Hi! I finally had a chance to sit down and answer a few of your questions about our second adoption. Thank you for all the kind messages and support! We are SO excited!
Will you be adopting from China again? Same agency?
We are adopting from China again and we did decide to use the same agency (Holt International). There really was no question for us as far as what country we would choose this time because if we feel that being from the same country is a gift to both our children- a special bond for them to share.
We were open to other agencies this time, but we choose to use Holt again because their support team in China was so great (like, incredible). They sometimes have a longer wait than some other agencies (because more families use them, so there is a longer line) but we don’t really care how long our wait is this time. We’re not necessarily feeling rushed.
Is the adoption process shorter the second time? Is it less expensive the second time?
Sadly no and no. And it’s not less expensive. So far we saved a couple hundred dollars on our home study, but that has been about it. People always ask if families are prioritized depending on whether they already have children or not (like, if you’d have a shorter wait because you don’t have any kids yet) and no, that’s not a thing.
Although the process is not necessarily shorter or less expensive, it feels a LOT easier this time because we know what we are doing in each step and have more information, experience and support than we did the first time. The wait also feels much easier since we are already busy with Nova and treasuring each day we have as a family of three.
When are you starting the second adoption?
We officially started on August 1st, when we met our new local social worker and turned in all the home study documents (so really we started in July because it took me a month or so to gather all the documents and we had to do doctors appointments for all three of us and fingerprinting.)
Will Nova travel with you on the adoption trip to China? Did you consider NOT taking her?
Yes, Nova will travel with us.
No, to be honest- we didn’t consider not taking Nova with us. We still haven’t traveled without her or spent a night away from her at all, so leaving her for two weeks and coming home with a new child is unimaginable to us right now. We want her to experience the entire process with us, including the first time we meet little sister. We can’t imagine taking that step without Nova by our side.
Are you adopting a child with medial conditions/special needs? Are you open to another child with albinism or other medical conditions?
Yes- the China program is a pretty much exclusively a special needs program in 2018, though many of the needs are minor or correctable. So any family who is not open to special needs should not adopt from China.
After months of conversation we decided that our first choice would be to adopt a second child who also has albinism. These are our reasons-
1. Representation. Right now we only know one other child with albinism that is in Nova’s life on a regular basis. This is such a valuable relationship for her. Most of us can’t imagine how it would feel to only see someone who looks like us once every few months- but that is Nova’s current reality. The opportunity to give Nova (and little sister) a chance to spend every single day with someone who looks like them seems very valuable to us- what a gift!
2. Visual impairment. Nova can do almost everything any child can do, but her low vision becomes more obvious when we go to a new playground. At times it can be sad because children all around her are racing past her as she slowly navigates stairs and slides. We’d love to adopt a child who plays and moves at a similar speed as Nova.
3. Attention in public. Nova gets a massive amount of attention in public from strangers, much more than other children. When we are out with our friends’ children or our nieces we see a shocking difference in the amount of attention Nova receives compared to the other children, including compliments (which is kind of awkward, right?). This is not something we are able to control, but we feel adopting another child with albinism would give them both a shared experience and bond. Maybe it could reduce the chances of one child feeling unseen or left out from the constant comments and compliments of strangers. This isn’t the biggest factor, but it’s something we’ve thought about.
4. We like being parents to a child with albinism. We have learned SO MUCH already in the ten months we have had Nova. We’re building a community of support for Nova including other families and medical professionals. So it makes sense that we can use what we have learned for a second child instead of starting from scratch and learning about a whole new medical condition.
Don’t you think it’s to limiting to only want to adopt a child with albinism?
We don’t, we think it’s a wise choice for our family. But just to be totally clear- when we began our first adoption we had over 25 special needs listed. We still have those same needs listed on our new forms. But for the reasons we listed above our first choice would be to adopt another child with albinism.
I think that to families who haven’t adopted preference can seem really odd. But in reality- it’s not. Every single orphan needs a home, and whether our profile is open to all ages, genders and medical conditions- or only a select few we will still only be adopting one child at a time. For that reason, I don’t think there should be ANY shame or awkwardness in doing our best to make the wisest decision for our family. This time around it makes the most sense for us to have a pretty specific profile, and just like last time- we do leave room in our hearts and minds for our plans to change.
Have you been matched yet?
Our timeline is pretty unknown too. The agency goes in order of how long you have been waiting- so if two families have similar profiles they will match a child with the family who has been waiting the longest. So our agency told us right away that there are not very many families ahead of us who are open to a child with albinism (which would make our wait shorter) but that they’d be waiting for a very specific child to come on the shared list (which could make our wait longer). So we have no idea- it could be a few months… it could be a few years. And yes- the unknown timeline is kind of killing me already! I love planning, but right now there’s nothing we can do except wait and focus on enjoying the current season of life we are in.
What is the matching process like? Do you choose the child or does the agency choose for you?
There are different ways it can happen. For most families, you fill out forms about what kind of child you are open to and then you wait for a phone call when the agency finds a child that matches with your family. Most children are matched without ever having a public listing.
