Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Introduction to International Adoption

October 19, 2022 Creating a Family Season 16 Episode 42
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Introduction to International Adoption
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever thought about adopting a child from abroad? What does it take and what type of kids are available? To learn more, listen to our interview with Robin Sizemore, Executive Director of Hopscotch Adoptions, who has worked in the international adoption field for 27 years and Debbie Price, Executive Director of Children’s House International and who has worked in international adoption for 28 years.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Outline of the typical international adoption process.
  • What type of kids are available for international adoption?
  • What is the youngest child available?
  • Is it possible to get a young healthy child or baby?
  • International adoption regulations.
  • What governmental entities are involved in international adoption?
  • How to decide on what country to adopt from? Will the country accept you? Does the country place children that you think your family is a good fit for?
  • What are some of the country-specific requirements for adoptive parents?
  • Can adoption agencies have different or more stringent requirements than the foreign or US government?
  • What are the health risks for children adopted internationally?  What type of special needs do children have?
  • What type of care do children have before adoption? Institutional vs foster care.
  • How to find children abroad who are waiting for adoption? How to adopt a child on a waiting child website?
  • How much information will you have on the health of the child when you receive a referral?
  • How big of a risk is it that a country will close down to international adoption once you apply? How do you mitigate the risk of losing the money you invested? 
  • What to look for in an international adoption agency?
  • Pre-adoption education requirements.
  • How much does international adoption cost?
  • Are grants available?
  • What is the Adoption Tax Credit and can it be used for an international adoption? 
  • How long does it take to adopt internationally?
  • Is it possible for single women, gays, lesbians, or other members of the LGBTQ+ community to adopt internationally?
  • Importance of post-adoption reporting.
  • How do internationally adopted children acquire US citizenship?

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Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host of the show as well as the director of the nonprofit, creating a Today we're going to be talking about an introduction to international adoption. We will be talking with Robin Sizemore. She is the executive director of Hopscotch Adoptions who has worked in international adoption field for 27 years. We'll also be talking with Debbie Price. She is the executive director of Children's House International. And she has worked in international adoption for 28 years. And both are also adoptees, and moms through international adoption. So I guess, I guess it's fair to say you guys are experts across the board.

Welcome both of you, we are so glad to have you to talk about an introduction to international adoption, because international adoption has gone through a lot of change. So let's start by I think it would help if we outline the typical international adoption processes, knowing full well that there is no nothing really typical, because it really does depend by that country. Debbie, we'll start with you. If you could just outline the general process for adopting internationally. Okay, well, thank you for this opportunity. Dawn. Glad to be on here with Robin. So generally, we are those of us who are in the international adoption field, the agency must be accredited with Hague, through the State Department. And so we start with that. And so families need to talk to us, those of us who are accredited, and we follow the regulations of the Hague, as well as the federal immigration and local state laws. So we discuss that with the family when they call, we give them the overview that we are following these laws. And then we talk about the programs that we offered in each agency, because we don't all offer the same programs. We ask a lot about the family, their age, their background, are they married? Do they have children, the whole bio, that's basically the home study type of document, we want to know everything about them. So we can help them better fit a program, where they actually fall into the criteria that the program has from the foreign governments. So not all foreign governments have the same criteria for families, some allow older ones to adopt, some don't. Some are wanting nominee children you have and then that will determine how many children or you know the ages you can adopt. So we talked about that we talked about the dossier, what is going to be required for gathering paperwork so that we can submit that to the government for processing and registering. We also talk about the USCIS or immigration side of it. What is required for that we talk about how that process is through the whole entire adoption, to the end of issuing visas and coming home. We talk about the post adoptions, what's required after the child is brought home, we also talk about a financial How much is this going to cost? How can we help you get resources to help you understand how to pay for that with grants or maybe the tax credit or other options. We talk about the children who are in need and what conditions special needs, what are the ages that are they're going to see in the particular countries they're interested in. And we talk about the training that they will need to take so that they are better prepared for these children and have a good transition when they come into their home. And that's generally okay. And let me just when you speak about the Hague, you are actually speaking about the Hague treaty on inter country adoption, or that's the short name for it. It is the governing treaty. We are as the United States are signatories to that treaty, and it is the governing body and the United States as well as all the signature signatories have adopted regulations that are actually the laws that we have to follow. So just by way of background, and you also mentioned another acronym. We apologize up front, the world of international adoption is acronym full. But another acronym you mentioned was USCIS. And that is stands for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is the body that take controls immigrating the child to the United States. So I think I got all the the acronyms there. All right, Robin, what types of kids are available for international adoption? And again, we're speaking generally, but But generally speaking, what type of children are available? Well, it's mostly changed from, you know, in the beginning of time when intercountry adoption was evolving. Now, you should expect a child

