Monday, December 1, 2014

"Can I adopt from New Day?" and other Frequently Asked Questions

You see their faces, you read their stories, watch their videos, sponsor them, send them birthday and Christmas packages, stalk them on Facebook and Instagram and pray for them daily...and then you decide that you want to adopt one of them. Maybe it was her big eyes... his goofy grin... the way her hair stuck up reminded you of your older children and his personality seemed like it would fit perfectly into your family. You want to adopt a New Day kid.

You may be surprised to know (or maybe not) that the staff at New Day frequently receive emails asking about the adoption status of children in our care. Frequently.

You may also know that the answer is almost always the same: “We don’t have that information, and we are not able to discuss the children’s situation.” Aaagh!  Maddening, isn’t it? Hopefully this post will help explain some things, answer questions and shine a bit more light on the adoption process for orphans in China.

Adoption Reality #1: New Day has no role in the adoption process.  
The children at New Day are placed in our temporary care by the state welfare organization which is the legal guardian. Our ONLY role in their lives is to care for them until they are adopted. Well, other than sending the children off to meet their new parents on adoption day. (We think we get the best part of the job!)

There are three main entities that hold all the cards in the adoption process: The orphanages which are the children’s legal guardians, CCCWA which does the matching and approval process and the foreign adoption agencies which help families navigate the legal and bureaucratic processes necessary to complete the adoption.

The children's files are prepared by their legal guardians (the orphanages) and then go through all of the proper legal channels until the child is made available for adoption. We have no idea and no control over the “who” or the "when" although we wish we did! Of course, of course, you can be assured that we encourage the orphanages to prepare the children's files as soon as possible, but we do this with tact and with respect (no matter how impatient we may feel).

 When a child's adoption file has been completed and received all of its important stamps and signatures, we are often asked, “Where did it go?” Don't ask us - we don't know! That decision is made by CCCWA, the central adoption authority in Beijing. Maybe the orphanage has signed a partnership agreement with a particular adoption agency, in which case they have first look at the files. If the orphanage has not signed a partnership agreement (which must be renewed annually, therefore changes cannot be anticipated) then the child's file may be assigned to another agency with a Waiting Child program. The third possibility is that the file will be released to the Shared List at around midnight some Monday and agencies all over the world (yes, world) will find and lock files off of this list to place with families who have signed on with them and are awaiting a referral. The most asked about New Day children, the ones with lines of people just waiting for the file to show up, will likely be chosen by an agency within hours of being released. Do we at New Day ever find out what happened to a file? Sometimes. Sometimes an agency representative will contact us to inform us that a child has been matched. Sometimes we'll spot the file on a waiting child list. When a child is officially matched with a family it is often the orphanage that contacts us with the happy news.

Of course we still get the question, "What about families who try to adopt children from New Day and actually are successful?" It’s kind of like winning the lottery: for every family that actually gets matched with a child they've been pursuing from a foster home like New Day, there are dozens of families who were also pursuing this child and were not matched with her. Maybe the family just so happened to sign up with the agency that would get this child's file. Maybe the family's agency coordinator just so happened to pull the hoped-for child off of the shared list. And just like the lottery, the odds are about as good that a child will be matched with the family who has sponsored her for a year as the family in Sweden who has never heard of New Day.

Adoption Reality #2: There are no guarantees.
Just because a child has been living at New Day does not mean that their adoption will be faster, the transition easier, the attachment more successful or the medical challenges less difficult. The children you see on our blog, on our website and on Facebook are clean and laughing, carefully dressed and clearly loved. It’s easy to fall in love with their photos, but the fact is that these children that we care for are also some of the most medically fragile, and while they are survivors, they also have survived significant traumas, and trauma begets a whole lot of "hard."  The children know how to love, but with that comes the pain of loss and heartbreaking grief. There will be struggles as the child learns to trust and attach to her forever daddy and mama. There will be medical appointments, insurance battles, hours of therapies and perhaps new diagnoses that you didn't anticipate. There will be tears and frustrations – yours and hers.

But there will be joy. There will be laughter. There will be progress and transformation and love.

Adoption Reality #3: There are more than two thousand paper-ready children in China waiting for a family right now. Only about 50 of them live at New Day. 
While dozens of hopeful families search and plead and wait on the slight chance that they will find the file of one cute little baby at New Day Foster Home, there are literally thousands of other orphans who are waiting at the exact same time. Many have grainy pictures and shaky videos and their hair is shaved short and their clothes don't match. Many of these children are boys with mild needs who have not been chosen because they are boys. Some wait because they are older. Many have more complex, or multiple diagnoses.

We hope that the photos you see of our New Day kids don’t inspire you to adopt a New Day child, but inspire you to believe in the transformation that love and hope and medical care and soap can bring about in every child. We hope that the faces you have grown to know so well on here will inspire you to do scary things - to take leaps of faith to give little ones who have experienced tragedy a chance for a redemptive future. There are children out there who need someone to change their life. Are you ready for them to change yours?

Adoption Reality #4: Adoption is redemption 
Carrie wrote an honest and moving blog post a few years ago. In her post she wrote, "A close friend of ours who was adopted himself and is an adoptive parent says that adoption is "a redemptive response to a tragedy.""

It's true, isn't it? Adoption doesn't "fix" a child's situation, because their hearts are broken, and even a mended heart will still show seams, but adoption is a redemptive response... it's something that we - you and me, can do.

Many of you have been broken by this reality. Your hearts have been touched and broken and you have stepped out through faith into the unknown, so to all of you families out there who are pursing adoption from China (or domestically or any country, for that matter), we are thankful for you, and we want to encourage you to see the children of New Day as encouragement for what every child has the potential to be…and more…through the love of a family.
Adoption advocates! Share your lists of waiting children in the comments below. There are many, many waiting children out there - let's give them faces, stories... families.