For children who don’t match that way, there are also public listings where advocates try to help to the most people see children’s photos in hopes that a family will see their photo and request more information.
We were matched with Nova through a “spotlight email” which our agency sends out a few times each month with kids who didn’t match with any waiting families. We didn’t match with Nova because we didn’t put albinism on our medical conditions checklist the first time, but when we saw her photo we changed our minds.
Most likely we will get a call one day from our agency when they find a file that matched our family. I’ll share the story of how it all happens at some point.
Have you chosen a name yet or are you waiting?
We have a short list of names, but we are waiting until we see her this time. Since last time we announced the name and then changed our minds (ugh) so we won’t make that mistake again. I seriously thought there was a zero percent chance we would change our minds.
This time, Jeremy has a very strong favorite name and I still have quite a few names I like.
It seems really fast? How long will you have to wait? What is your timeline?
It is fast, yes! But don’t forget- our program takes two years on average and we just got started a few months ago. So although it is starting again quickly, it could be a long time before we travel to China.
The earliest we are allowed to send our second dossier is December 14th (one year since we returned home with Nova). But we decided to move forward quickly because the China program is tightening up regulations over the past few years and we would be heartbroken if the program closed before we could adopt a second child, so we decided to get started as soon as we were able to just to be proactive since this process can take a long time. That said, we are not in a big rush and we aren’t feeling anxious at this stage- and I’m hoping the entire wait will be less emotional this time. So far it has been super smooth!
How much does it cost to adopt a child from China?
Around 35-40k. Around 5k goes to your local social worker, around 20k goes to your agency, and around 1ok is travel expenses for the 2 week trip. And there is an orphanage donation that has recently become optional (that we will still 100% for sure make). The payments are spread out over the two year period (with more toward the end, only about 10k the first year….). These are not exact numbers! I answered in more detail here. There are tax credits and grants available for most families that can drastically offset the expenses.
What age range are you open to? How do you know they will be younger than Nova?
We are only open to children younger than Nova as our social worker(s) have strongly recommended that we stay in birth order. We decided that makes the most sense for our family. We put (up to) three years old on our paperwork since Nova is currently three.
Why did you specify a girl? Do you not want to adopt a boy?
Like I went into above, preference in adoption can be kind of awkward because when you make a choice to put specifics (gender, age, medical conditions) on your paperwork it can feel like you are somehow rejecting other children. But I really do not see it that way anymore now that I’ve been through the process because you can only adopt ONE child at a time, and I do believe in an element of destiny… that we will end up with a certain child who is meant for our family.
Like I shared above, we were matched with Nova despite not putting down her medical condition initially. Now, in hindsight, we can’t imagine any other child in the world being our first child. We feel like we were always destined to be together.
So my opinion is there is no right or wrong- put down zero preferences or a whole bunch… each individual or family should do what feels comfortable. That’s the responsible thing to do.
Please don’t interpret our request for a girl as us having something against boys.We just made a choice. We envisioned ourselves as a girl family and that feels right to us. But who knows- maybe in the future that could change. Nova told us at dinner tonight that she wants, “a boy sister”… you never know.
Do you think this transition will be easier since you already have a child at home?
So many adoptive families have said it helped their transition to have other children. So we are hopeful!
Are you nervous Nova will be jealous of her new sister?
Yes. We’re pretty much 100% sure that will happen at some point. But we’re not too stressed about it. The adjustment period is always rocky no matter what. I feel like the first time around we spent so much time reading people’s stories and worrying about things that didn’t even happen. This time we’re more comfortable just rolling with it and learning as we go.
What are the first three things on your list to do when Nova’s sister arrives?
Augh- fun question. What’s crazy different this time is that I haven’t spent hardly any time envisioning. I think it’s because when we were waiting for Nova I spent so much time envisioning and then our everyday life happened and honestly- it wasn’t at all like I envisioned it.
That said, we are so excited and we know it will be magical! I’ll have to take some time to make a list before we travel. Thanks for the inspiration!
Are you still in touch with Nova’s orphanage?
Yes. When we met Nova we were able to get an email from the orphanage representative and we email them photos frequently. They are very friendly and have invited us to come visit with Nova when she is old enough for a trip like that. We would love to visit in the future so she can see the place where she spent the first few years of her life.
Are you working on the new babies nursery yet?
I’m starting to plan. It took me about a month to figure out how to reconfigure the bedroom situation without losing our little art space- but I finally found a solution that I think will be great! I’m very excited to decorate a new nursery, but I will probably wait until we are matched to do a lot of it this time since I don’t want to reconfigure the rooms until it’s necessary since we’re using them everyday as they are.
If you want to read more about our adoption story, you can see the full archive here.
*Disclaimer. I write these long posts to try to answer as many questions as possible and hopefully help some families who are curious about adoption. But please keep in mind that every adoption story is different, even within the China program and especially if you are talking about different programs. I share our story to be a resource, but it’s not black and white truth and if you decide to begin your own adoption journey, your story will be different.
If you are interested in adoption- call agencies and social workers and ask them all the questions you have! Don’t be scared or intimidated. In our experience, these people want the absolute best for families and are so willing to help you along in an open, honest way!