with special needs, and special needs can range from having experienced trauma, or delays because of institutional care. The children can be older there, I would say, rarely are their infants healthy relative to institutional care. Rarely are their infants available with the exception, possibly, if a family is practicing Muslim, in the country of Pakistan and the country of Morocco, you have to be practicing Muslim, there are referrals made that are typically healthy infants. But it's not open to a family that's practicing any other faith.

Or a family that is has recently converted. They look upon that as suspect. So it would have to be within like maybe 10 years history and you could get a letter from your mom, but for the most part, the children do have their older harder to place children. So it would be sibling groups, older children, and children with Down syndrome spina bifida, autism, medical or emotional special needs. Well, both Right, yeah. And or both? Right? Yeah. Yeah. So generally speaking, Debbie, in the programs you work in? What would be the youngest child? That average? Not the very youngest, but what's the what can you What do you realistically get expect for somebody wanting to adopt the youngest child available? Well, yeah, we do have exceptions where, you know, it's unusual to have one and a half to two year old, most of the children are going to depending on the program, is going to be not younger than four or five, and, and then up. And sometimes the younger children come in groups of siblings. So if you're adopting three, you might get a younger child and then two older siblings, so they're not common to be under four, or five. So it's about that range. Okay. And in addition to generally having special needs, in addition to being that age, okay. We mentioned Robin, the international adoption regulations, what department of the United States government is controlling those regulations, promulgating them and enforcing them.

The Department of State is our designated central authority. And they delegate that to an M sub agency, under the Bureau of Consular Affairs, which is called the Office of Children's Issues, and they are responsible for the oversight and monitoring as a whole. Yet, they also delegate that role to an accrediting entity, which at this point is I me, is the sole accrediting entity at this point. And there will be a new accrediting entity coming soon. So

we're all still waiting. They've been designated, but they've yet to be to go live with it. So we know that with international adoption, we have the US government, basically, the Department of State, although we've also mentioned that the we would have that USCIS US Citizenship and Immigration Services also has some rules and regulations that have to be followed for immigration for bringing the child into the United States. So from the United States standpoint, that's the governmental entities that are involved. But that's not it, because we're involved, we're bringing a child from another country. So Debbie, how are the foreign or may ask, is the foreign governments government, as are they also do they also have regulations? Are they also involved in US couple or US person adopting from their country? Yes, very much so especially those countries who are assignee to The Hague treaty. So they have agreed to follow the regulations and they are very much part of the whole process. Generally, the file the dossier is sent to the Ministry of each of each country that has signed where you're trying to help the family and they register that file. And they either match that family with a child suitable according to the criteria of the approval in the home study for that family. There are some countries where they're waiting children that the family may be interested in a waiting child. But even so the ministry has to be involved with the approval process to see if that is the best family for

This child. And so they make the referrals, the approvals, the denials, they are the central we'll have that function in the country, and everything comes out from them. So if there's going to be a court date can only happen after the ministry is approved to to move forward. They also are going to be the ones who verified to the embassy, that the child, the child's adoption happened legally and ethically. And yes, they agree with it. And then and only then can the embassy issue the visa. So they're very involved.

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All right, so a question a lot of people have is how to decide on what country to adopt from. And I think what people new to the international adoption process don't realize is that it's kind of a two step question. One, will the country accept to you? Do you meet their criteria for families that they are willing to place children? And then the second part of that is, does the Country Place children that you think your family is a good fit for? So Robin, what are some of the variances? And again, we're just talking generally here, but the for the first part of that question, will the country except you? What are some of the different criterias that countries can have restrictions on or limitations on or rules about? Sure. And you are correct, some are much more descriptive and who they will allow. But certainly there typically is a age difference between the intended child to be adopted. And the parents age, they usually have a minimum of I think 15 years, in some places, there might be a minimum age of the adoptive prospective adoptive parents, number of marriages, let me pause it can also be a maximum number that if you are a certain age, you will not be allowed to adopt a very young child because it's too You're too old for adopting that. So it can be both a minimum and a maximum. I'm sorry, I interrupted, keep going. That's right. Yeah, I believe, you know, criminal history, also mental health history medications. And I believe in one of the Asian countries, it's a BMI, body mass index is also a consideration. So there can be religion,

as well. So there are a lot of different factors that can influence where the family would be eligible to adopt for a specific characteristics of a child.

