CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER HANSEN
Twice a year MCCS offers an International Adoption Workshop through the Marine and Family Services Center. The workshop covers issues pertaining to both international & domestic adoption (don’t let the title fool you!). Adoption is possible while living in Okinawa.
Before my husband and I were married, we discussed the possibility of adopting children. I was raised in a family where my parents fostered children and adopted a special needs child. Adoption for me is the norm – normal from a sibling/child perspective, not from an adult perspective.
At this point, we don’t know if we want to adopt, but we’d certainly like it to be an option on the table. The problem was we knew nothing about the adoption process to discuss the issue intelligently. And while Internet research can be valuable, it’s only valuable to the person doing the research and not the other partner. To that end, we agreed to attend the workshop together as a starting point.
I had absolutely no information walking in. That is why I know that you can go to this workshop and get something from it.
Sandra Beecher started the day. Sandra works for MCCS and also volunteers with several adoptive communities (such as the Okinawa Yahoo group) and is an adoptive mother. I found her to be very sweet and personable.
Sandra covered issues such as:
• General thoughts on adoption.
• The various ways that you can adopt.
• How adoption works on Okinawa.
• We had an adoptive mother come and share her experience as well.
The second part of the day was headed up by Karen Hanson. Karen is the only social worker on island (be glad we have one!) and an adoptive mother. I found her to be amusing and knowledgeable. I even had the thought that if we went forward with the process, I would be grateful to have her as our social worker (because the process of adoption is extremely invasive).
• Some reasons why you might want to adopt.
• The stressors that can come from adoption.
• The home study process.
Lastly, a gentleman from the consulate came to speak about the various forms that needed to be filled out to obtain a visa for your internationally adopted child.
This is the only part of the day I found to be not very useful. Mostly because (a) I am not that far into the adoption process to know if I’m going to adopt, let alone know if I’m adopting internationally or domestic, and (b) let’s face it, I didn’t know what a Hauge was so I was going to be lost on talk revolving around government forms regardless. It was doomed from the start.
In my opinion, if the workshop is focused around the beginning adoptive parent, the time spent towards government forms would have been better served going over available financial options that are open to adoptive parents. I left the class feeling as if I’d have to clean out my savings account in order to adopt, and that’s not fiscally responsible to the two children we have now. Someone has to pay for my kids to go to college, after all.
Though I know that’s not true and there are grants, tax breaks and loan options available. Perhaps MCCS would consider a workshop focusing on this? I could see this as a valuable tool prior to starting the process.
There were parts of the day that I was left scratching my head because of my lack of knowledge prior to attending. For instance, when asked if we were interested in adopting from a Hauge country, I thought, “What’s a Hague?!” Yet, in general, this workshop was focused toward the newbie adoptive parent.
If you are considering adoption, I highly recommend this workshop. Overall it was informative and it did the job I was hoping it would: It opened the door for the adoption conversation between my husband and I. Attendance can be counted toward the hours required to complete the adoption process.
You do not have to be versed in the ins and outs of adoption to attend. However, it never hurts to research a bit.
• Okinawa Yahoo Group – the Yahoo group is NOT in any way affiliated with MCCS. Membership includes parents who have successfully adopted while on Okinawa and those going through the process. You are also encouraged to join the Yahoo group prior to attending a workshop.
• You Can Adopt: An Adoptive Families Guide By Susan Caughman and Isolde Motley
• Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mother’s Journey to Adoption in China by Beth Nonte Russell
• Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope In A Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt
Affiliate links embedded in this post. If you purchase a book through these links, Okinawa Hai will earn pennies at no extra cost to you. Thanks!