Last update : 07/2007
The Cockrum Family Website
"Questions we get about International Adoption"
We feel incredibly fortunate that God has led us down the path of adoption. We hope you find this website a good source of information. It was created because so many people ask us questions about adoption.
These questions are -sometimes- hard to answer in a quick conversation (which is usually the setting when we receive adoption questions) OR they are questions we know you might like to ask an adoptive parent but don't have the "guts" to ask! Questions about feelings, bonding, and ... cost.
Hopefully, reading this site
will “demyth” some adoption stereotypes and, possibly, answer questions that have kept some of you from looking into
adoption further. We are very open about our adoptions/births and consider
it an honor to be asked.
The Questions We Get
(or know you'd like to ask...)
November 2006...Our four Crazy Gentlemen!
1. Do you feel a “difference” between your “homemade” kids and your
We can –truly- answer this with a resounding “NO”. God has planted a “fire-in-our-belly” kind of love for each of our boys just as he does in others for their children. For a few of our kiddos, this type of love progressed in us rather than instantly combusted!!! Having a screaming newborn for 3 mos does not lend itself towards head-over-heels love nor does meeting a two-year old kiddo who has very distinct opinions about things!! BUT BUT BUT….just as you slowly fall-in-love after having an initial feeling of a “crush” we’re in-love with each of our boys regardless of how they came to be ours. Please rest-assured that you’d feel the same way if you are contemplating adding a “handpicked” child to your group of “homemade” kiddos! There –truly- is NO difference in the amount of love, feelings, or hopes we have for these boys..and girl!
We would also like to note that many
adoptive parents (specifically Mommas) can experience a type of "baby blues"
after the child is home. This is similar to "Post-Partum Depression"
but is referred to as "Post Placement Depression". Adoption is such a
rollercoaster of emotions. It is hard to balance it all out once the
precious child is home. Please...simply beware that is is a "real"
thing and there are resources to help if you are or know of a newly adoptive
parent who is dealing with depression after placement.
2. You are just “better parents”? Or "We’re not good enough parents to adopt".
HA HA HA!! We can lay that one to rest easily!! We are NOT perfect parents –wow- we are so far from it. We are confused, concerned, tired, frustrated, and grumpy often!! It does not take a “special” skill set to adopt other than the God-placed desire to do it.
April 19, 2005 ....Momma's first time holding Tye! He cried for a mere 30 seconds. Then he cuddled into Momma's shoulder and didn't let go for about an hour. Momma likes to think he was just so happy to have her...but he was probably just terrified!
April 19, 2005 - We'd had Tye in our arms for a few hours at this point...He was already smiling! We knew his cleft lip/palate was large. When we got home, we had Tye seen by the Cleft Palate Team at Riley's Hospital in Downtown Indianapolis, IN. The surgeon said it was the widest cleft they'd ever seen. Tye had learned to compensate for his cleft. He could eat most anything! We felt led to adopt a child with medical needs for our second adoption...the others have been non-special needs kidlets. Tye's doing well. His speech is exceptionally delayed. He will have his third surgery this Winter of 2007. He will have approx. 6-8 more surgeries over the course of his childhood & teen years. However, his personality more than makes up for any lack of words he may experience!
3. International adoption is expensive, right?
Adoption is pricey. It’s frustrating, we know, to WANT to adopt but for money to be the overriding factor. Typically, an international adoption costs between $14,000 and $29,000.
An older child with a minor-correctable condition (like Tye’s) are “less expensive” while healthy infants cost the most. We know it’s disgusting to speak as such BUT it’s the world we live in and God’s bigger than it. The demand for infants is higher so the “orphanage fees” and “agency fees” may cost more because they can! By law, you cannot buy “a child” –of course- . The money’s used mostly for facilitating the adoption ( agency fees/international fees/document fees) and to compensate the orphanage/foster home for the care the child received while there and travel and document preparation.
countries have different "international fees". At this point in time, China,
& Guatemala are some of the most costly. Russia's international fees
are not that high but you must travel twice so that increases the overall
costs. Some African countries, Ethiopia, and Haiti are
opening their doors to international adoptions. Their international fees are
Domestic adoptions are a bit of a different story in regards to finances. We’re not as well-versed in that situation but there is a lot of info at www.adopt.com. There is a photolisting of waiting kids from the States (kiddos in foster care situations usually).