All right, so Debbie, then the second part of that on deciding what country is, does the Country Place children that you think your family would be a good fit for? And what are some of the differences? And we're seeing actually fewer of those, I think now as time has gone on, but what are some of the differences? And if you're thinking about the type of children being placed by a particular country, do we see much now? I mean, it used to be we saw more we would say, from certain countries, that would be very young, healthy children were being placed. And in other countries, that was really never the case. Are we still seeing differences in the type of kiddos that are available for adoption, depending on the country? Yeah, not in the programs we work in and the programs we work in. And specifically, we are seeing the same criteria of smell or type of, you know, the children's needs are similar ages are similar, the you know, the older special need the some with developmental or both that and physical needs. So we're not seeing in our programs much of a difference. I think the majority of an international adoption has shifted in almost the majority of the countries to that, with some exceptions. And also there could be some kinship adoptions, where it's a family related child that they're adopting, maybe the child will be able to because of that, but that's an extreme exception. I know Robin works in some countries where maybe there are younger children, but I would say, you know, we do our best to prepare the families for the children that we're approving them for criteria and then the ministries or the government of that country is under obligation to to only refer children in that criteria. Robin, do you see much difference in the countries that

You work with

just within the two countries that we work with, specifically Morocco and Pakistan. And the children are infants under 12 months of age. But it's a very limited pool of adoptive parents that can even apply to adopt a child. Other than that the kids fit the criteria of older children with special needs. Yeah, we don't see those. We're not referring those children. Unfortunately, you know, they're there. You're not referred older children with special needs. From from Morocco and Pakistan. Oh, I met from the other countries you work in, that is who you are getting referred correctly. Okay, gotcha. Debbie, can adoption agencies have different or more stringent requirements than the foreign government or the US government? So yes, some agencies are going to vary on their their philosophy of adoption, their own individual agency philosophy, as well as maybe they're a faith based agency. So they may require a statement of faith that other agencies would not require, and the government certainly doesn't. So there are those differences? We also have maybe some more, we vary on the policies we have about when do you pay for a post adoption? And how many times could you do not, you know, reject a referral? How long has it been since you've communicated with us? So you know, there can be variances on how we handle that. So yes, there can be and there will be, and the other, the other one that I hear is that there are some agencies that do not want to disrupt birth order. And they would put a restriction on that if they would not approve of placement, that disruptive birth order. All right, Robin, here's another relatively general question. What are the health risks for children being adopted internationally? I mean, in many international adoption programs are considered special needs, as we've mentioned, meaning that the kids have needs that will impact parenting. However, the type of special need varies considerably. So what are some of the types of special needs that you see see in the last year, have you seen what just some of the variety of special needs? Well, I would like to back up and say that quite often families come to the table with an expectation of I, I cannot accept a child with special needs. And they have a limited understanding of what that might mean, they think it's physical, something they can see. But we all of the agencies work very hard to help them understand that the biggest special need is going to be the time that they spent in the orphanage, which is going to reduce their developmental milestone periods and also with the trauma, and that is very significant to overcome, sometimes the physical differences, you can compensate. But when a child has experienced trauma, at birth, separation and being attended to, it's significant, but the physical specialties that we typically see, and children that are referred or made known to us, are children with Down syndrome, limb difference, blood disorders, hearing, vision loss, spinal bifida, those type of epilepsy, those type of things,

blindness, or use that you may have mentioned, but I would still say probably the largest that we see are kids who are older at placement, therefore, we either know or we can assume that there have the impact that she mentioned of have they been raised in an institution and or having been removed from their home through for abuse and neglect. Much the same reason that children enter foster care here in the US. Correct, we would consider older children, sibling groups and children with significant special needs as we're all hard to place children. And they're all up in the category of special need. Debbie, how many were speaking of institutionalization, which there's been a lot of research and indicates it's institutionalization is simply not good for children. Children are not meant to be raised in that type of environment and it causes impacts and impacts them both in the short term and potentially in the long term. What do you see now? Has there been Do you see it? A move towards foster care and the children that are being placed internationally now? Are most of them still in child welfare institutions? So there has been a big change over the past I would say 15, maybe 20 years, that many of these, if not all,

