First Steps in Adopting
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First Steps in Adopting
My husband and I are excited to be pursuing domestic newborn adoption.
We have been doing our research, compiling lists of agencies and
attorneys, and have narrowed things down (I think) to our favorite
agency (IAC) and the attorney we liked the most (David Radis, works in
L.A.). But I don't know how to decide between agency and attorney.
On the one hand, I love the idea of the ongoing support and counseling
an agency would provide. On the other, I fear languishing among all
the other hopeful adoptive parents and never getting picked by a birth
mom. It seems like maybe an attorney who is working with fewer
families might be able to help us find our baby sooner. I just don't
I feel so far out of my depths here. I'm 29 and my friends are only
just starting to marry and have babies, meanwhile I've already been
through two exhausting, painful years of infertility, recurrent
pregnancy loss, failed IVF, and now starting down the daunting road to
adoption. I have no peers who have adopted; the only adoptive parents
my husband and I know are family members and friends our parents' age
who adopted 25+ years ago when, from what I've read, the adoption
landscape was very different.
I would love to hear from anyone who has adopted domestically or is in
the process of doing so. How did you select your agency or attorney?
How long did you wait? Did you do a lot of networking on your own
(this is really far out of our comfort zone, though something we're
willing to do)? Is there anything you wish you did differently? Any
warnings, advice, or encouragement you wish someone had told you?
Also, if you worked with IAC or David Radis, could you tell me what
you thought of the experience?
We adopted through IAC and we waited 2 years because we were chosen twice
and the first birth Mom changed her mind after the baby was born which was
heartbreaking and took 8 months of couples therapy to recover from. We have
friends who adopted this year through IAC and waited a little over a year for a
baby. I know waiting can be difficult, but my biggest advice is to make sure you
are absolutely ready to go through this roller coaster ride of adoption. There
could be many ups and downs and it can be emotionally draining and very
difficult. (It might not be, but just prepare yourself.) Make sure you and your
partner have traveled, partied, connected with each other and are both equally
committed to the process. After you get a baby, you take on the hardest job I
have ever had in my life: parenting (and with open adoption you take on the
birth family and all their issues, life struggles, etc) the IAC is good about giving
you training and guidance in dealing with these issues. Just make sure you are
ready. It will be very rewarding to be a parent. Good luck with the process and
be sure to connect with other IAC couples who are going through the same
process - they can be a great support.
Adoptive IAC Parent
We adopted domestically a few years ago. We couldnt be happier! We
used Adoption Connection which has a pay as you go policy rather than a
huge chunk uo front. We also did not use a lawyer. we got the most
beautiful and amazing baby girl. I don't think a lawyer is necessary. At our
agency they say '' everyone gets a baby'' and its true! It can take from 1
month to 2 years to get picked ( for us it was 3 months) with the current
average at 13 months. We feel, as does everyone else we have met who
adopted domestically, that our child was meant to be ours. Personally I
wouldnt do any other way but everyone has their own experience. The birth
moms choose of their own free will based on their feeling about your
birthmother letter, your photos, etc. No lawyer or agency can make that
happen. They can only provide the opportunity for your letter to be seen by
women looking to place their baby in a wonderful home. Good luck!
A good friend of mine has been dealing with infertility issues/ treatments and is
ready to move on to adoption. The whole adoption process seems daunting (to
say the least) & there is some confusion about where to start with all of the
various paths available. I'm posting on BPN in the hopes of getting feedback
from adoptive parents about what agencies they used and what the experience
was like. My friend is open to both domestic & international adoption. Any
feedback or personal stories would be much appreciated!
Thanks in advance,
I highly recommend talking to Sara Lively at Adoption Paths.
She is independent from the agencies and therefore helps you
decide what the best path is for you - rather than selling
the services the agencies provide. It will save a lot of
time and money in the long run because you will not get part
way down a path and then realize it was the wrong one for
you. In addition, Pact in Oakland is extremely ethical and
has a great array of services to assist with adoptions in
which the child is of color.
I would encourage your friends to at least consider the idea
of adopting from the child welfare system (foster care).
