International adoption agencies work with many different countries, each with it’s own culture and regulations. While in many ways this is ideal as each program has something new and unique to offer, it also means that each program functions in its own way, often times presenting many unanticipated obstacles. Understandably, these obstacles can be very frustrating for families, no matter how prepared they are going into the process. For this reason, we have reached out to one of the families who has participated in both our Latvia hosting and adoption programs to ask for their thoughts on the process:
I Just wanted to discuss a few things that seem to be common issues with adoptions from Latvia. It’s no fun to talk about, but I thought it was important that everyone be aware of these in order to have realistic expectations when considering moving forward with adoption, particularly after hosting.
During our adoption process I’ve taken the opportunity to do A LOT of research on Latvia adoptions (like, to the point of obsession y’all). One of the things I have noticed across the board for adoptions from Latvia is the amount of hurdles almost all of them must overcome, many unsuccessfully. Again, none of these are related to the adoption agency, but they often get blamed because people are very emotional and may feel like they were ill-informed going into the situation. This seems to be common with families who have hosted and only have interest in the adoption of one particular child or sibling group. I know it can be discouraging to talk about the negatives with a family who is at the beginning of the adoption process, but setting up realistic expectations can be super important with families who go through stress, anxiety, and many times loss, during the journey. All of these aren’t specific to our experience, but again, I do tons of reading and see these complaints most often.
Possible Challenges with Latvia Adoption
The Children Decide
The children are asked multiple times during the adoption process if they want to go to America with their potential adoptive family. The Latvian adoption court takes their opinion very seriously (even when the child is young). There may be influence on the child to stay in Latvia by friends, family or orphanages or the child may be too afraid of leaving everything they have ever known. It is common for a child to want to stay in America while here, but change their mind after returning home. If their answer is no, then you will not be allowed to adopt at that time. You may be able to host again (if the child is willing) and then re-approach the courts at a later time, but paperwork and fees may need to be resubmitted depending on the length of time that has passed.
Even though parental rights may have been terminated, it may be, that a member of bio family will fight for their rights back when they are informed about an international adoption. If the child is in a foster family, they may choose to proceed with adoption. The courts will do what is in the best interest of the child, and many times, they view that as staying in Latvia.
Delays in the Orphan Court system are common. As in most Eastern European countries, holidays are taken regularly and the courts shut down. Many other factors influence the pace of an adoption!
Availability of Information
If you are adopting a child you have hosted, they may not be on the international adoption list. If that is the case, you will not get information listing your child’s medical history, family history and potential disabilities until the time of your referral, which is just before the first trip. After receiving the referral, you will give your official answer as to adopt the child(ren) or not.
Schooling Upon Arrival
If you choose to take your child(ren) home after the first trip, they will be traveling on a visa that does not permit enrollment in school. You do have the option to home school, or have them ‘visit’ a school for no more than 18 hours a week for subjects like art, gym, lunch, music ect.
Transition from Hosting to Adoption
If you have hosted before, be prepared for things to be different once the adoption is complete. Hosting is a month long vacation and now it’s for real. People treat acquaintances (even close ones) differently than they do family, and sometimes family gets the worst of us. Remember these kids are coming from a place of fear, instability and trauma (even if you didn’t notice any signs during hosting). That doesn’t just go away…ever!
Positives of Latvia Adoption
On a happier note, I do think there are SO MANY positives regarding Latvia adoption!
Children Are Cared For
The Latvian orphan courts truly care about the well being of the children in their care. Additionally, the children are well taken care of when in an orphanage setting or in a foster family. Whenever possible, foster families are utilized, making adjustment into a family as setting smooth as possible.
Home After First Trip!
Unlike many adoption programs where families are unable to bring their child home until the final trip, Latvia gives families the opportunity to take their kiddo home with them after the first court hearing on the trip so that they can start bonding!
Option to Host
Many older children are available for hosting, so you can get to know them before deciding to adopt.
Children Learn English
Children are taught English in school. Many are fluent, or quickly learn when in the US.
Positives of Latvia Hosting
Hosting our kiddo has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives!
We had a connection with our host child right away, despite some language barriers.
It’s wonderful to see her experience things for the first time.
She learns so much each time she visits (we’ve hosted multiple times) and is completely fluent in English now!
We bond with her more and more each trip. She has close relationships with us and our families. She also has friends in the US that she looks forward to visiting each time.
We get to provide our kiddo with new experiences and skills like theater class and swim lessons.
We also send her home with warm clothes. It’s good to know that we can help be comfortable even when we are far away. "
With any adoption process, no matter which country you're adopting from, there are always going to be challenges and triumphs. Whether it's an unforseen delay with paperwork or a hurtle you have to get through in-country, every family faces their own set of roadblocks that they must work their way around. While these roadblocks are typically unavoidable, it's important to go into the adoption process with an understanding of what potential challenges might be so that you're prepared to do whatever it takes to stay strong throughout your journey to bring your child home forever.
Great Wall China Adoption is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas. Since 1996, Great Wall has placed more than 8,000 children with forever families. Between the headquarters located in Austin, Texas and the sister office in Beijing, China, we work on behalf of families each day to be experts at exceeding China’s requirements and adoptive families’ expectations by staying updated on aspects of China adoption.