Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our adoption process - info and advice

I have been getting asked at least once or twice a week about our adoption journey and the route that we took and if I have any advice. I thought it would be a good idea to write it all out here so everyone can find it easily. I by no means am an expert but I educated myself pretty well I think and I followed my gut and we ended up having a really amazing experience.  I hope that other hopeful adoptive parents can at least find something useful in our journey.

April 2016 - Started seriously talking about adoption. I felt a desperate tug in my heart to adopt and I couldn't ignore it anymore. Started listening to podcasts and found other adoptive parents to talk to.
 May 2016 - Sent in our homestudy application.
 June 2016 - Homestudy is in full swing. Started working on profile book.
 July 2016 - signed with Christian Adoption Consultants.
 August 2016 - Homestudy is complete! Officially a waiting family with four different agencies.   
September 13, 2016 - WE ARE MATCHED!!! WOOHOO!!!!
 October 2016 - Fly to Florida to meet the expectant mother. 
 November/December 2016 - Waited......and tried not to have anxiety attacks.
 January 12, 2017 - Our son Charlie was born!!

My biggest piece of advice. PODCASTS!!!!! I started off by listening to podcasts while I was driving for work. Lots and lots and LOTS of podcasts. Just THINKING about starting the adoption process is so completely overwhelming but starting with podcasts educated me SO much on so many adoption related topics. The best podcast out there is Creating a Family (link below). Dawn Davenport interviews 2-3 professionals from all different triads in each episode and she really asks good questions. There are episodes that cover things like where to start, the difference between agencies, attorneys, consultants and facilitators, what to expect with the homestudy, what expectant moms are looking for, profile books, etc. Another good podcast is the Infant Adoption Guide (link below), and Fund Your Adoption with Jeremy Resmer.  I listened to all of these podcasts on the podcast app on my iphone. But here are the links:
 Creating a Family Podcast
 Infant Adoption Guide Podcast
 Fund Your Adoption with Jeremy Resmer or Fund Your Adoption with Jeremy Resmer by Jeremy Resmer

We worked with Christian Adoption Consultants. In brief, consultants guide hopeful adoptive parents through the whole process and to different agencies who will waive their sign-on fees for the consultant's clients. So we were able to sign up with multiple agencies with little to no initial fees.  We decided to go the consultant route for a few reasons.
 1. The first and biggest reason is because we wanted to match quicker than the average 1-2 years.
 2. The second biggest reason was because I felt like it was so difficult to find an agency that I could trust ethically because they can say anything they want to me and the expectant moms but really just be in it for the money. CAC has worked with the particular agencies/attorneys they are partenered with for years and they are particular about finding GOOD agencies/attorneys that are ethical and take good care of the birthmothers (which also in turn lowers the chance of a failed match).
 3. We didn't want to be locked in with one agency, because if down the road we weren't happy with how things were going we wanted to have flexibility to go elsewhere without losing a huge amount of money.
 4. CAC only works in states that have laws that limit the chance of a failed placement for the adoptive family. For instance in Florida there is no revocation period where the birth parents can change their mind after signing (vs Wisconsin where the birth parents can change their mind for 30 days after placement). Not all consultants work this way but CAC did and I found a lot of comfort in that.
 5. My gut just kept leading me to CAC and I couldn't fight it.  Our experience with CAC, particularly Susan VanSyckle was excellent. Communication was fast and easy and our questions were always answered really thoroughly. We ended up signing up with 4 agencies and were matched in 3 weeks with the second expectant mother to see our book. 

Home Study
We found a local adoption agency that did our homestudy and the CAC agencies all accepted it. It took us about 3.5 months for our homestudy to be completed and sent off to the agencies. We signed with CAC about a month before our homestudy was complete. You can read more about our homestudy here and here 

Profile book
I used mixbook for our profile book and I had to order about 20 copies to send to the agencies. They also gave me a PDF version when I explained it was for an adoption. You can see my profile book here

Private adoption isn't cheap. I think the average from what I saw during my research and experience was between $30-$45k. I did a rough breakdown of the fees here. We fundraised quite a bit. Our most successful fundraiser was a puzzle fundraiser and I also did an auction on instagram where I found etsy shops that were willing to donate handmade items. I also made jewelry and sold it on etsy.

 I hope some of this info was helpful!! Like I said before, I'm not an expert but I am happy to share my own experience. Adoption is hard and it's time consuming and it's scary as heck, but it's SO WORTH IT. If you are thinking about adoption, don't let the process scare you. Just take one step at a time and don't give up!