Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 13:15:59 GMT -5
Question: I'm interested in adoption, where do I start? Answer 1: There are a lot of avenues to get started. There are books that provide general overviews of different types of adoption, like Adoption for Dummies, You Can Adopt, or The Idiots Guide to Adoption. They can often help you decide what type of adoption may be right for your family, and provide resources on where to go from there.
A number of websites for agencies and other adoption-related communities have webinars and phone seminars about adoption. resolve.org has a number of adoption-related podcasts
Agencies in your area may also have similar offerings.
Once you've decided on a path forward, you can research local and national agencies, law firms, facilitators (if allowed in your state) or private adoption options available to you.
Answer 2: I usually suggest that people considering adoption should check out an introductory book on the subject, because there are so many different kinds of adoption, each with its own process. I think books like Adoption for Dummies or The Complete Idiot's Guide To Adoption (which I used) are a great place to get started. They provide lots of basic information on adoption, the different types, the processes, and how to research an agency. Other good books are The Complete Adoption Book and You CAN Adopt. Any of these will help you decide which type of adoption best “fits” your family.
If you then decide that domestic adoption is right for your family, you’ll need to find a good agency or decide to pursue an independent adoption. I highly recommend researching any agency you are considering to make sure it abides by ethical standards. For domestic agencies, a great place to look them up is on the yahoo group called "AARD" (Adoption Agency Research – Domestic). That group is dedicated to giving honest feedback on agencies. You can ask about the agencies you are interested in directly, and also search their archives and files.
If you choose international, you’ll then need to pick from which country. The US Department of State's website lists the requirements to adopt from each country (http://adoption.state.gov/). I always recommend you find a country that you wish to adopt from first, and then chose an agency that has a strong program in that country. There are some great agencies that have some really strong programs in countries they've been working in for some time...and some fledgling programs in countries that are new to them. Even though these agencies are generally highly recommended, their newer programs may not work as well as those that are more renowned, because they haven't had the time and experience to figure out all the kinks, establish strong contacts, and become aware of all the pitfalls. It's also a good idea to find an agency that has a strong program in more than one country you are interested in. Adoption programs can be very volatile, as they are dependent on the laws of multiple countries/compacts, diplomatic relations, public perception, etc. It's not unheard of for a country to drastically slow down their process or close entirely, and if your agency specializes in more than one country you are interested in, you should be able to transfer to another program with limited difficulty or cost (you should make sure of this when interviewing agencies). The yahoo group "Adoption Agency Research" is a phenomenal resource for vetting agencies, and works the same way as “AARD.” Answer 3: We read the books and went to orientation sessions, but what really helped us decide was meeting with adoptive families and talking adoption. I'm a planner and and overpreparer and when I read about everything that could go wrong, I started to freak out. When I hung out with a couple adoptive families (friends that we've now gotten closer to), it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. They weren't Adoptive or Transracial families when we had dinner, they were just families.
Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 13:18:24 GMT -5
Question: What are the different types of adoption? What are the pros and cons of each?
Answer: Adoption typically falls into 3 categories: domestic adoption (typically infants), international adoption, and foster-adopt. Kinship adoption is also a topic that occasionally comes up, in which a family member is adopted, often after a short time in foster care.
There are no real pros or cons for any type of adoption, just what is right for your family. Factors to consider include
Domestic adoption: Children are usually adopted at birth (this may be your path if you want to experience parenting from the newborn phase on) Most domestic adoptions in the US has some level of openness with the birth family Fees can range from the low $10K(ish) on up, depending on a host of factors Domestic adoption can be done via private avenues, law firms specializing in adoption, facilitators (if allowed in your state), or adoption agencies
Children are usually adopted at toddlerhood or older Adoptions tend to be closed, as there may or may not be information about the child's birth family Fees are in the $40K(ish) range, depending again on a host of factors (including how often you would travel to the child's country of birth during the process) This may be an option for those with a particular "pull" toward a country that has adoption agreements with the US
Children may be placed at birth up until when they would age out of the foster care system Adoptions may be open or closed, depending on a host of factors Fees are generally low Some children are still at legal risk (parental rights haven't been terminated), while others are legally free for adoption (parental rights have been terminated) Some families choose to be foster parents only (with no plan to adopt), while others have a goal of adopting the children they foster
Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 14:20:44 GMT -5
Question: What are your favorite books related to adoption?