There are so many children who need homes. Check out
nonprofit http://familybuilders.org, which connects adoptive
parents with children from the San Francisco County child
welfare system. There are hundreds of children in San
Francisco alone waiting for homes. I believe there is no
cost to adopt this way. It always amazes me how much people
pay to do a private adoption when there are so many children
who need homes.
long-term foster parent
Depending on the path your family chooses, there are many different adoption
agencies, adoption attorneys and adoption facilitators to choose from- the most
important thing is to work with professionals that you feel comfortable with and
My husband and I want to adopt a child. We are open to older kids but a
newborn would be great too. Looking for more info about direct placement,
where to find birthmothers on our own and good lawyer. We live in Oakland and
want to do everything by the book. anon
Welcome to adoption. It is truly a process of learning and discovering
what will work for you. There are many ways to adopt: foster care system
for older children, as well as infants via attorneys and others. Have
you considered working with an licensed non-profit agency? You may find
that you will get more emotional support and less total cost this way. I
suggest you look at the agencies licensed to serve Alameda County
adoptive parents. They all have free orientations which are very
Good luck, Sally
Check out the Adoption Connection website. It's run by SF Jewish
Children and Family Services or is affiliated, but you don't have to
be Jewish. They have various workshops. You can also check out
Bradford Woo's website. He is a social worker in SF (and a minister)
and very experienced, and gives (or used to give) a free initial
consultation (you can then see if his style seems compatible with
yours. But I'm not sure what his experience is with domestic adoption
though I'm sure he must do some.). He handled the home studies for
our international adoption several years ago. Good luck! There are
many other adoption agencies in the Bay Area so check them out as
well. Also there are many yahoo groups for adoption.
I am having an extremely difficult time and am looking for
some guidance. My husband and I recently went through
about a year and a half of IUI/IVF. We just found out that
our last IVF cycle was most likely unsucessful. Many of
you know how difficult this is. We have just begun to have
the conversation about adoption, which we are both open to,
but have no idea where to start. We would most likely be
interested in adopting an infant. We aren't really sure
where to start? What is the cost of adoption?
Approximately ho long does the process take? I am aware
that there are great variations to these questions, but
right now I have NOTHING to go by and am looking for
someone who has been in my shoes and could point me in the
right direction. Any advice would be helpful! Thank you!
Adoption for infants could take one to six years on
average if I remember correctly. I think that you should
call some adoption agencies and compile a picture book of
yours and your husband's life story. Market yourself to
look like the best parents in the world. ALWAYS remember
that the m.t.b chooses what family she wants her child to
go to. You must be willing to have an open adoption too,
because some mothers (especially teenagers) want to have
updates and pictures of the child that they gave to you.
If you are willing to do that, then they will be willing
to work with you and help you become parents. Also, always
always check up at the agency you choose because they do
get busy and forget things too! Good Luck.
Hope This Helps.
Our path was similar - a year of failed IVF cycles followed
by adoption. The biggest obstacle for us was making the
mental leap from being completely focused on trying to get
pregnant day after day, to thinking about adoption. It
sounds like you've already made the mental switch, so your
journey is half done! With adoption, the story always ends
with a baby.
So, where to start. If you know that you want to adopt an
infant, then you will need a non-profit adoption agency to
handle state requirements like the home visit. There are
agencies that specialize in foreign adoption, so you'd want
to go with one of those if this is what you want to do. We
adopted domestically because we wanted an open adoption
where we could know the birth parents. I can recommend
Adoption Connection (Jewish Family Services). However, we
learned the hard way, after a year of waiting for a baby to
adopt, that you can't really count on the agency being able
to locate a baby for you. You will hear about crafting a
really good ''dear birth mother'' letter, placing ads in
newspapers, setting up a website, asking all your friends
and relatives, etc. etc. We did all of this and more, and
ended up with the occasional fishy inquiry from somewhere in
So I believe your best bet is to hire either an attorney who
specializes in adoption, or an ''adoption facilitator.'' We
went with the latter, and within 2 weeks of signing up, we
were connected with the birth mother of our son. Caveat:
adoption facilitators are for-profit and there is an
uncomfortable semi-unethical aspect to it. For more info see
The cost for our adoption was about the same as what the IVF
had cost. This was a few years ago, but the two main pieces
of our cost were 1) the adoption facilitator's fee, which
was around 10K, and 2) the many, many pre-natal needs of our
birth mother (help finding her a place to stay, help with
groceries, maternity clothes, etc.) But some of our friends
who adopted domestically did not have birth mother expenses,
so it varies. With a foreign adoption, costs are more
The most helpful support we got was the group meetings that
our adoption facilitator hosted for families waiting to adopt. There is a tendency in
adoption workshops to gloss over the Expensive and the
Difficult, so this was a reality check for us. I think that
Adoption Connection and other organizations run similar
workshops, so look in to that. Feel free to contact me if
you have questions.
