To be honest, Tom and I were naive and even a little blind to the whole adoption process and all that it encompassed. In our minds, we thought we fill out some paperwork, sign a few documents, meet with a social worker and wait to be matched with our baby… little did we know it is so much more than that.
The first thing in the adoption process is finding the right agency. Many have asked why would we would go through an agency and not find the birth mother on our own. For some finding the birth mother on your own is a great option. However, for us, it didn’t feel right. It can sometimes lead to failed placement, loss of money, broken hearts and years of waiting. For Tom and I, we have experienced great loss and feel we have waited a long time to become parents and couldn’t take the extra emotion. With an agency, you have the protection that if the birth mother decides not to place at any point, they will roll all funds that have been paid into a new adoption. They also help in the matching process and work hard to find a birth mother and situation that is the right fit for us. The agency also does the home study, answers endless emails/calls with all of our of our questions. The agency is there any way they can be through the entire process. We chose A Guardian Angel Adoption Agency (AGAA). An adoption attorney I worked with for many years referred me to AGAA, and from the first time we spoke with them, we knew they were the agency we would use. Put simply, it just felt right. They were kind, helpful and excited to get us started on our adoption journey.
The second step in the process is the paperwork. When we thought of the paperwork, we thought it would be a few brief documents explaining why we want to adopt, sign the dotted line here and submit. We were wrong… We received an email with all the forms and different documents the agency would need. Some of those included fingerprints, birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s license’, tax returns, medical insurance cards, all of our dog’s vaccinations and our medical history. In addition to all of those documents, were all of the agency’s forms. These included the adoptive family application, self-evaluation, payment agreement, release of information, and the large Adoptive family questionnaire. This wasn’t just any questionnaire, it was invasive, personal and somewhat difficult to fill out. We then each had to get a physical and have our doctor fill out a medical release form, stating we were healthy and medically ready to adopt. We had to have three references, one family and two friends fill out a form stating why they believe we would be great parents with lots of questions regarding our marriage and relationship. The paperwork is very detailed and gives them an idea of the type of couple we are, our hopes and desires for our child and what lead us to adoption. After many late nights, and running all over, our paperwork is finally complete!
Next, comes the Certificate of Adoption Training. We need to become educated on adoption and have a greater understanding of what adoption entails. We will be adopting transracial, therefore we are required to take a course on this type of adoption. It is important that we learn what becoming a transracial family means and how to answer questions that people will ask when they see our family. We are required to have at least ten (10) credit hours of adoption training. We are in the process of doing these hours now and we have learned so much and have a much greater understanding and love for adoption and its process.
Right now, we are working on our adoption profile book. We began working on this several months ago when we started moving forward with adoption and knew we would need to have one ready. The profile book is presented to birth mothers on our behalf. It is meant to give the birth mother an idea of our lives and what their child’s life would look like as part of our family. The book begins with a letter to the birth mother. This is quite possibly the hardest letter we have ever had to write. We express our deep appreciation for her and the decision she is making to adopt. We try to describe in one short letter and throughout the book why we would make wonderful parents. It shares our story, about each of us, our adventures and what we enjoy doing, our families, the community and neighborhood we live, our religion, our friends, our dogs and our home. We are almost done with our book and hope that it shows who we are and gives the birth mother a clear knowledge of how much we would love our baby. We also want her to know that she will always be part of our child’s story.
Following all of this is the Home Study. This is where we are in the adoption process now. For some reason, the thought of the home study is extremely overwhelming and scary to us. We have our home study scheduled for this Saturday, July 1st. We are anxious and excited to complete this step. We have been working hard to get our home ready. We don’t know yet exactly all that this entails, but we do know the social worker comes into our home looking for safety, making sure medications and cleaning supplies are out of reach. She also wants to make sure there is a bedroom for the child. She wants to make the home is a clean environment and that it would be a good place to raise a baby. We are probably overthinking this process and we are hoping it will be a lot less invasive than we think it will be. In the past few weeks, we had large egress windows put in our basement, this is required so in the case of fire the child would be able to get out. We have installed safety outlets, locked all medicines and cleaning supplies, purchased fire extinguishers, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in each room, and made our home as safe as possible. In addition to them walking through the home, they also interview us as a couple as well as each of us separately. We don’t really know the questions they ask and how intimidating it is, however, I am sure if we are ourselves, we will be fine. After our social worker comes by, she will then submit the information she has gathered for approval. We should hear back if our home study is approved within a week. Right now, we are working hard to make sure our house is ready to go and getting it put together, as we only have five days until the big day.
Once the home study has been approved, we will then be ready to be matched with a birth mother and our baby. We both feel this is when the excitement will really begin. We will receive access to birth mother profiles, which will show a brief description of her, the baby’s due date and the gender of the baby. When we find a situation we are interested in, we present our profile book to the birth mother. She could receive one or several different profile books, from different couples. This book is how she chooses who will parent her child, hence the reason we have put so much time and thought into our book. If the birth mother doesn’t pick us, we will continue our search and share our book with other birth mothers. However, if she picks us, we will then be considered “matched” and will be waiting until her due date for the baby to arrive. At this point half of our funds are due. These funds will range and be somewhere between $12,000-$15,000. We will then be rushing like crazy to get everything we can for our baby. She could be due within a couple days, weeks or months. It all depends on how early in her pregnancy she finds us. I am anxious for how exciting life will be during this time. We will be officially waiting for baby. This thought brings tears of joy and an overwhelming feeling of excitement.
At this point, we don’t know exactly what will happen. We hope we are able to be at the hospital when the baby is born. Most couples are able to be there and part of that. We know 24 hours after the baby is born, the birth mother signs over her rights. This is when the baby will become an Olsen and is called “Placement”. At placement the other half of our funds are due. In addition to the agency funds, we will pay for the birth mothers delivery and hospital stay as well as the baby’s medical care. After placement, we will also hire an attorney and wait six months for finalization. The attorney will help us through all of this and make sure everything on the legal end of the adoption is taken care of. In speaking with other adoptive families, finalization day is a beautiful day full of lots of celebrating. We look forward to taking our baby home and he/she legally becoming part of our family.
Tom and I are both planners. We like to have a plan and make sure that plan gets completed. Our social worker explained to us that there is NO way to plan how our journey will play out. How soon things will happen, if we will have to travel or if the birth mother will deliver in Utah. All of these things are out of our control. This has been hard for both of us, but we know and trust that it will play out exactly how it is supposed to. We have faith in that and have decided to enjoy the ride. So if you are considering adoption, or wondering how our story will play out. We have no idea. Part of the excitement is the unknown of it all. This is where we are learning to enjoy our journey!
Wish us luck on our Home Study on Saturday. I will be sure to keep you all updated and hopefully, we get our stamp of approval!