Finding the right agency is an important aspect of your adoption journey. Being a part of the right organization can really make or break your experience. You also have the option of not employing an agency. I have seen where adoptive parents have found success by creating “marketing” campaigns, hiring attorneys, or other various means. We opted to go the agency route because we needed that “security” of the “what if” scenarios. That’s not to say that other means don’t have those failsafe’s – but going through an agency gave us that extra piece of mind.
I wish I can tell you this elaborate story of how we found Lifetime Adoptions but that would be a fairytale. My wife just googled it and called them and we liked what they had to offer. We started our interest with them about 2 years before we signed on with them. It wasn’t because we weren’t sure about them it was because we were still considering IVF. Their consultants would check back with us periodically to see if we had any more questions about the adoption process or anything related. They did not pressure us with a high pressure sales pitch. The consultant was genuinely interested in assisting us with growing our family.
When considering an agency you should consider how often do their expectant parents change their minds? The agency should have a good relationship with the expectant parents. They need to have an idea of how committed the expectant parents are to placing their child. As a caveat, there isn’t a full proof way to prevent a change of heart but a lot of agencies through conversations can tell you how committed they are to placing. You should consider will they offer counseling to the expectant parents or at least refer them to pre/post placement counseling. You should also consider do you want an interstate or intrastate adoption? If you choose interstate adoption you will have to consider ICPC. You should also look into their reclaim rate. Reclaim happens after the child has gone home with the adoptive parents and the birth parents change their minds.
That was one of the main reason we signed with them. They didn’t have to follow up with us — there wasn’t anything in the conversations that made it sound like we were considering adoption at that time. Lifetime also helped us find a few grants that reduced the overall cost. They had webinars from parents who were successful who shared their experiences. The webinars made me feel like doing a private adoption was not only possible but probable. We were concerned about the financial aspect — where do we get this money from?
Where do you get the money from? Currently crowd sourcing is the most popular — we used gofundme which helped out. Also you have to search the internet high and low for grants and apply for them endlessly. There is money to be found you just have to be diligent. Also find out if your employer does adoption reimbursement. Luckily for us our employers reimbursed up to 10k which was extremely helpful. We used our 401k and was gifted some funds from family members. Initially I was hesitant to ask anyone for money because everyone knows that I have an extensive sneaker collection (you can see some feet pieces on my Instagram @runbdotm) so I can only imagine the sneers and judgment. My wife and I worked through that and found that if anything involves a child people are exceedingly giving.
Once you sign on with an agency then you meet/call your counselor and they lay out the process in full for you. The conversation will take a turn for the weird when they ask you, “What kind of child do you want?” My wife and I both looked at each other with blank looks. We both gave the PC response, “a healthy child”. When that question is asked they want specifics there is a 20-30 question survey which details any possible combination of racial and health background information. We were always firm that we wanted a biracial child. But they wanted to know what combination?
“Caucasian and African- American?”
“Asian and Native American?”
“Pacific Islander and African American”
“Caucasian and Middle Eastern?”
“If the mother used cocaine is that ok?”
“No, not really”
“How about marijuana?”
“I suppose that ok, marijuana doesn’t hurt the baby too much right? ”
“What if the mother used heroin through the first trimester and stopped going into the second trimester?”
“How much damage does that cause? Will the baby be born addicted to it? I guess, that sounds right…”
“Do you want an open or closed adoption?”
“Closed” (we changed our minds to open but more on that in another blog post)
…and the list goes on and on.
For full disclosure — there are a few combinations that we opted against. Because we are concerned with being able to include their culture in our everyday life. We also wanted to ensure that we knew of areas where could live that would have a level of diversity where they wouldn’t be the only one of that racial background. That is so important to consider when adopting transracially. We agreed that we are not equipped to parent a special needs child.
The whole process of adoption is hard. It’s full of uphill battles and potholes to fulfill this need for a family. Finding a legitimate agency that has a passion for adoption is hard work. You have to do your research — find out if they are for profit or nonprofit. I would suggest to check their BBB rating if they have one. I would also find a adoption forums, I recommend Adoptive Families — they were really helpful. Also find an Adoption Group on Facebook. You cannot go through this process alone. You need support either from strangers or family. It’s too much to carry by yourself. If you are considering an international adoption there are extra layers to consider. Adoption is a war of attrition where only the strong survive — much like parenting.