Thanks so much for all the recommendations, advice, encouragement, and prayers. Whether you sent me an email or left a comment, I truly appreciated it.
I think one of the main things I learned is there are even more options than I had originally thought. I have not had a chance to do much more than a initial read through of the recommended agencies' websites because of a very busy week at work last week so no decisions yet. I am hoping this week will be a little less crazy. John has finals this upcoming week, but then he has 2 weeks off until the fall semester starts. John is planning to use some of this time to do some research as well.
Some thoughts, , clarifications, and responses:
I not sure why I thought this, but I had not considered the possibility of adopting from another state until I made the request for info. Somehow it seemed like it would complicate an already complicated process. I am thankful for the suggestions of national agencies and those located in other states. With the law in Maryland giving 30 days before parental rights are revoked, I think it may make a lot of sense to adopt from another state.
I am less overwhelmed by the application/home study process. It is starting to seem more manageable to me.
I realize that $18,000 is on the low end for a domestic adoption. I really didn't have an objection to the price Bethany was charging, I was just mentioning the price had increased. I knew it was well within the price range for a domestic infant adoption. For those who may not know, the cost of domestic adoption ranges from $8,000 - $40,000. The low end is usually for stepparent adoptions. We have decided we can spend up to $25,000 if we save a portion of my salary. The main portion of my salary has to go to paying John's parents back for the $24,000 loan they gave us to pay for fertility treatments. We spent a total of $30,000 for 2 IVF/ICSI cycles including the cost of all our meds. Because we participated in the shared risk program, we got $16,000 of our money back which we will put towards adoption.
The reviews of Bethany are so mixed - some people love them, some people don't. Unless Bethany calls us and says they can fit us into the fall training session, I don't think we will go through them. I think there are large variations in Bethany's timing and quality of services from state to state. I have no problem with Bethany's 2 year wait for placement (of course I hope it would be much, much less). What I have a problem with is the 1 year to complete the homestudy and get approval. I think that may answer A's question (see comment section on previous post) about the time frame between the initial application and the approval and waiting as far as the requirement for it to take no longer than 6-7 months. It will take them 1 year to complete the homestudy so we won't have a home study that can expire. They will not come out for the home visit and interviews until you have completed the training, but since we can't get this training from them until March/April it will take a year before we have a completed homestudy and final approval. Other agencies seem to be able to complete a homestudy in a few months time. Sorry if I wasn't clear about the timeline. As far as the screening interview prior to the formal application packet, I think they do this so you don't waste your time and theirs if there is something in your background which will disqualify you from adopting.
Jess, thank you for the suggestion of an adoption consultant. I had not heard of such a thing, so I will definitely be looking into it. Your comment really hit me when you talked about setting up a nursery. I am just not there yet. After 4 1/2 years of infertility and a miscarriage, I am not yet at a point where I can believe I will actually have a child in my arms some day. I know many view adoption as a when and not an if, but I am not able to do so yet. I have always struggled with feeling not good enough and so I worry about getting approved. At a minimum I can not imagine setting up a nursery until we got approved, but even after that I know it would be a struggle for me. The fear of a failed adoption looms large for me. But I know I have to open my heart again. I have more to say about this, but it is a post for another day.
Niki, I think I have msn messenger through my hotmail, I will be in touch.
Alicia, as far as a specific prayer request, I would ask everyone to please pray for God to open our hearts to whatever way He wants to build our family. We are considering other options besides domestic infant adoption. Pray for God's leading and will for us, that our ears hear a voice behind us saying, "this is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:21
Again, I can't thank everyone enough for praying for us.