One of my awesome families mentioned today that her family had a hard time understanding why it would take so long to adopt two orphaned boys. How hard could it be to find 2 orphaned boys in a country where there are estimated to be a million orphans? As I wrote out just how hard that can be, I thought maybe others might like to know what goes into it. I think it's common for folks new to international adoption to naively assume it should be an easy thing.
Here's the deal....
1. We don't try to "find" orphans. There is a huge amount of "luck" (fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it) involved simply for orphaned children to ever be known outside of their village.
2. There is NO centralized system in Ghana to track the orphans in the country. No list of kids in orphanages--not even a complete list of orphanages themselves.
3. If two orphaned boys are identified, the first thing we're going to do is try to see if they can remain with their family (immediate or distant)! Second, we're going to see if the boys could possibly be adopted within Ghana, domestically.
4. If the boys can't be adopted domestically and can't stay with biological family, the known biological family has to be counseled about what adoption is (and what it is not). There are LOTS of reasons why a family--even if they can't care for their children--does not want the child to be adopted.
5. If the family wants the boys to be adopted, they also have to know and accept that they will profit NOTHING from giving the boys for adoption. No gifts. No sponsorship. No ongoing support from the adoptive family after the children are in America. Nothing.
6. Even if the immediate family understands all of this and still wants the boys to go for adoption, the head of the family and oftentimes even the village chief must also agree. [Not a legal requirement, but a cultural one, to be sure.]
7. If all of that falls into place (and that is a lot) we have to hope that the boys are in a region that allows adoption (some do not) and that if the region allows adoption, the officials there are not corrupt (some are).
8. If ALL of that happens, THEN these boys could be recommended for adoption by Social Welfare--being made free for adoption.
This is why it is hard to identify two orphaned boys for adoption in Ghana.
P.S. At the top, two precious SPECIAL (needs) boys who are in need of adoption. Let me know if you think they might be yours!