More questions :)
I have more questions and probably will forever since it seems like the info out there is just so overwhelming.
Dh and I are still trying to decide between international and domestic. DH is really more settled on international because there is typically no birth parent contact or worry and once their ours their ours. I'm a little concerned about it because through more research it seems some of the programs through different agencies for Russia don't allow any chronic medical conditions. I'm perfectly able to parent but they won't even allow people with diabetes to parent and my illness is super rare and hard to understand so I worry about that hurting our chances. DH also hates the idea of making a portfolio, dear birth mom letters, etc. and having to advertise ourselves to birth parents. I admit that's a little hard for me too. I feel like it'll just be so hard to decide which is best for us.
So to my questions. To adopt internationally do you have to go with a Hague Accredited agency? Some agencies say they're accredited in some other way and I don't know if that matters really. Also, if an agency is not a full service agency does that mean that there are some things that they don't offer, like attorneys? Is it best to just go ahead and choose a full service agency so that all of your needs are addressed by the same people? It seems to me it could be a concern if too many different groups get involved in the process.
I'm trying to narrow it down to a few agencies for each and am thinking of requesting an information packet from them all so that we can sit down and look at them together to decide what's best for us and who to contact for interviews. Also, I've noticed a lot of websites don't really say what they are...they don't specify if they're licensed or not or if they're a marketing agency or if they're a facilitator or what. Can I assume if they don't say that they're licensed that they must not be?
And does anyone have any suggestions for agencies for either international or domestic? I don't know if we're allowed to put names of them on here but if we can't I'd love a PM. There are a few I'm looking at and I'm not sure whether or not to trust them. I certainly don't want to get in a bad situation and lose a lot of money because I'm naive about the process or something. Anyway, that sums it up for now. Thanks in advance!
No advice on the agency but I wanted to let you know about the relationship me and DH have had with our girls birthmother and family. I thought it would be totally weird and super awkward to be even a little involved with a birth parent but I love our girls birth mother with all my heart. I admire and respect her and pray for her daily. We have a good relationship, she knows she can call me and I want her to be in our girls life in as comfortable a capacity as she needs. The relationship has been anything but awkward and I know of many couples who have similar experiences. If you have any specific concerns feel free tonask me and I will tell you how things have gone for us :). Good luck and I hope you find the answers you are looking for.
You still have just as much paperwork and a porfolio with international, it's just a little different. Those were all the reasons we started with international too...but ended up going domestic the more we learned. Doing the portfolio was hard but wasn't that bad. The agency had a lot of guidelines in terms of writing the letter and putting together the portfolio.
As far as medical, it's the country that determines what they will accept and not. For example, china was not an option for us as my BMI was higher than they would accept.
We are not advertising ourselves. Women come into the agency and can see a book with all the birth mom letters in them. The letters are in order of who has waited the longest....the newest ones go in the back. I think that they keep something like an average of 70-90 families waiting at a time. From there they pick out whose portfolios they want to see, usually around 3-5 and from there if there is anyone they want to meet. There are 7-8 offices the agency has across the state and all have the same book of letters....and they send the portfolios back and forth via certified mail. We had to make two identical portfolios.
If you haven't been here yet, this site is super helpful and the magazine is great. It's the only one I get and I read the whole thing. http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/
Thanks again for all the info ladies! DH and I had a talk and have decided that it makes more sense for us to adopt domestically and we want to adopt a newborn directly from the hospital if we can. I suppose that just depends on the agency though.
It does make me feel better to know that portfolios aren't so awful. If we're going to have to do one anyway we might as well just go for it. I also like to hear that you don't have to advertise yourselves. I suppose that probably depends on the agency as well. I've noticed some that require fees for advertising. I haven't been too impressed with those as a whole though. My mom is a music teacher in the area and yesterday she got a call from another member of the local chapter calling to update her info and somehow they got to talking about how we'd decided to adopt if this last cycle doesn't work out and the lady said that her daughter went through the exact same thing. She mentioned that she used an agency in Utah and was surprisingly matched with her daughter the day after her home study was finished. I imagine that's rare but a cool story. This lady sent my mom her daughter's contact info and said she'd love to talk to me so I emailed her. So that's nice for sure. I have looked at a few agencies in Utah that seem to be good...I wonder why they're so highly recommended there.
