OUR (SECOND) ADOPTION STORY

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A Few years ago, I started this blog to document a few main stories in my life.

One of those stories was our FIRST adoption story. Not a month goes by that Mark and I aren’t contacted by a couple interested in adoption wanting to ask us questions about the timeline, process, and fundraising.

We always send them my old blog post so they know our story and then get together for follow up conversation and questions. The farther we have gotten from Mercy’s adoption the older I realize that blog post is. No two-adoption stories are alike and I thought it would be better to have our two stories both online so they can be compared. There are also things we learned this second time that I realized I didn’t say in the first post.

This might go without saying, but I just want to say that we love adoption and are so blessed that we can say that it is part of our family’s story. Our kids have adopted first cousins on both sides of the family so we have seen it play out at different ages and in different contexts. We love talking to couples and answering questions and want to help see as many adoptions happen as possible.

With that in mind, here is our story….

TIMELINE

Our timeline wasn’t as draw out as last time because we new we would do our adoption through the same specific agency and we knew the road ahead. We began the paperwork to work toward our second adoption in August of 2014. We had to renew our home study, which meant me had to start all the paper work over. I feel like most of the paper work aspect (names, biography, family history) is similar across the board to other agencies. One of the major differences is the way the agency goes about the adoption/foster classes required. Some agencies have you attend a class, some are book related, and ours was online articles with a test following each article. I would say that this is the most time consuming part of a home study. I spent about 2.5 hours /4 nights a week working on reading the material and then taking a test. Mark would also read and take tests with me many nights.

In addition to the online work, there are other things like a fire inspection, physicals, and gathering financial information that will take some time as well. The paperwork for us took about six weeks to complete. Mind you this was our second time through a home study so we were able to work pretty fast on the familiar parts and even adapt some typed documents we saved from round one. Mark and I split up the paperwork “duties” so that we could work faster. Six weeks is very fast, but it went fast because we prioritized it over many other things in our life at the time, and we really wanted to get the matching started and that can’t start till the paper work is done. This may take some families months to complete depending on the time you have to give.

After the paperwork is done and right before the matching starts, you will need to make “life books”. Your agency will use these books to show birth-moms who are choosing a family. We always Googled coupons to Shutterfly or other online book companies to find the best deal. Our agency required 20 books. With a coupon this still ran us about $270.00. This book takes a little bit of time to lay out the pictures and caption them all.

In the middle of September we were ready to match with a birth-mom. This can be done through and email or phone call that a birth-mom is viewing your book. We were emailed that our birth-mom wanted to set up a meeting with us. We were given the facts about her life situation and what was going on. In October of 2014 we had our first meeting with our birth-mom and our social worker. We talked about our lives and tried our best to get to know each other. Right after this meeting we were officially matched with our birth-mom. We met with her again at Christmas to learn more about each other without our social worker.

Some birth-moms will ask you to attend their doctor’s appointments. We did not attend the appointments but texted back and forth about each appointment. At this point the process and communication is between you and the birth-mom. Your social worker or agency director will not usually see you until the birth of the baby. Our daughter arrived in February of 2015.

Our birth-mom let us know the night before that she was getting induced the next morning, so we could meet her at the hospital. We went to her room to visit for a while, but then waited in the lobby till the baby was born. We went to the nursery right away to meet our baby girl. This part of the story is different for everyone depending on the wishes of the birth-mom. You may or may not have a separate room.

Our birth-mom discharged when she was medically allowed, and we stayed with Zion for a couple more days. It is your job after the birth to finish up some important paperwork concerning social security, birth certificate, Medicaid, and contacting your adoption lawyer to get a date for the official adoption six months later.

For six months following the birth, your social worker will stop by once a month. They answer any questions you may have. These meeting are not very long.

At the six-month mark you will have a court date to make the adoption official. This court appearance is in the county your agency resides in. Once you have your official day in court, your baby gets to take your name! Don’t forget to change their name on their birth certificate, social security card, and insurance!

I tell people all the time that choosing the right agency is the key. Do your research and talk to people who have adopted through the agency you are looking at. One of the most important things (I think) is asking on average how many babies they are placing a year. This will give you a good idea on their efficiency and possible wait time for you. We have used the same agency for both our adoptions, and I would love to shout them out because they deserve it. We cannot say enough about Adoption Link in Yellow Springs, Ohio! They are efficient and they communicate very well. We have never felt in the dark or confused about our process. Our adoption attorney is Mike Voorhees from Cincinnati. We love Mike and he has been awesome walking us through legal issues and hurdles with our second adoption.

The financial side of adoption is always the most intimidating. Its good to remind yourself that every penny you have in the first place is because of God’s provision and this money will be no different. Fund raising is about leveraging opportunities that will give you the greatest return.

Our fundraising was the brainchild of my husband Mark. There are so many options out there. Our biggest advice is to look at the fundraisers and see which one brings the most return. Some fundraisers can take a high percentage and the effort it takes to put them on may not be the best use of your time. We loved GoFundMe. It was our most successful one. We just did our online fundraiser 18 months ago now and the climate of crowd sourcing has changed, but it can still be a great resource. Take advantage of social media and the ways that it connects you to people all over the world.

