August 1, 2012

The China side (part 1)

How many orphans are there in China?

This question is easier asked than answered. Relatively recent statistics put the number at 712,000. Unfortunately there's almost no way to to determine if this is an accurate statistic because it's quite likely that those in power (somewhat embarrassed of the orphan problem) attempt to keep those numbers much, much lower than reality. Some statistics put it closer to 3 million.

THREE MILLION. In China alone.

Since our paperwork made it to China, we're now waiting on them. Many people have asked what happens now, so I'll attempt to explain how things look, on the China side.

The majority of the children reside in orphanages. Some of them are wealthy, with toys and teachers and supplies in abundance, but most are not. There's a spectrum of care - wealthy to poor orphanages, group foster homes, and even foster care. Caring for someone else's child was something that wasn't always socially acceptable in China and so foster care was limited. As times change and those barriers begin to be broken, foster care is increasing. But it definitely isn't the norm, and it's very likely our child will be from an orphanage.

In China...

Once a month, China releases a "Shared List." The shared list is a list of adoptable, 'paper-ready', children with identified special needs. There was 1,759 children on the June list. Obviously, this is only a fraction of the children that need homes, but for one reason or another, many don't make it on the list.

Only agencies that work with China can see the shared list, and they are notified in advance before it comes out. It shows a birthdate, sex of the child, and lists their special need....and that's about it. When a new list is released (usually in the middle of the night here), representatives in the US are ready, at their computers, attempting to match children on the list with parents who are waiting. Children with minor needs are matched immediately - minor needs often include things like minor heart conditions, clubbed feet or an extra or missing digit. The children who aren't matched are left waiting on the shared list...sometimes for many, many months, or even years.

Many non-profit and charity groups have contact with certain orphanages and group homes and are able to advocate for children who are stuck on the shared list. And sometimes, they're able to find homes for them. Because of their close contact, they can often provide updated, detailed information about certain children, and this is definitely a luxury when it comes to adoption referrals! Their knowledge can give parents who are the 'on the fence' the courage to adopt a child with a need they may not have considered before.

Some agencies work closely with certain orphanages and so receive exclusive referrals. One thing we didn't realize when we started this process, is that prospective parents often search the many agencies for children they're interested in, and then sign with an agency to lock the file of a certain child. But since most of the needs we've agreed to accept are relatively minor, this probably wouldn't have worked for us anyway. We're signed with agency, and we'll wait for them to match us off the shared list.


If we receive our log-in-date (LID) in the next couple weeks, we'll be eligible to receive a referral off the August list. I don't expect that to happen...I'm thinking it will take more like 3-4 months for a referral, but there's no way to tell. It all depends on which children are added to the list each month. Current wait time to travel is 6-8 months (partially due to China's new visa application rules), so the absolutely earliest we could be home would probably be March 2013. Realistically, we're expecting closer to June, but again, there's no way to tell. We were surprised that our agency only had 10 families waiting in the the China special needs program in July, so it could possibly be quicker than we're expecting.

And so we wait, and wait some more. For someone who's a type A personality, the unknown is hard! But at least we're getting close enough to sort of "guess" at a possible timeline. We'll keep you posted!

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