Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

Back in 1994, my wife and I learned that we wouldn’t be able to conceive children due to infertility issues. Of course, this was an emotional thing to learn about, and we went through the standard process of denial, and finally acceptance. We spent a couple of years, and a lot of money, going the route of donor sperm, intrauterine insemination and finally in-vitro, all without success. It seemed all we were doing was making doctors wealthy. In 1997 we started looking into adoption, not knowing what we might face in the years ahead.

Please keep in mind these were our experiences and not everyone will experience the same things.

Our adventure started at one of the local adoption agencies in our home town. Here we learned that a domestic adoption for a caucasian baby would cost around $30k. We didn’t have that kind of money, so we talked with them about another alternative. We watched a video about an orphanage in the Ukrain it showed toddlers sitting in cribs banging their heads on a wall, they were malnourished and there was no medical history available for the children. Though our hearts ached for these children we had many concerns such as being able to financially support a child with life long medical needs. Needless to say we passed on this because of the costs related to the international adoption and we weren’t prepared to take on a child who would probably need on going medical care for the rest of his or her life.

The big benefit to an International adoption is that the children are usually available immediately and there is no risk of a parent reclaiming the child. Please keep in mind we saw that video over 20 years ago so please don’t let that experience sway you from a possible International adoption. So many things have changed since then.

In the late ’90s, we tried out a California-based adoption coordinator who was advertising her services on the Internet. It turned out to be a $4,000 take-your-money-and-run marketing scam. Fortunately, we took notes during our calls, so we were able to find inconsistencies between conversations that led us to ask a number of probing questions about a birthmother she was marketing to us in Arizona. To make a long story short, many things the coordinator told us weren’t true so we took prompt action to cancel our contract and put a stop payment on the check. Unfortunately, a check cashing service in the LA area cashed the check, and the “coordinator” made off with $4,000. Our bank protected us because the service didn’t follow proper procedures, but this opened our eyes to just how easy it would be to get sucked into an adoption scam.

Between 1998 and 2002, we spent over $60,000 on a variety of agency fees, home studies, attorneys, social workers, and travel. We made trips to Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Kansas as we worked with agencies and birthparents in hopes of taking home a little bundle of joy. During this time, we had a private adoption fall through. A baby girl that had been in our home for two weeks was removed because a birth parent changed his mind. It broke our hearts.

In our quest to have a family we dealt with hostile hospital nurses against adoption, couples dealing drugs, and we worked with the FBI to help catch a prostitute who was running an adoption scam from a hotel in Pennsylvania. While we had plenty of stories we didn’t have a child to share our lives with.

In mid-2002, my wife finally accepted that the little girl who was in our home would not be coming back. After 2 years of healing we were ready to move on with our lives and give adoption another chance. I went to my computer, keyed in “adoption” to a then-young Google search engine, and www.adoption.com came up as the first hit. They offered a service I hadn’t seen or heard of before – www.parentprofiles.com. This was what appeared to be an established marketing service that would give us something that had been missing previously – broad coverage to tell birthparents what we could offer a child without the political influence agencies seemed to have relating to how long we had waiting, or how much money we had paid them. This seemed to be a fresh approach that would allow us to build on a foundation we already had in place through Little Flower Adoptions in Dallas, TX (we were certified adoptive and foster parents at the time).

Within a week, we were qualified to post our Dear Birthparents letter and profile on the Parent Profiles website. Our profile went live on a Tuesday afternoon and within 24 hours, a young, unmarried, pregnant couple still in their first trimester called us to talk about how much our profile had touched them. My wife and the prospective birth mother talked for hours on the phone and developed an immediate bond. The four of us met in Houston a few days later, and as we nurtured the relationship, we brought our social worker in to provide some counseling for the birth family.

As good fortune has it, this couple placed their healthy baby girl with us eight months later in 2003, and the adoption was finalized in the same year. It was scary to go through eight months of waiting, but it worked out for everyone! And, we have a very open adoption with the birthmother. We see her at least once a year, she talks to our daughter on the phone, and our daughter loves her very much.

