Our Adoption Journey, Saving Grace

Our Adoption Journey – The Process & Costs

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“I Know Who Holds Me In His Hands” Luke 12:24-26

As Russell Moore says in A Guide To Adoption And Orphan Care, “There are a ton of options available to you. Each one has it’s strengths and weaknesses. You can pursue private adoption, foster care adoption, domestic adoption, international adoption or, in some cases, snowflake or embryo adoption. None are easy and all will require tremendous grace. Remember that all adoptions can be messy, so pursue the door God opens – the ideal on paper doesn’t always materialize.”

Rather than go into detail about all the options available, I’m going to tell you the details and costs of our own journey. Ask around, search through blogs on adoption, and you’ll find every story is different. What works for us may not work for you. Every route of adoption, however, will require patience, hard work, and perseverance.

Several years ago we first began entertaining the idea of adopting. We went to an informational meeting conducted by Child Protective Services. From that meeting we determined that we did not want to adopt from the Foster system – mainly because of the length of time a child is in your home before the adoption is finalized, meaning that after bonding deeply and falling in love with a child, we could face the possibility of losing the child to their biological parents if they “get their act together” within that time period. It was explained to us that the focus is on keeping families together, which we agree is a noble endeavor, but the system seems heartbreakingly flawed to us.

We considered sending for information from some agencies, but it all just slid to the back burner.

Then, in Spring of 2012, we moved and found ourselves immersed in an adoption-minded community. We decided now is the time, and once we found and moved into a house, we submitted an application to Adoption Assistance (other couples we knew had used the same agency) and kick-started our adoption journey.

As we’ve walked this journey, I’ve kept a list of our steps:

July 22- fill out “Adoption Assistance” application form to start the process… first “road block” arises when I discover I’ve lost my divorce papers

July 23 – research online to attempt to dredge up the date of divorce, to no avail. Text BFF to see if she’s going to Court House anytime soon – she’s headed there this morning!! Texts me back with date AND time, so I finish up the paperwork & mail it off with the $50 fee

Friday, July 27 – received email from Adoption Assistance confirming our application had been received by them. They also attached a Home Study Packet, and I’ve begun to work my way through putting documents together. We were assigned a social worker – Meredith, and she emailed to introduce herself. We set up a date for our first meeting – August 13 at Starbucks!

August 13 – meeting with Meredith went fantastically well! She put us right at ease and, as country folks with a love for Jesus, we really seem to identify with one another. She gave us a heads up for what to expect during our home study (she’ll be looking for fire extinguishers, fire alarms, guns safely stored, etc) and discussed her own experiences with International adoption. Afterwards, via email, we set September 17 as the date for our home study

Sept 17 – HOME STUDY!! Meredith came to the house, took a look around and sat down for a conversation with us. We gave her all the documents we had put together.

Oct 29 – received Home Study via email from Meredith, for proof-reading & approval. It needs corrections. Returned it with the necessary corrections on Sunday, Nov 4

Nov 5 – BIG DAY
Heard from Meredith – she’s ready to send the Home Study to Holt, so I called Holt and got the necessary information from them. That evening, I pulled up the Holt website to apply to them for International adoption (it was so difficult to decide on a country to adopt from – we want to adopt everyone! Of course, that’s not possible, so with great deliberation and difficulty, we decided on India)… One second before I was to begin, Jeff walked in the door with extraordinary news – a local woman wants us to adopt her baby which is due to be born in February!

Election Day, Nov 6
Made appointment with lawyer that specializes in adoptions, set up a meeting with the birth mother & talked to Meredith about the steps we need to take. I am shocked and amazed and so excited at this turn of events

November 19
Today is the appointment with Lawyer. No one has been able to reach the birth mother, so we have not met her. After work, we met with the lawyer and it was a great meeting. He had great advice and he prayed with us. He said these sort of adoptions can be a 50/50 coin toss on whether they go through or not. He advised we continue with the India adoption so that if this one doesn’t work out, we won’t be 6 months behind.

