In honor of Snowflake’s 20th Anniversary, Dr. James Dobson, Founder and President of “Family Talk” has written a compelling letter to the placing and adopting families of the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program.
Not surprisingly, the anti-adoption voices are also anti-adoption fundraising. They have a series of charges to which I’ll respond below.
#1 Adoption fundraising is tacky.
Some may see it that way, but it’s important to note that those raising funds are not trying to impress people who aren’t likely to give. They’re reaching out to potential donors, who don’t see adoption fund raising as tacky. They’re reaching out to people who enthusiastically support their endeavor, not those jeering on the sideline. The people who donate love to give. They are happy about their donation and excited about the outcome. They are not turned off by the request, they are glad for the opportunity.
#2 Adoption fundraising dollars could be spent better
Critics say that the $40,000 for an international adoption could be better spent on community development among orphans and vulnerable children. This is reminiscent of when Judas complained that expensive perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Yet Judas was not known for giving to the poor. I wonder how much money these critics are themselves giving for orphan care. Our experience is that families who adopt are the most likely to also be generous in financial giving for orphan care as well. Churches that support adoption are also the donors for orphan care. Adoption agencies are big financial supporters of orphan care. The two go together, because people personally visit these kids and have a heart for the ones who are adopted and the ones who are left behind. The motivation behind adoption and supporting orphan care is the same: obedience and passion for God’s call to care for the orphan. These works do not need to be exclusive, we can do both: adopt and care for children abroad. Finally, adoption is far more effective at making permanent change than orphan care. Adoption permanently removes a child from poverty and places them in a family, completely and effectively solving immediate problems. For that reason, adoption presents the “biggest bang for your buck” in orphan care.
#3 Adoption fund raising is offensive to the children or birthmoms
While we’ve seen this charge on the internet, we’ve actually never heard this from any of the birthmoms or children that we have worked with. This charge does not match our experience.
#4 If you have to raise funds, then maybe you can’t afford another kid
Adoption fundraising is an opportunity for the community to be involved in a work they support. Many people who cannot or choose not to adopt still want to have a part in making a difference in the life of a child. The cost of raising a child so far exceeds the cost of adopting, that the fees will be a drop in the bucket and long forgotten years later. But the mobilizing of a community around the adoptive family can be a blessing for a lifetime.
Dr. Daniel Nehrbass, President
Often we receive medical and social histories for waiting children with a long list of diagnosis. These labels can make it very difficult for families to accept a child into their home. Often children in institutional care will receive labels such as developmental delays or autism. These diagnosis are many times given due children going up in less than optimum care and may or may not be long term issues. For Jim and William, these labels were definitely a barrier to finding them a family, but one family was willing to take a leap of faith. Mel and June Abordo discovered that labels can sometimes be misleading. Mel and June share below:
It does not seem possible that a year had already passed since we welcomed Jim and William into our home and our hearts.
Had it only been a year from the time we first looked at their profile from Nightlight’s Hong Kong adoption program, and thought to ourselves, “Are we ready for 2 boys, brothers, from a different culture with a foreign language neither of us knew?”
Our answer…why not? We chose them, an act of will, not of chance nor consequence. Has it been as we expected? Yes, and more… It has been hard and easy, challenging and sobering, humbling and uplifting, all at the same time.
We have often been asked why we chose to adopt. Our answer can be summed up in one great truth: That we are ALL adopted children of our Father in Heaven, and we should do our part to make these abandoned children realize that they are children first and foremost of a good God.
To all that have helped us in this adoption journey, we thank all of you.
Answering Questions for Adult Adoptees
Nightlight Christian Adoptions
Today I received yet another call from an adult adoptee, questioning whether as the agency of her adoption almost 20 years ago, could we provide her with her original adoption documents. She wanted to find her family.
Whether adopted domestically or internationally, the interest in genetic origins is a fascination or even an obsession. Developmentally, late adolescence or early adulthood is a time of separation from the family and increasing independence. It is not unusual as adoptees go through adolescence and become adults to wonder about their family of origin. One adoptee wanted to know why her biological parents made the decision to place her. Another adoptee wanted to know why she was so outgoing, a characteristic she definitely didn’t get from her librarian mother and accountant father. An international adoptee wanted to join the army, but her parents couldn’t find her original adoption documents. Another international adoptee was estranged from his adoptive parents and only had his US driver’s license to prove his identity.
Although the desire to find out more information about their origins may be similar, the reason behind that interest may be different. In addition, the information available and how to access additional information is very different dependent on what type of adoption took place.
Adoption was very secretive through the 1970’s in the United States. Gradually it became understood that it was important to at least offer open adoption. By the 1990’s open adoptions were more common than closed adoptions. However, the amount of information shared still varied from very limited communication through the agency to relationships among the adoption triad of biological and adoptive parents and adoptee. Even today, despite encouragement about open adoptions, there are expectant parents who chose a closed adoption.
