Kazakhstan is not all that new as they have had IAs (International Adoptions) for over 10 years.
1) I used Children's House International who can no longer facilitate adoptions in Kaz because they didn't get their Hague Accreditation. But their Kaz US coordinator Erin Tucker is now working with Kids to Adopt who can work in Kaz, so that is who I hope to use when I go back to adopt my second child.
2) Overall it was a good experience even though IAs are not for the impatient or faint of heart. It's a long process where the prospective parent must give over control of the most important event in your life to two different governments and the politics that go with each country. But what drew me to Kazakhstan was their obvious love of their children without families since they require you to go to the baby house (orphanage) meet the children, choose one and then bond for 14 days with that child before petitioning their courts for the right to adopt the child. I stayed the full 2 months it took to make Lexie my daughter but most families do it in 2 or even 3 trips.
3) Erin had me very well prepared for the expenses and what to expect from my trip over there and the other adoptive families that I spoke with before I traveled filled in the rest of the questions that I had. That's why I try to share my experience with other families so they can have the best trip possible.
4) Overall I was pretty prepared plus I've traveled and lived in foreign countries so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.
5) I am very glad I kept a blog which I have kept up since we returned home. It will help answer questions my daughter may have about her birth country and/or her adoption as she gets older. Plus it's a wonderful way to keep friends and family up to the minute on what Lexie is doing now. You are welcome to view it at www.louannsadoption.blogspot.com. I traveled from May 21, 2007 through July 20 if you'd like to see pictures of Kazakhstan, Aktau where my daughter was born and some of the other children in the baby house. I couldn't wish for anything else since my daughter is perfect and everything it took for me to get to her was simply part of her "birth" to me.
My daughter was 12 months and 1 week old when I met her May 25, 2007 and she is now 32 months old and a beautiful, smart, funny, kind toddler who brings a smile to everyone she meets. I encourage people considering adoption to fully research their agencies since that is the single most important decision you will make once you actually decide to adopt. If you are with the right agency they will have the experience and knowledge to prepare you for the whole process as well as the trip and what to expect when you come home.
Good luck Erina and feel free to email me with more questions.
Lou Ann, mom to Lexie from Aktau, Kazakhstan