Posts tagged ‘Domestic Adoption’

November 26, 2011

The waiiiiting is the hardest part.

We have finally completed all of our adoption homework, jumped through every hoop and are now just… waiting.

Our agency has all our info, our approved report from the social worker, and our family profile book. We used Blurb to make it and it turned out just the way we wanted. I can’t imagine making it without a program like that, it was super helpful. The other thing that lead to me completing the profile book without huddling in the fetal position under my bed was a class we took online through Adoption Learning Partners. Extremely practical, if you are going to be making one of these or writing a “Dear Birthmother” letter any time soon I would sit yourself down with a nice latte, run on over to their site and take the class.

Yup, now we wait. It’s not that bad, really. I’m not a patient person but even I can see that we have privileges and graces that other families long for. We already have two monkeys, and they are awesome little humans. We have a stable and supportive extended family. We have the luxury of believing in a Creator and in the existence of absolutes. All these things put us in a great position to wait gracefully for the process to work itself out.

A friend said something so smart about it, though, “To hold an adoption loosely requires the heart of a robot. I am convinced.” She and her husband are waiting, too, and have had many more jarring ups and downs so pray for them if they happen to come to mind. Can’t wait for our kids to meet theirs a few years down the road.


June 20, 2011

We’re off and running, right?

Here we are, filling out forms, taking numbers, kicking apps. Here are some things I’d advise that everybody else probably already figured out about applying to adopt a human being from somewhere in the greater United States area.

1. Get ready with a small office space stocked with the latest computers, printer and mailing supplies. Perhaps rent something modest with an inspiring view and a built-in childcare professional for the kids you will ignore while you fill out page 3 of form S.

If this is not possible or you are trying to go green and don’t want to support some nanny who might forget to recycle the kids juice boxes, at least get yourself an accordion file. Everyone feels smarter holding one of those things. And you’ll absolutely need a label-maker. One of those spinny round-topped ones with a squeeze mechanism for marking each letter will entertain your two other kids for at least half of an address and part of a social security number. An added bonus: Once you’ve labeled their shirt, glasses, sippy cup and each appendage you’ll have a handy reminder of their names. Believe me, when you reach that golden hour of paperwork where your last brain cell packs up and vacates the premises you’ll be grateful you don’t have to keep saying, “Hey, kid wearing blue shirt, please stop drawing robots on your certified original birth certificate.”

2. Make copies BEFORE you start filling out the forms. Because, duh, not like I already screwed up in the line for our names or anything.

3. Prepare to involve lots of other people in your inconvenience. Just get over it and assume they are darn near glowing with the honor of this duty. You’ll need people you actually know to swear they think you’re great parents, fantastic Christians, practically magical. You’ll meet new doctors and insurance officials you never knew existed. Even the postal workers can thank you for singlehandedly supporting your neck of the woods, just as soon as they recover from the last time you had to stand in line for thirty minutes with a three year old tornado who is going to be the perfect big brother (on paper anyway).

4. Prepare to write an autobiography that is sincere without sounding too braggy, too glamourous, too goofy, too suburban, too desperate, too open, too closed, too manipulative. And, GO!

5. Get a bunch of pictures of your current family ready. These should follow the general propriety guidelines as listed above and should additionally show the children always smiling but natural, the parents fit and friendly but natural, the friends numerous and close but natural. In summation: Look Awesome!, but natural.

Have fun with it! It can be a time of deep bonding and fodder for lengthy future therapy for all. Take notes, but keep it natural. Don’t be intimidated by the depth and breadth of our knowledge and experience. Soon you’ll be using Wite-Out like it’s 1999, too!

May 30, 2011

So my friend says, “Why DOES it cost so much?”

Yeah, because dude, it is a LOT of money, isn’t it?!

Disclaimer: We are adoption neophytes, and we know it. Here is the extent of our experience, and then my answer about the money side of this equation.

I have always been drawn to the idea of adopting. We’ll chat soon about how that idea became reality for our family.

