Saturday, July 25, 2009

Adoption Information Meeting

I have been meaning to update about last week's information meeting. The meeting provided an overview of the domestic infant adoption process through Bethany Christian Services. This agency was recommended to us by someone John use to work with who is hoping to adopt through them. I must say I was so nervous about the meeting. How crazy is it that I was worried about my outfit? As if the social worker would take one look at me, decide she didn't like what I was wearing, and reject us outright.

When we got to the church where the meeting was held, we received a handout outlining the steps in the process and the fees. I actually started tearing up as I read over it. The whole thing just seemed so overwhelming. So here is a run down of what we learned:

Total cost: $18,000 - up from $15,000

Step 1: Submit formal application, statement of belief, and $100 application fee.

Step 2: Screening interview - need to bring list of addresses for last 7 years, driver's license, and $900 administrative fee. Sign contract.

Receive packet (90 day time frame from screening interview - I am slightly confused about exactly when we receive this, but I think it is at some point after the screening interview). This packet includes all the paperwork we have to put together. Here is a list:

Certified documents (birth certificates, marriage license)
Criminal clearances
Child protective services clearances (residential history last 7 years)
CSE (child support) clearances
Motor vehicle records
Fire department (has to come to your house)
Health department (also has to come to your house)
Medical clearances (physicals, drug screen, HIV test, tuberculosis test)
References (1 pastoral, 1 work, 3 personal - one of whom must be available to be interviewed in person at our house)
Questionnaires detailing familial/social history
Open adoption checklist
Special needs checklist

Step 3: Complete and turn in all paperwork and go to 21 hours of training. Unfortunately, this training is already full for the fall and so we would have to wait until next March/April to attend.

Step 4: Interviews (1 with me, 1 with John, 1 with both of us, and 1 with our personal reference) and home visit. They will not do this until after you complete the training and submit all paperwork and clearances. Pay $600 home visit fee.

Step 5: Wait (on average 2 years from approval date).

Step 6: Placement, pay $16,400 placement fee.

Step 7: Supervisory visits, 3 over 6 month period.

Step 8: Finalize adoption. Pay $600 finalization fee. We would also need to hire our own lawyer at this point to represent us.

We also learned a little more about the laws in Maryland as far as the process for legally terminating the birth parents' rights. The birth mother and father have 30 days from signing to change their minds for any reason. If the birth father does not sign at the same time as the birth mother, it could take even longer because the court will not terminate their rights until both have signed. Bethany will provide interim care for the child during this time period if you are not comfortable taking the child and risking having to bring them back.

Overall, I was disappointed by the information I learned at Bethany's meeting. The 30 days to revoke consent kind of freaks me out, but of course this is not within Bethany's control. However, the time frame, which bothers me even more, is within Bethany's control. Essentially, we would be looking at a year before we even got approval and then approximately 2 years from there for placement. This seems like a ridiculously long time to me. I had anticipated getting approval by December. So where does this leave us now? Though the meeting wasn't everything I had hoped it would be, meaning we came away knowing this was how we should precede, it provided a first step in learning about the domestic adoption process in Maryland. I have to confess that prior to this meeting, I had done little research. I spent the night after the meeting glued to my computer researching adoption. Prior to doing this, I didn't even know the difference between agency versus independent adoption. As far as the independent route, I also learned that Maryland does not allow a lawyer to act as a facilitator between the birth parents and adoptive parents. They must connect with each first and then go to the lawyer. The lawyer can not put them together as they can in some other states. Wouldn't it be nice if the adoption laws in our country were uniform from state to state? I also looked up some other agencies, but I haven't contacted any of them yet. I guess this is where we are at right now. I need to learn about some of these other agencies as well as the independent adoption process. If you have adopted or are in the process of adopting, I would love to hear from you. If you would be willing to leave me a comment or send me an email, I would love to learn as much as you are willing to share about your adoption process - agency versus independent, domestic versus international, cost, time frame, etc. I would also love to hear any advice you would have for someone just starting this process. We have not ruled out international adoption, which is why I would also be interested in hearing from those who have gone this route. The higher cost and longer time frame are the main reasons we are hesitant to pursue this option. If you have adopted in the DC metropolitan area, and especially if you have adopted in MD, I would love to hear specific recommendations for agencies/lawyers.

11 comments:

Our Journey... said...

I prayed for you by name this morning and will continue to do so. Hang in there and please keep us posted.

Mark and Niki said...

