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Adoption in Finland: our story, chapter III

[this is the third part of our adoption story. Find part 1 here and  part 2 here.]

The wait to get our home-study approved seemed endless. After few weeks, we got a request of additional information and we grew even more impatient. Christmas 2015 came and went without us hearing any news. Then, right after the holidays, we received the letter in the mail: we had been approved! While waiting, we had made contact with the adoption agency we had chosen. We were hoping for South Africa as adoption country, since it was one of the few our family would qualify for and we really wanted to work with that agency, which we heard good reviews about. When we got Valvira’s letter, we were ready to get into the queue. Our enthusiasm didn’t last long and right at the start of the spring we were contacted by the agency, which communicated that their contact in South Africa had decided to suspend their collaboration. We were told we needed to choose another country or change our provider altogether. As the agency had plans to shut in few years, they didn’t want to invest resources in establishing new contacts. After the initial disappointment, our thoughts ran to the families who had been queuing for longer than us, some even a couple of years. I was mad for myself, but even angrier for them. I hope they got at the top of their new queue, at least.

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R. and a friend, summer of 2016. We had just been approved by CARA and were waiting for a match.

We didn’t qualify for any other country coordinated by the agency and resolved to contact another one. We approached them with open mind, asking for their advice about which country was most suitable for our family situation and choice fell on India. I remember it took me few days to get over the idea of changing the country, even though I had no particular ties to South Africa. I had always tried not to influence my expectations, but couldn’t help to picture myself with an African kid in my arms, and changing country made me feel like I was losing that imaginary child. Weird tricks of the mind, I guess.

After taking few days to discuss it, we called the agency back in May 2016 and said yes, let’s do it. A huge rush started to get the final paperwork done. India required that our family took some medical tests – including a blood test for R., just awful to witness -, we had to fill several forms, get three recommendation letters from friends, and obtain some more official documents, which is never easy for us, since we also need to deal with Italian authorities. We funded our translator’s summer vacation for sure. Most importantly, we had to fill the special needs form. We had spent months over it, researching each condition, trying to make ourselves aware of the spectrum of possibilities, and picturing how daily life would be with a child having each special need. I felt we had been open, but realistic. Indian people are very keen on adopting children and only kids with special needs make it to the stage of being eligible for international adoption, we were told.

Adoption in India works through a nationwide database. The agency enters the family data, along with some required documents. Then the Indian adoption authority CARA approves or rejects the family. If a family is approved, their local agency can access a list of possible matches – filtered by the special needs the family is willing to accept – and can select one. If the family accepts the referral, the “real” adoption process can start and takes several months, if not years, until gotcha day. This, at least, is the system in Finland. After the agency entered our data in the system, we set ourselves ready to wait a couple of months before getting CARA’s good-to-go. But a small miracle happened and we were approved in ten days! On the same day, the agency spotted the referral of our E.. I don’t believe in destiny, but that really seemed something like it.

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When I saw his picture for the first time, my heart stopped.

We were officially matched at the start of August 2016. Again, after another rush to get documents, a potentially long wait started. We were told nothing would happen before months. Even though it didn’t turn out to be very long, this was the hardest wait we faced. Knowing who our son was and feeling him so far away was close to unbearable. We found some comfort in knowing he was living is a really good facility, which even had a Facebook page we could follow, and videos on Youtube. Still, I missed him so much. I was just so ready to become his mother.

In the meantime, we were worried by another bureaucratic aspect of the whole thing: how to bring him home when we would travel to India? If one of us had been a Finnish citizen, the process would have been easy, E. would become a Finnish citizen automatically and could enter Finland as such. If that was not the case, Italian citizenship was not as fast and simple to obtain and we were worried we would have to fill visa applications to bring him home. We were ahead of this issue and I had started my citizenship application in April 2016. However, everything seemed stuck with that and I was worried I would not get it in time. Again, our luck stroke and right before Christmas 2016, we got a letter: I and R. were now Finnish citizens! Another weight was lifted from our hearts.

Exactly one year had passed from our approval. It was Christmas again and I grew  nostalgic, as we were not able to celebrate it as a whole family. As I was just pondering this, an Indian judge was ruling in favour of our adoption. India had trusted us with one of her sons.

(continues…)

3 thoughts on “Adoption in Finland: our story, chapter III

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