Part One - America World is Stinkin' Awesome
So when I started the whole adoption 'research' phase, I had no idea where to start. I googled like a responsible citizen. But I never really trust stuff I see on the internet. For me, it's gotta be personal. I need to know someone and trust someone who used a particular fill-in-the-blank and liked it. So that meant, for me, some good old blog hoppin'. Real people and their real stories. But I still had no idea what was what. So I kid you not... this is what I did... I followed some blogs for a while and started to see who was going where. The person that took time to talk to me and tell me about their agency was Jenn from Pure and Lasting. She was using AWAA and told me why, and she sold me. That's how I made my super-official, life-changing decision. Blog stalking. But here's why I can now recommend them to you if you are in the agency shopping phase:
- They are known for their position on ethical adoptions. Welcome to the adoption community! Everyone's nice here! That's sort of what I thought at first. Not the case. If you spend any amount of time online researching adoptions and getting into the world of orphans, you'll end up having your horrifying rude awakening moment. Because people are being taken advantage of. Children are 'put up for adoption' when there's no way they could ever be adopted. Parents are lied to and told that their children will be returned to them. Desperate parents are discouraged and told that there is no way they could raise their kids and that they are better off somewhere else. People are bribed. It's disturbing stuff, but when large amounts of money are changing hands, there are some bad people that come into play. And sometimes they pretend to be good. And sometimes they don't know. It's a very vulnerable and delicate system. But America World is known for preceding with caution. Here's the catch: you may wait longer for your referral than some smaller agencies do, or some unethical agencies do. That's because AW makes sure that when you get your referral, no birth mom is coming back. No child will disappear. They make sure that this is a true orphan and you can rest with a clear conscience knowing that you're providing a home for a child that really needs one, not a child that never should have been an orphan.
- They are known for being professional. Let me tell you, they are seriously so professional it's annoying. I tried to wrestle little glimmers of hope and timelines and this and that out of our family coordinator (hey Lauren!), but she's uncrackable! At the time it's very annoying because your waiting to hear some little shred of something you can cling on to (like you're next in line, or referrals are coming faster than usual, or 'man, there sure is an overabundance of adorable 3 year old girls at the transition home') but no you will not hear that. BUT I can appreciate that they protect us from our own unrealistic hopes and keep us from being mislead. And in one sentence she would say something darling like "I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but I'll be praying for you."
- Oh, yeah, they are also a Christian agency.
- Their transition home is amazing. The children are attached to their nannies. The facility is nice. The children are so well taken care of. The doctor would not rest until they found out what was going on with Jude. She was fantastic. The children are clearly well loved and celebrated. Jude has made so many strides since coming to them that the doctor said she had no explanation for his improvement. That his cells must have been touched by God. But it's clear that they have been working with him extensively, getting him therapy, individual attention, and putting some weight on.
So anyway, that's just my experience with my own agency. I love them. And I never intended for my blog to be a platform for an agency, but I've rethought that. Because it was someone else's referral that made me pick them. I was going to a totally shady agency (that eventually was shut down) with nothing but the best of intentions, when Jenn gave me such a positive review, so maybe I can do the same for you if you're in the early stages. Full support, people! So if you feel like you might be leaning in that direction, let me point you to a new Africa program...
Part Two - How 'Bout Kenya?
So, there are so many Africa options that are open now! We've seen Ethiopia and DRC, but now I'm seeing alot of Zambia and Uganda, and even an upcoming family adopting from Madagascar! Well, AWAA has just opened up their Kenya program. The basics start out the same. Paper chase, then wait for the referral (maybe 2 months, probably 3-6 months). Then about 2 months after referral you head to Kenya, where you stay for 6-12 months.
Once you have accepted your referral, you wait for various approvals associated with the Hague adoption process involving the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Then AW begins preparing you for travel, the third and final phase of your adoption process. Families normally leave for Kenya approximately 2-6 months after they receive a referral and stay in Kenya for 6-12 months. While in Kenya, the first 3 months is a mandated bonding period where a social worker will visit the family who has temporary guardianship over their adopted child. The social worker submits reports to the court and the family works with the Adoption Society and an adoption lawyer to receive the various court appointments and approvals to finalize the adoption. During a family’s stay in Kenya, they will have the chance to be connected with local Kenyans, American missionaries, and experience the rich culture of Kenya during the course of their stay.
That sounds so cool to me! I know not everyone can do this, but some can. And it's just another option for you. Saving up and taking a leave of absence or working from abroad are options. I just love the idea. Families also stay together in an apartment with other adoptive families, so there's a snuggly little community going on. Plus you have the added (amazing) benefit of bonding with your child in their own cultural environment, which I have heard makes transitioning home so much easier. If you have any more questions head on over to the Kenya home page, and click contact us at the top. See ya tomorrow!