Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Outline of Adoption Proceedings in Taiwan

When we first received our referral I was so stunned that for the first few days I couldn't really feel anything except relief that our wait was over. I thoroughly enjoyed the next week floating around on a cloud of bliss; so happy, so excited about our new little daughter. Yesterday the anxiety started to set in and I began to feel antsy and irritable about our NEW wait. Well I better get over that because we definitely have a awhile before we travel. So to pass the time I thought I would post about the next leg of our adoption journey. Pay attention dad, this has to do with your counterparts in Taiwan, the District Court Judges. So, if you have any pull over there now would be the time to use it. A professional courtesy call perhaps?? = )

District Court Process: District courts in Taiwan are divided into a number of specialty groups. Family Court is the court within the district court system that deals specifically with adoption as well as other family issues.

The responsibility of the District Court is to make sure that every issue related to the best interest of the child has been considered. Though lengthy & frustrating at times, the District Court process protects the child, the birth parent, the organization caring for the child, AND in the end protects us as adoptive parents. When the District Court decisions have been made, adoptive families can be confident that the process was handled with consideration and in the best interest of the child.

1. Hearing
a) The family court office in the county where the child was born reviews the case/petition and a Judge is assigned to the case.
b) The judge reviews and considers the case and schedules a "hearing". Hearings are handled differently depending on the circumstances of the birth family, the judge's schedule, persons representing the birth family and those representing the adoptive family. The time involved in getting a hearing scheduled depends on the judge's schedule (docket) and that of everyone else required to attend. Hearings can result in: The immediate decision to finalize the adoption (though this is rarely the case) or the judge may request more information (again, this is rare). Usually, the hearing simply provides the judge with more information about the case and allows him/her to rule on the adoption with confidence. Most often, the judge's decision (final ruling) happens weeks or even as long as months after the hearing. Time line for hearing - 1 to 3 months after court papers are filed.

2. Part I of Final Decree(First Ruling). Once the hearing has been completed and the judge has had time to review all the information, he/she issues the first part of the Final Decree. This is a short statement signed by the judge that is forwarded to all parties involved (social services organization on behalf of the adoptive family and the birth family) notifying everyone of his/her decision to finalize the adoption. This first part of the Final Decree must go to each party and there is a waiting period of 10 days before any further court action can occur. The birth family has until the end of this 10 day period to change their mind regarding the adoption. Once the 10 day period is passed however, the judge can make the final decree. Time line for 1st ruling - 1 to 3 months after hearing.

3. Part II of Final Decree (Second Ruling). Once the 10 day waiting period is over (and the court staff finds time!), the second part of the Final Decree is forwarded to all parties. When the second part of the decree is received by your child's social service organization, the court process is DONE! Time line for 2nd Ruling - 2-6 weeks after the 1st ruling

4. Household registration change and immigration requirements. Before the adoptive family travels, a lot must be accomplished by the child's social service organization. All court documents and background info on the child must be officially translated to English and submitted with certain paperwork to AIT. Also, the child must have his/her Visa medical exam which is forwarded directly (unopened) to AIT's immigrant visa office. At some point the child's guardian must file for a household registration change. The household registration is a file located at local government offices in Taiwan that contains certificates and information about each person in Taiwan. Your child's household registration is attached to his/her guardian's file until the adoption has been finalized by the Taiwan courts. Once the child has been legally adopted in Taiwan, the guardian files with the government office to remove the file from theirs and create a new file showing that the adoptive parent(s) are the new legal guardians.The household registration change takes a day or two or a week depending on the placing organization and the local government office. Time line for official paperwork 2-4 weeks.

5. Adoptive Family receives travel date. Each organization in Taiwan is different in when and how they schedule a travel date. Some wait until all of the above paperwork is filed and then give the family notice to travel quickly. Some schedule the travel in advance, while they work at preparing the above documents. JOH families are typically given 1 to 3 weeks notice to travel.

So that's about it. Our timeline is now in the hands of a district court judge almost 7000 miles away. We have no way of knowing which judge we will be assigned or how full his/her docket might be. Based upon the experience of other JOH families we expect to travel to join our daughter in 4 to 6 months time. Please keep us in your thoughts while we eagerly await word that the courts are making headway in our case.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's in a Name?

To answer the above question: A lot! Research has shown that by 4 1/2 months of age infants prefer to listen to their own name over another name. By 5 months, a baby's ability to recognize their own name from a longer stream of speech is one of the first steps to cognitive and linguistic development. If you listen to the video we were sent you will hear that caretakers are already familiarizing our daughter with her name (Fan Pei-Jung) by using it repeatedly when talking to her. (You can also hear them say Pei-Jung Li, which means beautiful Pei-Jung as well as words that sound like "chee chung lou" which means something like "time to wake up")~she must have just woken up from a little nap.

Soon our sweet baby girl will be whisked away from all the familiar sights, smells and sounds that have been her world for the first several months of her young life. We are so thrilled to celebrate our child's birth culture and heritage by incorporating her beautiful given name into her full name of Kathryn Pei Jung Sullivan (Kate)! Speaking of name meanings: the name Kathryne means "pure" and the name Pei Jung has a double meaning according to my cyber-friend Eva and her parents who live in Taiwan (Thank you SO much!). It means "an abundant life" as well as "very tolerant". Isn't that lovely? Sounds perfect to us. We hope, Kathryn Pei Jung, you will love your name as much as we do!

We can't wait to meet you baby girl!! We love you and miss you already! Much love from your mommy, daddy and big brothers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Introducing Ms. Pei Jung Sullivan!!!

I really can't believe I am writing this post. It feels utterly surreal. Today at 11:40 a.m. I was sitting at my computer trying to decide if I should send an e-mail to JOH or simply call and beg them to tell me if we were close to the top of the list. Just then, the phone rang and it was a 206 area code. Well, let me tell you, everyone who is waiting for a referral from JOH knows what that means! Tien (the Taiwan Program Coordinator) was on the other end waiting to tell me that she had a referral of a beautiful baby girl born in the early morning hours on Friday June the 6th. Wow!!! I opened my e-mail to a precious little face and knew it must be a Sullivan baby because she was as bald and serious as all the Sullivan babies have been. I owe a huge thank you to our dear friend Dr. Tess who came right over and reviewed all the information. She said everything looked great! We have a name in mind, but we haven't decided definitively yet so for now we will call our daughter by her beautiful given name Pei Jung (pronounced "pay yong"). After 8 months and 4 days of waiting, we feel so fortunate to finally share with you our referral photo AND a little video. Enjoy!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Welcome Babies Annabella and Qwill!!!

I have to take a break from our family to give a shout out to two families with new additions. First, I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to my cyber-friend Casey and her family who received a referral of a beautiful baby girl from Taiwan in mid July. Hurray for baby Annabella! Casey and I were waitlisted about two weeks apart and she has been a very important part of my support network as we have navigated the tricky and sometimes turbulent waters of international adoption together. Because they began with a different agency and later switched to JOH they have been waiting over 2 years for this referral and I could not be happier for them!! Perhaps one day our little girls will have the opportunity to meet in person(and Casey and I too!!)

Second, I have been hoping to post a picture of this new little cutie, but I can't get it to attach (Arrrrg!)So I'm going ahead, sans picture, with a big greeting to baby Qwill, a beautiful English Setter puppy who is joining a wonderful family and great friends of ours here in Helena. Shannon, Erik, Zoe and Dash we can't wait to meet your new little darling as soon as you get her home.

Welcome to the world babies!!