Over the last twenty years, since Russia opened to foreign adoptions, the increasingly complex world of Russian adoption to foreigners has been navigated by those who are new to it with help from those who have done it. In some cases, the helpers built adoption agencies or other professional services. In other cases, knowledge captured from hard-won experience has been shared through the Internet, through support groups, and even through books.
Most of the published material is written from a USA perspective. While helpful, these resources do not provide a comprehensive view of the process for pre-adoptive parents from other countries, who must often figure it out on their own while navigating their home countries' bureaucracies. Pre-adoptive parents in the UK now have another choice: a new book written just for them, with specifics on all aspects of the Russian adoption process.
Anna Francis, a UK resident and adoptive mother to a Russian-born child, recently published Russian Adoption: A Practical Guide. This deceptively small book packs a wealth of information into 115 pages, serving as a step-by-step companion to any UK parent navigating the Russian adoption process. Topics covered range from the ponderous (how to get started, how to choose a facilitator, and how to assess a referral) to the more well-defined aspects of a Russian adoption (how to notarize and apostille documents, what specific documents are needed for registration and court, how to get Russian visas, and so on).
Anna organized the book chronologically, which allows the reader to digest it one chapter at a time while going through the adoption process. This approach means that the UK pre-adoptive parent need not try to become an expert on everything at the outset. The book contains sufficient detail that readers should feel almost as if they have already experienced it before they have gone through the process themselves. For example, the section covering the court appearance was so thorough that I imagined myself sitting in the Russian courtroom and listening to the proceedings while Anna and her husband were adopting their daughter.
Perhaps the most helpful section of the book describes in detail what to expect during the interactions with various Russian officials, from the MOE interview to the court appearance. Here again, Anna's careful attention to detail and candid explanations of where mistakes can be made will undoubtedly help other pre-adoptive parents avoid those errors. It will also serve to wipe away much anxiety caused by not knowing what to expect.
Every guide book has its strengths and weaknesses. While this book has many strengths, one area of weakness is that the author's examples all draw from her personal experience in a single Russian region, which happens to be well-known as a difficult region for international adoptions. This means that the region-specific details in the book may make the requirements seem more complex than UK pre-adoptive parents will find in other regions, and the author's experiences may lead her advice to be more cautious than what is required in other regions. Still, in my experience, if one must generalize from specifics, it is better to start with more detailed specifics. The best surprises are those in which we discover things are not as difficult as we thought!
Anna has also included a number of helpful case studies near the end of the book, which should provide UK readers with a sense of the uniqueness of each adoptive parent's journey. It also encourages the reader that despite the considerable effort, a Russian adoption is possible, and that it can be as rewarding as people hope it will be.
Any UK parent hoping to adopt a child in Russia should read this book. The cover price, at £16.99, is a bargain for access to the detailed experience and resources contained therein. For more information, please visit http://www.russianadoptionguide.com
. And tell them Jim sent you.
Labels: Pre-adoption, Russia, The Process, UK