5/28/08 Update: A family just contacted me about another agency offering the Xing Fu program. The agency is Hand in Hand out of Arizona. They are assigned to the Nanjing orphanage in Jiangsu Province. The family providing the information has just signed on with Hand in Hand and are very pleased with the agency and process so far. Hand in Hand appears to call their program United in Hope for the Special Needs Children of Nanjing, China, and more information can be seen at their website http://www.hihiadopt.org/ . Thanks to the family that provided this information. I am glad that there is at least one more agency with this special program!
Even though we are not currently pursuing further international adoptions, I do try to keep current with adoption processes and trends because I get asked about it on a fairly regular basis. It is constantly changing, so it’s kind of hard to keep up with it all.
Today I got an email from an agency that summarized some of the changes involved with Chinese adoption, particularly the special needs process. I wanted to summarize some of that information here for my readers who may be considering this.
The first interesting point was about non-special needs adoption. The email emphasized the continued lengthening of the process by stating that the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) has only matched 72 days worth of log-in dates in the last 12 months. The wait times for non special needs kids continue to increase, and this agency (along with many others) does not expect that to change any time soon.
Because of this dramatic wait-time increase, many families have opened up to adopting special needs kids. Unfortunately, there are many changes in the special needs process from China as well. First of all, photolistings are nearly non-existant or are difficult to access. Although I understand the need to protect children’s identities, seeing those pictures has helped parents in the past to “connect” with a particular child. It is harder to find that connection with generic, non-specific listing of gender, age, and broad description of special need. This has also made advocating for these kids very difficult at best, and impossible in reality.
The next big change for SN adoptions is that the CCAA has transitioned everything to an online system through their website. Previously, each agency that had a special needs program received paper files. The agencies that now have access to the CCAA’s SN files have a special computerized “key” to access that information. Again, this promotes privacy, but it also complicates parents being able to be matched with a child. I will explain that more in the following paragraphs.
The CCAA now has several SN programs including the individual agency lists, the XingFu program (which I will describe later), and the Shared Agency List. The individual lists given to agencies are quite limited and small, and the XingFu program is only available from one or two USA agencies, so by far the largest program is the Shared Agency List. The Shared Agency Program is just that, a list of available children that is shared by many, many agencies. Although this program does offer the files to the largest number of potential families, this can complicate matching for those families. The competition for these kids is unbelievable. For example, this particular agency has its staff member with the shared agency “key” in China, so she can monitor the shared list in Chinese time. Here in America, most of the files are added during the night, while it is daytime in China. The kids that have “minor” special needs are literally placed on hold within minutes of being listed on the CCAA’s shared list, so by the time American agencies open the next morning, most of those files are already on hold.
The CCAA also has new time-frame requirements, and there are pro’s and con’s. They really want these kids placed quickly, which is great. Unfortunately, it also causes difficulties for the adoptive families. First of all, if a family is able to get a child placed on hold off of the shared list, they only have 48 hours to submit a Letter of Intent along with several other documents or the child’s file will be returned to the list. Again the time difference between China and the USA really limits this time frame to 24 hours. So, basically a family must really have an understanding of the requested special need and its treatments because there will be no time during the referral process to consult with physicians or other professionals.
There are also time limitations on submitting a complete dossier (including the homestudy and immigration approval) when pursuing one of these Shared Agency List children. Using this program, a family has to submit the completed dossier within one month of accepting a referral. If the child happens to be on an agency’s individual list, there is a three-month time frame to work with. So, basically a family has to be pretty far along with the paperwork to be matched with a waiting child. Again, this expedites the process of placing the children, so I guess that part is good.
This agency is suggesting that families be open to a variety of special needs. The kids with the most requested special needs are put on hold very quickly, so being open to a variety of conditions opens up more possibilities. Just a personal thought, though: don’t jump at a special need that you are not prepared for just to end the wait. I highly recommend careful thought and a lot of research, which, of course, has to be done in advance because of the new processes.
Finally, I do want to mention the XingFu program. This, I think would be the program that I would pursue if we were going to start over again. Currently the only agency that I am aware of here in the USA that has this program is Homeland Adoption Services. Their website is http://www.hometown.aol.com/brightinfo/ . This really is a neat program that I would love to see expanded. The best way to explain this program is the description on their homepage that says the following:
We invite you to explore the possibility of adopting a wonderful waiting child through our XingFu Program! Through agreements with CCAA, Civil Affairs, and orphanage officials in Jiangsu Province, we are currently placing all the waiting children from Wuxi, and Changzhou. The children range in age from under a year up to 12. There are boys and girls, and most have correctable medical needs. Call us at 845-727-0500 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have read that there are currently more kids available through this program than there are families waiting. There are other advantages to this program as well. The Homeland staff have direct access to these kids and can often provide detailed medical reports, photos, and even videos. Even more information can often be requested if needed. Families are able to exclusively review files and have more time to carefully consider children and get advice from professionals. The process is expedited, and families often travel in groups similar to other programs. Although I have had no personal contact with Homeland Adoption Services, I am a member of their Xing Fu program discussion group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeland_xingfu , and it seems that the families there cannot say enough good about the agency and this special program. So, like I said earlier, I think this would be the route that we would take if we were to begin another adoption.
I would defintely advise any family considering SN adoption to be in close contact with their agencies. The process seems to be continually changing. Although this new process is definitely more difficult than what we had when we adopted Kara, if God has layed SN Chinese adoption on your heart, I would not be discouraged. He will show you the way and will move the world to bring your child home when it is in His will. We personally experienced this when we brought home Kara. So trust Him, and procede in faith.
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