The Parents Network >
I am considering adopting an international special needs
older child (no older than 5), and am wondering if families
who have adopted international SN children would be willing
to share their experiences. That's a tall order, I know, so
let me be specific: I am wondering what the emotional toll
- or reward - has been for you.
It seems that whenever I read adoptive blogs, they either
fall into the ''most wonderful experience ever'' category, or
''this really sucks, the child is stimming, tantruming and
stealing'' category. In the case of the latter blogs, I am
left wondering if these parents enjoy one single moment of
parenthood - it seems like an overall nightmare, even if
they stay committed.
What has your experience been like, how did you come to
adopt and what would you advise prospective parents?
thank you for your input!
I adopted my daughter at 14 months from Ukraine. Although
she was perfect, it turned out that she had ADD, and the
other two girls we know who were adopted from the same
orphanage had ADHD. She is bright, but continues to have
learning issues. Therefore, any child from another country
may have special needs, although they are not defined as
such. Most issues are learning disabilities, but some kids
have heartbreaking emotional issues. Just remember that you
are adopting a child who in most cases has had no early
intervention to assess or help them with their disability.
I'd be more than happy to speak to you about my
family's 'special needs' international adoption!
a great decision
I have a biological son and looking into adopting a healthy
infant for our second child. I'm interested in hearing
from anyone who has gone through the process of adopting
from Korea or domestically (we are a mixed Korean/Caucasian
couple). Is there any particular agency or route to take
that will result in a quicker adoption process, advice on
what pitfalls to avoid, or any advice you have in general.
Please excuse me if I sound naive!
From the mid-80s through the early 90s my mother was the head of
Korean adoption for WACAP - a large adoption agency based out of
Washington State. Korean adoptions were by far their largest program
back then, although I understand that international Korean adoption
has scaled back considerably since that time. WACAP was affiliated
with Holt - founded by the legendary Holt family who helped start
adoption programs in the US post Korean War. I actually shared a
cabin with Grandma Holt at the agency's annual Korea Camp for adoptive
All that said, what my mother loved about WACAP was that it was well
known for being an especially ethical agency - they only placed
children who were documented orphans from trusted orphanages. In
fact, they were one of only four agencies allowed to place Romanian
orphans after the country shut down adoptions. And people also really
appreciated the fact that, with the exception of my family, all the
employees of the agency, at that time, were adoptive parents.
During my mother's tenure, the best way to adopt a healthy infant in
the shortest amount of time was to adopt a child with a correctable
disability. (Cleft-lip and palate being an example). Special needs
can mean a lot of things - and many big issues (like emotional
disabilities) are invisible at first. I would urge you to re-consider
accepting only a healthy infant if you don't want to wait years.
Do look up WACAP and good luck!
We went the Domestic route and found it to be a great
choice. Yes, there are plenty of babies available
domestically! We are a Chinese/Caucasian couple and we
matched with a PI child. We did this through Adoption
Connection in SF. The costs were low (we received ALL of our
money back through Tax credits). Our waiting time was not
long and we had a good experience with the agency. Friends
who went international had to pay MUCH more and including
time and travel to far away places. Our agency does a great
job of screening and counseling prospective birthmothers so
that there is very little risk of problems with
relinqishment. Of course I understand wanting to adopt a
child of the same ethnicity but I think the financial and
logistical barriers are large.
I totally recommend adoption.com forums. There's one
specifically about Korea adoption:
Does anyone have any recent experience with international adoption
agencies? We're looking at Holt International but the most recent
recommendation on this site is from 2002. Any advice is much appreciated!
Although we adopted nearly 17 years ago, I can still
recommend Bay Area Adoption Service (BAAS) without
reservation. I recently had a wonderful conversation with
Janet Shirley, their overseas program coordinator, and she's
just as caring and enthusiastic as she was when she helped
us. Their executive director, Andrea Stawitcke, has
successfully helped BAAS forge its way through the
accreditation process under the Hague International Adoption
Treaty. And finally, my best friend and fellow adoptive
parent has just joined the BAAS Board so I know that it is
still strongly committed to enabling, supporting and
standing with the parents who come through the BAAS doors.
Check them out at www.baas.org. I wish you the best in
finding your child.
It probably depends where you are adopting from. We are
using AAI (Adoption Advocates International) for our
adoption from Ethiopia. We've found them to be very good.
They have the children's interests in mind most importantly.
Communication isn't 100%, but they also have lower fees. I'm
mostly glad I chose them because I feel they have extremely
ethical practices, which is important in the world of
international adoption. Best luck on your journey!
I didn't use Holt but as an adoptive parent have a few ideas
to help you with your research: 1)Parent discussion groups,
such as the ''Adoption Agency Research'' Yahoo
a Yahoo Group for the country you are interested in adopting
from. There are many groups and these are the most current
and honest sources of information 2) I would recommend
actually talking to someone as opposed to just getting
feedback from this board. Ask Holt to provide you
references, people who have adopted with them recently,
which they will be happy to do. While the agency will only
use references who had positive experiences, I found that
most people were very candid in their discussions. Also,
selection of an agency is a personal choice and what works
for one person doesn't work for another. I can say that
Holt has a great reputation, but you need more than that to
make your decision. Best of luck to you -- the international
adoption picture changes constantly and you are right to do
My husband and I are researching international adoption agencies.
