Thursday, October 18, 2012

Exhausted ramblings

Disclaimer:  I was at work until midnight on Tuesday and then for 12 hours on Wednesday, and 3 hours today on my day off.  I am very tired and need to unload bit.  So please excuse the exhausted ramblings.

Last night as we were crawling in bed B told me about his grocery trip with C yesterday.  They had one of those two seater carts and C was sitting in one of the seats.  C lost it and pitched a tantrum in the store because he wanted someone to sit with him in the cart, specifically a little boy to sit with him!  Sit with him “RIGHT THERE” pointing at the second seat.  B told him mommy and daddy were working on it- that we are working on our adoption so he can have someone to sit with.

My heart broke.  My heart broke because my two year old is lonely.  He is such a social kid and LOVES playing with our neighborhood children.  He loved daycare when he was enrolled.  I think he’ll still love it when B goes back to work and C is in day care again. I think he’ll love school next year.  C wants someone to sit with.  I want to give him a sibling as much as I want another child.  It is all wrapped up together in one aching hole of knowing our family is not complete at three people, one dog, one cat and one bird.

But then, then there is the worry.  Don’t think because we’ve decided to move forward that we don’t, I don’t worry about if it is exactly the right choice.  Are we ready for two (or more) children?  Are we capable of being good adoptive parents? Will we be able to complete this process and what will life look like on the other side?   But you know what? Every prospective parent asks those questions and they are never answered until you get there.  No one knows if they are read of if they will be able to do a good job of it until they get there.  Honestly, if we end up over our heads what we’ll do is seek help! Just like we would with any child we add to our family.

There is also the worry about timelines.  If I could MAKE it happen faster and have another child home in 2 months I would!  But I know the process will take 12-18 months AFTER we sign on with our coordinator and we have not be able to do that yet.  Why not? Well honestly it is a money issue.  We have to be smart about this and have a financial cushion before pulling the trigger- and we are working on it.

A few people have commented that it would be easier to just get pregnant again, and don’t we want “real children” or “our own?”  Well yes we could probably get pregnant multiple times in the next 18 months, and we may never have another problem in a pregnancy.  That is possible.  It is also possible I have an easily diagnosed and treatable issue that has caused our miscarriages (like a progesterone deficiency).   We are not ruling out more biological children.  

This is not our plan B.  Adoption was always in plan A, it was just not necessarily right now.  We’ve decided to work on it now- but it is NOT plan B.

Those questions are so HURTFUL.  Firstly, any adopted child will be OUR OWN, and REAL.  Just like B is my REAL husband.  Chosen family is just as valid as born family.  Otherwise we’d all marry our siblings and cousins.  I suggest people try and think of it like that.

 Second, there is a lot stuff influencing our timeline decisions you may not know.  I need a medical test in March that I cannot have while pregnant or breastfeeding.  So, we have to wait until then to even think about trying to get pregnant.  We really want to be working on building our family in some way now.  So choosing our providers, hopefully starting our home study by January 2013 etc are all ways we can work on building our family NOW.  And there is no guarantee that I would get pregnant in March and it’ll work out.  We are pursing all of our avenues.  If I should become pregnant and we do not miscarry we always have the options of putting our adoption on hold, or not.  My understanding is DRC does allow families that are pregnant to adopt.   

We’re not closing our minds to the possibilities- we are open to them.

That is all for now.  Thanks for listening.  This mama needs a nap.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's getting chilly here

We have heat! Doesn’t sound very adoption oriented, does it?  Well I guess there will be many non-adoption things I write about and it actually is adoption related, sort of.

Our home was built in 1959, and some of the parts are original.  When we had the home inspection we found out the furnace is older than either one of us! And will probably have to be replaced in the next 5 years.  We also found out we have an in furnace type of water heater.  Well after moving in we figured out there is no hot water in the Bates house L We have about 3 minutes of hot water and then it goes lukewarm.  Which was fine and dandy for summer but in October…. Not my favorite.

