Adoption Consultant

We’re going kind of non-traditional with the dependence on an adoption consultant. This is a relatively new thing in the world, so I thought I’d explain what the job is and why it’s something we opted for.

Our consultant describes the job as an “adoption coordinator,” and equates it (loosely) with the job of a wedding coordinator. Adoption is a big process, she explains, with a ton of *important* moving parts and its invaluable to have someone who is overseeing the process, making sure all the things get done, and done well.

(This isn't our consultant, but the message is similar.)
(This isn’t our consultant, but the message is similar.)

Adoption agencies have a moral and legal obligation to the expectant parents, and then to the infants, and last to the adoptive parents. Thus, their attention and energy is not prioritized toward meticulously walking us through every step, answering our calls or random questions, or sending us daily updates, etc…

For our first ever experience with the whole of the private adoption process, we kinda’ wanted that.

The luxury of an adoption consultant is that adoptive parents are the only clients. Time and resources aren’t divided; all the attention is on the needs of the adoptive parents. For us, this has been incredible in terms of peace of mind and manageability of ALL THE THINGS that need to happen for this process to work.

We’ve had really detailed, personalized instruction and feedback on every step of the process thus far. Now that we are beginning to contact agencies and attorneys, our consultant is person we call with questions or concerns, rather than trying to get someone at an agency to respond.

Like a wedding coordinator, an adoption consultant is an added cost. Unlike our wedding (which was a total DIY affair), this process is one we absolutely want and need to get right. Neither of us have the mental or emotional fortitude to shoulder the responsibility of “getting it right.” Thank all the stars in heaven that there’s a better option. And even more, for two full-time jobs!

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We’re Adopting

Yup, big changes here in our neck of the woods. I’m hesitant to announce “we’re adopting” on my social media channels until we get through the first round of paperwork and have some real, solid (legal) stuff going. But we’re spending money, so it’s official enough for a blog post.

If you’ve been around for a while you’ll recall we went through an attempt at the foster care system. It did not go well. In fact, it was miserable for both of us. We walked away from that experience seriously reevaluating our decision to become parents, especially through the state system.

I’m going to pause here and agree with everyone who thinks this is a huge shame, and an awful state of affairs, and you-would-think-they-would-etc-etc-etc. Yes to all of that. The world is a crappy place sometimes, and we hit on a crappy version of it in our Parenthood Quest. Neither of us are well-suited for dealing with the State of Texas, nor for depending upon it for our first child.

Thankfully, we are in a different place now, geographically, mentally, and financially. So we did some soul-searching, lots of talking, a bit of crying, and we have a new game plan. It involves – IN THEORY – private domestic adoption, a consultancy, lots of money, and a relatively quick placement. We’ll see how that all plays out in practice.

Right now we are at the super-very-extreme front end of a real honest-to-goodness adoption journey. It’s the very start, we have a lot in front of us. And we are indescribably excited and relieved and a ton of other feelings about shifting gears from “talking about it” to “doing it.” We’re finally in first gear; the car is moving.

Woo!

I Call Bulls**t – Monica & Chandler Adopt

I didn’t watch Friends when it was on the air – we didn’t really do TV in my house growing up and we definitely didn’t do “20 somethings having sex” TV.

Now, though, I have Netflix and a lot of crafting/making time on my hands, so I’ve been working my way through the series. Mostly I’ve been enjoying it, although I’m still not over my strong distaste for Rachel Green. I’ve just never understood the cultural fascination with Jennifer Aniston. Did it start with this character? WHY? She’s the WORST.

rachel green
Ugh. Rachel Green.

Moving on.

In the last (tenth) season of the show, Monica and Chandler go through infertility and then adoption. I have ambivalent feelings as I watch. On the one hand, I’m kind of delighted to see that real and present decision-making process represented on a major TV show. It’s not something you see on TV much, certainly not in proportion to how many people deal with it in real life. I feel personally gratified that it’s all on there, because so much of what I see as I watch is a “hey, us too!” thing.

deep emotion
“I’m feeling all the feels about our inability to be human beings, Chandler. Can you tell from the deep sorrow that is playing across my flat, emotionless face?”

On the other hand, though, it’s a twee representation. Friends is not a deep show. There’s no one grappling with a drug or alcohol addiction. Eating disorders are funny. Multiple divorces are funny. Suicide and homelessness are funny. So when infertility comes up and they try to be serious about it (and kudos for trying) it rings false. Or, at least, it falls flat.

paperwork
“Oh my GAWD, Monica, look at these SEVEN PAGES we have to fill out in this ONE EPISODE.”

