Hopeful parents may get small relief from enormous expense over international adoptions

by Sara Horn, |
Rebecca and Danny Wilson adopted their daughter Rayne from Ethiopia and brought her home in February 2014. Their family of seven currently lives in South Carolina and "can't remember life" without their daughter and sister. | Photo courtesy Rebecca Wilson

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) - Danny and Rebecca Wilson's family of four growing boys kept them busy and happy, but in 2010, the couple, living in Louisiana at the time, began sensing their family might have room for one more.

After praying about it, the Wilsons began the process to adopt a child from overseas. Four very long years later, after extensive waiting and red tape navigating, in February 2014, they brought their little girl Rayne home for good.

"The entire process was exhausting," Rebecca Wilson told Christian Examiner. "But it was extremely frustrating having to have our fingerprints taken multiple times and redoing background checks."

The U.S. Congress hopes to ease some of the financial burden that families like the Wilsons have when adopting internationally through the Adoptive Families Relief Act. The bill, just passed by the Senate, allows the State Department to waive visa renewal fees for children who have been adopted by American families but their arrivals are delayed due to paperwork or other circumstances and prevent them from joining their families in the U.S.

Though the Wilsons did not experience the extra expense of visa renewals, which is required every six months and can cost up to $550 each time, there were many other documents they were required to renew and keep current throughout the process.

"Families who step up to provide a safe, stable, and loving home for children struggling overseas are a source of inspiration and hope, here and abroad," Iowa's Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a news release. "Unfortunately, too often, these families encounter challenges beyond their control when bringing their child home."

The Wilsons' daughter Rayne, adopted by her parents from Ethiopia when she was 22 months old, is thriving in her new family. | Photo courtesy Rebecca Wilson

The Wilsons adopted their daughter from Ethiopia, just one of several countries whose approaches and ongoing policy changes to international adoptions in recent years have made it much more difficult today for hopeful parents than when the Wilsons adopted.

"It would be nice to have the process streamlined, but there is too much red tape involved, and it seemed like the majority of the red tape was with the U.S. government and not the Ethiopian," Wilson said. "It would be extremely beneficial if there were stronger working agreements between countries to ensure that the adoptions are ethical."

Wilson said their daughter is now a little over 3 years old and she has been home with them for 18 months. After a move to South Carolina earlier this year for her husband's job, Wilson said the family continues to do great and they "can't remember life without her."

After a unanimous vote in the Senate, the bipartisan bill now awaits a vote in the House.