Penny & Chris Goeppner are in the process of adopting two children from Russia.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Update: 10/28/05

Dear families,

Greetings from Virginia! I thought you would be anxious to hear what occurred during this week in reference to accreditation. As you are, we are frustrated with the news that the accreditation meetings were yet again postponed until early November. We are disappointed for the families who have been waiting for court dates, but still trusting God during this "waiting period." Don't forget Moses and David, who "wasted" decades before the Lord appeared directly before them with their calling. Centuries later we are still reading about their faith and how they experienced God in incredible ways. Everyday from 9-9:15am our staff prays for "our families" and the officials in Russia. The Lord is hearing from me everyday about you and I am thankful for all God is teaching me through YOUR faith!
Hang in there and I will update you once we confirm the date of the next meeting.
In His Service,
Sara Parrish
Eastern Europe Family Coordinator

Friday, October 21, 2005

Home Study: Penny with our Social Worker

Friday, October 14, 2005

Update: 10/14/05

The Eastern Europe staff has been very busy this week after receiving last week's news of court appointments and travel dates. While our staff praises God for these gifts of hope and joy, families are asked to be aware that this movement does not necessarily mean that all reaccreditation issues have been resolved. A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 12 to discuss reaccreditation; families are asked to please keep this day in your prayers. The Russia staff is still awaiting the reaccreditation of our agencies, but are continuing to work in creative ways for families in the Russia program.
Two families are traveling for trip 1 this weekend, and one family has just returned from the first trip to meet their precious little boy.

Russian Adoptions

With a population of 147 million, Russia is one of the largest countries in the world today. Because of the vast area of land it encompasses, Russia’s cultural heritage is remarkably diverse. Although most people imagine Russian physical features to be light skinned and fair eyed, this is far from inclusive. Many regions of Russia have fair skinned children, but there are ethnic minorities throughout the country whose physical characteristics can range from tan-skin Slavic to Eurasian.

There are over a million orphans in Russia, the majority of which are true orphans, or have parents who were unable to provide for them. Most cities have several orphanage facilities, with baby homes holding children from birth to approximately 4 to 5 years of age. Other facilities, often referred to as boarding schools, house the older children. Russian orphanages normally hold between 150-250 children, with 5-15 children per care-giver.

The Russian adoption process can be completed in as little as 9 months. It is usually necessary for the adoptive family to make two trips to Russia before the adoption is finalized. You begin the process by assembling and Apostille certifying a preliminary set of documents called a pre-file. The first visit is scheduled after the pre-file has been processed and a preliminary match has been made. There are a number of factors (such as age, sex, ethnicity and availability) that can impact how quickly you are matched with a child. The more flexible you are on these factors, the faster you can expect to receive a referral or travel date. A referral consists of a photo and/or video of a child, accompanied by a medical report. Sometimes with older children, we may send you videos of several children.

The Russian adoption authorities require this initial trip to allow you the opportunity to meet the child you are referred and determine if the match is a positive one for you as well as for the child. If you feel confident with the match, the adoption will proceed. However, if for any reason you feel the match is not a good fit, you will be given the opportunity to be matched with another child before you leave the country. This first trip normally can be completed in 4-6 days. Upon your return to the states, you must then complete the process of Apostille certifying the regional-specific documents in your Dossier. Once your regional documents have been completed and your court date has been granted, you will return to Russia to finalize the adoption. Although the estimated wait time to be granted a court date can vary widely from province to province, the second trip can usually be scheduled within about 8 weeks of the first trip. Families usually expect to stay in Russia the second time for about 7-10 days. Some regions require an extra 10 days in-country on the second trip, although this is rare.

We work very closely with our families and are sensitive to the needs of both the family and the child throughout the entire adoption process. For some families, medical information is the main concern. Other families feel that appearance is a higher priority, while some individuals are simply open to any child whom they are referred. We believe that nothing happens by accident, and are confident that God will place just the right child (or children) in your home. Our Russia Program coordinators have placed many children from Russia with their forever families. They have extensive experience and have a profound love for the country, culture and people. You can be assured that you will be in good hands throughout your Russian adoption process and our knowledgeable family coordinators will be supporting you every step of the way.