We’ve been told we can install a separate hot water tank and fix the issue.   We’ve been delaying because of the cost.  The other big question was, if the coil is corroded and we’re not getting hot water, will we have heat?  Since we have baseboard heating.  Well folks we turned on the heat tonight and IT WORKS!!!

That means we can get a separate hot water tank and get hot water back in the taps without replacing the entire furnace.  Hopefully in the next two weeks.  I’m making it my project for Monday.  It’s much less expensive to put in a hot water tank, so we don’t have the expense of a new furnace using up out funds we’re trying to earmark for the adoption. 

I am so looking forward to a hot bath.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Why Africa?

So why Africa?

Once we ruled out infant and foster care adoption in the states we evaluated the four main international regions: Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, and Africa (as well as some individual programs like Haiti and Kazakhstan).

We don’t qualify for most of the Asian countries programs.  To adopt from China there is a 5-7 years wait list, we both have to be 30 years old and we have to have a net worst of $80,000.  We basically don’t meet any of the requirements nor do we want to wait for that long.   Many of the other Asian countries either have similar time lines and requirements or only adopt older children internationally.

We are uncomfortable adopting from Eastern Europe because of the fetal alcohol syndrome risk.  FAS is common in many eastern European countries… and it may indeed be our bias showing but we just are not willing to risk it.  I’ve read a lot of FAS and honestly at this point I think I’d be more willing to adopt a child that had been exposed to hard drugs before I’d knowingly take on a child at risk for FAS.

The South American programs are riddled with corruption.  The Guatemala program was shut down due to some serious child trafficking.  Columbia still has a program going but when speaking to a few agencies it is mostly and older child program and the implication is that if someone tries to promise you a child under two either a) they are lying and trying to get you involved and hopefully you’ll adopt an older child or b) the adoption of a child under two will probably be unethical. 

That left us with a few single country programs to evaluate, none of which seemed to fit our needs and Africa.  We looked into different programs and settled on DRC.  While we qualify for Ethiopia and Uganda as well there are things that made us hesitate with both programs.  Ethiopia has slowed down significantly to the point that wait times have doubled or tripled and there are families that have had referrals for a long time who have not been able to bring their children home.  Ethiopia also now requires two trips to adopt.  Uganda’s program is very new and is mostly an older child program.

So we decided on DRC.   They have a program we qualify for and we can adopt a child under two pretty easily (from what we have been told so far).  We also have settled on an adoption facilitator that we believe will help us adopt as ethically as possible.   The ability to find providers we are very comfortable with was also a huge consideration in the process. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Why not adopt from U.S. foster care?

Why not adopt from U.S. foster care?

I can hear it now.  “Well M, you want to adopt a child who has less chance of finding a family, and you’re not fussed about gender or race.  What about adopting from US foster care?  We have thousands of children in need of homes right here in the states. Plus domestic foster care adoptions cost less.”

B and I thought a lot about adopting from the public system.  It came down to what we were comfortable with.  You’ll probably get sick of hearing that phrase if I don’t chase you off reading this blog with my long posts, punctuation and spelling mistakes :-D

B and I are not willing to adopt out of birth order.  So we will only accept a referral for a child younger than C.  Since we’re being totally honest on this blog (at least striving to be) we’ve thought a lot about age ranges and we don’t think we’re up for a child over 2 years old.  We absolutely know that a child at two years old has a lot of experiences under their belts that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.  They can be severely traumatized. We are not under the impression than a child under two will not remember or not affected long term by their experiences.   We do think that attachment and bonding will probably be easier for a younger child.  It is important to us to be there for as much of our child’s life as possible.  Since we are being completely honest- we’d love to adopt a child as young as possible but two really seems to be our mental cut off range.

B and I are not up for being foster parents.  Thank God people are up for it- but we are not.  Neither of us can imagine taking a child into our home, loving them, caring for them and then having them leave.  We are just not that selfless. We cannot fathom explaining a foster sibling leaving to C.    So if we were to pursue adoption from foster care we would NOT be participating in foster to adopt.

