Since the moment we posted a picture of our beautiful daughter, a flood of emails and messages have been coming in asking us all about adoption.
We are SOOOO thrilled to see so many of you feeling called to adopt! It truly makes our heart smile and is such a huge reason we want to share our journey with you.
We WANT to see you feeling led to adoption if it’s God’s will for your life.
Since it’s impossible to get back to all of you individually, I thought it would be best to address the majority of the adoption questions here in a blog post.
I do apologize if you have emailed me and inquired about adoption… I am not trying to ignore you. The process of adopting from the Philippines isn’t just something I can spout off in an email. It takes explanation. And explaining it in hundreds of separate emails is hard for me right now with a new sweet little girl needing my attention. 🙂
I will do my best to address the big things you need to know.
Please understand that each country has their own set of rules and guidelines when it comes to adoption. What I am listing here, is what we have gone through in the Philippines program. If you are looking to adopt from another country or domestically, your process could look very different.
You will hear ICAB referenced very often and you will want to know what it means… ICAB stands for Inter Country Adoption Board and they are the group of people in the Philippines who are in charge of adoptions. Meaning that they are the liaison between you, your adoption agency in the states and the child caring agency (which we know as the orphanage) in the PI.
LET ME START WITH SOME FAQ’S:
How do you start the adoption process?
I get asked this question at least twice a day. I get it though, because I remember how overwhelmed I was when we first decided we wanted to look into adoption. I talked about this briefly in my adoption process post.
We started by finding an adoption agency the worked with the Philippines program. Not all U.S. agencies work with the Philippines or “offer” the Philippines program. You will need to find an agency that works with the Philippines (or whatever country you are interested in).
The easiest way to do that is to go to the ICAB website (here) and choose the state you live in. It will list every agency in your state that offers the Philippines program. Start calling the ones that interest you and ask questions.
You do not have to choose an agency in your state, we did not. We are in Illinois and used an adoption agency in Minnesota.
Our adoption agency is Evolve and we were very happy with them. Visit their website for more info.
However, know that if you decide to use an out-of-state agency, you will need to find a local in-state agency to complete your home study. That in-state agency can be any agency that does home studies. They do not have to have a relationship with the PI program.
Try not to feel overwhelmed because once you choose an adoption agency, they will walk you through every single step, including what the heck a home study even is. 😉
Can you choose the orphanage or area of the Philippines your child comes from?
No. You may not choose where your child comes from in any way. You are placed on an approved prospective adoptive parents list once you are accepted into the program. From that point, ICAB will work with the orphanages to match you with a child.
ICAB is very particular and thorough when it comes to placing children. They do not just go down the list and pick you in order of approval.
This is good and bad. Good because it means they truly care about the children and are doing what’s best for them. They want to pick the family that will best match the child. It’s bad because it means that some families who have waited a shorter amount of time than you may be placed with a child before you. Again, it’s not really bad… because they have the child’s best interest at heart.
Can I contact the orphanage that Janella was at and see if I can adopt a child from there?
Unfortunately, no you can not. That is not how adoptions work in the Philippines. You will never have direct contact with the orphanage until after you have been matched with a child by ICAB.
Why do some people choose their child, but you had to wait for them to place you with a child?
Each month, a special home findings list is put out with children who require extra care due to some type of special need. If you are open to adopting a child with special needs, you can apply for a specific child on that list.
However, that does not mean you choose that child. It means that you can send your paperwork to ICAB to apply for the child and ICAB will determine if it’s a good fit. It also means several families can apply for the same child so you may not be placed with the child you apply for.
Can you specify what gender you want when adopting?
No, on the regular list, you can not specify whether you want a girl or a boy. You must be open to either gender in the Philippines. I suppose you could suggest that you would “prefer” a girl or boy when you have your home study written, but it probably wouldn’t be in your best interest.
If you choose to apply for a child on the special needs posting then you would be able to apply for a specific special needs child and choose the gender.
How long does the process take?
Ahhh, the golden question, hey?! I wish I had a cookie cutter answer for you on this, but I do not. We were told that the process from start to finish would take about 18-24 months (after being placed on the approved roster). We waited 49 months for a referral. And then an additional 4 months before we traveled to get her.
Again, we have heard of many other families who have waited MUCH shorter. I think this all goes back to the fact that ICAB specifically matches each child with the family they feel like best fits the child.
Every case is different and there really is no way to tell exactly how long it will take.
In my opinion, God’s plan will always win no matter what country you adopt from so don’t let “timeframe” hold you back from adopting from the Philippines. When the time is right… God will place a child in your family. It may take 18 months and it may take 50 months, but rest assured, it will be the child that is meant for your family.
