Note: This post is quite raw, and as an adoptee or adoptive parent, I don't know if I have been offensive. If so, I deeply apologize - but this is my feelings as they stand now as a prospective adoptive parent looking in at the process only a few weeks in. I imagine I will learn more and hopefully not be as ignorant as I must seem right now, but in this early state, I only feel bewildered and a little bitter.
How do you know which adoption agency to go with? I have no idea. I tried to look up "reviews" but I didn't find much. In the end, we went with the biggest one we could find, AdoptionStar in Buffalo. But we're honestly 2 weeks in and already wondering if we made the right choice.
Here's the thing...before my second surgery, and less than 1 year after we'd been married, before we even started TTC, L and I went to a local adoption agency to find out about the process. What we learned made us extremely uncomfortable. I'll be honest, perhaps too honest, here. The adoption agency made us feel like we should be groveling to a birth mother for their child. Like the birth mother was queen, and we were nothing at all.
I FULLY understand and appreciate how important the birth mother is. Without the birth mother, there is no child, and without the birth mother willing to have the baby and give it to adoptive parents to raise, there is no family. However, adoptive parents play a big role too. Without adoptive parents to raise the child, there is no family either. We matter.
So we felt like crap after meeting with them. They also told us we had to be married a year before we could start the adoption process (it didn't matter that we'd been together for years and years, and known each other much longer than most newlyweds). So it really didn't work out. I don't know if that's the way it is at every private agency, or just that one. I guess we'll find out.
There are other things that make me feel uncomfortable about the whole process. Paying for the birth mother's expenses. I mean, I understand some of them of course. Maternity clothes, perhaps medical expenses. But rent? Utilities? Those are things she'd have to pay for anyway, pregnant or not. But I definitely understand the thinking behind it, that you want the best for your prospective child, so in order for it to be well taken care of, you're willing to pay.
But it's not even like you're guaranteed the child if you do pay. What I don't understand is how after all of this, if you pay for all of that, the birth mother can decide in the end to keep the baby after all, and you're out all the money. Now, I understand some of the reasoning, babies are not businesses, and the thought of "owing" a baby just because some people paid some expenses for you is deplorable. I *get* this. But being on the adoptive side, I think, this is already a business. I'm already paying $30,000 to an agency, and the birth mother is (obviously) not getting any of that money (besides expenses of course) so the agency is pocketing most of it. I know that agencies have their expenses too, and staff salaries, but does it arise to that amount of money? I don't know. I admit I am ignorant of this stuff though, but as someone new to world of adoption, I also admit it upsets me.
So, I apologize for my ignorance, and I am hopeful as we get through the process we will learn more and I will one day reread this post and think "how silly you were!" but from where I sit today, the whole thing makes me bitter.
So the last week of February we filled out and sent the registration packet we already had in the house from last year to AdoptionStar, along with the $350. A week later, we got it back in the mail, with a 2011 registration packet to fill out. It was basically the same with a few clauses different. Argh, frustrating. But we dutifully filled it out again and mailed it back. Check is cashed. A day later I get a call welcoming us to the agency and saying our advocate will be in contact soon. Cool, ok.
Yesterday, I finally get a call from our advocate. She introduces herself and tells me that in order to get the homestudy packet, we need to send a check for $1650. WTF? Why not just tell me to send a check for $2000 from the beginning instead of wasting 2 weeks of my time?
I knew of the homestudy fee but thought we would be sending the check along with the completed homestudy packet eventually. (I actually have no idea what a homestudy packet contains, so that may have been a bad conclusion to make, but that's what I thought at the time). So today, I mailed out a check for $1650 (gulp) and imagine I will get a packet next week or so.
So it will have been 3+ weeks, $2000, and what do we have to show for it? Not much. It is disconcerting, and that's why I'm HOPING we went with the right place.