Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FAQ

Since starting this blog, we've received a number of questions covering all different aspects of adoption. Here are some of the more commonly asked ones, along with our answers. Please keep your questions coming and we'll answer them here periodically.

What kind of adoption are you doing?
Human. Ok, sorry. For our first child, we are doing "domestic infant adoption" (ie, an American-born, newborn baby, straight from the womb to us). The reason for this is because we would like the opportunity to raise our first child from birth; perhaps a decision we'll come to regret after the fifth consecutive sleepless night. In addition, the domestic infant process seems to be the fastest route to becoming parents. We have not made any decisions yet on what adoption avenues we'll pursue after our firstborn, but we certainly plan to adopt more than once.

How long will the process take before you have a baby?
This is, hands down, the most commonly asked question, and a great one at that. People have asked if we are expecting to become parents any day now. Well, unfortunately you don't just drop your name in a hat and get a phone call 5 minutes later like Monica and Chandler on Friends. But it's not a completely blind waiting game either. There's a logical system of order in place: 1) Application 2) Paperwork 3) Home study 4) Personal profile 5) Birthparent matching 6) Placement of child. We are on step 2. You don't even become eligible to be matched with a birthparent until your personal profile is created, which is what the birthparents look at in order to determine which adoptive couples they would like to meet and potentially be matched with. I should probably say in addition, that the process won't take our whole lives, contrary to what Hollywood or the media horror stories would have you believe. In all our research and from all the personal testimonies we've heard from agencies and adoptive couples, the whole process from start to finish, should be between one to two years total, if that.

Why are you adopting?
I'd love to give you some sort of selfless, altruistic answer, but the primary reason is because of infertility. It's a tough pill to swallow, and if I may be blunt, no one can truly understand the pain of it unless you've gone through it yourself. Over time, we've received a lot of well-intended, but rather unhelpful sympathy remarks such as "Oh, you'll be fine! You'll adopt and it'll be great!" by people with good intentions, but who may not know what to say when we've talked about our struggles in coping with this. Yes, the clich├ęs are sometimes true, but to be honest, the genuine listeners who pretty much have nothing to say except for a heartfelt "Yeah, it really sucks" have been the most thoughtful and comforting to us. This is not to say that you shouldn't ask us about our adoption journey or our struggles - far from it! But we really just need to be honest about how it affects us when friends or family try to throw easy answers at us because they don't know what to say. The truth is, sometimes there is no easy answer at the moment, and that's OK.

Isn't it unfair to try to adopt if you CAN have biological kids?
While this question doesn't directly apply to us, this is another common one that comes up in discussions. The perceived sentiment is that pursuing adoption when you are physically capable of having biological children is unfair, as it would delay the adoption process for infertile couples. This is hands down untrue and is often times an excuse used primarily to assuage guilty consciences. There will never be a deficit of children in need of homes but there WILL always be a deficit of people willing to adopt them unless more families respond to this need, both fertile and infertile. I don't want to be a hypocrite and say that I would absolutely adopt under different circumstances, but with such a great need in today's world for children to be adopted, I thought the misconception about this question was worth addressing.

Will you tell your kids they are adopted?
Absolutely and unequivocally YES!!! Lying to our child about where he or she came from would, in our opinion, be a complete injustice, as well as emotionally and psychologically harmful. We will naturally have to wait until our child is old enough to grasp basic concepts of the situation, but when the time comes, we will be more than happy to explain the beautiful story about how he or she became our son or daughter. Children who are adopted will naturally have different and unique identity questions. As these arise, adoptive parents must be willing to address these questions with wisdom and sensitivity according to each child's needs.

Will the birth-parent(s) be in the picture once the baby is born?
This naturally goes hand in hand with the last question. The short answer of it is that we believe our child should know who his or her birth-parents are as a part of fully understanding who they are and where they came from. Sometimes, unfortunately, the birth-fathers don't stick around, but sometimes they do. Some birth-parent(s) and adoptive couples choose to have a "closed" adoption, meaning all ties are permanently severed once the baby is placed with the adoptive couple. We don't believe this is a good idea as most studies have shown (as well as personal testimonies we've heard and read) that most adopted children will eventually want to find out who gave birth to them as an answer to their origin. Plus, with internet searches making the world smaller and smaller, it would be very unfortunate for our child to grow up and have to track down his or her birth-parents when we could have helped fill that void from the beginning. Others choose "open" or "semi-open" adoption, which allows some form of contact between the child and the birth-parent(s). This could take the form of scheduled visitations and/or phone calls, birthday gifts, exchanges of letters and pictures, or some other arrangement worked out between the adoptive couple and the birth parent(s). We will be having an open adoption, as we believe that some form of birth-parent contact would be healthiest for our child's growth and development. Just as importantly, an open adoption arrangement is the least an adoptive couple can do to show birth-parents (whose feelings are often discarded in this process) just how much they are loved, respected, and appreciated for the unbelievablely amazing and selfless decision they have made.

Does it really cost $20,000 to adopt a baby?
Yes, and with some other agencies, domestic infant adoption runs as high as $35,000 to $40,000! Just to be clear however, none of the money goes to the birth parent(s) as that would be considered slavery, which has long since been outlawed in the United States. The silver lining is that only $6,000 is needed before the birth of our child. This amount will cover the home study, background checks, legal expenses, and the personal profile creation. The remaining $14,000 is due when the baby comes home and can be paid off over time, as well as through great adoption tax credits which are available today.