I never see the couple losing it over the inability to have kids. Neither of them question their basic biological function – their wholeness as people. No one ever cries (!??!?) over the situation. They have a clear, meaningful result to their first round of infertility tests. They move through alt-family options with swiftness and ease. They don’t agonize over what kind of adoption, or funding, or the paperwork/waiting process. They don’t feel a horrifying mixture of resentment and guilt over their friends having kids easily.

twins
Ooopsie! TWINS! Two for the price of one! And, by the way, let’s never actually address the tens of thousands of dollars we had to shell out to get here!

In the span of a few weeks they go from “trying” to have kids to having twins.

At one point, they LIE to the birth mother about their file. They eventually correct the mistake but then Chandler does this super-pathetic “we are desperate for a child” plea that apparently wins the birth mother back over. WTF?! Lying and coercion to get a kid?!

lying to the birth mother
Lying to the Birth Mother is a great way to get a baby!

It’s weird because the whole time I’m watching I’m so glad and relieved to see SOMETHING about our lives represented on a popular show. But at the same exact time I’m so angry and offended by how lightly it’s treated, and how easily it’s resolved.

Be ye warned, actual, real-life friends: the Friends version of this devastating life event is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have someone in your life dealing with this kind of thing, don’t use Friends as a source of information or understanding.

But do watch the show for other stuff, though. It’s pretty good.

—-

LATimes article responding to the “we’ll just adopt” episode, 2003

Blog post on Rachel vs. Monica

Learn With Me: Adoption Options

I read a sentence last night that stuck with me; it went something like this: “It sometimes occurs to me that those around me aren’t doing the feverish reading and research we are in preparation for adoption. It’s a good reminder that I should be sharing what I know with family and friends rather than just assume they have the same knowledge base.”

I haven’t been communicative about what I’ve been learning. This is a personality thing with me – when things are tough or challenging I tend to hunker down. So I figured I’d share some of the things I am learning about and working through. Hopefully this is interesting information for those who know me personally, and perhaps also interesting to readers from Other Places.

I’m making the choice to use “I” and “me” pronouns because it’s easier when I’m writing. Note that Hubs is part of all this learning and decision making – many of the “I” and “me” pronouns are actually “us” and “we.”

Today, a brief overview of the three basic options available for adoption – international, private-domestic, and public. This includes my thoughts on each and why foster-to-adopt is where I’m at right now.

International Adoption

learn with me: adoption options | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from http://www.cafdn.org/adopt

INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION is any adoption outside the US. It can be as close as Canada or Mexico, and as far as Russia or China.

This option was wildly popular in the 70s and 80s, at the height of the “closed adoption” movement, and is still going strong today. Specific characteristics of this option include a closed adoption – meaning there’s zero contact with first parents – and children who are (usually) ethnically different from their adopted parents.

One of the major “pluses” of this option from an adopter’s point of view is the finality of this type of adoption. Once a child is on US soil and paperwork is rolling on the States side, it is almost unheard of that a child is removed from their adopted home.

One of the major “minuses” of this option from an adopter’s point of view is that this option is heavy with bureaucracy and expensive. It’s usually the most paperwork-y and expensive of all three major adoption options. Adopters are dealing with termination of parental rights and citizenship issues in TWO countries. This often means waiting years, and jumping through a lot of weird international hoops.

Why it’s not for me:

1 | It’s expensive. Plain and simple, the money for it doesn’t exist in my life right now. After the IVF cycle in Feb-Mar 2014 there was a conscious decision to avoid all major debt for several years. Gotta’ get that bottom line out of red and into black. A $40,000 price tag is not feasible.

2 | I’ve read countless articles and blogs that talk about adoption, especially international adoption, as a “ministry” to the “poor” and “disenfranchised.” Personally, I’m trying to avoid the mindset that I’m rescuing anybody. (I feel like this is a subject big enough for a whole post of its own.) Basically, I’m not comfortable with the “feed the hungry” approach to adoption and that’s a common approach for international adoptions from the US.

3 | I’m not interested in waiting years to be a parent. Been there, done that. Done waiting.

