Bracelets for Our Brothers
Help Us Bring Our Brothers Home
This is not a political blog entry, I promise.
Posted on November 28th, 2016

I'm going to write this blog entry in factual terms, so as to not confuse anyone into thinking I am making a political statement.  This is not a political editorial.  We live in a very polarized country right now, and so I am speaking only about facts and figures in this entry in an effort to discuss International Adoption.

Before I get to the facts and figures stuff, though, I will talk a little bit from the perspective of someone who has a great passion for adoption of any kind, someone who is not naive about the reality of the choices our family has made, and as a mother-- a mother with strong protective feelings about her children.  

Before you adopt, be advised that having a thick skin will help you a lot.  People will say very hurtful, ignorant, and down-right mean things.  Sometimes it is intentional, but usually it is not.  Most often, I have found that it comes from a place of being misinformed or uninformed.  I used to get really angry about some of the things that have been said to me or about me with regards to the choices I've made about building a family through International Adoption.  However, after realizing that most of the comments were made from a complete lack of understanding, I learned to calm down and use it as an opportunity to respectfully educate about a topic I feel very strongly about: ADOPTION.

One of the most common questions we get is why we didn't adopt domestically.  There are many reasons we didn't choose this route for our family (this is a great blog about this issue), but we respect domestic adoption and foster parenting as much as we do international adoption.  But, at the end of the day, every family needs to make choices that are best for them, not to please others.  And, my faith lead to me to adopt my two daughters, so that is the most important reason.  At the end of the day, I don't owe anyone an explanation as to why we chose the route we chose, but I do have to accept the fact that not everyone will approve, support, or like the decisions we've made.

Neil and I are not naive, and neither are our children.  Our children, although not fluent in English, are fluent in body language.  Neil and I are fully aware that many people do not support adoption of any kind.  In fact, if you don't believe me, Google it "anti-adoption" and you will get thousands of hits-- Facebook groups, message boards, articles etc.  Many of the articles and groups are focused on perceived unfair custody issues domestically,  government involvement in the lives of citizens, and the cost.  Many of these things I'm certain we could all agree on, but perhaps not a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater? 

The second most common question we get is "how much did you pay for your kids?"  Well, now you know.  We spent about $40,000 to bring our girls home, and we will spend about the same to get the boys home.  Now, out of that cost, a large percentage goes to our government and the Bulgarian government.  Very little goes to the people actually facilitating the adoption, and even less goes towards helping humanitarian efforts in actual orphanages.

Neil and I also understand that by making this website, going on the news, and putting our story out there, we are also opening ourselves up to criticism.  We believe it is very important to hear the perspectives of others.  And there are some valid points that are made: 1. there are children that need homes here (yes, I've addressed that already), 2. your children are too old ,have too many problems, and they will never amount to anything (sorry but I've got the empirical evidence to the contrary) 3. just have a child, it is a lot cheaper (sigh, but I don't want to).

Then there are the points that are ill-informed, so I am going to address some of those with facts.  Again, this is not political, it is not an opinion piece about immigration, taxes, refugees, whatever.  It's just not.  I do have opinions about all of those things, but they are just that-- opinions.  This entry is facts.

I'm going to address this one head-on.  This is a screen shot of a comment that was posted by an individual (don't know him) on WACH Fox 57's posting of our feature.  I know that reading internet comments is a dangerous practice, and I usually don't engage, but this person is sadly misinformed.  Facts below:

While I am glad that the majority of people in the world view adoption positively and as an act of a willing set of parents trying to improve the quality of life of a child(ren) by providing the stability of a family unit, and I am grateful to have some cheerleaders who took this person to task, he is simply misinformed on so many levels.

We could have a long philosophical discussion about who is an immigrant and who is not and why.  Not going to do that here.  But what I will say is this: our children are LEGAL CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.  They hold legal citizenship, have Social Security Numbers, will be taxed just like everyone else when they are old enough to work, and you better believe we are raising productive members of society who will contribute to this man's Social Security benefits, just as I do.  

Anyway, let me share a little information about this:  

Neil and I paid thousands of dollars to USCIS Immigration during our adoption process, and will do so again the second time.  We were fingerprinted by the FBI multiple times (because, you know, fingerprints change), and went through a biometric process with USCIS almost identical to someone seeking a green card or citizenship.  And, that's just what we did on our end of the pond.  

There are many legal technicalities and intricacies that go on to ensure that children brought in to this country are legal citizens.  There is also a lot of red tape that costs a lot of money with very little to show for it other than the process taking a very long time.  Our dealings with our own government agencies were some of the most arduous and archaic parts of our first adoption, and will likely be the same this time.  So, in this respect, our family sort of feels like we "paid our dues" so to speak.  Oh!  This just in, USCIS has increased its fees this year, so this process will cost more in our second adoption.

Let me also share with you about the Hague Convention.  There is a lot I could say about the Hague, and a lot of opinions I have about its effectiveness (check the facts and figures, international adoptions are down about 75% from 2008), but again, we are just going to talk about facts here.  The facts are this:

-- before being placed on an international adoption registry my children had to be legally removed from their home and the birth family had to be confirmed as being the actual parents, and had to be informed of their rights.

-- without going in to person detail about the lives of our children, the correct legal procedures in this regard were taken, and on multiple occasions.

-- once parental rights have been revoked or relinquished, the child must be listed on domestic registries and must be rejected a certain number of times before they are eligible for international adoption

Let me break this one down for you: my children were visited by many Bulgarian families who decided they didn't want to adopt my children.  My children remember this.  They can vividly describe the strangers who came and inspected them, ultimately rejecting them.

-- so basically, before a child is listed on the international adoption registry, NO ONE in their home country has come forward to offer to adopt them.  Again, I am stating only facts here, so I will refrain from pleading my case about our moral and ethical obligation to children of any nationality blah blah.  But, what I am trying to illustrate here is that there is a need, and we met that need legally and it was a painful, costly ordeal.

I don't believe this man is heartless.  I do believe he is misinformed.  I do believe that he has not done the hours upon hours of research that I have about domestic adoption, fostering, international adoption, and the pending potential changes to international adoption that could have intense ramifications on the process.  I do hope that he will try to see my children as legal citizens and try to be more sympathetic to our family, but more importantly, I hope he can see them as human beings that don't really need a label at all.  They are just Genny and Neil's freaking awesome kids.  They are Evvie and Stella.  That's all the labeling we need right now.


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