Adoption Update #1

It's about time for an update on what has been happening in the adoption front over the past few months. I know I've been quiet and there's been reasons for that but plenty has happened since November. So, get yourself a sparkling water (or wine!) and a lovely perch in the sun (or a hot chocolate / cup of tea and a place by the fire if you're a Northern Hemisphere reader) because this is going to be a long one.

I've been wondering when I was going to have time to write this post after deciding that spring cleaning every surface of my house these holidays (including curtains) was a good idea... I'm thinking not so much any more! But after trying out some nifty gymnastic moves on Rapaki track (one foot sliding down while the other one stayed grounded) I've been told to ice it and rest. So it's a great time to fill you all in on what has been going on.

In November my adoption journey took a dramatic turn for the good and started a series of events that have kept me busy with emails and paper work ever since.

In my teens and early twenties I knew an older gentleman who attended the same church as me. We got on really well and he would often inquire about what I was up to. He is an absolute hoot; someone that makes you smile every time you see him. This gentleman is now in his older years in life and is in a men's group with my dad. He found out about my journey to adopt, the money I needed and the quiz night.

Fast-forward a few weeks and he is sitting in my lounge offering me a $10,000 interest-free loan.
I know! ... such an incredible gift and a very humbling experience. Adding this to my savings and fundraising efforts meant that I now had the $20,000 that I needed. So from here the wheels started turning.

I booked a psychologist report which is a compulsory part of the home study when adopting from India. This was a 1 hour interview with a lady, younger than me, asking me questions about why I wanted to adopt and how I planned to look after my child.
After the questioning I had to complete a questionnaire of 338 statements where I had to choose whether something was 'True' or 'False'. Those were the only options. The statements were wide ranging including 'I often hear voices in my head that are not my own', 'I would like to take a course in floristry', 'My hands and feet are usually warm enough' (I know right?!) 'It would be better if almost all laws were gotten rid of.'
What made the whole experience even more peculiar was the baby bird I had in my hand and was trying to keep alive for my students (see previous blog
It was all a very odd and costly experience with the meeting and following report costing over $1,500. I soon realised that the $20,000 wasn't staying in my bank account for long... and I should possibly change my career to psychology.

The psychologist report came back and I had to check it over and make a few changes before I received the master copy. This was then sent through to my social worker who added it to my draft Home-Study. During this time Mum and Dad were being interviewed by my social worker as testimonial guardians.

Since my draft Home Study was being completed I had to register with ICANZ (Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand). With international adoption in New Zealand there are three organisations that can help you with the adoption process Oranga Tamariki,  ICANZ and Compassion for Orphans. I chose to work with ICANZ as they have visited the orphanages in India that they work with, most of the people that work for ICANZ have adopted themselves and Compassion for Orphans are currently not adopting from India. ICANZ also provide great 'post-adoption' support. They have a magazine that is distributed every 6 months, a Facebook page, groups that meet together all over NZ and a yearly camp for families who have adopted.

In contacting the lovely Wendy at ICANZ my journey hit an unexpected hurdle. She informed me that it is very rare for a non-Indian applicant to be able to adopt an Indian child between the ages of 2-4 (the age range I was hoping for.) I'm relieved this news came via email as it was a huge shock to me and having an email gave me time to process it and call on some of my support crew. I text a couple of my close friends and incredible prayer warriors as I needed their encouragement and God's wisdom at this time. All my friends were shocked too that this rather important piece of information was not given to me many months ago. But this wasn't Wendy's fault.

When I told Mum that adopting between the age of 2 - 4 was a rarity, her response was, "Well YOU were a rarity." (Thanks Mum). See, I was an IVF baby. One of the first IVF babies to be made in New Zealand in fact. Mum only had the chance of retrieving one egg to be fertilised. Now days she would not even be considered for IVF as the chance of creating a baby are too slim (yet here I am!) It is hard to have faith though when the rarity you're believing in is your own.

