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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Travelling Blind?

Adoption travel and adoption referrrals are so unique and so individual, that I can’t even begin to give you advice.  But naturally, that won’t hold me back….

There are those families who have never been outside of the U.S. and want the full-service, handholding type of adoption travel experience:  tell me where to stay, what to eat, and how to act.  Inform me as to the personality of my child-to-be, his intellect, and his special interests.

All of the above is understandable.  You are far from home and making one of the biggest decisions of your life.  The more input and instructions that you receive, the better.

Except from some agencies.  Buyer beware.

For every good agency, there are others willing to sell you a bill of goods.  Sift through and have your eyes open.

Which brings us to the subject of “blind travel”.  Something about this term does not sound right to me.  If I’m going to travel, I’m going to keep my eyes open, thank you very much.

Agencies refer to “blind travel” as adoptive parents traveling to a region, usually not knowing anything about the child.  Anything.

Other times, you may know a general age and gender of the child.  And that’s it.

I don’t know about you, but for us, we had to have more than scant info to travel halfway around the world to meet a child.   In our opinion, to have “no” information meant one of two things:  either the agency had no “blat” (pull or connections) in the region, at least enough to have access to the most basic of facts from either the orphanage or the Ministry overseeing adoptions, or else those in charge of adoptions in those regions ran a very tight and adversarial ship, giving out no news until they wished to, and you would be in for a very rough ride throughout the process.

All that to say:  be careful if you request further details.  You may get them, and they may be anything but accurate.  Agencies love to play on adoptive parents’ heartstrings, whether or not you want to be in their sentimental symphony.

So all of our adoptions have been with some prior knowledge of the child, whether accurate or not, is anyone’s guess.  But I can connect the dots.  I can also read the Russian e-mails that your caseworker may have inadvertently attached to an e-mail to me….

We had already written a couple of letters and sent a birthday present to our first son-to-be before visiting.  Everything was very vague and noncommittal:  “We have heard of you and would love to come and visit one day soon.”

When we arrived in region, we were told:  “He’s been asking about you.”

“Oh?” I smiled, the warm and fuzzy feelings beginning.

Later, I asked him directly, when we were alone, if he had been told we were coming, or if he had asked about us.


So much for that story.

Another time, I saw a boy from the same orphanage on a listing of children while we were in the process of adopting.  It was said that he enjoyed playing basketball every day, which is odd for Russia.

“Does your orphanage have a basketball hoop or court-?” I asked when we went to pick our son up, showing him what basketball was like.


So much for that story.

Another friend went to get two girls who were said to be best friends and they had to be adopted together.  Fine, no problem.

Turned out they were anything but friends and detested each other.  But you don’t find out these kinds of things until you get them home.  Now the agency is distinctly absent to help with the huge fallout that the family is going through.

So much for that story.

Take all reports with a grain of salt.  You may get your desired information, but it may be more like “skaz’kee”, fairy tales, rather than any shred of truth in it.  Personally, I would like a photo or two, a cursory medical report, a gender and an age.  Other than that, it just depends….

Which is preferable:  to travel blind, or to be blindsided?  I don’t know.  Hopefully, in this economic climate and with the few horror stories emerging over the past few years, agencies are coming clean with their clients.

Whatever your comfort level, keep your eyes and ears open.  In order to see clearly, you’re going to need to take the blindfold off, sooner or later.

Did you travel “blind”?




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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar AP says:

    No, we did not travel blind more like the blind sided! lol! We did get a picture and a brief description. We laughed later about their description: “quiet shy” when she is anything but; “excellent student” for the daughter who skipped classes and ran around the city instead. We actually joked about it as we told the story on our first year anniversary of their adoption as we love our daughters dearly. However, this planted a seed a doubt in our daughters. They now beleive that we NEVER would have adopted them had we known the “truth”. No amount of assuring them otherwise seems to be working – especially when their low selfesteem rears its ugly head.

    Blind would have been better. The picture was all I need to fall in love and know that my daughters were waiting for me.

  2. avatar Winnie says:

    Well I’ll say we traveled blind – not much option in Ukraine – no gender, no age, no nothing. However we were pretty open as long as the child was younger or the same age as the child we already had at home, and had not too scary health issues. We came home with a child WAY younger than expected with few obvious health issues (though they have come out of the woodwork the last year) Made an already miserably stressful situation worse because we had no idea of what to expect. I don’t think I’d travel blind again, though one never says never! Traveling “blind” is certainly a term, one must keep your eyes peeled the entire process and leave as few blind spots as possible. Agencies must do their due diligence, but so should adoptive parents and be willing to stop and regroup if they find out information that is a deal breaker as opposed to continuing with the process. Unfortunately, most are in so far in by the time they actually meet the child they feel turning back is no longer an option.

    • avatar admin says:

      It’s true, Winnie, we are often in over our heads by the time we meet the child. Unless there’s something obviously and tremendously wrong that we couldn’t handle, many of us feel that every child deserves parents and a chance at a decent life. Unless it was a baby, I don’t know how I could say “no” to a child in need. Very difficult. But dealing day by day with issues that might destroy a family (or impoverish them via poor insurance) would be worth considering and thinking twice….

  3. avatar Linda says:

    we knew we would get just a name, age and the main diagnose.
    And had been told that most likely we would not get any photos.
    So it was a big surprise when we got the call and she told me that he’s a beautiful boy, and that she has not just one photo but two!

    Later on we found a third photo of him in the database. But in all honesty, he looked nothing like the photos. In one he was just 14Months old, second he was just under 3. These were the photos we got… And in the database, even if it was more up to date, he was 3,5years, he looked really chubby and tall, but in reality he was this little tiny thing, at 4 he was the size of a 2 year old…

    It was a really nice surprise to get photos, and I think the photos keep us going for the next 3,5Months until we finally got to see him…
    I still remember waking up in the middle of the night and looking at my phone, as I had taken a photo of his photo, so I could make sure it hadn’t been just a dream…

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