Adoptive families look at international options

Cindy Barks -- The Daily Courier -- Sept. 27, 2004 --  in The Arizona Republic, page B9

PRESCOTT - For a time, the adjustments of new parenthood were magnified for Jodi and Wade Randolph, who adopted a 6-month old girl and a 2-year-old boy from Russia.

"It was kind of like having twins," Jodi Randolph said of little Nicholi (Cole) and Tatianna (Anna), who became part of the family in October 2002.

For the children, the upheaval of leaving their orphanage, flying for hours to an unfamiliar home and dealing with new parents was sometimes difficult.

"Cole fought a lot," Jodi remembers. "That was his survival mechanism. He had been dealing with all this change."

But none of that appears to matter now, two years later, as little Cole and Anna prance around the living room of the Prescott home they share with their parents.

The Randolphs are among the growing number of Prescott residents who have opted for international adoption. Two years ago, they traveled to Siberia, Russia, to bring home not one, but two, adopted children.

"I would highly recommend the experience to anyone," Randolph said, as she pages through the baby books that chronicle both children's long journey to Prescott.

The reasons vary why prospective parents turn to foreign countries for adoptions.

Some say the desperate plight of disadvantaged children in faraway orphanages strikes a chord with them. Others say international adoption appears to be a quicker, more certain route than waiting years for a baby from the United States.

For Prescott Valley resident Jennifer Foley, it was a combination of issues that brought her and her husband John to the decision to adopt a brother and sister from Haiti.

The couple, who already have a 5-year-old son, wanted another child but had suffered through miscarriages. Although they considered medical treatments, Foley said the idea of adoption seemed more certain.

Then, by coincidence, she looked at a Web site that showed photos of orphaned children from other countries.

"I saw this little boy, and I just knew he was supposed to come home with us," she said. "My palms got sweaty, and my heart started racing."

She showed the picture to her husband, and he also liked the idea. It was only later that the Foleys learned that 4-year-old Valery from Haiti had a 7-year-old sister, Sarafina, living at the same orphanage.

"When I saw the picture of the two of them together, I couldn't imagine splitting them up," she said.

The Foleys learned that the children's father had died, and their mother was unable to support them financially. The two children have been living in the orphanage for about nine months.

Jennifer and John Foley plan to bring them home to Prescott Valley by next spring.

Jennifer allows that the entire family will face some major adjustments. Valery and Sarafina speak only Creole, and the Foleys are currently learning the language.

And to become familiar with the culture of Haiti and any potential issues, Foley said she has "read a ton of books and done a lot of research."

Indeed, prospective parents who pursue international adoption must weigh the challenges of navigating an unfamiliar country against the advantages of a fairly quick process.

Prescott Valley resident Tiffany Upton and her husband Robert are in the midst of adopting a child from Russia. The definitiveness of the process helped to convince the couple to pursue the international option.

The Uptons are hoping for a child who is between 2 to 4 years of age. Currently, they are engulfed in paperwork that comes with dealing with an international adoption: the home-study reports that must go to both countries, the information about naturalization, the legal documents.

Even so, Tiffany Upton said, going to a foreign country can be easier in some ways than trying to adopt domestically.

"That process can take a lot longer, for infants in particular," she said of adoption within the United States, especially if the birth mother has second thoughts about the adoption.

The Uptons are hoping to hear back from their adoption agency before Christmas.

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