Waiting to be Found

Her report states that she was ‘found’ at 4 months old.  ‘Found’ with an indifferent facial expression.  ‘Found’ showing no special response to her surroundings.
Molly 2
Now, she is 19 months, and her favorite activity is looking at herself in mirror.  She shouts with joy when she sees herself.  She pats the mirror in an effort to connect with this person she sees.
Molly 1
Though her report states she was ‘found,’ her actions suggest otherwise.  Molly is still very much lost.  She is lost in an orphanage where her greatest companion is herself.  Please help us truly be able to describe Molly as ‘found’ – ‘Found’ by the love and family that she so deserves.


Molly will be 2 in July.  She is available for adoption through Living Hope Adoption Agency.  Please email Sarah at shansen@livinghopeadoption.org for more information about adopting this sweet girl.

Adoption Lifebook

Your child’s story begins before you met, like pieces of a mysterious puzzle.  Help your child put their life pieces together by creating a lifebook.  Lifebooks are a keepsake of your child’s history filled with memories and life events that occurred before, during, and after you and you child became a family. Working on a lifebook together helps initiate an organic opportunity to discuss your child’s adoption and can bring you and your child closer together. Write on!


Sample lifebooks can be found below.

Lifebook Pagesexternal link
Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association (IFAPA)
Helps create opportunities for talking about the circumstances of the foster care and/or adoptive placement. IFAPA created these pages to allow a child to choose the pages that fit his or her style. They are available for free downloads.

Life Books: A Creative and Fun Way to Express Yourselfexternal link (PDF – 251 KB)
Adoption Resources of Wisconsin (2008)
Describes how to use lifebooks to document personal history and express individuality.

This is My Story (PDF – 497 KB)
Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
Links to a downloadable and printable sample lifebook that collects birth, medical, and family information to help a child make sense and feel good about his or her history.

For When I’m Famous: A Teen Foster/Adopt Lifebookexternal link
O’Malley (2006)
Elicits personal information and thoughts from teens in foster care. Adolescents are asked what they would like their next birthday party to be like, their favorite things to do, information about their birth, baby pictures, family facts about their birth parents and siblings, why they are in foster care, and where they have lived.


by C.J. Lyford, Esq.

For many of you who have adopted abroad, the adoption of your child was completed abroad and is considered final under the applicable laws of the foreign country.  Now you have to decide if you must or should “readopt” under your state’s adoption laws.


The term “readoption” generally refers to a process by which a U.S. state court in the state of the parents’ or sole parent’s, as applicable, residence reviews the details of the adoption abroad along with additional information as it deems necessary, and issues a new adoption decree, independent from the foreign decree, stating that the child has been adopted in conformity with the adoption law of the applicable state.  The amount of documentation and procedures involved in a readoption vary by state. Within each
state, the rules and procedures may vary by county or by the local state equivalent.


What is the purpose of readoption?  The ultimate purpose is to ensure that your child by adoption is entitled to all of the rights that he or she should have as your child under U.S. and U.S. state law.


No.  “Readoption” is not the same as what is generally referred to as an adoption “finalization.” “Finalization” is necessary when the child is coming to the U.S. for purposes of adoption and there has been no adoption proceeding abroad, the adoption was not completed abroad, or the adoption is not considered final by the foreign country.  This is often seen in adoptions of children from Korea or India in which only a guardianship or custodial relationship, between the child and the agency or the child and the parents, is established. In this situation, the child travels on an IR4 visa (“Immediate Relative Orphan to be Adopted In the United States by U.S. Citizen”) as opposed to an IR3 visa.

Note 1 and the adoption “finalization” must take place in the U.S. according to the law of the state of the parents’ or parent’s residence.


Whether or not a readoption is required can be a matter of U.S. state law or U.S. immigration law. Readoption may be required in some states where the state does not give the same recognition and effect to a final decree of adoption issued by a foreign country as to a decree of adoption issued in that state.

Note 2 Even if the state recognizes the foreign adoption and the adoption is final abroad under the law of the applicable foreign country, your child may still have to satisfy the readoption requirement of the U.S. Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Note 3 for your child to be acquire U.S. citizenship.

Note 4 This is the case if your child was issued an IR4 visa because you and your husband or you as a sole parent, as applicable, did not see your child before or during the adoption abroad.  An IR4 visa is issued in this situation because the USCIS has interpreted the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as requiring that both parents, or the sole parent, as applicable, see the child before or during the adoption abroad in order for the adoption to be “final” under the INA.

Note 5


According to the USCIS interim regulations, the readoption requirement in this situation may be waived by the USCIS if sufficient proof of the state’s “recognition” of the foreign adoption is provided to the USCIS.

