Janesville9.9°

A long-distance adoption option

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
January 17, 2008
— Cyndi Hovland-Scafe always knew in her heart she would adopt.

That lifelong dream became reality when 9-month-old Lily Ann Xin Scafe was placed into her arms Oct. 29 in China.


“It was amazing to be able to stand there and hold her where her birth mother left her,” Hovland-Scafe said.


“I had a bit of fear since we look and sound nothing like her, but none of my fears were realized. She responded to love right away. I knew it in my heart it was meant to be,” Hovland-Scafe said.


Although the Scafes worked with two adoption agencies—one in Wisconsin and the other in Virginia—they found creating a personal adoption Web site most helpful.


Adoption Web sites and blogs are a new tool and a way for those adopting to connect, Hovland-Scafe said.


The local family is not alone. A recent Google search resulted in more than 5.4 million Web sites and blogs for those adopting.


But Kim Garner, president of the Community Adoption Center, gets anxious about the use of the Internet when adopting. The center, which has four offices in Wisconsin, is one of the top three adoption agencies in the state and averages between 100 and 150 adoptions a year.


“It’s so easy to get on the computer because it’s so hard to wait, but you need to definitely go in with both eyes open when doing it,’’ Garner said.


“I get concerned when its dealing with such an emotional process,” even though the Internet can be helpful in making you realize you’re not alone, she said.


Still, Garner said, “it’s better for agencies to connect those adopting with other families going through the same thing as a support system.’’


But for the Scafes, the adoption Web site was something tangible that provided a connection for them when they were told the adoption would only take around six months, but actually took 31 months.


The Scafes began the adoption process in March of 2005. They started their Web site on babyjellybeans.com in February of 2006 “so our family and friends could follow our journey to our daughter,” Hovland-Scafe said.


The Web site also created a timeline that allowed the family to journal their thoughts of the adoption, Hovland-Scafe said.


The Scafes found Web sites of others adopting helpful.


“I could watch their timeline and get an idea in terms of what to expect,’’ Hovland-Scafe said.


The Web site also gave the family a feeling of “being in the driver’s seat’’ and a sense of control, she said.


“It allowed us to be in the know and prepared us for the daunting wait and another way to give us a map of where we’ve been and where we were going,’’ Hovland-Scafe said.


Information, from others adopting also came to the Scafes through Web sites. So even before their family arrived in China, for the adoption, they already knew the best hotels to stay in, restaurants to eat in and what places would deliver American food to them.


“All of this (information) came from hundreds of others who’ve adopted from China,” Hovland-Scafe said.


The Scafes even found their Virginia adoption agency through Web sites searches online, she said.


Through a laptop computer, the adoption Web site proved an invaluable tool for the Scafes to keep in touch with family and friends, who were still in the United States, when the family traveled to China to pick up Lily.


Hovland-Scafe also made an important connection through the Web site with a high school classmate she has not been in touch with for 19 years.


“Without the Web sites we would have never connected. It made us feel connected instantly,” Hovland-Scafe said.


The information from other adoption Web sites was inspiring for the Scafes.


“It gave us great joy to see others endure this process with a happy ending.”


ADOPTION STATISTIC

Between 1971 and 2001, U.S. citizens adopted 265,677 children from other countries.


—The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Tips for picking an adoption Web site

-- Browse other Web sites—“there are tons to pick from.”


-- Choose a Web site with a look you like.


-- Pick one that is easy to create and possibly with step-by-step guidance.


-- Select one that has links.


-- Look for one that has no contracts, where you can stop anytime.


—Cindy Hovland-Scafe, Janesville, who established an adoption Web site without any computer technology experience.
Online adoption sites
babyjellybeans.com

Description: Includes features to create a Web site for expecting mothers, those with new babies or those who plan to adopt or for those who have families of all ages.


Cost: First month free, then $8.95 a month. A personal domain name of your choice linked to your site is $30, $50 and $60, for 1-,2- and 3-year registration. Additional disk space—beyond 100 mg—can be bought for a one-time fee of $19.95 to $35.95.


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journeytome.com

Description: Nonprofit organization offering adoption resources for adopted children and families.


Cost: Free online journals for 12 months and an adoption library to search a database of articles, download an adoption resource e-book or listen to the latest audio presentation from adoption experts.


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myadoptionwebsite.com

Description: Site invites those who adopt in China to share their journey with family and friends through a personal adoption Web site. Whether you are expecting a referral or have received one and are awaiting travel, you e-mail appropriate text and photos to the site so it can create a site for you.


Cost: Package A at $150 or Package B at $215. In pursuing your own personal Web site, you may wish to contact the creators before placing an order one of two ways: By submitting the short inquiry form on the Web site or by e-mailing joejen92@yahoo.com.

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