Friday, July 8, 2011

A Family's Perspective on the Adoption Process

It takes an incredible toughness to go through the adoption process. Our society likes to believe that those who adopt, simply get the idea, gather up a few hundred dollars and whisk out to their local ‘adoption agency’ or ‘birth person on the street’ to ask, ‘Can we have your baby?” If this is what you’ve thought adoption was about, you’re very wrong. The names below are fictitious, but the steps involved to adopt can be very true.

Mary and John have gone through several miscarriages and rounds of IVF. They have approximately $20,000 left. They’ve decided their funding will either be exhausted by continued attempts with IVF; or, they’ll bet on a sure thing with putting their monies into adoption. They feel as though they’ve been through the mire. They’ve been married 6yrs, have good jobs and feel good about making a decision toward something that will have a happy ending. (Adoption)

But before that happy ending can happen, Mary and John will have to undergo a grueling test of just how much they really WANT to have a baby in their home.


By going down the long road of proving themselves worthy to adopt and parent children. This task of proving themselves will put them through one of the toughest journeys of their lives. The process is one of the most ‘one-sided events’ they’ll ever undertake. And, unless they’re well educated and well read, it’s very possible that they’ll lose a considerable amount of money before they have a newborn in their arms…..

Before anyone can legally adopt a baby, they have to have a completed home study. This document is essential to adopt domestically and internationally. The cost for a domestic home study often ranges from $1500.00 – $2000.00. (An international home study often costs more.) The home study involves individual interviews with the prospective parent; interviews with both parents; written referrals from friends, relatives, bosses, and sometimes, their pastor. It will require that the hopeful adoptive couple submit to full disclosure of their tax forms, their loans, expenses, their monthly budget and any other additional income or debts they might have. They’ll be asked if they have a will, life insurance and a designated person to parent their child should both of them die at the same time.

It will require them to write out a biography of their lives and how they met; how long they dated and what kinds of issues they might have dealt with—prior to and post marriage– that were easy or difficult. They’ll have to answer questions about their parents’ discipline; talk about their own ideas concerning children; how their expanded family feels about adoption and how good their sex life is—or is not. They’ll also be required to discuss their failed IVF treatments; whether they think they’re ready to have a baby through adoption and why they think they should be allowed to adopt at all. Oftentimes, their boss will have to submit a letter discussing how well they perform their job and how long they’ve been employed with that job.

If their state requires a foster license in order to adopt across state lines, they’ll have to complete 16 hours of PRIDE or MAPP classes meant for parents of foster children (even if their child won‘t be a foster child). These classes will include discussions and assignments about behavior disorders, sexual and physical abuse of children, how to discuss adoption with older children, and specific mental issues more often seen in older adopted children who‘ve been through the foster care system.

They’ll have to submit to a state (and sometimes national) background and fingerprint check; oftentimes, a CPR class; and usually one or more parenting classes. Sometimes, there are classes designed to explain a recurrent theory holding that even when their child is adopted, they should understand the child is actually not ‘theirs’, but still belonging to the biological family—whether their child will feel actually feel that way or not. (State foster care systems like to remind parents of the theory that most children will long for their biological family……a theory that oftentimes is not true.)

In short, Mary and John will have to expose their innermost feelings, insecurities and strengths about themselves, each other and those in their extended family; then allow others to tell them HOW and WHY those thought processes are either correct or need correction…depending on who their instructors are.

Through all of this, will be a caseworker who will write out the home study and sometimes put his/her own spin on what’s being said or written by Mary and John. More often than not, the caseworker will be a complete stranger to the hopeful adoptive couple.

Sound overwhelming? It can be. Yet this is just the beginning of an adoption journey.

Compare the above then, with those who choose to get pregnant (or can easily get pregnant).

How many documents does a pregnant couple have to fill out? Does anyone ask about their family background? Do they submit to background checks? (In fact, those convicted of sexual offenses continue to have the right to pro-create.) Does anyone ask them what their plans are for discipline or whether they have a Will or someone to parent their children should both of them die at the same time? Do they have to worry their insurance won’t pay for the pregnancy or the birth of their child?

If getting pregnant takes longer than they’d hoped, will the hopeful pregnant couple need to update their family history as adopting couples do every year (and sometimes, every six months)? Barring IVF treatments, will the hopefully pregnant couple have to pay monies to apply for the possibility of having a child? (Adoptive couples can pay thousands in application fees and possible situations.)

It’s frustrating, unfair and oftentimes, those in waiting will want to throw in the towel and quit altogether. Will you??


Von said...

As an adult adoptee I never got a chance to throw in the towel since adoptees have no choice about adoption.Parenting is the hardest job in the world and maybe all parents should undergo an extensive process before they take it on.Adopters have to realise the best families have to be found for children, this process should not be about finding a child for a family.

Erimentha said...

Nothing makes me angrier than people whinging about having to jump through hoops to adopt someone else's child. If you seriously cannot handle having your life turned upside down, then you are not ready to have a child in your life.

And to the blog author, I believe your post should be "A Family's PERSPECTIVE on the Adoption Process". No offence, but it does nothing for your credibility if you don't know the difference between these two words.

Alexandra B said...

Ed. note: the misspelling in the title was all mine, not that of the author's. Thanks for your correction.