**From America World Adoption Assiociation website

Update: 10/12/05

Dear Families,

Good afternoon! As always, it is the Eastern Europe staff's priority to keep you as updated as possible. Re-accreditation has been an issue that we have been watching closely, and as you know, another meeting was held today in Russia. No conclusions were made today, but our staff was informed that the meetings will continue through next Tuesday.

We will send another update as soon as more information has been received. Please continue to pray as the officials meet and as families anxiously await news.

Blessings to your family,

Sara Parrish
Eastern Europe Family Coordinator

September Monthly Update

A Note from our Executive Director
Dear America World families in the Russia program,

The Board of Directors of AWAA and myself realize that the past few months have been an extremely stressful time in your adoption journeys and wanted to express our heartfelt understanding of how difficult the waiting and uncertainty must be for you. For those of you who are awaiting referrals or your first or second trip to Russia, please know that the Eastern Europe staff and the entire office pray regularly for the situation in Russia and as we are aware for things specific to your adoption journey or lives. For those families who recently signed onto the program and are wondering if this was the right decision we pray that God will convict your hearts and give you peace about and through your adoption journeys. We are encouraged by recent events in Russia and some movement for AW families. The Eastern Europe staff will write more about that. The first and last verses of Psalm 27 say "The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid (vs1)? Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (vs.14)". We will continue to pray for you and your adoption journeys that our Lord will be your stonghold as you wait on His timing. God bless each of you.

In His service,
Susan Maines
Executive Director

As summer turned to fall this month, many adoptive families were concerned about the situation in Russia. It seemed that it was constantly bad news. Would there be a moratorium? Will agencies ever be reaccredited? Towards the end of the month there have been glimmers of hope. These questions were positively answered. While initially America World was unsure of the Ministry of Education's position in such sensitive issues, they played key roles in supressing a moratorium and refuting allegations against accredited agencies. The Ministry of Education and the Council on Accreditation responded specifically to General Prosecutor Fridinsky's allegations by re-accrediting 4 agencies and outlining in detail in a report to the General Prosecutor that the allegations of illegal accreditation were unfounded. Praise the Lord for their advocacy on behalf of agencies, families and the orphans of Russia! While no actual timelines have been given for the receipt of final accreditations for our other agencies, we are trusting that the Ministry of Education will continue to act as an advocate for orphans and adoptive families. We also received several referrals despite uncertain times- a reminder that God is still working and is still the giver of priceless gifts. Please continue to keep the waiting families in your prayers.

Update: 9/30/05

Dear AWAA Families,
I thought this was such an encouragement, you might want to see it right away! Have a wonderful weekend!
Sara Parrish
Eastern Europe Family Coordinator

Russia Weekly:
It has been an extremely positive week in the Eastern Europe Department. We are ecstatic to announce travel dates for 2 families who have been waiting quite a while for a court appointments. Three families received infant/toddler boy referrals, and three families received notice of trip 1 travel dates! What a joy to our staff and especially to the happy families!
We do not have exact timelines for when reaccreditations will be finalized, but the Ministry of Education, your faciliator, and the Eastern Europe staff continue to work on your behalf.
"While you wait" tip of the week: It is becoming very common for regions to request a letter from your home study agency in reference to received parental training. Please be prepared to contact your home study agency for their recommendation, or you visit to complete an online course. If you complete a course, be sure they they will give you a certificate of completion.

Update: 9/20/05

Dear Families,
Here is some inspiring news: It has been confirmed that Cradle of Chicago, Catholic Social Services of NC and two foreign agencies have received their certificates of accreditation.

Let's keep praying that our umbrella agencies will be included in the next batch, and that these agencies were not exceptions.