Bowlerchick - Thanks so much for sharing that with me. Did you start out planning to not have an open adoption or at least not fully open? I think that if it was the right situation we'd be okay with it. I guess my biggest concern with fully open is that I worry I would be the problem more than them. I'm not always the best about keeping in touch with people and I'd hate it if I made a commitment to keep it touch to an extent and was unable to fulfill my role...so I wouldn't do it unless I knew that I could for a fact. I certainly have no problems with semi-open though. I know if it was me, at the very least I'd want pictures and updates so I don't see that being an issue at all. I do think it could depend a lot on the agency and the situation though for me. What would I tell an agency in that case? That we'd prefer semi open or closed but that we're okay with open under the right circumstances? I've also heard that a lot of baby's birth records are sealed forever unless it's fully open and that they can never find out who their birth parents are when they want to. I don't like that idea at all because how can they not be curious at the very least? I know if it was me I'd want to know where I came from. Whether it mattered in the long run I don't know but I think they at least have the right to find them if they want. So that concerns me as well.
Sorry for all the questions. There's so much more to all of this than I originally though. I won't let it scare me away though. :)
It is nice to see this room getting some action again! :)
So much does depend on the agency.
It did take me over two months to get the portfolio done but it was doable. The agency gave us the books and guidelines....for example, wedding pictures are good but don't make it more than 1-2 pages. Pictures of pets are good, don't make it a pet book. Feature yourself, your lives, your home, your hobbies (we had to stage a few of these because we didn't have pictures of us doing our hobbies!). Don't put in a ton of you as a kid, they want to know you now. I had never scrapbooked before (or had friends or family who did) so was at a big disadvantage. I ended buying a lot of stuff for that, paper, embellishments (times two), a cricut and some cartridges, paper cutter, sticker maker, glue. I am not at all artistic. But I like scrapping now and have a new hobby. :) I am proud of our books and even make a color copy at kinkos for myself.....it is a great keepsake. Eventually the birth mom can keep one and we can keep one of the originals for the baby.
My agency requires you to be open to open adoption. How it works it in terms of openess depends on how we work it out with the birth family. The longer I have thought about it, the more comfortable I feel with it.
Definitely a lot more to it....and so much varies based on agency and based on state or country laws.
I'm not all that aggressive in process, we have taken a more it will happen when it's meant to approach. I know that eventually we will either be matched with our baby or we will get a safe haven baby. When they get a call about a safe haven baby, they ask the family waiting longest in that area if they want that match. We know a couple who was placed with their son that way in the spring and I think that there are 1-2 couples ahead of me locally right now. So we know that if we are just patient, we will get the baby meant to be ours. In the meantime, we have been saving the money for getting the room ready and all the gear we want, we just bought a minivan after realizing a baby and gear will not fit in our small cars with both our dogs. Last year right after approval I figured it would be a wait and got a puppy. So my one is almost 9 yrs old and the other will be a year old next month....and it's great as she is pretty well trained and loved my bff's baby and kids.
Really so far going through the research process and home study process and now the year wait (and probably a while to come)....has been easier for me emotionally than STC was.
Oh and my home study group started out with 6 couples...right after we were all one, three of them went on hold as they got pg. Of the three of us left, we are all still waiting for a match.
I'm glad they're getting more active too! I've looked at them before for info and they were slow so I just didn't post. We weren't really ready to make the decision then either so it was okay but now that we are here I am! :)
I think the portfolio probably wouldn't be a huge issue really. Now that I know a little more about it anyway. DH is extremely artistic. We have a lot of scrapbooks and he's fantastic with developing these kinds of things. In fact, the first Christmas after we were married he made me a scrapbook complete with written parts from him of our honeymoon. He did such a good job! All of my scrapbooks look so childish in comparison. Lol.
I'm kind of crazy when I set my mind to something. If I have something that's important to me I throw myself completely into the process. Honestly, sometimes I even get obsessive with it so I have to take a break but I'm crazy organized on these things and usually get through them as quickly as possible.
What is a safe haven baby? I'm not sure I've heard of that before. Is that when the decision to place is made after they're born and not before?
The one thing that's bugging me a little right now is just narrowing down agencies. There are some that I really like the look of but some that I'm just not sure about. One I love the look of for domestic but I can't seem to find anyone who has used them and of course there are testimonials on their website but I'd rather hear a review from people who didn't write their testimonial knowing it would go on the website. That one is called Adoption Services, Inc. They're one of the first sites that come up when I look up adoption.
