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"Not Clearly Approvable" Defined
Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates have limited, delegated authority from the United States Citizen and Immigration Service to approve Form I-600 petitions that are found to be clearly approvable. Clearly approvable means that the petition and supporting documentation clearly establish that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law; all criteria identified on the Form I-600A approval regarding the child and any state pre-adoption requirements are met; and there are no concerns of fraud, child buying or other inappropriate practices in the adoption process.

In cases where the evidence is insufficient to establish that the child is an orphan or that the I-600A criteria have been met, the consular officer will allow the petitioner to respond to issues and questions that can be quickly and easily resolved. If issues and questions can be quickly and easily resolved and the case is clearly approvable the consular officer will approve the petition.

All non-Hague cases require an I-604 investigation to determine orphan status. In many instances this is a simple review of the documents and facts in the case. However, in some cases, an investigation by consular staff may be necessary to clarify doubts related to documentation presented or concerns of inappropriate practices. Investigations may include, but are not limited to, visits to the child's town of origin; interviews with birth relatives, orphanage staff, or social workers; DNA testing; and/or a field investigation.

If additional clarification and evidence does not fully resolve the issue quickly, the consular officer must send the petition to USCIS for review and adjudication. USCIS is the only agency with the authority to adjudicate NCA cases. If a case is identified as "Not Clearly Approvable", the consular officer sends the petitioner notification of the transfer to USCIS and provides contact information so that further inquiries may be directed to USCIS.

November 16, 2011 USCIS UPDATE ON PROCESSING OF “NOT CLEARLY APPROVABLE” CASES REFERRED BY EMBASSY ADDIS ABABA

A USCIS team of four officers arrived in Ethiopia and began working at Embassy Addis Ababa on November 7, 2011. As of the date of this notice, the team has received 63 “not clearly approvable” cases from Embassy Addis, and expects to receive at least 1 more case before they depart on Friday, November 18, 2011.
The following provides a summary of the results of the team’s review of the cases as of November 15, 2011:

Approvals Issued: 36
Requests for Evidence Issued: 9
Notices of Intent to Deny Issued: 1
Under USCIS Team Review: 9
Pending Birth Relative Interview: 8
Pending Physical Transfer: 1

During the team’s first days in Addis, they began reviewing the cases, and established procedures necessary for completing adjudication and issuing notices. Embassy Addis is providing the resources necessary for USCIS to be able to adjudicate the notclearly approvable cases. Although the team has encountered some technological challenges, the team has been issuing decisions and notices as soon as they are able. All cases that the team is able to approve before they depart from Addis Ababa will stay with the Consular Section in Embassy Addis Ababa, for immediate scheduling of immigrant visa processing. Families that receive an approval notice will be contacted directly by the U.S. Embassy within three business days. We strongly recommend that families wait to be contacted regarding an immigrant visa interview before making travel arrangements.

Cases that require a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny will be sent to the USCIS Rome District Office for further processing. Each family that received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny should carefully read the instructions regarding where to send additional evidence to avoid delays in processing that could be caused by sending the evidence to the incorrect USCIS Office. USCIS has decided to utilize additional resources at the Rome District Office in the ongoing processing of some of the affected cases in an effort to ensure that they are processed to completion as quickly as possible.
Vietnam: US Department of State Adoption Notice – Vietnam ratifies the Hague Adoption Convention

Rrom the US Department of State:
Notice: Vietnam ratifies the Hague Adoption Convention

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption will enter into force in Vietnam on February 1, 2012, following Vietnam’s ratification on November 1, 2011.

The United States recognizes Vietnam’s initiatives leading to this significant development and applauds the Government of Vietnam’s renewed commitment to strengthen its child welfare system and the integrity of its domestic and international adoption process. We continue to caution adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents that, to ensure that adoptions from Vietnam can be compliant with the Convention, important steps must still take place before intercountry adoptions between the United States and Vietnam resume. We further caution adoption service providers against initiating, or claiming to initiate, adoption programs in Vietnam until they receive authorization from the Government of Vietnam.

The Department of State will provide updated information onwww.adoption.state.gov as it becomes available. If you have any further questions about this notice, please contact the Office of Children’s Issues at 1-888-407-4747 within the United States or 202-501-4444 from outside the United States.

Adoption Notice Ethiopia

LMI Admin | Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
Adoption Notice: Ethiopia
Confirmation of Orphanage Closures in Ethiopia

October 17, 2011

Ethiopian government officials confirmed the closure of several orphanages in the Southern Nations state due to revocation of the orphanages’ operational licenses. Each orphanage in Ethiopia receives an operational license that the Charities and Societies Administration administers and monitors to ensure compliance with Ethiopian regulations. This is an update to the previous Adoption Notice posted on August 3, 2011.

These orphanages are:
· SOS Infants Ethiopia (Arbaminch, Dila and Awassa branches)
· Gelgella Integrated Orphans (Tercha and Durame branches)
· Bethzatha Children’s Home Association (Sodo, Hosaena, Dila, Haidya, Durame, and Hawassa branches)
· Ethio Vision Development and Charities (Dila and Hawassa branches)
· Special Mission for Community Based Development (Hosaina branch)
· Enat Alem Orphanage (Awassa branch)
· Initiative Ethiopia Child and Family Support (Hawassa branch)
· Resurrection Orphanage (Hosaina branch)
· Musie Children’s Home Association (Hadiya, Hosaina, Dila, and Kenbata branches)
· Organization for Gold Age (Kucha, Dila, Hawassa branches)
· Hidota Children’s Home Association (Soto branch)
· Biruh Alem Lehisanat, Lenatochina Aregawiyan (Hosaina branch)

According to officials in the Charities and Societies Agency office, which oversees the licensing and regulation of orphanages in Ethiopia, the children in the care of those facilities have already been transferred to other
orphanages.

Ethiopian officials indicate that cases involving orphaned children from these facilities which are already pending with the Federal First Instance court will continue to move forward. The Embassy in Addis Ababa is working closely with Ethiopian officials to determine if children from these facilities who had been previously referred for matches will be allowed to continue in the adoption process. Regional officials have confirmed that the affected children’s case files are currently being reviewed on a case by case basis by regional Ministry of Women’s Affairs offices.

We continue to ask prospective adoptive parents and agencies that are hearing news of specific closures to inform the Department. Please send any specific information regarding orphanage closures to AskCI@state.gov with the subject line “Ethiopia Orphanage Closures.”