On the practical side, three years ago we nearly adopted a distant relative through the state but as our second son arrived before we could get all the ducks in a row, we did not end up adopting that child. She was placed with a distant member on the other side of her family. I’m still surprised how painful that whole thing was, and how much it brought me to the cross in the sense that I had to deal with deeper anger and frustration with God for the first time as a believer. (I became a Christian as an adult, about 12 years ago.)

We’re at the infancy stages of adopting now through a private agency. We went to the meetings about state adoption, and realized that there were several things that made it clear it was not for us.

      First: why we don’t just go through the state.
They simply don’t have nearly the need in our state now for adoptive parents of children under 2, and will just about not process the paperwork for a family with that age restriction. The child’s distant, remote and never-even-met-you relations are first approached about placement (remember, that was US a few years back). When a blue moon rises and they do have one arrive with need of a family, there are literally 60 to 80 dossiers waiting and ready. Three are selected and considered by a committee that may include the child’s birth family. So it takes years. It can take years just to get processed if you restrict it to a young child. One other point of concern with us is that they absolutely will not work with families who are not comfortable with a fully open adoption. Keeping in mind the circumstances that bring children to need for families, I find that to be potentially disconcerting. The workers didn’t tell us “do not go with us” but they made it pretty clear we would be unlikely to have a child placed with us through them. They even gave us names of agencies to check out!

I can’t say that “losing” the state option wasn’t a bit of a disappointment. On the bright side, at least on paper, social services must be doing a bang-up job in the Northwest! And the kids are rarely waiting like they used to, so that’s a huge big awesome deal. I hope things continue to be streamlined and reformed in ways that truly benefit those children.

     So, today, off the cuff, here is my answer to “Why DOES it cost so much?”

I assume you’re talking domestic. International costs fund the orphanages, agencies, sometimes social services in the community, and indeed in some cases the bribery involved for the greasing of bureaucratic wheels.

So, domestic, best case scenario: You are funding the highly trained counseling pre- and post- placement for the birthmother and potentially the birthfather as well. This includes (as it should) funding that same counseling for families who in the end choose to parent, thereby garnering no fees for the agency outside of state funding. You are funding the advertising and outreach an agency does, and probably some of their political outreach as well (re: abortions, adoption law, etc). Social workers must have a masters, minimum, and most agencies have their own on retainer. A home study is required to adopt from anywhere in/to the US, and the licensing for the people who visit families to approve them, grilling them and their children, is necessarily extensive as well.

That said, it’s still free to adopt through the state and I’ve heard that some states have more need than ours.

The agency we found finally (through the super-chick who played piano at our wedding), is incredible at first blush and we hope they’ll continue to impress us. They charge $15,000, pretty much one of the lowest fees we’ve seen.

This agency requires adoptive families to sign a Christian statement of faith, which we are all over and glad to see. In the swirl of adoption information, intensity of issues and opinions, it is really a source of comfort that we share that belief. Most of their adoptions are semi-open, meaning the birthmother often meets the family before placing with them, updates are sent from the adoptive family on a regular basis, and the families communicate through the proxy of the agency, but there is not usually direct contact between the birth family and the child. While I understand the affront that is felt by some birth mother advocates at this form of “open” (which they would called closed), I was impressed by the consideration and respect this agency showed to potential birth mothers in answers to several of my questions.

There are agencies whose fees start at twice or more what ours will be. Perhaps they are affected by the region in which they operate. The cynical side of me has other comments, but for now I’m going to focus on where we are in this marathon process and on the things I’ve found to be beautiful therein. Later maybe I’ll dig a bit deeper with sharper claws, and I do pray for the whole system and the kids in need at this point in history. Adoption always begins with loss. You should pray, too, or dig, as needed.

I hope the movement gaining momentum in the Christian church that calls people to support adoption and adoptive families will continue to grow. Russell Moore’s Adopted for Life is a good place to start if you’re interested. The short of it is: it would be great if the church were to be known for supporting its members in adoption. There are programs that start short term loan or small grant programs for church communities to fund, and I heart that concept. The IRS gives us certain tax credits which also helps a LOT, but tax help only comes after you’ve shelled out your clams. So it’s hard and sometimes seems unfair. Bleh.

So, there’s the long of it from our viewpoint. More is likely to come!