Questions about Adoption
My DH and I are seriously considering adoption and have a few questions. We've been struggling with infertility for a while now and I'm really reaching my breaking point after a loss and some failed attempts since and also failed response to the treatments. We've decided that if the next few cycles are a no go we are going to pursue adoption full force and have decided to start collecting information since we're interested in adopting anyway. I have some questions I was hoping maybe some of you here could answer. I've been looking a lot online and it seems like there's a lot of information out there but it's a little overwhelming. We live in a very small town and I'm not sure what kind of resources are available to us here. According to what I can find, there aren't many resources at all especially for adopting an infant which we feel would be ideal for our first child since we have no other children. So here are some questions I have:
Is it possible to meet up with an adoption counselor or someone who has a lot of information on the process who can meet with us informally and just discuss the possibilities so that we know if this is really an option for us?
I know that laws and everything vary from state to state so what happens if we decide to go with a national agency which seems like it might be easier when trying to adopt an infant?
Is it best to go with an a licensed agency? I've seen some websites that are marketing firms that work with agencies but they aren't licensed agencies themselves. They seem promising but it's hard to trust anything online.
Does the bulk of the expense with adoption come into the legal fees once adoptions are being finalized? Is it a great expense before you're matched or does that part mostly come after?
And even with going with a national agency or group is adopting an infant or toddler as difficult as everyone makes it sound? We are open to some different races which I've can speed up the process.
I have an illness and am permanently disabled. DH worked full time and I still work part time and financially we're like pretty much everyone else. My illness can be serious but is very manageable and I've been very healthy for about 3 years now. Anyone know if this is a factor?
Sorry if this is too many questions. I'm overwhelmed by all the info online and don't really know where to start. I'm afraid if we just call an agency or something...and I don't think there's one in our area...that we'll be expected to be ready right away and we want to make sure that the process is something we can do first. Thanks in advance for any info at all. :)
I will try to answer some of the questions. I would find at least a few agencies to talk to...they might not be in your town but in a nearby bigger city. For example, my local branch of the agency covers a 10 county area. I don't know anything about national agencies as we have chosen to stay within state but if you go out of state, you follow the laws first of the state the baby is born.
I chose to stay with an agency....sometimes women will scam you and my agency tries hard to screen against that and counsels the potential birthmoms. What can happen is that you could be paying a lot of expenses for the birth mom....and she changes her mind (and some never intended to place at all!) which is her right....but you are out all the cash you spent on her.
With the agency I am with, we paid to get into their program and they limit the number of waiting families at any time. We paid for the home study and classes and fees associated with that. We do not pay anything else until we are matched and placed with our baby....and than the rest of the agency fees, the various lawyer fees and bridge care is paid for. In my state, termination of rights cannot occur until the birth mom goes to court and she cannot request a date until after the birth. This can take 3-5 weeks during which time most often baby is in bridge care (which she can visit and even leave with the baby....and we can visit but not leave with the baby).
We have paid about 1/3 of our expected expenses so far, all of it last year.
The health might be a factor but it might not. We did have to undergo fairly extensive health exams and are doing the year update next week. Our agency just wants normal life expectancy, not perfect health (for example, we are both overweight, especially me but that was ok).
There is more paperwork than you can imagine and it's overwhelming at first but taken step by step it wasn't too bad. The classes and home study were not hard at all. I haven't had a match yet and I'm sure that it was be very hard if i do have one and that falls through. But for now the process hasn't been too hard at all. other than waiting for someone to pick us out of all these other great families...at first we thought we weren't cool enough/good enough that nobody would want to pick us but have come to believe that when it's meant to be, someone will see us as the perfect parents for their baby.
If money is a concern or the health issue is a problem, you could also look into foster/adoption. They tend to be more lenient and it's definitely cheaper.
Thank you so much Jennifer! You answered a lot of my questions and I had a ton of them. Lol. I'm hoping if all they're looking for in health is life expectancy than my health issue won't be a problem. Everything else with me is fine and I'm in really good physical shape. My husband is as healthy as they come. The illness I have effects my overall immune health but with my proper treatment it really shouldn't be an issue. I have times where I'm sicker but it's mostly sinus infections and lung/bronchial things. I haven't been hospitalized for it ever other than when I got an infection after I m/c but I'm not sure that was related. I'm typically always able to deal with it from home and am usually not down for long. I work with kids too so we know that works out okay so I'm hoping it won't be an issue. It can be unpredictable at times though but we also have a great support system in our family and friends.
