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The Robots of International Adoption

robots of international adoption

“We are currently experiencing reduced delays in referral transmission and/or acquisition of…” What? Was that written by a refrigerator? Is it one of those “the robot will see you now” futurama things? No? Oh, right, we were talking about a family of human beings opening their heart (metaphorically, of course) and welcoming a living breathing human child into it, right? Right?

There is something I must admit: I am guilty of it too. I am guilty of using robot speak and lawyerese in my writing, in our documents, and on our website. I am, however, a recovering robo-lawyer-ic. (Yes, it’s a made up word)

Working on our new stuff I am trying to get rid of it all, not pile more of that into the conversation. It is, after all, a conversation between human beings, and we are talking about something near and dear to our hearts… NOT “a topic of relatively close positioning to hereby so called aortic pump” *(disclaimer applies).

So, if you see lawyerese and roboticus in some of my writing, or on our website , or in our documents… well, ok, some of our documents are designed to the specifications set forth by our friendly overseas robots, and we can’t deviate from those standards even my a millimeter, but if you see that gibberish in our conversations with you, in our newsletters, or in this blog – please be so kind to point it out to me, so we can potentially allocate resources for addressing or eliminating the aforementioned potential concerns, should one be deemed substantiated.

Our Acceptance Of The Referral Is Set In Stone

Cross the stone border
I’ve said it before, and while it’s nothing new, I’ll say it again: “Things change. People change. Everything changes.” In an ever changing world around us we are clinging to the idea that once something is set in stone – it’s there forever. Sometimes this good old “set in stone” isn’t enough, so not too long ago Russia’s then President wanted his words chiseled in marble… that, in case you are wondering, didn’t help much in terms of preserving things forever. Things change. We are designed to deal with changes. So, let’s deal with em.

There is a clearly defined process for adopting a child from a foreign country, and while steps of the process are not set in stone, chiseled in marble, or cast in iron, we all, be it adoptive parents, adoption agencies, or any other entities involved, must follow that process.

How does that relate to the topic of referrals? Well, a piece of paper, or an electronic transmission, from a foreign government is not  an unbreakable covenant between a family and that governmental entity, it’s a notification. Just as you can decline a referral, one can be withdrawn by following a procedure. In a case where a national of that country decides to adopt the child referred to a foreign family, the procedure in some places is as simple as notifying the foreign family of the fact that a domestic family is interested.

Does this happen often? No, it doesn’t. Does it ever? Yes, it does.

Is there anything we can do to make sure your adopted child comes home? Yes, we, and now we is you and us, can get paperwork done in a instant, get your court hearing scheduled, hope the judge makes a decision in your favor, and hope there aren’t any objections during the appeal period.

When I was describing this to a family over the phone, they told me that there is a lot of hope, and not enough things being definite. It’s true, but it’s also the nature of the international adoption.

It doesn’t mean that your adoption process won’t go well and without any complications, because there are a lot of adoptions like that. Why don’t we hear much about those? Well, parents got their kids home, and they are busy. They have places to go, things to see, family to visit, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews to play with, and they just don’t have time to be online and talk about how everything went well. Being a good parent takes time, and while some parents manage to incorporate some internet time into their tightly packed schedules, what are they going to tell you about their process that went well? We ask our parents for their success stories, and you know the most difficult part? Aside from parents being busy with the kids, their adoption story is usually two sentences in an email. “Everything went fine. It was quick. We didn’t really notice much. Sorry, got to go, John has soccer practice.”

Can your process be easy and simple? Yes. Can it be guaranteed? No.
What can you do to make sure everything is done and behind you? Cross the US border with your adopted child.

This is Not How The Other Adoption Agency Does Things

Dive in head first

It’s always interesting to get a glimpse into how the other agencies handle things. The best way to do that is to speak with a family who already did work with another agency, and now wants to work with us.

So, today I was asked a simple question – How do we begin and when are you going to send us all the paperwork?

We will send you an agreement as soon as we’ll receive, review, and approve you application. Once you review the agreement and decide that it works for you, you sign it and send it back to us. The process really begins when we get your signed agreement back.

Seems about right to me. That, however, is because I designed that process of handling documents. We get your information, create a file, enter stuff in our database, and then generate all the documents from there.

That, however, is not how some other agencies do things. You’ll get all the paperwork before you send in the application.

Why? What’s the point of working on stuff that is specific to the agency, country, or region, if you later decide not to work with the agency, or switch the country, or change the region?

There is a concern, and very valid one, that doing things our way may cause a delay.
Yes, there is a delay involved into sending us the application first, then getting an agreement, and sending it back to us. I’d estimate that delay to be, on average, about 48 hours. Which can be significantly reduced by sending us your application by fax or email, and we’ll email an agreement out to you shortly after that. It takes us about 20 minutes to review and approve your application, to enter your information into our database and generate your agreement. You’ll need to send that agreement back to us, we need your original signatures.

It is very important to us to have a good working relationship with our families, and while we may do things differently from other agencies, we do structure our process to maximize efficiency, reduce delays, and make it easy for you, and for us.

We know that you are anxious to begin your adoption process, we understand that you are ready to dive in head first, but please take a few minutes to read and understand the paperwork you are signing. There is a reason we addressed so many things in the agreement, there is a reason we outlined travel, and other parts of the process, and there is a reason schedule is very clearly defined, so you know what to expect and when.

This is a process, it will take time. Two days won’t slow you down much at the beginning, but taking time to do initial paperwork will simplify and clarify things.

Of course, you can always tell me later that I was wrong, and I’ll see what I can change to speed up and further simplify the process.

