Thursday, February 16, 2017

State of the Adoption - Year 5

This week marks 5 years since we first met with our initial social worker to begin the "intake" process for what turned out to be Luke's adoption (read about that intake meeting, getting paperwork in, Luke's adoption story).  That meeting cost $100 and started us on this adoption journey.  We had no idea what to expect, no idea when or what baby it would lead us to.  It was scary and overwhelming and emotional but also felt so good to be making concrete steps to finally become parents. 

I still look back fondly on that spring that I spent recovering from my first ankle surgery, prepping for adoption, and planning our trip to Europe.  (Even more so at this moment because Luke found the sample bottle of lotion I used during that time and so the memories are super present today.)  We were optimistic and hopeful. 

Five year later our thoughts have changed a little.  We're parents to (I think) a pretty amazing little kid, despite our parenting screw-ups.  He so desperately wants to be a big brother.  He mentions it multiple times a day, it's always the first thing he prays for, it's always his wish on eyelashes or birthday candles.  One of his cousins asked him yesterday what he wants to be when he grows up and he said "A big brother!".  It is adorable but also so heartbreaking that we haven't been able to give him that.

We've been looking into more agencies lately, since finding out that ours placed NO babies last year despite multiple potential birth mothers.  It's been, at times, an exciting but mostly overwhelming task.  I started a spreadsheet to keep track of all the agencies we've contacted, their location, number of babies placed last year, number of waiting families, and the cost. 

And that's the biggie.  I mean, we obviously want to list somewhere that has been placing babies.  That's important.  But it also comes down to cost.  And not necessarily just the placement cost.  The part that gets me is what it'll cost us if a mother backs out.

Various books and articles I've read about adoption have informed me that we should plan on at least one failed match before placement.  I consider ourselves EXTREMELY lucky that Luke was already born when we found out about him and we could sign almost immediately, less than 48 hours after meeting him, 5 days after we heard about him.  However, that is not typical.  The majority of families are matched while the mother is still pregnant and 99% of the time, they don't (legally can't) relinquish rights until at least 24 hours after birth.  It is fully in their rights to change their mind at any point (which is understandable).  But that does give adoptive parents a whole lot of time to worry.

So, when asking agencies about their placement costs, if they will take outside home studies, if we can be placed at their agencies as well as others, I'm also asking how much it'll cost us if the mother changes her mind post-match.  There was one agency we were all ready to list with because it would only be $300 with our current home study.  That's a drop in the bucket when considering the placement costs most places.  Then we learned that we'd be out $9,000 if the mother changed her mind within 4 weeks of giving birth - birth.  Out $9,000 and no baby.  That's not a small sum.  And something books tell me we should plan on happening.

Then there is the agency where we wouldn't be out as much money if she changed her mind but their overall fees are the highest, north of $25,000 before medical.  And after that $25,000+ you still have to provide a retainer for things like postage.  Because you can't afford a stamp out of the $25k we are already giving you.  (That makes me grouchy.)

Then there is the agency I was talking with on the phone and Luke decided it was a good idea to start SCREAMING for pizza right when the social worker asked me to tell her about us.  That doesn't look so good.

Then there are the agencies that ask for how much money you can spend on an adoption, making it sound like they'll just take everything you have.  (As if we don't need money to also raise a kid??)

I've had some tough weeks and it's emotionally draining talking to agency after agency, making frantic notes, feeling like we are getting nowhere.  We'd like to be listed 5 places.  We have 3 good potentials but a lot of places also having us waiting.  Wait to contact them again in March.  Wait until an informational meeting in March.  Check back again in the summer.  I think after this long, almost 3 years since we started the process for #2, we want/need to do something NOW.  Even if it's just filling out paperwork or changing our profile (that potential birth mothers see) or getting our home study sent somewhere.  It's a lot of waiting, which we should be used to after all this time, but maybe we're also getting more desperate?

It's been a long time, a lot of tears, a lot of stress, a lot of worrying, wondering, and trying, so hard, to trust God's plan through it all.  And while we do trust, it's not like we can sit around waiting for a baby to fall into our laps.  We have to actively do something.  We have to be listed somewhere for that perfect match to happen.  And part of the struggle has been knowing what to do.

Some days are much easier than others.  I know it'll all be worth it someday, just like all the years of waiting, crying, and stress were worth it the second Luke became our son.  I would most definitely go through all those hard years if it was the only way for him to be ours.  And I know we will feel that again someday. 

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