PCOSChick from His and Her Infertility asked me to be a guest blogger to write about domestic adoption. She is on vacation and is having a series of guest bloggers write about adoption. You should check it out.
I was thinking that I should post it here too in case anyone that reads my blog would like more information about domestic adoption. I write a lot about my feelings and a little bit about the process, but this is a more detailed story about how we got to where we are now.
I have to give fair warning that I am writing about *my* experience with domestic adoption. Our agency may do things differently than other agencies. And some people don't use an agency at all and just do private advertising and work with a lawyer.
We started on our adoption journey by requesting materials from a couple different agencies. There was one in particular that is a little over an hour away from where we live and they were having an orientation meeting so we called them and said we would be there. My mom came along with my husband and I. They talked with us, gave us brochures and an application, showed us a video, and then we got to meet real families that worked with their agency. All three of us loved the orientation. We felt very comfortable working with this agency. We went home and filled out the application and wrote our very first adoption check.
A couple weeks later we had an appointment at the agency to meet our family advocate that we would be working with, go over how the adoption process works, fill out paperwork, and be fingerprinted. We also had to pay our homestudy fee at this appointment. Then we were sent home with a lot more paperwork.
Our agency requires that we earn education credits as part of our homestudy. We need to have 40 credits, 20 of which come from mandatory adoption classes at the agency. We earn the other 20 by doing things like reading books, taking online classes, taking a baby care class, watching an adoption video, taking infant and child CPR, etc.
The mandatory classes took place at the agency over five weeks. In the classes we went over drug exposure, medical issues, transracial adoption, open adoption, what it will be like to receive a call about a baby, adoption law, how to talk with your child about their adoption, etc. We had a chance to meet other families who have already adopted and we really learned a lot from them. I think the best opportunity we had was to meet a birth mother. Speaking with her completely changed how we looked at open adoption. It was a great experience.
After we finished with the classes and completed all the paperwork, we were assigned a social worker. She came to our house for three visits. One time she just met with me, another time she met with Adam, and the third time she met with both of us and looked all around our house. She was mostly just checking for safety, but of course we cleaned nonstop for days in order to prepare. My best advice for people is to not worry about the home visits!! Your home doesn't need to look like a museum. She isn't going to put on a white glove and be sure you dusted. Just make sure you have things like smoke detectors and that you fix any broken things around the house that may be unsafe.
A few weeks after meeting with our social worker, we received a call from the agency letting us know our homestudy was complete and we were ready to be profiled the next time an opportunity came up.
We had filled in three grids. One about medical issues- things the baby may have been exposed to, things that are in the birth family's medical history. The second grid was about race, age, and gender. The third grid was about how open the adoption would be.
We spent hours working on those grids. I received advice from a pediatrician to do the medical grid. We obsessed over every question. We've made changes to all our grids over time. Becoming more open to things the more we talked with people, did research, and thought about it over time.
Birth parents have things that they are looking for in adoptive parents. So, if both things match up- they are looking for things that fit you and you are looking for things that fit their situation, then you are profiled.
We had to make a profile. It's like a scrapbook all about us. When we are "profiled", our profile is sent to the expectant mother, along with other profiles, and she then chooses one.
At the time, I thought the paperwork was the stressful part. Boy was I wrong. The paperwork is actually the best part. It keeps you busy and moving forward and you are so full of hope during that time. It's the waiting that is hard. Especially when you know you are being profiled and you are waiting to hear an answer. It's such an emotional rollercoaster.
After a year of waiting without a match, we had to renew our homestudy. I was so mad about having to fill out all the paperwork again. Have another physical. Write another big check.
It may sound crazy, but the one thing I didn't mind doing again was our home visit. I like our social worker. I was looking forward to seeing her again. I was really depressed about a whole year going by without adopting and having to renew, but her visit really made me feel a lot better. She gave me hope that it would happen for us and that we just needed to hang in there a little longer.
It's been 18 months and we are still waiting. It's been hard, but blogging has been a huge help in getting through the wait!