Guest Author - Mindy Graham
For the first time Ukrainian domestic adoptions have outnumbered domestic adoption. This is a huge step in the right direction for this country but it does leave many families coming home empty handed. In fact at this point (and really for the last two years) I would never recommend a family who is overly specific or close minded to certain special needs to go to Ukraine.
Ukraine is a blind referral country, meaning you have no idea what children are available until you sit down with the SDA and are shown a select number of files. It is simply based on luck as far as which children are released from the registry before you arrive. The only time you can have any idea what child you are getting is if you happen to be aware of a child over there and you send a petition requesting that child. This can happen because of a hosting program, or another family who has adopted telling you about a specific child that they know is available for adoption.
The system what that is still not flawless and you are by no means guaranteed that child. The reality of Ukraine right now is that if you are looking for a young child (under 8) you have to be open to special needs. There are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions and they are rare. Some conditions will be correctable such as a cleft lip or palate and some will be unknowns like “delays” which can often be caused by an institutional setting and may improve when you get home but you have no way to know ahead of time.
The reality is you can never know until you are home. This makes the Ukraine a risk for any and all adoptive parents, and while I personally am open to the risk the reality is I would also be okay with a variety of special needs. Each family needs to consider what they are able to handle and base their country decision on that reality. Ukraine is not the place to look for a young healthy child, and really you would probably be better off going through a pre referral system if you are very specific about what would fit best into your family.