Friday, October 31, 2008

30 Rock: the "Do-Over"

We've never seen the sitcom "30 Rock." Last night we watched it for some random reason. Maybe it's all the Tina Fay hype...

It was about a HOME STUDY!!! We couldn't believe it!

After the home visit at Liz's, Bev, the social worker played by Megan Mullally, decides she needs to go to Liz's office because she is planning on bringing the baby to work. Liz tries to get everyone on the staff to be on their best behavior when an adoption agent stops by to observe whether she is fit to be a mother...

Watch it here Do-Over

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the adoption home study process

This is what we are going though right now:

The Adoption Home Study Process

Fact sheet for Families
from the Child Welfare Information Gateway
Originally Published in 2004, updated on December 7, 2007


The laws of every State and the District of Columbia require all prospective adoptive parents (no matter how they intend to adopt) to participate in a home study. This process has three purposes: to educate and prepare the adoptive family for adoption, to gather information about the prospective parents that will help a social worker match the family with a child whose needs they can meet, and to evaluate the fitness of the adoptive family.

The home study process can be a source of anxiety for some prospective parents, who may fear they will not be "approved." It may be helpful to remember agencies are not looking for perfect parents. Rather, they are looking for real parents to parent real children. With accurate information about the process, prospective parents can face the home study experience with confidence and the excitement that should accompany the prospect of welcoming a child into the family.

Specific home study requirements and processes vary greatly from agency to agency, State to State, and (in the case of intercountry adoption) by the child's country of origin. This factsheet discusses the common elements of the home study process and addresses some concerns prospective adoptive parents may have about the process.

If you are just beginning your journey to adoption, you may find the Information Gateway factsheet, Adoption: Where Do I Start? useful. Information Gateway also offers the National Foster Care & Adoption Directory, a searchable database listing public and licensed private agencies, attorney referral services, support groups, State adoption specialists, and more for each State, Territory, and the District of Columbia. These resources, as well as factsheets with specific information on special types of adoption (such as foster care or intercountry), can be found on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

Elements of the Home Study Process

There is no set format that adoption agencies use to conduct home studies. Many agencies include the following steps in their home study process, although the specific details and order will vary. For more information, talk with the agencies you are considering.

Many agencies require trainings for prospective adoptive parents prior to or during the home study process. These trainings help prospective parents better understand the needs of children waiting for families and help families decide what type of child or children they could parent most effectively.

Interviews [first meeting was 10.24.08, final meeting scheduled for 12.05.08]
You will probably be interviewed several times by the social worker. These interviews help you develop a relationship with your social worker that will enable him or her to better understand your family and assist you with an appropriate placement. You will discuss the topics addressed in the home study report (see below). You will likely be asked to explain how you handle stress and past experiences of crisis or loss. In the case of couples, some agency workers conduct all of the interviews jointly, with both prospective parents together. Others will conduct both joint and individual interviews. If families have adult children living outside the home, they also may be interviewed during this process.

Home Visit [11.14.08 at our house]
Home visits primarily serve to ensure your home meets State licensing standards (e.g., working smoke alarms, safe storage of firearms, safe water, adequate space for each child, etc.). Some States require an inspection from the local health and fire departments in addition to the visit by the social worker. The agency will generally require the worker to see all areas of the house or apartment, including where the children will sleep, the basement, and the back yard. He or she will be looking for how you plan to accommodate a new family member (or members, if you are planning to adopt a sibling group). Social workers are not typically inspecting your housekeeping standards. A certain level of order is necessary, but some family clutter is expected. Some agencies would worry that people living in a "picture perfect" home would have a difficult time adjusting to the clutter a child brings to a household.

Health Statements [done]
Most agencies require prospective adoptive parents to have some form of physical exam. Some agencies have specific requirements; for example, agencies that only place infants with infertile couples may require a physician to confirm the infertility. Other agencies just want to know the prospective parents are essentially healthy, have a normal life expectancy, and are physically and mentally able to handle the care of a child.

If you have a medical condition that is under control (for instance, high blood pressure or diabetes that is controlled by diet and medication), you may still be approved as an adoptive family. A serious health problem that affects life expectancy may prevent approval. If your family has sought counseling or treatment for a mental health condition in the past, you may be asked to provide reports from those visits. Many agencies view seeking help as a sign of strength; the fact that your family obtained such help should not, in and of itself, preclude you from adopting. However, each family's situation is unique, so check with the agencies or social workers you are considering if you have concerns.