Please know I feel for you on so many levels. I've been right where you are! In
order: Infertility questions... IUI... crushing loss... domestic open adoption,
twice, of two beautiful infants (now 10 and 7)... IVF... crushing loss.
I am happy to share my experiences, in full detail with you, but am more
comfortable doing so voice-to-voice.
Please feel free to contact me directly.
best to you...
First, I am so sorry. I have been there and know the pain
you are experiencing. I am also an adoptive mother. Here is
where to start. Go online and and get information packets
sent to you from these organizations and then go to all
their information sessions:
Independent Adoption Center
Adopt International (they also do domestic adoption)
Costs vary but an agency adoption will cost from $15,000 to
$24,000. Attorney adoptions can go as high as $50,000.
Foster/Adopt (which is how I adopted) is free, but most
placements are older children.
We did a similar process and ultimately adopted our amazing
daughter. We chose domestic open adoption mainly because the
costs were much lower and we were able to bring our daughter
home at 3 days old! We used Adoption Connection
in SF. They
have a pay as you go option so you don't need all of the
money up front. Also with domestic adoption you have the
ability to take tax credits after the first year even before
the adoption is finalized. For us the process was swift. We
filled out all our paperwork quickly and did all of the
trainings asap. This meant it only took up 6 months from
Orientation until we were ''in the pool''. We were very lucky
to have our daughter home with us 4 months later. We were
flexible and open to various races, ethniciies, etc. and
were willing to take an emergency placement where the
birthmom did not have a plan before the birth. This meant a
phone call one day saying there is baby right now. Overall
the process was great. I highly recommend adoption. In fact
now I couldn't imagine it any other way.
My husband and I had some experience with infertility - and
this after having our first son without a hitch - and it is
incredibly draining and depressing. But how happy we both
were when we ''turned the corner'' to the idea of adoption.
We started by talking to families who had adopted, and
beginning to look at agencies. They are happy to talk with
you in an introductory fashion, without really knowing what
exactly you'd like to do. We were greatly impressed snd
ended up working with Heartsent Adoptions in Orinda
(domestic and international adoptions), found at
www.heartsent.org. Val Free was great to talk to. The
adoption road, with all its choices, is VERY personal.
There are lots of decisions to be made, and doubts to be
had. But I cannot emphasize enough how happy we are to have
adopted our child. I would be happy to talk to you further
on this topic.
My husband and I have decided to seek a domestic adoption.
We've done a fair amount of research and feel we have a
decent understanding of the process.
I'm wondering if anyone has advice on the best way to find a
birth mother. What agencies have had the best success or
what other successful methods of searching have people had
Thank you very much - any advice will be greatly appreciated!
I want to start off by offering my very best wishes. I know
that the process is not always a fun one.
I wanted to suggest that you find a professional
photographer for your Dear Birth Mother Letter (we used Jill
Doherty photography, and she was great
http://www.jilldoherty.com/main.php), as well as a
professional designer to put it together. We had a letter
that I put together with a cover shot done by my sister with
a regular camera, and had very limited success. But we
re-did it, and found our birth mother.
We used Adoption Connection in SF. They were good, but our
wait was long. You might also consider hiring a facilitator
to shorten the wait, coordinate the adoption and provide
advice & guidance. Ellen Roseman in San Anselmo is a very
good one (http://adoption-facilitator.org/index.htm).
Again, very best wishes!!
An Adoptive Mom
What an exciting journey you are about to embark on...My
suggestion at this starting point is to attend the free
information sessions offered by the Bay Area
agenciesAdoption Connection, Adopt, Independent Adoption
Center. You will need an agency to complete the state
required homestudy, etc. Once you have started that part
of the journey there are many ways to do outreach ... I am
an adoptive mom of two through domestic adoption and would
be happy to speak to you in more detail directly.
There are 3 reputable domestic adoption agencies in the Bay
Area. Go to an information session at each. Independent
Adoption Center (www.adoptionhelp.org), Adoption Conneciton
(www.adoptionconnection.org) and Adopt
International--despite the name they do domestic adoption
If you want to work with an attorney instead check out Mark
Goldman at www.adopthelp.com or Susan Romer
I used to be an open adoption counselor with Independent
Adoption Center. They specialize in open adoptions. If
that is something that you are interested in, then I would
recommend working with them. They are nationwide and only
do domestic adoptions. I beleive their average wait time
is 12-18 months, and it is shorter if one of you is a
person of color. The agency does free information
sessions. I would recommned attending one. If not, you can
always call them during business hours (925)-827-2229. As
for Jackie and she can walk you through the process.
