Monday, May 13, 2013

Starting your Adoption-Where do you begin?

When Nate and I started our adoption process we didn't really know where to begin. In my last blog I talked about how we completely thought we'd be adopting from Mexico only to learn that the original plan was not God's plan for us. I hadn't thought about this in a while until a friend of mine told me that she doesn't know where to get started on adopting. I figured I might as well help the process along for anyone who might be interested. This is just how to BEGIN the process of adoption. Hope it helps!
Step 1:
Research as much as possible.  I have gathered up a few informative web sites that might be of some help.  Some questions that you have can be answered through your research and help you with step number 2. This research can also open your eyes to another way that you had not considered or had assumed would not work for your family.

Map of Adoption Options

Foster to Adopt

Open Adoption

International Adoption

Step 2:
I think the second step is to talk to your spouse.  Some questions that you will have to decide on might be pretty difficult and researching before any decisions are made is a good way to go about it.  These questions will probably include:

1. Do we want to do international adoption?  Or domestic adoption?
2. If International adoption is for us, do we have a country in mind? Is there a culture that we feel comfortable with adapting some of the parts of culture into our family; clothing, music, traditions, food?
3. If we choose domestic adoption do we want to go through an agency or an adoption attorney?
4. What age are we willing to take? Do we want a newborn?
5. Is fostering to adopt a possibility for us?  Do we want to learn more information about fostering? And if so, is there a local agency that holds fostering informative meetings?
6. Does the gender of the child matter?
7. Are we willing to accept any race or ethnicity into our family and if not, is there a different race or ethnicity that we would be open to?
8. Are you emotionally ready to take on this amazing endeavor and is your marriage ready?
9.  Are mental disabilities, physical disabilities, or emotional disabilities something we can deal with and if so, to what level?
10. Are we willing and able to spend extended time in another country in order to complete the international adoption?

Step 3:
Contact MULTIPLE agencies and/or attorneys in your area that adopt in the way you have chosen to adopt.  Ask a lot of questions. 
1. How long does the process usually take?
2. What are the risks? (for adopting in this country, of the birthmother choosing you or changing her mind)
3. What are the costs of the programs?  At what point in the process are you expected to have the funds?
4.  If fostering, what are the training expectations and can you and your spouse meet those? What is legal risk when adopting through foster care?
5. What ages are being adopted out to the U.S. in the country we picked to adopt from? Can we get an infant and if not, are we okay with that?
6. Are we prepared to handle the questions and the potential for emotional stress that can come along with a child who has been adopted?
7. Are we prepared to support an open relationship with the biological mom and to what level, if we choose an open adoption?
8. If we choose international, we need to research that the agency in our adopting country is running things ethically.  There are countries that have been closed to the U.S. for adoption due to unethical practices. Such as paying women to get pregnant in their country in order for them to make money from the adoption. There is a large "black market" and other unethical practices for babies.

The following web site is to allow families to make a profile page to show others what they are doing and give family and friends a way to donate money to their adoption process. This will also allow you to read about how others made their adoption decisions.

Here are a very few adoption blogs that I follow. Some have been very helpful, but they are a families' personal story, and don't reflect adoption all around.

International adoption blogs

Open Adoption

Some agencies in the DFW area:

Foster to Adopt Agencies:

Some domestic/international agencies in the area:
(These are just ones that I am familiar with, I am sure there are many more available.)

If you have anything to add or think I am missing anything in my steps of how to START the adoption process, comments are welcome!


Starting our Adoption Process

Nate was asked by a business partner of his companies' to come to Mexico for three months in 2008. At the time, I was a school social worker and had time off in the summer, so we excitingly agreed. We lived in an apartment in Monterrey, had a spanish tutor 3x a week, and I got to volunteer at an orphanage. We were so excited and nervous. We ended up being there for a little over two months. We learned a lot that summer about being on our own as a married couple. It got lonely at times but we enjoyed each others company more than ever before. Working at the orphanage was an amazing experience and like anyone who gets an opportunity like this, I fell in love with a little boy named after Moses. He went by Moe pronounced Mooey. He turned three that summer and I was convinced that he was supposed to be our child. Now I know you can't really just walk in and pick a kid, but I just couldn't imagine leaving without him. Turns out that you have to be married two years before you can adopt from that particular agency.(which we were not) It was founded by several Catholic women. They have a web site in case you would like to see it.
After coming home and realizing that we were pretty far from starting an adoption plan, I put it on the back burner. When we started to discuss adoption both of us were convinced that we were going to Mexico to find our child. What could be better, we knew the language (fairly well), we knew and loved the music, food, and traditions. Unfortunately, after much research we found that it is pretty difficult to adopt from Mexico. In fact, we could only find two Hague accredited agencies that do adopt from Mexico and the closest one is in Arizona. The social worker in Arizona told me that the likelihood of adopting a child younger than Owen was not good. Even though I would adopt Moe in a heartbeat If it were possible, we really wanted to keep the birth order. This was really important to Nate so our adoption pursuit came to a large halt. We hadn't considered a backup plan. Mexico was it. Never in a million years would I have thought that we would be adopting a newborn domestically, but with many conversations and research this is where God put us. We learned a big lesson of trusting that God will lead you to the place you need to be if you let him. Our journey is still at the beginning and I am sure we will have more lessons to come. I decided to go over how to start the adoption process in the next blog. This will be from the mouth of a complete adoption amateur, but felt compelled to share the start to our story. Post coming soon...
Nate and Jackie
Monterrey Mexico