New info on the state of China adoption. New decisions.
I just talked to a different woman, from the other agency. (Sorry I'm being so vague - I have two agencies that work together, and I know some people reading this also use these agencies and would be perfectly cool with me actually naming the agencies when I write about them. But this is a publicly accessible blog, so forgive me for being extra cautious about throwing names around.)
Anyway, I talked to N. at the other agency, and she's deeply involved with the state of China adoption. She's one of the people who goes to China, speaks a little Mandarin, makes friends and connections, and does the legwork to make international adoption possible.
She said that there aren't enough families signed up for special needs. This is a problem.
The agent I spoke to last week put a positive spin on it. "There are so many children available! Your opportunities right now are very good!"
This other agent put it more frankly: "The list of children is growing, but we don't have enough families to match them in a timely manner. If China feels we are unable to keep up our end of the process, they may reduce the number of agencies they're willing to work with, or close the special needs program altogether."
We already know they're working hard to close NSN. China would like to end international adoption altogether, but the belief was that they wouldn't be able to end SN because they didn't have the resources, or the adoptive families in-country, to take care of the SN children without allowing families from other countries to adopt them.
But if China decides to end SN adoption prematurely, it won't be unprecedented. Nations close themselves to international adoption all the time. Two years ago, Guatemala, Vietnam, and Colombia all closed in rapid succession, cutting adoption opportunities significantly and causing a mad scramble for many families to switch countries. None of those countries made the decision because they were suddenly able to finance their own social services systems. They did it because of scandals.
Now Russia is essentially closed, too, and Kazakhstan is making closing noises for similar reasons not related to whether they can afford to take care of the children internally.
In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, N. did not think it was a good idea for us to sign up now and then drag our feet for four years.
For one, sure, then they'd have another family on their list, but China doesn't care how many families are waiting. They only care how many children are adopted. (And how well each adoption goes. They do watch us to make sure each adoption is successful.) So we wouldn't be an asset to the agency in any way just by having our name in.
For another thing, if the agency is forced to close, then we'd be left in the lurch. We could switch agencies, but we wouldn't get our money back and we probably would lose our access to China. Because if this agency can't sign up enough families to stay in business, then a bunch of other agencies will probably find themselves in the same boat.
Ironic, isn't it? Usually you hear that there are too many families and not enough children.
The problem is that this is Special Needs, and Special Needs is scary. If you feel confident enough to purposely sign up to adopt a Special Needs child, your opportunities abound. DSS would love you, and adopting from them is free! No travel! There may be lawyer fees, and original family members, and you can't move out of state without legal implications.
That last bit is what makes us cautious of DSS. Not being able to move out of state... that's severely limiting. Those other things are concerns, too. And we like China. We want our children to share the same heritage.
Nothing is a guarantee. If we sign up now, we can't really hang back, and if we try to hang back, we may lose out.
If we wait and see, China may close its programs, but at least we'll have lost nothing.
If we sign up now and adopt within a year, it will be too early for us and we may feel overwhelmed. I at least want AwesomeCloud to be in school. Otherwise, the child we adopt may be his 'twin', or even be older.
I asked N. about the possibility of signing up for NSN, which would allow us to wait a few years, and then switching to SN when we were ready. She said, "That might work, but it actually doesn't solve anything. And there are very few agencies left who will take you."
And it sounds complicated, and underhanded.
What we really need is for a bunch of families who are ready NOW to sign up for SN children, and to be matched, and for the adoptions to go well. That will convince China to keep the program open for a little longer. Four years longer? One can hope.