Monday, January 30, 2012

Adoption Vocab. 101

Like most special interest groups, adoption has its own vocabulary.  And, unless you have adopted or have had your lives significantly touched by adoption, there is little reason that you would be familiar with these terms. 

Recently, we hosted an adoption event highlighting special needs, domestic adoption, and (of course) our international adoption.  One of my handouts was simply a brief vocabulary sheet, which I would like to share with you.  Some of it seems rather silly, I confess.  However, there is a potential to send negative messages and land yourself in hot water with the "mama grizzly."  Or, if not to send the wrong message, simply to be at a loss for words when trying to ask a mama-at-heart about the next phase of her process!  
So, "bear" with me as I share share some politically correct terminology, then leave me a message and give me your input!  

Birth mom (dad)/ birth mother (father)/ biological parent Real parents, natural parents (opposed to "fake" and "unnatural" parents?)
Place (a child), choose adoption Give up (a child)
Choose to parent Keep a child
Birth child Child of their own
Our child Adopted child
Placed for adoption Unwanted child
Parent Adoptive parent
International adoption Foreign adoption
Court termination Child taken away
Child from abroad Foreign child
Interracial Mixed race
Special needs Handicapped
Born to unmarried parents Illegitimate
Waiting child Adoptable/available child

  • Home Study: A social worker's report on the prospective adoptive parents' home, health, medical, criminal, family and home background. The purpose is to help the court determine whether the adoptive parents are qualified to adopt a child.  Basically, to make sure the parents are not growing pot in their back yard or have bare electrical wires strewn around their home.
  • Dossier: When used in the context of adoption, this term refers to a set of legal documents that satisfy the international government's requirements for adoptive families.  Ethiopia wanted to make sure that we had electricity and running water in our home.  No joke.
  • Referral: A match between prospective parents and a waiting child. Some adoption referrals may include the following: photos, videos, medical information, how the child is growing and developing physically, background information, etc.  **THIS IS WHAT WE ARE WAITING FOR**
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder (or RAD): This term is used to describe a condition that generally appears in children before age five, and is thought to result from a lack of consistent care and nurturing in early years. The disorder is characterized by the inability of a child or infant to establish age-appropriate social contact and relationships with others.
  • Bonding: The process that a child goes through in developing lasting emotional ties with it's immediate caregivers.  It is central to that person's ability to relate properly to others throughout its life.
  • Attachment: The formation by a child of significant and stable emotional connections with the significant people in its life.
  • Photolisting: A published listing, either online or in print, containing a photo and description of a waiting child or sibling group, used by agencies to recruit prospective adoptive parents.   My favorite site for photolostings is  Check it out.  You'll want to adopt, too!
  • Placement: The move of a waiting child, teen or sibling group into the home of the family who plans to adopt them.  

What are your thoughts?  What terms would you add to the list?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Referrals, Details, and..... Waiting

I am very excited to report that we just popped over 20% of our puzzle! Meaning, people have sponsored over 200 pieces of my 1,000 piece puzzle! We're 1/5 there! Check out my blog post “An Awkward Subject” if you'd like to read more about the puzzle fundraiser we are having, or use the “ChipIn” widget on this blog to be a part of it! It's exciting and humbling to see it all come together.
I wanted to take a moment and update y'all on our current phase of the adoption: waiting. We are waiting for a “referral”-- a match with a child. We have been waiting for our referral since September, and the average wait time will put us anytime between tomorrow and June. Very specific, I know.
A few weeks ago, we had a phone conference with our agency giving us more details on the process. A child does, of course, start out with a birth family. There may or may not be information on this family, depending on when and how he came to the orphanage. If the child has been relinquished by the birth family, the members of the birth family (or closest relative) must meet with the judge and consent to the adoption. The orphanage directors will remain in contact with the family until the child has been matched with his adoptive family (us).
Children remain in the regional orphanages until beds become available in the main orphanage in Addis. Children our son's age will move into the Gelan orphanage, located south of Addis in the town of Akaki. After we have accepted the referral, our Little Guy will be told of his new family, and his documents and our documents will be reviewed in court. Upon approval, legal custody will be transferred to our family, though physical custody will be retained by the orphanage until we sign for this in Ethiopia. Clear as mud?

What's in a referral?

When we get “the call” from our agency that says we have a match with a child, we'll be broadcasting it from the rooftops! We will receive his information via e-mail along with one or two photographs.
***Please understand: Because our son will still be a legal ward of a foreign country (Ethiopia), we cannot post any identifying information or pictures of him in any public places, including this blog, until he comes home.*** Yes, this kinda stinks, I'm sorry. But, hey, I'm letting you know now so you won't be surprised. Friends and family are welcome to see pictures and hear updates, just not via posts on this blog or Facebook.
When we receive our referral, we will have 14 days to review it, pray about it, and make a final decision. We have the option of having a pediatrician review the information. When we officially accept this referral, we will need to send in the remaining fees to our agency. Funds raised from our puzzle will go to cover these fees.
In the referral, we will learn his name, the meaning of his name, his date of arrival at the orphanage, his birth date (estimate), weight, results of his medical examination, vaccination report, previous medical history (results of HIV tests, hepatitis tests, etc), information on his growth and psychological development, and any police reports if the child was found abandoned.
We will receive height, weight, and head measurements for our Little Guy, as well as 2 pictures, every month we are waiting to complete the process after we accept the referral.
Some of the more specific information will need to be kept private, especially the medical and social history. If my son wants to share this information when he is older, that is his decision. You're welcome to ask questions, but please don't be too disappointed if they don't get satisfactorily answered!
We hope you have a wonderful New Year, and we will keep you as updated as possible on any new developments as we continue.... to.... wait.....