Keeping you updated as we hear news from abroad,

Sara Parrish

Eastern Europe Family Coordinator

Update: 9/19/05

Dear Families,
I hope you had a restful weekend. I am back in the office and available for questions or concerns about last week's meetings. My colleagues posted the weekly update on our website in my absence. Please remember that if any news is available on Fridays, it will be posted on our website instead of sent out in a separate email. For your convenience, I have copied the update at the end of this email.
To summarize, the Council on Accreditation did meet, but decided to continue their meetings this week. I do not have information as so what day they will reconvene. Dr Dubrovsky has asked those families who are awaiting reaccreditation to wait until the Council on Accreditation makes their final decisions. Once this occurs, Dr. Dubrovsky and our Eastern Europe staff will be more able to make decisions based on facts rather than speculation.
Please keep in mind that AWAA is advocating for your family in crucial adoption meetings. Last week my colleague, Leslie Johnston, was able to voice her concerns for both Russian orphans and adoptive parents with Duma Deputy Anatoliy Vasilyevich. Praise the Lord for her ability to speak with him in Russian! As always, I will keep you updated as soon as more news is available. Also, many of you have asked me to send out a description of my trip to Louisiana last week. Once I have caught up on phone calls and urgent matters, you can expect an email from me in regards to the relief efforts.
Blessings to you,
Sara Parrish
Eastern Europe Family Coordinator

"America World received encouraging updates from Russia this week. The encouraging word is that a moratorium on international adoptions from Russia has been avoided. See the Adoptive Families Magazine article for more details
Additional developments regarding accreditation issues were also received this week. Unfortunately the meeting to discuss Russian accreditation, scheduled by the Ministry of Education was put off until next week. Educational issues were discussed in what was to be a joint meeting, but adoption issues were tabled this week. America World Russian facilitators have asked for your patience and understanding as these ongoing delays are out of agency/facilitator control.

Please note, a myriad of agencies, non profit agencies, and politicians are working behind the scenes both in the USA and Russia to resolve the issues which are the source of the current delays. Please take a moment to read a letter from the President of the National Council on Adoption, sent to President Putin this past February as just a sample of what is going on behind the scenes.

One America World Russia adoptive family gracefully represented the concerns of all America World Families to the Delegation of Russian Officials recently. The family interacted with the delegation at a reception hosted by the Joint Council on International Children Services yesterday evening. See for more information on this non-profit agency. Executive Director Susan Maines and Family Coordinator Leslie Johnston were additional participants who discussed the delays facing our Russian Adopting Families with officials.

The America World Russia staff asks for continued prayer for families anxiously awaiting court dates . Additional prayer is requested for those families awaiting referral. As always, we continue to work hard on your behalf and pray that is God is blessing each of you above all that you could ask or imagine during this trying time

Update: 9/7/05

Dear Families,
Please keep praying for the next Duma meeting which will continue on September 9, 2005. Although we rejoice that a moratorium was not discussed, we are still concerned with the proposal for a bilateral treaty due to the amount of time that this document would require. We expect that it will take time to hear of the final decisions; therefore, there is not much we can do in the next few weeks but wait for word. While we wait, I will be flying down to Texas to help with the relief efforts. I will be in the office the remainder of the week, but will be out next week. Other Eastern Europe family coordinators will be keeping you updated on issues as I have, and please contact Christi Hicks at ext. 124 with urgent questions or concerns. Please know that I have collected many questions for Dr. Dubrovsky which have not been forgotten. Dr. Dubrovsky is due back to the United States next week, but he may choose to prolong his stay if deliberations continue.
May God "grant you, according to His riches in glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that you... may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height, and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:16-21).
Below is an excerpt from JCICS's website that is both helpful and positive. You will need to visit for the full press release.
September 2005 - JCICS releases a press release after convening a coalition meeting to discuss guidelines and response to Russian tragedies. 

"In response to the recent alleged incidents of abuse involving Russian adopted children, Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) convened a meeting on August 24th in Washington DC to discuss the matter with other experts in the child welfare field.

Nearly thirty licensed, non-profit U.S. adoption agencies were in attendance as well as representatives from the National Council For Adoption (NCFA), Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoptions (FRUA), ATTACh and Adoption Exchange Association. The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) will also be involved in this effort going forward. Guest speakers at the meeting included representatives from Childhelp USA (Virginia) and the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence. The intent of the meeting was to collaborate with other NGOs and adoption agencies to create a coalition task force to examine cases of abuse and determine what additional safe guards can be put into effect to maximize the protection of children."

