Well, it's official. Well, no actually, it's not. We can still change our minds. And so can any birthmother who is out there. So, nothing is whatsoever official. But in my heart, it feels mostly official.
And that is this...we're going to have a baby (through adoption)!
Who on earth knows when? Some time in the next 6–36 months. Gee...not quite the predictability of a pregnancy, is it? There's no doctor telling me the size of the baby's head and the due date. Instead there's an agency giving me their average wait per couple for the past ten years.
So since I'm literally thinking about this issue (adoption as a concept/a new baby/the piles of paperwork/the insane amount of money we're going to have to raise) all the time, I thought I'd start blogging about it! How better to further obsess and share my obsessions with the world? (My sis Bren does it quite successfully, thank you! But I won't be saving you any money on toothpaste.)
So anyway, here is where we are.
--We've decided to adopt domestically (a USA baby) rather than internationally.
--We've decided to use an adoption agency rather than a facilitator or a private lawyer.
--We've decided to use a state-wide rather than a national agency. See, agencies can be divided into national agencies (certified to work with birthmothers in multiple states) and local agencies (certified to work with birthmothers just withing their state or within a mile-defined radius of their office). Why a Texas agency rather than a national one? Well, as it turns out, Texas is the place to adopt. That's because the laws favor clean, quick adoption. There is no birthmother revocation (change-of-mind) period. And she can sign over her rights as early as 48 hours after the adoption.
As for birthfathers, they can sign over before the child is born, and if they don't show up in a month after birth, their rights are terminated automatically. (Sorry dad...gotta stay in touch!) So in the worst-case scenario, you have to wait 31 days to exhale.
But you can also state on your application that you only want to be "pitched" to birthmothers who have already had the birthfathers sign off. In that case, you've just got the 2-day period where you get to cuddle the baby in the hospital nursery, knowing that he/she might not come home with you. Then, after 48 hours and a signature, you're putting a little lovable newborn in your carseat!
After that, for six months, the state visits your home a couple times to make sure you're not psycho (we're hoping to hide it well), and your pediatrician has to give you good marks monthly (so no baby tattoos during this time). After six months, you take your little drooler to court in San Antonio so that everyone can cry while the judge bangs the gavel.
With a national agency, you might get matched with a birthmother anywhere in the country, and the laws there might be a lot tougher to swallow. The scariest stories we've heard are from states where the birthmother gets a week or two to think about it after she's signed. Then you've got a horrified couple having to give a baby back after a week of cuddling and kissing. Not so in Texas. In fact, Texas is such a popular place to adopt that lots of out-of-state couples want to adopt from here. (Some of the Texas agencies we talked to said that they were no longer accepting out-of-state adoptive couples.)
Also, with a national agency you will likely have to travel across the country at a moment's notice when the baby is born (thousands of dollars, anyone?) and live in a hotel for up to two weeks in a strange town with a baby that you might have to give back ('cause you can't leave the state until the waiting period is over). Then, you have to fly back six months later with your infant in order to do the court-date thing. Sounds messy to me.
I'd rather just drive to San Antonio, bang the gavel, and then catch the lunch crowd at Denny's.
What's the benefit of a national agency? One word: speed and efficiency. They are fasty-fast, because they have so many resources and so many birthmothers. They definitely have the best web sites. One national agency we talked to has an average wait time of four months after your homestudy is over (most local agencies quote an average of 9–12 months). Also, they are usually really well organized and able to answer your call on the first ring. Local agencies, on the other hand, will generally do their best to get back with you that day. But frankly, that's good enough for me.
--We've narrowed our search down to three agencies here in Texas. One in Dallas (Buckner), one in San Antonio (Adoption Angels), and one in Austin (Adoption Advocates). We like them all for different reasons, so we're praying and asking the Lord to guide our hearts towards whatever His will is. (We've been praying a LOT through this whole process, but this is the first major, somewhat irrevocable, decision we've had to make.) All three agencies accept birthmothers from all over Texas (which, conveniently for us, is a big ol' state). So we might end up having to fly to Corpus Christi or something, but not across the country.
--Our next step is the homestudy, which involves meeting several times with a case worker, allowing her to visit our home and make sure it's safe and comfy, and writing a check for about $1,200. But we need to pick an agency first, to make sure they approve of our homestudy person.
So there you go. We are open to any and all questions, and we'll keep you peeps posted.