Of the countries we work in have tried to move towards a foster care setting. Because as we all know, it's better to be in a home setting than it is to be in a group orphanage, there are group homes as well, which is still preferred over orphanages. But we see both in some countries, we see a mix. So I always check the referral information to find out where the child has been living, since they have left or been taken from their parents. And so, you know, generally, we think and feel that the foster care setting is going to give a better outcome for the child, as well as the transitional it'll help with the transitional into the home in the American home to because they're used to home setting, and hopefully haven't had as much trauma in the foster care, although there are still some effects. So yeah, if they have shifted to foster care.

That's a nice change, which I think has been brought about, the more research has been done on the impact. And there certainly have been more discussion on the impact of institutionalization on children. So yeah, Robin, thoughts on this? Yeah. As much as we want to believe and hope that the institutionalization into the foster care system would be positive, I would also clarify that many of the countries that are utilizing the foster care bases are not providing the screening, the training, the resources to support the children. And we hope that that will change. And that'll be to the benefit of the kids. But at this point that many of the countries are offering a name only. Alternative. Yep. Right. I think it's such a good point, that the oversight of the foster homes, it can be quite lacking. So just because a child does not at an institution does not mean that they were placed in a loving, nurturing home that was well prepared to meet that child's needs. So yeah, that's a very good point. We see and hear a lot about in the past anyway, about waiting children list, there are websites that that show children who are available and waiting abroad for adoption. Debbie, how do we adopt a child on the waiting child website? Okay, so we are agency has one of those is password protected, so that the children are, you know, their confidentiality is preserved, we do not use the names or the much more than just the age and the general vicinity of the child in the in the world, and a little bit about them. But the name is not not the real name. So a family would look at it as permission to get into car waiting kids. And we would ask them to fill out a pre app and an agreement not to share this or screenshot share it to any other, you know, through email, or Facebook or anything like that. And then we let them in, and they are free to look. And then if they're interested in a child, for more information than what we have available on the waiting child list, then they would contact us and we would have a conversation with him about this child specifically. And we would make sure through our conversation that this family would even qualify for this program, that they would be a good match for the child's conditions and needs based on all of their background and knew how their family unit is sitting in How many children do they have? What's their experience, that sort of thing. So we wouldn't even suggest that they we wouldn't even talk to government about this until we have vetted the family thoroughly at that time, maybe the country wants them to put a letter of intent even before the home study, which doesn't mean they're guaranteed or totally approved, it just means that they have a family interested. So but first we vet them and we're we're obligated to do that for many reasons.

Robin any thoughts on the adopting from a waiting to out a child that that you can get information on before the adoption?

I think a lot of countries are moving towards that as they realize that their advocacy reach is limited. They've already attempted to find a family domestically for the child. And so they are heavily reliant upon foreign agencies to advocate and recruit a suitable appropriate family. I think it's done very safely. Our own government uses the same method through adopt us kids, where there's a protective profiles of the children, it's redacted non identifying information. And ultimately, we just remind the prospective adoptive parent and sometimes we have to remind the central authority of the foreign countries where that they will have the ultimate determination of approval or not the match and proceeding on to court so the

often how much information will a prospective parent have on the health, both physical and emotional health of the child when they receive a either referral or that because they could be getting a referral or they could be choosing a child off of a waiting, waiting childless? So, in either case, how much information can they expect to have? Because this is a huge decision, this is a lifetime decision. Yes, and every country is going to be different in what they can and will offer in regards to the child's medical, social, educational, developmental history. And so there's a big variance between some countries such as, like I've mentioned before Pakistan and Morocco, they're their infants, and they may have come into care through abandonment. So they're not going to have a social history. And they're not going to have a strong medical or developmental webcast as well. Maybe they're just too young. But but most most countries have older kids. So how much information would we get on those? Well, yeah, countries that are a part of The Hague are going to have a required set of information that they require to be shared with the parents shared with us and shared with the parents,

