Thursday, December 15, 2005

October 9, 1989 archives

A more modern archive, but one that speaks to issues faced today by many people.

Excerpted from "Want a Baby?"

Terry Ulick, 34, and his wife Linda, 45, of Bartlett, Ill., were rebuffed by seven agencies in their six-year quest for a child. One agency said he was too fat and she was too old. "The biological rules of nature are that any two people can get together and have a child," says Terry. "When it comes to adoption, the rules of nature don't apply."

So the Ulicks, like so many couples, have had to look elsewhere. Some go to countries where local custom discourages adoption. In the past, South Korea was the prime source; in the '80s alone, more than 40,000 Korean children have been brought to the U.S. But in recent years Koreans have begun to question the propriety of shipping so many infants abroad. The government has stepped up its promotion of birth control and urged Korean families to adopt. Last year the number of children coming to the U.S. fell 18%, and prospective parents must find other channels.

While South Korea cuts back, other countries awash with orphans or abandoned children try to remove potential obstacles. Thailand, India and Peru are possible sources. Douglas Tifft and his wife Bonnie MacAdam tried the agencies, avoided the lawyers and waited a year for a Korean baby before looking elsewhere. "The process can be heartbreaking," says Bonnie. But when they applied for a Peruvian baby, the phone call came six weeks later, and they soon boarded a plane for Lima. Last week Bonnie returned to New Hampshire with five-month-old Rosa. "Once you have the baby in your arms," she says, "it seems worth all the waiting, money, traveling and hassle."

For parents who have set their hearts on white American infants and been endlessly wait-listed or rejected by the agencies, the other choice is to go private. At the hub of so-called independent adoptions, meaning placements outside the agencies, are the ranks of lawyers, who usually charge from $1,500 to $4,000 for their legal work. They typically steer couples through a tangle of laws that vary wildly from state to state.

Among the legal considerations: Are lawyer-brokered independent adoptions allowed in the state where the couple resides? (Six states prohibit private adoption.) Which of the birth mother's expenses can be paid by the adoptive parents? Hospitalization? Maternity clothes? How long does she have to change her mind about giving up her child? Does the birth father, who in most cases is out of the picture, have to give his consent? Because of their laws, California and Texas have become magnets for couples seeking independent adoptions, while Minnesota and Michigan have none. "There are probably more infants from Minnesota placed in California than in Minnesota itself," says Beverly Hills lawyer David Keene Leavitt, who has handled more than 7,000 adoptions in 28 years.

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