From the Desk of the Executive Director
Dear Prospective Adoptive Parents:
Welcome to Illien Adoptions International, Inc.! We know you are here because you have already started your research to select the team of adoption professionals who will guide you through all of the necessary stages to bring the child of your heart to your family. Illien Adoptions International, Inc. has a trained, dedicated, and experienced staff committed to providing you with professional and personalized adoption services. We look forward to working with you to build your family through adoption.
I would like to give you some information and historical perspectives which may help you understand the context of how your adoption fits into what is happening today in international adoption.
During my twenty-six years of work in international adoption, I have seen many changes which were not always what I expected. As a prospective adoptive parent you are privileged to have access to more information than ever before in history, but this information can also be overwhelming, confusing and contradictory. We hope to assist you to put that information in perspective as it relates to your search for your child. One of the first things you need to know about international adoption is that information changes daily, that there is no stability in any information, and that whatever you read or hear today may change completely tomorrow.
In 1982, I founded Illien Adoptions International, Inc. because I was an adoptive parent who saw a need for services in the field of international adoption. It was the era of rotary dial telephones, new electric typewriters, carbon paper and no computers. No adoptive parents wanted to travel outside of the US, so the agency directors and staff escorted the children. We carried our weight limit of suitcases: two 75 lb. bags cracking at the seams with donations for our orphanages. We met our counterparts abroad, and they also escorted children to the US and visited the families who adopted their children. We hosted our colleagues from the other countries in our homes, spent many long hours in discussions getting to know each other’s cultures, similarities and differences, always looking for ways to do things better and unite the children with their permanent families faster. Although we did not realize it at the time, those were the good old days. They are gone forever.
As we moved forward in time, governments started regulating international adoption with the goal of improving the process, making it safer for children through more systematic supervision, rules, regulations, approvals, etc. We discovered that cultural differences between child welfare workers in other countries and child welfare workers in the US were nothing compared to the differences in the thinking of government officials and child welfare advocates in the same country. We had entered a new era of global government regulation.
As a result of this new evolution, the idea of the Hague Adoption Convention was conceived. I do not remember the year or names of its founders, but I remember the early discussions and the concern of the adoption community for the future of adoptions. “The Hague”, as we called it, just kept moving forward toward us and now the Hague Convention has come into force in our country on April 1, 2008. It is a new reality that we are adjusting to.
The basic idea of the Hague Adoption Convention was to protect children and prevent child trafficking by developing the same rules and regulations for all of the countries of the world which had the same goal for the welfare of children. The concept was extremely simple.
This idea put into practice turned out to be not quite that simple; in fact, its implementation has become a highly complicated process. Every country in the world has a different mentality, a different culture and a different interpretation of the same set of regulations. So now we find ourselves in a new era of differences in interpretation and differences in implementation of the same treaty. Some of the consequences of these differences are increased expenses, extended time frames, changes in eligibility requirements for prospective families and waiting children, and longer waiting times for children.
Note that there are several general trends in intercountry adoption today that are going to affect you and your search for your child.
The number of abandoned children in the world is probably increasing in the same proportion as the world population is increasing. For example, the population of India was six hundred million people in 1980. Today it is over one billion and still growing. Imagine the numerical consequences. If the percentage of abandoned children remains at just 2% of the population, look at the increase in the sheer numbers of abandoned children in 25 years.
Governments throughout the world are starting to deal with this reality and seek solutions for abandoned children other than international adoption. Many governments are promoting and encouraging adoption and foster care of these children within their country. Their efforts to get these children into families are working to reduce the number of children growing up in institutions. Some of the consequences of this movement is that there are fewer children available for intercountry adoption, that the age of the children available for intercountry adoption is increasing, and that the health of the eligible young children tends to be more fragile than the health of the older children.
This trend does not apply to every country. If you are looking to adopt a baby or toddler, this simply means that certain countries are not an option for you. That is why we ask you to describe to us the child of your heart and your mind, so that we can recommend a country to you whose adoption laws are compatible with your search.
The other major trend in intercountry adoption is that those of us working in the adoption field have become aware of the huge number of needy, abandoned and destitute children in each country that are not eligible for adoption or even for foster care in their own country. We realize that we can and should go beyond helping just one child to find a permanent family. We are committed to help those who are left behind. So we ask you to consider, from the beginning of your adoption journey, giving ongoing contributions to the children in the country of origin of your adopted child after you complete your adoption. Contributions may be given through the Illien Foundation for Children, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life of children all over the world.
We encourage you to call us at 404-815-1599 to ask any questions about your situation. We enjoy speaking to families personally. If you prefer e-mail, you may write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that you will select Illien Adoptions International, Inc. to be part of your team to find the child of your heart who is waiting for you to come and bring him/her home.
Anna Belle Illien
Founder and President
Illien Adoptions International, Inc.