Economical Adoption? Yeah Right!

We (meaning my mom) paid quite a hefty chunk of change for S’s adoption. The total was somewhere right around $28,000 – exactly the same as the annual salary for my first teaching job.

As we are in a better place financially than 2 years ago (likely because of my mom’s generosity with S’s adoption) we were determined to pay for this adoption on our own.

I became OBSESSED with finding “cheaper” ways to adopt. Obsessed. (Different agencies are color coded to help you follow the story).

We looked at the same agency that brought S into our lives – but their fees had taken them up over 30K, and that was just too crazy expensive AND the wait was longer 1.5 years because we were gender specific.

So we found an agency in Jacksonville, FL. Their fees seemed reasonable, but if you have been reading the blog for a while, you will know this relationship soured back in October. Read this and this for more information. Side note: Up to this point I have not named this agency, but after FOUR requests for our $500 application fee to be returned and no response – I just sent them one final request AND THEY RESPONDED!! I’ll admit that I sent an ugly message followed by an apology message, but finally have it in writing that they will return our money! So excited!

So after that debacle, we decided to get our homestudy done by Angela Quick. She’s the social worker who conducted S’s homestudy and since S, has received her adoption agency license as well.  We have LOVED working with Angela again. As a fledgling agency, it really has been great to assist them in sharing the ins and outs of the “economical adoption” search. Had we been able to locate and match with a birthmom through Angela, we would have. Their agency business plan does everything BUT birthmom recruiting, etc. so we were left to search some more.

Many agencies require a hefty amount of money paid up front, but I was on a quest to find an agency that had minimal upfront costs so that we could have quite a few “pans” in the fire. This is because we are gender and race specific, there are limited number of situations available. Signing with an agency with our specifications would mean that our profile would not be shown to a potential birthmother who didn’t know the gender of the child she was carrying. So the number of potential birthmothers looking at our profile was smaller which increases the wait time exponentially.

We came across a Christian agency in AL that we loved. I talked with them extensively in November, but until our homestudy was complete – we couldn’t move forward with them. I spent an enormous amount of time working on their application (which needed 10 Christian doctrine questions answered – AMEN for friends in the seminary!) but didn’t send it until we were offically homestudy ready. Not only did this agency have a lot of fantastic benefits to guard our hearts (such as you didn’t meet your child until they were “free and clear” to be taken home), but their total adoption costs were around 20K, which seemed more reasonable and doable in our financial situation.

Then the call came. Apparently they had suspended their Caucasian infant program for out of state famiies. No one told us and this information was nowhere to be found on their website.

Honestly, I was beyond disappointed.
So I emailed the director and what transpired next was miraculous.

We spoke for 45 minutes on the phone and he explained the reasons for the suspension of the program. Essentially, they had so many families in the mix, that the newer families were often chosen first (even though the birthmothers pick) so some families had been waiting a long time (2+ years). Instead of adding additional families, they suspended the program in hopes of reducing the number of families waiting an extended period of time. He owned their mistake and decided that he would make an exception for our family and invited us to join their program. However, they were now quoting a 2-5 year wait!!

We received an email from our social worker at the agency letting us know that there was a mandatory training in AL in May and that they wouldn’t be able to show our profile until we attended. (This info is NOWHERE in the literature either. We assumed that we were good to go after the conversation with the director).

Immediately following, we received a message that stated, “Ignore my previous message about the training and please don’t make any travel plans yet. You haven’t been officially accepted as one of our families yet. I still need to conduct a 2 HOUR phone interview with you prior to being accepted.” This info was also NOWHERE in the literature.

What we think happened was that the director agreed to make an exception, but the social worker isn’t necessarily happy about the extra work taking us on as a family. Not exactly sure where we stand at this point,  but have our phone interview scheduled for the end of March.

