Good Hope for Cape families wishing to adopt
By Nicole Muller
Posted Aug 20, 2010 @ 07:00 AM
Last update Aug 20, 2010 @ 02:35 PM
SOUTH DENNIS — There’s no sound quite like a child’s laughter.
Just ask Karen Medve, director of Good Hope Adoption Services in South Dennis.
“Our two children are adopted from Russia and Kazakhstan,” says Medve. “We worked with three different agencies before bringing them home.”
Married as an older couple, Medve and her husband decided to adopt. “I had always worked in social services, but we still faced so many hurdles and wrong turns,” says Medve. “The agency that finally placed our kids is based in Washington, D.C.”
With no adoption services on Cape Cod, the Brewster resident asked the agency if she could work locally on their behalf. She later incorporated Good Hope Adoption Services in 2003. Based in South Dennis, the agency has placed more than 350 children.
“We want to awaken the community to the fact that we’re here,” Medve says. “When people eventually find us, they’re shocked that we’ve been here on the Cape all this time.”
Good Hope is restricted to international adoptions. “We don’t do domestic adoptions because it’s too open for disappointment,” Medve says. “When you adopt internationally, it’s final.”
Operations director Andi Lundon handles international dossiers and processes required paperwork. Two social workers conduct the mandatory home studies, which focus on the family. Medve’s staff oversees the criminal background check and child abuse clearance, guides parents through their written autobiography and ensures compliance with state and federal immigration requirements and those of the sending country.
Good Hope is the only adoption agency licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. It holds an enhanced license, one of only three in the state, as well as Hague accreditation for ethics in international adoption.
Kazakhstan and Russia are the major countries presently allowing U.S. adoptions. While Good Hope formerly worked with Guatemala, ethical considerations have closed that country to adoptions, at least for now.
Russia’s requirements are less stringent, with each case examined individually. “The available children are referred to our office in Moscow,” Medve says. “We receive photographs and medical information on the child before prospective parents travel.” The Russian process takes a minimum of six to nine months, requires two or three trips to Russia and costs $29,000 to $33,000.
Adoption from Kazakhstan follows a similar process and costs about $1,000 less. It requires prospective parents to have at least 14 days of personal contact with the child at the orphanage before submitting an adoption application to the court. During a second trip of about a week, the family and child’s visa interviews are conducted at the U.S. Embassy.
A federal tax rebate of up to $10,000, grants, low-interest loans and work-related adoption benefits may be available to defray these costs.
Good Hope has a solid following of families pleased with its work. “Because we’re physically here, people can come talk to us,” Medve says. “We conduct local family events so children can make friends with other adopted children and parents can share experiences.”
When an adopted child enters school, Good Hope provides guidance. “It’s easy to mis-categorize a child as learning disabled when they’re just in need of adapting to a new culture,” she says. “A child adopted from an orphanage usually needs to catch up in a number of areas, and we try to smooth that adaptation.”
Five years ago Joe and Marge Gramm of South Dennis brought their daughter Molly, now 5 1/2, home from Guatemala.
Unable to become pregnant, Marge Gramm spent years researching adoption agencies online. “I’d call and get recordings. It was so frustrating,” she says. Marge shared her frustration with a nursing instructor who sent her to Good Hope. “I had no idea it existed,” she says, hugging Molly.
“Marge and I are older parents, and Guatemala had no age restrictions,” says Joe. “We had no problems whatsoever. We worked through World Child’s attorneys [the D.C. agency from which Good Hope evolved], Karen hooked us up with all the required people and Marge filled out all the paperwork online.”
After qualifying as adoptive parents, the Gramms waited for news. “When FedEx delivered a photo of Molly at 3 days old, Karen was so excited that she drove over here with it,” Marge recalls. “That first photo captured our hearts.”
The Gramms spent several days visiting Molly at her Guatemalan foster family’s home before returning with her to Dennis. “She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us,” says Joe. “Once you have your child, there’s a blossoming in your heart,” Marge adds. “Joy and laughter fill your home, and your life is never the same.”
Molly’s artwork covers her family’s walls. Baby dolls and a Raggedy Ann sit on benches and love seats. Crayons and a magnetic color maze testify to Molly’s morning activities at the kitchen table.
“Molly’s our amazing child,” says Joe Gramm. “She’s been in the early intervention program at Ezra Baker for two years, and she’s achieved so much. She entered at the lowest level, and she’s starting kindergarten without an IEP [individualized education plan.] The teachers say Molly could be the poster child for early intervention, which is something Karen really pushed.”
As for Molly, she can’t wait to finally ride “the big yellow bus.”
Nicole Muller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.