After we decided on Hope Cottage Pregnancy and Adoption center as our agency of choice, the hubs and I were full throttle in the adoption process. (To learn more about picking an agency, click here and here.)
The process went a little something like this:
- Adoption Education Seminar, which is an all-day session about everything you ever wanted to know about adoption. It’s mandatory and VERY helpful. It’s around $500.
- Adoption Application came next. Yes, it is a lot of paperwork, BUT the bulk of it wasn’t as onerous as expected. We provided all financial records (statements, tax returns, pay stubs, and such), consented for a credit/background check, submitted references, completed medical assessments (physical, TB test, HIV test), copied driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, proved insurance coverage, and listed information such as previous addresses, schooling history, career type, immediate family identification, and so forth. Also, the application fee is due at this time, which pays for the home study and application submission. Currently, the rate at Hope Cottage is $1,500.
- And then, the dreaded (da da dum) home study. Okay, dreaded for these first-time, really nervous, please-like-us-adoption-agency perspective parents. But y’all its easy breezy. The case worker comes to your house and just notes that you have adequate space for a baby and to make sure you’ll not be a candidate for Hoarders. Our case worker never even opened a closet. During our home study visit, we also conducted our interviews. The case worker interviewed each of separately and then together as a couple. We talked about our visions for parenthood, discipline, our childhoods, fears and hopes, and what we expected out of the adoption journey.
- (Cue the Jeopardy theme song.) The case worker has 30 days to complete the home study and present to the “powers that be” to determine if you are approved to adopt. Once that glorious letter comes in the mail, you are officially a waiting family–woo hoo!!!! Through our agency, you pay $10,000 at this point. The balance of the adoption (depending on your salary level) is due upon placement of your child.
A waiting family means essentially that you are cleared for placement, which could happen the next day or several months (sometimes years). Usually, during the application/home study process, your case worker talks with you about making a family profile book. This album often features a letter to the birth parents, a bit about your story (how you met, married, and such), your interests, pictures of your house (even the baby’s room), photos of friends and family (those who will be part of the baby’s life), information about your hobbies/interests, and what you hope to provide as parents.
Being a waiting family means just that . . . waiting. In our experience, we encountered these types of situations during a five-month period:
- A pregnant birth mother wishing to choose adoption.
- A birth mother who just delivered wishing to choose adoption.
- A waiting baby whose birth parents previously revoked parental rights.
Our case worker presented as much information as she had or was allowed to share via email or phone. We would discuss the information and decide if we wanted our profile books shown/considered. If the birth parents are willing, they look through the profile books and choose a family. In cases where the birth parents do not want to make that choice, the agency chooses.
In total, we were candidates for 10 babies during our waiting stint. In some cases, we said no because the circumstance was uncomfortable to us. In other cases, the birth mother chose another family for placement. In one case, a family member decided to adopt the child. In another, the birth mother decided to parent. And in the best, perfect, absolutely wonderful situation, we brought our sweetest girl home!
It is also good to know that birth parents cannot revoke parental claim until 48 hours after the child is born.
Once placement occurs, the case worker visits with the family once per month for six months. At the six month mark, the petition for official, final adoption is made with the courts. At the hearing, the judge signs the papers, the birth certificate change is requested, and you are well on your way to happily ever after.
Of course, the caveat must be made that adoption processes vary by state. Each state has different rules; heck, each agency likely does things just a bit differently. Inter-state adoption also functions with varying parameters. In our case, we pursued infant domestic adoption in Texas; but if you choose foster to adopt, that comes with another set of requirements. And I haven’t even mentioned international adoption!
Moral of the story? The adoption process can be tedious and time-consuming, but it is worth every.step.every.papercut.every.minute. It’s not impossible, not even close. Sure, if you tried to do it all in a day, you’d lose your mind. Yet, thankfully, you only need to take it one step at a time . . . step by step on the wonderful road to growing your forever family!