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People are naturally curious and like to ask questions. Therefore, since we understand that most people have never been exposed to the complexities of the adoption process, we have compiled a list of questions which we are frequently asked, along with our attempt at answering them based on our own research and experience.

How long does it take to adopt?

This is a very common question, yet the answer to this question is quite complicated. Depending on the type of adoption you select and how many specific requirements you indicate, will vary the time frame for a placement. This is the part of the process that can take the longest amount of time. Completing the paperwork, application, and home study can be done fairly quickly compared to the wait time for a match and placement. Our agency told us it could take 6-12 months for a newborn placement and if you opt for an international adoption, it could take 1-2 years.

Can you pick gender?

Yes, but it can lengthen your wait time and some birth mothers don’t like that since they feel as though either gender is a blessing. Additionally the agency does not perform ultrasounds to determine gender, therefore you may just have to wait until a baby of your preferred gender becomes available.

How old is the baby when you get placed?

If you choose private domestic adoption, in many cases you can pick up the newborn from the hospital (2-3 days old). If you choose foster to adopt, the children are typically toddler age or older. With international adoption, the babies can typically be 6 months or older.

Who chooses the adoptive parents?

In the old days, the adoption agency would match the adoptive parents and the baby based on the home study assessment and interview, however most private agencies today, provide semi-open or open adoption which gives the birth mother more rights and gives her the final decision in choosing the adoptive family. Typically a few (3 or 4) families are presented to the birth mother and the profile books for those families are shown to her. She will then make her decision based on these items and sometimes an initial meeting with the prospective parents. Before the mother is shown any potential parents, the adoptive parents have the option to show their profile book once they review the birth mother’s profile and medical history.

Can you choose where to adopt from?

Yes, you can adopt from any country that allows adoption and abides by the Hague Convention or from an orphanage recognized by the US. Otherwise our government is rightfully weary of child trafficking. In the US, you can adopt from any state, not just your home state. We decided to adopt out of state since the wait times in our state were much longer and we wanted to adopt from a state that terminated the birth mother’s rights very quickly, in order to lessen the risk of a disruption. You can also work with agencies that place children from multiple states, in which case your child could come from any number of states that the agency works with. The thing to keep in mind is that every state has different adoption laws and requirements and therefore you will need to comply with the laws of both the adoptive state and your home state, or whichever law is more strict.

When do you get matched with a child?

Typically the agency will match you when the birthmother is around 7 months pregnant. Once the baby is born, you can often go to the hospital to meet the child for the first time and bring them home. However, sometimes a birthmother will decide in the hospital after the birth to place her child up for adoption in which case, the adoptive parents must go immediately to the hospital to pick up their child. So it’s typically best to be somewhat prepared mentally/financially for the child to come home at any moment. Some people recommend not to put together a nursery though, since it could become a constant reminder of the wait and cause anxiety. You should though consider buying a few items like diapers, sheets, and non gender clothes to be ready for the call. Plus, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that your friends and family will definitely help you gather things if the baby comes as a surprise. Also, you can always buy items for your child once you get there. The only thing you will be required to have to leave the hospital is a car seat. Don’t buy formula though, since you may want wait and use the same formula the hospital was giving the baby.

What about your work?

Since adoption is unlike a typical pregnancy, with regards to timing, and the placement could basically happen at any moment, your office should be notified, so that they are aware that you may suddenly need to leave. They should be flexible with your schedule. It is also important to speak to your human resources department and notify them that you will need to add a baby to your healthcare plan as soon as the baby is under your custody. Also take inventory of your paid time off and sick time. If your office does not provide maternity or paternity leave and you are adopting out of state or international, you will need to take time off to wait for state or national clearances as well as travel time.

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We have heard stories about families that have gone through one of the most difficult parts of the adoption journey, finding out that the birth parents want to keep the baby. When we decided to adopt, we knew this was a risk we would have to accept, therefore since this blog is about sharing our adoption journey, we will share not just the ups, but also the downs of our journey.

Last week we received a most unexpected call; there was a family looking for adoptive parents to adopt their baby twins and it just so happened that we were prime candidates for this adoption. Even though we did not specify that we wanted to adopt twins, we jumped at the opportunity, since we knew we eventually wanted to adopt two children. We were ecstatic at the thought of welcoming two identical little ones into our family. So we submitted our profile and home study and prayed for the best. The next day we found out the mother was interested in us and wanted to speak to us immediately. So the call was made and a couple of hours later, we received a call from the agency that we were officially matched! Our hearts were pounding with joy, we were going to be the parents of two little twins. WOW was all I could say. Our life would change so quickly.

So immediately we had to rethink, re-strategize, and prepare for twins. Oh and on top of everything else, the babies were due in less than three weeks! So we had to prepare quickly. Immediately we began prepping. We went to Babies-R-Us signed up for the registry and started to look for a bigger car…. and then it happened. While we were at the dealership test driving a car, we got a call from the agency, the mother wanted to speak to us again. Oh no, what could this be? Are the babies Ok, are they on the way? What was so urgent? So we rushed home and immediately set up the call. Turns out the mother wanted to ask us some more questions and find out more about us, because she was feeling really emotional about the babies. So once the call was over we talked to the social worker and we began to feel unsure about the whole thing. The social worker told us that she felt the phone call went really well. We answered her questions and maybe she just wanted to confirm that we would be loving parents for her children. Deep down inside though, we felt that she was having second thoughts, which made for a very sleepless night. The next morning, we got a call from the social worker to see how were doing and she told us that she was getting ready to call the mother and see how she felt after our long discussion the day before. Exactly one hour later, we received another call from the social worker. “Bad news I am afraid, after much thought the mother has decided to keep the babies and not give them up for adoption.” Oh boy, this was not the news we wanted to hear. I suddenly felt like my heart was just yanked out and pounded with a hammer. Even though we never had a chance to meet these little babies, I already felt like I started to grow a spot in my heart for them and now there was a huge empty hole left where the little spot was just pulled right out. In a way we have to feel happy that the children will stay with their mother, but knowing the circumstances which the mother described to us, I can’t help but feel sorry and and only hope that she has made the right decision in keeping them. Thinking about it now, it also feels as if she wasn’t adequately counseled by her social worker as to what to expect when making such an important decision. So what happens next, we asked ourselves? That is the big question, back to the wait list, back to the waiting room, back in line.

