Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where we are right now...

Many of you know that we met with Bethany Christian Services last Thursday. I hadn't posted yet for a reason. My reason is this, I haven't the slightest idea how we can choose between Bethany Christian and Catholic Charities. There is a slight difference in cost, there are slight differences in the way they operate. I have emailed the social worker who ran the meeting with Bethany Christian the other night, and she is on vacation, so I am waiting for the answers to some questions that we forgot to ask. We really need the answers to make a final decision. I decided to post to update you on what we know right now.

We met with the domestic SW (social worker) Sally last Thursday evening. It seems to me from things that she said that she is the only SW for domestic adoptions at the Maryland Bethany office, but I may be wrong about this. She told us that Bethany has two full-time people at the Maryland office, one of them being the director, the other being the expectant parent's SW. Sally works about 30 hours a week, but assures us that phone calls and emails are answered within 48 hours, I can handle that. Catholic Charities on the other hand told us that all of their SW's are salaried and on staff (as opposed to Adoptions Together where they were all contracted out). The only reason I mention this point is because timeliness in getting back to us when it's really important absolutely matters (especially since we all know I am not known for my patience).

I believe that Catholic Charities asks for 3 references, as well as employer references. Bethany Christian asks for 4 references, an employer reference, and a pastoral reference. One of our references (not employer or pastoral) they must be able to meet and interview when they come out to interview us at our house. I emailed to ask if this reference needs to be someone other than a relative (I think Catholic Charities won't let us use any family members as references). I asked about the pastoral reference as the church we belong to is so large that no doubt, our priest doesn't know us from anyone else. I've spoken with our priest on the phone, but I imagine with such a large congregation he really wouldn't remember me. I was curious how this would be dealt with. Sally said she would send him a letter asking him to meet with us and get to know us so that he would be able to provide a reference. We're looking for a new church right now anyway, so this may not even be an issue if we find the right church for us. Bethany Christian also requires us to sign a Statement of Faith to be accepted into their program, and we have read this. We had to ask the other night if it would be a problem that while we are a married man and woman, we have some family that are have a different lifestyle and that we support that. We were not willing to sign their Statement of Faith if they felt that it would be a conflict of interest. We just feel that God made all of us, and if that is how he made us, then that is how it is, and we still love them and that wouldn't change. She assured us that we were fine where the Statement of Faith is concerned.

Last year Bethany Christian (in MD) placed 17 children, their average is 20 per year. This year so far they have placed 14. 48% were caucasian, 48% african american, 4% others (they consider biracial to be AA and another ethnicity). Catholic Charities last year placed 10 or 11 children, and in the last 3 years has placed 28 children, 13 of which were caucasian, 11 were AA, and 4 were biracial. Bethany Christian is also willing to put our profile online (or we can do a youtube video-Archie likes this, I do NOT!) so it may be shown in all of the 33 states in which they have an office, Catholic Charities has other offices, but generally doesn't send your profile out to other locations.

As far as disrupted adoptions (failed placements where the first mom decides to parent) are concerned, Catholic Charities told us last year that they didn't have any. If we did have a disrupted adoption, we would not lose any money with them. This is so important I don't know how I forgot to ask the other night with Bethany Christian, but I did, so it is yet another thing I have emailed Sally about.

Fees. The nitty gritty. So there is a difference in fees. Catholic Charities is $16,500, and doesn't include our attorney's fees for filing our petition with the courts of ~$800-900, smaller fees for things like our background checks, FBI clearances, health inspector visit, fingerprinting, etc which they said weren't more than $100 each. They told us that they have a fund for the expectant mom's medical, and that if an expectant parent is a minor or has severe mental illness or handicaps that legal for them would not be included. Bethany Christian is $18,000 and doesn't include the $650 final administrative fee, ~$600-700 for an attorney to file our petition, $300 for ICPC (if we adopt in another state), or costs for serving a first father, or publishing for an absent father. It also doesn't include legal fees for the expectant parent if they are a minor or have a sever mental illness or handicap. Bethany asks you to set aside in your adoption budget money for unpaid medical (only if there is a problem with the insurance) and unpaid legal. So if we decide our adoption budget is $19,000, we could say that $500 goes to unpaid medical, and $500 to unpaid legal and if it's not needed it's not used. I didn't clarify whether the fees for things like fingerprinting, etc. were included with Bethany and thus will have to ask.

I believe Catholic Charities has 24 hours of training we must participate in, and then they have waiting families meetings montly which are required. Bethany Christian has 21 hours of training which is only offered twice a year-spring and fall, which is required to complete our homestudy. As a matter of fact, they will not do our formal interviews until it is completed.

That brings me to my next topic. The homestudy. Currently Catholic Charities' domestic program is closed. They like to keep their program small, and at last check had 18 waiting families. The predict that it will be open again in January when we were planning on starting the process officially. I haven't a clue on how many waiting families Bethany has, but it is on my list of things to ask. Both said to expect a 2 year wait. Bethany's homestudy process is a little different. Sally is making the formal application available to us in the beginning of August. Because of the training only being offered in the fall and again in the spring and not being able to complete our homestudy until the training is finished, she told us to expect to know whether we were approved about June/July. This is the same time we would be expecting to hear from Catholic Charities if we went with them and made our formal application with them in January. This can be looked at two ways. If we went with Catholic Charities it could be seen as being a shorter process. If we went with Bethany the opposite could be said, however, with starting earlier, we make sure we are in the spring training sessions and we have more time to get together paperwork and get things processed so if any glitches occur we have time to sort it out. We also get to start working on things earlier which as we said with my patience, I like better! So for some it may be a downside that Bethany's process takes longer, but for us it's not a big issue.

As you can see from my long post, there are a lot of answers we don't have at the moment. And Sally is on vacation until next week, and I think I may call and see if the director can answer some of my questions. We just feel like we can't really make a final decision until they are all answered, and if we have to make our formal app with Bethany (if we choose them) in about two weeks, I really feel like we need the answers sooner rather than later so we have time to talk about it and make a good decision.

Two other blogs I follow are doing Q and A with their readers...Do you guys have any questions for us about anything that you'd like us to entertain in another post?

1 comment:

  1. It's really interesting to read about the other side of domestic adoption. I have to admit to being absolutely fascinated...