Note 6 Unfortunately, the USCIS has been ambiguous about what type of “proof” or “evidence” of recognition will be sufficient for the waiver.  Until more information is available about what kind of evidence of recognition the USCIS requires for a waiver and how the USCIS implements the regulations in practice, most professionals still recommend a readoption in this IR4 situation rather than risk any
uncertainty regarding a child’s citizenship, and I agree. If you live in a state that specifically provides for recognition of a foreign decree by a written law or your state court will issue a court order recognizing your child’s adoption, and you decide not to readopt, you should submit a copy of the law or the order to the USCIS along with the USCIS Form N-600 form requesting a COC.

Note 7 and request a waiver.  However, until you actually receive the COC, confirming that the USCIS has accepted the proof of state recognition that you have submitted and waived the readoption requirement, do not assume that your child is a citizen.  Only then will you be certain that your child has
acquired U.S. citizenship.


Yes.  Many families choose to readopt their child even if not required and it is generally recommended by most adoption lawyers and other professionals.  While some of the benefits and process are state specific, some of the general reasons to readopt include the following:

Adoption is a matter of state law and each state has its own laws (See endnote 2).  A state court adoption decree issued as a result of a readoption is fully independent of the foreign decree.  As a result, if you have an adoption decree issued by a U.S. state court, all other states in the U.S. are required under the U.S. Constitution to give full faith and credit to the decree and to all of your child’s rights under the decree.  Therefore, obtaining a U.S. state adoption decree assures you that every state in the U.S. will recognize the decree and makes it unnecessary to rely solely on the validity of a decree issued under a foreign law.

Federal laws, such as Social Security, can be based on a state’s underlying law regarding adoption, inheritance, etc.  In certain circumstances a U.S. state issued adoption decree, as opposed to a foreign adoption decree, is required for an adopted child to be entitled to social security benefits through his or her parents or parent.

endnote 7a

There are practical concerns.  An adoption decree from a U.S. state court will be in English.  The adoption documents that are issued from your child’s country of birth are generally in a language other than English and will always need to be accompanied by separate English translations.  Should you need to prove the adoption it will be easier for you or your child to be able to refer to one document that is written in English and is readily recognizable as a decree of adoption.  In addition, you will have a limited number of originals of the documents from your child’s country of origin.  Should you lose
these it will be difficult if not impossible to obtain additional “originals” or certified copies.  If you have a U.S. state adoption decree you can easily obtain additional copies if necessary.  For example, when you apply for a U.S. Passport for your child, you will be required to send them an original copy of the foreign adoption documents for processing of the passport. If you have a U.S. state adoption decree, you can use this in its place, and give this to the Passport Office rather than risk losing the original foreign decree.

Usually a legal name change is part of the adoption decree so that all of your child’s future documents will reflect his or her “American” name. As it is a court-ordered name change, the USCIS should issue the Certificate of Citizenship in the child’s new name.  Otherwise, if the child’s U.S. visa and other immigration documents are in the former name some USCIS and Social Security offices will not issue documents in the child’s “American” name.

Note 8

Some states require that you readopt before it will issue a birth certificate for your child.

Note 8a

The readoption hearing is usually a friendly proceeding before a Judge, either in a courtroom or a small room.  Usually family members and friends are allowed to come to the hearing.  The hearing can serve as an opportunity for other members of your family or friends to be involved in the adoption of your child, who could not attend the initial adoption abroad.

Finally, an adoption decree issued from a U.S. state court will provide your family with additional peace of mind and protection should the foreign country involved, or others, ever challenge the validity of the adoption of your child or adoptions from the country generally.  You may at some point want to bring your child to visit his or her country of birth.  A U.S. state issued adoption decree will prove and confirm his or her status as your child under U.S. laws.


The specific procedures and requirements for readoption vary with the state in which the adoption proceeding is brought.  Each state, and the local courts within the state, has their own set of rules and procedures that govern proceedings brought in its jurisdiction.  Some have developed special procedures for readoptions involving foreign adoptions that make the process fairly simple and some states have not.  Some states treat the readoption proceeding the same as if you were adopting for the first time. This may require the preparation of additional documents, a repeat home study, etc., and corresponding additional time and expense.


The answer to this depends on the state and local laws of the state where you live.  Some require an attorney.  Some do not require it but make it very onerous for the proceeding to be completed without an attorney.  If you use an attorney, make sure that you use one with experience in the international adoption area as applied to your state’s laws and U.S. immigration laws.


