoption to a mere trickle of what it once was. In fact, some of the politicians who supported and proposed the Hague, now doubt if it was best for the children and families effected by its outcome. (Stuck Documentary) While governments and politicians try to “regulate” adoption, children suffer and age out of the system and enter a world they have no skills to live in.
So, I guess I still can’t fully answer the question, “What takes so long?” I can only trust that God is in control whether it takes a smooth 2 years or years of fighting and advocating for our child. The challenge I have for myself and that I present to you is to let these children know they are worth fighting for.
I know full well that it is easier “waiting” today than it will be two years from now, but I suppose that’s why God reminds us:
So do not worry about tomorrow.
Let tomorrow worry about itself.
Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.
Matthew 6:34 The Voice Translation