“I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay…ain’t it sad?” – ABBA, this song kept replaying in my head throughout our meeting with the adoption agency (for many reasons, I will leave out the names of the organizations we visit). We knew going in to this that finances would come into play and could in fact, create barriers in our family plan.
The concept is beautiful. Continued contact with the birth family as much or as little as we’d agree on. Access to counseling throughout the process for the adoptive family and continued access to counseling for the birth mother for as long as she needs, even years after. That’s pretty incredible since many organizations only offer counseling to the birth mother for a short while after birth. This organization helps build solid foundations and create relationships with both families. There’s no secrets. No questions of where the child came from, medical histories, they even promote the involvement of the birth father. The idea of our children knowing this information brings a sense of relief and honesty for them and us. LGBTQ+ families were well represented in the presentation and there were three out of seven couples from our community sitting at the table. It was comforting to see.
I took two pages of notes, what can I say? I work in academia, I’m always taking notes. Words floated around like; parenting philosophies, requirements, readiness, age, race, drug and alcohol exposure, preparation, lawyers, fee schedules (all the things I could do, if I had a little money). Information overload! We will need to take an all day seminar required by the state of Oregon, (which will be required regardless of the route we take in OR or WA) no problem (fee). I want as much information available to us, now that I’m no longer a student, homework doesn’t seem that bad. We need to complete an application and intake meeting with the agency, simple enough (fee). Next, comes the Home Study and Family Preparation, where a case worker visits us twice to see our home and how we live. We will have in-depth interviews together and separately, in order to determine whether or not our parenting philosophies align. They want to see our day-to-day life, what a typical week looks like, our relationship, families, friends etc… This part may be nerve-wracking for some, but we have incredible family foundations, biological and chosen, a large network of supportive friends and we’re surrounded by love. Once this portion is complete, we move on to the next phase; Pool Entry, Program and Marketing (fee).
This is where we enter the waiting game. We write a family introduction letter, create a family book and a short video highlighting how awesome we are and the wonderful parents we will be. These will be given to birth mothers and they choose a family that aligns with their ideologies and how they want their child to be raised. And then we wait. We could wait mere weeks, months or even a year before we get chosen. IF we get chosen. Once a birth mother decides we are the right family for her, we have an in-person meeting. IF, that goes well we are updated on the birth mother’s story and begin to prepare for pregnancy related expenses (fee). sdfjskjjjjjjjjjjjjj (dammit sorry, that was my cat, Sunny, and now I’m typing through cat hair).
Once we decide and the birth mother decides she wants to choose us as a family, we begin a more in-depth screening process. We build a relationship with the birth parents and meet throughout the pregnancy. If at anytime the birth mother changes her mind, we go back into the pool. We still pay for services rendered ie: $125/hr each meeting, roughly 10/hrs total (fee). Then we move forward with placement.
Here is where s@#t gets real. When the mother goes into labor the adoptive parents are called and head to the hospital. However long the delivery takes, we may be invited into the delivery room or not. We may see the actual birth or we wait until an appropriate time to see the newborn child. The agency does their best to get a signed consent form from the birth mother shortly after birth. If the consent form is signed, the adoptive parents leave the hospital with their newborn child and await finalization of the adoption (fee). Within state laws the birth mother has 48 hours to change her mind if the consent form is not signed right away. If the birth mother does in fact change her mind, the adoptive parents go back into the “pool”, and start over (fee). If everything works out in the adoptive parents favor, they bring the child home and await the finalization process.
This can take up to 4-6 month after the birth. There is also a possibility the adoptive parents can name the child, an exciting thought that never crossed my mind, (if I could name a little girl, I would name her Violet, a boy Jonah). Also, the birth mother may give the child a name and once the finalization occurs and the legal documents are ready, the adoptive parents may choose to rename the child (Violet!!) (fee). The adoptive parents then prepare for medical expenses and legal fees, there’s that word again, (…and win a fortune in a game, my life will never be the same). Whew, again: information overload! The agency thanked us for being for being there, we thanked them and went on our way.
We took this information and had a bite to eat because at this point I was starving and tired and overwhelmed! We weighed the pros and cons, we agreed that we liked the concept of the organization and the pros outweighed the cons. However, the biggest concern – the biggest con, was the financial burden. The “ifs” are risky and really, we just don’t have $30,000+ laying around. We discussed making cut backs and even if we could come up with half ourselves, $15,000 is still outside our realm of possibility. That amount just covers the cost of the adoption, we’d need a nursery, crib, clothes, diapers, formula, car seats (money, money, money… always sunny). It was suggested that we start a ‘GoFundMe” account and ask friends to donate to the cost for the adoption, but neither of us are comfortable with that. It would feel weird and given our class status would give us some kind of guilt, just our preference, this is our journey and ours alone, financially anyway. We decided to shelf the idea and revisit it in a couple years. While a newborn would give us the opportunity to raise a child from day one, we know there are many children of different ages waiting for their chance to have a forever family. Our next meeting to adopt out of foster care is Feb 1st. When I spoke to my mom today, I told her I feel like there are so many things I feel I would be missing out on by having a newborn. She said,”Son, as long as you have a family, that’s all that matters.” I think she just loves being a Grandma -or- Yama as per my nephew.
“…It’s a rich man’s world”