Frequently Asked Questions: Adoption Edition
So here we are, in the process of adopting!! I cannot write those words without tearing up a bit. It is a dream come true and one we did not think would happen for our little family. If you want to read a little bit about how we got to this point, check out our story here. We have been getting so many questions about this process, our decisions, questions about the baby, etc. so I decided to compile one big blog post to answer them all. I am by no means an expert, and our answers to these questions may change over time, as we make our way through this process and learn more. I will also be adding to this blog post , so please ask any more questions in the comments below and I will add them to this post! Our answers are also what we chose for our family, based on our needs, in this moment. There is no right or wrong way to adopt, and you need to do what is right given your situation.
Are you adopting internationally, domestic or through foster system?
We have chosen to adopt domestically. Our main reason is because of our medically complex toddler. We did want to add a travel component to this process and although her health is currently stable, we did not want to have to travel unexpectedly, for extended periods of time, or be in a situation in which we wouldn’t have access to high quality medical care. Some countries require extended stays or multiple visits so we did not want to have that extra added stress.
We did not want any travel at all, so have chosen a local agency so the baby will either be from Baltimore or D.C. area. Even with domestic adoption, each state’s requirements and rules are different, and some states you need to stay for up to 30 days. I cannot imagine an infant, toddler, and us in a hotel for a month. We are staying local!
We are not adopting through foster care, although I am in awe of people who foster or who foster to adopt. It’s not a right fit for our family right now, but I am open to it in the future.
How old will baby be?
Our future baby will be 1 month old. We wanted to adopt an infant, and this agency fosters the baby during the “waiting period.” In our state, the biological mother has 30 days to change her mind, so we will not know we are matched until that 30 days is over. While I want to be there for the birth, and those first days, and I will probably always think about that first month, this ensures that a baby is not matched, placed in our home for 30 days, and then potentially placed back with his/her biological mother. While I think the biological mother should have that time, I do not think my heart could endure that if the baby was placed back with biological mother after being in our home. Our daughter Adeline is also so sensitive and I think it would be so confusing for her as well.
Will the adoption be open or closed?
For closed adoptions, the biological parents have no direct contact with the adoptive family, and the adoptive parents often know little or nothing about the biological parents. In an open adoption, the biological parents may participate in the process of placing the child with an adoptive family and may continue to have contact thereafter.
This is a question I do not have the answer to yet. But it’s something I have been contemplating, reading about, considering all sides to. We are in the unique situation in which our future baby will have some family locally since we are adopting in the city and state we live in. I really see so many pros and cons to both situations. If I had to answer today without discussing yet with our agency or without finishing having the conversations with John, I would say I am leaning towards an open adoption and John is leaning towards closed. We could also be in a situation in which the biological family wants closed, we prefer open, but would accept closed. So it’s tricky and something I am just not sure about yet.
How did you choose your agency?
We chose our agency based on a few things; word of mouth, location, waiting period policy, and a few other features. Adeline’s home care nurse used this agency twice and I remember years ago her sharing their adoption story, and it just kind of stuck with me. I liked that this agency placed babies from either Baltimore or D.C., it was a benefit for us since we do not want to travel and the idea of a local baby appealed to me. I also chose this agency since they foster the baby during the waiting period, and there would not be a chance of the baby being placed in our home and then placed back with the biological parents. We will not be matched until the 30 days is over. It’s a non-profit, started by a man who had difficulty finding an agency who would allow him to adopt with his partner, so afterwards he started this agency. I explored bigger agencies as well, and did not get that warm and fuzzy feeling I had with ours, that was sort of just a gut feeling kind of thing.
When will you be matched?
Any day after our home study is completed! We are currently in the home study phase of the adoption process and we have until the end of April to complete our portion of things. Then the agency has until the end of July to complete their portion; writing the study, home visits, interviews, talking with our references, etc. Once that is completed we go on the waiting list, and it could be any day after that. We could wait months or we could wait days. We will not know we are matched until after the baby is 1 month old, until the waiting period is over. Many agencies will match you while the birth mother is still pregnant, and some families get to meet the biological mother, be there day of delivery, and have time to prepare. One day, baby will just be here. It’s kind of wild!!
Are you adopting a baby with medical needs?
We are not. But with any baby, there is always that chance it could happen. When you come from a field as a special educator, and have my personality, you are drawn to children who need more than typical children. Now that I have all this experience with medical needs, I feel like I could really help a baby with medical needs. But because of Adeline, we decided to try and decrease some of the risks of special and medical needs by checking off no on a few more boxes than I wanted. But this is something you have to be really honest about, and it needs to be right for your family, at the time you are making the decision since this will impact you for the rest of your life.
What are the costs?
Our agency works on a sliding scale, and although we do not know all the costs yet, we are budgeting about $35,000. In addition, our home study costs about $1500, and there are other smaller costs along the way; adoption classes, fingerprints, birth certificates, etc. There are also legal fees, and potential medical bills after the baby has been placed. The average cost of adoption is $42,000. ( international adoptions cost an average of $44,000; U.S. newborn adoptions cost an average of $39,000) There is an adoption tax credit we are eligible and an adoption rebate through John’s work after the adoption has been finalized.
How Can You Breastfeed if you didn’t give birth?
Many of you asked this question since I have expressed interest in induced lactation or breastfeeding without birthing. I have not started this process yet, and am meeting with my OB-GYN next week to discuss the possibility. I’ve also connected with a lactation consultant & nurse who is going to help me through the process. Basically, you simulates the pregnancy state in which the breasts grow and develop in preparation for lactation. You sort of trick your body into being pregnant by taking a supplement and birth control pill so your body starts creating milk. Once the baby arrives, you stop taking the birth control pill and begin to breastfeed and/or pump. My plan is to do Newman-Goldfarb Protocols for Induced Lactation which is the most involved and takes 6 months before milk comes in. You can read more about it here. I am nervous about trying this just because my production was so minimal with Adeline but I want to at least try.
How did we know we were ready?
A few people asked me this question and I was not sure what each person meant. Did they want to know how we knew we were ready to add to our family? Ready to start adoption process? Or ready because we have a child with extra needs? I will share a little bit from our adoption announcement post because it summarizes the answer to this question perfectly.
We also met and talked with other families who have adopted. Meeting with our friends, hearing their entire journey, being able to ask them questions honestly and get some genuine answers really helped sort of finalize things for us. Getting that perspective was priceless and it was a really good experience for John too. From those meetings, I was able to connect with even more parents, and am currently in a group text with 4 families who adopted using our agency. That connection is so valuable and can really help when trying to decide your next steps. I think we are often held back by the fear of the unknown and connecting has dispelled some of those fears.
Have more questions?
Comment below and I will answer them & add to this post!