With open adoptions, at least at the beginning, there is a sharing of information. The biological and adoptive families share information with one another. However, often by the time the adoptee is a young adult there may have been years between when information was last provided. It is typical for the contact to drop off after a few years as the birth mother moves forward with her life.
For US adoptees there are a few options available in order to track down information about their genetic family. The first step is to read what information was provided at the time of birth/adoption. Taking the available information, the adoptee can then determine what information is available in each State. The ‘Child Welfare Information Gateway www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/search/searching is a great way to start. The adoptee can go on this site and determine what is needed to file for information from the State where they were born. They can access some limited information at age 18 and more information potentially becomes available at age 21. Some States have registries that allow both the genetic parents and adoptees to register and share information.
Even if personal contact information is not provided, registering allows the adoptee to access material that might not have been available in any other manner. It is not unusual for an adoptee to have questions about their adoption and genetics. Tracking down their biological parents can help them answer some of those questions. Although the adoptee may or may not be able to track down their biological parents, they may be able to obtain some answers to their questions.
The international adoptee has those questions and additional ones. International adoptees are the product of primarily closed adoptions. When my family adopted from Russia in 1995, we watched as the official took down a large leather encased book among shelves of similar looking books. She scratched out the names of our daughter’s original birth parents and inserted our names, written in an old-fashioned quill pen. We were provided with very limited information and signed a document that we would not seek out the genetic relatives of our daughters. Although we knew from US best practice that such ‘closed adoptions’ were not in the best interests of our children, we accepted it as that was the expected standard in that country.
With international adoptions, there is often just one original of the adoption documents and birth certificate. Unfortunately, there are limited ways to replace the documents making it difficult for the international adoptee to prove their origins, if they’ve been lost or destroyed.
For the international adoptee, a certificate of citizenship and US Passport can make all the difference between proof of their identity and being stuck in the quagmire of not being able to prove US Citizenship. For some international adoptees, they are finding out as adults, that their adoptive parents never even finalized their international guardianships with an adoption here in the US, leaving them without US citizenship.
Individuals who came to the US under a guardianship, needed to have their adoptions finalized here in the US. It is likely they came to the US under an IR4 VISA, meaning that the adoption needed finalization in the US, prior to US Citizenship being conferred. When inter-country adoptions are finalized in the child’s country of origin, the child likely came into the US under an IR3 VISA. This type of VISA signifies that the adoptee is eligible for US Citizenship. With the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, international adoptees with US parents became eligible for US Citizenship. As of 2004, these Certificates of Citizenship were automatically sent to families whose adopted children entered the US on IR3 VISA’s. However, if an internationally adopted child enters the US on a guardianship and IR4 VISA, they can obtain the US citizenship following the finalization of their adoption in the US.
In a few cases, the adoptive parents may have provided copies of their adoption documents to their adoption agency. However, this is rare unless it was required by the agency. If the adoption records are missing or destroyed, adoptees can apply to USCIS to obtain copies of their original adoption documents. It is form G-884. The website application is http://www.uscis.gov/g-884 They can also apply to the court in their country of origin, for certified copies of their original adoption documents. This is more costly and time consuming, as it would require contracting an attorney or an Intercountry adoption coordinator in the city where the adoption took place.
Of course beyond the desire for the proof of the adoption and US Citizenship, is the desire to find genetic family members. The easiest approach would be to take whatever information the adoptee has whether from memory or taken from the adoption records. With a name and a city, often relatives can be found on Facebook or for those from Eastern European countries, V’Kontakt. There are also ‘searchers,’ individuals who work as detectives to help adoptees connect with their biological family members. They are not formal detectives typically, but people who for a fee will help track down family members and make contact, then providing letters, photos or assisting with contact, depending on what is desired from all parties.
Social Media makes contact much easier whether the adoptee is domestic or international. It is fairly easy to put in a name and do a search. This may be a way to begin a search. However, as with anything, it is important to do it with caution. I’d encourage any adoptee beginning a search to first determine what they want out of the search and discuss it with trusted family members or a therapist. It helps to have a goal. Such a search can open ‘Pandora’s box, bringing up additional issues or it can be a beginning step towards healing and finding answers to previously unanswered questions.
by Kimberly Tyson
Hannah Strege is like most American teenagers. She likes to hang out with her friends. She listens to music and watches funny YouTube videos. She’s planning where she will go to college and hopes to become a physician’s assistant. She likes to eat pizza and go to movies. Yes, Hannah is an American girl.
Hannah’s parents, Marlene and John Strege, are delighted to have their American girl!
Back in the 90’s, the Streges were wondering if they would ever have a girl or a boy as they faced the stresses of an infertility diagnosis. As they discussed treatment options with their physician. Since the advent of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), fertility clinics have been assisting patients achieve pregnancy through a treatment known as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Often, more embryos are created for the IVF treatment than are eventually used by the patient, thus creating a surplus of cryo-preserved embryos. Marlene asked her clinic if they had available embryos in frozen storage.