In His Service,
Sara Parrish
Eastern Europe Family Coordinator

Update: 9/6/05

Dear Families,

I do hope this finds you with memories of a safe and happy holiday weekend.

As you know, the Russia Duma opened it's Fall 2005 session yesterday. We were concerned with how the issues of international adoption would be addressed, because the Duma's attitude towards international adoption directly affects the decisions which will be made during the Counsel on Accreditation's meeting on Thursday, September 15th. The accreditation committee will address reaccreditation of US adoption agencies, and we will hopefully know more about the reaccreditation of our two previously accredited umbrella agencies and the future movement of adoptions based on this meeting.

The news article below is a synopsis of how specific abuse cases were addressed in the Duma's meetings. The Russian Duma called to amend foreign adoption rules to protect Russian children, but did not say how or when those amendments would take place. As we learn about the specific changes, we will certainly notify your family. I was personally encouraged that no representative called for a moratorium. You can expect another update from a AWAA staff person within the next few days, as information is made available.

Further discussions, as mentioned in the article, will take place on September 9th. Please continue to pray for the Duma and these complicated discussions.

RIA NOVOSTI . September 6, 2005, 6:16 PM
MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) - The State Duma, Russia's lower chamber of parliament, intends to discuss a draft parliamentary inquiry at a session on September 9 urging Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to take necessary measures to protect Russian children adopted by foreigners.
Vladimir Katrenko, vice speaker of the State Duma heading up this issue, said the instances of violence against children had become more frequent lately and parliamentarians were concerned over the fate of children adopted by foreigners and living outside Russia.
Katrenko said that before reaching the eligible age, these children remained citizens of Russia. There are about 64,000 such children, he said.
Russian parliamentarians say bilateral agreements on inter-state cooperation regarding child adoption would be the most effective instrument of protection for Russian children adopted by foreigners.
"This form will enable the state to maintain control over compliance with adopted children's rights and interests," Katrenko said.
He said the parliamentary inquiry would propose that as a priority orphaned children be placed in Russian families.
Yekaterina Lakhova, the head of the State Duma committee on women, family, and children, said that 14 Russian children living abroad had died recently, including an eight-year-old boy who died from hunger in the United States in August.
Please do visit as your love and concern for your adopted child(ren) grows. Author Lisa Welchel speaks quickly concerning 2 Timothy 1:12 "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day, " God indeed promised to protect our children, even when we are apart, as we entrust them to Him.

In the interim, for those families who are waiting on referrals, do take this time to establish a relationship with an independent International Adoption Specialist. This medical expert will play a key role in the referral process of your adoption journey. As you know, due to the conditions in Russia the health conditions of children referred from Russia varies and children who are referred from Russia come with medical correctable issues. Please become aware of normal diagnosis you may find in a medical from Russia. For instance, did you know it is relatively common for referred children from Russia to be exposed to syphilis? Dr. Aronson from states, "I am not as worried about syphilis as I used to be when I first started as an adoption medicine specialist six years ago," said Dr. Aronson. "I want parents to understand the possibilities of exposure, but I don't want parents to be discouraged from adopting a child who has been exposed to syphilis. It is essential that the child have both tests for syphilis when they arrive home. I want pediatricians and family doctors who take care of children adopted from abroad to know how important it is to test for syphilis when a child first arrives in the home country. There will be children who do test positive for acute syphilis and who will require treatment when they arrive home." Please visit to get acquainted with the multiple medical conditions which could be addressed concerning the child(ren) referred to you from Russia.

On a personal note, I am extremely proud of you, "my families." Despite the hardships, loss, waiting, and more waiting, you have continually gone back to The Truth. You have not faltered, although your strength may wane, to trust that the Lord has planned this from the beginning of time. It is incredible to watch such men and women of faith "walk the walk." May God bless you today. I look forward to what God will do in your lives, no matter what decisions are made this month. What joy is waiting around the corner!

With all sincerity,

Sara Parrish

Eastern Europe Family Coordinator