Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What are "red flags"?

The world of international adoption is one that is very different than what most people are used to dealing with. Sometimes you find yourself in situations where you don't trust what you're seeing or hearing. It is always important to trust your gut NO MATTER WHAT! There may have been others before you who didn't follow their instincts, and there will be more coming behind you as well who are trusting that their process will be smooth thanks to those who came before them. This is called "Paving the way". But if each family ignores the stones they trip over, leaving them for the next family to trip as well, the path will never be worn smooth.

Proverbs 4:18-26

18But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
19The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
20My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
21Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
22For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
24Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
25Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
26Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
So as you enter into your own adoption process, no matter what country you're adopting from, keep some things in mind:
1) If ever you are asked to do something that doesn't feel right in your gut, TRUST those instincts. God gave them to you for a reason, and when your stomach tightens when you're asked, that is a red flag! God is waving it in your face!

2) There ARE times where extra expenses come up, particularly if you're dealing with a non-hague country. But they are usually reasonable, such an increased tax to obtain a new birth certificate or passport, but it shouldn't be exorbitant.  BUT, if you're ever asked for more money that what has previously been agreed upon, and the amount you're being asked for seems unreasonable, if you feel yourself trapped and that there is no other way forward than to pay that amount that one person is demanding, that is a red flag. God is waving it in your face!

3) If the person you're dealing with becomes very paranoid about who you talk to and what you tell them, THAT is a red flag. God is waving it in your face.

4) If you notice the person you're working with NEVER leaves you alone with legal officials, THAT is a red flag, and God is waiving it in your face.

5) If you are ever told to keep the amount of the facilitation fee you're paying...or the fact that you're paying one at all...a secret, THAT is a red flag. God is waving it in your face! Facilitators are usually necessary for international adoptions. There is much running around to do to get all the necessary documents in place, and facilitators do just that. They hold your hand and get you to all the various places you need to be, and they make sure the process is done as quickly and smoothly as possible. It is reasonable that you would pay a fee for this service, as they have families to feed also. Adoption facilitation is NOT secret, nor is the fact you pay a fee for it or how much you're paying. Some countries have rules about adoption facilitation, and if you're told to keep secrets it's very possible there are laws being broken. This includes contracts between yourself and agencies/organizations that state you are not to share the contract with anyone. 

6) If you are asked to pay a fee that you'd never been told about before, and you refuse to pay it, then the person requesting the money starts to insult you, call you a "trouble maker", use fear or ANY type of threat if you don't pay that fee (in other words, you fear if you don't pay you may not get your child out of the country, or that the entire adoption program in that country now rests on your shoulders) That is a red flag. God is waving it in your face.

7) GET RECEIPTS! If you want to claim the adoption tax credit, you must have them!  Ask ahead of time!!! If you're in country and ask for receipts and are told, "Oh, we don't give receipts." or "I will have to send them to you when you get home." THAT is a red flag, and God is waving it in your face! DO NOT leave the country without those receipts. 

The most important thing in all of this, is to follow your gut! If you are seeing red flags, TELL someone!!! Tell whatever agency connected you with the facilitator. THEY are your advocates and if they cannot advocate for you, then there are even more questions to be asked. Try your best to ask these questions BEFORE you enter into an agreement with them. ASK "If I run into xyz, how will you handle it? Do you have my back?"

When you're adopting from a non-hague country and are not required to use an adoption agency, everything is different. You're kind of on your own. If working with an agency, ask for WRITTEN PROOF they are approved to work in the country you're planning to adopt from.  Talk with other families who have used the facilitators or agency you are using, and ask if THEY saw any red flags during their adoption process.

Yes, we ran into some problems in Serbia while completing our first adoption, and they are now resolved, (May 2011 I did have to return to Serbia to give a deposition on the case which will eventually go to trial.)  They are problems that you can run into no matter what country you're adopting from. Things like extortion and the threats that come with it. Those families coming behind me to this country should not have any more of the questions I, or the families who came before me had. You will now work directly with the Serbian ministry, with COCI to hold your hand, help you secure lodging, get to your required meetings, etc. 

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