Friday, February 24, 2012

Thailand Adoption FAQ :: Part 1

I cannot say THANK YOU enough to everyone who has expressed their excitement with us as we begin the adoption process for our baby girl in Thailand! I have loved reading all your sweet comments on my blog, facebook, and via email. We are so grateful for your prayers, support, and encouragement! I can't wait for our daughter to meet all our wonderful friends someday!       
I just wanted to take some time today to answer some of the most common questions we've been asked over the past few weeks. I'm calling this our FAQ :: Part 1 because I'm sure there will be several more of these posts needed to explain and update you guys about our adoption :) 
1. Why Thailand?
There are several reasons we chose Thailand, and I talk about a lot of them in this blog. We work in Thailand and lived in Thailand for 4 months last year, so I can confidently say that we truly love the culture, language, and people. We are excited about keeping our daughter's Thai heritage as a big part of her life. But the main reason is simply that we believe God led us to Thailand, and I really can't explain that anymore than I can explain why I married Rusty and not some other man! God made it clear that Rusty was who He had for me, and He made it clear that we were to pursue adoption from Thailand.

2. Why not adopt domestically?
I've gotten several versions of this question in our line of work, including, "why don't you care for orphans in America?" Some people seem outraged that we could care for children in desperate need overseas, and believe that children in America should be taken care of first. I have a heart for children everywhere, and I absolutely believe that orphans should be loved and cared for in EVERY country. But I don't believe just because I am American, that means I should only love and care for children in my country. God has commanded me to love my neighbor as myself, and that includes my neighbor in Thailand too.

There is nothing wrong with domestic adoption - we have several friends who have adopted domestically and several more who are pursing domestic adoptions right now! I think it is absolutely wonderful, and no less important or thrilling than international adoption. The bottom line is - these children deserve to be loved, and adoption (every kind of adoption) is close to the heart of God! We have just always felt led to international adoption, probably because of the work God has called us to in Swaziland, India, and Thailand.

There are more complex issues I'd love to talk about with you in person someday, about things like the foster care system overseas (in most countries kids get turned out on the street at only 12 or 14 years old, unlike the 18 year old age in America) and also the issue of closed vs open adoptions (most domestic adoptions are open). But at the end of the day God calls some to international adoption, some to domestic adoption, and some to other kinds of orphan care (financial support, volunteering, etc - we are all called to SOME kind of orphan care!)

3. How long will it take?
This is a great question. From what we've read online (which varies from agency to agency) it could take anywhere from 14 months to 4 years. The average though, seems to be about 2 years. We should know more when we begin our paperwork, but in adoption the timelines are never a sure thing.

4. Do you know the little girl yet?
No. We don't have a child picked out that we are pursuing. If Thailand works the way other countries do, then we will be "matched" with a child during the adoption process.

5. How old will she be?
We are hoping to get a child as young as possible, but there is a good chance she will be around 2 years old when she comes home. The best case scenario would likely be 14 - 18 months old.

6. What agency are you using?
We have not chosen an agency yet. We are still in the "research" process and would LOVE some advice from any of you who have adopted before! There are not many agencies that do Thai adoptions (at least not that we have found). We have started contacting agencies this week to begin asking questions. So far we have contacted Lifeline and Holt International. If you have any other suggestions, please comment below!

We would also appreciate prayers about this part of the process, because I think it is going to be challenging. Already I have heard back from Holt that the program is not open for applications right now. Please just pray for open doors and for God to direct us in this next step!

7. How much will it cost?
According to our research, it will probably cost around $30,000 (including all our travel expenses). We should get more definite information once we choose an agency.

8. Is this because you're infertile?
It seems like most people who aren't familiar with adoption think that the only reason you adopt is just because you can't have biological children. This simply isn't true! Most adoptive parents that I know adopted because they felt called to adoption, though some have started the process sooner than they'd previously planned because of infertility. Rusty and I don't know if we are infertile or not - we haven't tried to have biological children yet. And though no one has flat out asked us this question, several have hinted around at it, so I thought I should go ahead and address it.

Rusty and I have always known we wanted to adopt internationally, but we planned to have biological children first and then add to our family through adoption. God simply changed our hearts. We feel led to adopt now - for no reason except we want to be parents to a little girl from Thailand. This is how we've decided to start our family, and God has given us perfect peace about it.