I've also been looking at "A Act of Love" and they're program and site seems great but their name drives me crazy because of the grammar error. DH said he just wanted to know if there was a reason behind it other than a grammar error. Lol. I'm sure if we choose to interview them he'll ask them that. I'm a teacher so we're nuts about grammar here. Lol. On a happy note though, I've made contact personally with a woman who used Act of Love and she thought they were wonderful. Turns out two of her friends used them too so that seems appealing also.
I don't know how I'll ever make the decision and feel comfortable that a particular agency is the right one. Seems like so many of them could be or none of them could be. Also, I definitely can see how, as stressful as all of this can be, that it could also be a lot easier than STC. At least I know that going through this my body will be okay and I'll feel better than I do on fertility drugs. And at least I know I'm not waiting for my body to finally do something that it may not even be capable of...if that makes sense.
Oh...and one more question while it's on my mind. Lol. I've heard some people say that they got their home studies done locally and then sent it to whichever agency they chose or more then one if there were a few especially if the agencies of choice were out of state. Is it possible to get a home study done by a state agency for cheaper and then send it to the agency of your choice if it's out of state? DH was reading that it can be about $500 max if done by a state agency but can be up to $2000 if done by an agency not licensed in your state...I would guess you'd have to meet requirements of the agency of choice for it to count but what happens if you have one done ahead of time and it's not exactly what they want? Is that a lot more fees or just some minor updating?
Oh well if you guys already know at least something about scrapbooking, it should be a lot easier. That was part of the reason it took me so long to get mine done.
Many states, mine is one, have safe haven laws. Basically a woman can bring a baby less than 3 days old (that varies by state) to a hospital, police or fire station and leave it with staff. I work in a hospital so go through training on this every year. We can ask if she would like to leave any information (health, about the birth) but she doesn't even have to leave a name if she doesn't want to. If someone did this to me (and I do have my library in the lobby so it could happen), I would than take the baby to women's health and social services would take over. My agency would get contacted once they are sure it's a safe haven baby and they would contact a family on the list. Locally we have had in the past anywhere from zero to four a year. I know in Milwaukee, they could have maybe 15 a year some years.
It will be clearer to you once you actually are talking to agencies. I totally thought based on websites we were going international with one and ended up going domestic with another after talking to them.
Home study fees can vary widely as state laws vary. I had ours done by the agency we are with and with the home study, application fee, agency fees, classes.....we have spent about 5-6 so far I think. The rest comes with the placement....the average total for them is about 15-17K.
Have you seen this?
http://www.dss.virginia.gov/facility/search/cpa.cgi Looks like there are a lot of licensed agencies in your state. If you live near a border of a state, I would look at agencies there too as they are often licensed in both states.
Leah, I was very hesitant at first to have an open adoption because I didn't want to feel like they would be constantly looking over my shoulder. It has turned out quite the opposite though. Our girls birthmother disappears for months at a time where we don't hear one thing from her and then out of the blue she will call and let us know she is doing good and asks how the girls are doing. Lily's birthfather has contacted us once on her first birthday to ask how she was and Gwyn's birth father has been in and out of jail but will contact us every once in a while for an update. We have had only 2 occasions where we met after the placements and one was with the birthmother when Lily turned one and one is with the birthfather of Gwyn as she turned one. With the exception of Lily's birthfather, we promised that we would stay in contact as much as they wanted us to and this has been the extent of our contact with them. Every adoption is different of course but I know of several couples that have had this happen for them as well. As for portfolio's we did one with the help of my sister in law (she is super creative) in less than a day and with the knowledge of scrapbooking that your DH has, it should not be too hard to put one together. The problem we ran into was finding the right pics and we did just like Jennifer and her DH did and staged some of them so we have a good variety :) I found that as I completed each stage there was a new sense of accomplishment and I couldn't wait to complete the next one as we knew it would be that much sooner we would have a placement. My one suggestion to you is to tell everybody you are planning to adopt. We had several people in our church, family and friend groups that were contacting us and letting us know about adoption opportunities, it got our names out there. In fact, it was a friend of DH's that contacted us about Lily and Gwyn's birthmom. She was in their church and so our names were suggested to her and we got in contact a week later. Keep your chin up because the process wears you out for sure, but it's worth it!
Jennifer - There are definitely a lot of agencies in the state. The only problem we have is that there aren't any in close proximity really. The Adoption Services, Inc. that we've looked into is actually based in Fairfax which I guess is nearly D.C. DH's aunt and uncle live in D.C. and we go visit them plenty. That's about 6 hours from us. So we thought about maybe if we use them going into the agency the next time we visit just to see how things are. I do wish we could just walk into an agency in person and deal with everything that way but we can't really without driving really far on a regular basis. There are a few nearby by we aren't interested in them really and the closest one we like the look of is in Roanoke which isn't all that far but all they do is parental placement for domestic. We don't really want to do that though so we're strongly considering one in Utah or the one that's in Fairfax, Va.