Prospective and adoptive parents are encouraged to remain in contact with their adoption service provider to stay up-to-date on any information pertinent to their individual case. The Department will post any confirmation on www.adoption.state.gov as we receive it.
To celebrate National Adoption month on Sunday November 20th in New York City at St Francis college Ambassador Susan Jacobs will attend and speak at the 31st Annual Adoptive Parents Committee (APC) conference. The conference will present over 90 workshops on both pre adopt and post adopt topics for both parents and professionals Many workshops qualifying for parent training for the Hague

Also keynoting will be Joe Kroll Executive Director of the North American Council of Adoptable Children, (NACAC). There will be representatives of USCIS as well as from NBC to talk on all aspects of the paperwork and requirements process. As well as other members of the state department for updates on the status of children around the world.

For complete conference information including the ability to exhibit or register please go to www.adoptiveparents.org for further information please contact samapc@aol.com Sam Pitkowsky President NYC Adoptive Parents Committee and Conference chair
Yesterday the Senate of Kazakhstan turned down the new law it was hearing regarding Marriage and family. This law also makes provisions for adoption. The Senate returned it back to Parliament after making some changes in the law. At this posting, we do not know the exact details of the changes that were made. Now Parliament has to change the law again, and then forward it back to the Senate again. We will keep you posted on further news.

What we do know is that at this point, your Post Placement Reports of your adoptions that have completed are crucial. If you have not turned in any reports, even self-written reports, now is the time to do that! The Kazakhstan adoption program depends on it! As you see below


06.10.2011 / 13:45 As reported by KAZINFORM and translated by Google.

Senators returned to their amendments to the draft Code of Mazhilis of RK "On Marriage (Matrimony), and the family"


ASTANA. October 6. KAZINFORM / Muratbek Makulbekov / - At the plenary session of the Senate considered the second reading of the draft Code of RK "On Marriage (Matrimony), and the family."

Senator Anatoly Bashmakov, speaking to the report, noted that the bill aims to regulate marriage and family relations in Kazakhstan, the establishment of guarantees of their implementation, as well as protecting the rights and interests of the family.

During the work on the bill the senators made a number of amendments. In particular, they brought in conformity with the Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption order of adoption of children by Kazakhstan, permanently residing abroad and foreigners. Senate amendments govern the procedure for submission of foreign adopters report on living conditions, education and health status of adopted children.

After discussion it was decided to send the bill with amendments to the Majilis.

Birthdays and Birth Moms

Anne Bentley | Wednesday, July 20, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
On my daughter’s fifth birthday, my husband didn’t know it but he exposed an open wound when he thoughtfully said, “every April 2 must be the toughest for her.” It really got me thinking about her birth mom, pondering and aching for her loss. I’m not sure why now and not earlier, but the pain of it all hit me harder than I’d expected.

I mean I’ve always thought about her birth mom on some level, wondering where Maddie gets her dimples, her laugh, her sweetness and all of her beautiful attributes. But this year, maybe because I’m able to more clearly see my daughter for the person she’s become and going to be, my heart sank for this woman and the difficult decision she had to make five years ago.

Every year we celebrate our daughter’s life and look forward to all of the wonderful things ahead, her birth mom is probably reliving the day she gave her up. There has to be enormous regret and sadness about the path she didn’t take and the person, a part of her, she never got to know. I’m not judging her. I’m incredibly grateful to this woman I’ll probably never know for allowing me the privilege of being Maddie’s mom. If not for this woman, my life would certainly be less fulfilling, less rewarding and very different.

As I sort through my own feelings and sensitivities around the birth mom, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to message the loss of this special person to my daughter – also a sensitive and inquisitive person. In truth, I think I buried my feelings for the birth mom because all of my focus has been on Maddie. How to protect her feelings. How to say it without upsetting her. I’ve been contemplating this since the beginning, with every adoption book read, every question asked, and every few months when I notice something about my child that makes me want to speak up. I’ve kind of obsessed about when to tell her, where to tell her and how to tell her. This conversation makes the birds and bees talk seem easy. I’ve read many a blog, book and advice column available on this milestone conversation; and what I’ve decided is that while I might use some of the information, I’m going to tailor the conversation to Maddie and speak from my heart.

I’m going to pull out her adoption photos and tell her our story, which we’ve told before, and then build the conversation around my daughter’s beautiful face and talents. Wonder where your smile, hair and eyes come from? Your birth parents. Wonder where you get your athleticism and creativity from? Your birth parents. Rather than focusing on what I don’t know, which is just about everything, I’d rather focus on what I do know. That Maddie is who she is thanks to her birth parents and us – her family. Although made by her birth parents, we are always going to be her parents. I’m sure there will be more questions I’m not anticipating, but I’m hoping this is the right way to start the conversation.

I’ve read incredible stories of how adoptive parents have chosen to honor their children’s birth moms through letters, drawings and other ways. I’ll let Maddie choose her own personal way when she’s ready; but for me, the best way I know to say thanks is through a letter, one she may never receive but that’s heartfelt.

"Thank you for choosing to bring Maddie into this world when it wasn’t the easiest or most selfish choice you could have made as a young, single woman of 25. Thank you for taking her to the Yemet baby house in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, where we became family for the first time. Thanks for sharing a Kazakh heritage of warmth, intelligence and determination with us. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to be the parents of a kind, charming, friendly, inspiring, creative, beautiful, athletic and fiercely intelligent girl who has brought us nothing but love and happiness over the years. We love Maddie more than I could ever express in words, and you should know that she’s an incredible daughter, sister, friend and person thanks in part to you."

--Melanie Hill, adoptive mom to two Kazakh beauties

Adoption Alert Ukraine

LMI Admin | Tuesday, July 12, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
Presidential order expected to allow SDA to continue processing adoptions in Ukraine

July 12, 2011

On July 8, 2011, the president of Ukraine signed an order which extends the State Department on Adoption’s (SDA’s) authority to process adoptions. We have been informed by the SDA that the order will not take effect until the order is published, likely within a few days. The SDA currently is not accepting adoption applications. According to the order, the SDA will have the authority to continue processing adoptions until the Ministry of Social policy is ready to take over as the new adoption authority in Ukraine. The Ministry does not yet know when they will be prepared to take over adoption processing.

We will continue to ask the Ukrainian government to resume adoptions as quickly as possible. We will also continue to encourage the Ministry of Social Policy to protect adoptions where U.S. prospective adoptive parents have already been approved by the SDA to adopt a particular child.

According to the SDA, there are approximately 139 U.S. families registered with the SDA, some of them already in-country. We will be following new developments closely to understand how they will affect the families currently in process and will be posting relevant updates. In that respect, we recommend that all American families that are currently in Ukraine or have appointments with SDA during the next few weeks send their contact information to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s Adoption Unit at: kyivadoptions@state.gov. Families should contact their local adoption service provider for further updates and details.

Updated information will be provided on this website as it becomes available.