April 2005 - Chase (our first adopted son / Russia 1998) went with us to China to receive his new brother. To have our oldest son, who also has an adoption heritage, in the room WITH us the instant we all met Tye was truly breathtaking. Chase was so loving and amazed with Tye. It really helped Chase understand the instant love that adoptive parents experience...just as in a birth. We have decided that his two week, Chinese adventure counted as one of the most amazing home school field trips in history!
Also, we have acquaintances who have adopted domestically with very little cost associated. They were open to biracial and other special needs. There’s a lot of governmental assistance for this type of situation. Specifically, many states have health insurance programs for these children so that their adoptions can be facilitated better.
There’s a $10,390 TAX CREDIT for you the year your adoption’s finalized (the credit is income-tested so talk to your accountant or check at www.tax-credit.adoption.com for info). Remember a tax credit isn't like a deduction - it's WAY better. Basically you pay $10,390 LESS in taxes when you adopt internationally. The credit can be spread out over several years.
Many corporations provide matching funds/employee benefit for adoptions. Eli Lilly’s gives $5,000 for an employee to adopt!! Also, just so you know, Family Medical Leave Act is also for families who adopt and an adopted child is added to your health insurance the same as a newborn is added (Usually! Be sure to check with your insurance carrier. It's VERY uncommon to have problems adding a newly adopted child to a policy). Typically, adopted childre are added to your health insurance plan the second the adoption is final and no pre-existing conditions are considered.
We are a good example
of this. Tye, who needed and will need surgeries and therapies for his cleft
lip/palate, was added to our health insurance policy as of the date of his
adoption without any pre-existing conditions exclusion (it was a birth
February 2005 - This is Tye's "care" package we sent to China. We were all anxiously waiting for "the call" to tell us we had "travel approval" and could book tickets to go get our kiddo! We were happy to be able to , at least, send him a few gifts. When we met Tye, he was carrying that photo album and the stuffed animal. The photo album was a favorite of his. He would slowly flip the pages and gaze...then look at us...then the page...He seemed to figure out that we were "those" people in the album - Momma & Daddy. When we adopted Chase (Russia), we did not have the option of sending packages, etc. International adoption has changed dramatically in recent years.
Families/Friends are often MORE than willing to extend interest-free loans or donations to your adoption fund. We’ve even seen several people selling items on Ebay specifically to add to their adoption fund…- and they get better attention/sales! Your church may have resources to help with your adoption. We have heard of families doing all sorts of things to raise money: garage sales, car washes, sending out support letters, moving to a less expensive home, driving a car longer to save $, refinancing their homes, using their savings (!!),…etc…The more creative you could be the better your results.
There are several charities that give grants for adoptions. One is “Shaohannah’s Hope” which was started by a Christian singer, Steven Curtis Chapman, and his family. Go to stevencurtischapman.com for info. Or do a “google.com” search for “adoption grants” and apply for everything you see!!
4. What agency should we use?
We can, without doubt or fear, recommend several agencies, Families Thru International Adoption FTIA.org or A Family Journey AFamilyJourney.org. IF you are interested in a local adoption, we suggest you start researching local agencies by asking friends & families of successful, domestic adoptions that they know of. IF you are in Indiana or the Midwest (really...anywhere in the U.S.), we can recommend Bethany Adoption Services. Andrea has had interaction with this agency in regards to counseling for our local Crisis Pregnancy Center.
This is the outside Tye's orphanage. There was another building on the property that was used as a nursing home. It was in a very rural area of Changchun, China which is approx. 500 miles north of North Korea.
