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First Steps in Adopting

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Adopting domestically - attorney or agency?

Oct 2012

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 know.

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? J.


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! happy mom

The whole adoption process seems daunting

Aug 2012

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, Helpful Friend


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. Happy mom
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 can trust.

Need info about adopting

July 2012

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 informative. 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. anon

Failed IUI/IVF - starting to think about adoption

Oct 2010

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 Europe.

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 http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/cfsweb/pg1701.htm

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 predictable.

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. berkeleymom


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... CJ
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 www.adoptionhelp.org

Adoption Connection www.adoptionconnection.org

Adopt International (they also do domestic adoption) www.adoptinter.org

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. Adoptive Mom


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. mom!
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. J.

Adoption process - how to find birth mother

August 2010

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 success with? Thank you very much - any advice will be greatly appreciated! anonymous


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. A Mom
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 (www.adoptinter.org)

If you want to work with an attorney instead check out Mark Goldman at www.adopthelp.com or Susan Romer (http://www.1-800-u-adopt-us.com/CM/Custom/Attorneys.asp) good luck


Hello 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 nash


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! cathy


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 do. Nan


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. Good luck! Christine
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. pv
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. Madeleine
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. Adoptive Mom

First-time adoption - which agency? which attorney?

April 2010

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. anon
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 our experience. I would be happy to talk to you if you want more information. Just email me. Paula


We adopted both of our boys (currently 3 years and 9 months old) through the Independent Adoption Center in Pleasant 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 support.

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. Good luck! Christine


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. www.aask.org 510-553-1748 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. Good luck! 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. happy mom!

Thinking about adopting a third

February 2003

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. Karen


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, Bradley
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. marie-claude


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 child.

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. David


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. Adoptive mom
Hi Karen.. 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. linda
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 years.

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 system.

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!

Good luck! -- 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 needed.

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). Adoptive Mom


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! Good luck


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! Lisa
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