After discussing the situation with Meredith, we decided to switch our paperwork from International to Domestic adoption.

January
We never again heard from the local woman. Our prayer is that she found the help and support she needed.
Another local woman posted an ad on Craigslist, looking for a couple to adopt her baby due in June. We swapped emails, calls and texts for a week, and then a text came through at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning that said she hadn’t been able to reach us that day so she was assuming we weren’t interested and she would not talk to us any more. Thankfully another local family was able to put her in contact with Counselors and get her some help. After that I told my hubby I only wanted to work with agencies. Agencies provide counseling and other help for expectant mothers and act as a buffer between biological parents and adoptive parents, reducing stress and craziness for all parties.

January 21
Received an email about a possible placement due to a “disruption” – a toddler adopted from Ethiopia. His new family was overwhelmed and considering seeking a new family for him. As he had only been in the States for a few months, the adoption had not been finalized, and the only costs to us would be travel to the State he was currently in, and legal costs for finalization. After about a week of emails, it was determined that he would continue on with them, or with a family close to them. This situation is a poignant reminder of how important it is to accurately assess your family’s threshold for what situations the family is ready to handle.

January/February
went round and round over fingerprinting – thought we could have it done digitally, so we looked for a place to have it done. Finally gave that up and set up an appointment with State Police, only to find out our appointment day was not even a day that it could be done, so, on February 18, we went to The UPS store to have it done

March 17
Home Study is complete!!

April 9
Signed a contract with Faithful Adoption Consultants and submitted via email

April 22 – May 4
Called my doctor to discuss possibility of breastfeeding. After some research, she set up an appointment for me with Dr. Stephen Beverly April 29. Started hormone therapy May 4.

April 17 – May 5
I designed our Profile Book in Photoshop, combined all the files into a PDF file and emailed to Jessica at FAC. It took 5 days of locking myself into my boss’s office at work to get the final book done and was the most stressful part of the adoption process so far! Immediately after I sent the finished book to Jessica via email on May 3, she called with a situation and we said yes, we wanted to present. That was a Friday. On Sunday, she had another situation to present on, and we said yes. Both were a huge leap of faith as we didn’t have the money, and hadn’t even started on the grant & loan applications yet. We weren’t chosen. A third situation came up the day we were told we weren’t chosen and less than a week later we found out we weren’t chosen by that one either.

Meanwhile, I got started on those grant applications. It was easier getting the Home Study done than getting through these grant applications! After two weeks of wading through, paperwork, I got 5 grants submitted: National Adoption Foundation, Lifesong For Orphans, Hand In Hand, The ABBA Fund, and Gift Of Adoption. Now begins the painful waiting to see if we are approved for any of them.

May 12
Registered at Babies R Us – it was fun looking at all of the baby stuff and visualizing our future

May 13
The two of us went to a Breast Is Best breastfeeding class at the local hospital. Thought I was gonna have to go all “Mama Bear” on the Lactation Consultant at first, when we were advised that this class probably wasn’t for us since we were adopting. I bit my tongue, though, and was polite. I informed her of who my doctor was and that he was very confident in our plan. She ended up being very encouraging.

May 16
Set up two Fundraisers – a t-shirt fundraiser through Adoption Bug: http://www.adoptionbug.com/theloveofmany & a Thirty-One Fundraiser scheduled for July, thanks to Annie Little and her blog:
http://morekids4me.blogspot.com/p/thirty-one-adoption-fundraisers.html

May 18
Went to some nice consignment shops to look around. Yes, we’re anxious. 😉 We bought a like-new Graco pack-n-play bassinet for $18! Woohoo!

