Sunday, October 10, 2004

Adopting

I was avidly reading journals and getting caught up a couple weeks ago. Tyler was watching his favorite TV show, Caillou. I wasn't paying much attention to the story.

"Mommy?"
"Yes, sweetie?"
"Mommy...I want a baby sidder too."
"A baby sitter? You want a baby sitter, hun?"
"No Mommy! A baby SIDDER! Like Caillou..."

I watched the show in puzzlement for a few minutes. Then I finally gathered that the plot of this episode had to do with the joys of being a big brother.

"Oh! A baby SISTER! You want a baby sister, sweetie?"
"Yes, Mommy! Can we go get one?"
"Um. Honey, they don't have baby stores. We can't just go out and get a baby, unfortunately. It's going to take a little while."
"But I want a baby sidder NOW! Can we please go get one now?? I want to play with her..."

What could I say to that? We really DO want another baby. I've had the paperwork needed to get the ball rolling for adoption #2 sitting on my desk for months now. What have I been waiting for? Partly, I've been procrastinating. It's a pain to fill out pages and pages of personal data. I just wish they could re-use all our old paperwork. Nothing has changed except we are a couple years older and John changed jobs. Which brings me to the second reason we haven't done the paperwork. We had just requested the update package from the agency and were all set to proceed when John was laid off work last year. Knowing we would never pass a home study if neither one of us had a steady income, we just let the paperwork sit.

No reason to let it sit now. John has been working since July. So here we go! Since the package we had was a year old at this point, we called our agency to get a new set (just in case there were changes in the forms). Yep. There were changes. They are using this new company for their finger-printing/criminal background checks. Apparently it is all done electronically now. Neat! No more sitting at the police station and waiting to be processed like a criminal. (Yes, we actually had to do that a few years ago.) I'll have to post about this new process after our appointment at the end of October...I can't wait to see how this is done.

I've asked a couple new people to be references for us (we need at least 4). I am going to pause my typing right here so I can email the form to two of them. Be right back...

OK! Sent! Now I am feeling that warm sense of accomplishment. Ha! One less thing on my To Do list.

So this is how the process will go:

  1. We fill out a ton of forms with our personal data (name, health history, income...all the details) plus a questionnaire that helps them determine our mental state (a psychological profile).
  2. We go get fingerprinted (and fill out all THOSE associated forms).
  3. We ALL (Tyler included) get a check-up so our doctors can fill out a form certifying that we are all generally healthy.
  4. Send the agency a ton of money and all the forms.
  5. Get scheduled for a social worker to visit our home for the first of 4 (I think) visits to determine we are equipped mentally, physically and emotionally to raise a child.
  6. Once approved to go ahead, we submit some copies of a portfolio to the agency for birth mothers to look over. The portfolio is kind of like our own personal biography in words and pictures. I put it together. It tells the birth mothers who we are, what we are like, what our family is like, things we like to do...stuff like that.
  7. Hopefully, someone will see our portfolio, like us, and select us. This can take a long time. When we get picked, we will get a phone call from the agency to arrange a meeting.
  8. Since we are going for a completely open adoption, we will get to meet and spend time with the birth mother. We will keep in contact, maybe go to doctor's appointments, potentially help with living expenses and medical bills, and if she is open to it, we will be there for the birth. After the baby is placed with us, we will honor any agreement we have with our birth mother (regular photos, phone calls, letters, even visits; depending on the situation and her requests.)
  9. If the baby is born in NJ, the parental rights of the birth parents can be terminated as soon as 72 hours after the birth. Then, depending on the courts, it can take up to a year for the adoption to be finalized. During this wait, we will complete the remainder of our home visits with our social worker.

For the curious, there are several types of adoption. You have private (through an attorney or your own source) and agency (that includes adoptions through the foster care system too). Within those two realms, you have open, partial open, and closed adoptions. Open is just like you would think - you know your birth mother's full name and address and she knows yours. Partial open means all those shades of grey between full open and closed adoptions - meeting the birth mother but only exchanging first names and all correspondence goes through the agency, for instance. And closed means you only get a general description of the birth mother, maybe her health history, and that's it. She never meets or sees you and you never meet or see her. Each form has pros and cons. If you are considering adoption, do some research to determine which form is right for you. Which you chose will depend on your finances, level of desire to maintain contact with the birth family, etc.

So we are on our way! I'll be posting periodic updates on our progress. It's a potentially long process, so don't expect any baby news any time soon. But if you are interested in adoption and don't know where to start, feel free to drop me an email. I have tons of useful info, links, books, etc. to share. With any luck, our family will be 4 instead of 3 within the next two years. Wish us luck!


P.S. Editorial comment here...all the adoption types I mention above are DOMESTIC adoption options (that means USA only). International adoption is a whole other ball of wax. I know a fair amount about International too, if you are interested.

No comments: