Monday, January 15, 2007
"During the two weeks that Marino and Debbie Prozzo welcomed a Ukrainian orphan in their home, they fell head over heels for a 7-year-old child they may never be able to adopt. While the Prozzos were giving Alona Malyovana her first bubble bath, teaching her to use the remote control, and buying her a pink velvet dress trimmed in bunny fur, the chaotic system of adoption in Ukraine was growing more chaotic. The director of Ukraine’s new Department for Adoptions resigned, leaving the fate of the nation’s 90,000 orphans in limbo. A new application process required foreign families to quickly update security clearances and other time-sensitive information. Prospective parents anxiously scanned the State Department’s Web site and bulletins from the embassy in Kiev for clarification of rules and rumors.
Hosting programs, like the one that brought Alona to an American family this Christmas, showcase older children, generally from orphanages in former Soviet bloc nations. The programs have long been hailed as an effective marketing tool by adoption experts, who say 8 of 10 families would not adopt these children without a trial run. In the largely unregulated world of international adoptions, these programs often lead to happily-ever-after, but sometimes end painfully. Ukraine and Russia place formidable obstacles in the path of parents, among them inaccurate information about children’s availability and health status. Multiple families can wind up competing for the same child. And children themselves know they are auditioning for what the industry calls their “forever families.” Then there is an entrenched system of favors — requests for cash or gifts from facilitators, translators, judges and others who handle the mechanics of adoption overseas.
Conditions in both countries have grown so unsettled, some agencies have suspended hosting programs, and the debate is growing about the ratio of risk to reward. Do the many success stories for older orphans make up for the heartbreak when adoption is thwarted?" By Jane Gross, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 1-15-07 NVS)