Adoption Alert: Haiti

LMI Admin | Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | Links to this post | 1 Comment
Alert: Pursuing Independent Adoptions without Licensed Agencies Increases Risks of Delays and Fraud

The Department of State has seen a recent increase in U.S. citizens seeking to pursue adoptions in Haiti through independent agents instead of licensed adoption providers. While these “private” adoptions are currently permissible in Haiti, prospective adoptive parents should be aware of the risks associated with not utilizing experienced, licensed agencies. Non-licensed facilitators may lack experience in navigating the complex Haitian adoption process, and this could lead to delays and critical mistakes in processing the case. Haitian facilitators may also not be familiar with U.S. immigration law governing intercountry adoption processing. Prospective adoptive parents pursuing an independent adoption may place their trust in private facilitators engaging in unethical or illegal practices in Haiti. The Department strongly encourages prospective adoptive parents adopting from Haiti to research U.S. immigration laws and Haitian adoption procedures through the use of a reputable, licensed agency or experienced facilitator. For more information about intercountry adoption in Haiti, please visit our website

LMI Newsletter

Anne Bentley | Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
Our latest newsletter with updates on all of the countries we work in is available here.

Kazakhstan Adoption Update

LMI Admin | Thursday, June 02, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
We got this news from Kazakhstan this morning and wanted to share with you!

The new law on Marriage and Family was finally approved by Parliament (Mazhilis). The Next step will be approval of the law by Senate. Very good news and means for us that Kaz is one step close to starting the Hague Accreditation process.

Adoption Notice: Ethiopia

LMI Admin | Thursday, June 02, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
Update on adoption case processing by MOWCYA in Ethiopia

The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia has received information from the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs indicating that processing of cases that received a court summons prior to March 8, 2011 is still ongoing. This exceeds their estimated 15-20 days to expeditiously process this caseload, as indicated in our April 5 notice. The Embassy also understands that processing of cases with court summons after March 8 is proceeding at 5 cases per day, and there is no indication that these numbers will increase in the short term.

Prospective Adoptive Parents and parents awaiting final approval of their match from the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs are cautioned to anticipate continued and considerable delays and are encouraged to remain in contact with their agency for updates to their case.

Please continue to monitor http://adoption.state.gov/ for updated information as it becomes available.

Kyrgyzstan Lifts Ban On International Adoptions

Little Miracles International | Sunday, May 08, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments

By Farangis Najibullah, Gulaiym Ashakeev

U.S. citizens Frank and Gabrielle Shimkus with their prospective Kyrgyz adoptee Azamat
U.S. citizens Frank and Gabrielle Shimkus with their prospective Kyrgyz adoptee Azamat
May 07, 2011
Azamat was abandoned by his mother at a Bishkek maternity ward the day he was born with a severe cleft lip and palate three years ago.

He has since been living in an orphanage in the Kyrgyz capital and, unlike other children of his age, Azamat cannot speak properly, and has difficulty feeding because of his medical condition.

There has always been hope for Azamat. Gabrielle and Frank Shimkus, potential adoptive parents from the United States, were eager to welcome the Kyrgyz toddler into their home. But there has also been despair, courtesy of a moratorium on international adoptions imposed by the Kyrgyz government in February 2009.

Gabrielle and Frank have been awaiting the day when Kyrgyzstan would amend its Family Code, paving the way for international adoption to resume. That day came on May 6, when Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva signed into law a bill unanimously approved by parliament last month.

The new law opens the door for prospective foreign parents to adopt Kyrgyz children, but it also stipulates strict controls for the adoption process to ensure that children do not fall victim to trafficking, exploitation, or abuse.

The moratorium was imposed amid concerns that the Family Code insufficiently dealt with specifics regarding the oversight of the adoption process. This had led to widespread criticisms that loopholes in the law could put Kyrgyz children at risk once they were outside the country.
Azamat has suffered from a severe cleft lip and palate since birth. Adoptive parents in Kyrgyzstan almost never choose a disabled or sick child.

In addition, the lack of supervision was seen as a gateway for adoption agencies, officials, and others to take advantage of the situation by giving children away for adoption without proper background checks on adoptive parents. There were also allegations of corruption on the part of officials who would speed up adoption processes in return for bribes.

Strict Control Of Adoption

Kyrgyz lawmaker Damira Niyazalieva says "we needed to put a specific, state body in charge of international adoption, to control the whole process from the very beginning."

According to the amended version of the Family Code, Kyrgyzstan's Social Welfare Ministry will now oversee all adoption cases. This, Niyazalieva says, ensures strict government control.

"For instance, in the past, random adoption agencies would go inside orphanages to pick a child for adoption,” Niyazalieva says. “They would take photos of children to send to the U.S. It's against the law -- now the law bans such activities. No one from outside will have access to orphanages.”

“There will be a so-called bank with the list of all children available for adoption. Only the Social Welfare Ministry will decide which child can be placed for adoption and to which family."

Niyazalieva and other lawmakers have also proposed that Kyrgyzstan sign the Hague Adoption Convention, which strengthens protection for adoptive children. Ratified by 83 countries, the treaty provides a framework for signatory states to work together to ensure that adoptions take place in the best interests of a child.

The draft of the new Kyrgyz Family Code was reportedly prepared a year ago but the 2010 political upheaval in the country delayed its endorsement.

“Kyrgyz 65”

Kyrgyzstan's decision to lift its adoption moratorium has been eagerly awaited by a group known as "Kyrgyz 65." The group was set up by 65 prospective adoptive families from the United States, who began an adoption procedure in Kyrgyzstan two to three years ago, before the process was halted by Kyrgyz authorities.

Gabrielle Shimkus is among the Kyrgyz 65 who have undergone thorough background checks and provided all the necessary documents, including confirmation of their health and financial situation, which are required of potential adoptive families.

Shimkus says she first visited Azamat in November 2008 when he was a frail five-month-old baby referred for adoption by the Kyrgyz authorities.

After spending two weeks with Azamat in Bishkek, the Shimkus family was told to return to Kyrgyzstan after one month to get the final court decision and take Azamat home as their legally adopted child.

Gabrielle Shimkus says the family was weeks away from bringing home a son, but it didn't happen.
Frank and Gabrielle Shimkus have already paid for surgery on Azamat's lip and palate. They hope to continue his treatment in the U.S.

Sixty-four other prospective parents were left in a similar situation. They have since involved the U.S. State Department and have contacted a number of U.S. lawmakers in their bid to convince the Kyrgyz authorities to allow adoptions. The group also appealed to Kyrgyz President Otunbaeva.

"We've organized efforts to talk to people in the Kyrgyz government, and we've organized efforts to talk to our own government,” Shimkus says. “And we have conference calls all the time just trying to do everything possible to get our kids home with us.”

“Unfortunately, a lot of the kids have severe medical problems that are treatable and fixable here in the United States. Two of the children of the Kyrgyz 65 passed away and that is such a tragedy in our minds because had the adoptions been able to get through in a timely manner those deaths were preventable."

