Five Questions on Adopting Internationally
We are in the middle of a series on adoption from the perspective of various members of the DBU family. This time we had a chance to ask Jenny Pope, director of marketing and media relations for Buckner International, five questions about her work with Buckner and their work with orphans around the world. Jenny is a 2011 master’s graduate of DBU and has been working with Buckner for the past 7 years.
1. Tell us a little bit about your work and experiences with Buckner. How long have you been working there, and how has the time working especially with children through Buckner changed your life?
I began working with Buckner in 2005, and it has changed my life. I have always been sensitive to the needs of the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40), but I never fully grasped who “these” people were until I came to Buckner. I’ve realized that they are just like you and me. Widows, orphans, families in poverty – they are broken and vulnerable. They need love, support and encouragement. They need someone in their life to point them toward something better, to be a family in their time of need. We all need this. And that’s where Buckner comes in – God uses this ministry to transform lives.
I remember one of my first mission trips with Buckner to Guatemala. We were visiting orphanages and delivering shoes to children. It was such a busy trip we had little time to process the events of the day until it was over. But I can remember lying in bed at night with images of the children’s faces, their eyes, staring back at me. Some of them were so empty and hollow. They had no joy. I think once you’ve experienced that kind of sadness, it’s hard to go back to being the same person. You have witnessed darkness, and you are even more compelled to do your part to be the light.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about the need for more individuals and couples to pursue adoption?
We live in a broken world, and part of that brokenness includes children who are orphaned. As a new mom, it’s difficult for me to imagine my son being all alone. But there are millions of innocent children in the world today who have no mother or father, aunt or uncle, grandparents or relatives to call their own. And there are millions of children who may have relatives but they are unable to care for them due to imprisonment, addictions or poverty.
There is a huge need for families to open their hearts and homes to adoption. Right now in Texas, more than 30,000 children are in the foster care system; 6,000 of them are ready for adoption. Last year in Dallas County alone, we had 441 children left waiting for their “forever families” to come along. The needs are great – we have to trust God will provide the right family for each and every child. That’s what we pray for every day.
3. Buckner has services for both domestic and international adoption. What are some questions that potential adoptive parents need to think through as they contemplate which route they will take?
To best answer this question, I’m going to refer to an article written by Greg Eubanks, our area vice president for national operations. Here are some of the questions he poses for families to think about when deciding which type of adoption is best for them.
1. How much risk can I tolerate? Though all adoption involves risk, each type involves different types of risk. Can I risk a birth mom choosing to parent? Can I risk an international government changing their laws? Can I risk parenting a child with challenging behaviors and a history of trauma?
2. How much can I afford? Some adoptions cost in the thousands of dollars while others cost very little. Certainly, financial aid is frequently available as well as tax credits for adoption costs.
3. What type of child can I best parent? Older or younger? Sibling group or single? Am I open to a child of a different ethnicity than my own? What level of special needs can I meet?
4. What is my motivation? Why am I pursuing adoption, and what impact does that have on the specific avenue I choose for my adoption journey?
5. To what extent does my faith play a part in my decision? Do I feel compelled towards one type of adoption over another because of my spiritual beliefs? Has God called me to a particular choice for adoption?
4. International adoption can be very expensive. How does Buckner counsel adoptive parents in regard to raising the needed funds?
When most people think about adoption, they think about the expenses involved. We have a great list of resources online for families seeking financial support for their adoption: http://www.dillonadopt.com/downloads/int-adoption-affordable.pdf
Ultimately, I would encourage any family who feels called to adopt internationally to trust God’s provision. Every single family I know who has adopted internationally felt overwhelmed and unsure about the expenses in the beginning, but in the end, God provided. He always does. So do what you can to raise funds, apply for grants and make your needs known – but always know that God is bigger than your fundraiser. He will provide.
I would also encourage anyone interested in adoption to learn more about our Texas Waiting Children and Foster-to-Adopt programs at Buckner. Both of these programs are free after tax credits and reimbursements. You can learn more about all of our adoption programs at http://www.beafamily.org.
5. What are some of the biggest challenges that couples face when they decide to pursue an international adoption?
When you adopt a child internationally, you have to remember that you are dealing with two governments, two cultures and a lot of unknowns. International adoption involves many ambiguities. A lot of rushing, paperwork … and waiting. Lots of waiting. For most couples, waiting is the hardest part! It’s much easier when you are busy dealing with all the details, but when the paperwork is sent and the deadlines are met, you are left only with the waiting. I think it is during this time that your faith is truly put to the test, and you learn to rely on God and trust him in an entirely new way. This is when it’s most important to seek community from your friends and family and to lean on your agency for support.