We’ve also really reflected on adopting a special needs child.  It is true you cannot ever know if your children will have special needs or develop them later, but we know that there are special needs we do not feel capable of knowingly choosing.   We would adopt a child with a minor physical disability- missing some digits or maybe even one limb, a cleft pallet, hip dysplasia, club foot, and umbilical hernia- you get the picture.  We would also carefully consider the adoption of a blind or seriously vision impaired child or a deaf child.  We are not willing to knowingly take on a developmentally challenged child, a child with severe physical disabilities, a known shortened life span, or a non-curable communicable illness.   Of course these are generalizations and there is a ton or grey space between the lines we’ve drawn.

We would only accept a referral of a child under C’s age (preferably under 2) that was legally free to adopt.  In other words that the parental rights were already terminated.   Based on those three factors we’re pretty darn sure our wait would be unpredictably long.  Think about it- if a child has been in foster care long enough to be legally free to adopt by their 2nd birthday don’t you think most of them will be adopted by their foster parents?  I hope most of them are, I hope and pray for as much stability for those babies and toddlers as possible.

If you look at the U.S. waiting children lists- and I have- you see two major types of children under two looking for adoptive homes.  The first is a child under two that is a part of a sibling group.  Since we’re not going to adopt a child older than C this basically rules out sibling groups.  The second child under two has major disabilities that B and I do not feel capable of caring for.

U.S. adoption from foster care just isn’t for us.  We’ve looked into it- we really have and it is not the way for us to grow our family at this time.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why not domestic infant adoption?

Wednesday morning before heading into work I called a home study provider that had returned my contact email.  She wrote a very nice response and asked me to give her a call so we could discuss the process.  Since I had time before work I decided to give her a ring.

Over an hour later……  I was scurrying to be on time.  The conversation we had was interesting and challenging.  She asked me questions I honestly did not expect from a home study provider.  In retrospect they were all good questions aimed at figuring out if we really knew what we wanted, or if we had our head in the clouds.  Our conversation was a winding one but came down to asking a lot of “had we considered? And why not’s?”

So this is my first series of topics.  Tonight’s post is:

Why not domestic infant adoption?

First I want to say that for many parents domestic adoption is a great choice.  Everything I type here is only my (and B’s) opinion and is no way meant to be judgmental.  In figuring out how to navigate our choices in adoption we have to figure out what is important to US as a family and what is not.  We also have to figure out what we think is ethical for US, and what makes US feel uncomfortable.  Others have and will have different priorities and different stances on many of these topics.

There are multiple aspects of domestic infant adoption that have lead us to choose another path, here are a few.

Birth parents looking to place their unborn children into adoptive homes in the U.S. have a huge range of families to choose from.  Unless a child has a significant medical problem already diagnosed prior to birth there is no shortage of families looking to adopt.  It is true that boys and children of color are “less desirable” in adoption terms (not mine!!!!), however there are many families out there willing and happy to adopt infant boys that are not white.  We would be one of those families if we were going with domestic infant adoption.  Burton and I want to provide a family for a child that may otherwise not have one.  We have spoken a lot about special needs and do not feel that we are up to taking on an infant with a serious known condition prior to birth.  Those two things combined drive us to feel that domestic infant adoption is not for us.

In domestic infant adoption there are many service providers, lawyers, placement agencies, full service agencies, local providers and national providers.   In general the smaller the agency the longer your wait time for a referral since they cannot compete with the volume of larger service providers.  The largest service providers are national full service adoption agencies. In general the more you move towards these national full service the shorter your wait and the larger your bill.  Domestic infant adoptions with a full service national agency can be $45,000+.  Not all will be but they can be.

In the US you have to abide by different state regulations.  In many states you are allowed to pay for birth mother expenses.  Some states put a cap on the amount; others regulate it by what type.  This can include rent, food, medical bills etc.  If the birth mother changes her mind and you as hopeful adoptive parents have paid these expenses you are SOL. It is illegal and unethical to buy a baby, so any expenses you paid for are basically a gift to the birth mother and you have lost those funds moving forward toward (hopefully) another referral.  This whole process makes B and I uncomfortable.  We do not feel comfortable paying expenses.  If we were to go the domestic infant route we would be restricting our pool of possible birth parents significantly by not being open to participating.