Whether or not you readopt your child, please make sure that your child is a U.S. citizen and can prove it, by getting documentation of citizenship through a Certificate of Citizenship.  See my comments, entitled “WHY AND HOW DO YOU GET PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP FOR YOUR FOREIGN-BORN ADOPTED CHILD?” (available upon request).  Remember, as your child was not born in the U.S., a U.S. state issued birth certificate alone is not proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship.

Note 9


I am an attorney and the mother of a ten-year-old child from China, adopted in 1994, with a private practice in the areas of immigration/citizenship law and international adoption.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the above comments, immigration or citizenship issues, or other legal issues involved in the foreign adoption process.  I provide legal services and consultation throughout the U.S. and abroad in these areas for adoptive parents and agencies to address INS/BCIS, consulate, and related immigration problems.  I also handle foreign adoption finalizations and readoptions, as well as domestic adoptions, particularly involving foreign-born children, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Telephone (215) 247-3888
E-mail lyfordesq@aol.com
Fax 215-247-4722
Member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association


Note 1 If a child is issued an IR3 visa (“Immediate Relative — Orphan Adopted Abroad by U.S. Citizen”), this indicates that the USCIS considers the adoption abroad to be final.  You can determine what classification of visa your child was issued by looking at the stamp in your child’s foreign country passport to see whether the designation is “IR3” or “IR4”.

Note 2 Adoption is a matter of state law and each state has its own set of laws regarding what effect it will give decrees issued from foreign countries, such as adoption decrees.  For those who live in Pennsylvania, I have also prepared comments specific to readoption in Pennsylvania that are available upon request.

Note 3 As of March 1, 2003, most of the INS functions have been transferred to a new department, the “Department of Homeland Security” (DHS), and the “INS” no longer exists.  Most of the immigrant service functions such as immigrant visa petitions (e.g., I-600 Orphan Petitions)), citizenship, etc., will be handled by the new U.S. Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Note 4 The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) provides for the “automatic” acquisition, that is acquisition as a matter of law, of U.S. citizenship to many children of U.S. citizens that are born abroad (adopted and not adopted) provided that certain qualifications are met.  One of the qualifications is that the adoption be “final.”  See my comments, entitled “IS OR WILL YOUR CHILD AUTOMATICALLY BECOME A U.S. CITIZEN UNDER THE CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT?”

Note 5 The USCIS requirement is based on its interpretation of INA sec.101 (b)(1)(F), 8 U.S.C.A. sec. 1101(b)(1)(F), regarding a full and final adoption and other sections.

Note 6 June 13, 2001 Federal Register Notice re: ” INS Regulations and Comments regarding implementation of the CCA,” 66 FR 32138, Interim Rule but effective upon publication (June 13, 2001) at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2001/06/13/01-14579/children-born-outside-the-united-states-applications-for-certificate-of-citizenship.  See also 8 C.F.R. sections 320, 322 and 341 (Note that in the January 2004 “CCA Program Update” the USCIS states that it is in the process of reviewing comments in response to the June 13, 2001 Notice, and is “in the process of drafting the final

Note 7 As a result of the USCIS “CCA Program”, since January 20, 2004, Certificates of
Citizenship have been issued automatically to children who enter the U.S. on IR3 visas within 45 days of entry, free of charge.  Please note however, that Certificates are not be provided for children who enter on IR4 visas.  In addition, from what is written it does not appear that Certificates for children already in the U.S., will be provided under this program.  As a result, I recommend that you obtain a COC now to prove your child’s citizenship.  See: USCIS publications regarding the CCA Program: “Child Citizenship
Act” at: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/pressrelease/ChildCitizenshipAct_022701.pdf

Note 7a The definition of “legally adopted children” in the Social Security regulations at 20 CFR sec. 404.356 references that it applies the “adoption law of the state or foreign country where the adoption took place, …”  However, in the situation where a “legally adopted” child is adopted after the parent is receiving benefits, 20 CFR sec. 404.362 states that the adoption must be “issued by a court of competent jurisdiction within (my emphasis) the United States” before the child is entitled to benefits.  See also the Social Security Handbook.

Note 8 Please make sure that if you change your child’s name in the readoption, that your child’s former name is clearly referenced within the state issued adoption decree along with the new “American” name, so that it is clear that the decree is referring to the same child.  Otherwise there have been reports that USCIS officials have questioned this and required a separate court order stating that both names are referring to the same child.

Note 8a Some, such as Pennsylvania, do allow you to obtain a birth certificate without readoption, by registering the foreign court adoption decree with the applicable county of residence.  Upon registration, the parent(s) can then obtain a Pennsylvania birth certificate for the child.