Three years ago, we wanted to grow our family again. This time, I stuck with what worked for us four years prior. It was literally “rinse and repeat”. We used the same agency in Dallas for the home study and the same parent profiles service to post our Dear Birthparents letter. The home study and background check process took a couple of months. Once the Dear Birthparents letter went live, it took roughly two weeks before we heard from a couple who had seen our family profile. From there, we involved our social worker again for counseling, and everything fell into place. We met the family a week later to get to know them, and enjoyed watching our kids play together. Two months later, they congratulated us for being the new parents of a healthy baby boy. The birthparents stay in frequent contact with us, and we share pictures as often as we can with them, just as they do with us.

In both cases, the birthparents wanted open adoptions, which we were willing to provide. I can’t tell you how rewarding life has been now that we are parents. Our kids are bright, innovative little people whom we love very much, and the birth families are proud of how well they are doing.

If you are thinking about going through an open adoption, congratulations! I can highly recommend this path. Few things in life can be so fulfilling, but there are a few major lessons learned that I can share with you to make your life easier based on our own adventures.

* Go into this with your eyes wide open. Understand that you may meet people from all walks of life.

* Be prepared to feel more love in your heart than you can ever imagine. Adoption is truly a loving option.

* Decide what expenses you are willing to pay for. Some birth families need help with food, medical or other bills. Keep in mind any financial help is considered a donation. If the adoption falls through, the money will not be returned. It’s also a good idea to have any donations go through your agency so there is a record of it.

* Always follow the adoption laws in your state and/or the state which the birth family is from. If you are moving across state lines, there are special considerations which must be addressed through your agency and the courts.

* Understand that this is a journey. There are families who can’t care for their child, and they want to place their baby in a good home. The key is in forming a bond that everyone can relate to.

* Select an agency or attorney in your home state. Make sure they have a good reputation, and ask lots of questions to make sure you are comfortable with them. Make sure you understand how they will present you to birthparents, because it is important to get this right. If you are planning to do most of the footwork, see if they will provide their services one you’ve matched with a birth family.

* Network. Let people know you are wanting to adopt, and what you can offer a child. If people don’t know this, then you may never get a referral. Take the time to study other parent profiles, and build one from the heart. And, include pictures that demonstrate how loving and effective you are with other kids! Use the Parent Profiles website to post yourself to, as it is a natural magnet for birth parents that are considering adoption.

* As you talk to potential birth parents be honest about yourself and the type of relationship that you are hoping for. Establish healthy boundaries for the relationship with them.  Make sure contact information is shared and kept up-to-date. Answer email in a timely manner.

* Get to know them. Know that it’s awkward for them just as much as it is for you, at least until you get to know one another. Make sure you are also sincere, and that you don’t view this as a trade goods transaction. You are dealing with people, emotions and life-altering decisions that can’t be taken lightly.

* Understand that most birth families prefer that you are open to either a baby boy or girl. If you are planning to be gender specific, this may make the birth family uncomfortable, so be up front about this in your profile.

* If you know which hospital or birthing center the child will be born at, go there with the birth mother and talk with the social worker on staff, as well as the department head overseeing labor and delivery to make sure it’s an adoption-friendly place. Get them to commit to signing a birth parent plan, which is a document that expresses the birth mother’s wishes. It can include simple things such as who will be in the delivery room, or who holds the baby first. The plans real purpose, however, is to communicate the birth mother’s wishes to the staff. It helps establish boundaries for people that don’t agree with adoption, encouraging them to keep their opinions to themselves. This is a lesson we found out about the hard way.

* Keep all promises you ever make. If you promise to send pictures to the birth family every so many weeks or months, make sure there is a reminder in your calendar to do it. My wife counsels birth families, and I can’t tell you how many promises were made to families only to find the promises were broken down the road. Understand that people who place children for adoption loved them so much they had to let them go. There were other alternatives to adoption, but they chose not to go down those paths.

Finally, be patient, and don’t appear desperate. When the time is right for the match to occur, it will happen. Sometimes at the most unexpected moment.


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