Some 11,000 orphans and children abandoned by families reside in Kyrgyzstan's 120 orphanages and children's homes. Most of the abandoned babies were born with birth defects or severe disabilities.

"Of the 65 children set to be adopted by American parents, 36 are in urgent need of complicated surgical procedures," the office of Kyrgyz ombudsman told Kyrgyz media. "Their physical conditions are getting worse by every passing day."

Between 2006 and February 2009 -- before the moratorium was put in place -- 235 Kyrgyz children were adopted by families from the United States, Israel, Italy, Germany, and Australia.

The new Family Code gives priority to Kyrgyz families in all adoption cases. But Niyazalieva says adoptive parents in Kyrgyzstan almost never choose a disabled or sick child, while it is not an issue for foreigners, including the Kyrgyz 65.

Cash-Strapped Orphanages

Niyazalieva and the office of the ombudsman are among those who support the idea of reinstating international adoptions, saying it would ensure a much better future for many disabled children who live in underfunded orphanages run by underpaid staff.

Most children's homes in Kyrgyzstan largely depend on cash-strapped state funds and donations by international charity organizations. Conditions are especially dire in state-run orphanages in rural areas, where employees complain about a lack of running water and sewerage systems in children's homes, and a shortage of proper clothes and shoes for kids.

Dr. Gulzhan Ashimova works at a Bishkek care home, which houses 94 sick and disabled children under the age of four.

They need medical attention, including surgeries, speech therapy, and psychological treatments, the doctor says.

"We help them as much as we can, but the orphanage doesn't have enough money for all the treatment we require," Ashimova says. "Some of the required treatments are simply not available in Kyrgyzstan."

Ashimova says that children in orphanages are usually much less developed both physically and psychologically than those who live with families. "The best therapy for them is to live with families," the doctor adds.

While waiting for the Kyrgyz authorities' decision to lift the moratorium, the Shimkus family paid for a German surgeon to begin treatment of Azamat's cleft lip and palate. The doctor visited Bishkek and performed initial medical surgery on Azamat's lip. The toddler needs several more such operations to fully heal his condition.

The family hopes they will be able to continue with the medical treatment in the United States.

"We have already prepared a bedroom full of toys for Azamat in our home, and we all are waiting for our son to finally join us," Gabrielle Shimkus says. "We love him very much. After all, he has been through so many hardships already in his life."

You can find this article at Radio Free Europe.

Common Adoption Questions

Anne Bentley | Friday, April 15, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
Adoptive mom, Melanie, has answered these questions many times over the years. She is happy to share her insights into some of the most common adoption-related questions.

Why international vs. domestic adoption? We talked to several families, read a few books, and followed many a blog to learn that birth parents often change their minds after the child’s born. We couldn’t bear the thought of that happening so international adoption seemed like the safer choice for us. While I think every state’s rules vary somewhat on parental rights post placement, my husband and I knew we’d never be able to detach ourselves from a child once that decision had been made.

Why did you select Little Miracles? Outside of being caring, open and knowledgeable and working with an outstanding coordinator, Little Miracles is licensed in our state and works directly with many countries. If the country we’d been adopting from decided to close adoptions to the U.S., we knew that working with an agency that had relationships with multiple countries would ensure we could more easily switch if needed. Their direct in-country relationships were also incredibly important in shortening the length of the adoption process. Many agencies work through other agencies adding as much as a year or two to the timing of an adoption.


Why did you choose Kazakhstan? We explored every country open to the U.S. at the time we were pursuing adoption, and interestingly enough Kazakhstan wasn’t our first choice. But the two places we were interested in were closed or presented years of waiting. After much research, we finally landed on Kazakhstan based on the care of the children, their general health, and the shorter duration (approx. 10 -12 months in 2007 and 2010) of the process from start to finish. My husband and I will be forever grateful to the country of Kazakhstan for the two incredible children it led us to.

Would you adopt from Kazakhstan again? Yes, we adopted from Kazakhstan again last year. It was the easier choice for many reasons, but mainly because it was so familiar. My husband and I both have had a longing to return to the place and the people, and relive our experience all over again. It’s also nice to know that both of our girls share a Kazakh heritage and we can return someday to their birthplace as a family.

What was the most challenging part about adopting from Kazakhstan? The in-country adoption process is longer and a little more unpredictable than some of the other international options. There’s a 14-day bonding period followed by a 1-2 week wait for the court hearing. During our first trip, we lived in Kazakhstan for 32 days for both adoptions. Then there’s a return 5-7 day trip about a month after the first visit. If there’s a delay because the judge decides to take vacation or your trip coincides with a holiday, then you might wait a little longer to finalize the process. Stuff happens and you have to be flexible enough to deal with it.

What was the most challenging part of adopting? The wait. Always the wait. On the front end and then again on the backend as we waited to bring our children home. That part was excruciating. The paperwork was time-consuming, but nowhere near as challenging. Before we actually met our child, fear of the unknown also ranked pretty high up there. We’d traveled across the globe many times, but Kazakhstan was completely unfamiliar to us. Add to that foreigner feeling becoming parents for the first time and the natural fear and raw emotion that comes with it, and you have a challenged pair. Nothing that wasn’t easily overcome and forgotten once our children were home with us. All challenges aside, we’d do it all over again for our girls.


If you have adoption questions please email info@littlemiracles.org. We'd love to talk with you about your adoption plans!

Adoption Alert: Ukraine

LMI Admin | Friday, April 08, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
April 8, 2011, Office of Children's Issues - US State Department

On the evening of April 7, 2011, President Yanukovych signed a Decree transferring all functions of, the State

Department for Adoption and Protection of the Rights of the Child (SDA-- the current central adoption authority of Ukraine), to the Ministry for Social Policy. We do not yet know how the implementation of this transfer will affect processing of adoption cases. Whether SDA will be able to continue processing currently filed cases remains unclear.

The Presidential Decree will become effective immediately upon its publication in the Government’s official newspapers, which may be as early as Monday, April 11.

According to SDA, there are now 134 U.S. families registered with the SDA, some of them already in-country. We are asking all American families that are currently in Ukraine or have appointments with SDA during the next few weeks to send their contact information to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s Adoption Unit at: kyivadoptions@state.gov . Families should contact their local adoption service provider for further updates and details.

We will keep monitoring the situation and will provide updates as they become available.

Four-year-old Kaleb speaks English and likes to draw. He shows talent as a pianist and is learning how to read. He has even visited the Kyrgyzstan Embassy in Washington to meet officials from his native country.