We were with FTIA, initally, for our Guatemalan adoption. However, we saw our daughter on a list of waiting children. That list is precious.org. (Please note that we do not have specific information on every agency listed at precious.org. The ONLY agency we have personal experience with on that list is "A Family Journey".)
When we saw our daughter, we knew we were to pursue her. That meant switching agencies. It was scary but we felt God prompting us towards our daughter. With FTIA's blessing, we changed our paperwork to A Family Journey and are now in the process of bringing our baby girl HOME!
It's Birthday Season from Oct. 31-Dec. 28th! ALL the kids' birthdays are in that 2 month time span...not to mention Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!!!
Also, a GREAT way to research agencies is to become a member of a country-specific yahoo or google group. You can search for international adoption/country-specific groups on each site's home page. We are members of several yahoogroups that have provided priceless information.
We are in a group that consists solely of other families who've adopted from Rostov, Russia (where our first son was adopted from). Another yahoo group is of families who've adopted from the same orphanage as us in Changchun, China. Yet another is for people who have internationally adopted toddlers and discussing the challenges that brings.
We are also a member of a yahoo group for
people who are adopting from Guatemala. Groups like these are great for
asking about agencies' reputations, etc. And it's great fun to compare notes
and "walk" along this adventure with others who truly understand the
This is the inside of Tye's baby house. The children are divided up by age and live, eat, sleep with their group. Tye had approx. 15 children in his 2 year old group. His orphanage had over 70 children there. Many were older. The school-age children would goto school each day but return to the orphanage afterwards. Chase, our son, had a difficult moment when he realized that not EVERY child (orphan) gets adopted. It was a revelation to him that occurred while we were visiting Tye's baby house in Changchun, China on our pick-up trip. As his mother I kind of wish I could have sheltered him from this knowledge forever. However, it has spurred him on to want to help older kids who live in orphanages.
5. We don’t feel we are to adopt but we’d like to help children in need.
Not everyone is called to bring a child into their home! Maybe it’s to volunteer, donate, ..PRAY! If you want to get involved more on that level a good website would be: lovewithoutboundaries.com this deals mostly with helping Chinese orphans, etc. They use 100% of their donations to help the children. This website will pull at your heartstrings – beware!
There is another organization that we feel confident in recommending. This is LifeLineOfHope.org This organization is active in several different countries. Their main goal is to get individuals, small groups, churches, etc., to sponsor orphanages who are in desperate need. Again, this website tugs at your heartstrings but is, obviously, worth your time to look at.
6. Why did you pick International adoption
versus Domestic adoption?
This is, definitely, simply a personal decision. OUR reasons involved the American legal system’s bias towards biological parents. Now, obviously, Chase, Tye, & Aven know (Tye & Aven will soon understand) how they became a “Cockrum”. We, also, will support their desires to track down their medical history, birthparents, etc, once they are adults themselves. We would LOVE to meet the birthparents. To be able to hug my children's birthmoms would be such a lovely moment...For we both want the same things for these precious children.
We esteem and honor both Chase, Tye, and
Aven's birthmoms. We are eternally thankful for them, though they are unknown to
us. We pray they will have a peace about the release of these children. We
will always encourage our adopted sons to talk about these wonderful
women….and we will encourage our biological sons to talk about how wonderful
their birthmom is!!
December 2005 - Zane is doing great sharing "his" toys with his new bro!
Seriously though, one thing that we are certain about, is that Chase, Tye, & Aven should be the ones to determine, once they are of age, when/if/how/where they want to start this type of search. It should not be up to anyone else. Unfortunately, this value system is not in place within the legal system of our country – at least not to OUR comfort levels.
That being said, we have many friends who’ve adopted domestically and it’s been a beautiful situation with no concerns about the future. But, for us, we found our peace in International adoption.
Regardless of where your child comes from…adoption is adoption.
