Two guest blogs in a row? How awesome is that??
Doreen Beltz, wife to 1, mom to 5, and family pastor to many at The River Church, Kalamazoo, MI (in that order!) has been kind enough to write up her experience with the international adoption of their two adorable little Chinese girls.
The Beltz Family International Adoption Experience:
Whether starting or expanding your family, the decision to become a parent is one giant step closer to God. He designed us to "be in family" and glorify Him through our relationships with other family members. There are something like 28 legally "accepted" definitions of what constitutes a family nowadays...humans are so creative.
My family consists of me, my awesome husband, 1 biological daughter (15), 2 biological sons (12 & 11) and 2 daughters (both 6) adopted from China. Adoption has ebbed and flowed over time and everyone has an opinion about it. Personally, I feel it's a beautiful thing.
Both of our international adoption processes were typical. That is to say that there was nothing predictable, simple or inexpensive about either adventure! Nonetheless, I have been both spiritually-strengthened and deepened as a mom through these experiences.
If you are considering an international adoption, begin with prayer. Work with your spouse to be clear that you are "on the same page", as the process creates stress in every area of family life and finances. Work with a reputable adoption agency (we chose Adoption Associates in Jenison, MI) and line up resources of support for you, your spouse and your children.
We adopted Lydia in 2004 at the age of 14 months and 5-year-old Margaret Mae in 2009, both from China. The girls are 10 months apart and polar opposite in temperament. (Which is actually awesome--they get along like peas and carrots, each with her own "turf"!)
Both adoptions were considered "special needs", as they both have congenital heart defects, now repaired. Because of the special needs classification, our time frame was shorter than most--completed in about a year. Typically, international adoptions vary between 2 and 3 years from start to finish and some require extensive in-country stays or multiple trips. I spent 10 days in China the first trip and 15 days the second trip, before bringing the girls home.
Each adoption cost us about $23K, more than we anticipated in each case. Delays, changing regulations and hidden costs add up quickly and really test one's perseverance. However, costs can be shaved by taking advantage of tax credits, employer contributions (thanks Pfizer) and other opportunities for financial assistance.
Adding to the family (no matter how you do it!) certainly shakes things up and requires sacrifice from all. But when you are living in line with God's plan for His people and adding to His family in the process, He will guide, encourage and protect you every step of the way!
If you have questions about international adoption, Doreen can be contacted at dbeltz at theriver dot info.