Income Statements [done]
You do not have to be rich to adopt; you just have to show you can manage your finances responsibly and adequately. (Some countries may have specific income requirements for intercountry adoption.) Usually, prospective parents are asked to verify their income by providing copies of paycheck stubs, W-4 forms, or income tax forms. Many agencies also ask about savings, insurance policies (including health coverage for the adopted child), and other investments and debts.

Background Checks [done]
Most States require criminal and child abuse record clearances for all adoptive and foster parent applicants. In many States, local, State, and Federal clearances are required. While the vast majority of prospective adoptive parents have no criminal or child abuse history, it is important for children's safety to identify those few families who might put children at risk.

Public and private agencies need to comply with State laws and policies regarding how the findings of background checks affect eligibility for adoptive parents. However, do not hesitate to talk to agencies and social workers you are considering about specific situations that might disqualify you from adopting. Agencies are looking not just at your past experiences, but at what you've learned from them and how you would use that knowledge in parenting a child. Some agencies in some States may be able to work with your family, depending on the charge and its resolution. If the social worker feels you are being deceptive or dishonest, however, or if the documents collected during the home study process expose inconsistencies, the social worker may have difficulty trusting you.

Autobiographical Statement [done]
Many adoption agencies ask prospective adoptive parents to write an autobiographical statement. This is, essentially, the story of your life. This statement helps the social worker better understand your family and assists him or her in writing the home study report (see below). If you are working with an agency that practices openness in adoption, you also may be asked to write a letter or create an album or scrapbook about your family to be shared with expectant birth parents to help them choose a family for their child.

While writing about yourself can be intimidating, the exercise is intended to provide information about you to the agency, as well as to help you explore issues related to the adoption. Some agencies have workers to assist you with the writing. Most have a set of questions to guide you through writing your autobiography.

References [in progress]
The agency will probably ask you for the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three or four individuals to serve as references for you. References help the social worker form a more complete picture of your family and support network.

If possible, references should be individuals who have known you for several years, who have observed you in many situations, and who have visited your home and know of your interest in and involvement with children. Most agencies require that references be people unrelated to you. Good choices might include close friends, an employer, a former teacher, a co-worker, a neighbor, or your pastor, rabbi, or leader of your faith community.

Approval would rarely be denied on the grounds of one negative reference alone. However, if it were one of several negative factors, or if several of the references were negative, the agency might be unable to approve the adoption.

The Home Study Report [after all the above steps are completed]
Typically, the above steps culminate in the writing of a home study report that reflects the social worker's findings. Home study reports often are used to "introduce" your family to other agencies or adoption exchanges (services that list children waiting for families) to assist in matching your family with a waiting child.

In general, home study reports include the above-mentioned health and income statements, background checks, and references, as well as the following types of information:

  • Family background. Descriptions of the applicants' childhoods, how they were parented, past and current relationships with parents and siblings, key events and losses, and what was learned from them.

  • Education/employment. Applicants' current educational level, satisfaction with their educational attainments, and any plans to further their education, as well as their employment status, history, plans, and satisfaction with their current jobs.

  • Relationships. If applicants are a couple, the report may cover their history together as well as their current relationship (e.g., how they make decisions, solve problems, communicate, show affection, etc.). If applicants are single, there will be information about their social life and how they anticipate integrating a child into it, as well as information about their network of relatives and friends.

  • Daily life. Routines, such as a typical weekday or weekend, plans for child care (if applicants work outside the home), hobbies, and interests.

  • Parenting. Applicants' past experiences with children (e.g., their own, relatives' children, neighbors, volunteer work, babysitting, teaching, or coaching), in addition to their plans regarding discipline and other parenting issues.

  • Neighborhood. Descriptions of the applicants' neighborhood, including safety and proximity to community resources.

  • Religion. Information about the applicants' religion, level of religious practice, and what kind of religious upbringing (if any) they plan to provide for the child.

  • Feelings about/readiness for adoption. There may be a section on specific adoption-related issues, including why the applicants want to adopt, feelings about infertility (if this is an issue), what kind of child they might best parent and why, and how they plan to talk to their children about adoption-related issues. If the agency practices openness, there may be information about how the applicants feel about birth families and how much openness with the birth family might work best. For more information, read Information Gateway's Openness in Adoption: A Fact Sheet for Families.

  • Approval/recommendation. The home study report will conclude with a summary and the social worker's recommendation. This often includes the age range and number of children for which the family is recommended.

Applicants also will be asked to provide copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses or certificates, and divorce decrees, if applicable. Some agencies allow prospective parents to read the home study report about themselves; others do not. You may want to ask the agency about the confidentiality of the home study report and how extensively your information will be shared. Agency policies vary greatly, depending on the type of agency and type of adoption. In many cases, the information will be shared with other agencies to help in matching the most appropriate child with your family. In some cases, the information may also be shared with birth parents or others.

