A Global Family Tree
Redefining our understanding of “family” with a multicultural frame-of-reference, intercountry adoption changes lives – both for orphaned children and their adoptive families. According to several worldwide aide organizations, orphans too often succumb to poverty, malnutrition and/or disease without proper care. The rise of international adoption, however, as a viable solution has generated a seismic cultural reinvention over the past several decades, according to Adam Pertman, advocate and author of “Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families – and America.”
With more than 10,000 international adoptions taking place within the U.S. annually, it is hard to overlook the heartwarming stories and individual faces of newfound families and their impact within the community.
Meet Laura and Tessa. After taking three trips overseas to finalize the adoption, Laura brought Tessa home on May 7 – the day before Mother’s Day.
“My first visit to meet Tessa was in January. It was winter in Russia and so [very] cold – I would walk [outside] for about 10 minutes and would turn back despite being fully covered,” she recalls. “I went to the orphanage and I knew. I felt very good after that.”
In recounting her experience of adopting internationally, the Boston native – turned Del Mar resident vividly describes every detail; a decision that spanned the course of two and half years, yet translates great joy with ease. Approaching her 40th birthday, Laura knew she wanted a family, a child to raise and a home to offer. Despite several setbacks with program closures in Kazakhztan and Kyrgyzstan, she pursued an opportunity in Russia; a little girl named Tessa from Alexandrov, a small town 75 miles northeast of Moscow.
“You try not to get attached, as things can fail; but I [was determined to] remain cautiously optimistic. I thought, she is so perfect, I really hoped she would be mine. But when the judge finally granted [the adoption], I knew. I just had to wait through the process. She was well worth everything. Coming home after work and seeing her face and her smile is the best feeling in the world.”
Now 17 months, Tessa is an extremely happy and active little girl; with a growing library, a playhouse and rocking horse in immediate reach, she is also extremely loved. Her growing vocabulary consists of “mama,” “apple,” “hot,” and “auntie,” not to mention having also recently learned sign language.
“I took 10 weeks off [of work] when we returned [to the States] to bond with my daughter. I visited family on the east coast, and just had fun [getting to know one another]. She is extremely inquisitive, and loves to read her books. I love just spending time with her. She is so happy and curious, and I hope she continues to be as she grows. People say that kids are like sponges, and it’s true. She is constantly learning new things. We are so lucky, and are a perfect fit.”
Having chosen Adoption Options, Laura was confident in both the program and their results; through the recommendation of a friend, she began to learn of actual adoption stories relaying the success of the organization’s outreach. After meeting with Brent Yoder, the organization’s executive director and advocate for child welfare with more than 20 years of expertise as a social worker, she decided to move forward.
Originally founded as a home-study service for adoptive families, Adoption Options now offers successful adoptions programs in Russia, Kazakhztan and Kyrgyzstan; they have also completed home studies for adoptions in China, Guatemala, Ukraine, India, Korea, Vietnam and others. The organization is Hague-accredited, meaning it is in compliance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption international treaty, providing protection for children and practicing high ethical standards.
According to Yoder, their mission is simple, “to find loving homes for children in need, [while also] finding children for families wanting to adopt internationally.”
Post adoption support groups and ongoing education courses are also made available – an important element that does not end after the adoption is completed. With her daughter now home, Laura was able to finally introduce Tessa to other adoptive families during a recent “Family Reunion” hosted by the non-profit for Southern California residents.
In a recent interview, Yoder offered the following:
Q: Why is international adoption a viable option for individuals and couples looking to adopt?
Yoder: With domestic adoptions, there is a lot of competition among couples and individuals looking to adopt; and many of these cases are in fact open adoptions – allowing continued rights to the birth parent(s). International adoption, [on the other hand], offers greater availability of children and infants; and there is little likelihood of the birth parent ever being involved. And contrary to popular belief, 95 percent of all international adoptions are successful on all fronts. In most cases, the entire process takes less than two years, depending upon the country of choice.
Q: For you, what is most rewarding?
Yoder: [By far], this is the hardest job I’ve ever done. In helping couples and individuals through the adoption process, it’s very emotional and extremely personal. But it’s also the best job anyone could have. The most rewarding aspect is knowing that we are saving the lives of children around the world. On average, the life expectancy of a child in a Russian orphanage is 23-24 years as a result of disease. The knowledge that we are influencing the lives of children and families touches your heart unlike anything else. [In addition], it’s such a joy receiving parent updates, photos and announcements from our adoptive families.
Informational Meetings on International Adoptions
Date: October 20 & November 17
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Adoption Options Headquarters 411 Camino del Rio South Suite 200 San Diego, CA 92108
Please call: 619.294.7772 or
Adoption Options, Inc.