This is a "Dossier" (plus two cute boys!). A "Dossier" is a confusing "international adoption word" that refers to all of the paperwork you must submit to your adoption agency for the adoption. Typically, a dossier includes: homestudy (a portfolio of your family compiled by a local social worker), medical exams, financial statements, marriage certs., birth certs, witness statements, references, CIS/INS (Immigration & Naturalization) documents (specifically a document that states you have been cleared -via fingerprints- to adopt and bring a child into the States), and various country-specific forms...phew! It's all worth it though. Our Russian dossier took approx. 2-3 mos to compile; our Chinese approx. 4 months; our Guatemalan approx. 3 mos. Typically, you end up waiting on the CIS/INS forms the longest...so file that first!!! Your agency helps you compile all of this...and they usually hate us by the time it's over!! We are BAD at paperwork!
7. Do you have any concerns about raising multi-cultural children in our society?
To be honest, for our first adoption, one of the reasons we chose Russia was because our child would be Caucasian. This was our FIRST parenting experience. We did not feel ready to parent outside of our own nationality. We were not concerned about hair color, etc, but did feel drawn toward adopting a Caucasian child versus Mayan, Asian, African, etc., at that time.
For our second adoption and our fourth son…..we felt much differently. We’d learned more about ourselves and were certain that Tye’s beautiful Asian heritage would only benefit our family. And this has proven itself true. Again, there is no “difference” in our feelings between the biological kids/adopted kids, Caucasian kiddos/Asian kiddo, easy kiddos/difficult kiddos, loud boys/quiet boys, messy boys/clean boys, etc…It’s just four little boys who light up our days continually. And we are excited to see how these four boys handle a baby girl!
In regards to Aven's Mayan heritage, we are happy and excited to bring another multi-cultural kiddo into our family. Tye gets a lot of public attention (it may be just because he's so cute!!). It's "obvious" that he's adopted. No one makes these same assumptions with our adopted Caucasian child. People are very brazen in the questions they ask about Tye. It takes some getting used to...
If you are considering adopting a multi-cultural child - BE PREPARED for questions! Again, we like the questions but the rude/badly worded ones are difficult to swallow. Especially when it's in front of our children. Be prepared for questions such as: "Do you know what happened to his REAL Mom?" (Why yes...Andrea's fine! Thanks); "How much did he cost?" (Not enough!); "Couldn't you have children of your OWN?" (Yes...I have four -almost five- children of my OWN!); "Why was he given up?" (He was released for adoption out of love by his birthmom).
We are hoping that, by adding another non-Caucasian child to our family, the emphasis will be removed from Tye while in public. It's kind of hard to explain but we are fairly sure he will not appreciate this attention when he's older. We don't think this is the case for all multi-cultural kids in a Caucasian family but we do feel it is the case for Tye.
(No, Aven's not coming home just
because we need another multi-cultural kid!! Andrea knew the first night we
were home with Tye that we'd adopt again. There was still "someone
In regards to how Tye & Aven will feel being raised in our Caucasian-dominate family…We’re pretty sure that others will make a bigger deal about it than they will! Of course, there are options such as “Families with Children from China” www.fwcc.org, etc. These are groups of parents that get their kiddos together so the kids can relate to other Asian, adopted kids. There are these same types of organizations for each international adoption. We keep track of “Families Through Russian and Ukrainian Adoptions” www.frua.org in case we ever feel Chase needs to be a part of this type of thing. Also, we are close friends with five other families who have adopted from Guatemala. There are definitely ways to provide support for these internationally adopted children.
November 2004 - This is one of the pictures we received from our adoption agency while waiting to bring Tye home. We were so happy that he seemed well-cared for. We will receive updated photos AND video of Aven every 8 weeks. We are immensely excited about that. Unfortunately, we did not receive any updates of Chase while we waited for him. However, it was only approx. 8 weeks from the time we saw him on a list for the first time to the moment we had him in our arms in Russia. We waited for Tye for approx. 10 mos and will wait for Aven anywhere from 4-8 mos.
