Friday, May 25, 2007

Thai Adoption 101

After talking to my friend Lauren last night, I realized that we use a few terms that people outside the adoption world aren't familiar with. The international adoption process is also different for each country (with Thailand, it's even different depending on which agency you use and which country you live in). Here's a rundown of our process and some of the vocab we use. Grab a pillow so you can take a nap if you get sleepy!

To become adoptive parents, we have to be approved and certified as foster parents in the state of Wisconsin. Our local agency (Lutheran Social Services, Madison WI), helped us with this step. We met with our social worker three times (once at our home), filled out questionnaires on our education, marriage, parenting goals, cultural assessment, and family relationships. We each wrote 14 page autobiographies and collected lots of paperwork including 4 references, background checks in our county of residence, financial statements, birth and marriage certificates, detailed forms filled out by our doctor, and proof of insurance. Our social worker used all of this information to write a nine page (single spaced!) summary of our entire lives and our desire/ability to add an adoptive child to our family. This document is what is called the "Home study". Our social worker was super quick and wonderful, plus, she's an adoptive mom herself, so she's a great resource.

While we were waiting for our home study to be written, we started putting together our
"Dossier", which is the collection of documents that the Child Adoption Board of Thailand needs to look over before they'll allow us to adopt. These documents included an application form, the home study, birth and marriage certificates, financial statements, medical letters from our doctor, personal references, photos, employer letters, etc.

Once everything was gathered together, Kyle had to make a bazillion photocopied sets for various agencies and people, then get the original set certified by our state, then authenticated by the U.S. State Department and the Royal Thai Embassy.

The completed dossier was then sent to our other agency - our "placing" agency - Holt International in Eugene, Oregon. They look over our documents and send them on to Thailand. There are 2 avenues for international adoption in Thailand - the Thai government can match children directly, or one of several approved NGOs (nongovernmental organization) may make a match with oversight by the Thai government. We're working with Holt as an NGO. We chose their program because we liked that Holt tries first to keep kids with their birth families, then to adopt within their home country before looking to international adoption, and also that most of their kids live in foster homes while they wait for their "forever families".

Our agency matches a small group of children with families 4 times a year. Their next group will be in June, then in September. We've been told that based on the number of families who submitted dossiers before us, we may possibly be matched to a child in December of this year. This is call the "Referral", and will be the name, picture, and information about a child. We'll discuss whatever information is available with a physician who specializes in international adoptions, and then decide whether or not to accept the referral. We don't know if we'll be referred a boy or a girl. The child will be between 0 and 2 years old at the time of referral. We've been told that typically there are more boys waiting for homes than girls, but either is a possibility, and I'm really excited either way!

After we accept a referral we can send our critter a package with toys and a photo album so they can get to know what we look like. That's when the really difficult waiting begins. The Child Adoption Board must sign off on the placement and then let us know we can travel to Bangkok to meet with the Board and take custody of our child. We've heard this takes 8 - 10 months, but that wait times are increasing due to more families adopting from Thailand in the wake of changing regulations in Chinese adoptions.


When we finally get home (it feels strange to type that - feels like I'm counting my chickens...) we have 3 post-placement visits with our local social worker and she types reports to send to Thailand. After the 6 month report, Thailand will (hopefully!) give us the OK to finalize the adoption, which we'll do by going to the Thai Embassy in Chicago.

Then we'll have a big party and you're all invited. Pencil it in on your calendars for June of 2009?!?

If that wasn't enough to bore you, there's more detailed info on Thailand adoptions on this web site.

- Robin

5 comments:

Gem and James said...

thats really interesting from what you say that it is thought that the wait may be longer becuase of more applications due to the changes in the thai programme. As looking at it from the perspective of the criteria we are told in Australia with the changes Thailand still has more strict criteria than china did before or after its changes, so i wonder what kind of people who dont fit china critieria would fit thailand?! do you know any info on this? Intriguing news

Gem and James said...

i made a typo above on 3rd line i should have said changes in the china programme - stooopid me typing too fast and not reading what i write

Robin and Kyle said...

I'm not sure exactly what the criteria are for China, but, for example, I think they now have a strict BMI limit for APs (ie they can't be overweight) and there's a hard and fast number for the minimum net worth of the APs. While Thailand may chose to deny an extremely overweight parent or a family who they believe doesn't have the financial resources necessary, I haven't seen a specific limit for either.

Gem and James said...

I asked a friend of mine adopting from china about the changes, and she said that it seems now as far as australians, if they dont fit the chinese criteria as it is now, it is unlikely they would fit any other country criteria - so thats interesting. At our state unit (we are a very small aussie state) we get 2 allocations per year from thailand governmet for childrne under age of 2, and unlimited applications for over age of 2. So far we have one of the quotas for this year, and as yet no one else has applied for the second application, although i know in other aussie states there are waiting lists each year to apply to thailand, its very complicated the legalities and waiting systems even within countries, different countries and how thailand deals with applicants too. It will be interesting to compare how we all progress as there are a few of us around the same stage from different countires and states blogging regarding thai adoption. Fingers crossed for us all eh that the wait isnt toooooooooo long :)

Kim said...

Gem,

I would have to disagree with you on the "it seems now as far as australians, if they dont fit the chinese criteria as it is now, it is unlikely they would fit any other country criteria" point as this, from my chats with our SW (we're in Australia too) isn't the impression we get at all.

Thailand, for example, has no such requirements unless it hinders your ability to walk/move around/maybe you are bed-bound or something obvious like that. Obvious stuff for caring for a child.

Each country has differing requirements and no two are quite the same. It is more from the Australia government side (varying with the states too though) that put their restrictions on couples/singles adopting. It's not the countries themselves.

We're from the opposite end of the country from you, in the other small state! :) :)

Kim