Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What has led us to adoption, and where we are now

Many of you may already know our history, but for those who don't, here is our introduction.

Archie and I met in July of 2003 online. We began dating in August that same year. We were married in March of 2005. We immediately began trying to get pregnant, but it just wasn't happening. We sought the expertise of a fertility specialist, who after multiple tests determined that it would be highly unlikely that we would conceive on our own, or even with intrauterine insemination. Due to some fertility issues on both sides, IVF (in vitro fertilization) was the recommended course of treatment. In March of 2006 we began the process that IVF entails. April 20th, we were told that we were pregnant! In December, we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. Jack has been the most special blessing we could ever imagine.

Earlier this year, we decided to go through another IVF treatment in an effort to have another child. This cycle was devastating, and none of the embryos even looked normal enough to transfer back to me. The cycle was cancelled. I was devastated, and Archie was disappointed. In the process of speaking with my urologist about my cystinuria (rare inherited genetic disorder which causes me to form kidney stones) and medications to help control the stones, we talked about whether or not we planned on doing another cycle because the medications used are not ones that you would want to get pregnant on due to the side effects of the drugs. I confided in my physician that I really wasn't sure I could or even wanted to go through the emotional roller coaster again much less the physical one. He told me that he and his wife had also had to go through IVF to conceive their son, and after repeated unsuccessful attempts to have another child, they decided to adopt. Archie and I had considered adoption prior to trying IVF, but for some reason, we hadn't even thought about it this time. I was on the internet that night looking into different countries, fees, the life of adopted children and families, etc. I mentioned it to Archie, and after considering the amount of money we would have to pay to do one cycle of IVF which wasn't guaranteed to help us have another child, we decided our money would best be spent on adoption.

We looked at the requirements of the different countries, and after seeing which we would qualify for, we decided to see what domestic adoption had to offer. We looked into adopting from the foster care system, but honestly feel that we wanted a child younger than Jack (not necessarily an infant) and the only children who would come to us through our county would be foster children who we would have to wait 1-2 years to officially adopt while the state went about terminating the parent's rights. For us to put that kind of investment into a child emotionally, and to have Jack bond, and the possibility that the child would be reunited with their original family wasn't something that we could risk. Jack isn't at an age where he can reason, and how would he understand when that child left that it wasn't his fault, or that the agreement wasn't for that child to come and stay with us forever, but that it would be the hope? It was just too big of a legal risk for us.

So, we began to look into domestic infant adoption. The agencies have safeguards in place for adoptive families like interim families who take the babies when they are released from the hospital while the child's mother is making a decision on whether to parent or to relinquish her parental rights. In the state of Maryland, they have 30 days from the time they sign the consent to relinquish to change their mind and decide to parent. For that time period (she could sign the consent in days, weeks, or a month, and then has 30 days from the date that she signs to change her mind), the child is cared for by another family in the agency who agrees to take these children on a short-term basis. Once that 30 days has passed (and if the father is in the picture and signs consent after her, the 30 days goes from the latest date), the child would be given to the adoptive parents. This way we do not begin a relationship with a child who may not be ours, and the mother can decide honestly what is best for her and her child.

We are considering 3 adoption agencies in our area. The first is Catholic Charities which is located in downtown Baltimore. Next is Adoptions Together which actually is not too far from where we live in Catonsville. The third agency is Bethany Christian Services in Crofton. Catholic Charities has about 75 chapters throughout the US. Bethany Christian has multiple locations throughout the country as well.

We had our first information session with Catholic Charities last night. We went into the meeting very nervous, and there were about 9 other couples at the session with us. Catholic Charities has been around for 78 years and their adoption program was one of the first services that they offered, so they are very experienced. They offer international and domestic adoption services. The director and social workers who spoke with our group were very informative and easy to talk with. One of the social workers was an adoptive parent herself. They addressed everything from fees, to services included in the fees and what was additional, to issues that are unique to families who adopt. Archie and I left last night feeling very confident in Catholic Charities, but still feel that we should explore the other two adoption agencies before we make a final decision. Our information session with Adoptions Together is in mid-June, and the one with Bethany Christian is in mid-July. Our plan is to choose the agency after our last information session, and in February, we will begin our homestudy process.

Adoption is expensive. There is no way around that unfortunately. There are grants and no/low interest loans available. There are people who take out home equity loans or borrow from their retirement. Neither of those options are for us. We will apply for grants, but most of them require that you have tried to raise money for the adoption yourself first. So, we will be hosting some different fundraisers to help raise money to bring a child home. We will be placing baby bottles to fill with spare change around for people to take and fill if they desire. We will also be having some car washes, yard sales, and raffles to help raise money for this cause. If you have any items that you were thinking about giving away or donating to Goodwill, please consider donating them to us to use to help us raise money for our adoption. These fundraising events will begin in the next month or so because after our homestudy, we could get a placement immediately if an expectant mother chooses us, or it could be 18 months until we are chosen. We don't know, but what we do know is that we need to be prepared when we are placed with a child to pay the fees required.

Thanks for reading our blog, and we will update the blog regularly and keep you up to date on what we've raised toward the adoption!

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