Monday, October 24, 2011

Adoption 101

When considering adoption there are lots of choices and options. It can actually be quite overwhelming! You can choose from international adoption, infant domestic adoption, foster-to-adopt and embryo adoption. Here's a run-down of the various options.

1. International Adoption obviously means you will be adopting a child from overseas. There are positives and negatives to this. A real plus is that you're going to likely be adopting a child that has been orphaned, so you are saving an orphan! Which is quite an exciting thing to do. International adoption is also quite a complicated process because depending on the country you choose you will be filling out loads of different paperwork. One big reason you need to choose an agency in order to adopt internationally is because all of this paperwork is going to need to be translated. Another downside (at least for us) is the uncertainty of it all. We were considering adopting from Ethiopia, but this summer the government there decided they were going to really slow down the processing side of adoptions, so that means that people that signed up to adopt from Ethiopia and were told there would be a 9-12 month wait, may be now looking at 2-3 years of waiting.

When you adopt internationally, once you are approved you are basically put on a waiting list. Whenever there is a child ready to adopt they go to the next person on the list. That can be a real positive because it's not like you have to try to "convince" anyone that they should choose YOU as the adoptive parent. As long as you pass your Home Study process, your name just goes on a list, and to that country's government you are just a name on a list.

Another interesting thing about International Adoption is that in terms of how many orphans and countries there are out there, there really aren't that many countries to choose from. This is truly a shame! I wish we could just go to a country with a lot of orphans, visit an orphanage and take home a child that needs a home. However, it's WAY more complicated than that! Even just a few years ago it was very common for people to adopt from Guatemala, but it is now shut down for adoptions. I don't know why, but that definitely really stinks for the people that had gone through all the process to adopt from there when the adoption process was shut down.

International adoptions are also extremely expensive. This is because you have to pay so many legal fees, translation fees, and fees to both the US and country from where you adopt. There are also the international flights (and in the case of Ethiopia, you need to go twice) and lodging and food while you're in the other country, for up to 3 weeks in some cases.

I know this sounds like such a complicated process! But, we did consider International Adoption a lot. But, the fact that we were leaning toward Ethiopia when the news came out about the much slower process, we decided that was too risky for us.

2. Foster-to-Adopt Programs
I have to admit that I don't know much about this because I don't care to work much with the US or local government. I also think it would be extremely difficult to get close to and love a child not knowing whether or not they could be returned to their biological family. I don't think I could handle that. This is by far the least expensive route to go, but it also is more common that you would adopt older children. I greatly admire people that go this route. This may be something we consider in the future.

3. Embryo Adoption
This is an extremely appealing route to take! Basically, if a couple chooses to do Invitro-Fertilization, part of the process is that the lab creates embryos from the egg and sperm of the couple undergoing the process. Often, when IVF works and the woman gets pregnant, they will not use all of the embryos that have been created. This may be because they had triplets or something, or maybe because they have had all the children they feel they need. Hopefully, instead of discarding the embryos when they're done they will donate them. This means that another couple can adopt the embryos and complete what is called a "Frozen Embryo Transfer" to transfer these frozen embryos to another women's uterus and hope they implant in her! So, in our case, we would try to get matched up with a couple that wanted to donate their embryos and we would transfer them to my uterus and hope they implant.

This is appealing on many levels, mostly because you have a say in who the donors are (ie: people with good health, etc.), but also because you can be sure to create a really positive, in-utero experience for your child. This is also generally less expensive than both domestic and international adoption. There is one big problem with this though. Just like other fertility treatments, it just may not work. I think the rate of success for each round is somewhere around 30%. So, you may have to pay for a few Frozen Embryo Transfers (FETs) before one implants and you get pregnant. That's why it would be good to choose a couple who has a lot of frozen embryos, so that if the first or second time doesn't work, you could try again with new embryos. That's kind of the reason why we have chosen to not go with embryo adoption. Although it may be something we would like to pursue in the future.

4. Domestic Adoption
Our chosen route! In domestic adoption you first choose the agency you want to go through. We looked into both national and local agencies and decided to go with a local agency, who works with local pregnant women and local adoptive parents. After deciding which agency you're going with you go through the Home Study process (which we started this month and I will write more about as we go along). After you go through this process, which is mostly to be sure that you will make good adoptive parents and have a safe home for the child, you make a profile that lets the birthparents see what you're like, etc. We're not to the profile-making stage yet, so I'm not exactly sure what all that entails, but I don't think it's as "over-the-top" as Cam and Mitchell's profile book on Modern Family... haha

Anyway, then, you are put into the "pile" of adoptive family profiles. When a birth mother comes to the agency, she is usually about half-way through her pregnancy. The main job of the agency is to provide her with counseling and support to be sure that she knows what adoption entails and is confident in her decision to place her child for adoption. Then, the birthmother looks through the adoptive family profiles and chooses a couple of families that seem like a good fit to her, meets a couple of them, and she eventually decides on the couple she would like to raise her child! Can you imagine the roller coaster of emotions she must be going through? Whew!

Anyway, after that there's usually about 2-3 months for the adoptive family to prepare. There are a lot of legal issues that need to be taken care of, such as the birth father needing to surrender his rights, and the birthmother doing the same after the baby is born (this is the point where oftentimes adoptions fall through as the mother changes her mind and wants to parent the baby). But, we can get into all that later.

Anyway, that's where we are. The next month will be busy as we complete the Home Study process, but after that we'll mostly be waiting... with an average time between home study completion and placement of a child at 18-24 months. So, there may be very few updates in between. But, that's where we are. I hope you'll be praying for us and supporting us through this new adventure. It seems like this is our "new" rollercoaster... hopefully the ups-and-downs will be less frequent, but it does seem like there's a more guaranteed outcome of parenthood even if that does take 2-3 years. Oh dear... I'm SO not a patient person! :-)


  1. Wow! This is really enlightening. I don't know if I've told you, but we're considering adopting, whether or not we can have children biologically. We will probably adopt at least one child, and I knew there were a lot of options out there but I had never even heard of #3! I look forward to learning a lot from your journey :)

    I know that most domestic adoptions are "open" adoptions now. Have you talked about how "open" you'd be comfortable with your birthparent relationship would be? That's the biggest concern I've grappled with when considering domestic adoption.

  2. I did not know about that Rachel! We've definitely talked about openness and are very "open" to it. :-) Openness can range from sending pictures and letters (or emails) to a birthmother coming to your children's school plays, etc. For us, it will definitely start slowly and we'll see where it goes! Although I will say it makes Dave more nervous than it does me.
    I didn't know you planned to adopt too! We always did as well. It just wasn't in the plan to go in this order. I hope what I write will be helpful to you!

  3. Oops... I said the same thing twice.. sorry. :-)


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