BRIDGE OF HOPE for RUSSIAN, UKRAINIAN, & CHINESE CHILDREN
Bridge of Hope, an organization that brings orphaned children to the US on holidays to experinece family living, announced this month that they are expanding their program to include a group of orphaned children from China. Below we are sharing their brochure in the hope that families may be interested in learning more about this special opportunity. Children will be coming to the USA from Russia, Ukraine, and China.
Summer 2011 Program
An Introduction for Prospective Host Families
Thank you for your interest in our Bridge of Hope Summer 2011 program. This summer’s group will include Russian and Ukrainian children, and for the first time China has agreed to allow Chinese children to participate in our program. Sharing your home and your heart with an orphan can be a very meaningful and rewarding experience for all involved. We hope this overview will answer your questions about hosting, adopting, and supporting this exciting program.
The application deadline is March 15, 2011
Bridge of Hope (BOH) provides a critical opportunity for older Russian, Ukrainian and Chinese orphans searching for homes and love to find permanent adoptive families. Through BOH, children will spend 3 weeks this summer with hosts in the United States, learning the basics about living in a family. During the day, they attend a local day camp near their host home so they can swim, play games and have a typical American summer experience. The program also sponsors weekend cookouts, pool parties, and other events to enable children to stay in touch with friends from their orphanage and give host families the opportunity to share experiences. It is our goal to have all of them matched with a forever family by the end of the program.
II. OUR SUCCESS RATE
Since its inception, Bridge of Hope has been directly responsible for the adoption of more than 500 children, about 90% of the older children who participated in our programs. We continue efforts to place children who have not yet found their "forever family.” This year we’ll hold our first summer program with children from Russia, Ukraine, and China.
In 1997, the first Bridge of Hope program brought 13 Russian orphans to the mid-Hudson region of New York. The program has grown and spread to new regions since then, with children visiting the US each summer for the past 15 years. In winter 2010, we conducted our first winter hosting program with children from Ukraine.
III. PROGRAM AREAS
Our Bridge of Hope summer 2011 program plans to bring children to stay with families in Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Mid-Hudson and Long Island New York, Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., Chicago and neighboring areas within a three-hour drive of BOH regions.
BOH is open to expansion of the program to other geographic areas. In order for this to happen, a dedicated group of local volunteers would have to meet the expansion guidelines set out on our web site, which includes fundraising, recruitment of host families, day camp scholarships, translators, and much, much more.
IV. THE CHILDREN
Children participating in 2011 BOH will be between the ages of 6 and 13 years old and will be selected by their orphanage directors as generally healthy, socially well adjusted, and able to handle the demands of this type of program. Selected host families will receive a brief medical report and picture of the child or children they will host.
All BOH children are legally available for adoption. However, host families should be aware of the risk that a child who is hosted could become unavailable for international adoption at any point in the adoption process. Most participants will be individual children; however some will be sibling groups of two. The children do not speak English, and this may be the child’s first experience in a positive family setting. All of the children must return to their home countries at the program’s conclusion, since authorities will not permit them to remain in the United States even if the host family decides to adopt.
Most children in foreign orphanages were born to poor families or single mothers, or they were abandoned by birth parents or taken from them due to neglect or abuse. All children are impacted by life in an institution. They will have developmental delays that may affect their speech, motor skills, cognitive functioning, and physical growth. However, BOH children are reported to have a good prognosis for a healthy future if provided with the love, support, and assistance they will need to address the challenges they faced prior to adoption.
V. HOW IS THE PROGRAM FUNDED?
Bridge of Hope must raise a minimum of $5,500 per child to cover all program expenses. Fundraising efforts and generous donations of individuals, organizations, corporations and foundations and host families will assist in this effort. BOH staff and families have raised funds through church drives, candy sales, special events, employer donations and direct solicitations. All funds raised go directly to cover BOH. We have a sponsorship program for individuals, groups or corporations interested in funding the cost for one or more orphans to participate in the program. Donations of any amount are always welcome.
All host families pay a non-refundable $500 application fee at the time they submit their BOH application. Host families for Russian and Ukrainian children will also be required to pay a $2,000 program fee, which will be used to help cover children’s travel-related expenses. Host families for Chinese children will need to pay a $2500 program fee, to help offset travel and other expenses. Host families are welcome to solicit tax-deductible donations from others or to raise these funds. In addition, host families will be responsible for expenses associated with meeting the child’s needs during the visit, including food, clothing, personal care items, medical or dental costs not covered by insurance, and costs of any activities or events they undertake.
Note: The BOH application fee and program fee are applied towards the expenses of the Bridge of Hope program, are non-refundable, and are not applied toward any subsequent adoption fees.
VI. HOST FAMILY REQUIREMENTS
We are primarily interested in host families who are considering the adoption of an older child.
For Russian children, a host family can be a married couple with or without children or a single woman or man over 35 years of age who is able and willing to provide a warm and stable home environment for one or more Russian orphans. Neither Ukraine nor China accept singles for adoption, so only married couples can host a Ukrainian or Chinese child.
For Russia, there should be no more than 45 years difference between the ages of the child and the prospective mother. For Ukraine, neither host mom nor host dad can be more than 45 years older than the child although exceptions may be possible for older dads.