of course, when a child was older, but it would depend on the quality of record keeping within the country that is sending them. So I would add just to what Robin is saying, just as a quick overview, so you're going to get you should be getting social history of the child, where have they been from birth? And where, you know, where are the places they've been? Since they're having to leave their home? How did they leave their home, the medical of the child as known thoroughly the mental health that the physical health and vaccination information are, you know, included in the medical information so that hopefully you have some diagnosis of what are the doctors they're finding out already about this child to the best of their ability and how old is that information is, within a year is is much, much older. So all of those things that she was Robin was saying is plays into that at various levels, depending on the country. So Debbie, then with this information on the referral or information that's provided through a way to childless where can adoptive parents go and their potential adoptive parents go in the United States to get advice on what all this means? It means in the short term means in the long term, where can they go to get more information helps them help them interpret this information. So I'm sure Robin has us too, we have a resource page on our website, that gives a list of doctors who are very experienced in the International Medical Review of of children who are coming from other countries. So we always advise our families never to use the local Good, good pediatrician just down the street, because they may have never seen a medical from an international source. And some countries have certain idiosyncrasies to their medical that if you've never seen it before, the doctor might tell you that this child is near death when when that same term is not used the same way in the United States. So they you need a doctor and a clinic who really understand that sort of thing. And you can do it through zoom calls, as well, as well as phone calls. And they can be available many times to you when you're in the country. So just to help you better understand our Europe, is this child of mild, moderate or severe risk of not transitioning well into your home? Are you going to have more problems here than you can handle as a parent appropriately? That's the reason that you need a doc who is totally experienced in this. And there are references for that. We have a list on our website and we will link to that in there as well. So that yes, you can. There are definitely places you could go to help interpret.

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How big of a risk Robin would you say it is of a country closing down after you apply? And then what happens it to the money you've spent emotionally I guess that Do we still have that loss? But so first of all, how big of a risk is it that a country is going to close down and then what happens to

to families that are in process in that country when it closes down. Yeah, I mean, we remind our families, that everything is everything is possible no one thought that Ukraine was going to be invaded. No one thought that Russia would suddenly change their policy and no longer allowed children from Russia to join American families. So there's so many things that can interrupt or close inter country adoption to foreigners. And so therefore, we would advise a family to be very consumer first, business First, read your agreements and your fee agreements thoroughly. Most agencies, I do believe all operate on a fee for service basis. So for example, if you were halfway through your adoption, your fees, you would be able to look at your contract and know we've only paid this much and this service has been provided, therefore, your loss is going to be mitigated to to whatever service level you have achieved. That being said, should you have to move to another country program?

agency fees may be transferable if it's the same agency that's going to manage your replacement in a different country. But international service fees are not transferable, because it's different countries, different providers,

and devastating, emotionally devastating. And I'm not sure Debbie, have you been through a lost referral? I know we have you as well. And it's devastating. But it happens.

It happens? Well, yes, we've just experienced that with China, because we have now waited three, going on three years, since COVID. Started and families were just about to travel. Some of them, not all of them. And you know, some of them did not have referrals. So we've been speaking to those families for you know, many times in the past two years, two to three, were there, we're going to be patient, we're going to help them. The ones who didn't have referrals are obviously more likely to be to easier to move to a different program that we offer. And we transfer the fees paid to the agency. Of course, as you said, not not the fees paid to China, if there were any. But those who had referrals, it's tougher to let go of that hope. And we understand that. So we're letting them take their time. But eventually, they're going to have to decide did we come to adopt a child? How long do we want to hold that hope in China? Or do we just need to move forward accepted grief and look for another country with children who are available and it does work? Debbie, what should families prospective families look for in an international adoption agency, other than the fact of they have to be accredited under one of the

