Saturday, April 25, 2009

adoption agency #2 part 2

Update: Unfortunately I never made it to adoption agency #3 today. I was so beat and feeling so icky last night that I went to bed at 7pm and stayed there till about 10am today. So I missed the last of my scheduled adoption investigation appointments. I am going to sign up for the next one as well as scheduling an appointment at the Big Business Baby Factory to talk about my options with egg and embryo donation. Then I will flip a coin to decide....Just kidding!
But here is my review of adoption agency #2 part 2
This was my visit to the actual agency. My previous experience had been a talk at the Big Baby Business Factory and featured a speaker from the agency Ruby aka funny and flippant who gave us an overview of adoption 101.
I was reluctant to go; it was a weekday evening, I thought I knew all there was to know about adoption and it meant giving up my prime parking spot to go out and come back later in the evening when all the parking on my street is gone. This agency is actually in my neighborhood – I know - I am so lucky to be living in the big city. I have driven past it many times and only half realized that the cheerful mural on one of their outside walls is connected to an adoption agency. Inside it is a brightly painted old building that has had something of a renovation. The bathrooms are cheerful, the walls are fun colors, there is new hardwood flooring and nice wainscotting.
I was welcomed by miss fun and feisty and I introduced myself again. She remembered my face. The long narrow conference room was lined with three tight rows of chairs on one wall facing a white board and a couple of chairs for the speakers. It turned out there was one speaker and he was the ED of the agency. The room was full of couples who all looked pretty straight-laced and ordinary. They were all talking to their respective spouses and did not emit any airs or wafts of friendliness in my direction. As the talk started the latecomers started arriving and by the end of the first half hour we were really crammed in there.
I am so glad I did go to this talk though. I learnt such a lot. The ED – Richard, is one of the founding members of the agency and he and the people who started it (all of them members of the adoption triad ) did so because they were dissatisfied with the adoption agencies that they saw around them and the experiences that they had had. The birth moms felt that they had been treated like s.hit; the adoptive parents had been psycho-analyzed into delirium and the adoptees (I don’t think that is the pc word, is it?) felt lied to and cheated of an understanding of a very important part of their life.
He made a distinction between agencies that say they are not for profit and ones that really are charities. I am not sure if it’s just true of Illinois, but he said that to be an adoption agency you have to be a charity with a 501 c3 status. Along with the fees that they charge, they still need to raise about $400,000 per year to keep afloat.
His intent was not to paint a rosy picture of adoption for us. Not to make a Hallmark movie of it, but to tell us how it is. His message was that working towards an adoption is a roller coaster ride and you have to be ready to get on again after dusting yourself off and try again and again. He also stressed that adoption was not a finite act, but a continuum that lasted all through the adopted child’s life and included all parts of the adoption triad.
He told us that as a child welfare agency it is their job to find good homes for children. It’s not a place where we can go and pay lots of money to “get” a baby. He can’t guarantee any of us a baby. He can offer us the tools to be give us the best chances possible to be picked by a birth mother or to go out and find a birth mother ourselves. According to him, no agency can guarantee anyone a child, it doesn’t matter how much money adoptive parents are willing to pay.
This agency has a set fee scale. The first $3,000 is for the home study, the next $3,000 is for helping with the photo album and foster parent license ( I am going from memory). After that the fees vary from $13,000 to $27,000 total ( including the first $6,000) for a traditional adoption ( i.e. the birth mother comes to the agency and based on her criteria picks the adoptive parents.) If you want to go out and find your own birth mother after the first one or two stages then you pay only a smallish fee to have an "agency assisted" adoption. In an agency adoption, this agency pays the birth mother’s costs – the only other out of pocket costs to the adoptive parents are lawyers fees. You only pay the placement fee ( which is the largest part of the cost) after placement, so it does take away some of the risk of getting to that point and paying the birth mom’s expenses and then the placement not working out and you are out that money too.
The thing I liked about this agency was that they were very open about not trying to win our business. He really wanted us to know what adoption was like, what their philosophy meant and where they were coming from. They don’t advocate one kind of adoption, because there is no one size fits all. So they don’t say: we only believe in open adoption – they say they want the birth parents and the adoptive parents to be in charge of their own lives and to work out what works best for them.
So what are the odds? He said that adoption is enduring a difficult time right now. There are less birth moms placing infants for adoption, in part because of contraception, the morning after pill, more acceptance in families of “unplanned” pregnancies, abortion, etc. Also many people who were doing international adoption are now moving to domestic adoption. I asked him what the odds were – I have to know odds – it comes from the infertility experience I think.
He said that if you are not super picky then the odds are around 60% of getting a placement if you just wait for the agency to do the work of finding a birth mom who wants to place with you. If you amp up the publicity and find creative ways to get your message across to the most people your odds increase to 85%.
I sat there comparing those odds with egg donation ( about 60%) and embryo donation ( about 25%). Hmmm.
He offered for us to have a short one on one with the assistant director ( miss fun and feisty) or himself whenever it was convenient. They must be awfully busy is all I can say.
And then it was over, anti-climactically. Unfortunately there was no parking lot bargaining for eggs and uteri. This being the city it was parking meters, no parking lot.
I am still mulling it over. I talked to S. about it and she is mulling too, in between her studies. We don’t know what our chances are of getting a child that is right for us. It does seem to be about odds, and we aren’t really sure which ones to go with. There aren’t any guarantees. Here are the options:
1. Egg donor = pick a gorgeous young college student’s eggs, pick some gorgeous sperm, hope my gorgeous uterus can carry the off-spring for nine good months.
2. Embryo donor = hope some gorgeous infertile couple picks us to offer their gorgeous embryos to so my gorgeous uterus can carry that baby for nine good months.
3. Adoption = hope some gorgeous young pregnant woman thinks we would be the best couple to love and nurture her off-spring and that she is able to give us the baby after she carries the baby and gives birth to it.

None of these choices guarantee that the kid won’t have schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder or get addicted to drugs and alchohol or engage in public indecency. And working as I do in the field of mental health I am scared of all of the above happening. Despite us giving the kid all the love and nurturing and baby bjorn snuggling we can manage.
I don’t know why I don’t sound more excited. I was excited at some point during the presentation last Wednesday, but at some point I got really really over-whelmed. Why is it so hard for some people to have a kid? It don’t seem fair or right. Ah well… off to watch the Hallmark channel.


cindyhoo2 said...

I understand that overwhelmed feeling. Sometimes I just wonder, "why can't something be easy in this proocess?" I think holding onto hope is a daily, sometimes hourly, exercise in diligence....of course, working in the mental health field also makes us know far too much about what can go wrong. gah! It is all too much at times. Join me in the land of denial.
I have decided that whatever path we choose will be the right one and we will have at least one perfectly healthy, emotionally stable child who is happy, nay ecstatic, to be raised by 2 mommies. :)

seriously, these are tough decisions. Flipping a coin sounds better all the time... or a ouija board.... or divination...oh, or a magic 8 ball.

Kristin said...

Wow...that is a whole lot to consider. It really sucks that it is so hard for some people to have the families they so desperately want. Hoping you can find the correct (for you) path to parenthood.

Celia said...

I would love to have adoption as our FIRST choice, but it is more costly AND more confusing than infertility treatment. Which is outrageous.