Woman's dream of adopting step closer

May 26, 2008 4:00:31 PM PDT
A north suburban woman got some good news on this Memorial Day.Lisa Belgrad has run into lots of roadblocks in trying to adopt a baby from Vietnam. She has her fingers crossed as it appears those roadblocks have been removed.

For many months now, Belgrad has been on an emotional rollercoaster - an experience shared by others who've hoped to achieve an international adoption.

Since last fall, Belgrad has been looking at pictures, and later, a video of the now-11-month-old Vietnamese girl she hopes will one day soon be her daughter. The adoption agency has asked that for now those pictures not be made public.

Belgrad has long had everything ready - the stroller, the car seat, "Good Night, Moon" - all things baby. But on the eve of a baby shower that brought her heartfelt gifts from many friends, Belgrad got a message that broke her heart. The adoption was on hold and might not ever happen.

"It was one set of bad news after the next," she said.

Allegations of corruption and baby-selling - not new to the world of international adoptions - threatened to scuttle Vietnamese adoptions, some of them already approved. Vietnam has decided to end most international adoptions this summer. Belgrad, who is a social worker at a Skokie Middle School, figured that motherhood might not happen. But then late last week, she got an e-mail.

"On the e-mail, before I opened it, it said, 'Ho Chi Minh City approval.' I was like, 'Ha,'" she said.

The e-mail said the infant Belgrad hopes to adopt does qualify as an orphan, meaning that as far as the U.S. State Department is concerned, there appears to be nothing untoward in how the baby became available for adoption.

"Read the last line. 'We look forward to welcoming you to Vietnam.' And I didn't know if I was ever gonna get there," Belgrad said.

To be sure, she's not there yet, and Belgrad is quite aware that even a small wrinkle in the process could bring another rollercoaster low. For now, she's on a realistic high.

"I believe that until she's on the plane with me and the plane takes off, I will not be completely sure," Belgrad said.

International adoptions don't come without a huge financial and emotional investment. Belgrad hopes to leave for her dream sometime next month. Some adoptive parents have been in Vietnam waiting for weeks for final approval of their adoptions.

There's been congressional intervention. Many letters were written on their behalf, as well as Belgrad's, but it's not quite clear why the doors have opened again, at least for Belgrad.

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