This type of “how will they feel when they’re older” concern is not limited to adopted children. Andrea’s concerned that Trey will be “to thin” and feels isolated as a teenager. What if Zane always has stringy hair and feels bad because Chase has such beautiful hair??? See…these types of concerns are just what parenting is about. We want to be careful not to “create” problems for these adopted kiddos or place thoughts in their heads.
8. Why did you pick Russia in 1998? Or China in 2005? And Guatemala in 2006?
In 1997, when we filed our paperwork to adopt for the first time, we chose Russia for several reasons. The first was that we wanted to adopt a Caucasian child. Second, most countries have an age requirement. Though we were young (ages 23 &25!) we did meet Russia's age requirements...at least Jim did!!! He's my "old" man! (gotcha Jimmy). It simply seemed like the right fit. At the time, you only had to travel to Russia one time. We were there for 15 days.
In regards to Tye's adoption, it would have been GREAT to go back to Russia. We would have loved taking Chase back with us. However, Russia’s changed their international adoption laws and now require adoptive parents to travel to Russia 2 times. The first trip is to see the child and accept the referral of that child. The second (usually about 6-8 weeks later) is to formally adopt the child and bring him/her home. (Just so you know, both parents do not have to travel the first time).
Sorry – but there’s just NO WAY Andrea (or Jim but mostly Andrea!) could - leave her kids….meet her new kid,….turn around and leave her new kiddo…go back across the ocean…wait…leave her kids again…fly back over the ocean…then, finally come home!! We walked through this process with some of our closest friends who adopted from Russia about 4 years ago. When she came home from the first trip after having seen their son and then they (we!) had to wait for them to get their court date to go back and get Brent…It was just too much!!! And, logistically, we did not want to leave Trey and Zane two times.
May 20, 2006 - This was the week that we were "officially" adopting again. Our paperwork went into our agency (while we were soaking up rays in Florida!) but we were still working on our dossier to Guatemala. It was a neat time....We were surprised that we were willing to get on the emotional adoption rollercoaster again. It's especially hard for Andrea...Jim's a great stabilizer.
There are many, many people who do this each year. They are definitely not “bad” parents to be able to leave their child after the first trip. It’s more of a personality-thing. It just didn’t seem like a good fit this time around.
Having figured that out, we settled on China. We wanted a 2-4 year
old and that age of child was available to adopt from China. Also, China’s
in-country travel requirements were approx. 2 weeks versus some countries
which were much longer (i.e. Brazil requires adoptive parents to stay approx.
40 days. One spouse can return home after the first several days...but that’s
a very challenging in-country travel requirement). Next thing we knew…we saw
Tye’s picture on the Chinese “Waiting Child” list…and the rest is history!!
We knew when we saw him that he was "ours".
One additional piece of info that drew us to China was that both parents did not have to travel. It turned out that Jim did go with Andrea and Chase for the first 5 days of the 15 day trip. Jim was there to meet Tye on our “Gotcha Day” and was present at the court hearing but left the next day to get home to Trey and Zane. When we were initially reviewing country-requirements we thought there was the possibility of Jim not going at all and China would have allowed that.
We chose Guatemala for our third adoption because the travel requirements for Guatemala are very generous. We are only required to be in-country for 4-5 DAYS! This is because we are not, legally, required to be present at the formal court hearing that makes Aven "ours". The attorney that our agency works with has our authority (via a Power of Attorney) to represent us in this court hearing. In China & Russia, we were required to be present for the court hearing - thus adding a lot of time to the stay.
Also, amazingly for us, we wanted to adopt a BABY this time! It has to be God because we are not known as "baby" people! Guatemala is one of the few countries that allows their children to be adopted at a young age (a year or under). Also, though it's not necessarily the reason we chose Guatemala, many of the released children in Guatemala are cared for by foster parents...versus being in an orphanage. This is the case with Aven.
