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updated: 1/22/2013 4:54 PM

Lifelink International Adoption on the challenge and opportunity of adoption

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David Bakker

The adoption process can be very exciting and rewarding. It's also not without its challenges, such as the waiting and paperwork. Then there are the additional challenges of international adoption, including navigating through the rules and regulations of various counties. One example is Russia, which recently signed into law a bill stopping the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens beginning in 2014.

Lifelink International Adoption specializes in international adoptions and has direct placement programs with Bulgaria, China, Hong Kong, Philippines and South Korea. It also assists families with home studies and post-placement services for any foreign country through collaborative relationships with other agencies. The Bulgarian program is Lifelink's newest partnership and provides a good example of the detailed work and care that take place as adoption staff expertly guide couples and singles through the opportunities of the adoption process.

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Lifelink originally facilitated adoptions from Bulgaria in the late 1990s. Following detailed research, Lifelink re-entered Bulgaria by partnering with Vesta, a private nonprofit Bulgarian agency. Vesta is an intercountry adoption intermediary licensed by the Ministry of Justice, Bulgaria's central authority for adoption.

Potential adoptive parents are guided by Lifelink staff through an extensive application process. Vesta receives their dossiers from Lifelink and then submits them to the Ministry of Justice, which is the branch of the government that processes the adoptions. Part of what makes the Bulgarian program so valuable to Lifelink and the clients it serves is that Bulgaria is party to the Hague Convention (a convention governing the well-being of children) and Bulgaria's adoption process is very stable and predictable. Boys and girls ages 1-15 are available for international adoption. Both social and economic factors account for children being placed, and Bulgaria often shows flexibility with adopting parents, especially those considering a special needs adoption. Bulgarian special needs children are those with non-correctible or major correctible medical issues, older children (over age 7), sibling groups or a combination.

Bulgaria utilizes innovative programs like "Grandmother from the Heart" to help children available for adoption form attachments to caregivers, enabling them to become better adjusted. The program hires retired women to take care of children so that each child receives one-on-one attention and builds a relationship with the woman that takes care of him/her. Personal care helps improve not just the emotional state of a child, but it also stimulates physical development, fine motor skills and speech development

Additional information on Lifelink's Bulgarian program can be obtained on the Lifelink website (www.lifelinkadoption.org/programs-services/bulgaria) or by calling 630-521-8281.

Lifelink was founded in 1895 in Bensenville, Illinois, by predecessor congregations of what is now the United Church of Christ. On August 1, 2010, Lifelink International Adoption was acquired as a subsidiary of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS). As a ministry of LCFS, Lifelink International Adoption continues to provide all applicant families with quality and professional service, along with our commitment to be available throughout the adoption journey. Both agencies have provided international adoption services since 1984.

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