Note 9 The birth certificate that is issued for your child from your state of residence will be in the format of the state’s birth certificate and will list you as the child’s parents or parent.  However, it will still indicate the actual country of your child’s birth.  For purposes of these comments, only if your child was born in the U.S. would a birth certificate be proof of U.S. citizenship.

Winning the Lottery

I had big dreams last week when the jackpot was $1.5 billion.  Dreams of outlandish houses, extravagant vacations, the things I would buy, and where I would donate money.  So, off I went to buy my slew of tickets.  The office went in on a pool.  Fun was had chatting about what we would do first, and what our futures would look like.  I mean, someone had to win it, right?  Someone held a $2 ticket with numbers that would change.their.life.  Why couldn´t that someone be me?  One ticket.  It was all I needed.

For Landon, winning the lottery isn´t a piece of paper with six random numbers on it.  Winning the lottery isn´t about houses, or trips, or things.  Winning the lottery for Landon is about a family.  A family that he has dreamed about for years.  A family, just like all his friends seem to win.

Though there is no comparison between winning money versus having a family, for Landon, the feelings are very much the same.  He has this dream….this vision…that is seemingly more and more unattainable.  After years, while he feels that hope slipping away, there is still that tiny thought of what if. That thought of one.  He just needs one family to step forward.  The right one for him.  The winning one.  They have to be out there, right?  He could win, right?

Be Landon´s lottery.  Be Landon´s jackpot.

IMG_1179-min IMG_20150126_140858-min IMG_0516-min
IMG_0515-min IMG_0128-min
Landon is available for adoption through Living Hope Adoption Agency.  There is a $2,000 grant available for his family.  He will turn 12 in a few weeks, meaning he does not have much time left before he ages out.  Email Sarah today at shansen@livinghopeadoption.org.

Chinese New Year 2016

Chinese New Year, also known as the lunar new year, is China’s longest and most important national holiday.  In 2016, the Year of the Monkey will be celebrated from February 7-13.

Based on the ancient lunar calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar that China has used since 1912, Chinese New Year falls on the second moon after winter solstice and is on a different date each year. Extremely important to Chinese culture, the world’s largest human migration of approximately 2.8 billion trips are made across China where family members gather from far and wide to celebrate with one another by decorating their homes, eating lucky foods, exchanging gifts, parades and dragon dances.


The Fire Monkey is ninth of the 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle.  Those born in this zodiac sign include 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028…and thought to be smart, clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth.  They are lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile.  In addition, their gentleness and honesty bring them an everlasting love life. Although they were born with enviable skills, they still have several shortcomings, such as an impetuous temper and a tendency to look down upon others.


Chinese New Year is celebrated mainly in countries where there are significant Chinese populations including China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.  Outside of Asia, London, San Francisco, New York City and other Western countries host smaller celebrations.

Living Hope Adoption Agency will be holding our annual Chinese New Year celebration on Saturday, February 6.  Please RSVP to Sherry Crist at sherrycrist@hotmail.com or  (610) 389-3128. Additional information is available by visiting our Events Calendar on our website at http://livinghopeadoption.org/event/chinese-new-year-2/.

See you then and if not, Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Boy O Boy!

Boy (n.) – 1. a noise with dirt on it.

We have been entrusted with these 13 precious boys.  These boys cannot grow to their full potential in an orphanage.  These boys deserve to be having snowball fights in the winter.  These boys deserve to be jumping ocean waves in the summer.  These boys should be chasing their sisters with spiders and playing hide and seek with their cousins.  These boys should be swinging too high on a swing and zooming too fast on their bikes.

Jack 3 Paul 3 Aiden 3 Kingston 3 Francis Sam Nicholas Max Evan Bradley Mateo Brett 3
Could one of these boys be your son?
These precious boys are available through Living Hope Adoption Agency to families with paperwork already in China.  Significant grants available.  Please contact Sarah at shansen@livinghopeadoption.org for more information.

Snacking with Sharon

picture of rolex picture of rolex 2

No, it has nothing to do with watches. Rolex is a favorite any-time snack or light meal that is distinctly Ugandan, easily found in the Masaka and Kampala districts. Its name is derived by saying “roll of eggs” quickly in a Luganda accent, though they are better known as Rolexes rather than as rolls of eggs. A Rolex might be compared to a breakfast-burrito or rolled omelet. In Uganda, this is a typical greasy street-vendor food, available at busy intersections at a cart with an umbrella (for shade), cutting board, and charcoal cook stove with rounded metal hot-plate.  So delicious!