Oh goodness. I would find that information entirely disappointing. I think that's part of why it took us so long to actually get to the point of signing up with an agency. Once we found the agency we are with now, it seemed like a great fit. I started to leave this comment HOURS ago, but got distracted. I would be happy to answer any question you have about our process. Do you have yahoo messenger, or msn messenger? If so, maybe we can set a time to visit about it.

Flakymn said...

Becky, I'm going to put a link to your blog on my blog to encourage people to offer some encouragement/advice.

However, even though we talked via phone following the meeting, just reading about it made me want to print this out and hand it to people who ever make the, "Why don't you just adopt" comment. It is not easy. It is expensive, hard, emotional, and overwhelming.

That being said, I know the Lord has a perfect child picked out for you, and I can't wait to meet him/her! :)

G & H said...

hey just found your blog and we too are just starting the adoptiton process so we can be waiting buddies :)

stop by my blog at wondrafulbaby.blogspot.com

G & H said...

I have heard alot of similar stories about Bethany and my 2 cents is...well we are using adopthelp.com are they cheap? No not at all but they have an average wait time of 6 months. No classes or anything. You still have to follow the laws of course but they are there to match you and be your lawyer. We are so happy with them so far...

If you were looking for a Christian agency ( we are christian but choose adopthelp because it as recommended to us by several people) I heard that Christian Adoptions is a great one...a blogger named Kelly that I follow is using them and they seem pretty great too!


Just some thoughts:)

A said...

I haven't adopted in MD (or at all), but we requested info from Bethany in January, and what you learned at the meeting is pretty consistent with what we received. The only differences were price (our local agency operates on a sliding scale from $12k-$30k, depending on income, and I wasn't clear that there is a screening interview before they send you the packet (I always referred to the first application as "Initial Application" and the long involved one/packet the "Formal Application", but it's all just semantics). In short, it didn't seem like there was so much time between the Initial Application and being approved and waiting- I actually thought it had to be done within 6-7 months or else your homestudy expires. I could be totally wrong about that, though.

Also, the TPR wait in my state is only 7 days, and I totally think a wait of 30 days would absolutely freak me out a little...but like you say, it's out of your hands really. I do know (99% sure) that if you adopt interstate, you have to abide by the birth state's rules, so if your child was born in another state who had a shorter wait time, then you'd only have the shorter wait time!

Other agencies I've heard good things about are Christian Adoptions, Children's Home Society, and Jewish Family Services.

I'll be praying!!

Rachel said...

Hello. I happened upon your blog from Wendi's. My husband and I adopted our beautiful son thru Bethany. I must say the prices you listed are down from what we paid! That being said, having seen what people/friends have been thru in adoption privately or other agencies, i wouldn't go any other way then to use Bethany.
Our entire adoption process was not 'normal' in the context of wait time, BM and BD, etc and for once something in our lives was pretty seamless. Well sort of, we did have a couple issues with the agency but all in all they did a great job.
I wouldn't mind the least in emailing or talking with you about options, encouragement, etc whatevery you may need. Our son is 4 1/2 now and i would love to adopt again. We have a daughter that will be 3 Aug 9th and truly is another miracle child:)
So yeah, feel free to email me @ rachelrlaw at gmail com if you'd like more information, thoughts, etc
I'll go back now and re-read some of your blog:)

Jesus, My Best Friend said...

so overwhelming.. Praying for u!

Jess said...

I'm here from Wendi's blog.

I would find that a long time as well. Our agency (in Ohio, and so not a help) had an average wiat time of about 18 months, so maybe they're being more cautious with their estimations and it is possible that you will take a lot less time?

One thing you can do is make sure you have all your ducks in a row as fast as possible...you can start working asap on things like a profile, etc...it will make the wait shorter and make the wait SEEM shorter if you're busy. If you don't already have a nursery, get that together, buy a thing a week for the baby till you have a good "emergency" set-up ready, etc. Those are things that helped make our wait seem more tolerable.

I have heard only good things about Bethany. But...that is a LONG wait even for CLASSES.

Can you hire a consultant if you work with Bethany? I have a friend who has adopted from and also works for Christian Adoption Consultants and I'd reccomend them. Here is her blog:

http://apathoftheheart.blogspot.com/

GOOD LUCK!

Jackie said...

I am praying for you. I know this must be very hard for you.

Alicia said...

You have been on my heart lately. This sounds very overwhelming but I know that God will get you and your husband through this. Keep your eyes on the Lord.

Do you have any thing specifically that I can be praying for?