Saturday, December 23, 2006

Referral Picture -- check out those cheeks!

This is one of the referral photos we received.

What a guy, huh?

We can't wait to get updates, including future photos, and are told that we may receive a video as well.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sign here, stamp this, mail it there...

My wife is pregnant....with paperwork.

Taiwan really has an easy dossier process compared to other nations, so we don't have much right to complain. There is still work to be done, however.

We are awaiting a power of attorney form and adoption agreement from Taiwan. These, along with our homestudy report, need to be executed, notarized, certified by the state and authenticated by a Taiwanese consulate.

The homestudy was mailed to the local USCIS office a little over a week ago and was the last piece of the puzzle needed to get our I-171H form. If you have managed to keep track of our process, and I am not sure that I have, you will recall that we were not even eligible to be placed on our old agency's Vietnam waiting list without the I-171H form. I am sitting here looking at a framed picture of Ryan and amazed at our fortune.

We are blessed this holiday season. We wish the same for you and your family.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Little Dude in Taiwan

We accepted the referral of "the little dude in Taiwan", as my wife has taken to calling him. Life has been so hectic with the holidays and other matters that we have not had much time for blogging. We have been elated for the past week and are dreaming of the day that we meet him.

One of the first things we did was arrive upon a name, Ryan. We knew that we also wanted to incorporate part of his birth name as well and will include it as a middle name.

Now that we are getting over the surreal notion that we have received a referral, we are preparing to be parents for the first time.

Monday, December 11, 2006

We have received our referral!

We stopped in at our adoption agency this morning to drop off a form and a photo album to be sent to Taiwan as part of the initial paperwork required by the program. Our case worker took us into a room and closed the door. Since we had not yet had the opportunity to meet her in person, I thought we were just going to spend some time talking. Since our agency had not even received notification from Taiwan yet that our initial application was approved, we were just hoping for some news on that front.

Imagine our surprise when our case worker stated that she had just received our referral a short time before we arrived! She smiled and pulled four pictures of an adorable two-month-old boy out of an envelope and presented them to us. We were stunned. I think she thought we were not excited. All I can say is that we were both overwhelmed and feeling very grateful. By the time we reached our cars we were smiling, hugging, and overjoyed. It has been hard to accomplish anything this morning!

We have until Thursday to accept the referral of this child. We want to have a pediatrician check out the medical report that was sent, but we think everything looks good. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Some Information About Taiwan

While considering our agency’s new Taiwan adoption program and contemplating the switch from Vietnam, we learned that the process of adopting from Taiwan (at least through this particular program offered by our agency) is different in several respects from Vietnam and other countries whose programs we have learned about during our adoption journey. Under Taiwanese law, the birth mother is not permitted to relinquish the baby until one month after giving birth. The purpose of this is to allow her time to make an informed decision about whether she truly wishes to place the child for adoption. We have also learned that many of the babies placed for adoption in Taiwan are born to unwed mothers (including teenagers), due to the social stigma attached to single motherhood in Taiwanese culture.

In our agency’s Taiwan program, after the baby has been relinquished by the birth mother, he or she is placed in a medical facility for a few weeks for observation. But the baby’s birth mother remains involved to a degree, in that she helps to select the adoptive parents. We will have to write a letter to the birth mother assuring her that we will provide a loving environment for the baby, along with some basic biographical information about ourselves, and a photo album with pictures of us, our families, our home, and the activities we enjoy. Based on this information, the birth mother approves the “referral” of the baby to us.

Then, after the baby has been observed in the medical facility, he or she is placed in foster care for approximately 6 months while the adoptive parents complete the necessary paperwork (the “dossier”) and obtain approval of the adoption from the Taiwanese courts. The approval process takes approximately 4 to 7 months after we submit our dossier. Upon court approval, the birth mother has 10 days to revoke the adoption. We have learned that this rarely occurs, since, by that time, it has been several months since the mother relinquished the baby. And unlike in U.S. adoption, the birth mother cannot take the baby back after the baby has been placed with the adoptive parents.

So, approximately one month after the court issues its approval, we will travel to Taiwan for 3-6 days to bring our baby boy home! This travel period is significantly shorter than what many other countries require. However, we are looking forward to those several days as an opportunity to experience the culture that our child comes from. If everything goes as planned, we should be traveling to Taiwan in the summer of 2007.

Made in Taiwan

"Please remember that change is the nature of international adoption. Families that have the best adoption experience are flexible and understanding of the changes that will inevitably occur."

This line has accompanied every e-mail we have received from our agency over the last few weeks. Boy, have they thrown us for a loop with this one. We could never have imagined the chain of events that has occurred.

Last Friday, our case worker advised us that the agency had just started a new program in Taiwan and that we were at the ideal point in the adoption process (having a nearly completed homestudy, but no paperwork sent to another country yet). A U.S. adoption agency that worked with a Taiwanese agency had gone bankrupt, leaving the Taiwanese agency looking for a new partner. They selected our agency. Currently, 4 infant boys between the ages of one and four months are waiting for a home, and all that is required initially is a completed homestudy. We have been given the wonderful opportunity to be one of the first four families to enroll in this program, who are expected to receive a referral almost immediately.

We took the weekend to ponder this option, formulate questions, and obtain answers, so that we could make an educated decision. We decided to go for it today after receiving the right answers.

So, e-mails have been flying between various parties to revise our homestudy report, which was just approved by our case worker yesterday for the Vietnam program. We have to dig through some additional records tonight and supply them to the social worker who completed our homestudy. But, most importantly, we received the following note form our case worker this afternoon, "[y]our application will be faxed to Taiwan today!!!"

Sometime while we are sleeping tonight, the agency in Taiwan will review our application. We could have a referral as early as this week, according to our case worker. We should definitely have it by Christmas, and may be traveling to finalize the adoption as early as May or June. I don't know that I can predict that this will all go off without a hitch, but I also don't think I can express how fortunate and joyous we are feeling right now.

There is more to tell, such as specifics features of this program that make it attractive. There are also feelings that this is happening faster than we expected, and a bit of amazement that we have been so fortunate -- as if we are being guided -- as well as the realistic awareness that not all of the changes that occur in international adoption are wonderful. So we will have to wait and see how things progress, and hope that the process continues to go as well as it has recently.