We said we wanted to be as transparent as possible so here it goes…
We had our initial phone conference last night with a Senior Consultant at the agency we are going through. This discussion is for them to get an idea of where you are in the process. Are you just gathering information? Are you ready to plow full steam ahead? Any questions you may have?
She asked us about our age preference for a child. We would like to bring home a newborn. I would love if we could be at the hospital when baby is born. Some birth mothers even let you be in the room and some hospitals give the adoptive parents their own room to be with baby just as if you had birthed the baby yourselves. Jen, the consultant, said their age bracket is technically newborn to 3 months old, but she would note NB for newborn next it. She posed the question, “Well, what if there is a baby that is a week old, and the birth mom, for whatever reason, has decided that she can’t parent the baby. Would you open to that?” We said yes.
She also asked about race, if we’d be open to twins (YES!!), if we’re open to either gender, special needs if we would accept a baby that was exposed to tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, drugs, or tested positive for drugs and would need to go through detox once born. You’re forced to make these decisions that would never be an issue if you were pregnant yourself.
Then we talked about budget. This is where my head started to spin, I was sweating, and I could feel the tears coming up from somewhere deep down. I share the following info so people can educate themselves. Maybe cause someone to bite their tongue when they want to ask a childless couple, “Why don’t you just adopt?”.
Here is how the expenses break down:
Consulting Agency Fee: $18,997
This covers expenses for their employees, the 24-7 availability, the social workers, the counseling for birth parents, the mounds of paperwork and legal documents that must be signed and filed, screening inquiring birth parents for scams, screening inquiring adoptive parents for crazies, presenting birth moms with adoptive parents profiles that match their requests. The list goes on and on.
We have the option of paying this in full when we sign our contract or paying $7500 up front and then paying the remaining $11,497 over the next 6 months.
Either way, this fee must be paid in full before we can be presented to expectant birth mothers.
Home Study Fee: $1000-$3000
This is an additional fee that must be paid to a separate agency, most likely out of Fargo, that will come into our home and poke around at our lives. Joe and I will each do separate interviews as well as a few combined meetings with the social worker in Fargo. The home study should take 6-8 weeks to complete. Until we are a ‘Home-Study-Ready Family’ (home study completed, including a state and FBI background check), we will only be shown to birth mothers that are not due right away, in good faith that your home study will be completed shortly.
Legal Fees: $8000-$12,000 on average
This is an additional fee not included in the agency fee. These fees will cover a lawyer from the birth mother’s state where the baby will be born. This lawyer will facilitate all legal aspects of terminating parental rights, us being named legal parents, as well as the ICPC- the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. The Interstate Compact is essentially a contract that all 50 states, Washington, DC, and the US Virgin Islands have agreed to. It establishes procedures for ensuring the safety and stability of placements of children across state lines.
We won’t need to pay this until we know where baby will be born.
Birth Mother Financial Assistance: $1000-$8000
This is additional fee not included in the agency fee. In a lot of cases, the birth mother needs financial assistance whether it be rent, food, maternity clothes, healthcare, or copays. Jen said that at a minimum we should try and contribute $1000 if we are able. This money always passes through the consulting agency. It is not paid directly to birth mom to ensure safety on our part.
We are responsible for sending the agency 30 profiles. These are books with pictures showing our life, our family, what we like to do, to give birth mom an idea of the life her child will grow up in. Each profile must have a professional 4x6 color photo attached to the front cover. If all 30 books are given out, we are responsible for sending more. We also have an online profile that birth mothers can look at 24-7. We are highly encouraged to upload a video of ourselves as well. The agency can help us with this if we need, for a fee.
Travel and Lodging to pick-up baby: ?
Once baby is on the way, depending on where they are being born, we will need to purchase plane tickets or jump in our car and head to the hospital. Once baby is born we will need to stay in that state until the ICPC is completed through the courts. This takes a week or two. You can’t leave the state before the ICPC is completed or you are essentially kidnapping that child.
This also poses a unique situation as our employer doesn’t have to legally grant Joe or me leave for this. (Don’t get me started). We have spoken with our superintendent and he said he will allow it. Joe will have to use up all his personal and emergency days first before dipping into sick leave. I only get sick leave at my job so I’ll use those up and then will have to be on FMLA leave. We don’t have maternity or paternity leave at our jobs.
Total: roughly $34,000-$40,000 give or take a few thousand
Our next step is deciding if we want to pay in full up-front or take the payment plan option. We will also be looking for a way to finance the $18,997 because we are not able to cut a check for that and need to keep the cash in our adoption account for our home study. There are a few interest-free adoption loans, but approval can take awhile and isn’t guaranteed. Grants are few and far between and you need to be home study approved before you can even apply. They also involve application fees.
Once we decide which payment option, we need to sign our contract with the agency. When payment is received in full and the contract is signed and sent it, our 2 years begins. The agency fee covers a 2-year contract. If we are not matched within a year, we will also need to renew our home study.
So that’s where we’re at. I wanted so badly to come away from yesterday’s phone call really excited, but if I’m being totally and completely honest, I came away extremely stressed. We have so much to do and so much money to find that I’m feeling defeated at the moment. I’m hopeful there are happier days ahead.
We will be with family for Thanksgiving, and although someone is on call at our agency 24-7, we want to make sure they have time with their families as well. We’ll take the weekend to look over our contracts and come to a decision on how to proceed and get in touch with them after the holiday.
Make sure you’re following our page on Facebook so you can follow along to see how this all unfolds. <3