Specifically, we are looking to find an agency to help us with a Chinese
adoption. I have seen that both Holt International and ACCEPT have been
reviewed by BPN, but the posting are old. I would appreciate more recent
feedback, and ideally feedback from people that perhaps looked into both
agencies during their adoption process.
Both Holt and ACCEPT have good reputations, but we used
Bay Area Adoption
Services (BAAS) and could not have asked for a better fit for our adoption.
They bring home many children from China. You can reach them at (650)
964-3800. Their website is www.baas.org.
When we were starting the adoption process we looked at both BAAS (Bay area
adoption services) and Heartsent in Orinda and attended both their
orientations. Talking to the director of Heartsent, Val, she was reassuring
and said that the adoption agencies in the bay area are good and that there
really isn't a ''bad'' choice, which I think is true. We eventually chose
and were extremely pleased with their program. They are very
experienced, and were extremely helpful above and beyond what we expected.
We started the adoption process in July 2005 and were done with homestudy by
mid September 2005(we had a lovely social worker. We ended up switching
countries after completing homestudy. Heartsent was so supportive and very
accommadating. We picked up our lovely daughter the following February
2006. We have friends that have used BAAS and were very pleased. Check out
the different agencies and you'll know where you feel most comfortable. I
can say that Heartsent
helped ALOT with the paperchase, and also was very convienient for us
because of the location. Good luck it is so worth all the effort.
I didn't use the agencies you mention, but if you are considering adoption
from China, you should be aware that the waits for a child there are growing
exponentially. We received our referral in Sept. 2006, for our daughter
after waiting one year, but people getting referrals now have waited about 2
years.The wait keeps growing because China keeps matching a smaller number
of people each month. At the current pace, people starting out may wait 4
years or more. Here's more info: http://chinaadoptionforecast.com/
If you are really set on adopting from China, I urge you to choose an agency
that works with more than one country so that you have other options. Also,
make sure to ask prospective agencies about the growing waits. Many agencies
are not being completely honest about this and you will only want to work
with an agency that is up front. Any agency painting a positive picture is
not doing you any favors.
There are other programs out there, such as Vietnam, that you may want to
My adopted 5 year old daughter is of a mixed-raced background
and I really want her to understand where she comes from. She's
quite exotic and two of the cultures are fairly obscure, one in
particular, Yemen. I've located a website called
www.Asiaforkids.com that I can get wonderful books suited for
children with lots of pictures of two of three of her cultures
but I haven't been able to locate anything appropriate for a
child about Yemen. On the website I was able to find age-
appropriate literature with photographs about Saudi Arabia but
nothing on Yemen. So my question is this, would I been
confusing her by showing pictures of a people and culture I
suspect have great similarities or are the Yemen people so
drastically different that I should keep looking? I don't
think we will be traveling to that part of world anytime soon
but really would like her to have an understanding of her make-
up since I can't provide any personal references
-thanks for any advice!
You are so right. Teaching any children about their cultural
heritage, whether you share that culture with them or not, is a
very important thing. Since your daughter is 5, she is at an
age where she and you can do the research together. The great
thing about the Bay Area is that it attracts people from every
corner of the earth. So, you don't have to stop at images and
facts of Saudi Arabia just because that's more common. You and
she can create a ''Where in the World...''-type project that will
turn both of you into super sleuths trying to find as many
facts as you can about Yemen's history and culture. Maybe you
want to start with the Yemen consulate in SF.
Also, as you are finding these things out, be sure to look not
only for differences but also for similarities between what
happens in Yemen and what happens in her other culture of birth
as well as her home culture, your home, where she now is part
of the family. You don't want to make her feel like she is so
exotic that she doesn't actually fit into her own family. If
you haven't already, connect with East Bay-based IPride
(www.ipride.org) whose work is bringing multicultural families
Ofra Haza was an incredible singer from Yemen. It doesn't solve your
might be something worth bringing into your home for cultural value and
Her albums spanned both traditional and dance. You might start with
Songs'' which is available on iTunes and other online sources (according
to the search I
I love her music and saw her in concert in the early 90s in San Francisco.
beautiful and her music uplifting and I think it would be a nice thing for
you and your
child to experience together
No advice. i just had to share something with you after reading
your post which made me smile.
My daughter's father is North African and I always tried to avoid
''white-bred'' environments and provide her with exposure to other
cultures but I didn't make a big deal out of it. I thought I had
Then she was 20 went to Morocco and told me how strange, in a
good way, it felt to be somewhere where ''everyone looked like
me''. That's when I realized how pitiful my efforts had been. So I
applaud you for your early, earnest concern.