  • 1-2 eggs (depending how hungry you are)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large (9″) thinly-rolled Chipati (okay if prepared ahead and kept cool or at room temperature, a flour tortilla could be substituted if you don’t want to make this from scratch)
  • small handful shredded cabbage
  • 3-4 thin slices of tomato
  • cooking oil


  1. Break egg(s) into a shallow cup, add pinch of salt, and beat with a fork.
  2. Pour the eggs onto a large (preferably iron) saucepan into a thin 8″ circle.
  3. Use a large spoon to rotate the eggs for even cooking. Flip once. Cook until the eggs are cooked through.
  4. Lift eggs with a spoon and place the chapati underneath the eggs and warm together for 10-20 seconds, rotating if cooking surface has uneven temperature.
  5. Remove egg-covered chapati from heat.
  6. Along the center of the chapati (but to the right side) sprinkle a stripe of cabbage, and slightly overlapped tomatoes.
  7. Sprinkle another pinch of salt over toppings.
  8. Roll. (First fold the right side not covered in toppings to cover toppings, then fold along center axis, and then wrap remainder around outside.

Making Rolex

Samuel and Robin

President Fang and Chairman of the Board Horner enjoying Rolex in Uganda

The Adventure of Forever

As I sit here and reflect on the end of the hosting program, I am filled with feelings of happiness, hope, gratefulness, and overall joy, knowing that because of participating in the hosting program, at least seven children will be orphans no more.  And it is hopeful that nearly all of the children will be matched within the next few weeks, thanks to not just the program, but to the families who participated in the program.  The families who said YES to a child in need.  Who said YES to putting their own lives on pause for the sake of a child who truly needed them.  A child who needed to know love.  Stability.  Family.  Fun!  A child who was given the opportunity to become more than a face, and birth date, and file, and diagnosis on an outdated medical form.

While I think about these children, and host families, and tears, and broken hearts saying goodbye as a result of the love that was shared, I cannot help but think of the kids left behind.  The kids that watched their friends go on an adventure, and come back again, only to leave to join their forever families for good in the coming months.  The host program works for the kids who participate.  But for the kids left behind?
While one host child got to sit on Santa´s lap, Bianca still does not know who Santa is.
While one host child got to splash in a water park and slide down epic slides, Vivian has never owned a swimsuit.
While one host child baked cookies and decorated them with far too many sprinkles, Kole had congee, yet again, for lunch.
While one host child explored a Christmas light show, Tiffany only saw the lights inside the orphanage walls, and only noticed the one that buzzes just loud enough to keep her up at night.
While one host child got to pet a goat and a mule at the petting zoo, Yvonne does not know what a zoo is.
While one host child held his host Mom´s hand every night as he fell asleep, Winnie, though in the presence of other children in the room, falls to sleep feeling utterly alone.
They still wait.  Though, somehow, after waiting for years, they still have hope.  Hope that they will be the next ones to go.  That they will not just go on a temporary adventure, but that they will go on the best adventure of all – the adventure of forever.
If you are interested in learning about any of the children listed here, or about our host program, please email shansen@livinghopeadoption.org.

Her Most Precious Outfit

She heard the Americans were coming.  She heard they were coming to ´pick.´  To choose the kids who would go to America and spend time with a real family.  To have the time of their lives.  While no one ever confirmed this is why the Americans were there, she knew.  So she chose her best outfit.  She only had a few, but this one was her treasure.  She laid it out the night before, and made sure it was perfect.  The morning of, she put it on, making sure it was just right.  She fixed the collar, practiced her smile in the mirror, and she waited.  They came and chatted with her.  Asked her many things about her likes, her dislikes, her wants and desires.  She was excited, nervous, anxious, and hopeful….all wrapped into one.  Then she waited some more…….

Jessica Picture 1_Sept. 6, 2015 web (1)
       The Americans came and went.  She didn´t know immediately who they picked.  But eventually she knew.  And she knew it wasn´t her.  She saw her friends packing their bags, and bragging about their upcoming adventure.  She had no bag to pack.  She had no where to go.
         Little did she know that she WAS chosen.  She was chosen to participate in the hosting program.  She was chosen as it was more than apparent that she was a bright, intelligent, wonderful young woman who had more to teach a family than they had to teach her.  Though chosen to participate, she still was not chosen by a family.
Jessica Picture 2_Sept. 6, 2015 web
        Jessica still waits.  And it is not too late.  Though she was not chosen by a family to participate in the hosting program, she has still been chosen by God to be with a family.  All we need to do is to find that family for Jessica, and to bring them together.  Let us all pray that the next time Jessica puts on her most precious outfit is in preparation to meet her forever family when they come for her.
          Jessica is available for adoption through Living Hope Adoption Agency.  She is 12 years old, and if not matched soon, is at risk for aging out.  Please contact Sarah at shansen@livinghopeadoption.org for more information.