We also have very strong opinions about prenatal care and substance exposure.  You have to document all of your preferences.  This helps you get matched with birth parents so your agency can send them your profile.  B and I are NOT comfortable with prenatal tobacco, alcohol or drug exposure and we feel strongly that we would want a birth mother that had prenatal care.  So when you combine the fact that we would not want our profile to be shown to mothers that have any of that in their history with the fact that we are uncomfortable with paying birth mother expenses our pool of prospective birth parents gets smaller and smaller.  This is even though we have no preference for sex or race.

In most domestic infant adoptions the birth parents pick out the adoptive family.  Adoptive families make profiles that are placed online and hard copies are sent to birth parents who are using the same agency as long as your preferences match. Many agencies have specific guidelines for profiles and will help you market yourselves.  This whole marketing aspect feels really odd to us.  You can see on agency websites information that tells prospective adoptive parents that the wait times are typically X-X, and if you do not have a referral in that time then you should listen to our profile recommendations, we know what adoptive parents want to hear.  I am paraphrasing of course, but I have seen that type of message on a few sites.   We don’t want to feel like we’re selling ourselves.  We know we’re good parents and we can provide a wonderful family to a child.  If we went with domestic infant adoption I don’t know that I could follow advice about how to market our family.

When you add everything up we’re just not the right family for domestic infant adoption.  There are other things that bother us about domestic infant adoption, but this post is long enough and I think I hit most of the key points. While it would be WONDERFUL to have our child in our home right from birth that doesn’t outweigh all the other things that make it just not fit right with our family.

In all of this analysis we know we won’t be able to satisfy all of our desires.  For example, we know we cannot control the prenatal substance exposure of a child from foster care or international adoption either.  In the end we have to analyze each process and decide which fits us best, knowing that none if perfect.


Monday, October 1, 2012


Why? Why do we want to adopt?  The short answer is family; we want to build our family.  The long answer is more complicated and WAY too long.  So here is our medium sized list.

1. We want to build our family.
2.  We believe adoption is a valid way to build a family and that adopted members of a family are just as valuable as those born into a family.
3. We love being parents and we want more children.  I want four children and B wants less, we’re shooting for three and then we plan to reassess.
4.  Adoption provides a family (not a home, a family) for a child that otherwise may not have had one.
5. Adoption sometimes provides a life for a child who otherwise would have died.
6.   No one deserves to be an orphan
7. Adoption is a way for me have my big family without contributing to overpopulation (reproductive replacement rate in a first world country is 2.1 children per adult woman)
8.  I have wanted to adopt since my father talked about it when I was a little kid. 
9.  I feel called to adopt, can’t explain it I just feel that way.
10.   Adoption will challenge us a parents and we believe will make us better parents to all of our children.
11. I have been pregnant four times and we have one living child

The last point on our list is not really WHY we are adopting, but rather why we’re working on it now.  We planed on adopting at a later point in our family building even before our first pregnancy.  Our plan hasn’t really changed, our timeline has.


We're adopting.

We’re adopting!

B and I are very excited and anxious to get on with the process.  This blog will follow us through the whole process of international adoption.  At least I hope it will, I plan on at least one post a week.  B has not decided if he’ll be contributing or not.

Hopefully our newest family member will come home in late 2013, but honestly I think it won’t be till 2014.  We are planning on an independent adoption from the Democratic Republic of Congo using a facilitator.  Hopefully the process will go smoothly and we can save enough funds to keep money from being the thing that holds us up.  We researching and saving our pennies right now, so this blog will follow us right from the beginning.

Our current to do list for our adoption is:
1. Sign up with our facilitator
2/3. Save funds for our home study
2/3. Pick a home study provider
4. Prep for our home study.

Please comment! And ask any questions you may have.  I will do my best to answer them.  I hope you enjoy rollercoasters- I’m sure this trip is going to be full of ups and downs.