Wow! These past couple of months have flown by due to an amazing update in my family’s personal life. We have decided to adopt a child from China and the process is moving much faster than normal due to medical complications with our girl. I will not go into the details here because it is not the focus of this post and it is too personal for this blog. What I do want to focus on is the technology that is assisting in the process of our adoption. I have been surprised by the number of resources that have helped during the filling out of forms, scanning of documents, emailing, and video conferences. I want to share some of those resources here and I hope that any of you who are currently considering adoption might benefit from our experiences. I will start by sharing some of the common technology resources that will come as no surprise to anyone.
First, I will have to say that Gmail has been integral. Could we have done this without Gmail, sure. We could not however have progressed to this point without email, and Gmail brings ease of use and an easy way for my wife and I to access and communicate. We could have created a free account, for instance, for the purpose of our adoption. We did not, however, and typically CC each other when responding to our agency or others. The Google calendar is another awesome resource. The ability to schedule and coordinate calendars is critical when you are looking at home study meetings with case workers and especially when one spouse travels for work, as I do. This allows us to each be aware of our coming scheduling conflicts and resolve them before it is too late. Another resource that many people might consider without the help of this article would be a printer. Now, I have to tell you that the international adoption process requires you to do a lot of printing. While many documents are in PDF form and can be edited from the computer without printing, you will find that your printer will be in constant use.
Many of the documents we print are documents we have also scanned. I got rid of my old flatbed scanner years ago, but I have found an option which has been so much easier and provides so many more avenues for outputting the scanned documents. There is an iPhone app called CamScanner which allows one to use their smart phone to take a snapshot of a document or picture and thereby scan it into a portable format such as a JPG or PDF. What I like most about it is that I can create folders within the app for organization and I have the ability to create multi-page PDFs from scanned items. This way I can send one PDF as opposed to a bunch of pictures and documents. For the adoption, I am often sending multiple pages and mixed items with documents and pictures, so this has been an awesome resource. The app allows you to reedit the capture to make sure you have the best scan and it is very forgiving about pages not being completely flat, which helps when you are scanning a document that has been previously folded. I suggest that you give the app a try.
One more great source has been AdoptTogether. This online service allows for the collection of money from friends, family, etc and is basically a crowdfunding app. Now, a lot of my reading in the past couple of months has turned up some advice from many adopted children and adoptive parents who say that crowdfunding an adoption is wrong or indecent. I am of the opinion that people want to help and there are so many benevolent people. The best part of this service is that it protects the funds donated and ensures that the funds are spent only on adoption related expenses. You are not able to take the funds and purchase a cruise or a big screen television. The service reviews requests and grants funds based on the relation to the actual adoption. There is a service fee for this and many people might shy away from it, however, we like the service because it ensures the money will be spent appropriately and allows those who contribute to do so with a 401(c)(3) organization. You are not forced to use the service, though. If you have family and friends who would rather donate directly to you, that is not a problem.
YouTube has been a great asset for learning about China by following others who have been to the cities we will visit to pick up our child. Also, there are so many educational videos about the country and culture which have been a great asset for teaching our family about our new daughter’s country and heritage. The videos of people walking the streets or visiting orphanages have been exceptionally helpful. There are also many videos which speak to international adoption and the changes that will come to a family with a new adopted child. Zoom is another service that has been utilized heavily. Our international agency uses Zoom for the video conferencing with families. Since our agency is located on the other side of the States, this service has brought us closer to our case workers and allowed for sharing of content such as spreadsheets, documents, pictures, etc. Zoom is very similar to Webex or Skype and allows for video conferencing with multiple callers. This is very helpful as we have had to do some conferences while I was out of town and my wife was at home.
I hope that this article has been useful for you and that you have learned at least one technological resource for assisting in an adoption process. We will certainly find some more helpful technologies as we progress in this event, but I wanted to share what we have learned so far. Please share in the comments below if you have other resources that can be helpful for our readers. This is a fun and exciting thing for our family, and technology has made the process much smoother and more enjoyable.