LSS-ers Sonya Thompson and Konnie Gregg are making final preparations for their two-week trip to Bulgaria next weekend. Their mission is to gain a better under-standing of the situation at Bulgarian orphanages with an eye to the possibility of matching Bulgarian children with qualified families in Texas wanting to adopt. We’re excited for them and about the prospect. We’re also looking forward to the travelogues they intend to keep which we will post on this blog as they go.
A common question asked of staff in the LSS international adoption program is, “Why, when there are so many children available for adoption in the foster care system, do families choose to adopt foreign-born children?” and “Why would LSS be involved?” Good questions.
Families choose to adopt a child from another country for various reasons. They often have had experiences that give them a more global view of the world. They may have visited or lived in the country from which they hope to adopt. They may have been adopted themselves from that country. They may want a child in the age range that is not as commonly available in the U.S. foster care system. They may fear that there are more legal risks in adopting a child from the United States than from another country. Or they may have a genuine concern for the plight of children living in adverse conditions. Often, someone in their family or circle of friends has adopted internationally or is acquainted with someone who has.
LSS became involved in international adoption in the 1960s. The agency was approached by Holt International, in many respects the pioneer of international adoption. Harry Holt was an Oregon farmer, married with six children. He and his wife heard that there were children fathered by American soldiers in Korea, dying in the streets because of the customs and beliefs of the Korean people at that time. Mr. Holt went to Korea, hired a nurse to care for these infants and set about working with the Korean and United States government to establish a procedure by which he could adopt the ones that survived. It took over a year but eventually, he was able to bring home the children who survived. When the story hit the news, families all over the United States contacted the Holts to learn how to adopt a child from Korea. It was at that time that LSS was contacted by Holt to work in partnership to place AmerAsian children with Texas families wanting to adopt them. As the Vietnam War produced the same phenomena, LSS expanded its partnership with Holt and began partnering with other international adoption agencies as well. Over time, as relief agencies went into third world countries and found multitudes of children surviving, but not necessarily thriving, in orphanages, the plight of these children became known and our international adoption program grew.
In 1994, LSS was approached by a Lutheran family who adopted children from Russia. Their facilitator was seeking a reputable agency who would be willing to establish an international program in Russia. This was LSS’s first venture into administering an adoption program in another country. It was a challenging experience, but through this program, hundreds of children in Russian orphanages found their way into the loving arms of a family. In 2005, the agency made the decision to close this program because of the political climate surrounding re-accreditation in that country.
We now have been approached about administering a program in Bulgaria. Read about this process as it evolves in our next article.