Thursday, November 3, 2011

Adoption Education

Quick update!
We just got word that our dossier has been submitted to the court in her country. It could take two weeks to be reviewed. Please pray they don't find any problems and we are invited to travel!!

An adoption friend of mine recently wrote a blog about adoption myths. I had just said I should do the same after a conversation Nathan and I had. We have both been encountering a LOT of people recently (even people close to us) who just aren't educated on adoption. It's frustrating sometimes ,but really and truly- people just don't know. And it's our job to get the truth out there. Feel free to read my friend, Katie's, blog here, and I'm going to answer some of the same questions myself- since not all answers are the same for everyone.

1) Is adopting a child really expensive?
First, let me be clear that you are not making a purchase. The fees associated with adoption include paperwork, processing the paperwork, attorney fees, homestudy fees, travel fees, etc. You are paying for the process, not the child. As far as how costly all that is, well- it's all relative. A lot of factors play into the cost of adoption. For example, if you do foster-to-adopt through your state, it will most likely cost next to nothing (if anything at all). Private independent adoptions (typically domestic) can range from court cost only (couple thousand dollars) to VERY expensive if you choose to pay birthmother expenses, have to make travel arrangements, etc. A lot of agencies base their fees on a sliding scale. I know families who have spent $1,300 and I know families who have spent $40,000.

And really... can you put a price on changing a life? Saving a life?

Do NOT let the money aspect scare you away. If you believe this is what you are called to do, it will be done. There are tons of grants available out there if you do the leg-work. It is VERY common in the adoption community to fundraise (obviously- we've doing it for MONTHS) for your fees. It's not ideal, but it's worth it.

2) What if the birthmom wants the baby back?
Ugh. We hear this ALL the time. Storylines like the one on Glee right now are NOT helping. That one hasn't completely played out yet, so I'm hoping they discuss the legalities at some point before it's all said and done. Every state has it's own laws when it comes to terminating the rights of the birthparents. In TN, the birthmother can't sign away her rights for 48 hours. And then it takes ten business days for it to be effective. Once it's done, it's DONE.

3) How involved is the birthmom?
That differs with every case too. We have a very closed adoption- their choice. We used to send letters/pictures to the agency just incase their birthparents ever wanted them. We do know that they came to get them at least twice. Other than that, we have no contact. However, I know some families who see and/or speak to their child's birthmother regularly, who do birthday parties and vacations together. And then there's everything in between. That decision is up to the birthmother and the adoptive families (and child, if old enough). There has been plenty of research supporting the psychological benefits of knowing where you come from. There is nothing natural about a child who is not with their biological family, any ties you can make- helps.

4) Why adopt domestically? Why adopt internationally?
Again, everyone has a different answer to this question. When we first started the process, we had no idea which direction we would go. It turned out, because we were only 24 and had only been married for three years, we didn't qualify to adopt from any international countries thru the agency we chose.  We opted for a domestic infant adoption for those reasons. Although I had always fantasized about having a multicultural family, I never expected we would actually do it at this point. There are so many babies here that need homes and I'm not a patient person. Not to mention, it didn't make sense FOR US to spend the money when we could adopt domestically for less. We even discussed foster for a while (not due to the financial aspect, but because we weren't sure if it was something we should be open to). You know that saying... if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him YOUR plans?! Ha. Indeed. He practically slapped us in the face with Anna Gray and VERY clearly told us to go get her. Neither of us could deny that. It was/is scary. This is not what WE planned, but we have to trust Him. I don't feel loyalty to only help the children in our country. I want to, I want to help them all. But I'm very much a "One World, One God" kind of gal and I believe in obedience. Pray about your decision and trust your spiritual discernment. God will lead you down the right path for your family.

5) Can you really love your adopted children the same as your biological child?
In a word- YES.
For some, it takes a little longer to bond with their children, whether they are adopted or not.

I loved Layla from the day I knew she existed. I hadn't seen her, or held her, but I loved her. I cared so much about how she was doing and if she felt safe. She was something I wanted, something I dreamed about. I looked at her ultrasound picture and imagined who she was going to be. And then she was born. The moment I saw her, she was MINE. I would do ANYTHING for her.

With the twins, the first time I read about them, I loved them. I hadn't seen them, or held them, but I loved them. I cared so much about how they were doing and if they felt safe. They were something I wanted, something I dreamed about. I looked at the picture of them the agency sent us and imagined who they were going to be. And then I met them. The moment I saw them, they were MINE. I would do ANYTHING for them.

With Anna Gray, I saw her picture first. And I loved her. I cared so much about how she was doing and if she felt safe. She is something I didn't even know I wanted and now I dream about. I can't wait to meet her, to see who she is going to be, but I know she is MINE. I would do ANYTHING for her.

I have to tell you, it is the strangest feeling in the world to look at a picture of a little girl on the other side of the world and know that she's your child. That this little person you've never met, never touched, is meant to be with you. It's not something you can control, it's not something you can force. You can only accept it, but it is very, very strange.

I'd be glad to answer any more questions you have about adoption in general, domestic adoption, international adoption, transracial adoption- at least as they relate to us. Because... well, I don't know everything. I only know what our experiences have been, but I can share those :) Just ask!

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