Thursday, June 30, 2011

Myth Busters-- Why don't you adopt from the States?

Ahh, the question that I'm sure all international adoptive parents get at one time or another during their process.  This one urks me just about as much as the one about getting paid to take our kids.  What?!  Okay, I'm here to clarify a few things about our adoptions and about how this whole thing works.  I seriously don't even know where to begin b/c there are so many questions we are asked time and time again.  I'll start w/ a few off hand and go from there.  Time to pull out myth busters.  Here goes.

1.  You can have as many kids as you'd like since they pay you for them. 

This my friends is myth # 1.  Let me make this abundantly clear...we do NOT and have NEVER been paid ONE SINGLE DIME for our children.  Ever.  We do NOT get paid a stipend to care for them.  These are internationally adopted children, they do not and will never come with a stipend per month.  Not a single penny.  They are ours to raise.  Ours to be responsible for. 

2.  They're medical care is paid for.  

I'm laughing right now.  I really am.  All of our kids are covered by my husband's insurance which we pay for every month.  We have copays like any other person on this planet.  Yes, they add up like crazy for us but we chose this life, not the fancy car or house life.  We live w/out the extravagance so that we can pay for their medical needs.  We do not receive free medical care.  We have $20 copays which if you have 7 to 10 kids sick in a week, you do the math!  It is hard sometimes w/ our medical costs for our kids.  We have gone to certain therapy sessions, learned what we needed and then done it ourselves at home w/ them.  We did this w/ Bojan.  We desperately want Nik to receive speech therapy.  They stopped.  Our insurance stopped.  We are fighting it currently.  Many are helping us fight it.  He needs this.  However, if insurance won't pay, we can't afford it.  I btw, am in the wrong profession.  I looked a the cost of these sessions & was shocked.  It does help him though & we are fighting it.  Again, we do NOT get free therapies or free medical care for any of our children.  They are our responsibility. 

3.  You don't need to fund raise, you get all the money back at tax time.  

Okay, if this were the case, I wouldn't still be paying off Yana and Alex's adoptions from years ago!  The tax credit, which is now a refund this year, does give you some of the money back towards your adoption expenses.  Does it pay for all of it?  Absolutely not.  You should not and can not rely on the tax refund to pay for your adoptions.  The way we funded our current set of adoptions for all pre-trip expense, fees, flights, first trip stays, etc. was through our tax refund from last year and some retirement funds.  We should be able to pay for the second trip flights.  Now, we still have to raise $4800 for the remainder of our adoption fees.  We currently do NOT have that money.  Praying we can raise that.  We have no cards we can put it on or anything.  We will be applying for some grants but there are no guarantees.  We've sold everything we can possibly sell.  I work to help defry adoption costs as well.  Anyhow, we desperately need to fundraise these next two months to make this adoption happen.  We can do it.  Whatever we receive back next year at tax time will go to pay back the retirement account and all the projects that were put on hold to do this adoption.  You know, like a new roof.  So please don't think tax refunds pay for all this.  They don't.

4.  You can adopt b/c you are rich.  

Please, someone pick me up off the floor.  I seriously can not believe that folks still think you have to be rich to adopt.  We go to yardsales, second handshops, outlet stores, food on discount racks, etc.  We do not waste.  We buy used cars.  We repair things ourselves.  Yes, we do have food on the table.  Yes, we do have a home.  Yes, we are considered "rich" by many others in the world.  However, we are not monetarialy rich by any stretch of the imagination.  I don't even have a cell phone folks.  You do not have to be rich to adopt.  Not a bit.  You must be available.  You must trust.  Most of the families adopting are no where near considered to be rich.  Yet, the countries you are adopting from do absolutely consider you rich Americans.  I had this conversation w/ an orphanage director two weeks ago and a translator.  We dispelled the myth quickly and told them how they got those orphanage donations.  That it was MANY that helped to raise those funds, not just us.  They honest to goodness were stunned.  No one had ever told them before that all us Americans were not rich and could buy anything we wanted.  I think they were shocked, I truly do. 

5.  You adopt other people's problems.

Okay, this one still bothers me.  Yes, we adopt special needs children at this house.  It is no secret.  I can tell you this though, they are by far NOT problems.  Shoot, the puppies are causing me more problems then my kids right now.  Seriously.  this comes more from the older generations.  I have heard it more than once.  They think that we are adopting the "rejects" of other countries.  I can not imagine how one could think that way.  These are not other people's problems that they didn't want.  Most of the time it is an issue of poverty or a woman being single, or many other factors.  Many times, there is not medical care for kids w/ special needs in other Eastern European countries.  Just the way it is.  We adopt kids, NOT problems.  We don't say and this is Alex w/ RAD, FAS, PTSD, Devel. Delays, one kidney, probable other mental health issues, etc.  No.  We say this is Alex, he's 10yo and our son.  We pretty much only discuss their dx's w/ their professionals or other parents of kids w/ needs like theirs.  Their schools for years did not know the long lists of dx's my kids had.  I wanted to know the child first.  So, do not ever say we are adopting someone's problems.  On the contrary.  We are adopting someone's special child that we were fortunate enough to parent.