one or perhaps in the future? Two accrediting agencies, that's a given. But other than that, what should families look for in an international adoption agency? Robin, I'm gonna give you time to be thinking because you're gonna answer it afterwards. So Debbie, starting with you. Okay, well, first of all, I believe if I were looking, it would be it would come down to how long have you been in existence? Do you have a lot of experience in international? Or are you a mixed agency and you have just one or two internationals and primarily you work with domestic or foster care? What is your focus in your agency? How, how long has this staff that are there been there? How How many have actually experienced international adoption? And they know how it is personally, how many states are they licensed in, which may or may not matter to you unless you're not living in one of them? They can still help you place but they probably can't help you do the home study. If they're not licensed there? How many staff do they have? How fast do they respond to you? Are they right on the communication? Or do does it lag? Do you feel a trust with them? When you talk to them? Do they sound like they know what they're talking about? At the same time? I think going for comments that you see about the agency ask around ask people who have adopted who did they use? Did they like them? So you want to be looking for all of these different points. I think as you would a doctor any other important endeavor that you're about to step into you want to thoroughly vet you want to consider several talk to many and then sum it up and come to a decision. Of course if you have a specific country you want to adopt from then you would be narrowing your pool to those agencies that work there. Okay. Robin, anything to add to that? I would expand upon it well, everything good

be said is spot on, those are gold standards to look for. In addition, I noticed that you said about how many country programs do you have. So as we spoke about earlier, if a country should close your ability to move into another country, within that same agency so that your agency fees are not lost, you can transition into a different program. But if the agency only has one or two, three programs, you may not even qualify for the other program, for the reasons we've already discussed. And I would also say that, you know, there may be a lot of agencies work in Bulgaria, as an example. But when the family is choosing an agency, they need to know that it's going to be a good personality fit as a personality, by way of the way that the agency conducts business, and communicates if it's a good fit. And you should feel very confident in it, because it's going to be the most intimate relationship that you're going to have outside of your marriage and your future children. So it's a long, arduous, stressful process, and you're gonna need to choose an agency that you feel confident, and that's going to support you emotionally through it as well.

And I would throw, obviously, as creating a family, we are our mission is to educate families in advance. So I would also throw in that their agency's attitude towards pre adoption education, you're required to have at a minimum 10 hours of education that is a Hague requirement, The Hague treaty on inter country adoption, as codified in our US regulations under the US State Department regulations codifying the requirements under hate. But some agencies go above and beyond and also it's more of an attitude of that education is more than just checking a box just doesn't matter. Just check it get it over with but but agencies that

really want you to be prepared, that is an agency, in my opinion, that's going to stick with you in the long term, because they're not going to throw up their hands and say, Well, you took a course on that. I mean, you know, they they have to the agencies better agencies truly believe in preparing their families as much as possible. And, you know, Don, bent in sometimes when a family comes to us, and they see Hague only requires 10 hours. But hopscotch or Debbie, children's house International, is going to require 35 educational hours. And they both get that, well, that's not a client family that we would want to work with. We really want to work with the families that are thirsty for the knowledge that even when their dossier has been submitted, that their continuing education service in sometimes we are able to finally customize education through your library, particularly your library, and of podcast and courses is just exceptional. But now when a family balks at the amount of education in there, they might not be ready to adopt. Well, and I would say that that the you want an agency that wants you to be educated, because that means that they understand the complexity and that they're going to be there for you. Anyway, all right. Now, let's talk about the cost because international adoption is not cheap. So there's a lot that goes into as we've just described, the complexity it would not be not with all of these moving parts. So Debbie, can you give me a range and it will have to be a broad range? I understand. Because it does differ. But what would you say though, just a rough range for or you can name specific countries, if you would feel more comfortable doing it that way? How much does it cost to adopt internationally.

So and then that is broken down even further because to adopt internationally would involves not only the placement fee, which we would be involved with, per se example Romania, to adopt in Romania through ch AI for the placement is around $22,000. Which sounds like a very lot of money. It is a lot of money. And I'll explain part of why that's that weigh in a minute. But there's also involved, you know, immigration government fees, which we inform the family of but we do not include in that 22,000 That 22,000 comes to ch AI for our services specifically. And it also includes our services in the country, but it doesn't include government fees. We discussed those. It doesn't include airfare. It doesn't include hotel it doesn't include food. What and how long are you staying in that country? How long do they want you to stay