How we keep on moving forward, is yet to be seen? It will be difficult, but I guess we just have to accept it and move on, that is about all we can do and hope that the next match will end on a happier note for all involved.

Often times we are asked what steps were involved for us to be placed on the wait list for our adoption. Being that we are visual thinkers, we decided to map out graphically all the steps involved in our out-of-state adoption. We hope that this is helpful in explaining the seemingly complicated application process.

 

Now that we are active on the wait list, the next big step, or should I say GIANT step, for us is to secure funding for our adoption. So how much does adoption cost, you might ask? Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question, because depending on the type of adoption chosen, domestic vs. international; foster to adopt vs. private adoption, they all come with different associated costs both financial and emotional. In foster to adopt there is the possibility that you may be placed in a situation were you will be fostering many children before one is available to adopt by the state or you might be fostering a child in your house for years and then be told the child is being returned to their biological family. For those that feel comfortable handling this type of situation, this option, is the most affordable since there are many state subsidies which help to defray the costs often times making it virtually free to adopt. During the time you are fostering, the state provides monthly stipends and pays for many of the adoption related expenses. Additionally, in many states, the child will also receive free college tuition if they attend a state school. After we spoke to various state agencies; however, it became apparent that this was not the option we were looking for. What we were told was that if we wished to adopt an infant, it is often times more difficult to go through foster to adopt, since most children in the foster care system tend to be older. It is not impossible, but it may take years to be able to adopt an infant. Therefore we were advised that if we wanted to adopt an infant, we might have more success going with a private agency.

The cost of a private adoption is a pretty daunting amount: from application fees, home study fees, agency fees, legal fees, travel fees and finalization of the adoption, the cost can range anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000. Essentially the majority of the costs are used to pay for the birth mother’s medical expenses, counseling on their decision to give their child up for adoption, and marketing expenses incurred by the agency. The other expenses go toward the home study and application fee, multiple copies of a profile booklet, travel expenses, and legal fees, not to mention all the time spent filling out all the paper work, and running around getting finger printed by different agencies.

At this time it became crucial to create a plan to pay for all these expenses. With the application and home study fees already paid, the remainder of the cost proved to be the tricky part since this is the largest sum.

While doing research to find out how others pay for adoption, we have found many useful suggestions. From savings, home equity loans, employer benefits, bank loans, government tax credits, credit cards, to grants and possibly getting a second job. Yes, we have read many stories about people getting a second job to pay for their adoption.

Bank Loans:

We all know that the banks pretty much collapsed in 2008 and they are very strict now in lending money (even though we were forced to bail them out!) Before 2008, banks like MBNA and Bank of America used to provide adoption loans. However, banks no longer offer this type of loan. The only two options available are a home equity loan or a personal loan. Since we bought our house in 2008, around the time of the housing bubble burst, our house did not appraise for the percentage required for a home equity. Therefore, the only option for us is a personal loan. A personal loan has the highest interest rate from all loans since it is unsecured. Although, we quickly found out that due to the fact that we own a house and have student loans (yup, our education actually penalized us on this!), our debt to income ratio is too high to get the full amount needed for our adoption. Hmmm imagine that. Does not matter that we have no other debt (which took us years to accomplish), or that we have amazing credit scores, the banks were only concerned about the formulas. Luckily, we did manage to find a small bank and a credit union that were willing to work with us to lend us a partial amount of the adoption fee. I would recommend staying away from the large banks since they are a waste of time!

Credit Cards:

You can call around to all your credit cards to see what are the best rates for a balance transfer into your checking account or if they have any special promotions. This again would have been easier prior to the credit card reforms since interest rates spiked in 2009.

Employer Adoption Benefits:

Many companies offer employer adoption benefits, which include paid time off and a one time adoption bonus, sometimes up to $10,000! Unfortunately our field is not the field to be in if you are looking for these types of benefits and consider yourself lucky if you get any paid maternity or paternity leave these days. The Dave Thomas Foundation has information on adoption friendly workplaces as well as a tool kit to help you talk to your company about the benefits of promoting an adoption friendly environment.

Adoption Grants:

There are many non-profits and religious based entities out there that offer grants that base the amount rewarded on need or a variety of other qualifications. However, you do need to have an approved home study before you apply for many of these grants and you also need to check ahead to see when the application deadlines are.

Federal Adoption Tax Credit:

Currently the tax credit is set to approximately $13,000 until 2011. This credit is applied for with your income tax return and is a full reimbursement for the amount allotted, which is a new and nice change from previous federal adoption credits. Hopefully, the government will continue this tax credit since it is invaluable to adoptive parents!

Be Creative:

Many people also say just be creative, hold a bake sale, sponsor a run, or try selling your personal items on eBay. This is essentially where we are now, trying to use our creativity to raise some extra money by sharing our story with family and friends and by creating an online presence. If you can find something you are good at then do it! You will find the generosity in people’s hearts will go a long way!

We are excited to announce our new Products page featuring the first two products produced through designforadoption. We are thrilled to offer two books created by Zamir featuring his art work and sketches. Both books can be purchased to help contribute to our adoption fund and please check back frequently, there are a lot more exciting products to come soon!



By G Zamir Garcia

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