Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adoption-Where to Begin!?

Over the last year Paul and I have been contacted nearly monthly by families with questions about adoption. I love sharing our story with anyone who asks and can only hope that I can help another family start their journey to adoption!

I am not much help in the area prior to your decision to adopt. My husband and I knew we wanted to adopt from the time we were dating. So once you have come to the decision then maybe I can help! So here are my ideas below and if you have adopted and want to add to this please add to the comments!

The first question for most families is WHERE do we adopt from?? I believe God will most assuredly lead you in the right direction for your family. Some of us can do very little research and immediately be drawn to the right adoption path for our families. Others are very unsure of which path to take and need to do a little detective work!

Options include:
1.) Domestic infant adoption-There are many agencies that specialize in infant adoptions. This is for a family who wants to adopt a newborn (most likely will bring the child home from the hospital). These adoptions can be opened or closed. This is up to the birthparents and adoptive parents. Normally this process includes preparing a "scrapbook" of your family and the birthparents "choose" the family they want to raise their child. The cost is near the highest end of adoptions, normally around $30,000. The cost varies depending if the birthmother has insurance to cover the birth etc. The cost will also be higher for a caucasian child and less expensive for bi-racial, hispanic, or African children. (no comments..I know it is ridiculous)

2.)Domestic infant adoption (variable 2) There are families who just spread the word that they want to adopt. Someone who knows someone who knows someone can then agree for you to adopt the baby. This can be less expensive because many times you are only looking at lawyer fees. I know of several successful adoptions like this. There are usually adoption lawyers that sometimes know of children that need homes as well. This just takes the adoption agency out of the equation..lower costs and usually wait time. I have heard of families spending less than $5,000!

3.)A waiting child in from the US- There are only about 123,00 waiting children in the US. (that seems like alot but remember there are 5 million in Ethiopia which is equivalent to the size of Alaska). A waiting child is legally free to be adopted and usually a ward of the state. You also have to know of these 123,00 many are sibling sets and/or special needs. Special needs....this can range from wearing glasses and having asthma to cerebral palsy. A friend of mine is finishing up this process. She searched from February until September. She searched every state in the US. She was looking for a caucasian boy between the age of 4 & 7. She met her son in October and he came home to live with her in December, the adoption will not be final in a court until 6 months after placement. This process works a bit differently for every child and every family. She found that in the US they are a bit more picky. For instance some children need to be an only child, some needed to be a middle child, some could not leave the state they were in because other birth siblings were still there etc. I just give you this information so you know WHY it is a bit more difficult to find a child here in the US that will work for your family.
The cost for these adoptions are usually under $2,000 tops. You can get a free homestudy done through your state. If you get a private homestudy the cost is about $1500.00 The other fee would just be a lawyer fee for court. These children will get insurance and college scholarships and some will qualify for monthly stipends depending on the severity of their disibility.

4.)Foster to adopt-If going this route you first become an approved foster home. You would foster child who are most likely going to be available for adoption. The process of how a child is deteremined adoptable, the ages of children, the length of the process before it is legal is all dependent on the state laws. The cost of these adoptions can be relatively free from what I understand. I know many success stories however the families will tell you there is heartache for every happy ending!

5.)International adoption-There are many countries that are open to the US for adoption now. If you know you want to go international but have no pull to a specific country it is easiest to start crossing some off the list. Bethany Christian Services has a great information page that shows the basic details for each country.
A few of the criteria that you can "cross" a country of the list for:
-age of adoptive parents (ex. Prior to the quake I believe you had to be 35 to adopt from Haiti)
-length of marriage
-if you are single
-specific health conditions (ex. with my history of cancer I cannot adopt from China)
-number of children already in your home
-length of travel (we could not adopt from Russia due to the required travel of nearly a month in country, because we had the other 3 small children)
-Do both parents need to travel
The cost for intercountry adoption is from $16,000-$30,000 depending on the country and travel. The time varies in each country from 6 months total to 3+ years.

I know someone who has adopted from each of these options. If you want I can always connect you to these families who would be happy to share their experiences with you!

I was once told the adoption journey is like a roller coaster. You consider riding, you think about riding, you might ride, you might not, you talk about and then you get in line! You might consider leaving the line as it gets closer but then once you are on the ride there is no turning back. You wait, you cry, you smile, you laugh, you love, you scream.....and then when you get off you want to do it all again!

I also want to share my church website that has some great information.