also immigration fees, so you know, background check fees, and then the home study. If we're doing it, it's one fee, if someone else is doing it, it could be another, that we do get ballparks for all of that. So it's going to be more than 22,000. When you add it all together, I would say it's probably going to be more like 30, or possibly even 35. But if you include airfare, travel, all of those things together. The reason it cost us so much to do our service, a lot of people think nonprofit means free, or very, very low rate, which are we wish it could be Robin and I both wish it could be. But we're also required to do so many things that cost us a lot of money. For instance, the accreditation alone is going to be upwards around $20,000. And then to keep the maintain all the maintenance month after month and paying our staff to keep up with all the data that's required, or get a database that costs money, and then the licensing in the state, and then training your staff and then flying to the country because you can't do this without going to the country. So we have to go we have to stay, we have to pay fees, we have to know what's on the ground. And then we pay people abroad to help us help the family. There's a lot of fees, a lot of things that we have to pay for. FedEx has never given me a free FedEx account, we still don't have free electricity, the building is not free that we rent. So it's just all of that just to do the quote unquote, business.

Robin, anything you want to add to that? Yeah, you know, I think we are very sensitive to the fact that it's expensive. And we also are very sensitive to the fact that financial stress can be the demise of a marriage. And for that reason, most agencies I believe, Debbie, as well, we provide a service, at no charge to the family through your adoption finance coach that they walk through the budget, to help you identify appropriate grants, means different means of financing your adoption. And quite frankly, sometimes they have come back and said, we don't think that your family is financially equipped and ready. They need to wait a year and save money. And we so appreciate that, because it's easy to be so enthralled that you forget that you you are thinking maybe I'll take this out of my 401k Oh my gosh, we do not want you to do that. And so we have

a fiduciary responsibility to the family to make sure that they are going to be okay financially when they are going through this. And creating a family. We have charts on comparison charts for all the top placing countries to the United States. And we give an estimate of the total cost for adopting from that country. And so I will link to that as well. And you should check that out it it truly varies substantially by country. And one of the big factors is travel and how long you have to be in country and all of that.

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All right, let's talk about the adoption tax credit which can be used to offset the cost for international adoption. I will link to the adoption tax credit. We have a course on that is updated annually. And you can check that out. But just generally Robyn, if you could summarize what is what the adoption tax credit is. And it varies it it is adjusted annually. And so the amount is

let's just say roughly 15,000 that it's going to be it's adjusting so there's you could check Google know easily find out what it is for this year. But tell us what the adoption tax the federal adoption tax credit is Robin. So for any family that's adopting a child via international private foster care state placement, you can qualify for this adoption tax credit. Now that's not money back into your pocket as it once was and we hope that it will return to

that, rather than your expenses to complete your adoption, and it must be completed to complete your adoption, up to about 15,000 can be deducted from your tax that you owe on an annual basis. So for example, if you owed $8,000 in taxes,

then you could use 8000 of the 15,000. That you, you had the right to.

And you could carry it and it carried over for five years. So you've got X number of years, but you do have to have federal tax liability, because this is a one for one offset to your federal tax liability. More information can be found in the adoption tax credit course, Debbie, again, this as with every question we're asking, the answer is it depends on the country. But generally speaking, how long does it take to adopt internationally? Well, again, there's some parts to that. I would say, once you get the home study, and the and the dossier of documents, which is evidence of who you are to the country, then it depends on the country. So if you are looking at a waiting child, if you're not looking at a waiting child, again, I'll go to Romania, it takes about a year after we see referrals come through about a year, after the registration of the dossier, there are other countries that it might be a little sooner, maybe nine months, if you have a waiting child in mind, you're immediately starting the process towards that child, which can take again about nine to 12 months to finish. prior to sending that dossier to the country, you are looking at about five to six months for the home study and US immigration side of it. So before you can even send your dossier to the country, you're going to be looking at five to six months, just preparing the home study and getting your immigration approval. So all toll you're looking at anywhere from a year and a half to two years. Okay. And again, that information is included on our adoption, comparison charts, or an estimate of what it's taking. And again, it can take longer, so yes, exactly. Well, you have some Yeah, exactly. You have some control over that, too. If you're if you drag your feet on getting the homesteading getting the dossier prepared, and that just adding additional time on to that. And if the parents don't don't have a realistic expectation, and they are very narrow criteria of child that they desire to adopt, you will wait indefinitely, that would be for gender, it can be for age or health. But you you may wait indefinitely for that particular criteria. So we really work hard to discourage families from ever applying in hopes of adopting a child. That's an anomaly. Yeah. And to follow up on what Robin saying, which is so important. I know it's not exactly the question, but it does spin off. Families have to really be committed and dedicated. Sometimes we find that we are more committed to their adoption than they are. And that is not a good place to be, where you're waiting for them. I'm not talking about when it's not their fault to get documents, delays on episodes and things like that. But the longer you take to get those things to the country, the higher risk you take that something in the world like COVID, or something in the country, like Ukraine with a war can happen and affect you. Whereas if you would have hurried, you might could have avoided that. So really, you have to be committed and totally motivated to get through the things that the family needs to get through. Because the government takes their time as it is such a good point. Robin, is it possible for single women and members of the LGBTQ plus community to adopt internationally? It is and so every country is going to have their own regulations that speak to that. But in fact, they're many countries work with single women. Sometimes single dads, if it's a kinship case is probably more prevalent. But some countries will work with a single dad in parameters of the limitations of the gender match the age, and for the LGBTQ families. There's countries. I believe Brazil is one of the countries who might correct me or dawn. But yeah, that's true. I think there's a couple of countries now in Colombia. Yeah, we don't. We don't have programs there. But we are more than thrilled to provide the home study and post adoption services for these families. A beautiful thing when a child gets a family.