If you want to do an independent...find yourself a good
adoption lawyer and get yourself a website so do some
social networking! Hope that helps
We found our birthmother by putting ads in newspapers across
the country and I interviewed the people who called over the
telephone. Its illegal to advertise in California, but not
in most states,although its been 10 years. We had the most
luck in Arizona. We found two healthy birthmothers each
had one other child. Both were Hispanic. Most people use a
lawyer or facilitator or agency to screen the birthmothers.
A lot of people send letters to hospitals and obgyns all
over the country.
You need to decide what situations you are willing to
accept. Do you care about the race of the baby? If that is
not an issue you might try PACT. What kind of drug
involvement is okay or is none okay.
Friends of mine adopted a cocaine addicted baby, but they
researched it, and didn't think it was a long term problem.
I know quite a few people who used Diane Michelson in
Walnut Creek and were very happy. I think Jewish Family and
Children Services in SF is also good. I used a lawyer in LA
who I think was great once I found the birthmother.
I hope you get a lot of responses because there are many
ways and each situation is different.
adoptive mom and loving it
We just brought home our 2nd child through domestic open
adoption. Both times, we used a combination of an agency
(the IAC - Independent Adoption Center in Pleasant Hill) and
a facilitator (A Rainbow's End Adoption Services in So. CA).
Most agencies have information nights that give you an
overview of the process and where you can see if they are a
good fit for your family. I'd recommend visiting one of the
info sessions at the IAC to check them out. They were very
helpful for us.
You may already know this, but there are two types of open
adoptions in CA: an ''agency'' adoption and an ''independent''
adoption. With an ''agency'' adoption, the adoption agency
(such as the IAC) becomes the guardian of the child after
he/she is born and supervises you (as the foster parent)
until the adoption is final. The agency usually helps you
find a birthmother. In an ''independent'' adoption, the county
social services supervises the placement and the adoption
can be finalized sooner. Usually a facilitator or attorney
helps you find a birthmother.
Each type has its pluses and minuses. We've done one of
each -- both times using a combo approach. If you'd like
more info or would like to talk about some options, I'd be
happy to talk/email with you.
The process can be very daunting, but it's so worth it once
you bring your baby home!
Good luck on becoming a parent!
There are many ways to go about finding a birthmother.
Typically families hire somebody to help them with their
search. There are many different professionals in the field
of open, domestic adoption: Licensed Adoption Agencies,
Adoption Attorneys and Adoption Facilitators. I would
suggest researching and calling many different professionals
so that you can be confident that you have found one that is
a good match for you. They will ALL be able to help find
you a birthmother, so make sure you find one that is
ethical, has many years of adoption experience, and can
provide you with the services you request.
By the way, all families in California need to complete an
adoption homestudy. Families can choose to do the homestudy
before they begin their search, or start the homestudy after
a baby is in your home. Most professionals will suggest
that you get your homestudy done pre-placement (especially
as more and more families are connecting with out-of-state
birthmothers where a homestudy is needed before placement).
Full disclosure: I am a East Bay parent AND an adoption
social worker who has worked in public and four private
agencies. If you would like to contact me directly please
We adopted through IAC (Independent Adoption Center) in Pleasant Hill. There
were definitely ups and downs in the process (it took 3 years to adopt). We have
also heard good things about PACT and attended some of their adoption
workshops. Good luck, be patient and be ready for anything. If you run into a
birth Mother who changes her mind (this is not uncommon) be sure to take care
of yourself with therapy as we did in the middle of our process. The 8 months of
therapy was healing and enabled us to be ready for our child we finally did
adopt. Be sure you have or develop and very strong support system of friends
and family who can support and love you through any difficulties that may come
along the way. If you are sure you want children, just hang in there and it will
happen and it is very joyous and fulfilling to finally have your little love. I wish
you much luck in the process. Warmest of wishes.
Happy Two Dads who adopted a baby 11 years ago!!
Both of our sons' birthmothers found us through the agency we
worked with, Independent Adoption Center. They were great at
helping educate us about the open adoption process and
connecting with a birthmother.
Their website is www.adoptionhelp.org.
