November is Adoption Awareness Month and this past sunday was Orphan Sunday. I think you all know how I feel about adoption. ALL orphans need homes, no matter where in the world that home may be, but for obvious reasons those with special needs have a place of honor in my heart.
I think many of you also know how I feel about the corruption surrounding international adoption. Adoptive families are paying ransom to get their children home. This morning I received an email from someone who directed me to the website of a U.S. based non-profit organization claiming to do Serbian adoptions. The woman asked how much they charge, and she was told $25,000 - $30,000. And...that she could adopt a healthy toddler there. There are ransoms for orphans, and then there are RANSOMS!
This makes me so angry. Absolutely furious, really.
Let me give you a little education about Serbian adoptions. Keep in mind that while some things are the same as they were a year ago, other things have changed. I seem to get a lot of flack from people saying things like "When I did my adoption 5 years ago" or whatever. That was YOUR adoption, and is not necessarily what happens now.
1) Serbia has somewhere around 50 children currently registered for international adoption. (they told me approximately 40 back in May and there have been children added recently, in addition to some coming home.)
2) Every single child on the list is considered to have "special needs". Anything from CP, DS, Autism Spectrum disorders, etc.
3) Serbian adoptions are FREE. The Serbian government charges NOTHING for an adoption. If you CHOOSE to use a facilitator you will pay for that service. That service should NOT be tens of thousands of dollars! It shouldn't be more than somewhere around 3000 euros and that INCLUDES your logging, in-country travel, translation fees, new documents (birth certificate for child, passport) and the visa.
4) If your facilitator is a Serbian state employee, it is against Serbian law for them to take money for adoption related services. It is considered a conflict of interest.
5) Did I mention there are no healthy children allowed to be adopted out of Serbia? There are nearly 500 Serbian families waiting to adopt healthy children. Every Serbian orphan (healthy or not) is offered to Serbian families first, and must be rejected by 3 or more families before they are able to be registered for international adoption. While you are welcome to submit a dossier for a healthy Serbian child, it does not mean such a child exists on the registry.
6) There is a PROCESS for Serbian adoptions. The first step is to contact the Serbian ministry directly, introduce yourself and explain the type of child you are looking to adopt. From there the Ministry will answer your questions after you have provided them with the appropriate information. They will not release to you information about the children on the registry until you have been given pre-approval to adopt. If you would like the contact information for the Serbian ministry please contact me privately ( my email button is at the top left sidebar) and I will give it to you. I just don't want to post it and have them upset with me because their email box is full of junk!
7) You cannot go to Serbia and request to choose a child while you are there. The private information of Serbian orphans is not given out. You are matched with a child before you travel. Yes, you will have choices based on the criteria you have provided. It could be there is only one child, or there could be 10. It just depends upon your family. For example, we requested a child in a certain age range and listed the type of special needs we feel capable of handling. We were then given a list of children who meet that criteria. Even with that, in most cases you will know more about that child before traveling than you would a child you were going to Ukraine to adopt.
The Serbian adoption process is quick and smooth. The Ministry is a pleasure to deal with and most of the time quick to respond to questions. Do keep in mind though that this particular office wears many hats and adoption services is just one of their many roles.