Should I get some information packets sent to us from the agencies we're interested in? I was thinking if we got them maybe we could sit down and look through them together to pick one. We've thought about beginning our home study. I do want to wait for AF to come just to be completely done with our last fertility cycle so that it's behind us before we officially move on but I think my chances are about zero anyway. That should be in a week or so so it's not that far off. Where would we start if we want to have a home study done in our state by a state agency but send it to one in Utah if we chose that route? I'm not sure who we'd need to contact to do the home study who is close by...just local social services or something? I'd like to at least know what the price is like to begin it.
Also DH will be starting a new job hopefully sometime soon after December. He'll graduate from school then and has been in contact with a company who wants to hire him so it should be a done deal. He's been in contact with them for two years already, but until he does that he doesn't have any health insurance so we can't give proof of insurance for a child unless there's some state thing we could do, but I'm sure by the time we'd get a placement he'd be in a new job. His benefits will start from day one so we should be able to do all of that right away. He has zero incentives at his job right now because he works for his step dad who refuses to offer benefits so he doesn't even have an insurance to have a physical right now though I suppose we could afford to work that out. I have insurance but it's Medicare and they won't cover a child. So...I figure we may be able to do our home study but just not finalize it until we get that last bit of paperwork in.
Britney - Thank you so much for telling me some of your experience with the birth families. Honestly the more and more we get into it the more I feel like we could do an open adoption. I think especially with the right situation we could do it. I've read some statistics that say that generally birth families don't keep much contact after about 5 years if they even keep it up to that point. I've read a lot of stories of women saying that they just slowly lost contact and it stayed that way. I guess even for them it's a lot to maintain and I'm sure while it helps to hear their kids are okay it hurts too. We're feeling better and better about an open adoption though. :)
Replying to your question about the home study I believe that agencies contract with qualified people to handle it so I'm sure you could ask the agency you choose for a recommendation on a home study and they could get you info on the right people to do it...does that make sense, its getting late :)
That makes sense. :) It is getting late. I'm a freak and can't stop thinking about it all and can't shut my stupid brain off and go to bed! I'm just so excited to be starting a process that might FINALLY end with us beginning our family! I went ahead and requested an information packet from an agency in Utah...seems the Utah agencies are pretty popular. I know someone personally who used this one so that helps. I also emailed one in Virginia to let them know we were just in the information gathering stage and asked some home study questions. That agency is about six hours from us, but I'm sure they have someone closer by who can do the home visit. This is a national agency anyway so my guess is they're used to all of this. They're near family of ours anyway so we could definitely pop in there when we're visiting. At least that's got us started somewhere.
Originally Posted by bowlerchick
DH is a bit nervous about me contacting people at all because he's terrified they'll use our information and call us all the time or send us stuff in the mail we don't want. Lol. He gets REALLY irritated with people selling information and we've had some problems with that though we're usually really careful about it so I'm not sure why. I only contacted two places that I know are reputable so I don't think that's likely to happen. If it does we can always pitch a fit. Lol. I feel like we're off to a pretty good start though and are at least getting enough information to know what our next steps should be. :)
Adoption laws in Utah very much favor adoptive parents. An example of this is once the birthmother signs the termination of rights, she cannot change her mind, there is no chance she could come back even a minute later and say she changed her mind. Also the birthfather has exactly 9 months to file a petition with the state stating he wants his rights to the child, if he doesn't his rights are automatically terminated. And if the birthmother is aware of who the birthfather is and he is not interested all she does is not list him on the birth certificate and his rights are automatically terminated. It's very pro adoption in Utah.
I definitely like the sound of the adoption laws in Utah for us. I do worry that it could cause issues for the birth parents though. I know there has been some controversy in the past about that. I think it's important to pick an agency that counsels the birth parents. "Act of Love" is one that a friend of mine used and she said they counseled the birth parents and when she met her daughter's birth mom that the birth mom seemed very secure with her decision and had a peace about it which is good. Even with all of that, I imagine it's a nightmare for the birth family to go through. I think that for us it's just important to get as much info as we can about the match to know that all parties involved are comfortable with the decision or as comfortable as can be. I do think that would probably help us just to know that. I hope getting some info from the agency helps us along as well.