Why does it take so long?
The Philippines have very strict guidelines to follow when processing a child for adoption and work very closely with the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) at every stage.
Often the child has no birth certificate and many other documents need to be completed. If the parent is surrendering the child then they are allowed three months to change their decision before they proceed with the case.
In cases of abandonment, letters have to be written to the last known address of the parents and place advertisements in one national newspaper and three radio stations before they can proceed further. The process usually takes about 9 – 15 months, but can be delayed further in more complex cases.
After all the paperwork is completed the child is declared legally available for adoption and will usually be considered for local matching as it is better for the child to remain in the Philippines with a culture they are familiar with. If there are no suitable parents available in the Philippines, the child’s case will go to the ICAB for matching with parents from another country.
What does the process look like, step-by-step?
- Apply with a Hague Accredited agency (again, visit the ICAB website for all Hague Accredited agencies)
- Submit documents to support your home study
- Complete home study with a social worker
- Apply for I-800A immigration approval
- Compile Dossier
- Receive immigration approval
- Submit dossier to ICAB
- ICAB will approve dossier and match to child (Special Home Finding & Relative) or place family on Roster of Approved Applicants (Regular Adoption)
- Receive/ accept ICAB referral
- Send acceptance of referral letter/ payment of ICAB fees Receive child’s legal documents
- Apply for I-800 visa petition for child Receive I-800 approval
- Child is scheduled for passport/medical/visa appointments
- Family travels. Trips are generally 5-7 days. Most families travel Friday to Friday. No court process is necessary in country and all visa paperwork is filed before you travel.
- Three post placement visits from your home study agency will be required (at month 2, 4 and 6).
- Officially adopt child in the United States
Here is a time frame estimate attached to each step…
STEP 1: Home Study completion and approval (3 – 6 months)
STEP 2: Dossier Preparation (2 – 4 months)
STEP 3: Dossier Submission and Review (2 – 4 months)
STEP 4: ICAB Referral and Child Acceptance (3 – 5 years for a referral)
STEP 5: USCIS/Travel Documents/Family Prepares for Travel (4 – 6 months)
STEP 6: Post Placement (6 months)
How much does it cost?
I referenced this in my adoption process post.
Here is how much it cost us roughly. Our numbers are slightly higher because we waited a long time and had to update all of our documents and paperwork each year (which means extra costs).
Application Fee – $250
Preparation for Adoption Fee – $2,250
Post Placement Service Fee – $400/visit and we are required 3 post placement visits – $1,200
Cost to update home study yearly – $350/year – for us we paid $1,400 because we updated 4 years in a row.
I800-A Filing Fee – $720
Biometrics Finger Printing Federal – $170
Update to I800-A (second time is free, third time) – $530 ($360 update fee/$170 biometrics fee)
Adoption Agency Costs:
Application Fee – $500
Dossier Fee – $3,200
ICAB Processing Fee – $2,000
Child Care Support Fund – $1,000 (due on accepting referral)
Program Referral Fee – $7,900 (due on accepting referral)
Travel Costs (flight) – $7,500 (this all depends on plane costs)
Travel Costs (hotel/food/drivers/etc) – $2,500
Total Estimated Cost – $30,500
This cost does not include the donation we made to the orphanage.
Don’t let cost scare you, there are many ways to pay for an adoption. We felt called to pay for our adoption on our own, but many families do fundraisers and raise money to adopt a child. If the will to adopt is in your heart… God will make it possible if you trust Him.
Do you finalize the adoption in the Philippines?
You are only granted custody of your child in the Philippines. You will sign entrustment papers before you leave the orphanage and will be given the child’s passport, visa and other legal papers.
Once you return home to the states you are required to complete 3 post-placement visits with your social worker from your home study agency. These visits take place at month 2, 4 and 6. Once you have completed all there of these visits then you are granted consent to adopt from ICAB. You adopt the child in your state.
Is there a language barrier?
There are many different languages spoken in the Philippines. On Janella’s island they spoke illonggo. However, most all Filipinos also know how to speak English because they teach it in the schools.
Janella’s caregivers all spoke English to us. They spoke illonggo as a first language though, meaning that I assume that most of the dialogue within the orphanage was done in their native language.
We feel like Janella was definitely exposed to English and seems to understand most of the things we are saying!
Again, I’m sorry I am unable to answer every email/message that was sent my way. We are so thrilled that so many of you are interested in adoption!
Every single step of the process was worth it for us now that we have our precious daughter.
To read more about our journey to adoption please check out our adoption page where I link to ever post that I have ever wrote on adoption.
And if your heart loves a good adoption story video you can check out our adoption video below.