1. Making the decision to Adopt
2. Financing your adoption
3. Selecting an Orphanage
4. Why not to Adopt Privately
5. Do's and Don'ts of Adopting from Pakistan
1. Making the decision to adopt
Choosing adoption is a path that many families follow for various
reasons. Every situation is unique, and whether adoption is the
right option for you, is an entirely personal decision. So, the
question is, how do you get to the decision to adopt?
Most families are led to adoption due to infertility, problems
conceiving children naturally, and a desire to have a family in
spite of it. Some couples are able to have biological children but
they want to provide a home to a child who is already in the world,
rather than bring another one into this world. Some have had their
lives touched by adoption, and want to give back by adopting a child
and providing him or her with a loving home and future. The best
thing to do when you start to explore the possibility if adoption
is right for you, is to read and research every aspect of this subject.
Taking the time to understand what adoption is, how the process
works, what is involved in terms of time, finances and potential
impacts to your life, will help you make an educated and informed
decision, and you will be more comfortable with your choice once
you have selected the path that is right for you.
In arriving at the decision to adopt, it is important for the couple
to talk extensively to explore their feelings regarding taking on
a child with whom they would have no biological connection. They
have to explore their own feelings, and also take into account how
their support network, their family and friends, would receive an
adopted child. It is important to address any concerns and issues
in your research leading up to the decision. Research, collect your
facts, investigate all your options, explore your feelings, even
those of loss at your inability to conceive (in case infertility
is what led you to consider adoption), mourn the loss of the biological
child you will never have, find out how you feel about adoption,
reach out and learn from the experience of other adoptive parents,
discuss, talk, listen, share! Understand what it means to have a
child who does not share the same genetic make-up as you, does not
look like you, and about whom you may not have much more information.
Especially in the case of adoption from Pakistan, most children
available for adoption are abandoned at birth, and there is no information
on the birth parents, no medical or family history, or evidence
of adequate nutrition and pre-natal care. It is a journey of faith!
Even after you have decided that adoption is the right choice for
your family, there are a lot more questions that need answers. We
hope this website will take you through the process step-by-step
and you will get a clear idea of what to expect from your adoption
process in Pakistan.
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2. Financing your adoption
International Adoption can be a costly affair. Adoption from Pakistan
is typically much less expensive than adoption from countries such
as Russia, China and Guatemala, but the extended in-country process
can indirectly add to the cost of your adoption. The average expenses
involved in an adoption from Pakistan is of the order of $10-12k,
which includes home study, I-600A application, attorney fees in
Pakistan and US, travel expenses, post placement reports and re-adoption
processing. However, this also involves an in-country stay of 3-6
months for at least one parent, unless you designate a local contact
to take care of the child and represent you in Pakistani court through
a Power of Attorney. That translates into lost income for the 3-6
month period, which may bring the actual cost of adoption close
Before you take a loan out from someone else, consider borrowing
from yourself. Many company 401k plans allow employees to borrow
up to 50 percent of their current 401k balance. The big advantage
of this is that you are paying yourself interest. The downside is
that if you change companies, you will be expected to pay off the
loan or take the 10 percent tax penalty on the loan amount as an
Another alternative to consider is a home equity loan. These are
typically low interest loans that come with a check book you can
use to write checks to pay your bills. The biggest advantage here
is that interest from a home equity loan may be tax deductible.
However, some financial advisors recommend using credit cards instead
of home equity loans since credit cards are unsecured debt. If you
get in trouble paying off a home equity loan, you could lose your
Some companies offer Adoption Expense Reimbursement as part of
employee benefits, paid after your adoption is finalized. Do check
your benefits to make sure you are not overlooking any benefits
available to you. Talk to your company about introducing adoption
benefits if they don't already provide them.
You can request a step-by-step guide for employers to establish
adoption benefits at Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption http://www.davethomasfoundationforadoption.org/afw/afw_index.asp
Adoptive parents may be able to claim a tax credit on their federal
income tax return for qualified adoption expenses. International
adoptions must be finalized before you can apply for the adoption
tax credit on your annual tax return. In case of adoption from Pakistan,
the child must be readopted in US in the state of residence before
you can qualify for this tax credit.
The credit in 2005 was $10,630. For most adoptions, you may take
as a tax credit the amount you actually spent on qualified adoption
expenses, up to that limit. The same $10,630 is available for international
adoptions (subject to the amount actually spent) after finalization.
The tax credit limit is for expenses associated with each adopted
child, rather than an annual limit.
