Adopting from Taiwan
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My husband Steve and I are the proud parents of a happy, energetic, six year old boy. He has an incredible smile and a bubbly personality. If you ask him, he will tell you that he "loves us to the moon and back!" He is the child of our hearts. He has been our son for almost two years and it is hard to imagine our lives without him.
The decision to build our family through adoption came out of necessity. I was born with a heart defect and at age 23 had an aortic valve replacement. The surgery greatly improved my quality of life, however, the blood thinner that I must take for the rest of my life can cause birth defects. My husband and I did explore the possibility of new therapies that would allow us to attempt a pregnancy. However, after consulting with the doctors and specialists, we determined that this was not a reasonable option for us. We decided to pursue adoption.
Whatever your reason to adopt you will need to do some research on the type of adoption you want (i.e. domestic vs. international). We began our journey into the world of adoption by looking at a domestic adoption. Through our research we found that this option was not going to be the best one for us. We learned that each state has their own rules and regulations regarding birth parent rights and timeframes that a birth parent can terminate the adoption. As a couple we didn't want to have to deal with that. So, we turned to international adoption.
When choosing to adopt internationally you need to research your country choices and the rules and regulations for each country that you are considering. Travel requirements, ages of children available, how they match children, what type of contact you will have with your child before traveling (if any) are among the things you will have to consider and weigh before making your decision. For example, you may find that the country you feel a great connection with and want to adopt from not only requires you to spend a month in country, but that they do the match while you are there, which means you are there with multiple families and could possibly come home without a child. In another scenario you might need to take multiple trips to your country of choice before you can come home with your child. You might also find that the country from which you wish to adopt will not accept you as potential adoptive parents.
This initial piece of research will bring you into contact with several adoption agencies. You will need to select an agency that meets your needs in terms of country choice, process and results. It is important to keep in mind that even though all of the adoption agencies have the ultimate goal of helping couples become parents, they are not all alike. Each agency has different goals, policies, guidelines and countries with which they work. Costs may also vary from agency to agency.
We felt that we could offer a stronger cultural link to a child from an Asian country than we could if we pursued other countries because Steve is a first generation Taiwanese American. We started to look at adopting from China, but through our research found that the wait time depending upon the age we were looking for could be rather lengthy. With me being close to 40 and Steve in his early 40's we didn't want to be waiting an extensive amount of time for our family. The next country we looked at was Korea, but through our research and talking with a couple of agencies we found that my medical history may slow down the process for us. At this point we were feeling a little deflated and started to think that we were running out of alternatives. Fortunately, we didn't stop looking and we ended up finding the agency that we ultimately worked with and to our surprise we learned that they were, facilitating adoptions from Taiwan. How perfect for us, not only were we going to be adopting from an Asian country as we had wanted, but we were adopting from the country that was near and dear to my husbands family The program was new, it started in 2007, and at the time we started to work with them had already placed 11 children.
Finding an agency is the easy part. Now the work starts! At times you will feel like all you are doing is paperwork. From application forms, financial reports, home studies, interviews, medical reports, references, some sort of government paperwork, criminal background checks, fingerprinting, etc., the list goes on. There will be state forms, international forms, and forms that will need to be translated if you are adopting from a non-English-speaking country and most everything at some point will need to be notarized and submitted in triplicate. Although the mountain of paperwork will cause you to wonder how and if you will ever to get through it all, rest assured you will. Then, when you are done and the agency is presenting you with the profile of your new child, all of the paperwork, meetings, and hurdles won't matter.
Then of course there is the WAITING. It will seem like an eternity between the submitting of your application to the point where you are matched. Although we didn't know it at the time, our Taiwan program only accepted a limited number of prospective parents and made a conscious effort to match their waiting children (personality, special needs etc.) to the prospective parents. As you go through this portion of the process there are a number of things that you can do to get yourself ready for the big day.
Our adoption agency required us to attend an adoption preparation seminar that gave us the opportunity to meet families that were doing domestic adoptions as well as a number of families adopting internationally. We also learned about child development, support networks, and what to expect when our child came home. The required session solidified for us that this is what we wanted to do and that we were really prepared for what was ahead of us.
You should also use this waiting time to learn about the country you are adopting from: talk to people who are from that country and others who have adopted from your country of choice, read books about the country and plan what you will do while you are in country. Search the web, but keep in mind that everything you read on the Internet is not true. In our case, Steve's first-hand knowledge of Taiwanese/Chinese culture was a real plus.