I strongly recommend allowing a qualified professional to
take charge of the outreach and vetting process, as well as
the legal process. In our case, we used a wonderful
adoption lawyer who is both extremely experienced (well over
30 years in practice) and well connected with agencies and
other resources across the whole country. That meant that we
were put in contact with a range of possible birthmothers
from the start, and that--most importantly-- he spared us
from becoming the victims of at least one scam that we know
of. As he predicted, he was able to match us with a reliable
birthmother in a relatively short time. It took nine months
(!) the time we signed on with him to the day our baby was
born and in our arms. Best of all, he is compassionate and
respectful, and so has an excellent reputation among
birthmothers as well as adoptive parents. His name is David
Radis, he works in L.A.. Here is his website--nothing fancy,
but all the info you need is there: http://www.radis-adopt.com/
Best of luck! If you have any more questions, feel free to
send me an email.
I gather from your posting that you're looking for a surrogate mom (a woman
who's putting her child up for adoption). Years ago, my husband and I were
interested in adopting. Concerned about not having the $ to go through an
agency, we posted a letter about our family and our desire for a child and sent it
to all the Gyn, Ob and family practice MDs in our area. Three years later we had
a call offering us a newborn from one of the Dr's offices we'd contacted. By then
we'd had a baby and were no longer interested in adopting one. I voiced my
concern to the receptionist that the baby she was offering us might not have a
home. She told me not to worry since her office kept a list of potential parents
gleaned from letters such as ours and that she'd be contacting the next name on
her list. Best of Luck.
I wanted to point out one idea that I wish someone had pointed out to me when
I was adopting: if you can, research your birth mother and birth father's health
background. Our birth mother (a lovely, caring woman) hinted at alcoholism in
her family and I noted it but disregarded. Our son is bipolar and very, very
challenging. When we went back to the birth parents to get more background to
help my son's psychiatrist, I was really shocked at the number of people with
substance abuse issues in her family -- even though our birth mother did not
abuse drugs. Of course with any child, biological or adopted, there is the chance
of health issues but it's just good to know of any specific genetic health issues to
watch for in your child so you can be on top of it during development.
My husband and I want to adopt. We live in the Bay Area.
Does anyone have advice about which agency to go through, or
which attorney to use. Advice about your experience would
really help us. Many thanks.
Adoption Connection in SF has workshops to help in the initial phases of
adoption. For example, domestic vs international, private vs agency etc.
We used Holt International Children's Services in Oregon
(they're national and have a California office). They are
one of the oldest, largest and most reputable adoption
agencies in the U.S. We adopted two children from southeast
asia and have been VERY happy with Holt. The process is
long (2 years+), paper-intensive and it's very hard to wait
once you've been matched with a child. But it SHOULD take a
long time - we were reassured to know Holt tries first to
reunite families with birth children, then tries to place
the child with a permanent family in their homeland, THEN
the child becomes available for international adoption. We
received a lot of information about our child's birthparent,
each child lived with a loving foster family during the
year+ between their birth and our adoption, and we got
quarterly updates about the child's development,
immunizations and regular health check-ups. Holt has a
local social worker who helped us every step of the way,
including helping us adjust once we suddenly were a ''family''
with a toddler. We all had major adjustment issues! I
highly recommend Holt, and I wish you success, patience and
joy as you build your family thru adoption!
Happy Mom of Two
We had a wonderful experience with the adoption lawyer,
David Radis, based in L.A. I can't say enough good things
about this man: his compassion, his professionalism, his
efficiency. We had him take care of both outreach and
paperwork, and were parents of a beautiful newborn girl
within 9 months of having met him. Birthmothers are as fond
of him as are adoptive parents who have worked with him, and
his national reputation has a lot to do with the fact that
he can match prospective parents up so quickly with the
child they've been waiting for. In 2005, he was awarded the
Congressional Angels in Adoption award. His website (new and
improved) is: www.radis-adopt.com
We also used the services of Adoption Connection in SF for
our homestudy and local paperwork. I am sorry to say that I
have less than glowing things to say about that aspect of
I would be happy to talk to you if you want more
information. Just email me.
We adopted both of our boys (currently 3 years and 9 months
old) through the Independent Adoption Center
Hill (www.adoptionhelp.org). We looked at Adoption
Connection in SF also but felt the IAC had better
communication, more birth parent outreach, and better
We initially looked into international adoption as we'd
heard all kinds of horror stories about domestic adoption,
but we really wanted to be in our child's life from the
moment of birth (we were present at both boy's births) and
with international adoption we found that most children are
at least six months old at the time of placement. We also
found that the cost and paperwork for international seemed a
lot greater than with domestic adoption.