Until he was eight months old, Kaleb was Kalychbek Baymyrzaev, an orphan in Kyrgyzstan. Scott and Kami DeBoer of Dayton, Ohio, adopted him in October 2007, just before Kyrgyzstan placed a moratorium on international adoptions. “Kaleb knows that he is adopted and that he was born in Kyrgyzstan,” Scott told EurasiaNet.org.

The first six months in America were difficult. “When we first met Kaleb, he was only 11 pounds. That is very tiny for an eight-month-old. He was not getting enough to eat. He was not sitting up or rolling. He had a lot of trouble sleeping and had night terrors. We kept reassuring him that we were there and after six months he was sleeping through the night. Later he began to smile,” said Kami.

Scott and Kami are waiting to adopt another Kyrgyz boy, Bakyt. When they met in February 2008, he was two months old; now he is over three. “We did not think it would take very long to bring him home. We will keep waiting for Bakyt,” Scott said. “He is a part of our family.”

In 2008, responding to local rumors that foreigners were adopting babies to harvest their organs, the Kyrgyz government imposed a moratorium on international adoptions. Since then, American families, including the DeBoers, have been waiting to bring home 65 children whose adoptions were in progress when the freeze was announced. According to the Ministry of Social Protection, 30 of the 65 orphans have special health conditions and need regular treatment that is difficult to find in Kyrgyzstan. Two have died. Families in Kyrgyzstan have adopted only four.

Since the collapse of Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s administration last spring, new officials have promised to lift the moratorium and allow the adoptions to proceed. But Minister of Social Protection Aygul Ryskulova, who served as Minister of Labor, Employment and Migration under the old regime, says the government is just too busy to deal with the adoptions. What’s more, concerns linger about the process and the Americans’ motivations. “The facts are still being investigated,” Ryskulova said of the motivations behind the original freeze. “During the last three years the Kyrgyz government found out the whereabouts of most of the children [who had been adopted prior to the ban]. Some of them were adopted by Israeli families, some by Germans, some of them by US parents. But we still don’t know where some children are. We don’t have an exact number of internationally adopted children, where they were sent, how they live now. We have to find out this information.”

The United States has urged the new government to speed the investigation and lift the ban. In February, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor to the Office of Children's Issues in the State Department, traveled to Bishkek to assure local officials that Washington will regularly inform them about the adopted children's lives in the United States until they turn 18, according to local media reports.

MP Shirin Aitmatova, who has pushed for the adoption process to be reformed, says her colleagues in parliament have difficulties understanding the urgency of the issue, given the wide array of social and economic challenges facing Kyrgyzstan.

Moreover, she says, anyone wishing to help with reforms must combat the persistent rumors that foreigners are using the Kyrgyz children for profit. “There was fear that children could potentially be used as organ donors. Some people also assume that since American families that adopt receive certain financial benefits and tax breaks, they must be doing it less out of the goodness of their hearts and rather to supplement their income. Many unfounded ideas circulate in the local population regarding foreigners who express the wish to adopt local children,” Aitmatova explained.

In 2007, Mala Tyler adopted a Kyrgyz boy, Beck, and brought him home to Concord, New Hampshire. She urges Bishkek to lift the moratorium, arguing that the delay only hurts the children. “If the Kyrgyz government has concerns about the welfare of the adopted children, then they need not look any further than the children who are already home. They are loved, they are cherished, they are happy. Relinquishing a child, whether by a parent or by a country, is surely not an easy decision -- certainly not to be taken lightly -- but these children have homes and parents and siblings waiting for them. They have a life full of love waiting for them,” Tyler said.

Yet it seems a knee-jerk fear remains a persistent challenge to any hopes for reform. A parliamentary deputy and former human rights ombudsman, MP Tursunbai Bakir uulu, says that Kyrgyz society is right to be concerned about how these children, often living in underfunded institutions in Kyrgyzstan, will be treated abroad. Without providing evidence, he told EurasiaNet.org: “There are so many stories in the world when adopted children were abused, humiliated, even killed. I don’t support international adoption."


Editor's note:
Beishe Bulan is the pseudonym for a Kyrgyz journalist.
Originally published by EurasiaNet.org
Adoption Announcement: Teleconference Invitation

March 24, 2011

TO: Prospective Adoptive Parents, Adoption Service Providers, and Adoption Stakeholders

FROM: U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues

U.S. Department of Homeland Security,USCIS

SUBJECT: Teleconference on Guatemala Adoptions

Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am (EDT)

The U.S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues Adoptions Division would like to invite prospective adoptive parents, adoption service providers, and adoption stakeholders with an interest in Guatemala adoptions to a teleconference with the Office of Children’s issues and the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to discuss the status of intercountry adoption processing in Guatemala. The focus of the call will be primarily to provide an updated outlook for resolution of the remaining “grandfathered” adoption cases involving U.S. citizens. This update will include information from a recent trip to Guatemala during which USCIS and the Office of Children’s Issues met with Guatemalan government officials for updates on the status of “grandfathered” adoption cases still pending in Guatemala.

Please join us for this call to learn more about adoption processing in Guatemala.

To join the call –

If you are calling from within the United States, please dial: 1-888-363-4749

If you are calling from outside the United States, please dial: 1-215-446-3662

The passcode for all callers is: 6276702

Ethiopia Adoption Alert

LMI Admin | Wednesday, March 09, 2011 | Links to this post | 1 Comment
Ethiopia Adoption Alert

Adoption Alert

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
__________________________________

Government of Ethiopia Plans Major Slow-Down in Adoption Processing

March 9, 2011

Citing the need to work on quality and focus on more important strategic issues, the Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will reduce to a maximum of five the number of adoption cases it processes per day, effective March 10, 2011. Under Ethiopian adoption procedures, MOWCYA approves every match between prospective adoptive parents and an Ethiopian child before that case can be forwarded for a court hearing. The U.S. Embassy is working with Ethiopian government officials and adoption agencies to learn more about this change in procedures. We will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Given MOWCYA's current caseload, the U.S. Embassy anticipates that this change could result in an overall decline in case processing of some 90 percent. If this change is implemented as proposed, we expect, that parents who have begun the process of adopting from Ethiopia but have not yet been matched with a child could experience significant delays. It is not clear if this change in procedures would have any significant impact on cases in which MOWCYA has already approved matches.

Prospective adoptive parents should remain in close contact with their adoption service provider to obtain updates on individual cases.

The Embassy's Adoptions Unit can be reached at consadoptionaddis@state.gov.

A Day Makes A Difference

Anne Bentley | Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
Two adoptions have delivered two very different experiences. Although both resulted in something wonderful, there’s no doubt one experience greatly influenced the other. Despite being pragmatic through and through, I dove into our adoptions with an open heart. I believe that openness got me through my first day in Aktobe and home with our oldest daughter 3 years ago.