One note: Just so you know, if only one parent travels to a country, usually you are then required to “re-adopt” or finalize the adoption back in your State. If both parents travel and are present at the court hearing this is not required. Some adoptive parents chose to “naturalize” their adoptions in our court systems. This simply gives the child an American birth cert., etc. We’ve not chosen to naturalize Chase or Tye – however they are both American citizens, have social security numbers, etc.
Even in Guatemala, if we don't visit
Aven and see her before the court hearing, we will need to "readopt" her
once she's home. Re-adopting is not a big deal and is a good use of time because
it will give her an American birth certificate. In fact, we plan to "re-adopt" Chase &
Tye at the same time so their paperwork is American. That way....when they
are adults and want to adopt they won't have any problems with their
9. Do you know anything about Chase, Tye, and/or Aven's birthmothers/family?
This is one drawback of international adoption. We know very little about Chase’s birthmom and nothing about Tye’s. We will have more than average info about Aven's birthmom simply because of the great system in place in Guatemala.
Chase was legally released by his
birthmother in the hospital he was born in and Tye was put on the steps of a
hospital when he was approx. 7 days old. Obviously then, we know very little
about Chase’s genetic medical history and nothing about Tye’s. This is very
scary to some people.
But….when we were pregnant with Trey and then Zane….we had NO confirmation that the baby was 100% healthy. No doctor ever gave us a 100% guarantee that our biological sons would never suffer from a genetic disease, no one ever gave us a 100% guarantee that our biological sons would bond to us, no one ever gave us a 100% guarantee of…well…anything.
Sept. 06 - Our four little fish!
When we adopted Chase and Tye…They were both over a year old so any extensive birth defect (such as Tye’s cleft lip/palate) would have been revealed by then. Any severe developmental delays would have shown themselves by that time. It would have been evident if Chase or Tye had been born with a genetic problem…we had no idea when we were pregnant what our precious new child would be born with or without.
Aven is being monitored by the
orphanage doctor. Do we have a guarantee that she will be 100%
healthy? No. It's A LOT like a birth....No guarantees. We'll
trust in God for that one.
It’s really all in how you look at it. People can scare you out of any action…Many people consider not having a family history the sole reason to not adopt internationally. Or you can look at it as yet another journey down the path chosen for you and look ahead to any curves or forks in the road you may encounter and be prayed up about them!!!
10. (the biggy) Are you guys going to adopt more???????
We can safely say that our little family will not be on a “Discovery Channel” special about large families!!! Five feels like a good number...but then again...so did 2..and so did 3...and so did 4!! (I think Jim just fainted.)
11. Click here to view our Yahoo! Chat Group which documents with pictures and videos our day to day adventures in China including the moment we met Tye. To join the group send a blank email to: [email protected] After joining you will be able to read all the posts.
April 17, 05 - What an amazing trip! It was an odd feeling to be so nervous (we were meeting Tye in a few short days) but to be so focused and fascinated with what we were seeing! Here we are at Tiananmen Square - 3 days before meeting Tye. We remember feeling the SAME way while in Russia...although we did not have the same opportunity to sightsee. Again, it was a much different experience adopting 9+ years ago. It's so much easier and more relaxed now...But -wow- Russia was an adventure and we'd do it AGAIN in a heartbeat to get our Chaser-bean! We did experience more of "typical" Russian life than we did Chinese life. We stayed in a wonderful, Russian lady's apartment during our stay in Rostov, Russia. She, Jenna, would come each day and cook for us. She was so sweet and doting. Her and her sister made us sit down on the couch and receive a blessing over Chase before we left...we'll never forget it...ever.
May 2005 - HOME!!!!! And enjoying life!!
This is a picture of Tye a few weeks after his first lip surgery. What an amazing difference! A Cleft Lip/Palate is the 4th most common birth defect. The defect is fully repairable but may take time. As with all things, it's simply a journey..
For updates on our Guatemalan princess click here!
*We hope this website was helpful...If you have
any further questions, please feel free to email Andrea at the below
address. May God bless you on your journey...*
Submit a question - email:
andrea cockrum @ yahoo . com
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