I definitely think agency sounds like a better way to go. Seems like that would be less overwhelming because they do a lot of it for you and they've done it so much they know what they're doing and you can trust them since they're licensed. I definitely wouldn't want to be paying someone else's expenses who never intended to even place their child. That's horrible! And thank for the info on foster/adoption. I'll look into that also. :) I appreciate all the info so much! I hope you get your match soon!
I know the process can be overwhelming to say the least. I just wanted to offer hugs (our agency is through our church which is very different from most other agencies which is why I don't have a lot of advice) and good thoughts to you as you further pursue adoption. I hope whichever road you take quickly leads you to your little ones :)
Thank you so much! I've been doing a ton of research over the last few days and think I found an agency that may work for us. We're in a small town and have to drive an hour to get anywhere so it's about an hour and a half away but it's in a bigger city so that's probably a good thing. They're a non-profit licensed agency which is what I prefer I think. DH is completely on board with adoption and says it's entirely up to me how much longer I want to continue infertility treatments. I know I'll do at least one more cycle of it but I don't really have any faith in it anymore and am just so tired of being so beaten down by it all when I know that I don't have to have a biological child to start our family. Now I just need to get DH reading about everything so he doesn't freak out too much. He gets information overload pretty easily so it's important that he does his own research as well. At the moment I'm leaning towards either an open domestic adoption since we want to adopt an infant or in an infant adoption from Russia. We're too young for China (or I am anyway) and we know that the more open we are to different situations the more likely our wait time will be lower. I'm getting excited researching everything and thinking about this process. :)
I would definitely try to talk to at least two agencies to get a feel of the differences between them. We found the two we talked to be vastly different (and one was almost 2 hours away) and we had a much stronger feeling for one over the other.
Also, the process for domestic and international are VERY different. It is two completely different programs and I think that you will probably have to pick one over the other. Classes are different, home study is different, portfolios are different.
Have your husband check at work, many employers offer some money for adoption assistance.
Be prepared for a TON of paperwork. I thought we were done but are now doing more for our annual review. And shelling out a lot of money. We thought we were done but the state changed the rules and we needed to get fingerprinted...that was $110 we weren't expecting to pay.
There is a magazine called Adoptive Families that is super useful.
Thank you! :) After I typed my last message I did more research and was starting to realize it'll probably have to be one or the other. It really might depend on the agency. I feel like we're open to a lot of situations but it may depend on wait time. There's an agency nearby that I like the looks of, according to their website and testimonials anyway, but they say that adoption can't be done from Russia unless you're married for three years. Everywhere else I look says there is no minimum amount of time you have to be married to adopt from Russia. We've been married two years. So that I'm not sure about. There's another agency that's national that I like the looks of a lot and am very interested in getting more info from once we decide we're ready to do that. Their wait times are much lower on everything and they've been in business for over 40 years and are licensed in multiple states and overseas which sounds interesting. Both agencies are non-profit so that's good. I'm just not sure how it works if you use a national agency. I assume you just get someone local to do the home study and interviews must be over the phone unless there's a local branch and there might be I'm confused about that also.
The wait times are drastically different between the two agencies too which I assume is normal. Does that just depend on their connections? One agency (the one nearby) appears to be pretty standard and has pretty long wait times but as far as I know it just does interstate adoptions for the state of Virginia. So that may be why. They do international too but their wait times for that are pretty long also. The national one quotes only 2-12 months for a caucasian infant in a domestic adoption which seems a short wait time to me. They're also known though for the counseling and programs that they offer to birth mothers so I think they may have more people coming to them than your average agency. I might be really naive about this all. I really don't know. DH came home last night with a book about adoption from the library that's highly rated. He's so cute. I love that he's so on board with this. :)
It is hard to judge wait times...it varies so much by country. One thing to keep in mind with Russia is I have heard that they require you to travel twice....once to meet the child and later to pick up the child. I have also heard that Russia is pretty famous in adoption circles for bribes. I have talked to a few families going that route and it seems like it's well known that once there, there is often cash exchanging hands (for example a "grandmother" might suddenly want to take custody of the child but for a fee will change her mind).