Common Concerns About the Home Study

How long will the home study take? The time it takes to conduct the home study will vary from agency to agency, depending on factors such as how many social workers are assigned to conduct home studies, what other duties they have, and how many other people applied to the agency at the same time. On average the home study process takes 3 to 6 months to complete. You can help speed up the process by filling out your paperwork, scheduling your medical appointments, and gathering the required documents without delay.

How much does a home study cost? [ours is costing $1,900]

The cost of the home study depends on what kind of adoption you are pursuing. Agencies conducting domestic adoptions of children from foster care (such as your local Department of Social Services) may not charge a fee for the home study. If these agencies do charge a fee, they often are modest ($300 to $500), and once you adopt a child from foster care you can usually obtain reimbursement for this fee.

For domestic infant adoption, intercountry adoption, or independent adoption, a private agency or certified social worker in private practice might charge from $1,000 to $3,000 for the home study. Other services (such as an application fee and preplacement services) may be included in this fee. Be sure to discuss any fees thoroughly and ask for this information in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.

For more information about costs of adoption and resources to help defray those costs, see the Information Gateway fact sheet, Cost of Adopting.

What might disqualify our family from adopting?

Aside from a criminal record or overriding safety concerns that would preclude agencies from approving your family under your State's laws or policies, characteristics that might disqualify a family in one situation may be seen as strengths in another. Remember, agencies are not looking for "perfect" families. The home study process is a way for a social worker to learn more about your real family, as a potential home for real children.

Who may adopt varies from agency to agency, State to State, and by the child's country of origin. Adoptions in the United States are governed by State law and regulations. Child Welfare Information Gateway has compiled States' laws regarding who may adopt in Statutes at a Glance: Parties to an Adoption. Some States also have their policies posted online. The Information Gateway publication, State Child Welfare Agency Websites, has links to each State's online adoption information. Within State guidelines, many agencies are looking for ways to rule families in rather than rule them out, to meet the needs of children in the U.S. foster care system waiting for adoptive families.

Thousands of children in the U.S. foster care system are waiting for families. The AdoptUsKids website provides a national online photolisting of children in foster care. Information Gateway offers a complete listing of State Child Welfare Agency Websites on its website.

How will the children in our family be involved in the home study?

Children in your family (whether they joined your family through birth, foster care, adoption, or marriage) will be included in the home study in some way. Older children may be invited to participate in age-appropriate groups during one or more of the educational sessions. They also might be asked to write a statement describing their feelings and preferences about having a new brother or sister.

The social worker will likely ask how the children do in school, what their interests and hobbies are, what their friends are like, and how their behavior is rewarded or disciplined. However, the emphasis will more likely be on how the children see a new sibling (or siblings) fitting into the family and whether they are prepared to share your time and attention. Children's input is usually quite important in the overall assessment of a family's readiness to adopt a child. The social worker will want to make sure that an adopted child or children will be wanted and loved by all family members from the start.


Although the adoption home study process may seem invasive or lengthy, it is conducted to help you decide whether adoption is right for your family, prepare your family for adoption, and help your family determine which type of child you could best parent. The process also serves to ensure children are placed in loving, caring, healthy, and safe environments.

Flexibility and a sense of humor are vital characteristics when raising children, and they can be useful during the home study process as well. With perseverance and a positive outlook, you will be able to team with the social worker to make this a valuable learning experience—one that will help you do the best possible job in parenting the child who will eventually join your family.

my girls on the fertility forum

I want to tell you about my girls (and I say girls, because at 43, I'm the granny of the bunch!)

I joined the fertility forum in May 2006, the month I had my first infertility procedure. Over the years, I've received wonderful support from many women on this forum and I know many of them are readers of my blog.

Many of these women have been so very fortunate to give birth, one is even pregnant with her second child now, I can't believe how very exciting that must be after experiencing infertility problems.

Another just had her baby girl Lily this week! Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

When one of us has a child, they joyous event is shared by all of us, it's a very strange and wonderful phenomenon.

My very dearest and closest friend had her baby girl over a year ago. We are in contact either online or on the phone, nearly every day. I don't know what I would do without her friendship and support, it's grown to mean so much to me, and we've never even met. I have had the joy of watching her baby grow through photos, and I even got to help pick out her Halloween costume this year. What an honor.