Upside Down And Inside Out, Or We’re In The News

We are in the news

It was my experience that if I ever wanted something flipped upside down, taken completely out of context, and perfectly misunderstood – the only sure way to have it done was to tell it to a reporter. It’s nice to see that in an ever changing world some things stay the same.

I also learned that there is a better, much more improved process of miscommunication. How could the above be topped? Turns out that it’s not hard at all, just have a newsie take an article and publish it, liberally translated, on a site geared towards reporting for a foreign country.

There are some things, however, that are pretty important. While I can’t say with an outmost certainty, but it should probably matter, that if you are reporting to a foreign country about something that we do in a foreign country, it should be about that particular country. Not the other one, close by, but that country. Yes, they do border each other, but they are still sovereign, independent nations. One being larger than the other by, literally, orders of magnitude, in both landmass and population.

Just in case I wasn’t clear – you got the country wrong!

We consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to work in both of those countries, and all other countries, and we are dedicated to doing our absolute best everywhere we work, but what we do in different countries is different. There are just some things that these countries do differently, and by differently I mean absolutely differently. One not like the other at all. Mixing up countries, mixing up processes, and liberally stating numbers make for exciting articles, but facts should be facts.

I like the attention that our programs are getting, I like that while we are concentrated on doing, someone is taking the time to make sure our programs are talked about, but please, please, please focus on the facts. We are, after all, working in a very important field. International adoption is a very essential, and a very serious field. We work with children, but not on childish things.

Agency Disconnected, Or Sorry, Your Phones and Internet Access Are Down.

We need phones and internet access. It’s impossible to overestimate just how much we rely on being able to communicate, and just how important it is to be able to communicate right at the moment we need it. We don’t even realize just how often we call overseas, or email out documents, until that moment when we can’t.

Not being able to send out an email that a foreign official is expecting? Bad.

Not being able to email documents out to a family? Bad.

Not being able to speak with a family on their way to the airport? Really, really bad!

The process of international adoption is 30% about paperwork and 227% about communication. Out of that, about 720% of importance is placed on talking to the family. Families come first, my staff, both local and overseas, are professional mind readers and know what I meant to say days before I actually get around to saying that.

Telephones and internet enable us to do our jobs. There are, of course, many other things that play an important role too, but without email our efficiency is cut by 50%, without both email and phones – we just can’t work at all. We can still do things in office and handle paperwork, but we can’t actually move the process along. Comcast, however, understands the importance of it, and sent a tech out immediately to look into what seems to be an area wide issue.

We missed some calls, unfortunately, and some of the emails didn’t go out as planned, but we are catching up and by the time this is on our blog – we should be all up and running.

If, however, you didn’t get a response from us as expected – please call us, or email us, again.

Have a good weekend! It’s 3 days and September is almost here, have fun, enjoy the weather.

Sorry, You Don’t Get To See Your Child, Flight is Overbooked.

Airline Check-in


Your fist trip to meet your child is both exciting, and nerve wreaking, and the last thing you need is another wrench thrown into it by an airline, but it happens.

Airlines screw up. We don’t want them to, they don’t want to, but it’s a fact of life – things don’t always work out perfectly. Our family today had a run in with this fact of life.

An airline overbooked a flight, and our family couldn’t fly out. It wasn’t even an international flight, it was a domestic one. They couldn’t even get to JFK to fly out on time, it just wasn’t happening, instead they got routed through Heathrow, London.

One of the least pleasant options for an air traveller is being routed through Heathrow. It’s one thing if you voluntarily chose to fly though Heathrow, and thus brought upon yourself everything associated with a connection through there, but being told you have to get a connection there is just about synonymous with being told to kiss your travel plans goodbye, because you are going to be late.

In my many connections in Heathrow I have never ever expected a flight to leave on time. It does, sometimes, work to your advantage. Just because your flight is 4 hours late coming in, doesn’t mean your flight out of Heathrow already left. You may just have to wait another 4 hours, and you have time to relax, get some food, and stretch your legs. It’s not bad on your way home, but not when you actually need to be somewhere.

So, routed through Heathrow and by the time our family landed in Moscow their connecting flight was long gone.

What do you do in this situation? Well, you call us. Call our office, call our Moscow coordinator, call our in-country staff, just get in touch with one of us and we will take care of it. Whomever you’ll get a hold of will get in touch with the people needed, and get things going. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of phone calls and you are on your next flight, but if the need arises – they’ll literally hold your hand and walk you all the way thought to the next departure gate.

As I was finish up last paragraph I received an update that the family is scheduled for their next flight, which will be departing shortly, and our regional coordinator called to confirm arrival time and is ready to meet the family. So, it’s all taken care of.

We can’t make the planes fly on time, but we can take care of things when they don’t. However, please do remember that arriving for your flight early (very early), or even checking in online hours before making it to the airport is a good idea, and making use of modern technology to avoid unnecessary delays is… well, that’s what it’s there for – to make our lives easier.

Do what needs to be done to get on that flight, you don’t really want to hear “Sorry, you can’t go see your child, flight is overbooked”, do you?

Your Comments Are Welcome

Linking families togetherWe are restructuring and rebooting World Links, we are taking it more into the interconnected World, and we are going to talk more to our families.

Not just about cases specifically, which we, of course, do, but privately, and it’s up to everyone individually to decide what to make public,  but in this day and age, the age of social networking, we want to talk to our families about other things that we do, about the projects we are working on, about the programs we are running, and we want to get your feedback.

So, as part of the process we are introducing this blog, because it’s time to turn this monologue into a discussion, and your comments are welcome.