Symposium helps U.S. families abroad plan for emotional and financial issues of adoption
Stars and Stripes May 5, 2008
Mykie Brown was 5 years old when she finally understood the bedtime story her parents had been telling her since the day they brought her home from the hospital.
Sweeter than any fairy tale, it was the true story of her adoption.
“They said they were one family out of a whole bunch of families that wanted me,” said the 15-year-old Ramstein High School ninth-grader, who will speak at the 2008 European Adoption Symposium Saturday in Kaiserslautern, Germany. “They said my birth mother chose them on April Fool’s Day and they thought it was a joke … They said they completely fell in love with me the second they saw me.”
The annual symposium, sponsored by the Kaiserslautern Military Community Adoption Support Group, is a daylong series of seminars for those wanting to adopt while living in Europe. Sessions will also focus on general issues ranging from the emotional toll adoption can take on families at all stages of the process to financial planning.
But perhaps the most important message organizers hope to get across is that adoption is possible overseas, said Jeanie Veith, who organized the support group 20 years ago while teaching parenting classes at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“The assumption is that it’s going to be so much harder because you’re overseas, and that’s certainly not true,” Veith said.
In fact, she said, it can be easier in some ways. Not only is there a concentrated network of support, but, for example, couples and individuals living overseas can adopt children from around the U.S. without having to coordinate with their home state.
However, more choices can mean more confusion, especially considering the different methods of adoption — from domestic and international adoption to adopting through a foster care program or with a family member or acquaintance.
“There’s just so much information and paperwork that it can be daunting and seem overwhelming,” said Veith, who has not adopted a child herself but is a fixture in the lives of many of the families she has helped over the years.
“But if you treat it like a major project you can go at it bit by bit, which can help with the anxiety.”
Saturday’s symposium is a good starting point, said Veith, who recommends prospective parents first do some research and decide what kind of adoption they want to pursue.
“They’ll get a well-rounded view of adoption (at the symposium). Not just the struggle to get a child but everything that goes with it before, during and after.”
While the military does not facilitate adoptions, most base legal offices can help with notarizing forms, filing affidavits and explaining the legalese of the mountain of paperwork anyone wishing to adopt must expect.
Mykie Brown’s dad, Tom Brown, said the military has become more helpful in recent years.
The problems they encountered getting legal support with Mykie’s adoption were virtually nonexistent by the time they adopted their youngest son, Patrick, 11 years ago.
“Once they started stepping in more, it was a tremendous help to us,” said Tom Brown, who retired from the Air Force last year and is now a contractor at Ramstein Air Base.
What’s more, the Internet makes getting the countless forms, applications and other documents easier than ever before.
“It used to be really tough to get copies of birth certificates and marriage licenses,” Veith said. “Before the Internet it was way more difficult.”
Technology has also benefitted the process in terms of networking — probably one of the most helpful adoption tools prospective parents can employ, Veith said.
“The best advice I have is for people to tell everybody they know that they want to adopt; cover the globe with that information,” she said. “Sometimes things fall in people’s laps. Anything can happen.”
If you go:What: 2008 European Adoption SymposiumWhen: Saturday, May 10, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.Where: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lauterstrasse 1, Kaiserslautern, GermanyPrice: Attendees are asked for a 5-euro donation at the door to help off-set the cost of breakfast, lunch and snacks that will be provided.To register, get a list of the day’s seminars or just learn more, log onto