Adoption #2 in some ways will be similar to Allie's adoption process, but in many ways will be different. Every county is different and Allie was born in Korea. This time we're adopting from China. We would have loved to have adopted from Korea again, but decided not to for several reasons. First,the agency we used to bring Allie home now does not do Korean adoptions. In fact, we've been told that she was the second to last group of babies to come home using our agency; we're really lucky she made it. Korea began really limiting the number of Visas they permit each year, and we went through a period of time when she was still in Korea when we weren't sure if she would come home at all. It was so scary and we just don't trust Korea's stability in international adoptions right now to pursue another one. Plus we've been told that the timelines for babies from Korea are taking MUCH longer than they were before. Once we were matched with Allie, she came home about 6 months later (and that was a couple months longer than usual at that time). Lately we've been hearing that it can take well over a year after being matched with a baby for them to come home! We honestly just didn't want to risk it again.
China was a great choice for us. We knew that Allie would benefit from having a sibling that "looks" like her and we have good experience raising an Asian child. We decided that using a China special needs program would be a great fit for us. Healthy babies can take up to 6 years or more from China right now!!! But the special needs program they have is known to be stable and reliable and usually quicker. We also felt like taking on a special needs child is something we can do and are excited about. We did a lot of research and decided to go with CCAI, Chinese Children Adoptions International. They are the largest Chinese adoption agency and have been ranked #1 in the adoption world. They're really big, but also known for being very personal with each family.
Because China's process is different than Korea, some of the paperwork we have to do and the way we submit it is different. Much of the content is the same, though. We basically have to let them look into our whole lives-finances, health, parenting styles, relationships, etc. The first time around it felt a bit intrusive, but this time we just know that's par for the course.
What will be VERY different this time is that Jeremy and I will have to travel to China for TWO WEEKS to get our child. This is huge for us. When we originally chose the Korean program, we chose it in part because we knew Allie would be escorted home rather than us having to go there (even though that would have only been a 4 day trip!). We just couldn't imagine leaving the country and leaving the boys behind in that way. But here we are a year and a half later ready to take the leap; we have to go to China and it is always a two week trip. We're actually excited about the opportunity and know that while leaving three kids behind will be hard, they'll be just fine. Now if I can just stop worrying about missing out on Christmas, someone's birthday, etc. while we're gone, we'll be okay!!
As far as special needs, we said we would consider a child with cleft lip/palate, limb difference (missing digits, club foot, etc) or a minor heart condition. These three "categories" of special needs are very common in China. Once we get a referral (or child match), we will have the International Adoption Clinic at Children's Hospital review the child's medical information to help us decide if that condition is something we can handle.
We have requested a girl younger than Allie. We will see who God has planned for our family! Because we are pursing a more minor/correctible special need, we most likely won't be matched until sometime after our paperwork is "Logged In" to China--which won't be for a couple more months at least. Right now we're waiting on approval from US government to adopt an international child. I've put a timeline of this adoption on the top right of my blog. We'll continue to keep everyone updated!
As we learned, much of the adoption process is hurry up and wait. We just mailed our application to Homeland Security right before Christmas, so we're in wait mode-again. :) Timelines on special needs adoptions really vary depending on how open we are to the special needs out there and what children are available once we're logged in. Overall, they've told us that usually the entire process takes 12-18 months. We offically applied with CCAI in August 2012, so we're hoping for her to be home by February of 2014 at the very latest. But we also know from experience that the world of adoption is always changing, so we just have to walk by faith and see what this adoption brings.