We need to put in a plug now and Debbie I'll let you get on a soapbox if you choose to put in a plug

For the importance of post adoption reporting, it is so it countries require that families submit, depending on what country it is how long they have to submit them. But all countries required some reports, and that adoptive families have to submit some of these reports have to be done by a social worker. So there's a cost associated with it. Some countries do not require that. Debbie, why is it important that families who are adopting are committed to the long term however long the country requires that they submit reports? Well, it's extremely important countries have completely shut down because families didn't comply with this. And that is a loss for the children still waiting there. And families who may be burned the process when they shut so your actions affect others, even after you bring your child home, not to mention that this is a good thing for you to have to have the social worker come in, and just find out how things are going. Do you have needs? A does the child have needs? Is everything moving along medically and mentally? And how's your family doing? Are they coming up with any questions or concerns that they need more resources for? We find that many times without the social worker going in there for these postdocs, the families are not reaching out, because maybe they are ashamed, or they just don't feel that, you know, they think the adoption agency is only for placement, and then they're out. Or for whatever reason, they don't reach out. It's shocking to me when I see that families are going through trauma, after their posted ops are finished, and they didn't reach out to us, for us to help them. But this posted up phase is really to help them through the transition with their child to be successful. Okay. And our last question it and Robin, I'll direct it to you. How do children being internationally adopted now acquire US citizenship. So if the child is entering the US on the fall and final adoption decree from the foreign country, our federal and state laws recognize the decree and the child is immediately a citizen upon reaching us soil. So they step off the plane and they are recognized as a US citizen with that full and final adoption decree. In the event that the child was a little bit older, I think 13 or so years of age, they will not initially get their certificate of citizenship through the mail, as you would as a younger child, but they would be invited to a local Field Service Office for Immigration. And a small interview will take place no test, and they will be able to leave with their certificate of citizenship. Children that are coming to the US on a guardianship, for example, and not a full and final adoption decree, they will acquire their US citizenship after they have met the state regulations of the state where they reside, to be permitted to legally finalize the child's adoption and then upon finalization, they will be able to receive a certificate of citizenship. Is it automatic, usually years. For those cases where the adoption is not finalized? In Country? There's usually it varies by state, but let's say six months is is the common one that the child has to wait so at the family has to wait to finalize the adoption under state law, when the when they go to court and finalize the adoption. Is the citizenship automatic at that point? Well, they have to submit they have to then apply. Yeah, apply. But it's granted. It is yes. They do have to apply, however, and there is a cost associated with that. There is right. Yeah. So that's an important thing to note. That and then that depends on the law of the country, where you are adopting from most do have the where the adoption is finalized. But there are still countries that don't finalize the adoption in country I think so. That would be a requirement. All right. Well, thank you so much. Debbie price and Robin Sizemore for being with us today to talk about at the beginning intro to international adoption. I truly appreciate your your expertise. Thank you for the invitation. Anytime with you, Don. Thank you. Yes, that's right.