Adopting More Than One Child
By Anne Smith
Vietnam has a history of expatriates and non-natives adopting Vietnamese babies stretching all the way back to the chaotic latter days of the American War to the very present.
In 1975, several weeks before Saigon fell to People's Army of Vietnam and the forces of the Viet Cong, then-United States President Gerald Ford announced that the government would undertake a massive operation of evacuating thousands of Vietnamese orphans to eagerly waiting American families in an unprecedented action called Operation Babylift.
Vietnam was once again thrust into the international spotlight when then celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie famously adopted their second child, Pax, from an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in 2007.
The renewed attention didn't do anything to quell increasing international scrutiny; in 2008, amid reports of irregularities adoption in the country, the United States government enforced a ban on child adoption from Vietnam.
It was only in 2014 when the ban was lifted by the United States government, under the condition of certain restrictions being imposed on both parties.
What does this mean for aspiring parents who intend to adopt children from Vietnam? How do the new rules work? What details should you keep in mind when you adopt more than one child? Let's discuss.
What Does This Mean for Prospective Parents in the United States?
Under the terms of the new agreement of 2014, adoptive parents are to carry out adoption with a licensed Adoption Service Provider that facilitates the intercountry process. Currently, only two adoption agencies are recognized and approved to operate in the country - Dillon International and Holt International.
Adoptive parents only have the option of adopting one or more Vietnamese children as prescribed by the Vietnamese Central Authority, who meet at least one or more of the following conditions:
- Children who have special needs,
- Children who are aged five or older, or
- Children who are biological siblings.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will not entertain petitions that do not meet at least one of these criteria, for children not referred to by the Vietnamese Central Authority. In addition, USCIS will not entertain petitions that were not processed by a licensed Vietnamese adoption services provider.
What you Should Know Before you Adopt
Adopting more than one child is something that requires specialized training for aspiring parents, as well as the most favorable conditions to ensure success in raising children.
It's a big decision to make. Adoptive parents should be on the same page as to whether they are mentally and physically ready to adopt and raise children.
Majority of adoption agencies have a pre-adoption education as a prerequisite, but adoptive parents should educate themselves as much as they can prior to pushing through.
Reach out to experienced adoptive parents - they are an invaluable resource of insights and parenting advice, as well as how to navigate the required processes in Vietnam.
It's helpful to have a list of professionals who will help parents care for the children they have been paired with; this way, any special needs are identified, and parents are ready to address them with a capable team.
Prospective parents should also set aside a budget for handling expenses involved with regard to medical, travel, and any other incidental costs such as therapy. A good practice is to overestimate your budget forecast rather than underestimating it - this way, you can guarantee that you'll be capable of meeting your children's special needs, if they have any.
After all, there may be children who may have experienced the devastating effects of poverty, such as the lack of medical care, delayed motor capability, and lack of adequate nutrition, so working closely with agencies can help parents make the best decision to address them.
Additional requirements for adopting multiples
Multiple children require more time, effort, and money – this is obviously the first thing prospective adoptive couples need to consider. If you feel the slightest bit of doubt as regards your capability to provide as a couple, reconsider your decision.
Adopting multiples will most likely require different prerequisites as opposed to adopting just one child. Consult your adoption service provider as to what these are, so that your chances of being approved improve - your circumstances will determine if you will be found eligible to do so.
Again, make it a point to work closely with your adoption consultants - they are there to make sure that the whole process moves smoothly for both parents and children.
Preparing for the New Home Situation
Adoptive parents will need to make some preparations for adoption as far as the home situation goes, depending on the ages of the children that will be adopted.
Adoptive parents are responsible for adding their adopted children to their health insurance plan. If you are unsure as to how your coverage will affect the addition of new children to your policy, work with your adoption consultant so that all kinks are ironed out as far as their insurance is concerned.
These tips apply whether parents choose to adopt younger children or older children. However, adopting older children requires a much stronger support system as well as the proper access to professional services.
Older children will also require language lessons. Adoptive parents can help speed up this process if they have the time, money and resources to learn the older child's native language. This way, parents and their adopted children can bridge the communication gap sooner than later, when it can pose potential problems.
Another thing parents will need to concern themselves with setting up their new forever home is the question of needing a nanny, a babysitter, or to reach out to a day care center to provide the children with the requisite care, especially when one or both parents are working. They will provide the requisite support system to meet the social and emotional needs of your children, which will understandably require close supervision, especially during the crucial first few months.
Introducing the children to their new support system will take time for all parties to adjust, but the earlier they meet the people who will be responsible for meeting their needs, the likelier they adjust more rapidly.
Setting up the Home
After going through the Vietnamese child adoption process, which, like any other adoption processes are complicated and may take longer than expected, it is finally time to take home the adopted children.
Naturally, adopted children's new forever home should be child-proofed - there are a bevy of products and techniques you can use to child-proof your home, especially if you are to be an adoptive parent to more than one child (perhaps especially more so) for the first time.
If your child has been diagnosed with special needs and you don't have the budget to hire a babysitter or nanny, then a baby monitor might be worth considering. When adopting multiples, it's imperative that prospective parents choose a baby monitor that supports multiple cameras.
The temptation of going complete overboard with decorating your children's new room is really enticing, by going all out with the decor, toys, and apparel. Hold off on making large-scale changes to their rooms.
A calming, soothing environment is ideal for children who are experiencing something totally different from what they have been used to, so keep it simple. Expect challenges in adjustment, especially when dealing with more than just one child.
Adding a few understated personal touches to the children's rooms will more than suffice. Take your cue from all the information you've gathered about your children in the pre-adoption phase, and take a couple of your children's preferences such as their favorite colors or animals. Decorate the nursery sparingly but accordingly - this shows that you've made an effort in providing a conducive environment that is not totally alien to your adopted children.
Complying with regulations for adoptions of one or more children in Vietnam in light of the history as well as recent policy changes in the country is of paramount importance, as it is when choosing to adopt anywhere else. Such regulations protect both the adoptive parents as well as the children.
Furthermore, parents looking to adopt several children should educate themselves of the regulations and the steps they have to take to ensure that they are matched with the right children, as well as how to address the needs of raising multiple children.
Adoptive parents should also make sure that they are financially, emotionally, and mentally able to raise adopted children, taking into account their age, their emotional needs, and building a support system that they can rely on as early as possible, in order to make the adjustment less challenging for both parties.