9. Do you have any names picked out?
We do have one name that we keep coming back to, but we haven't decided on it yet. We'd like to consider other names first and we definitely want to be matched with our little girl before we decide for sure. We are hoping we'll be able to incorporate part of her Thai name into her new name, so we're going to wait and see what that is.

10. What about the language barrier? 
Some adoptive parents struggle with a language barrier, especially if their child has started speaking. Because we know some Thai, we are hoping this won't be as big of an issue for us. We know some basic conversation and are planning to learn more, so that we can at least ask if she is hungry, sleepy, say "I love you", etc. We would like to continue learning Thai and to teach her some Thai so that her language is preserved (to the best of our ability). 

Here are a few other interesting facts -
  • We've read in some of our research that Thailand actually favors families without children! I can't help but wonder if that's why God changed our heart and led us to pursue adoption first... He is such a God of detail!
  • When we lived in Thailand last year, we volunteered in a government orphanage that facilitates international adoptions! We had no idea until we volunteered about this fact, but we are planning to see if adoption from this home is possible at all. We love the children and the staff there, and were so pleased with how well the children were taken care of. It would be wonderful to adopt from somewhere so familiar to us!
  • We found out that part of our paperwork will have to include a letter from our family doctor that proves we are in good enough health to parent a child. Believe it or not, our doctor in Alabaster, AL is THAI! My chiropractor suggested her when I moved here, but I had no idea she was Thai until I went for a check up. Her parents actually live in Bangkok - how neat is that?
  • We have a friend in Bangkok who works for the US Embassy (she's Thai). She doesn't work in anything adoption related, but it is so encouraging to have a personal connection with someone like her!

I can't help but look over these details above and see God's hand in this process already. He is so good!


  1. I love your comment of how God is a God of detail. Those words are so true and how awesome that he has revealed this to you. Praying for you and for the little girl whom you will one day call daughter. I am so excited for y'all.

    1. Thank you Amanda! I know we will need your prayers through this process!

  2. God is soooo in the details! It's so fun to see how He reveals His plans to us during the adoption process! Every day I learn more and more about His plans for our family. I'm so glad that He chooses to give it to me in small doses. It sure does make the journey fun!

    1. It really is amazing Candice, and so neat to see how He is changing our hearts and helping us fall in love with this sweet baby girl we don't even know yet! Incredible!

  3. Have you thought about reverse-engineering your agency search? By that I mean, contact the orphanage that you hope to work with in Thailand and ask them which agencies they deal with here in the states. It's another avenue to getting to the right people.

    1. DUH - why didn't I think of that?! Just sent them an email tonight! Thanks for the (obvious) great idea! We'll see if they respond...

  4. Hey Erika, I don't know if you remember me, but we were at Auburn at the same time. My husband and I are about a year into the adoption process, we are pursuing an independent adoption from the Bahamas, my husband's home country (its an independent adoption because there are not agencies that work there). I love Heather's question above about reverse-engineering your agency search, just from our experience over the past year, this seems like a really valid way to find a good agency. Especially if you know people in the orphanage and know that their international adoptions are very ethical. You could also ask your contact at the embassy if she could find out agency/orphanage partnerships in country that have an extremely ethical history. (or at least the ones to avoid) By the way, Lifeline is the agency we used for our home study and we really loved working with them. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about them....or anything else. :) We live in Birmingham too. :)
    -Heather (Hulgan) Knowles

    1. Heather - THANK YOU! It is so encouraging to know there is someone else out there that is pursuing an independent adoption. It makes me less afraid of the idea. Maybe we can get together and talk sometime - I would love to hear more about your process and any advice you have!

  5. Hi Erika, We too are adopting a little girl from Thailand. We are 23 months in process with Adoption Advocates International out of Port Angeles, WA. I do not know if they are currently accepting applications but they are a great agency!

  6. Hi Erika, We too are adopting a little girl from Thailand. We are 23 months in process with Adoption Advocates International out of Port Angeles, WA. I do not know if they are currently accepting applications but would recommend checking into it. Great agency!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Katie! I would love to hear more about your experience and advice if you have any (We don't know anyone else adopting from Thailand). You can email me at erickabennett(at) if you feel like sharing! :)