Answer 1: For giving an overview, we used Adoption for Dummies. My understanding is the international adoption piece of it is out of date.
Adopting After Infertility is VERY out of date in the back end that talks about adoption. But the upfront part that discusses the things to think through when shifting from IF to adoption is pretty much timeless IMO (and very helpful)
In On It is a good book to pass on to friends and family so they can understand the adoption process and their roles
Adoption-related reading that I found enlightening were Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother, A Love Like No Other (a collection of essays written by adoptive parents), and The Open Adoption Book by Bruce Rappaport (if that is your path)
In terms of kids books, I like I Wished For You. We also put together a photobook for DD with the story of her adoption. Answer 2 (given by Captain Serious): General Adoption
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption - Great introductory guide that sets out the basics of adoption, the different types, and common issues that can arise
Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew - My first insight into the fact that there is pain/loss involved in adoption, and it really prepared me for some of the things my children go through and what kind of things might be triggers for their pain
Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother - Geared more toward mothers who adopted after IF, but has stuff for all adoptive mothers. Let me feel normal about some of my mixed feelings about adoption even when I felt the world expected me to always be over the moon happy
International Adoption: Sensitive Advice for Prospective Parents
Supporting an Adoption
When Friends Ask About Adoption: Question & Answer Guide for Non-Adoptive Parents and Other Caring Adults
Parenting With Love And Logic - This book's main premise forms the basis of our parenting philosophy, but as with all parenting books, there are a lot of specifics that you have to sift through and take only what you are comfortable with
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 - This book helped us get through the worst period with M, when he threw every acting-out behavior at us he could think of. We never applied it the way the book explains, but just clung to the principle of not letting him see us affected by his behavior and always remaining calm and enforcing discipline with cool reserve. It was a life-saver!
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, 5th Edition: Birth to Age 5 (Shelov, Caring for your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5) Parenting Adopted Children
Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years - Great guide for what your child's adjustment will entail and points out all the issues that may present themselves with advice on how to deal with them
Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents - Great book on attachment
I Love You Rituals - If things are really tough and you are looking for ways to reach out and foster attachment even when you don't think you have it in you (and believe me, I've been there), this book has great ideas for little things you can do to break through
Adopting Older Kids/Parenting Hurt Children
Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft
Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow - This book is the one that I always recommend first to parents adopting older children. It really helped us understand what we were dealing with and how to best approach it. It can be scary, because they talk about really bad cases, but it was so relatable and helped us avoid many pitfalls--especially triangulation!
Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families - This book was the first that really captured how I felt. It's more about the impact that raising a hurt child can have on the rest of the family, and was very honest. I couldn't believe that the emotions I felt were actually being written about so openly.
Next Steps in Parenting the Child Who Hurts
When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD - Healing Trust (3 CD set), and Taming the Tiger While It's Still a Kitten (lecture on CD with booklet, www.attachment-store.org/taming-the-tiger-while-its-still-a-kitten.html) are good resources to understand children with attachment difficulties. They really helped me get the full understanding of the child's mentality as they go through the process. I personally felt that the techniques were too heavy-handed, but that's likely because I wasn't dealing with a child who had RAD. Still, the insight into their fear and how they act and manipulate relationships because of it was invaluable in understanding my sons. These books/CDs really made me feel like I had a better understanding of what they had to go through, how they were going to do it, and why they were acting the way they were. It made me feel more in control, because I knew what we were going through was normal, I wasn't completely messing up, and that this was all just part of the process they had to go through.
Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control: A Love-Based Approach to Helping Attachment-Challenged Children With Severe Behaviors - Presents a different/new way to interpret (and therefore respond to) the behaviors of children with traumatic pasts. It was recommended to me by many parents of children with RAD and FASD, and they swear it’s the only thing that worked with their kids. Basically, it urges parents to first foster a non-punitive, non-judging, nurturing relationship with the child to quell their fears, calm them, and build a relationship of trust and respect before focusing on correcting their behaviors. This book is pretty much the exact opposite in many ways to Nancy Thomas’ approach and many of the others above, but I think they all have their place, depending on the child and situation. Discussing Difficult Topics with Children
The books below helped me get ideas about how to discuss everything from alcoholism to difficult past trauma and medical concerns with my sons, in ways that they could digest the information and know who was safe to discuss these issues with. I recommend reading them alone first, because some of them were better to give me ideas of how to phrase things and what to make sure to include, while others were more therapeutic for the children to read or have read to them.
W.I.S.E. UP Powerbook
Privacy: Deal With It Like Nobody's Business
"My Dad Loves Me, My Dad Has A Disease": A Child's View: Living with Addiction
An Elephant in the Living Room - (There is also an adult's leader's guide to go along with this book) Answer 3: In On It - a great book to give your parents, friends, etc. so that they can better understand adoption in it's modern form and how to help/support you as you grow your family Answer 4: I really liked The Open Adoption Experience by Melina and Roszia. MH said he liked Inside Transracial Adoption by Steinberg and Hall.
I read A Mother for Choco by Kasza to LO a lot - he's only 4 months, but seems to like the pictures and the length/pacing of the story is good.
Answer 5: Dear Birthmother by Siber and Speedin was required by our Agency and it was so worth the read. It really helped us gain an understanding of a lot of the myths as well as the benefits of open or semi open adoption. I highly recommend anyone considering or are in the process of adoption to read this book. Answer 6: I'm reading Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier and so far I love it- has given me so much insight.
Answer 7: For me, the Boy Who Was Raised Like a Dog, by Bruce Perry, helped me put foster care, foster kids & Trauma into a different perspective.
Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 14:22:53 GMT -5
Question: How much does adoption cost?
Answer 1: Fees can vary based on the type of adoption
Foster/adoption fees are generally low, from $0 to a few hundred are the quotes I've seen
Domestic infant adoption can be in the low $10K(ish) and go up from there, depending on the route taken. Agency adoptions tend to be on the higher end of fees due to advertising and overhead.
The fees I've seen for international adoption seem to be around $40-50K, depending on the country, amount of travel, etc.
One thing to keep in mind is that some agencies charge on a sliding scale based on income, some companies offer an adoption reimbursement program, and there is an adoption tax credit (currently non-refundable, but they're working on that)
Answer 2: We've found three highly recommended agencies in our area with fees from $11-15K (domestic infant adoption). Answer 3: One thing I discovered is that when adopting (at least internationally), there are a ton of costs that aren't paid to the agency. It's important to understand this and ask the agency which costs they are including when they quote you a price. Our first adoption, we were quoted "$18,000 - $20,000 to adopt from Peru, including travel." We knew we would likely run on the high side of that figure, and maybe even a bit more, but we were shocked when our total process cost just around $40,000. Things not included in the original quoted price included background checks, immigration fees, the cost of getting all the documents we needed for out dossier and having them certified for international use, and the overnight shipping costs and other expediting fees we chose to pay to move things along quicker (Our first process took 2.5 years and our second almost 1.5 years. We got desperate enough to pay thousands in shipping throughout the process).
Also, by the second time we adopted, the agency changed the way they quoted their fees, and did include many of the above costs in their estimate, which is why it's important to ask which fees are not included, and how much they might run you throughout the process. Answer 4: To follow off on Answer #3, one thing that was important to us was how transparent an agency (or whomever you work with) is about fees. Our agency has the entire line-by-line breakdown on their website, and our social worker was very realistic about any other fees that might come up.
Answer 5: Total (minus finalization) will be $26,000. All money goes to agency into a birthmother pool so we are not tied to one specific BM. If she changes her mind then we do not lose the money, it just stays in the pool. Payments are made when we reach certain steps so not a lump sum.
Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 14:23:38 GMT -5
Question: What steps are involved in the adoption process?