Check the following link for more details and current information:
There are some organization that offer adoption grants. Please
see this link www.adoptiongrants.com
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3. Selecting an Orphanage
The first thing that families wishing to adopt from Pakistan must
consider when selecting an orphanage is the credibility of the organization.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of child abduction
and child trafficking cases every year and many of these children
end up on the "black market". An orphanage should NEVER
ask you for money in exchange for a child or ask you to do anything
"under the radar". No exceptions. In fact, it is a good
idea to avoid making any sort of donation to an orphanage, no matter
how innocuous, before and during the adoption process to avoid the
appearance of any conflict of interest. Once the adoption is complete,
you can give to your heart's content, and we certainly hope you
US immigration authorities are well aware of the child trafficking
issues in Pakistan and the issue of the orphanages reputations is
an especially imperative one as it could potentially pose problems
with immigration proceedings. It is recommended that families try
to limit the orphanages to ones that families living abroad, especially
in the US, have successfully adopted from in the past. This will
serve as a good indication that the organization has been deemed
reputable by US immigration authorities, although authorities do
not formally "approve of" or "disapprove of"
of any NGOs in Pakistan. Please note that all the orphanages/organizations
listed on this website have been used by families living abroad
(for a list of orphanages, please click
here). If you do decide to work with an orphanage not listed
on this website, please research the organization as thoroughly
as possible and keep in mind that the child must meet the USCIS
definition of an orphan (see CFR 204.3).
Another consideration when selecting an orphanage is the time you
will have to wait to get a referral for a child as referral times
vary from agency to agency. If you want to adopt a child as quickly
as possible, as many families do, it is a good idea to apply to
as many orphanages as possible (for a list of reputable orphanages,
please click here). Applying at
several orphanages will increase the likelihood that you will get
your child sooner than you if you had just applied at just one or
two. The Bilquis Edhi Adoption Centre typically gets the largest
number of infants due to their "Jhoola" program (see article
on "Adoption from
Pakistan" for more details) and, therefore, tends to have
a shorter referral time (about 4 months) than most other agencies.
It is important to note, however, that the Edhi Foundation has,
in the past, required a three-month waiting period between the time
of the placement of the child and when they relinquish release forms
that allow parents to proceed with gaining guardianship, but more
recent adoptions have involved shorter waiting periods. This is
something to consider if there is a strong time constraint on staying
in Pakistan for an extended period of time. If, on the other hand,
you have sometime before you would like to adopt, you can apply
at any of the other organizations listed on this website, but you
should realize that it can take up to two years to get a referral
from some agencies such as SOS Children's Village and Kashana-e-Itfal-o-Naunihal
which typically receive fewer infants.
The age of the child you wish to adopt may also play a role in
which orphanages you decide to work with. As previously mentioned,
the Bilquis Edhi Adoption Centre tends to get the largest number
of infants due to their "Jhoola" program so it would be
a very good choice for families seeking to adopt an infant. SOS
Children's Village and Kashana-e-Itfal-o-Naunihal also place newborn
infants for adoption. Edhi Foundation and SOS Childrens Village
typically do not place older children in their system up for adoption,
so you may wish to contact the other agencies listed on this website
directly if you wish to adopt an older child.
Edhi Foundation has many children with special needs. These children
may be available for adoption to families wishing to provide a loving
and caring home to these kids.
It is highly recommended that families living abroad and wishing
to adopt from Pakistan, work with a reputable orphanage or NGO and
not attempt to adopt privately through a doctor, hospital or relative
as this has proven to be increasingly difficult in conjunction with
US immigration policies (see "Why Not to Adopt Privately").
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Adoption is a beautiful thing. For many couples like us, it is
the only way to parenthood. The joy you get from holding your child
in your arms is indescribable. The reward is worth all the hardships
and the headaches. The journey to adopt is not an easy one, especially
from Pakistan and especially if you adopt privately, through a relative
or hospital rather than through a recognized orphanage or social
welfare organization/NGO. I will talk about the issues a bit later.
The fastest and the easiest way to adopt from Pakistan, is from
a reputable orphanage. You can find the list of these orphanages
on this website.
There are several reasons why US consulate gives you a hard time
if you adopt privately from Pakistan. The main reason, is the suspicion
of rule of law in Pakistan. It is a sad truth that today in Pakistan
any legal document can be easily obtained if you know the right
people or thru rishwaat (bribe). US consulate knows this. For them
a legal document from Pakistan is simply a rubber stamp, a formality
at best. To verify that a child is truly an orphan (please see CFR
204.3), they look to orphanages. They trust that once a child is
handed over from an orphanage, his/her status as an orphan is verifiable.
The consulate wants to make sure that CFR 204.3 is satisfied. A
child coming from a reputable orphanage is considered an orphan
and that satisfies CFR 204.3.
Another reason for denial is that most Hospitals or private parties
are not associated with social services organizations, orphanages,
or NGO's (non-governmental organizations). Most private parties
do not have the means to ensure the credibility of prospective adoptive
parents before handing over a child to them. It is the job of social
services or orphanages. The proper process is to notify the local
police and to get the guardianship thru Pakistani court. A private
party simply does not have the legal right to hand over a child
to someone they think can take good care of the child. This is the
position of the US consulate.