I dreamt about it and thought about it constantly, wondering what those magical moments would be like meeting my child for the first time. Then it happened and it wasn’t anything like I’d expected, even after reading about others’ experiences and being coached on all the plausible scenarios. Looking back, I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for that day or moment, really.

A few years later, and I can recall every precious moment of that first encounter with incredible fondness. But the first 24 hours afterward, I was hardly focused on the good stuff. I was devastated by what I couldn’t control and what wasn’t going to be based on the ill-conceived picture I’d painted in my head. Even then, I realized I should have known better because many things in life don’t go as planned.

Rewind to July 2007. Two near-missed flights, a couple of intense pat downs and 36 hours behind on sleep, we hit the proverbial ground running until we finally arrived in Aktobe, Kazakhstan. It seems like we slept for only an hour before we were on our way to the baby house to meet our daughter. The whole experience was surreal from the dusty, bumpy ride there to the eerie pre-Soviet-era building that housed our child. All this was hardly as intimidating as the raw emotions we encountered on the front steps of the door from a couple who had just learned that the child they'd met the day before was being adopted by another family. Because they hadn’t agreed to adopt the baby the day they'd met her, she was open to other families. They offered a warning about what we could expect inside, but I didn’t need it. The pain in their expressions scared me more.

Finally inside, we listened unintelligently as our team spoke in a ping pong of rapid Russian. Already a little disoriented by the language barrier, I remember the place smelling of heavy paint fumes and several very intense women walking by us with stern expressions and odd looking hats. Then there was a parade of at least ten babies for the Chinese couple in search of a son with long fingers – a sign of intelligence we were told. I think my excitement peeked here as I watched each of these beautiful little bundles cross my path. I assumed our experience would be much the same. I was wrong.

We quickly filed into a dark 8x8 ft. room, no bigger than my cubicle at work, with our coordinator, two translators, a nurse and a doctor. I remember feeling like an animal on display at the zoo. All eyes were on me and my reaction. I was nervous and my adrenaline was on overdrive. In comes a nanny with the first child. They place her tininess in my arms and I melt a little, until they tell me she's 16 months (9 months older than she looks) and suffers from infantile syphilis. Our coordinator, likely noting my sadness, tells our translator to say, "this child is not for you." With that, the nanny removes her from my arms and carries her out of the room. It all happens so fast that I barely manage the two words - she's beautiful - in the mix.

Still slightly in shock after meeting the first child, the second child enters the room. We never even had a chance to hold her. She was easily two years old, scared out of her mind, and rocking back and forth so violently in her caregiver’s arms that I thought she might fall to the ground. Like the first child, she also has an incurable illness; one I can no longer recall. Again, our coordinator announces "this child is not for you" and with that she’s gone. But the visual of her hadn't left me yet. It was probably at this point in the process (emotions and sleeplessness running high) that I wanted to call it off. Mentally, I was drained and didn’t think I could put on a strong front any longer. Our request for a child under 12 months with mild medical conditions we could support at home didn’t seem to be here. And this experience in no way matched up with the one I'd imagined, making everything more difficult to process.

All bad news for the next child we met. Toddling into the room, no sooner did we glance her way than she hid behind her nanny’s pant leg and cried. A couple minutes later she let me pick her up and quickly buried her head in my shoulder. She was terrified of my husband, but curious too. She'd peek, cry and hide. I don't think either one of us got to see her face for more than a few seconds at a time. In the midst of the baby's sobs, the doctor told us about her health, which was better than the previous children we'd seen. Assuming we'd see more children because her age range of 16 months fell outside of our paperwork, we didn't ask a lot of questions. No sooner did I mentally dismiss her than our translator said, "this child is for you." I think it was intended to be a question, but it sounded more like a statement. Not knowing how to politely ask if more children were on their way, the door closed and we were left alone to discuss our interest in this child - the last child we would meet. Our conversation was probably one of the most heartfelt and tearful we'd ever had. I wanted to run, but fortunately my husband wasn't ready to give up. Our team quickly reappeared sensing our anxiety and, stunned, my husband agreed that we would begin the bonding process with the baby the next day. We left the baby house in a state of shock and I cried more than I've ever cried in my life, trying to decide if I was willing to miss out on the baby time I so desperately wanted and bring home a toddler instead. Still undecided, I agreed to spend time bonding with the child the next day.

Thank God because within seconds of seeing our daughter walk into the room, I was absolutely in love. It’s hard for me to admit, even to myself, that I had this type of reaction. And I’ll never tell our daughter this. But what I do know from my experience is that sometimes a day makes a difference.

Here's what I would have missed out on had I said no that day. A kind-hearted, eternally happy, polite little girl with a passion for learning new things and an inquisitiveness that has helped her test out of her grade level on more than one occasion. She's a beautiful dancer, incredible soccer player and an aspiring little artist. Almost five, she dreams of growing up to become an ice-skating princess with magical powers. And I believe she’ll do it. And although the experience of meeting our younger child played out nothing like the first - we saw healthier infants and I knew my child the instant I saw her - we probably would have missed out on this child altogether because we wouldn't have pursued the adoption in the first place. To think my children wouldn't be mine had I never had this experience makes every part of it worthwhile.


--Melanie Hill

Uganda Adoption Information Teleconference

Little Miracles International | Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
What: Why Uganda? Uganda Adoption Information Teleconference
Date: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Time: 7:30-8:30 PM Central Time
Where: Little Miracles Adoption Teleconference Line

LMI's Executive Director has just returned from a 5 week trip to Uganda! We cannot wait to let you know all about our program! Lori Scott has spent a total of 9 weeks in the last 6 months in Uganda to bring you a program we are happy and thankful for. We hope you can be a part of this call and decide whether Ugandan adoption is for your family.

If you're interested in adopting from Uganda, please join us on this call! You will learn about the Ugandan adoption process, current time-lines, children available, and most updated news. Learn about Little Miracles, and how our adoption agency works with families through the international adoption process. You will learn all about this wonderful country and the lovely orphaned children desperately needing homes in Uganda.

There will be a question and answer session during this call.


We would be honored to have you on this call! Please come to see if adopting from Uganda would be a perfect fit for your family!
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History presents a new exhibit, Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China. In distinctively Chinese settings, guests will "meet" 4 Chinese children and learn more about their culture. The exhibit uses art and media to immerse visitors into Chinese culture while dispelling stereotypes and demystifying China.

10am-5pm daily. $14 adults; $10 seniors and kids 2-12; members free.

2010 Adoption Statistics

Anne Bentley | Monday, February 07, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
USCIS recently published their adoption statistics for 2010. The detailed report shows that the trend in international adoptions continues downward, from a peak of nearly 23,000 international adoptions completed in 2004 to just over 11,000 completed last year. While adoptions from top sending countries like China and Russia continue to decline, other countries have shown a marked increase in the number of adoptions.