We have very open adoptions and maintain contact with our
sons' birth families, its been a fabulous experience. Our
adoption experiences were pretty textbook. We went to the
IAC, finished the paperwork and background checks in a
couple months, matched with their birthmothers after a
couple months, the boys were born, and we finalized their
adoptions a few months later (for #1 it was 9 months from
start to finish and #2 was 6 months).
We've met a bunch of other adoptive families and it sounds
like our experiences were pretty standard and that the
Adoption Connection process is similar. I'm happy to talk
to you in more detail about our experience (the hard parts,
easy parts, costs, etc.), just shoot me an email.
Don't know what kind of adoption you are considering but
if you are considering adopting from foster care (free,
provides you money for counseling and other support), gets
you (or us) super kids! Try AASK (Adopt a special Kid)We
were happy-they have an info mtg every month.
Happy AASK parent
My husband and I adopted our son (now three and a half)
through Heartsent Adoptions in Orinda. We thought they were
wonderful, extremely competent, communicative and
compassionate. I believe they do both domestic and foreign.
happy adoptive mom
In part it depends what kind of adoption you are interested
in--international, domestic, foster-adopt...If you are
interested in adopting domestically an infant of color, I
highly recommend Pact in Oakland. Adoption Connection in San
Francisco is also a reputable agency for domestic adoption.
Hi, We have a fabulous almost 4 year old little girl we
adopted with the help of Adoption Connection. She was born
domestically, locally and we brought her home at 3 days
old. With AC our costs were relatively low and all of our
money came back through the federal and state tax credits.
We couldn't be happier.
My husband and I have been discussing adopting a child. We
currently have 2 beautiful biological children ages 5&6. We are
finally at a place where we are considering a third child. I am
42 years old and do not want to be pregnant at this age.
What are some of the first steps one should take in the
adoption process? We were hoping for some introductory meetings
or sessions, that can address questions and explain the
process. We think we want to do a domestic adoption or a girl
from China. Also, what do adoptions cost these days? I have
checked the archives and this is not addressed.
We went the opposite route, adopting first, then having a
biological child. We lived in Ohio when we adopted our daughter,
so can't give advice about specific adoption services in the Bay
Area. But www.adoptionnetwork.org (a Cleveland, Ohio
organization) has excellent information on its Web site and you
might be able to contact them to ask about similar organizations
in California. When we first started looking into adopting, we
attended one of their ''Adoption 101'' workshops, which was
extremely helpful (maybe they can send or e-mail you some of the
materials they typically hand out at the event). Best of luck,
We did a domestic adoption of a newborn 4.5 years ago. I would be glad to fill
you in in more detail if you would like to send me e-mail directly, but I
would recommend contacting Adoption Connection in SF (don't let SF deter you -
they have staff all over the Bay Area) first. Their website is
http://www.adoptionconnection.org/. They are a wonderful organization with
great people. They are also less expensive than others. Another person you
might set up a free interview with is Diane Michelsen in Lafayette. Her
website is http://www.lodm.com/. She is an adoption attorney. We used Adoption
Connection for our homestudy (though they also have services to help you find
a child) and used Diane Michelsen for attorney services. We would not use our
adoption facilitator again. If we were to do another adoption, we would use
Diane Michelsen again for attorney services and Adoption Connection for both
the homestudy and finding us a child. Good luck! Lori
We have adopted 2 kids into our family and also had one by
birth. I can tell you a few things that might get you started.
First, the ''biological children'' term should be replaced
by ''children by birth''. That is the politically correct way
these days because all children are ''biological'' anyway. Second,
talking about human beings and money is always a very touchy
subject so I'm not going to share that because it all depends on
what type of adoption you do.
I can tell you that our children were adopted through PACT. They
are a non-profit (that's probably what you would want to use)
located in Richmond. They are wonderful people that are very
helpful. They specialize in adoption of children of color but
can give you referral for international agencies and other type
of adoption agencies. They offer a free orientation session. It
is on their website at www.pactadopt.org (510 243-9460).We have
also used Adoption Connection in San Francisco (415 359-2494).
Things you will need to do. Decide what type of adoption you
want to do. International or domestic. Depending on what child
you want to adopt, waiting time and financial will vary.
Adoption is all about making choices for your family and life.