Another decision you can make while you wait is to decide what to do with your child's name. Will you keep the birth name or incorporate it into his or her new name? We decided that given my husband's heritage and the fact that he has both an American and a Chinese name, we would do the same for our child and use his birth name as his middle name. It is also important that when you are making this decision that you factor in your child's age. With a younger child (infant ? 2 years) this may not be as much of an issue as they may not be very attached to their birth name, so you might be able to just have an American name. However, with an older child, as was the case with our adoption of BJ, he identified with his birth name so it only seemed right to keep it.
If the child that you are adopting does not speak English, take a language class for adoptive parents. We were able to find a language tutor close to our home that taught Mandarin. Also, through an Internet search we found a CD that focused on Mandarin for adoptive families (additional languages available). The CD was great because it focused on key phrases that a parent would need for talking with a child. Also, DON'T forget Google translator. It is another useful tool for easing the language transition. At midnight, when you have a crying child, a few key phrases in their native language will go a long way. Even if you can't say them, hearing the words on a computer or mobile device can have a calming effect.
You will also need to determine when you will tell your family about your impending adoption. We let our family know that we were considering adoption as a way to grow our family shortly after we decided to adopt. However, we didn't say too much more to them about it until we knew that we had secured a referral. Even then it was only that we had been matched with a child and some general information about him. We kept pictures to ourselves and a few key people until just before we traveled to Taiwan. We felt if we were having a biological child there would be few details available to our family until the "big day" arrived, so why should this be any different.
Once we were prepared and had done all of the proverbial homework, we were ready to receive our referral. The day we got that phone call will always remain very near and dear to us. It came early one morning a few days before Halloween 2011, as my husband and I were getting ready for work. Our adoption coordinator called and said that the agency in Taiwan had reviewed our application, home study, letters of recommendation, etc. and they had matched us with a little boy who, at the time, was 3-years of age. We were overjoyed and could not wait for the day to bring him home.
Fortunately for us, the 11 month wait from acceptance of the referral until we traveled to Taiwan was made easier by getting regular updates form the agency that we were partnered with in Taiwan. They also arranged four Skype sessions with our future son. The first time we got to see him on Skype was absolutely amazing.
Our local adoption agency suggested that we send a few care packages to him. They also recommended that we were going to send toys that we purchase duplicate to keep at home, thus assuring that if a specific toy we sent became a favorite and didn't come to the U.S. with him, it would be at home waiting for him. Christmas, Chinese New Year and his birthday provided occasions to send some clothes, toys, picture books and a teddy bear.
During our first Skype session in May of 2012 we shared the bears and read a story, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." To our surprise they had the same story in Mandarin (not planned). Even now when BJ looks through his books and finds "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" he remembers when we "read it together". After each Skype session we felt a little closer to our son. If you have a similar opportunity we recommend that you look for and share common songs and stories that are translated into multiple languages (i.e. Disney stories, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", etc.). We could see dramatic changes in BJ with each Skype session and could tell that the Taiwanese agency was actively preparing him for the transition. Our little boy was singing the B-I-N-G-O song by the last Skype session.
I don't know if our experience is typical or not but we'll share it here. We were required to spend at least 3 days in Taiwan. We decided that it was important for us to get to Taiwan early to see the country that had been BJ's home and to spend a couple days before our life change to be childless tourists one last time. Taipei is a great city to visit an interesting blend of Western conveniences but much of the traditional Chinese culture.
The first official day was a meeting with his social workers at our hotel and after an hour train ride, we got to meet our little man in person. That was probably the best day of our lives thus far. He recognized us instantly as "Mommy and Daddy" thanks to the Skype sessions and we knew that we were already a family! All told, the transition was about easy as could have hoped for. No major tears but you could see the sadness and uncertainty in his eyes. However, a new adventure was about to begin. We knew he was ready to come home when on our last evening in Taiwan as we were packing our bags, BJ went into the bag that was packed by his foster mother, took out a sweat shirt and said to us in Mandarin, "Taiwan Mommy said I wear this to go home."
Yes, we had our share of struggles with the process and sometimes felt that we were moving backwards instead of forward, but with each paperwork delay or snafu we would take a look at BJ's photo or a saved copy of one of the Skype sessions and know that we were doing the right thing and in the end it would all be worth it.
If you have questions or would like to contact Cindy to discuss her experiences with adoption please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Story contributed by Wide Horizons for Children Adoption Agency
Wide Horizons For Children is dedicated to the well-being and security of vulnerable and orphaned children worldwide. To accomplish our mission, we: - Strengthen families to improve their ability to care for their children - Improve outcomes for children living outside of parental care - Place children with loving, adoptive families - Support birth parents, adoptive parents and...Learn more, see kids, or contact agency 375 Totten Pond Road, Suite 400 Massachusetts
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