Another reason for denial is the fact that there are hundreds if
not thousands of cases of child abduction and child trafficking
from our part of the world. As deplorable and inhumane as the practice
is, it happens more often than we think. US consulate wants to make
sure that is not the case. You will have to prove your case that
your child is truly an orphan. US consulate has seen cases where
a relative's kid is shown as an orphan.
A child adopted from any other source raises a red flag. According
to the consulate, almost all the cases where a child is obtained
privately are rejected. As US citizens they are bound by law to
help other US citizens. So they will investigate thoroughly. If
they find any holes, your case will be rejected. In some cases charges
can be filed against you if they see any wrong doing on your part.
So be very careful. They will give you options. Most of them are
not very practical. One was to stay in Pakistan with child. Another
was to go to another country and get adoptive rights and then bring
the child to US. And the last is to challenge their denial by hiring
a lawyer in US. I was quoted $3000 from one lawyer in Atlanta. A
challenge can take up to six months.
Based on the harrowing experience and countless sleepless nights
some of our members went through, our advice and recommendation
to all is DO NOT ADOPT PRIVATELY from Pakistan. Adopting a child
from Pakistan via a reputable orphanage is a long process in itself.
You do not want the added headache and the anxiety that comes from
wondering if you will be able to bring your child home at all. All
adoption journeys should end on a happy note. Please do not get
your family in limbo; steer clear of private adoption.
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5. Do's and Don'ts of Adopting from Pakistan
||Research and explore all your options about where you can
adopt from, what is the number of children available for adoption,
how established the process is, and what kind of support you
can expect for paperwork.
||Get your ducks in a row, get your home study and I-600A approved
before being placed with a child. You may apply before your
home study is complete but it's best to have I-600A applied
for by the time you get the call for placement. In Edhi's case,
that process is anywhere from 1-6 months.
||Consider the in-country process and time required as you weigh
your options and make your plans.
||Be VERY FLEXIBLE when it comes to time frames regarding paperwork
in Pakistan. It typically takes 3-6 months for the in-country
process once a child is released for paperwork.
||Take into account the time from application to placement,
and the time from placement to bringing the child home when
you make your choice.
||Have a back-up plan and identify a local contact in Pakistan
who can act on your behalf if need be. Obtain their contact
info. and provide it to the agency you are working with so they
can be called when a child is available for you.
||Work with an adoption attorney of repute who understands the
process well and will guide you through the steps. You can engage
the same lawyer to prepare the power of attorney for you, in
case you need to designate someone to act on your behalf.
||Take at least 1-2 months for the child's adjustment after
returning home, allow yourself and the child to get acquainted
with each other and develop a positive bond before sending the
child to day care or other provider. This is especially important
if you are adopting an older child.
||Get your NICOP made BEFORE you go to Pakistan to adopt a child,
it can take 4-8 weeks in Pakistan, 3-6 months if you apply in
the US through your consulate. The last thing you want to do
in Pakistan is to sit around waiting for your NICOP to come
through so you can get the paperwork for the child going!
|| Line up a pediatrician before you go to Pakistan and meet
with him/her to discuss your future situation with the child.
You don't want to get back from Pakistan with a sick child and
then have to find a pediatrician in an emergency!
||Make copies of all your adoption documents and leave them
with someone you trust on the home front just in case you lose
some of the paperwork and need to get it re-created. The copies
will come in handy if you ever find yourself in that situation.
This includes passports, I-600A approvals, birth and marriage
certificates, home study and all other paperwork.
||Keep all your paperwork in your carry-on bag and NEVER part
with it despite what the airline says. If you have to check
in the bag, take your paperwork and valuables out before turning
the bag over to them.
||Keep in touch with this group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pakistanadoption/
and ask any questions that come up, we are here as a resource.
||Adopt a child privately, without going through a reputable
and well known agency/orphanage such as Edhi, SOS or Kashana
(especially if you are US based).
||Expect things to work EXACTLY the way you planned them, they
||Go to Pakistan without identifying all your contacts, have
a list of emergency contact numbers and emails with several
people both at home and in Pakistan.
||Expect Edhi or other organization to just call you with a
referral, keep in touch with them on a regular basis. In Pakistan
the diligence with which you pursue things goes further than
anything else! The more aggressively you pursue things, the
better your odds of quick turnaround.
|| Accept a referral of a child till you get a medical check-up
on the child and have satisfied yourself that everything is
okay. You may want to get in touch with an international adoption
doctor and run the medical info. by them via email or phone.
||Let others tell you "not to worry" because you are the best
advocate for your case, others can help but you have to be your
own facilitator and case worker in Pakistan to move things forward
with your adoption.
|| Fall off the face of the earth once you go to Pakistan to
adopt your baby, let us know how things are moving for you,
if at all possible!
|| Forget to finalize your adoption formally through
your state/country of residence, since adoption is not complete
in Pakistan, only guardianship is granted through the court.
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