6.  You're just buying them a sister/ brother.

Ooh, this one strikes to the core as well.  It hurts to think that folks still think we are "buying" our children.  We are NOT & have never bought our children.  We have paid fees for legal facilitation of our children.  For airfare, for lodging.  For those who birthed children, do we say you bought your children just b/c you paid the hospital fees?  Do we?  The difference is, insurance will pay for you to have a child.  Insurance will not pay for us to adopt a child.  Our insurance could have paid for our infertility treatments.  We decided not to go that route.  there were already too many kids in the world so we decided to adopt.  Hospital fees add up for a birth process.  All those ultrasounds and doc checkups beforehand.  Just as adoption fees add up.  many of you parents w/ bio children decided you wanted a sibling for your child for whatever reason.  It was your reason.  No one questioned you on that. Yet, if we decide to add a child, we get questioned every single time and at times are told we are buying our children a sibling.  Not fair a bit. 

7.  Adoption is easier than giving birth so that's why you did it. 

Oh, my oh my.  Do you know what we'd give up to just be able to have a child through birth?!  Many have no idea what it's like. Unless you've been down the road, you just don't know.  Now, I can only speak from the adoption side of things and what other parents who've both adopted and birthed have told me.  My perspective may be different.  I think both ways are a blessing to add a child.  I don't think it matters either way how the child came to your family.  The adoption process is not easy. It's not.  there are so many ups and downs.  Unexpected things as well.  It's hard.  not going to lie to you all.  It's hard.  But, so is child birth from what I hear.  Are they equal?  I can't say.  I can say the end result is the same.  I child of your heart that you longed for for so long.  Once here, it does not matter how they came to you, just that they are here and you love them w/ all your heart and soul. 

8.  You adopted special needs kids, you'll never be free.  

Geez, I didn't know adopting them was a prison sentence.  Granted, some of my kids my never leave home and I know that.  Did I know that in the beginning?  No.  Do I care?  No.  What we've always wanted for our kids was for them to reach their fullest potential.  Some will do that by leaving home and being on their own.  Some will do that by living at home.  Either way, it is our goal, our dream for them to reach their fullest potential in life no matter what that may be.  I do not in any way feel tied down by my kids.  Do I wish someone could watch them for maybe just one night every once in awhile?  Yes.  Doesn't every parent.  Affording a sitter is too much for us.  Even though some of our kids are older, their FAS makes it near impossible for them to be left alone.  Yes, sometimes we have but it is for very short stents of time or a place where we can come back right away if something crazy happens.  Despite all this, we wouldn't trade it.  We have fun with the kids.  Mind you, not all the time.  Last night was a nightmare at Chaos Manor.  In an hour's time, the boys were fighting, found a birds' nest in the grill, Alex broke Alyona's glasses, house was totally a mess, someone put soap in the dishwasher and frankly, I didn't want to deal w/ any of it.  Oh, and Warren was stuck in traffic due to an accident on I-40.  Hey, but we all have those kinds of days, I'm sure.  We do not feel tied down by our kids.  We go places with them.  Needs and all.  They did fantastic at our recent vacation in PA.  We only had one meltdown by Alex.  That's it.  We got compliments the entire weekend from people.  Nice when you're in a restaurant and strangers come up to you and say how well behaved your children are.  Nice.  So no, we do not think we lost freedom, just gained a different sense of freedom. 

9.  You should adopt from the States, there are plenty of children here.

Yes, there are plenty of kids here but the US Government will NOT allow us to adopt these kids. Nope.  Not our state anyways.  In NC, you can not adopt kids from foster care if you have 5 or more kids.  yet, there are plenty of willing parents.  In addition, if you have ONE special needs child, you are not allowed to adopt another special needs child.  Drives me barking mad as you have tons of willing parents to adopt the US Foster kids but the system not allowing us to.  There was a neighbor of mine w/ 4 bio kids, one w/ special needs.  She wanted to adopt from the foster care system another child w/ special needs to complete her family.  They would not allow her so last year she went to Ukraine and got her daughter to complete her family.  We would have loved to have taken on a large sibling group from the foster system which are typically harder to place. No, can't do it.  So, those criticizing us for adopting overseas instead of our own country, please talk to the Department of Social Services and see about changing the system.  If they did, there would barely be any foster care kids available.  That would be wonderful as they would have found homes.  Even the social worker we spoke to at the JCSS department said they have lost many good parents b/c of this rule.  Sad, but true.  So, there are also children all over the world who need a home.  We have found our children from Russia, Serbia, and Bulgaria.  Doesn't matter where they came from, they are all our kids.  All of them.  We love them all.

Well, hope I put to rest some of the questions we are asked & that probably many of you are asked.  Much more to come.  There are some great kids we're advocating for.  Stay tuned for more.

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