Answer: The steps vary based on the types of adoption. The basics are:
Step 1: Research and decide on what kind of adoption you're interested in
Step 2: Confirm that you meet the requirements to complete that type of adoption
Step 3: Choose an agency, law firm, country, facilitator, or private adoption path
Step 4: Have a homestudy performed. In a homestudy, a licensed social worker will gather information about you and will visit your home to ensure that your family will provide a safe, loving environment for a child. You will need to answer questions about your background and history as individuals and as a couple/family (if married and/or you already have kids), and show you can financially support a child. You will need references from people who can attest to your ability to parent.
Step 5: Go into the waiting pool, however that may look for your type of adoption. For international, you will wait to be matched with a child. For domestic adoption, you'll put together a profile (basically a scrapbook of you) for expectant parents to look at and decide if they want you to parent their child. For foster adoption, you will have a caseworker assigned to you who will facilitate any potential matches
Step 6: Matched! Meet the child, take the child home, all that good stuff you've been waiting for
Step 7: Post-placement visits. A social worker will visit your home, make sure the transition is going well, and write reports attesting to that
Step 7a: termination of parental rights. This may still have to happen via the courts in a foster-adopt situation. In domestic adoption, it may be done voluntarily by one or both birth parents, or one may voluntarily sign TPR but the other will be done via the courts. As with much of adoption, it varies
Step 8: finalization! Attend court and your child is officially and forever a part of your family! I believe this is automatically part of the process of leaving a child's country of birth in international adoption
Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 14:24:59 GMT -5
Question: What are the pros & cons of open vs. closed adoption? Answer 1: Increasingly in the US, domestic adoptions are open. Studies have shown that open adoption is beneficial to all members of the adoption triad (adoptees, adoptive family, birth family). Some closed adoptions do still occur. A majority of international adoptions are closed. Foster-adoptions tend to be closed due to the nature of TPR being involuntary, but open foster-adoptions do occur.
If you're planning on adopting domestically, you'll likely be expected to have some level of openness. Soapbox time!
Openness in adoption is NOT co-parenting. And it can mean a LOT of different things. On the semi-open side, it can mean letters and pictures sent to birth families, through a third party, on a set schedule (eg, once per year). On the very open side, it can mean visiting often and knowing each other's last names, addresses, and visiting each other's homes. And there are lots of in-betweens: a couple of visits a year at a neutral location, exchanging e-mails and texts but no visits, etc.
The best way to decide is to research what open adoption really means and if it's something that could work for your family.
Birth family knows their child is happy, healthy, and loved Adoptive family has a resource for questions their child may have about their background Child has a connection to their biological family, which can be helpful emotionally as well as knowing medical history, etc.
If the birth family is unstable (drugs, violence, imprisonment), open adoption may be harmful to all involved Not really a con, but expectations should be set on some level so that everyone is on the same page as to the level of openness and how often contact will occur
Answer 2: We adopted internationally for many reasons, one of which was that my husband wasn't comfortable with the idea of an open adoption. Since then, we've completed two separate closed adoptions from Peru (one in 2010 and one in 2012), begun one birthmother search and initiated contact with the police officers that first found my other son.
What I'm getting at is that we learned, the hard way, that our children are connected to their birth families for life. No matter how hard the facts of their past, the people from whom they came will always be a part of them, and it's much easier for them to understand and accept the circumstances of their adoptions and lives if they know as much as possible about where they came from. We often make the mistake of thinking we are protecting our children from the less than desirable parts of their past, when in reality, we are only shielding ourselves from that part of their lives. The truth is that our children lived it; there is no protecting them, just helping them cope, heal, and understand as best we can.
Part of adopting is agreeing to take a child's pain unto yourself, and it begins with birth families and their histories.
Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 14:25:33 GMT -5
Question: What is involved in the home study? Answer 1: It varies from place to place, but the basics are:
Criminal background check/clearances to make sure you don't have any felonies, especially those involving children, on your record
Providing paperwork showing you are financially stable and able to provide for a child
Medical clearance from your doctor showing you are expected to live a normal lifespan
Some sort of autobiography where you answer questions about your history, background, attitudes on adoption, discipline, child care, etc.