I have an "adopted" little sister who is pregnant and about to take a trip to India to visit her family and attend a wedding. (Yes, I asked and she HAS gotten the ok from her doc to fly. I have to keep an eye on her.) *wink*

My other oldest friend from the forum had a baby boy Alex, and now her partner is pregnant with twins (a boy and a girl)! What a house full they will have!!! I'm just terribly excited for them.

You have already been introduced to my friend through her post who along with her brother is adopted. Both she and her baby boy Jason are truly miracles. Her support has been through infertility and now adoption. I am touched by our friendship

I have another friend who is also hoping to adopt like me and we share adoption tips. It's nice to not have to go it alone.

Recently, I have had the pleasure of reconnecting with another "old" friend from the forum who actually lives only about 1.5 hours away. We have had the pleasure of talking on the phone. It is very exciting to have one of my friends SO close by. We plan to meet some Saturday for lunch when I get through all this home study business. I consider myself her infertility coach and am encouraging her to get aggressive about her treatment! There is no time to waste where infertility is concerned.

I feel sorry for women who have not found support and friendship from others who have experienced infertility, it can be a very isolating experience. Without these women, and many others (this would be a terribly long post if I mentioned everyone – please don't be offended if I didn't mention you!) I would not be who I am or where I am today.

To my girls: I thank you for your support, friendship and love through my infertility journey and now through adoption, it means so much.

This blog has introduced me to new friends who are going through the adoption process or have already experienced the joy of adoption and your friendship, support and encouragement also mean a lot to me.

The internet is a crazy and wonderful thing, IMHO.

If you are suffering from infertility and feeling isolated, I highly recommend you check out this forum and wonderful bunch of people: Fertility Forums

Monday, October 27, 2008


Out of difficulties grow miracles.
— Jean de la Bruyere

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Whole Life Adoption Book

by Jayne E. Schooler & Thomas C. Atwood
copyright 2008

I was looking for a book on adoption that had been published recently (2008) and found this. So far, I recommend it.

From Barnes & Noble:

The Whole Life Adoption Book has long been an indispensable guide for prospective parents of adopted children and blended families. Now this unique resource is available in a revised and updated edition. Author Jayne E. Schooler shares insights into every aspect of adoption, from vital issues to introductory questions, including:

  • Updated information on the adoption process, both in the U.S. and internationally
  • An in-depth look at the developmental stages of adoption for families and children
  • The impact of adoption on birth children in the family
  • Practical parenting suggestions to handle the unique needs in caring for an adoptive child

With wisdom and compassion, this powerful book addresses the needs and concerns facing adoptive parents, offering encouragement for the journey ahead.

Friday, October 24, 2008

we survived home study meeting #1 - wooo hooo

So we turned in everything but our autobiographies and boy was our social worker impressed! She couldn't believe we'd even had our physicals already. Hey, we are on the ball and had been given a heads up by my friend Sharon, so we knew what they were gonna ask for before we got our packet.

There was one problem. There was an information sheet that was suppose to go with the fingerprint sheets, but we didn't get it. So we didn't know we were suppose to have a $100 cashier's check to turn in with our fingerprints ($50 each). So we stopped by the bank on the way home and got that and have to mail it to our social worker so she can send our fingerprints off for our criminal background check.

Other than that, we've pretty much had to rule out international adoption due to the high cost.

I had been working on our profile and took it to show her to get advice, but she loved it so much she wouldn't let me have it back and wanted to keep it! Fair enough, I can print more ;) But she was well impressed at what we'd accomplished since we attended the adoption workshop on October 7.

One down, two to go!

Julie: FYI, duck tape never came up :D

the first big day

Didn't sleep, too worried about silly things like what to wear! It's our first of three meetings with our social worker. We have already spoken on the phone and emailed so the ice has already been broken. And we went to the family center earlier this month for our workshop. The second meeting on November 14 is at our home. The third meeting will be back at the family center on December 5.

Alan & Stephanie: thanks for your comments and encouragement. I'm happy to report no criminal records here ;)

My husband immigrated from the UK in 1996, so we have been through a lot of paperwork and the approval process before. This is feeling a little like that experience. I had to have a letter from my employer and fill out endless forms, he had to have a chest x-ray, get a report from Scotland Yard and finally have an appointment at the US Embassy. I had to sign papers saying I'd be financially responsible for him for the first three years he was here, because if he was unemployed he could not collect unemployment during that time, they don't want immigrants to be a drain on the American economy, but he had to sign up for selective services and pay taxes the moment he got off the plane.

So we do know what it's like to have others in control of our future, and from all the reading I've been doing, that's one of the most difficult thinga for people, the feeling that others are in control of their future.