May 19
Orphan Care meeting at church (Living Hope Baptist Church) – we met some very sweet families and beautiful babies and were encouraged in our journey

May 20
Received a call from Jessica at FAC – a baby girl was born over the weekend somewhere in KY. Costs will be $29,500 Agency fees, $5,000 Lawyer fees, $1,500 Hospital fees + $150 Cradle Care each day she spends in the hospital. After a couple of hours and a flurry of phone calls to try to put the funds together, we said yes. 6 couples are presenting, we hope to hear something tonight or in the morning. MOPS Orphan Care is tonight, but I just got home from work and am emotionally exhausted

May 21
Got the heartbreaking call that we weren’t chosen. This was the hardest situation yet, as we had at first thought that the baby had simply been left at the hospital and we were the only couple for the baby. We thought our waiting was over. Tuesday was a tough day. We’ll be okay, though. God’s timing is perfect and we trust in His sovereignty. Now we are waiting on another situation. A woman in Florida, planning to have her baby girl in Utah, due July 25. She wants her baby to have a father in her life, which she would not have if she kept her.

May 22,23
Filled out agency applications and releases and consent forms for five agencies that Faithful Adoption Consultants uses that require their paperwork to be filled out pre-match. The other agencies FAC networks with accepts the FAC paperwork already on file. To complete the paperwork for one of the agencies, we will need to go through some required education – online webinars and read certain books. Thankfully, the application fees for these agencies are waived for FAC clients.

EXPECTED FUTURE STEPS:
1. At some point we’ll be chosen by a “Birth Mother” and we’ll sign a contract – this is called a Match. We could possibly pay anywhere from $0-15,000 for a Match Fee, depending upon which agency she is with and the details of circumstances.

2. Depending on the Birth Mother’s wishes, we may or may not have to travel to her State to meet her before the birth.

3. Once the baby is born, we will travel to the hospital (or possibly even just before birth), and after a set time period (depending on which State the baby is born in), the biological parents will sign papers terminating their parental rights and the baby will be placed with us. At this time, the remainder of the agency fees will be due. The Match Fee is deducted from the agency fees, so this amount varies, depending on how much the agency fees originally were and whether or not a Match Fee was deducted. So, we could be looking at anywhere from $15,000 – $30,000

4. After a period of 3 – 15 days we will be cleared by the courts to cross State lines with our baby and will be free to go home.

5. After a period of time, Meredith will come to the house and make sure the baby is in good hands. Depending on which Agency used, she may have to make a few visits over a set period of time.

6. After, I believe, 6 months, we will go to our local Courthouse and finalize the adoption.

7. Until our child is 18, we will periodically, at set intervals, send photos, cards and/or letters to the agency to be forwarded to the Birth Mother.

8. Who knows if our path will end up looking anything like the steps outlined above? Only God. He’s gone before us, prepared the way ahead, and no matter what turns that path takes, we trust God as our guide.

FEES and EXPENSES:

$50 application fee for Adoption Assistance
$30 Ordered Jenn’s Birth Certificate from Texas Vital Statistics
$48 Ordered Jeff”s Birth Certificate from Vital Check
$8 ordered Divorce Decree from County District Clerk (over phone)
$7 ordered Marriage License from County Clerk (via mail)
$26 ordered Texas criminal background checks on both of us from Background Ferret
$40 ordered KY criminal records check
$1,500 Home Study by Adoption Assistance
$100 Fingerprinting fees (set up online)
$50 Fingerprinting fees (changed course & went to The UPS Store)
$2,500 contracting fee with Faithful Adoption Consultants
$150 printed/shipped 6 Profile Books from VioVio.com (5 for FAC, 1 for our records)
$50 application fee for GIFT OF ADOPTION grant
$25 application fee for NATIONAL ADOPTION FUND grant

So, we’re close to $5,000 into this so far, and we’re looking at an additional $30,000 – $40,000 (or more) in Agency Fees, Legal Fees, Hospital fees, and travel expenses looming in the future.

It’s tempting to look at that number and tremble, or turn back, but don’t. If you are considering adoption, KNOW that you CAN do this, even if you don’t have the funds. Just keep watching and we’ll prove it to you!!

In the meantime, I suggest you take a look at http://www.adoptwithoutdebt.com

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