For China, only married couples between the ages of 30 – 55 may apply. China also has specific eligibility requirements for adopting families including weight guidelines, financial requirements, limitations on family size, and more. Please review the attached eligibility guidelines to make sure you are eligible to host and adopt a Chinese child.
The family must live in or near a Bridge of Hope program area and commit themselves to participate in BOH activities, which include orientation, arrival and departure meetings and at least one event. Host families must be available during the entire program period and must also be in good physical and mental health.
All host families must have a completed home study, which includes a criminal record check and a state child abuse clearance. Our staff will provide homestudy services to MD and VA families and will assist families in other areas to identify an agency in their community. Families may be required to prepare other documentation for submission to Russia, Ukraine or China before the children arrive.
Since the children do not speak English, translation support is a critical element of a successful BOH experience. Families must identify at least one translator who speaks your host child’s language to assist them during the program. Most Ukrainian children speak both Ukrainian and Russian.
VII. THE HOSTING PERIOD
For summer 2011 BOH, we are planning to have Russian and Ukrainian children in the U.S. for approximately 3 weeks in late June/July. Chinese children may arrive in mid-July and stay through early August. All children in the program must return to their home countries at the end of their stay, regardless of whether their host families are applying to adopt them. Specific hosting dates will be announced in May.
VIII. THE HOSTING PROCESS
The children will need some time in the host home to recover from jet lag, get acclimated to living in a family, and adjust to their new environment. They will attend day camp in their community until just before their return to their home country.
Mid-way through the program, host families will need to inform BOH staff of their interest in adopting the child in their home. Any family that has decided not to adopt or is unsure of their decision at that time will be required to allow other interested families to meet the host child or children. It is critical that as many families as possible meet the children during the time they are in the U.S. The final decision as to which family adopts a child is made by Cradle of Hope staff.
Our paramount concern is the welfare of the children. Staff is always available to assist families and children to have a positive experience. There may be circumstances under which we would decide to remove a child from the host home. This would occur if the child is suffering abuse or neglect, including any physical discipline, if the child and the host family are not a good match, or if the host family has decided that they will not adopt the child and we feel a different placement would be beneficial for the child. At all times, BOH will consider what is best for the child and reserves the right to move the child to another family at any time for any reason.
IX. THE ADOPTION PROCESS
All Bridge of Hope adoptions will be handled through Cradle of Hope Adoption Center, Inc. (CHAC) located in Silver Spring, Maryland. Cradle of Hope is a highly respected and reputable nonprofit international adoption agency with twenty years’ experience assisting Russian orphans and more than 3,200 adoptions of children from Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, China, and Latin America.
In order to adopt internationally, there are three different governmental authorities whose rules and regulations must be satisfied. First, prospective adoptive parents must meet the requirements of the state in which they live. Second, the requirements of the U.S. federal government must be met by receiving permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to bring a foreign child into the U.S. Finally, parents must comply with all of the foreign country’s adoption requirements. Cradle of Hope will help with each and every step of the process. It will take most families three to four months to complete all of the paperwork needed for a Russian, Ukrainian, or Chinese adoption.
Once a “dossier” is received in the foreign country, we expect families will travel to complete their child’s adoption in approximately four to six months. Families who are committed to adopting are encouraged to begin processing paperwork as soon as possible to minimize the child’s wait to return to the U.S.
Important things to know about Russia’s laws on adoption:
- Both adoptive parents are required to travel to Russia to process and complete the final adoption through the Russian court system. Parents will be overseas for approximately three weeks, although one parent can return home after a week.
- Russian law gives Russian citizens priority in adopting orphans. Therefore, at any time in the process, the child could be adopted by a Russian family.
- Russian law generally requires families to make two trips to Russia in order to complete an adoption. So far, most BOH families have had to travel to Russia only for the court hearing, with the first trip being waived. We will do everything possible to keep your travel to just one trip, but host families should be prepared to make two trips if required by Russia.
Important things to know about Ukraine’s laws on adoption:
- Both adoptive parents are generally required to travel to Ukraine to process and
- complete the final adoption through the Ukrainian court system. There are occasional exceptions, which our staff can discuss individually with families. Parents will be overseas for approximately four weeks, although your trip could be longer or shorter. Usually, one parent can return home after the first week, or families can make two shorter trips, with only one parent returning to Ukraine for the second trip.
- Ukrainian law gives Ukrainian citizens priority in adopting orphans. Therefore, at any time in the process, the child could be adopted by a Ukrainian family.
Important things to know about China’s laws on adoption:
- Only one parent must travel to China, although we encourage both parents to make the two-week trip.
- Adoptions of BOH children will be processed by Chinese adoption authorities through their Special Needs program, which means on an expedited basis. Most families will travel within approximately four to six months of submission of all required documentation.
Bridge of Hope will hold the following information sessions for prospective host families who'd like to learn more about our program and our children:
CONNECTICUT--Saturdays February 19, March 12
ILLINOIS--Date to be announced
MASSACHUSETTS--Saturday, February 12
LONG ISLAND, NY--Sundays February 6 and February 27
MID-HUDSON, NY--Sunday, February 13
NEW JERSEY/PENNSYLVANIA--Sundays, January 30, February 27
WASHINGTON DC AREA--Saturdays February 5 & March 5
For more information on these sessions and requirements for host families, please contact Bridge of Hope Director Patrice Gancie at 301-587-4400, ext 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Application deadline for host families is March 15.