Private Domestic Adoption

learn with me: adoption options | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from http://msw.usc.edu/ – view the complete infographic here: http://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/adoption-infographic/

PRIVATE DOMESTIC ADOPTION is commonly referred to as domestic adoption or private adoption. This is adoption within the United States through any avenue other than state-sponsored systems. Usually, this is adoption through a domestic agency that matches pregnant mothers with adoptive parents. On rare occasions, a domestic adoption will be an adoption that doesn’t involve an agency as the intermediary (usually someone who is pregnant already knows someone they want to adopt their child) – this is sometimes called an “independent” adoption.

The major “plus” of private domestic adoption, and the reason it is so popular, is because it allows adopters to parent from infancy (sometimes from a newborn’s first moments). I could go into detail about all the reasons this is a positive for parents, but I think you can probably figure it out. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be touching on it in future posts.

Used to be that domestic adoptions were closed, meaning once children were adopted they and all parents were completely cut off from each other. The US did some extreme things to keep adoptions closed, including sealing all records (sometimes in perpetuity) and creating “new” birth certificates for adopted infants. There’s been a move toward open adoption in the last two decades which seems better for everyone involved.

I like open adoption. It seems like a good idea. Tough, but good.

Why private-domestic adoption is not for me: A few reasons. Kind of a few and a half.

1/2 | I’d be 100% gung-ho to do an independent adoption. I’d get three jobs to fund it. The thing is that there’s no one out there (that I know of) who is with child, doesn’t want to parent, and wants me to parent instead. And, you know, I don’t think I’m really going to find that. Ever. Most women who are pregnant want to parent. The vast majority of those who don’t want to (or can’t) parent get an abortion. The few who do go to term have a family member take over parenting. A very small number go through an agency. Of that very small number, I know none personally. And I probably won’t. So it’s not really a real option.

But if you know someone who is pregnant, doesn’t want to parent, and hasn’t already hooked up with an agency, let me know because I’m all over that.

1 | Though not quite as expensive as international adoption, domestic adoption is still prohibitively expensive. It includes legal fees, medical fees, “finder’s” fees for agencies, and a host of ancillary expenses. We’re talking $20-$30,000 here. I don’t have that and I’m not gonna’ have it anytime soon.

2 | The intermediary role of agencies troubles me. I have some extended family members who chose adoption and I picked up on some less-than-positive impressions of agencies. So when I first started investigating adoption options for myself I made a point to click over to the “are you pregnant?!” areas of adoption agency sites. Many of those sites have one thing in common – the rhetoric for expectant mothers has a clear agenda; it’s designed to be highly persuasive.

That kind of got the hairs on my neck raised. I then actively searched first-hand accounts of first mothers and adoptees. Negative accounts from first mothers usually involve the perception of coercionFor me the mere possibility that a mother might want to parent and be coerced not to is a deal-breaker. I’m still too close to that desperate desire to be a mother and being unable to. That I might possibly be the cause of that for some other woman is too much to process.

I realize that coercion is not a universal first-mother experience by any stretch, but I can’t handle even the remote possibility. Not right now.

3 | First parents change their minds. They can seriously consider multiple potential adopting families and will eventually choose only one family, essentially rejecting other adoptive parents. Even after first parents have chosen their adopting family and surrendered their child, the overwhelming joy of a newly adopted child can swiftly change to deep loss. Most states have a “waiting period” for private adoptions – this is a time for first parents to consider their decision and allows them to change their minds. In short, an adoptive family can lose their child after placement.

I’ve been through multiple miscarriages; I’m not emotionally able to deal with the possibility of losing another child. Not right now.

Public Adoption

PUBLIC ADOPTION is also a type of domestic adoption, technically, but it is through state systems. In the first draft of this post I started explaining the whole process of public adoption but it was really long. So check in tomorrow; I’ll post a bunch of details on public adoption.

Why public adoption is for me:

1 | State subsidized system, meaning the state absorbs (almost) all associated costs.

2 | Children who want parents as much (or more) than I want to be a parent.

3 | First parents have ample opportunity to remain parents – in fact the state system is heavily skewed in favor of first parents keeping their kids (ie: no coercion).

4 | It’s a relatively open system. Even after we adopt we can still maintain contact with first families.

5 | Immediate placement.

Right now it’s the best option. I’ve been through more than enough to convince me that I shouldn’t depend on public adoption being the best option forever. But for today, for now, for where I am, I’ve chosen this direction.

Thanks for reading. More tomorrow. Please feel free to ask questions or drop a word of encouragement.