The number of adoptions from Ethiopia grew again in 2010 but is leveling off after years of rapid increases. Since the Ministry of Justice in Bulgaria has started meeting regularly and giving out referrals the number of adoptions there more than doubled from 2009 and should continue to grow.

Despite wait times of over 4 years for many families, China remained the top sending country for international adoptions, followed by Ethiopia. Russia and South Korea remained the 3rd and 4th most popular sending countries. Due to its inability to meet Hague Convention obligations, Guatemala was replaced by Ukraine as the fifth most popular sending country.
Over 1000 Haitian orphans were issued special humanitarian visas following the earthquake which are not counted in the total numbers for Haiti.

Many factors have contributed to the drop in numbers of international adoption, from the financial crisis to longer wait times for referrals. As countries continue to implement new adoption regulations and as the financial picture continues to improve we hope to see an uptick in adoptions for 2011.

Giving Up

Anne Bentley | Wednesday, February 02, 2011 | Links to this post | 1 Comment

Adoptive parents give up a lot during the journey to their child. And while most people look at adoption as a gift to the child (of a family, stability, a future) we mustn't forget that the children--all adopted children--give up parts of themselves as they blend into their new families, cultures and lives. Let's do a little exercise, which I found on Shaun Groves's website. Number your paper from one to ten and follow along...

First, write down the name of the most significant person in your life.

1. Jim

Next, write down your most important role.

2. Mom

Now, write down your greatest support group. This might be friends, family, church--wherever you turn and/or whoever you lean on when you need to.

3. Emily

Write down your heritage.

4. Caucasian American

Now, write down the word 'Knowledge.' This represents what you know and what helps you get through your everyday tasks.

5. Knowledge

Write down your favorite place.

6. Home

Write down 'Cultural Information.' This represents everything you know about your culture.

7. Cultural Information

Now write down 'Resources.' This represents everything you own that has a value--material possessions.

8. Resources

Now, write down 'Values.' This represents your moral and ethical beliefs, faith, concepts of right and wrong, priorities, etc.

9. Values

Finally, write down the activity that bring you the most joy.

10. Watching my kids learn and grow.

Quite a list, right? This is the core of your being--everything from your cultural identity to your emotional pillars. Although it is hard to boil anyone's essence down to a list of 10 things, this list is a good start.

Now, which four things on the list could you live without? Put a line through them.

1. Jim
2. Mom
3. Emily
4. Caucasian American
5. Knowledge
6. Home
7. Cultural Information
8. Resources
9. Values
10. Watching my kids learn and grow.


Very well. Now, mark out two more.

1. Jim
2. Mom
3. Emily
4. Caucasian American
5. Knowledge
6. Home
7. Cultural Information
8. Resources
9. Values
10. Watching my kids learn and grow.


Great! Now two more. Two more things that make up who you are have to be marked off.

Can you even do it? As I pondered my own list I found it almost impossible to mark off six items; forget about going on with an additional two.

Now imagine this from an adopted child's perspective. What bit of grief and anxiety I felt as I tried to imagine my life without the things that truly define me are exponentially compounded for an adopted child. Whether adopted as an infant and looking for answers as they grow, or adopted as an older child and fully knowledgeable about what they have given up, it is important for all adoptive parents to realize the feelings of loss and mourning that their children can experience.

It Takes A Village

minime0910 | Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | Links to this post | 1 Comment
By: LMI guest blogger, Erin Herman

John Lennon once famously wrote,
There's Nothing You Can Do That Can't Be Done, All You Need Is Love.

Well, that may have been true for old Lenny, but I am willing to bet he never adopted a baby as a single parent. Those of us that have been down that road know that, while love is crucial, it isn't all you need. You have to have energy, education, patience, financial stability, health, and, maybe most importantly of all, a strong support system.

The old African proverb says It Takes A Village To Raise A Child. Support systems, like villages, come in many shapes and forms. Some of us depend on sisters, brothers, neighbors and coworkers. Others rely on our church family and friends. Still others join cyber-support groups. When I began my adoption process, I knew I would need to rely on my friends and family to help ease the transition into Single Mamahood, but I had no idea how much I would come to count on my other village, my tight-knit group of Single Adoptive Moms, for support and guidance through the roller coaster of adopting and parenting as a single Mama.

We originally met three years ago through (where else?) Facebook, finding each other on our agency's fan page. When we realized we were all in the Cincinnati area, and all adopting babies from the same Central Asian country, we immediately started getting together for weekly lunches. In those early days, we would sit around nice restaurants, leisurely dawdling over coffee and salads, discussing dossiers and social workers. Flash forward to present day, where we meet every Sunday at a different kind of restaurant. It's loud, chaotic, and and not a white table cloth in sight. Yes, we now meet at a McDonald's Playland, swapping parenting tips and hand me down clothes as we simultaneously kiss boo boos and refill the juice cups of our beautiful children.


My single adoptive mom friends understand me in a way that others do not. They understand how physically, emotionally, and financially draining this alternative path to parenting can be. They understand my commitment to my child's cultural education, and my need for her to know and love her birth country. They have been there for me through the challenging times and through the rewarding ones, too. When I traveled overseas to adopt my daughter, I talked to them almost every day. From 7500 miles away, they shared my joy, and allayed my fears.

" What if she doesn't ever feel like my daughter?" I worried. "
" She will." they insisted.

And of course, we all laughed knowingly over Skype, when, just hours later, I danced joyfully around my apartment with my daughter in my arms, whistling "Yes Sir, That's My Baby." Because of course, she was.

Being a single mom is hard. We are given TWO biological parents for a reason. Someone to drive, someone to navigate. Someone to cook, and someone to do the dishes. Still, most of the time, everything goes according to plan. It is possible to independently juggle a job, a child, a house, etc. and not feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I even make it to the gym every once and a while. But then there are those days when I oversleep and the car doors are frozen shut and the dog is sick and the baby is teething. It is on those days that I reach for the phone and call my village. And they are there, without judgment or hesitation, validating me and supporting me as I navigate the I'm Not Super Mom Guilt Complex that inevitably comes with single parenting. My support system of friends has also helped me see the advantages of single parenting. As my single-adoptive-mom friend E famously says,

"Yes, single parenting is hard, but I like that I don't have to constantly compromise with someone else on all the parenting decisions. If I decide its stay-in-our-pajamas-eat-cupcakes-and-watch-cartoons Day, who is gonna stop me?!"

