HENNEPIN — For the last 17 years, November has been designated by presidential proclamation to be National Adoption Month to help raise awareness for children who are waiting to be adopted.
The United States leads the way in domestic and international adoptions, according to Adam Pertman, executive director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of “Adoption Nation.”
“The United States adopts more children internationally, but also domestically, than the rest of the world combined,” Pertman said. “The good, the bad and the ugly all play out here in bigger ways than they do elsewhere, simply because the process is older and more developed here, for better or for worse.”
One local family, Jim and Beth Mack found out it was very challenging to make their adoptions in Russia happen. The Macks are parents of Roman and Veronika, both adopted from Russia. The couple found out there were a lot of things they had to do that kept them busy in the international adoption process.
“You have to get approved by the state before you do anything else,” Beth said. “It involves fingerprinting, and then you do different paperwork, but then similar things for Russia. They have regions which are similar to our states which have their own requirements.”
However different time periods and different regions of Russia caused the Macks to find different challenges in Veronika’s adoption.
“The paperwork requirements were very different from Roman’s adoption to Veronika’s adoption. You can’t do that in advance because when you start, you don’t know which region the child will be from,” Beth said. “The requirements changed throughout the process. That is often times why it takes two to three years to adopt.”
Timing is also critical in adoptions in Russia.
“It all has to be timed,” Jim said. “It can’t be more than 90 days old. You have to get your doctor to sign off, take all these tests, get it notarized.”
Jim said the fact he was an attorney was very helpful in an international adoption.
“There was just these hoops that you have to jump through,” Beth said. “There are things for the state of Illinois, the U.S. government and the region in Russia and the Russian Federation.”
The family worked with Catholic Social Services. The Macks broke the mold with Roman’s adoption as it took only five weeks from the point they had gotten the referral to the time they bought him home.
Every country is different with adoptions in regards to travel and residency. With Roman, the Macks took two trips to Russia.
“When we came home the first time, we didn’t know if we would come back in two weeks or eight weeks,” Beth said. “Things just don’t happen very fast. We left Russia on a Thursday; we were home less than a week, and we turned around and came right back.”
For Veronika’s adoption, the Macks visited her a total of three times. They met her during a late Easter, then went back in mid June and then they brought her home on July 2.
In any kind of adoption, patience and faith can be tested. The timing of international adoptions is more predictable. Steps happen in a pre-ordained fashion. The Macks know that really well.
“I think the biggest thing people need to know with international adoptions is that you have to be flexible,” Beth said. “You have to know that it will work out. There are things that happen. When we went to pick up Veronika, there was a last minute change in paperwork that had to be done. When we left the third time to pick her up, we did not have the confirmation paper for her. Things will work out.”
For more information on adoption, visit www.childwelfare.gov/adoption.