Adoption Q&A

Today is Sansa's gotcha day!! She officially became our daughter three years ago! Three years ago we flew to Hungary and met this beauty and our lives changed forever. I will never forget when we first met her. She even let me hold her and we walked hand in hand too. This girl had our hearts from day one. I am so thankful for the joy that she brings to our lives. No matter what she does or how crappy the circumstances are, she is constantly laughing and smiling. Sansa is having to spend her gotcha day in the hospital, but we still got her a cake and Chipotle. :) She is here to get her T-cells harvested so they can go to a fancy lab and become CAR T-cells and then they will go right back in her to fight the leukemia. Spending the day in the PICU is not optimal, but she makes the best of it. She is our fighter and amazes us everyday.

These pictures are from an amazing photoshoot with Callum of C.E. Photography. We had so much fun! He brought donuts to eat (food is always the way to my heart), and fun props for Sansa! 

A couple of weeks ago I asked if anyone had any question about our adoption process in honor of Sansa's gotcha day on my Instagram, and I am going to do my best and answer them. :)

1.) Where is Sansa adopted from?
She is adopted from Hungary. We visited so many little towns in Hungary when we stayed there, and for the last week got to stay in Budpest which was just the best. We had a blast, and everyone was so nice everywhere we went. We would do our best to speak Hungarian, but most locals spoke English back to us. haha. I guess we are obvious tourists.

2.) How long and expensive was the adoption process?
From start to finish the process took about 2 years, which was pretty quick in the grand scheme of international adoptions. Adoption is exspensive. I would say over all it was at least $40,000 (including the fees, travel, stay in Hungry etc.). Every country has their own adoption rules. For Hungary, we had to stay in the country a month and a half which added a lot of expenses. Thankfully there are tons of grants available and we qualified for a few to help us. We did a lot of fundraisers too.

3.) How did you start the adoption process? What was the process that you had to go through?
Honestly, we started by googling international adoption agencies. We were not sure where to start, but Nikki did most of the leg work with this. She found a couple of agencies that were highly recommended and emailed some of the families that adopted with the agencies before. After doing the research we settled on Children's House International (CHI). We initially applied to adopt from Bulgaria. Since we were both young, we had restrictions on where we could adopt from and lots of people had great experiences with Bulgaria so we went for it. We sent in the application and got connected with our contact at CHI. We did background checks, lots of paperwork, a home study, interviews, home inspection, paid a lot of money, etc. :) I am probably leaving out things, but that was the gist of it. Since CHI is located in Washington, we had to find a local adoption agency to do our home study, which consisted of the majority of our work for the adoption (the home visits/interviews, background checks, finger printing, showing proof of financies, state home inspection, fire inspection etc.). There was so much paperwork and things to do during this process for the state of Maryland and for Hungary as well. Thankfully both the agencies were so great and helped us along perfectly. They answered any questions we had and told us what we needed to do for each step of the process.

Traveling to Hungary was probably the most stressful part of it all, because I had no idea what we were doing. But the agency had a contact in Hungary and everyone took great care of us. They set up our apartment, got us a phone, a driver, a translator, and even gave us a little tour of the city where we were staying and brought us to the grocery store. Every single person we encountered during this process was so friendly and helpful. It made our trip pretty easy. We visited Sansa the first week at her foster family's house, and then after that she stayed with us for a month. We had to meet with social workers in Hungary a few times as well so they could complete the adoption on their end. After Sansa stayed with us for 30 days, we were able to move forward with completing the adoption in Hungary. Next we went to Budapest to get Sansa's visa. After all of that was approved, we finally got to come home! We had a few followup home visits to complete six months and one year after the adoption, but overall after coming home everything was pretty much done.

It has been three years since we adopted, so I know I am missing things. The adoption process involves many steps. Heck, it took us two years to do all of these things, so I tried to summarize it the best as possible. You don't realize how many people are working to help this process along until you go through it.

4.) How old was Sansa when you adopted her?
She had just turned two when we adopted her. I want to go back and find all her old pictures now. She was/is the sweetest! :) Two years old is pretty young for international adoption. Since most children are put through their country's adoption system first, you don't see many babies/toddlers available for international adoption. The average age of children waiting to be adopted is 7.7 years old.

5.) What made you want to adopt?
Nikki was the one that put it on my heart. She has always wanted to adopt. Also, just knowing there are so many children that are orphans in the world, 17.8 million world wide to be exact. There is no need to have biological children when we can give one a great home. After experiencing this, we definitely want to adopt more kiddos. Adoption is such a beautiful thing. So many people benefit from it. Sansa did, but we as her parents have benefited the most.

6.) Did you care if you adopted a boy or girl?
We did not really care, but were leaning toward adopting a girl, so when Sansa caught our eye that was the end of the story. :)

Thanks for reading and asking questions about our adoption process. I had fun and enjoyed writing this post! If you have any follow up questions, please ask them. I love talking about it. xoxo!

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