Friday, June 19, 2009

Selecting a Home Study Agency

So our adoption consultant Karen called yesterday to let me know that she’d gotten our packet in the mail and they’d start working on our website. The next step is for us to start/complete a Home Study.. So she gave me the names and contact info of four home study agencies for me to choose from. Apparently the fee schedule and completion time-table can vary from one to another. So like any good mom-to-be, I decided to do a little research on each on and “shop around” for the best deal. What can I say, I like ‘em FAST and CHEAP!

I googled the first one and pulled up the company’s website. LOTS of information about the adoption process in general, the home study process, their staff, resources, an up-front fee schedule (always a good sign), and all the paperwork I need to get started. Their standard home study takes 8-11 weeks, but we can expedite the process for not that much more (compared to what I had expected) and get it done in two. Nice.

I googled the second one and found their website. They are a Christian company that handles home studies as well as full adoption services to birthmothers and adopting parents. Sounds good on the surface, but I have concerns. First, they only work with parents who have been married for at least three years. That’s great for the most part. James and I have been legally married for almost 3.5 years, but we won’t celebrate the third anniversary of our marriage by the church until September. I don’t know how much of a difference that will make. Then there’s a requirement that we fully agree with their “Statement of Faith” which cannot be found anywhere on the website. I imagine that it probably would be something we could agree to without any problems. But unfortunately, not all Christians believe the same thing and I don’t want to make this process any more complicated than it already is. Then there’s the kicker. We have to “plan to provide full-maternal care once a placement is made.” I’m planning to stay home for the first year or so, but then I’ll be in medical school after that. So this company just isn’t going to work.

The third company can’t be found online anywhere and the fourth can be found in search engines, but doesn’t have it’s own website. Call me a snob, but that just doesn’t work for me either. It is 2009 people. Get with the program.

So we’ll be going with the first agency. Their fees are MUCH less expensive than what we’d expected and they do home studies exclusively. Based on the information available to me, I think they’d be a better fit for James and I. So I’ve downloaded all of the initial forms and will be filling them out as soon as this blog is posted. I want to get them put in the mail (or faxed) today so they can be processed while we’re on vacation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mailing the Packet

James and I finished our packet this afternoon and RACED over to the UPS store to get it shipped out today. In the packet was our signed contract, the information for our adoptive parent profile, our two birthmother letters (one general birthmother letter and one for younger birthmothers), a CD with 75 of our cutest pictures, and one very large check. Poor James couldn’t even write it out himself. I had to write out the check and hand it over to be signed. We’re headed down to Florida next week to visit with James’ mom, so hopefully we’ll be able to start our home study as soon as we come back.

We're Adopting!

Since James and I announced that we are planning to adopt, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the process and what’s involved. So instead of answering everyone’s questions individually, I thought I’d share the experience with you here.

James and I made the decision to adopt for a variety of personal reasons that I won’t go in to now. Please understand that the circumstances leading us to this decision are very sensitive. If you don’t already know the precise reasons why, then I’m not ready to tell you and please don’t ask. I will let you in on the reasons when I am ready to share them. One-on-one and in my own time.

We decided on a domestic infant adoption for a couple of reasons. First, contrary to popular belief, international adoptions are MUCH more complicated and take MUCH more time and money than domestic adoptions. Every country has different regulations as to how you go about facilitating an adoption and some of them require you to live in that country for as long as a year before you can bring your baby home. Not to mention how expensive it is to travel to and stay in a foreign country compare to, say.... Cleveland! So obviously that made it out of the question. But also, James and I wanted to help someone from our own country.

Originally, we wanted to adopt a baby from a birthmother living in our own state. But after doing a little research, we learned that state-run adoption agencies (while less expensive) take a lot longer. They have fewer resources than private adoption agencies or law firms, so they aren’t able to reach as many birthmothers. One local agency that I contacted wanted to put us on a waiting list for at LEAST six months before they could even BEGIN our Home Study (more on that later) and look for a birthmother for us. Most adoptions done this way take several years to finalize. In the end, we decided to trade the slower, less-expensive option for the faster, more-expensive one.

We have been working one-on-one with an adoption consultant over the phone and by email (since we can’t to go CA). She has baby-stepped us through the legal paperwork involved in initiating a search for a baby. Right now we are working on writing our Adoptive Parent Profile and our Dear Birthmother letters. Once we send her those, our pictures, and our contract, out agency will begin marketing us to potential birthmothers and we will start our Home Study here.

I don’t know yet how long the Home Study in our state takes. I’ve read online that it’s usually 8-12 weeks, but it can vary. I’ll talk more about that after we’ve started it. As for the match process (pairing a birthmother with an adopting couple), it is the birthmother that selects the couple. Once we have been selected by a birthmother, we will be given all of her information.... her personal history, health information, financial situation, etc. If we like what we see (that sounds weird, doesn’t it?) then we set up a meeting or conference call (depending on where in the country she is) to talk and ask questions of each other. After that, if we both agree, then the legal paperwork proceeds and we will start supporting her financially until she delivers.

The other possibility is that we are selected by a “baby born” birthmother, meaning that either the baby was just born or is due very very soon. The only stipulation is that we cannot bring the baby home until the Home Study has been completed by the social worker. So either we would have to pay to have the Home Study expedited or we would have to wait and match with another birthmother.

Well I think that’s enough for now. It’s pretty much all we know about the process so far. I will keep everyone updated on the process as we find out more information. Thank you for all your love and support. We are so excited about this and can’t wait to bring our little one home!