I am trying to think of it like this, our social worker is on our side, and she will help lead us through the piles of paperwork and the whole adoption journey. I'm sure she wants what's best for us and what's best for our future child, and I am just trying to keep that in mind.

I keep reminding myself that while it may feel like we are being interrogated, that is not what is actually happening. Our social worker needs to get to know us so she will know what's best for us.

I am actually VERY excited.

I'll let you know how it went when I get home tonight. Thanks again to Alan, Stephanie and Julie for your support, it means a lot!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christmas eve

Our first home study meeting is tomorrow and it kinda feels like the excitement of Christmas eve and like I wanna be sick, all at the same time.

When you are pregnant with a child, there is no one there to tell you that you aren't good enough to be a parent. I guess I'm afraid of being told we aren't good enough to be parents, on paper.

A lot of it is probably a fear of the unknown.

Think good thoughts at 2 p.m. eastern!

more thoughts from an adult who is adopted

Here are some thoughts from another friend of mine who happens to be adopted. I'm just so happy my friends are so willing to share their stories with us!!!

In November 1976, Scott, my half brother, and I were adopted by whom I will always believe are my parents! I have never looked back!

Scott and I were taken
out of a situation of poverty, filth and devastation that we both remember very well into a home of love, faith and FOOD! Being a adopted child had made my life a fuller life! I realized that I was hand picked for more love then any child could imagine! Going from a foster home that had Scott and I, not for helping us but for the money from the state, to a home that was longing for the love of not only one child but two!

I know that way to many times a year someone has a child that they either do not want, or can not take care of or does not have the capability of loving BUT when this happens there is always someone out there that CAN take care of this child, CAN love this child and DOES want this child! Welcome to the wonderful world of Adoption! Adoption can be the best thing in the world for a child, either a baby born to a mother that is terrified and knows she can not do it or a older child that has been in "the system" for a while or in a place that is not conducive of learning to be a well rounded member of society. Either way adoption is not only for the child but for the parents who take this child in to love and raise as their own! When looking back at being adopted, there are many times in life that I forget I was adopted.

When I was finally blessed with a son with my wonderful husband, we scoured him looking for family traits and both my husband and I as well as my mother who was in the operating room when my son was born noted the 'Moreland/Lindsay' traits! It was a few hours later we were laughing that we found so many things about Jason that looked like my Mother and Father, when I was not biological! We still call and say 'Oh Jason is your biological grand child he does this or has this.'

So the moral to this is
once you take a child as a adopted son/daughter that child IS yours! No matter what! I adore the times in my life that happen even now when people tell me 'Oh I see so much of your father in you! You are the spitting image of him and in fact I look JUST like Daddy! '

My husband and I have been luck enough to have a child after 5 years of trying and 6 losses, and even now we talk about when we are going to adopt a child. We do not know if we want a older child or another baby but we BOTH know that we want to adopt. Before we were ever married we sat down and I poured out my heart and soul about how important adopting is to me. The costs aside, which I know can put some people off adoption, I believe that it is something that so many can do and in the end it is the best thing for someone! There is always love to share, so share it and think of adoption!

Thank you wonderful Mer-mer (short for Meredith!) for sharing your story and thoughts with my readers and me!!! You can see Mer-mer's blog here A day in the life of Jason Dawes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the paper pregnancy

Our first home study meeting is this Friday and I'm nervous. Nervous I will say the wrong thing. It's been a lot of paper collecting, filling out of forms, etc. I've been making copies of everything! I'm calling this my paper pregnancy.

I'm hesitant, just like the early days of a pregnancy. I'm afraid to let myself get too excited about a baby. I'm afraid of disappointment, again. "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst" isn't that what "they" say? I don't wanna be prepared for the worst, this time I WANT THE BEST!

I do wish this was only going to take 9 months...

Monday, October 20, 2008

National Infertility Awareness Week

October 19–25, 2008
National Infertility Awareness Week®
A movement to raise awareness about the disease of infertility
which affects 7.3 million Americans.

For more information, visit RESOLVE

myth of fingerprints

We were at the state police office bright and early this morning, in fact, they weren't even there yet.

There are two state police offices about the same distance from our house, but we chose the one that didn't charge $10 for fingerprinting, we got ours for free, saved $20 – call around.

The officer said he was use to fingerprinting sex offenders and this was a nice change of pace.

All ten fingers individually, rolled, then four fingers together, and a thumb.

That's a lotta ink! Bathroom's down the hall ma'am.