Read books. Pact can help you with that. They have a wonderful
range of book recommendations on all topics touching adoption.
Unfortunately there are no ''Adoptive Parents Association'' in the
Bay Area so you have to find the information yourself. Talk to
people you know who have adopted. If you want to get in touch
with me, I'd be happy to share my adoption experiences with you
if that would help.
Contact Alameda County Social Services - they have a tremendous
number of children in need of adoption and a dirth of willing
parents. Five months ago we foster adopted our son from the
county and have been thrilled with the entire process. If you
adopt with the county, you need to attend three months of
parening classes. For us, these were great but some of the other
parents in our group who already had children found them to be
not as helpful. We were placed with our son a few months later.
It's now been a year since we started the classes and most of
the families in our class are now with their foster/adopt
If you adopt with the county, there are basicaly no costs.
During the foster period, you receive a stipend to help offset
costs, and this can be anywhere from 6 months to a few years.
The health care is covered by the state and, in our area, that
means Childrens Hospital, which has been excellent.
The best part of the whole process has been the partnership
between our social worker, our son's, the health care system,
and the county. All of us are looking out for the best interest
of this child which has been great. I know that people give the
county a bad rap with adoption because the children often come
from troubled homes. But frankly, no matter how you have a
child, it is always a risky thing. Our experience with the
county has been full of support, cooperation, and - believe it
or not - love from the other families, children, and employees
that took part in the process.
If you have any questions, please give us an email and we would
be happy to talk or refer you to someone in the county office.
They really need loving parents to help these kids.
We went to a workshop that Resolve does once or twice a year.
It was very informative about the different options that are
available (domestic vs. international, agency vs. attorney,
newborn vs. older child, etc.) and there were representatives
from all the local agencies. It's worth checking into when
you are first starting out. See http://www.resolve.org
However I must admit it did not really prepare us for
the reality of the adoption world. I think we had a rosy
view that we would consider all the options, select the path
that suited us best, and then go from there. The reality
was: a lot depended on how much money we could put in to it.
This was not what we wanted or expected. First the good part:
from the outset we worked with Adoption Connection. They are a
very fine nonprofit organization that I would use again without
hesitation. I highly recommend using them even if only for
the home study. But they didn't do "outreach" (I think they
may be doing it now), so after two years of waiting for a
child to adopt we found we needed to "ramp up" and hire an
adoption facilitator. I personally found dealing with an
adoption facilitator to be a very unsavory experience that
I would not like to repeat. The one we went to was highly
recommended and she talked a lot about lofty motives but
adoption facilitators do not need any special training or
licensing - their only bounds are whatever the market will
bear. And there is an endless supply of people like us who
are desperate to adopt who can afford the facilitator's fee,
which will be in the low 5 figures, not to mention the
additional unpredictable expenses of the birth-parents-to-be,
which may be anything from nothing all the way up to a place
to live during the pregnancy, groceries, clothing, and medical
expenses. I couldn't help feeling that our adoption facilitator
had so many birth parents placing 2nd, 3rd, 4th babies with
her because of the deep pockets of her clients. She had a
thriving business. Everything has its upside though. Because we
used an adoption facilitator, we connected with birth parents
within a few weeks, got to know them, and were present at
the birth. The adoption process went through without a hitch,
with great support from Adoption Connection, and we have a very
wonderful healthy smart adorable happy toddler now.
my husband and I adopted a beautiful baby girl from China in July, 2002. We
find ourselves thinking about going back to china to bring home another child.
The process takes about 1.5-2.5 years, depending on how much you perservere
through the mountain of paperwork. We went through Bay Area Adoption Services
in Mtn. View, (www.baas.org) a terrific, very organized, well-run, small
parent-run adoption agency that specializes in international adoption, with
china adoptions being their most active program. Email me and I'll be happy to
address specific questions, or can chat with you on the phone.
Since no one else seems to want to answer your question about
the cost of adoption -- adopting a child from foster care is
free (in fact, you may be eligible for financial assistance as a
foster parent), a domestic newborn adoption generally runs about
$15,000 to about $25,000+, and foreign adoptions tend to be
slightly more expensive than domestic newborn, but it's highly
dependent on the country you choose, as well as the age of the
child. You mentioned being interested in adopting from China --
this is one of the less expensive countries to adopt from, but
expect the process, from start to finish, to take you a good two
Don't forget though that there's a $10,000 tax credit for
adopting. That's a tax credit, not a tax deduction, so you will
eventually get the full $10,000 back (actually, I think they've
indexed it for inflation, so in 2003 it's a little more than
$10,000), as long as your expenses were more than $10,000. So,
an adoption whose up front costs are $15,000 will eventually
cost you a net of $5,000. And, if you adopt a chid that is
considered ''special needs'', you can get this $10,000 credit even
if your expenses were less than that -- for example, even if you
adopt a special needs child at no cost through the foster care
Someone mentioned the organization RESOLVE as a good place to
start -- I agree with that advice. And they *will* give you
info about the costs, if you ask!