Not totallly colorblind
I have zero knowledge about how to handle cross-cultural adoptions. But
oddball thought: the Eunice Cafe in Albany (Solano at Stannage) is run by
a very nice
Yemeni family. If all else fails, you could start stopping in for lunch
or coffee, get to
know them, and who knows, maybe they'd be able to help you out with some
Yemeni resources in the Bay Area.
Hmmm, this brings up some interesting issues you might want to consider:
First of all, a person's culture is not determined by their ethnicity, but
by the culture
in which they are reared.
Secondly, I can imagine that there may at least be periods in the life of
child where they just want to belong, and too much focus on their
feel a bit like they are being told they are not really a part of the
family, or the
culture in which they live - that they are an outsider in some way.
depends upon how you present the information, I'm just suggesting to be
considerate of this possibility, I'm not suggesting that you not bring it
All of this is NOT to say that ''you shouldn't'' introduce them to the
Yemeni of their
background, but I wonder if it might not make sense to put it in terms of
the cultures of your birth parents'' rather than ''these are YOUR
I don't know, perhaps I am way off base and an adult adoptee can correct
those are the thoughts that were provoked for me.
Hello, I am half Yemeni and I grew up in a multicultural
household. I think that it is very important and great that you
are instilling a sense of identity and understanding in regards
to your daughters heritage. During your quest to enrich her
knowlege of her heritage, I would be careful not to make her feel
too ''exotic'' or like er culture is ''obscure''. Having been
brought up in a multicultural family, I can say that sometimes we
tend to feel like we are falling in between the different
cultures rather than fitting in. As a child, the only place that
I ever felt completely normal and accepted was in my own
household. I think that you have a great opportunity to expose
her to not only objects and information about her heritage, but
to the people and community. I offer myself as a personal
reference when it comes to some aspects of the culture, but I
too, find it challenging to fully integrate into the community as
we are so few and very tight knit. Personally, I have found it
frustrating to be confused with and lumped under larger and more
common ethnicities. Yemen has such wonderful cultural gems that
may be hard to find, but once you do, you will appreciate them
and so will your daughter. I was so surprised at how much I loved
living in Yemen and what a great experience it was for myself and
my family. Please feel free to email me if you have any further
questions. I wish you the best of luck, and it sounds like you
are on the right track. Sincerely, Nydia
My husband and I are trying to gather information about international
adoptions. Does anyone know of reliable agencies that facilitate
Two months ago my husband and I adopted a beautiful child from
Guatemala! We used Adoptions International
in Philadelphia for
the main adoption (www.adoptionsintl.org) and Adopt
International in SF for the home study portion
(www.adoptinter.org). Both agencies work with Guatemala, Russia
and former Soviet Union countries, China and perhaps a few
others. While they differed, I was pleased with both agencies.
Please feel free to contact me if you'd like more info on my
experience with them.
Re the question about adopting from Brazil and adoption in general: I
have a friend, a single mom and economist, who adopted from
Brazil. After getting her Ph.D. here at UCB, she now lives in
Anchorage, Alaska now and I could get her e-mail address if you're
interested in communicating.
There are quite a few adoption websites which refer to agencies
helping people adopt internationally. There is also a good resource
catalog from Adoptive Families of America (AFA). I am adopting a child
through Alameda County. They have a program called MAPP (Model
Approaches to Partnerships in Parenting), which is a ten-week course
which paces you through the paperwork, helps you understand the
children and your own family in relation to adopting, and builds a
support group from the participants. The cost to adopt locally is
minimal (a few hundred $$), compared to 1000s of $$ for private or
agency adoption. There are advantages and disadvantages of going
through the county and getting a "local" child, but for the most part,
I have been very favorably impressed with my interactions with "the
There are over 120,000 kids in foster care in California right now,
and only perhaps 20 percent of them will be reunited with their birth
families. The rest need loving foster homes and eventually, permanent
homes. While some of the kids have special needs (e.g. medical
conditions, or psychological, emotional or physical damage), many of
them just need a safe home and a loving and committed family to help
them live happy lives. They are of all races and ages, including
newborns to older kids, and single kids or sibling sets. The county is
very open to people traditionally disadvantaged in adopting, including
single people, older parents, and gay/lesbian couples. They also need
foster parents for short or long-term care. To find out about the next
info session for Alameda County, the number is 510-268-2444, or the
local county adoption office is listed in the blue pages of your phone
Have you considered international adoption? There are many many infants
in need of loving homes, waiting either in orphanages or with foster
mothers. My husband and I are going to China next month to adopt a baby
girl. We've met many, many parents who've done this successfully. We're
working with an agency I highly recommend. It's called "ACCEPT" and is
listed in the yellow pages.
a U.S. citizen (born here) who adopted two children from Guatemala, and I
can guarantee you that they did *not* automatically become U.S. citizens.
You have to apply for their citizenship through a lengthy, expensive,
complicated process with INS. They then become naturalized citizens. I
completed the process for my older daughter when she was three, my younger
is still a Guatemalan citizen, with a Guatemalan passport, and I would
definitely not take her out of the U.S. until her citizenship is complete.
this page was last updated: Aug 20, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network