Marlene and John had already determined that they were not comfortable with creating more embryos through IVF, especially if it meant using donated human eggs. But this idea of using embryos that were waiting in frozen storage was intriguing. Marlene decided to seek out advice from life-long friend and experienced adoption attorney, Ron Stoddart and from several spiritual advisors, including Dr. James Dobson, to determine if using donated human embryos should be considered at all.
Simply being assigned anonymously donated embryos from a fertility clinic was not the procedure John and Marlene wanted to follow. They worked with Mr. Stoddart to develop the first embryo adoption program in the world, now known as the Snowflakes® Embryo Adoption Program. The Streges and Stoddart decided to name the program Snowflakes because like a delicate snowflake each embryo is frozen, unique and a gift from God. The program was officially established in 1997 as a division of Nightlight® Christian Adoptions.
Using the best practices of adoption, the Snowflakes program helps couples who have completed their family select another couple to donate their remaining embryos to in order to give those embryos a chance to be born. Hannah is Snowflake baby #1! She was born on January 31, 1998 and placed into the wondrous and grateful arms of her parents.
Fast forward to June 3, 2017. On this day, baby Marley was born to her parents Marty and Elizabeth, a healthy 8lb, 1.3oz, 20.5” girl. While Hannah (Snowflake baby #1) was born in 1998, Marley’s embryo was created in a petri dish and frozen in 1998. She was born nearly 18 years later after her parents adopted her and gave birth to her. Marley is Snowflake baby #470.
Experiencing pregnancy and childbirth is the primary motivation of most families who choose embryo adoption over other forms of adoption. It’s also an economical alternative, often costing much less than IVF or the domestic adoption of an infant. There are over 1,000,000 embryos in frozen storage in the U.S.; not all will be donated for reproduction, but Snowflakes provides potential donors with a life-giving choice for their remaining embryos.
The Snowflakes program is managed right here in Loveland, CO, serving clients throughout the country and the world. In 2017, Snowflakes will celebrate its 20th anniversary and the birth of the 500th Snowflake baby!
How important is embryo quality? There are a variety of methods used by medical professionals to grade frozen human embryos, projecting the likelihood of pregnancy success. However, many healthy children have been born from embryos given a poor quality rating by the medical community. Dr. Jeffrey Nelson of HRC Fertility helps us gain some understanding about this frequently misunderstood topic.
These videos were produced by Nightlight Christian Adoptions and supported by grant #1EAAPA151027 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Department.
Webinar: Embryo Adoption: Dispelling the Myths
Couples who have been unsuccessful at IVF will also not have success if they try to adopt an embryo. True or False? Parents don’t need to tell their children that they came from a donor conception. Adoption agencies charge exorbitant fees for embryo adoption services, the same cost as IVF. What is the truth? Let’s uncover the facts about these questions and more – ranging from the cost of an embryo adoption to the quality of embryos required by clinics assisting embryo adoptions around the country.
Webinar: The Affordable and Accessible Adoption Choice
Is it possible that embryo adoption will be the solution that brings a sweet baby into your loving arms? Are you frustrated by the high cost of in vitro fertilization? Heartbroken by your IVF treatment failures? Embryo donation and adoption is a proven successful process allowing families with remaining embryos to donate them to another family that is desiring to experience pregnancy and childbirth. We invite you to come and learn more about this amazing adoption choice which has allowed over 10,000 babies to be born. This presentation was highlighted during the 2017 American Fertility Expo.
Mommy! Daddy! – For a decade we dreamed of hearing those words. In 2005, our beautiful Guatemalan born daughter, Kaili, made our dream a reality. Parenthood was all we had imagined and more. In 2010, we began the process again with the country of Panama. The program was newly formed so we expected a slower process. What no one could predict was the amount of time it would truly take. As the years rolled by, we prayed continually for the child we knew God had planned for us. I will admit there were times we questioned ourselves, wondering if we should keep up the hope of another child. We finally made the heartbreaking decision to stop the adoption process. We decided no more home study updates, no more fingerprinting, and no more expense. On September 22, 2015, a few short months after we had decided to discontinue, God revealed His plan. We got the miracle call! After 4 years of waiting for a referral, when we had decided to discontinue, when there was no “reasonable explanation” for how it happened, we learned that there was a child in Panama waiting for us. We sobbed as we soaked in the miracle of our new daughter. As if time hadn’t taken long enough, another 5 months slowly passed before we could kiss her sweet cheeks in person. It had been such a long wait but our journey was far from over. We were expected to stay in country 3-4 months to finalize her adoption. However, on numerous occasions foreign politics prevented our case from moving forward. We would take one step forward and 2 steps back. Eight months later, we finally returned home with our beautiful 2-year-old, Kaya. In all, our journey spanned six and half years. It wasn’t what we had planned but in the end as we peer into her smiling chocolate eyes, we know God’s timing is perfect. …….Damon and Meridith Hobbs.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Nightlight Christian Adoptions is in the process of building some new pages to highlight our Snowflakes embryo adoption and donation processes. Stay tuned for easy to access information.