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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Not Legally Registered for Adoption

I have lost count how many people have contacted me about Serbian adoptions lately. So many families who were considering adopting from Serbia, only to find out things were not as they seem. I am here to tell you, Serbian adoptions are not "on hold". They never have been, and there is no reason to believe they will be in the near future. One only needs to contact the Serbian Ministry of Labor and Social policy directly to ask questions. They are always very quick to respond, and are eager to work with families interested in adopting from Serbia.

A year ago, when I met Ianna,  Dean and I decided to pursue her adoption only to find out a couple months down the road that not only was she not legally available for adoption, but her parental rights had not yet been terminated. Her picture had been listed on a popular photo listing website for somewhere around two years at that point. That was the fault of the facilitator who has since been found to be working unethically. Illegally, in fact.

When we decided to pursue the adoption of Axel, I was shocked, along with many others, at how quickly his adoption was completed. As happy as I was, my guard went up, and I began to look at the big picture and put some things together.

You see, previously adoptive families sent their dossier directly to the facilitator. (This is another post in itself, but lets just say handing over your financial information is a lot like this post. ) The dossiers were then brought to a court approved translator within Serbia. Once translated they were then delivered to the Ministry officials. If the family was seeking a child who was legally registered for international adoption, a travel date was immediately issued.

So why were there families who, several months after submitting their paperwork, were still waiting? Why had they heard NOTHING from the facilitator about a travel date? Let me restate this sentence: If the family was seeking a child who was legally registered for international adoption, a travel date was immediately issued.

Yes, several families who were waiting for travel dates have since discovered the children they hoped to adopt were not, nor have they ever been, legally available for adoption. Just like us with Ianna, their hearts were left broken.  Like us, these they have asked if there is anything the can do to help, even if it means going to Serbia to beg and plead a case for the child.

I am deeply saddened for these families. At least one child is in serious need of surgical care that is not available where he is.  In fact, three families I know of were hurried along, and told to get their paperwork done quickly, because these children needed to get into their homes as soon as possible. Two children had been waiting years, and another's health was failing fast. Each family completed their paperwork.....then nothing. No child. No adoption. Interestingly, though not legally available, one of these children is still pictured on a popular adoption photo-listing website.

The Serbian ministry is working with these families in whatever way they can, but they cannot just register children for international adoption who are not legally available. I have to say, I am very impressed with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy in Serbia. They were quick to act upon an issue of unethical practices in the adoption process, as their aim is to keep the process 100% transparent.  For the protection of children, you will not find photos listed anywhere at this time. (If they are listed, they are not being posted legally.)  Instead, you can contact the Ministry directly for more information about the children who are on the International Adoption Registry. As long as you have a pre-approval from them to adopt a child from Serbia, they will tell you what children meet the specifications you're looking for. Officials are quick to return emails and answer questions, and are anxious to see their beautiful children find a way into the homes of forever families.

Over the course of the last several months, particularly in the last week, Dean and I have come to the agreement that we can no longer support individual family fundraising efforts through any organization. We will continue to contribute, but our donations will be made directly to the adoptive families. We don't care about the tax deduction, we care about the families and the children they are hoping to bring home. As for the families mentioned above, people have donated money to the families who were hoping to adopt these children.  People who made those donations need to contact the organization involved and find out what is happening with those funds since those children are not able to be adopted at this time.

1 comment:

  1. Leah, nothing has happened to those funds. They are still sitting in their grant funds, waiting for them to be re-listed.

    There's a risk involved when donating directly to a family, too -- what if they don't get approved and can't complete an adoption?