A valid point, but also it is important to remember that it is not a sign of her weakness or an indication of failure to reach out for assistance and support. After all, it was John Lennon who also famously wrote, I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends. While I love my Single Adoptive Mom friends, we don't agree on everything. One of us is religious, the others are not. One of us doesn't let her child watch any TV, I've been known to let my 18 month old watch a minute or two of The Bachelor (please don't tell my social worker). But we do agree on one thing. Being a single parent is the toughest job we have ever loved, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Dalton, age 3, Hannah age 1, and Kamilla, age 2, all adopted from Kazakhstan through Little Miracles.
This evening at 7:30pm Central Time, we will explore the joys and challenges of adopting the older child. Email info@littlemiracles.org for the dial-in number!

Older children are near to LMI's heart. They are the children often left behind, through no fault of their own. They are the children who want nothing more than to be loved. They know what a parent is, they want parents.

When I traveled to Kazakhstan, I was touched by two older children. As we adopted our baby, a family was there adopting an 8 year old. I'll never forget the transformation of that little girl in the month we spent together; you can see it in the photos and videos I took throughout. A child who looked at her feet and whispered the first few days was jamming with an air guitar like my now 8 year old daughter does.

The second child who touched my heart is the one who led me to my role as Program Coordinator at Little Miracles upon my return. A 4 year old boy approached me on the orphanage playground, and looked at the baby in my arms. He asked the same question over and over and over.....we looked at our translator for help. "Will you be my Mama and Papa? I want one!" That was it, folks, my lightbulb moment filled with guilt, sadness, and motivation.

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to help many families through the adoption process. Each is amazing. We can all agree that the best communications we receive from families is the recognition of new trust between a child, and the new parent.

In the spirit of preparation, education, and realistic expectations, please join in the call!!

Andrea Jacobs
Mom to Haley and Mitchell, Kazakhstan Little Miracles

When Looks Matter

Anne Bentley | Monday, January 17, 2011 | Links to this post | 2 Comments

We all know looks don't matter . . . until they do. Adopted or not, we begin to evaluate our parents more critically from a young age noticing our similarities and differences. I remember thinking, I couldn't possibly be the child of my biological parents. Even though we shared obvious physical characteristics, I wasn't so sure we did. And we certainly didn't act alike. So how could I possibly be related?

Our Kazakh daughter, adopted in 2007, has been pointing out and comparing our physical traits since her third birthday. One day, she proudly announced she looked just like her daddy since both share brown hair and brown eyes. It was clear then she could only see the similarities. A few months later she cried because she didn't have polka dots (freckles) like mommy. Telling her how lucky she was to have clear, beautiful olive skin wasn't much help at the time. Later she started to notice our not so subtle differences in hair, eye and skin color. She never said it with sadness, just interest. Maybe I missed an opportunity to tell her about her birthmother then and how they looked alike, but it didn't feel like the right time or something she could really understand yet. Teaching her about embracing everyone's differences, from the curls in their hair to the glasses on their face or skin color seemed more important and relevant at the time.

Approaching the glorious age of four brought all kinds of new questions with it. Sure, we'd talked about her adoption since the time she'd come home with us and experiencing her sister's adoption helped everything sink in. But her fascination with her own looks and how they differed from ours seemed to be at the forefront of her curiosity. I’d begun to notice her hard stares when Asian families were nearby and waited for the question, "why do I look more like their family than mine?" I attempted to address it, although it never came - not until recently when she asked, "do I look like the nannies that took care of me at the baby house?" I quickly pulled out her adoption photos and showed her that she resembled a few of them and the Kazakh people in general, but also let her know that no one else in the world looks just like her. She's one of kind. We all are. Individuality aside, I think it's reassuring to her just knowing others look like her. It’s possible I’ve missed some underlying psychology here, but I tend to think at four her view’s a little more simplistic (for now anyway). Given her new comfort level with her visual identity, she's now very quick to let us know when someone looks like her. All good news for her exploratory nature.

Looks can matter to parents too. I had this preconceived notion of what I thought my children would look like before I knew I couldn't physically have them. It was hard to surrender that fantasy, but I did. I think a lot parents go through this and carry feelings of guilt for letting our minds take us there. For me personally, adopting our children helped erase that longing. I can't imagine my children looking any other way or more beautiful for that matter. I know that telling someone this is vastly different than experiencing it. But I think you'd be hard pressed to find an adoptive family that didn't feel the same. Our children are our children regardless of who delivered them. Connectivity of physical appearance has nothing to do with the bonds that form between us.

So whether you have an adopted child or you're talking about adopting a child that doesn't look like the rest of your family, talk openly about your differences and embrace them early on. Once you've acknowledged and celebrated your family’s uniqueness - skin color, eye color and ethnicity become another set of features that make your family your beautiful family.

--Melanie Hill
The Hill family adopted 2 girls from Kazakhstan
The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) is hosting a series of webinars about the federal Adoption Tax Credit, beginning in January 2011. During these webinars, participants will learn the steps they will need to take to file for the U.S. federal adoption tax credit, whether they adopted in 2010 or as far back as 2005. NACAC’s staff, Josh Kroll, will explain the credit, how it recently became refundable, and what parents need to do to take advantage of the credit. The session will focus on families who adopted children with special needs from foster care but will be applicable to all adoptive families as well.




Adoption Notice: Ukraine

Anne Bentley | Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Links to this post | 0 Comments
January 12, 2011

U.S. Embassy Kyiv has learned the proposed bill to place a moratorium on intercountry adoptions in the Ukrainian
parliament has once again been postponed. There has been no announcement of a rescheduled date.

In order to best prepare for all possibilities in Ukraine, Embassy Kyiv encourages any prospective adoptive parents with cases currently open in Ukraine to contact the U.S. Embassy Kyiv Adoption Unit (kyivadoptions@state.gov) with their case status and contact information. The Embassy maintains a listserv to communicate with U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents and will use this to send updates as information is available.

The U.S. Embassy Kyiv and the Department of State will continue to post updates on their websites as new information is available.
Join us on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m. Central time as we discuss the joys and challenges of adopting a child in this age group. As many countries have fewer young children to adopt they are focusing on finding homes for the overlooked orphans--those who are age 5 and older. Andrea Jacobs will lead this discussion and we will also hear from a family who recently adopted a 6 year old boy through LMI. Please send and email to info@littlemiracles.org with the subject "OLDER CHILD" to join this teleconference.
Happy New Year! I hope 2010 treated you well and that 2011 will be even better. If you are still planning on starting an adoption we have a great teleconference coming up on January 11 at 7:30 p.m. Central time.

Adoption research is overwhelming! Join LMI's Andrea Jacobs as she discusses the criteria impacting your adoption decisions: current overall timelines, time spent in-country, ages of children available, ethnicity, referral method, etc. The goal is to find the right adoption program and, ultimately, your child. There will be a question and answer question following the teleconference, too.

If you would like to sign up for this teleconference please send an email to info@littlemiracles.org with the subject: GETTING STARTED. We look forward to hearing from you!