AAI Thailand/China Coordinator Ky Bower recently visited Thailand to visit orphanages and attend events for adoptees from that country. You can read more about our Thai adoption program at this link. Here is a report from Ky's trip to this beautiful country.
I am back from my trip to Thailand and had a wonderful experience as part of the Nativeland visit program. AAI was the only agency from the US that was represented and I was very grateful for the opportunity. I highly encourage Thai adoptive families to participate in this program in the future. It is a wonderful experience for the children to return to the children’s homes, see their caregivers again, and really get to experience the culture and traditions of their birth country. The tour really focuses on the children and the love that their birth country has for them. No matter where their new lives and families have taken them, the tour organizers believe it all started in Thailand and they try very hard to help the children realize how loved they are by their country. The Nativeland visit takes place about every 2-3 years and we will send out information about the next one when it is made available.
I was able to meet with our Social Worker Ms. Anchalee for a meeting prior to one of the activities. She informed me there are special needs files ready for our agency and that we should expect to receive those within the next few weeks. It is my understanding that these are completed files of special needs children- medical, child history, photos, and possibly video as well. AAI will review these files and match them with families who have completed dossiers. Depending on the number of files we receive, we will then advocate for the rest of the waiting children who in need of families. I will update the list of waiting children and notify families in the program once the information has received and processed.
We will also be notified later this year if the Thai healthy child program will re-open. We hope to know this fall if AAI will be able to submit applications for healthy children for the 2012 year.
I was able to visit the Child Adoption Center as well as the US Embassy and to get familiar with the offices and the processes there. It was very clear how busy the Child Adoption Center is with the workload each social worker has because they work with many adopting countries and many different children’s homes. After meeting with several different social workers I can tell you their hearts are in the right place and they too want to see these children home with their adoptive families. The biggest news to report about my meeting with the US Embassy is how valuable Ms. Oh is in that process. She has a wonderful working relationship with the staff members there and will see to it that families complete the process as quickly as possible. The lines at the embassy of people applying for visas can be very long can be long of people and adoptive families take priority. Families are told to go to the front of the line and notify the officer that they are there for adoption. I was happy about that because they day I was there the lines were very LONG.
The highlight of my trip is my visit to one of the children’s homes. The director of the home was very welcoming and a lot of preparation took place for our arrival. Seeing how excited the caregivers were to see “their” children again brought tears to my eyes and gives me goose bumps as I write this. It is very clear that these kids are loved and well cared for. The love the children returning to the home have for their nannies was obvious and they couldn’t wait to be in their arms again. It was a special reunion that I am honored to have witnessed. This home in particular had several sections to it; a room for the babies under a year old, a room for the toddlers and then a room for the older children up to age 6. Playrooms and reading rooms were also included in each section. The home was beautifully maintained and the feeling that I had while touring it was a positive one.
Often when we think of children being in orphanages we think negatively of the conditions but I can tell you that this particular home was gorgeous and very child-friendly---with beautiful bright colors, lovely landscaping and an abundance of toys and play equipment. From what Janelle, AAI’s former Thai coordinator and my traveling companion on this trip, tells me, this is the general condition of most of the homes she has visited in the past within Thailand .
Overall, it was a very successful trip and I feel optimistic about future Thai adoptions. During the visit the social workers at the Child Adoption Center hosted a dinner for the representatives of the agencies that attended. This was another highlight of my trip as it was comforting to speak to other agencies about their experiences with Thai adoptions. It was a wonderful time to connect personally with the Child Adoption Center workers as well as to make new friends with agencies from around the world.