On top of GoFundMe, we also did a 5k race, which did ok. We decided to do it too late and weren’t able to capitalize on the running community. Mark still says he could do it again and with what he learned could raise thousands for someone. We also saved money on our own which I mentioned last time. There is no substitute for picking up part time work or another income stream when it comes to adoption. Almost everyone we have ever talked to has done this in some way.

I want to stop again and say that every adoption is different from each other. Every birth-mom and birth-father are different. The relationship between every birth-mom and adoptive family is different…and it’s ok! I want this blog to be an encouragement and an example but you should never compare your situation, or fundraising, or family to anyone else’s. God will write your story exactly as He wants it to be.

When most people want to “talk” about adoption, they often have many questions about money. Adoption is not cheap and so that will be a huge piece of the process. We love to be open about our adoption costs. Mercy’s adoption in total was about 21,000 dollars, and Zion’s adoption costs have been about 25,000 dollars.

 

Here’s a breakdown.

Homestudy – $1,850

Agency fees – $21,140

Additional Legal Fees – $1,000

Family Look books – $270

Total – $24,260

 

There’s much more I could write and I am sure I left some things out and didn’t say others perfect. Forgive me 🙂 The goal of this is just to let you know that adoption is a great thing AND encourage you that if God has put it on your heart you can walk toward it knowing that you are not alone.

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SO HOW DID WE ADOPT ANYWAY? – OUR ADOPTION STORY

In the short time that we have been publicly linked to adoption we have had several people email, call, or ask us questions about the details of our adoption process.. Recently it has been more and more frequent and I have realized the desire for information from others. We believe in adoption and honestly want to see as many people get to adopt as possible, so I thought I would make a blog post and share our story. These are the details including the honest financial truth.  I have made a timeline that may help answer some of your questions. From the first initial meeting to explain the process and bringing Mercy home from the hospital was almost four years to the day. Much of this wait was saving the money to actually begin the official process.

-Ocotber 2008- we met with a private adoption attorney who walked us through the             independent adoption process and told us the cost up front. We did this early so that we could get a savings plan in place. We knew we would still have one more biological child which turned out to be Canaan (11/24/09), but wanted to do our homework early.

–       October 2008 thru February 2010 we saved enough to begin the process

–       February 2010- signed papers with Home-study Services of Ohio. They are out of Canton, Ohio and travel all over the state.

–       April 2010- finished all our home study meetings and classes and can now officially accept a baby. Our homes study has a two-year expiration date.

–       August 2011- we did a private Facebook fundraiser for our adoption which eventually would raise $7,000.

–       July 2012- we came to a point where we realized that trying to adopt independent (on our own) through networking was very difficult and we needed to pick a public agency soon.

–       August 2012- met with a family that has adopted twice through Adoption Link and highly recommended them. We were able to see their profile books and hear first hand stories of their experience.

–       August 2012- transferred our home study paperwork to Adoption Link and made profile books. This took three weeks to complete.

–       August 2012- within days of signing with Adoption Link we received multiple calls and emails for babies that needed homes

–       September 2012- we were picked by two different expectant moms and interviewed with both.  Neither was a match for us.

–       October 29, 2012- we received a call from our agency director that a baby girl was born the night (28th) before and her birth mom picked our family on the 29th. We were asked to come to the hospital in Dayton immediately to pick her up. We were in shock because we had never met this birth-mom or new she was a possibility.

–       October 29th– 30th– went to Dayton and picked Mercy up and brought her home from the hospital

–       November 2012-May 2013- we have a social worker come to our house once a month to check in

–       January 2013- we hired a lawyer from Cincinnati to handle our finalization paperwork

–       May 2013- we will be going to the Greene County Courthouse to finalize our adoption

There are a few tips that may help if your are looking to adopt:

1)    Pick an agency that is highly recommended

2)    Call or email people listed by the agency as references

3)    Ask a lot of questions

One of the biggest obstacles in adoption is the money. The first question I asked was “how much is it going to cost?” To be honest, it is expensive, You should  have a plan in place and know how you are going to pay for the adoption when it happens. Sometimes, like in our case it happened without warning and we needed to be ready. We decided that adoption was our number one saving priority so we did a fundraiser and Mark picked up some side projects over the last four years to pay/save for Mercy’s adoption, God is good, and when we got the call to come get Mercy we had the exact amount of money we needed.  Here is a cost breakdown of our expenses:

Home Study Services of Ohio- (which includes the back ground checks)-   $1300

Adoption Link fee schedule-                                                                        $ 16,290

Legal Fees to finalize                                                                                    $1200

Total                                                                                                             $ 18,790

 

I know this post may not have answered all your questions, but I hope it gave some direction and maybe you want to check out the agencies we went through. If you have more specific questions nothing is off limits and we want to be an open book book to encourage your adoption.  You can Facebook me (facebook.com/kristinartrip), email me at kristinartrip(at)gmail.com or tweet at me @kristinartrip if you want to know more.