References from friends, family, and/or co-workers on your suitability as a parent
You will meet with a social worker, sometimes only once and sometimes over the course of a few meetings, so go over a lot of questions from the autobiography. You may be asked to expand on areas where they feel more discussion is warranted, or that you and your SO don't agree on, or just to get to know you better. There will be a home visit where the social worker will do a walk-through of your home to ensure it is a safe, comfortable place for a child.
At the end of the homestudy the social worker will write a report based on the visit and conversations, and indicating that you can move on in the next step of the process. Answer 2: You kind of have to let go of your notions of privacy during the home study... we expected that and weren't (too) surprised. Everyone told us not to freak out and we did anyway. I think that's a rite of passage. Just know that you really don't have to be perfect people or have a perfect home to pass.
Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 14:27:13 GMT -5
Question: I'm interested in international adoption. How do I choose a country?
Answer 1 (given by @captain Serious): Start with what feels right to your family. It will be your job to help raise your child proud of his heritage, so pick a country/area whose culture you enjoy and want to share throughout your lives.
Once you have it narrowed down, turn to the US Department of State's website, which lists the requirements to adopt from each country (http://adoption.state.gov/). Adoption programs can be very volatile, as they are dependent on the laws of multiple countries/compacts, diplomatic relations, public perception, etc. There’s a lot of places where less than ethical adoption practices have been unearthed, so do your research. You don’t want to adopt from a place where suspicions may be raised about baby stealing/buying, nor do you want to start the process from a country that will drastically slow down their process or close entirely, in the wake of such claims. Pay particular attention to the UN/UNICEF and other international organizations are saying about adoptions from any country you are considering. They have unbelievable sway with governments and can effectively shut down adoptions overnight (like they did from Haiti).
Once you find a country that you love and whose adoption procedures seem beyond reproach, double check against that site above to make sure you meet their criteria. If you do, you probably found your country. Go ahead and find an agency that has a strong program in that country. There are some great agencies that have some really strong programs in countries they've been working in for some time...and some fledgling programs in countries that are new to them. Even though these agencies are generally highly recommended, their newer programs may not work as well as those that are more renowned, because they haven't had the time and experience to figure out all the kinks, establish strong contacts, and become aware of all the pitfalls. It's also a good idea to find an agency that has a strong program in more than one country you are interested in. That way, you should be able to transfer to another program with limited difficulty or cost if your country slows/shuts down its adoption program (you should make sure of this when interviewing agencies).
Answer 2: Answer 1 already gave a lot of great advice, but I would like to suggest talking to any agencies you're interested in working with about eligibility for specific countries. I had done a lot of research into the eligibility requirements of specific countries and then discovered after talking to agencies that the requirements were a lot more nuanced and that agencies have varying interpretations or comfort levels with the eligibility requirements. One agency told me that we were flat-out ineligible for a country and another said we were. With eligibility requirements continuously changing, I think the first agency hadn't had enough experience to say with confidence that those with certain medical histories or family make-up would be accepted, while the second agency either had a slightly different interpretation of the requirements and/or a larger track record of similar families being successfully matched.
Post by gnomesweetgnome on Jan 30, 2015 14:28:14 GMT -5
Question: What are the requirements/restrictions for adopting?
Answer 1: This will depend on the route you take
For domestic adoption, some agencies have age limits (upper and lower), and some require you to be married a certain amount of time (if you are married) in order to adopt. As far as mental health history, as long as you can show you have been successfully treated and/or your condition is under control, this should not be an impediment Criminal background can be trickier Best bet is to contact who you want to work with, and ask them about their restrictions and any issues that could come up. That way everyone will know ahead of time so there are no surprises
For international adoption, there are often more stringent age and marriage limits. Once you choose a country, talk to the agency you want to work with to see what those limits are. Due to cultural norms, physical and mental health issues (even if treated) can prevent you from adopting. Again, this is something to discuss upfront so there are no surprises. Answer 2: Our agency has approved prospective adoptive parents with misdemeanors, (controlled) mental illness, past substance abuse, and past bankruptcies. I'm told honesty is very important, so it's best not to go into it trying to hide things. Oh and our agency has lots of over-50 PAPs.
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