We were very excited to hear about a local maternity home that also had an adoption component. We went up to visit them and receive our training to be listed as one of their families, but due to some questionable (possibly legal…not sure) tactics, we decided to not pursue this option. The red flags: 1. They only use one lawyer and you can not use outside counsel. 2. The birthmother expenses are a standard fee regardless of the situation. (There is a cap of birthmother expenses here in FL that is 5K. Anything higher, I believe, needs court approval). At this place there was a 10K birthmother fee (which may or may not be in the form of a “donation” to their non-profit). But in one instance, we were told that they used these donated funds to purchase a car for birthmother after she placed her child. While this may be legal, we didn’t feel it was ethical and would hate to have our adoption overturned or jeopardized because of this practice. 3. We didn’t feel that their birthmoms were adequately screened resulting in several failed placements.

I contacted a referral service, who offered us a 47K situation and told me that we couldn’t get a healthy Caucasian child for the 20K that we planned. In fact, she said “I can get you a drug exposed baby for 23K, but if you want a healthy one – it will be a minimum of 30K.” I think because we didn’t have enough money, she didn’t want to work with us, and I never heard from her again.

After hearing about the previous interaction of the referral service, a family friend referred us to a local adoption attorney who was outraged at the comments made by the referral service. She and I talked extensively, and we decided to have her show our profile for a minamal fee ($200) should any situatiosn come across her desk. This money would be rolled over into our finalization costs should we use her to finalize. She sounds fantastic, although I still haven’t received our contract that was supposed to be mailed a few weeks ago. Makes me a little concerned for her attention to detail, but maybe that contract isn’t really a big deal so there is no rush. She’s still showing our profile in the meantime.

From our new new lawyer friend, we were referred to a consultant in CO. She charges 2,500 up front, but seemed to have a good reputation. I told her our budget (around 20-25K at this point) and she said that we were better off working with someone else because she didn’t have access to situations that inexpensive. I HATE that this is about MONEY!!

Through various websites and forums I heard about this guy, Dave, who was doing adoption outreach for an agency in UT. It sounded great. I sent off all of our info, arranged to have profile books mailed, and waited for additional info. Since he said that fees ranged from 22-35K, I figured we would hope for a situation on the low end. What I didn’t ask to see were the specific financials. (ALWAYS ASK). Even if we could have located a birthmother through Dave, which was probably likely) the fees for their program (FEES ONLY) were 38K. I sent him a message apologizing because it really was my bad for not asking specifically, and he is holding our profile books in UT until we decide where to send them. No sense in having them mail them all the way back here to send them someplace else. Which leads me to the next agency…

We found another agency in UT that had a situation with a baby boy due Apr. 2nd. (I know soon, eh?) So I contacted them and turns out that they lost contact with that b-mom. But there is a great lead on a b-mom due May 24th. This agency seems to have access to a higher percentage of Caucasian kids (probably because they are in UTAH!). Their fees are reasonable (agency fees are around 18K) but they want 8K up front. OUCH! So we may use them, but still deciding on if we want to put that much money down and be stuck with them.

So currently, we are working with a consultant in Michigan who costs 100 to begin and if you get a match through her, you only pay 1000. This is VERY reasonable in this crazy world. We’ll see if anything comes of it. More soon. We had a couple leads on a few babies already and have only been active for 3 days.

So I can’t believe you’ve read all of this! Sorry for the novel, but this update has been coming for a long time. I’m hoping and praying that our son finds us and that we are patient enough to wait for him. More soon.



Mandy said...

Wow! You all have been through a lot of research and back and forth! But, after reading all of this, it does seem that you've become more educated and aware of all things adoption.

I really hope that things work out with at least one of the leads (UT, Michigan -- another lawyer friend) and your baby boy will be with you all soon.


Lindsey said...

Even though I've seen all your updates here and on fb, it's amazing to see it all spelled out together in one post. I really had no idea that the process was so complicated and taxing. I pray for you EVERY NIGHT that you'll have the right baby boy at the right time for your family. I really believe your hard work and faith are exactly right and you will be supremely successful. :)

Misty Dawn said...

I am loving your information!! I am totally ready to adopt as my DH is dragging behind me still. I hope w/in a couple of years he will be on the same page. Thank you so much for commenting on my blog and letting me follow your process with your 2nd adoption. I find all of this so very fascinating. I would like to be race specific, but not gender. Its amazing how much more a caucasian infant costs to adopt. I guess its b/c there aren't many out there. (((HUGS))) in your adoption journey.