This particular police office shares a building (and bathrooms) with the power company. So I'm in the bathroom trying to get all the ink off my hands when a woman comes in and says "get in trouble with some toner?" and innocently I say "no, I've just been fingerprinted" and she says "ooohhh" and I immediately say "NO NO NO I'M NOT A CRIMINAL!!! IT'S FOR ADOPTION!!!" and she says "whew!" She kindly brought me some handy wipes to help get the ink off.

I'm thinking I'll get a plastic box to keep all our adoption stuff in so no one chews up anything of significant importance!

One more thing ticked off the list.

(It is my understanding that local police use to do fingerprinting but they don't any more, at least in my state. And in my state, not only did the three state police offices I contacted charge different amounts (or nothing) they also all had different hours – who knew?)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

hello, my name is "No No Bad Dog!" what's yours

We were out for a few hours shopping yesterday. Came home to a huge paper mess where I sit on the sofa. What in the world? Tiny pieces of paper everywhere, all over the seat and floor.

We start picking up the bigger pieces.... We had to use the vacuum because some of the pieces were so small.

It appears that our two dogs, working together, had knocked my work bag off the dining room chair onto the floor, and then riffled through it and decided my ADOPTION JOURNAL would make a nice CHEW TOY!

Fortunately they just ate the cover and all four corners. GOOD GRIEF?!?! Are they jealous already?!?!?

Friday, October 17, 2008

physicals & phingerprints

  1. We survived our physicals this week. (wooo hooo!)
  2. Our Child Protective Services (CPS) forms have been filled in, signed, notarized and sent off with a cashiers check (personal checks not accepted).
  3. First thing Monday morning we go see the State Police to have our finger prints taken.
  4. Next Friday is our first Home Study meeting with our social worker and I'm nervous already!

And, yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a spreadsheet to keep track of EVERYTHING!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

thoughts from another friend

I'm so happy to share our adoption journey with so many friends, and I'm even happier my friends have shared their stories with me. It has taught me so much about adoption already, the kind of stuff I cannot learn from reading a book or searching the web.

Here are some thoughts from another person I am honored to call my friend.

I'm a 60-year old female. Never adopted. Raised by two good people that I loved very much. It's possible that I was a black-market baby or the result of rape. I am told I even attended high school with my brother who lives about two hours from me, but doesn't know about me.

I have always had an emptiness, a hole in my heart, as though life begins with my birth... many teary and unsettling days since I found out, just before graduating high school, that I was not their birth child. But I'm grateful that she did not choose abortion, but allowed me life.

There is definitely something to be said for allowing the child to know both sides if they can/desire to know it, helping to avoid that emptiness that always seems to be just under the surface, and unexplainable.

God bless each of you and may God bless your searches both in finding birth parents and in finding your child to share your lives.

Thank you to sweet Sally for allowing me to share this with my readers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

thoughts from a friend, who is adopted

I got an email from an old friend yesterday and asked her if I could share it with my readers.

"Being adopted myself, I will urge that one idea be considered -- that if you CAN have the kind where the youngster knows both his/her adoptive parents and his/her birth parents, it might be cheering for all concerned. NOT knowing, as one does not when it happened in the Napoleonic code state of Louisiana in 1954, has been something of a lifelong, ummmmm, sense of something missing. Just knowing, as I do, that my mother, 26, was working on her master's degree in library science at a southern university when she fell in love with a married chemical engineer, 25, is NOT SUFFICIENT to fill the hole an ex-newspaper editor feels in the "background" for the story! I felt very much loved by my adopted family and their extended families, but there was this hole in my self-knowledge....."

Before this email, I was totally against an open adoption (for selfish reasons), now I am willing to consider it, for the future of our child. (Oh! did I say "our child"?)

Thank you my dear Lynn. I wish you luck in your search for your birth parents.

Monday, October 13, 2008

independend adoption: estimated cost

your attorney $3,000
birth mother's attorney $1,500
Guardian Ad Litem $200 – $400
home study $1,500
follow up visits & "report to court" $500 – $1500
total estimate $6,700 – $7,900

searching for French or UK adoptions

I came across this while searching for French or UK adoptions, since we met in France and Chris is from England, I figured why not (fyi, neither country has children available for adoption).

from: The Bayou Belles and Their Beau blog...

"I would love to adopt, but honestly, we just can't afford it, which is a shame. I mean, does the government really want to find homes for these children or make money? Even going to another country to adopt would be great, but that can be even more expensive.

"The girls know I want to adopt and always talk about it. And so we did talk about it again at lunch.

