Sunday, June 7, 2009

Questions about our adoption

This post is going to cover a few different things. We've gotten many questions about our adoption such as, where we are adopting from, sex preference of the child, amount of money it will cost for us to adopt, etc. We've also been asked about the amount listed on this blog for our goal. I also wanted to mention a couple more business donations that have come in, and a few more people to thank. I will start with the latter two things and then address the questions we've been asked.

Salon 1612 has sent us a gift certificate for a consultation, cut and blowdry with their stylist named Leah. This is where I get my hair cut. I love my stylist, and she just happened to be Chance's foster mom before he came to live with us (that's our greyhound for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting our big sweet pup). Thanks Diane!

Candlelight Inn Is a cute little restaurant in Catonsville. They donated a $30 gift certificate for the silent auction. Thank you!!

I just found out today that my aunt is going to come down to help us on the 27th and we're so grateful for that. Thanks Aunt Carole!!!

And thank you to the people who kicked off our raffle ticket sales today! We've sold 60 tickets for the 50/50 and hope to sell many more!

Now for the questions. This could be a long post because some of these are loaded questions. Many are private questions, but some that I feel comfortable on some level addressing. Since we've been on the topic of the fundraising, I will address our goal listed with the thermometer on the right side of the page. I've had people ask if our adoption is going to cost only $5000. The answer is a huge NO!! That is our initial fundraising goal. If we can reach that goal, we can revise it to a higher goal, but we felt that it was a reasonable first goal to set. We are also not expecting to have our entire adoption paid for by fundraising, but we are hoping to defray some of the huge expense. I believe I have mentioned before that we are also applying for some grants, but many require that you are also actively raising funds toward your adoption. The grants are only meant to help cover what is left after we put our savings, overtime, tax refunds, and fundraising/donations toward the adoption. We are putting money into a seperate savings account specifically for the adoption. We are also both picking up more overtime (thanks to my mom for taking Jack more than normal so we can do this) to help save for this large expense, and will be putting our tax refund toward this as well.

Our adoption will cost somewhere between $18,000-$20,000. For instance, Catholic Charities we met with at the end of May. We loved them, but still feel like we should at least meet with the two other agencies we were considering so that we can make a fully informed decision about what each agency offers to both us and the expectant mothers that they work with. Catholic Charities, for instance, on their fees schedule lists their fees on a sliding scale based on income. Based on this, we are looking at a total adoption (home study, agency fees, etc) being $16,500. However, once you ask the right questions of the agency about any additional fees which may not be covered, you find out that you're going to be responsible for a bunch of smaller fees during the home study process for things like fingerprinting, fire marshall visit to your home, background checks, etc., and then in addition to that, you will also be responsible for the attorney fees at the end for filing the petition for you to adopt and for representing you in court. The last fees alone are estimated by them to be about $800-$1000. The other fees we mentioned are not generally more than $100 each. I have no idea how much they will add up to when all is said and done, but I will probably post it on here for others interested in adoption to have a clue.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "why is adoption so expensive?". Well, the easy and short answer is this, the agency is responsible for a number of things including advertising, paying for expectant mom's counseling (not necessarily all mom's decide on adoption, many decide to parent, but they have to cover costs for all of those potential mom's who decide not to parent), medical, and sometimes housing and living expenses. You can adopt for less, but you also have to consider what that means for your family, and what you are looking for. Of the $16,500 I mentioned Catholic Charities charges, $2500 of that is a home study fee. The home study is an in depth process which takes about 3-4 months and is a time where there is a lot of gathering of information about your family to make sure that this is a good choice for you, and that you will be safe parents. So each parent meets with the social worker individually, and again as a family. The fire marshall comes out to inspect your house to make sure it is up to fire code and safe, a health inspector comes out to inspect your home and make sure it is safe. The parents have to answer a million questions which make up a basic autobiography to show expectant parents. Background checks are done, financial information disclosed, physicals done and submitted for review, if you've had counseling individually or as a couple, you have to have additional documentation. It is a very in-depth and thorough process. I can't remember what they officially call the second fee which is $2000 due at the time of your home study approval, but it gets your profile starting to be shown. The remainder of the fees are due at the time of placement meaning that a mom has chosen us to parent her child, we have accepted, and the baby is coming home with us. I have to add here that at least with Catholic Charities, they say that most of the babies do not come home to the adoptive parents from the hospital. They go to interim care with dedicated "foster parents" through the organization. The mom can then visit with her child as she rethinks her decision to parent. Once she signs consent to relinquish her baby, in the state of Maryland (and PA in case you're wondering), she has 30 days to change her mind and decide to parent. So by the time we would have the child home, it would most likely be a month or two old. I believe that some other agencies will allow the child to come home with the adoptive families during that period, but Catholic Charities generally does not. This is a good and bad thing depending on how you look at it. It is still legally the mother's child, not ours. By not having the child in our house, we can't develop as deep a bond with that child as we might otherwise, only to have the mom decide to parent which would be devastating. I have to say that this would be hard regardless of the baby having lived with us because your hopes are up. And for those of you wondering if we could visit the baby we are waiting to come home with us during that period-at least with Catholic Charities, the answer is no. Someone asked me that the other day.

Have we considered international adoption? Yes, however, the countries we were interested in will not accept us for the reason of being on an antidepressant, whether you are compliant and stable on medication does not matter. Countries can set their own criteria for their adopters, and for many countries, mental health issues still carry a very big stigma. Countries like S. Korea and China also have weight restrictions for potential adoptive parents. This combined with the extremely high costs associated with international travel, and varying times in which you are required to stay in the country have led us to the choice to adopt here in the US.

What about adopting from foster care, that's relatively inexpensive? Yes it is, however you have to consider honestly what type of child you can handle. We called the Baltimore County Department of Social Services to inquire about what types of children might be placed with us and their process. The goal of foster care is to reunite the child with it's family, not to adopt them out. This was problem number one. Did we want an infant? Not necessarily, but we did want a child younger than Jack who is 2.5 years old right now. Most of the children available in that age range are either part of a sibling group with older kids, severely handicapped, or high legal risk. What that means is that they have a high likelihood of going back to their family. We were told that it could take 2 years to terminate parental rights (very hard to do against the parent's will), and it's not a guarantee. Well, how would we explain to Jack that a child he's very bonded to and has lived with us for two years isn't going to be there anymore, that they will be going back to their mom or dad? It's not a conversation we really want to put ourselves at a high risk of having. And originally we thought we would take some children with special needs, but Archie really feels strongly that we don't do this. I am a NICU nurse and know what special needs I could handle, however, he is not medically trained like that, and the thought of some children with special needs concerns him. He would prefer a healthy child, and we're in this together, so it is limiting for us, and could take longer for us to be placed with a child and expectant family, but we have to be in agreement on what we can handle. Lastly, unfortunately the children in the foster system are not there because their parents chose not to parent. They are there for neglect, abuse, etc. They were removed from their homes because there was a problem, and that is a lot for a child to handle, and the emotional issues these children may have can be extreme.

Boy or Girl? Can you request it? Yes with some agencies you can request it if you already have a child. However, we have agreed that we just want a healthy child, and it can be either a boy or a girl. My mother-in-law would like us to have a girl. If you ask Jack if he wants a boy or a girl or a little brother or little sister, the answer is always little sister. We are ok with whatever child God decides belongs with us.

We are generally pretty open people, and because we are asking for people to help us with raising money toward our adoption, we feel like we need to be somewhat open to discussing what can be a very private process. So, if you have questions, feel free to ask and we will answer what we can and what we feel comfortable with.

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