Since it will likely be a while before we’re given an update on our “Cynthia,” I thought I’d address a question that has been posed by everyone who has congratulated us on our newest addition, and that is: “Will her process be the same as Ruth’s?” The short answer is, yes and no. Ha!
Before I delve into the specifics, I want to reiterate how every country is different in its international adoption process. And even within that country, there could be multiple differences in the process depending on which adoption agency/social work organization/human and family services agency is coordinating the legal proceedings. So- while the basics of Cynthia’s adoption will be the same as Ruth’s, it will differ greatly in many ways. So, here are the main points that are probably the most interesting to read about!
Cynthia’s country is a part of the Hague Convention
This is perhaps the biggest (and best!) difference between Cynthia and Ruth’s adoption processes. It will be much smoother and more streamlined because of the Hague Convention membership. While we had to file a little extra paperwork and be in country much longer for Ruth’s adoption from Nigeria (not a part of the Hague Convention), we will be enjoying the legal benefits of Cynthia having her passport and visa ready before we travel in country and us already having legal guardianship of her- so no court or government appearances necessary! While in country, we will get to know Cynthia and her culture for about 7 days, then we will travel home and complete the adoption in the U.S.A.. Super relieved that we will not have anxiety associated with visa approval and investigations to deal with this time.
We will be waiting for as long or longer to bring Cynthia home as we did with Ruth
Unfortunately, it’s the norm in international adoption for things to move at a snail’s pace. Just imagine how slow and inefficient our own government can be, and now add to that another foreign government and you have a recipe for long, long waiting periods. We have been told that it could take anywhere from 12-18 months to bring Cynthia home from when we started the process, which we will say for simplicity’s sake was back in August. While we had to wait 12 months per Nigeria’s policy between asking to adopt and the legal court date, we were able to travel to meet Ruth after about 11 months of adoption process. With Cynthia, we are hoping that it might be shortened a little on our end by getting our homestudy and dossier completed earlier than, say, the norm to other families who are starting from scratch. My goal, however lofty, is to have everything we need to send over to Cynthia’s country ready and to our agency by Christmas of 2018.
Getting updates on Cynthia will be few and far between
In Lagos, Nigeria, we were the first white family to adopt and I’m sure experienced many benefits of time priority as such. Also, there was a smaller adoption official/orphan ratio, meaning they had more resources to provide regular, or sort of regular, updates to waiting families about their children. In Cynthia’s country, there are many more orphans up for adoption and only two organizations to handle those relations. So, therein lies the main reason as to why we likely will not receive as many updates on Cynthia as we were fortunate to have with Ruth. There is a possibility that we will be able to video chat with Cynthia towards the end of the process, but we’ve been told not to get our hopes up too high. Also, we aren’t allowed to send any gifts to Cynthia until after we’ve been officially matched by her country’s central authority, which is different than with Ruth- I think we sent Ruth a family photo album almost the week after we had been matched with her!
So there you have it- the highlights of how different our two daughters’ processes are, but also very similar. Another major difference between Cynthia and Ruth is the amount of information we had about them before being placed in care. While this isn’t necessarily a byproduct of different countries and more of a result of very different life circumstances, it very clearly mirrors the legal processes: Ruth and Cynthia have such similar stories, but strikingly different features to their stories. While we had nothing but a police report on Ruth, not knowing anything about her family or age etc., we have ample knowledge about Cynthia- down to the name of her birth mother and how much she weighed on her birthday. Such different yet similar backgrounds our girls have.
Thanks for coming with us on another journey! We’re hoping to have some exciting news to share in the way of God’s hand on adding Cynthia to our family- so be looking for that very soon! Continue praying for us- that is the most crucial help you could offer us as we prepare for our future as a family of five.