Wendy gave me a call and explained why most of the children in orphanages are older than 4. She said that most children grow up in their families for the first few years and build attachment (which is absolutely vital later in life). Then their mother dies of an illness or childbirth etc and a step-mum comes along. The step-mum does not want the responsibility and burden of looking after children that are not her own so she abandons them at a train-station where the people speak a different language. Now this is a horrific thing to happen to any child. There is no young child that I would wish this upon. But it is a common mindset in many third-world countries. I have seen very similar situations in Uganda.

With having more information behind the facts I decided to increase my age limit. To begin with I asked my social worker to increase from 2 - 4 to 2 - 8. She told me if I wanted to do this we would need to meet together for another interview (these often take at least an hour) and that I would have to redo my Parenting Plan. The Parenting Plan is a nine page document that I completed half way through last year. It has many questions like the following -
       Outline your intended care plan for your child/ren for the first 12 months. If you already have child/children, how will you balance adapting the family environment to welcome a new child, but minimise the impact of changes on your existing children? How will you use the period prior to your child attending school to prepare your child to be ready for school and make school a positive experience for the child?

If the child is of school age or will be within the first year after adoption, who will care for the child before and after school, in the school holidays, or when the child is sick and cannot attend school?
All of the questions have several parts to them that require in-depth and well thought out answers. Completing this again would take several hours. I went back to my social worker and enquired about whether I just increased the age to six would I need to redo the interviews and Parenting Plan. (Six is the maximum age allowance for Paid Parental leave in New Zealand.) My social worker said this was fine and that I just needed to make some small changes to my Parenting Plan which I did. This was then added to my draft Home Study.

Wendy, from ICANZ, then went through my 'Consideration of Possible Illness or Special Needs' document. This is a two page document with a large list of different conditions such as missing limbs, speech delay, cleft palate and learning delay. On the list you have to mark yes, no or maybe. I had also completed this list several months ago but Wendy was very helpful in giving me her insight into adopted children. For example I had to tick 'yes' for emotional needs as all children who have been abandoned have emotional needs. And I had to tick 'yes' for physical abuse as all orphanages smack children (similar in other countries) and if I didn't tick yes I would never be matched. It's  proof of the old saying 'You don't know what you don't know.' Wendy's experience in this area has been vital.

On the 10 January (2 days before my birthday) my draft Home study was sent away to CARA who are currently examining it. This was the best birthday present I could have asked for. They will come back to me with some questions over the next few days and then I will (hopefully) be accepted. I now have to work on my Indian Dossier. This is a set of documents, including my completed Home Study that is sent to India so they can know more about me and find a suitable match.

Now the real waiting begins. It will probably be at least 18 months before I hear anything and at least two years before I bring Bunny home. I know it all seems like a long time, but at least this waiting has movement behind it, unlike waiting for the money which kept everything else stagnantly waiting with no movement. Now someone is trying to match me with a child (or I believe being directed by God to find Bunny). I'm not waiting in vain... this will come to pass.

How can you help?
  • PRAY!! As Wendy said, "Every adopted child has faced some sort of trauma." Pray that Bunny has had the chance to form attachment with someone, pray that she is safe, pray that I will have the skills and support to look after her and help her through whatever she has experienced. Pray that we all can help her to become all that she can be. Even if you don't usually pray... give it a go.
  • Give - the $10,000 loan is a beautiful gift, but I still have to pay it off. 
    • My GiveaLittle page is open until the end of this month.
    • Quiz: I am planning another Quiz night later in March at The Sugarhorse again. More details to come so get a team of 4 - 6 together as we had a full house last time.
    • Sponsor a Month: A friend of mine had another interesting idea that might tickle your fancy. I have to take a year off work as a requirement of adopting internationally. I will get Paid Parental Leave for some of this time but the main sticking point is my mortgage. My friend's idea is that people offer to sponsor a fortnight or month of my mortgage in the first year that Bunny is in New Zealand. That means that you probably have at least 2-3 years to save for this. If you would like to know more details just get in contact with me.
  • Keep asking about Bunny. I may not have much to tell you but please keep asking me how the process is going as that encourages me that people want to be a part of Bunny's life and it helps me to persevere when the going gets tough.

As my generous donor said, "Let's get this little girl home."


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