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Friday, September 24, 2010

Guest Blog - Domestic Adoption

I think adoption is such a wonderful way to become a parent. What a lucky child to (in most cases) have birth parents who love them so much and are willing to give them a better life by choosing another wonderful couple who will love and care for them! So, thanks to everyone who is involved in the adoption process!

I am SO happy to introduce my guest blogger Kate Woodhams!

She became the mother of two wonderful boys through domestic adoption and was willing to share the process and her story.

Kate's Story
Adoption has been a wonderful blessing for us. We were going through the motions of fertility treatments when we began to feel like things were spinning out of control and doctor appointments were dictating our lives.

We didn’t know much about adoption at the time, nor knew anyone who could share their adoption story with us. We went into things blind, but had a lot of faith that this what was meant to be. We found a couple of adoption agencies in the area and attended their informational meetings to learn more about what options we had. There are several different ways a couple can go about adopting- through the foster care system, domestic infant or internationa adoption programs. Each has its own unique process along with it’s advantages and disadvantages depending on your lifestyle.

The foster care program typically involves a child who has suffered either abuse or neglect. A family can choose to become foster parents or adopt out of the foster care program. One great advantage to going through this program is the cost of adoption is often very low and in some cases the state will help pay for costs in raising the child until 18 years of age.

The domestic infant program involves waiting families wanting to be chosen by birth families. There is not a waiting list, like many people believe to be true. The length of time that a family waits for an infant relies solely on how quickly paperwork is turned in and how long it takes to be chosen by a birth family. Within this program, an agreement is made between both families about whether they’d like it to be an open, semi-open or closed adoption. Open means there is contact and sometimes visitation between the child and birth family. Semi-open typically means pictures and letters are sent to the birth family to update them on how the child is doing. Closed adoptions offer no communication or visits with the birth family.

The international adoption program varies greatly depending on the country in which the adoption will take place. Each country has it’s own rules and regulations in regards to the family, visits to the country and age of children waiting to be adopted. One great advantage to going through this program is the number of children waiting for families to adopt them. Because the process can take some time, it is rare to bring home a newborn baby, but unlike the domestic infant adoption program you are not waiting for a family to choose you.

We chose the domestic infant adoption program for both of our children. With both of our adoptions we met the birth mothers in person after they initially chose us from our profile (a book of letters introducing ourselves and pictures of the life we have to offer a child). The two adoption stories vary, just like any two birth stories would vary in any other circumstance. For our first son, we were invited to be at the hospital during labor and delivery. The hospital treated us very well and gave us a hospital room, just like any other family would be given. The nurses were helpful in showing us the ins and outs of caring for a newborn. Our second son, went to interim care (a short term foster family’s home) for two weeks before coming home to us. In this instance, we were actually chosen to adopt after the birth mother delivered our son. After she met us and was reassured in her decision to choose us, we met our baby and brought him home.

In both of our adoptions, there was a waiting period from the time that we brought our boys home to when the parental rights were terminated. Since we didn’t use the foster care program or the international adoption program, we’re unsure of exactly the process involved for those adoptions. The time in which we had our sons home with us until the parental rights are terminated are no doubt a scary time. If the birth family is to change their minds, they do have the legal right and the baby will be placed with them (this is known as a legal risk placement; meaning we know that we are taking a legal risk). We were informed that the termination of parental rights hearrings were held about 3 months after birth in both instances. Once that court date takes place, there is a huge sigh of relief, the birth family can no longer change their minds, however the adoption process is not quite final.

We were required to have two more home visits through the agency to be sure that everyone has made a smoothe adjustment. Once those home visits are complete and paperwork is turned into the court a petition to finalize the adoption is in place. This took place right around 10 months of age for both of our sons. You can choose to have this done through the mail, or attend a court hearring to finalize the adoption. To us, these days were just as special as their birthday. Court is very informal and we were invited to bring friends, family, cameras, video cameras etc. Afterwards for both sons, a big party was thrown in their honor!

We invite you to explore adoption as a way to build your family. It truly has been the greatest of miracles in our lives and we’d love to share more information with anyone who might desire it.. (email me at budget4baby at gmail dot com if you would like to get in touch with Kate)

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