"K Belle talked about how she wanted us to adopt a baby from Ireland or France. I think she thinks they are automatically born with those particular accents and speak the languages fluently. I explained to her that the babies would grow up being American just like we are."

This just totally cracked me up. It reminded me of my first visit to Paris and I just thought those children were BRILLIANT because their French was so wonderful, of course I knew it was their native language, but still, it blew me away, so this post just made me giggle!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

roller coaster within a roller coaster

We knew it was going to be a roller coaster, but I'm finding it interesting that one day I'm sure we will adopt internationally and the next day I'm sure we will adopt domestically. This is a part of the roller coaster (or an additional roller coaster) I wasn't expecting.

I just can't imagine how we'd be able to take the time off work that is required for international adoption. Some countries require two visits, some require one 5–6 week visit. Boarding the dogs for six weeks? Four international flights? Where will the money come from?

"Sit down, shut up and hang on!"

Friday, October 10, 2008

2 of 3 home study visits scheduled!

October 14: Chris's physical

October 16: Julie's physical

October 24: Our first home study meeting in Richmond

November 14: Our second home study meeting at our home (clean, Julie, clean!)

It's starting to getting exciting!!! (except for the physicals)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

home study - third social worker's the charm

  • Social Worker #1 - $1800 - I spoke to a woman almost two weeks ago and she said she would send me a packet. I called her again last Friday and left a message saying I still had not received the packet and I was eager to get started on my home study, still no returned call or packet...
  • Social Worker #2 - $1300 - I emailed the head office and they gave me the email for their Richmond area social worker. I emailed her - no response after a week. I called again and left a message, saying I'd not heard from their Richmond social worker and was there a better way to get in touch with her. They called me the next day (October 7) and gave me two phone numbers. I called her cell. She said "you live WHERE?!" She didn't want to go that far and anyway she was on vacation and really couldn't think about it right now (well then why did you answer your PHONE!). She is suppose to call me when she gets back from her vacation...
    10.13.08 update
    I got an email today asking if we'd found a social worker yet. She said if we hadn't she'd do it and in addition to the home study charges, she'd charge 45¢ per mile AND $25 per hour for travel to and from our house. yikes!
  • Social Worker #3 - $1800 - We went to a free quarterly seminar at a family center on Tuesday night, my parents went too. They do home studies for three payments of $600, due at each meeting. An attorney spoke about the legal side of adoption. We really liked one of the social workers we met at the seminar.

I called the family center Wednesday (October 8) and they put a packet in the mail and took my "intake information" over the phone (name, DOB, address, SS#, annual income, religion, etc).

I received the packet from the family center today and I am expecting a call tomorrow to arrange our first meeting, hopefully for the week of October 20.

We still don't know if we will go with a domestic or international adoption. According to the social worker, we don't have to decide right away. She said the more people that know we are hoping to adopt, the better. I think she said something like 85% of adoptions happen because someone knows someone. So please feel free to tell anyone you know that you know we are hoping to adopt ;) Feel free to give them our phone number or email address.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Celebrating Adoption

Celebrating Adoption is a group of photographers who want to share the joy of adoption by celebrating adoption with newly adoptive parents.

Visit their website to find a photographer near you. You will receive a complimentary portrait session (creative fee waived) and a set of proofs.

things i learned at the family center seminar

  1. Home studies are now good for three years in the USA, HOWEVER, in some countries, they are only good for one year, so be sure to find out what the rules are for the country you wish to adopt from. The date begins from the date on your first document, i.e. your certified wedding or birth certificate.
  2. You should only adopt from a "Licensed Child Placement Agency" and you may ask for a copy of their license, otherwise, chances are that the "agency" may be a "baby broker."
  3. There are different laws for adopting from every state, and I mean totally different. Some states are easier to adopt from than others.
  4. If you are looking to adopt domestically, you should consider getting an 800 (or 866) number to make it easier for a potential birth mother to contact you if she wants to. FCC Toll Free Numbers.
  5. When you create your profile, you should not include your last name, but you should include your social workers name, your attorney's name, an email address, and a phone number (an 800 number will make it easy for a birth mother to contact you). Be sure to put your contact info on every page in case your pages get separated from the cover, or cover sheet. The attorney suggested placing your profile on and contacting any ob/gyns in your area to let them know you are interested in adopting.
  6. Right now there is a three year wait to adopt from China.
  7. There are many different types of adoptions: agency, parental placement, international, open, closed, independent...
  8. It can take 8–12 weeks to complete the home study.
  9. The home study is the first thing you must do for any adoption.
  10. A birthmother likes to see lots of nice photos and a letter to her.
  11. There are usually 3 post placement visits after the adoption. This is to be sure everything is going well for the new family.
  12. You can research international adoption agencies on the Homeland Security website.
  13. It was also recommended that I check the BBB when looking for international adoption agencies.
  14. It is legal to advertise in the newspaper (that you are looking to adopt). I was surprised and don't think I could never do it because I'd be too worried about scams, etc. (but all I could think of during the seminar was "Juno" and the PennySaver!)