-- another adoptive mom
I would also like to put in a plug for looking into Alameda County
Adoption Services. We went through the foster/adopt program six years
ago and adopted an infant girl. She is now a beautiful 5 1/2 year old
kindergartener. And I am still in close contact with our social worker who
continues to provide valuable advice and support whenever we need it.
Everything we heard about adopting through the County turned out to
be wrong--it would take forever, we would never get an infant, the child
would have medical problems, etc, we would not get the support we
We went through the parenting classes which I thought were great
though kind of scary as they covered every type of ''problem'' situation
you could possibly face. A child was placed with us before we even
finished the classes. My husband and I were willing to consider any
child--older, medical problems, drug addicted, any racial or ethnic
background. Our daughter was a newborn with no medical problems or
drugs in her system. She is white. The state is not allowed to consider
race in placing a child and our daughter does not ''match'' us. If this is
important to you then County adoption is not the way to go.
I still hate when people ask how much it cost to adopt our daughter, but
the true answer for us is that it was virtually nothing. The County covered
almost every cost, except for a $19 filing fee. And while she was still
officially in foster care they gave us a small stipend, and covered all her
medical bills (Children's Hospital--great care).
I am a proud adoptive Mom of two. We started by asking around --
just like you. Its best to first narrow down whether you want
to do an international or domestic adoption. Probably reading
and talking to people is the best way to do this. The next
important decision is to decide if you want a newborn/infant or
if you are interested in / willing to consider an older child or
children. Finally, it takes a lot of soul searching and serious
consideration to determine what parameters (if any) to set on
the age range, potential disabilities, ethnicity, health issues,
etc. that you think you would be prepared for and comfortable
with. These are very private and personal choices that you can
only make within the context of your family, personal
background, financial situation, etc. You certainly don't need
to figure all of this out before you contact an agency.
However, it seems that most agencies either do international or
domestic and not both.
We decided early on to pursue a domestic adoption (I frankly
don't remember why, we just seemed to agree on this) so we
didn't spend much time researching the international route. Our
original idea was to adopt one older (2-5yr) child and at the
same time work on getting pregnant. However, as we learned more
about the sheer number of kids in ''the system'' and the number of
sibling groups who needed fost-adopt homes we decided to adopt a
sibling group and not try to get pregnant ourselves.
Based on the positive experiences of a friend we contacted
Partners for Adoption in Santa Rosa. It's probably a bit far
for you (it was for us too) but they may be able to direct you
to something closer to your house. They specialize in domestic
adoptions through public and private channels in the state of
California. We had an excellent experience. We did our classes,
home study, search, placement and finalization all through
them. They were very honest, understanding and supportive.
They charge about $6,000 for their services. This is phased in
at stages during the process, not all up front. You should be
aware that if you choose the fost-adopt route you will receive
foster care assistance payments until the adoption is
finalized. In some circumstances the state provides adoption
assistance payments from the time the adoption is finalized
through the child's 18th birthday.
From the time we contacted the agency to the time the kids came
to live with us was about 6 months. We were a bit surprised by
how quick it happened! We were able to finalize the adoptions
about 9 months after the kids were placed with us.
Hope this helps!
I found it very useful to read ''Is Adoption for You?: The
Information You Need to Make the Right Choice'' by
Christine Adamec. I bought it at Cody's (a few years ago); it
is also available on amazon.com (now). The book isn't
long, and it has a lot of questions to ask yourself. Reading
the book helped me decide that adoption would be a good
choice for us (my husband didn't read the book, but I got him
to discuss some important topics with me, which worked
fine). It also helped us decide which type(s) of adoption
(e.g. domestic vs. overseas) would work for us. I think what
really made us decide to take action was seeing how
adoption worked for our good friends--so I'm
recommending that you try to decide which type of adoption
you're interested in, then find a way to talk to parents who
have gone through it.
By the way, I think adoption is wonderful!
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