As for domestic, generally now birthmom's pick the families. So some people hardly wait at all and some wait more than two years. I have been waiting 11 months now.....and we could get a the call this afternoon....or it might be more than a year from now.
I never looked at a national agency as I wanted something more local. But I do think that you just hire a social worker who can do the home study.
As for the time of being married, by the time you get everything together, it probably will three years if not close to it.
I got lucky and inquired in Jan 2011 (first info meeting was October 2009). There was room for one more couple in the March set of classes....they did them 2-3 times a year. Finished those in April. Had the home visit in mid August. Did paperwork from Feb 2011-August 2011....it took that long to get together every thing needed (health forms, financial forms, vet records, questionaires, personal histories, proof of insurance including house, car, personal life, and a letter from my employer about baby being able to get our employee health insurance, write the resume letter, put together the portfolio, background checks, make copies of everything).....I have a two inch binder at home with my copies of all the paperwork. It did take us 6 months to get things together....I think average might be four months.
Doesn't hurt to start contacting places and asking them to send more information about their process....they all are so different.
And definitely give yourself time to grieve the idea of a biological child.
Thanks so much for all the info and answering my many questions. I kind of feel like I've already grieved for not being able to have a biological child or not having one right now. I went through a lot with my miscarriage 6 months ago and since then haven't felt the same about it all. Since I've always been interested in adoption too it doesn't feel like a huge sacrifice for me to change directions right now. Of course we'll be thinking about it for a while but are considering contacting agencies within a few weeks if we still feel good about everything. We've been discussing this possibility since before we were married. We knew I'd have trouble but we didn't know how much and what all would go into it.
One of the agencies I looked at that's national doesn't do classes. They do something in place of it but they don't do anything in the group setting. I believe the local agency doesn't as well. It would definitely take some time to get a lot of things together. Our cats, for instance, haven't been to the vet in 4 years since they're primarily inside cats so we'd have to get all of them there to have recent vet records to access.
It'll probably be December/January before we can afford to do a whole lot anyway since DH graduates from school in December and then should be starting a new job where his salary will increase a good bit. Do you have to have life insurance plans in place before you can adopt? I suppose that would make sense and is something we'd be doing soon if we were expecting anyway though we don't have a policy yet. Also, insurance for the child might be an issue as of right now. I have insurance through Medicare which they won't allow a child to be added to that, and DH has no insurance with his current job. Of course he'll get insurance from the day he starts work once he's in his new job so it looks like we might not be able to get it all together until he's in his new job which would be okay since it sounds like it'd take that long anyway to get a lot of info.
Thanks again! There's so much to think about that I hadn't even considered. I'm feeling a lot more knowledgeable about the process though just after a few days of questions and answers and research. :)
You're welcome! it is definitely a lot to think about.
For us classes are required by state law and those five days were part of the home study process (the actual home visit was the quickest smallest part).
Yup we had to have proof of all kinds of insurance (for both us life insurance is a job benefit). And the dogs had to have proof of being up to date on all vaccines.
I had expected a lot and I had expected the process to be invasive but was surprised at just how much. It was so much so that we had almost quit at the beginning but just took things one step at a time and it eventually was done.
Yeah it sure is a lot to think about! No joke! I got a bit overwhelmed today and was about to cry because I read some things that made me wonder if we'll even be able to adopt. I doubt that the illness I have will affect it especially since I know I can get a letter from my doctor who treats it stating that I have a normal life expectancy and am fine with proper treatment which I should never be denied now. I asked him when we were planning to try if it was safe for me to get pregnant and if I would be able to care for a child and he said absolutely. So that's good. A few years ago I had to declare bankruptcy for medical debt from the process I went through trying to get this disease diagnosed. It's rare so it takes forever. It took me 8 years to get a diagnosis and the bills piled up while we were waiting and there was no way they were getting paid. So before we got married I filed (which was humiliating since I've never even owned a credit card) so that DH wouldn't be effected by it once we were married.
I REALLY hope that doesn't mess up our chances. It's been a few years already so I hope not. I was just reading everything and I said "Geez it's like everything in the world is trying to keep us from ever having a family". DH insisted we'd find an agency that doesn't care if it becomes an issue. I guess we'll see. All we can do is try and take it one step at a time. And breathe...breathing is good too. Lol.