Sunday, October 5, 2008


We still haven't decided if we will go with domestic or international adoption. They both have pros and cons. We plan to do our home study for international adoption, which can later be adjusted for domestic adoption.

This week we are going to a free adoption workshop offered by a family center in Richmond. Mom and dad are going to meet us there. The workshop will cover all aspects of domestic and international adoption including: home studies, various ways to adopt, legal questions and post-placement services.

home study
I am still waiting to hear back from two foundations about our home study. I've narrowed it down to these two foundations simply because they offer the cheapest home studies, however one comes highly recommended from our friend Ashley and his wife Karen. I've contacted both foundations TWICE now and am getting impatient! I want to get things moving!!! Maybe the workshop will give us some good tips for dealing with stuff like this.

international adoption
If we decide to go with an international adoption, we are considering Ukraine. This is the country our friend Sharon worked with for many years. One thing I've learned about adoption from Ukraine is that only one trip is necessary. Many other countries require two trips (for instance Russia requires two trips). The youngest babies can be adopted from Ukraine is 14 months old. I believe this is to encourage adoptions from inside the country first. Adoptions from Ukraine are closed adoptions meaning there is no contact with the birth parents.

domestic adoption
We are still also considering adoption from the hospital where my aunt works in California. One of the drawbacks of this is we have to wait to be chosen by a birth mother, and the birth parents my request an open adoption, meaning we stay in contact with the birth parents, sending photos and having annual visits. We would prefer a closed adoption. One of the benefits of this route is that we could get a newborn baby.

adoption tax credit

"You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child (including a child with special needs). The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from your tax liability. Although the credit generally is allowed for the year following the year in which the expenses are paid, a taxpayer who paid qualifying expenses in the current year for an adoption which became final in the current year, may be eligible to claim the credit on the current year return. The adoption credit is not available for any reimbursed expense. In addition to the credit, certain amounts reimbursed by your employer for qualifying adoption expenses may be excludable from your gross income...."

"For 2008, the maximum adoption credit has increased to $11,650. Also, the maximum exclusion from income for benefits under your employer's adoption assistance program has increased to $11,650. These amounts are phased out if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is between $174,730 and $214,730. You cannot claim the credit or exclusion if your MAGI is $214,730 or more."

See more on the IRS website here.

adoption from the Ukraine in a nutshell

Adoption for the Ukraine (borrowed from another blog):
  1. Dossier paperwork – gathering things like birth certificates, marriage certificate, etc., and getting them notarized and apostilled.
  2. Home study – a social worker interviews us and looks into our ability to parent and provide for a child. There is paperwork gathering here, too, and looking into assets, etc.
  3. Immigration – filing fingerprints and money and such with the USCIS (former INS).
  4. Sending completed dossier to facilitator in Ukraine for translation.
  5. Submission of translated dossier to the State Department on Adoption (SDA), the government body in Kyiv (the capital of Ukraine) that does international adoptions.
  6. SDA accepts dossier and issues a travel date.
  7. Travel to Kyiv to meet with the SDA and get the referral of a child.
  8. The inspector of the child's region and orphanage director give approval for us to visit the child.
  9. We travel to the child's city.
  10. We get a court date with a judge to be pronounced our child's parents.
  11. There is a 10-day wait after pronouncement. (Sometimes this gets waived.)
  12. Get passport with our child's new name and other paperwork.
  13. Travel back to US Embassy in Kyiv for clearance and medical checkup.
  14. Fly home.
(Kyiv is the Urkaine spelling for Kiev)

Sharon added that the entire process usually takes about 18 months.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Adoption Stories on Discovery Health Channel

I watched an episode this morning and the adopting dad said "There's a child for every family, and a family for every child." I just thought it was so beautiful.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Adoption Stories on Discovery Health Channel

Adoption Stories comes on the Discovery Health Channel three times a day. We have our TV programmed to go to it at 6:30 a.m. every weekday morning so we can watch and learn.

I wish they'd tell more about the process of adoption. They usually just show the "happy ending." I still find it interesting and we continue to watch it every morning. Chris enjoys it too and it has sparked a few discussions that otherwise might not have come up.