Talk to me about adoption

Back story: My wife and I started trying to have a baby in our early 30's. After three fruitless years we went to a fertility clinic, and did five rounds of IUI and then two rounds of IVF. The main complicating factor is her low egg reserves, which confounds the fertility drugs to the point where the doctors don't think that the cost-benefit argument makes much sense for us to try any further. Our last failed IVF was confirmed this Monday.... we knew going into this one that it was our last try.

So with this chapter behind us we still want to be parents - I'm the oldest of 6 kids, and having children is something that I've always wanted, and she's on board too. We were always targeting 3, but at this point even 1 would be a blessing. Miracles aside, our only alternative seems like adoption.

I know that rules and regulations vary heavily depending on what country/region you live in (in my case - Ontario, Canada) so I'm not really looking for specifics.... I was just hoping that there were some parents out there who have adopted before who could point out some common pitfalls and give me any advice that they wish they'd have heard when they were just starting into their adoption journey.

Thanks so much.

My ex was adopted, and the one thing she was grateful for was that her parents never hid the fact she was adopted from her. They were always amused when people would toss out the "oh, she looks just like you!" comments.

On the other hand, she filled out the paperwork to locate her birth parents, but never told her adopted parents about it. She felt they would freak out in the "I raised you, therefore I'm your Mom," and thought they would feel betrayed and rejected. Really she didn't want to replace them, just learn some history and find a connection to the past, but she thought they wouldn't understand.

A few years passed, and she was eventually able to get in contact with her birth mom. They write and get together once in a while. Due to the wild 70s, she has no idea who fathered her, but she does have a half-brother. It's probably been at least six years since she found out and still has kept it secret from not only her family, but most of her friends as well, at least those where there's a chance it could get back to her family. I never said anything but you can't tell me that's healthy.

So seeing it from the other end, my advice is to be as open about it as possible and don't keep it a secret from them. Also, don't make them feel ashamed when they get curious about their past. Don't push the issue, but when the time comes that they want to start looking, make sure they know they can come to you for help or understanding.

No advice but I just wanted to say good luck and I hope your journey returns a happy, loving result. I have nothing but respect for those who adopt.

My condolences as I can only imagine how frustrating that process has been.

My sister is adopted and my wife and I have two children, one adopted and the other biological. I'm also fortunate enough to go camping every year with at last count 95 families who connected first through adoption.

My wife and I would be happy to talk to you as well if you want to send me a PM.

I tried to put a few thoughts together earlier on another thread (http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/1...) but I'll try and add a couple of things here.

1. Congratulations! You are already ahead of so many people in that you want to be a parent. Parenting is hard and honestly I wish everyone had to go through the process of adoption (even for biological children) just because it helps you think through many things before you meet your child.
2. I know not everyone feels this way remember you want to be a parent. The pregnancy is such a small moment in a life.
3. I've known a lot of families who say that before they started, somewhere deep down in a place they were worried to acknowledge they worried they couldn't love an adopted child the same as a biological child. I understand you won't be able to know this until it happens but the moment you meet your child you will realize you never needed to worry about this.

In terms of some of the specific things you might not know yet.
1. The medical history of the child may be less clear. This may seem scary. This is where a good social worker can help you understand what you need to be prepared for. It will not help you to think that you are rescuing a child. You are building a family and you and your wife need to make an honest assessment of what you think you are prepared for. This sounds hard but the reality is that a biological child may or may not have complications as it starts its life. You just may know more about that before they join yours.
2. Finding a good adoption agency is critical. Due to the understandably emotional nature of adoption for all involved, unfortunately not everyone involved is as professional as they need to be. I strongly believe that the agency should have the interests of the child first (even above those of the adopting parents). I don't know if they operate in Canada but I can't say enough good things about Holt International (http://www.holtinternational.org/). When I looked at their website today I see they now have webinars which might help with some of your questions in general.
3. Waiting is hard. If you get to the point where you are just waiting for your child, one of the challenges compared with having a child biologically is that your family does not appear pregnant. Your very well intentioned friends won't necessarily have the same cultural signals on how to help you through the waiting or to celebrate the waiting. One of the great ideas my wife and a friend had was to make a box with many compartments that were tied to important dates in the process (sort of like an advent calendar). They put little presents in for each other to help celebrate the milestones.
4. You will learn a lot about attachment. Your child may have already had other caregivers before joining your family. You will hear everything from 'things were perfect immediately' to really, really hard stories. Again this is where a good social worker will help you but don't be scared away from this.

That's probably a long enough wall of text for now but please feel free to PM or ask other questions and I'll do my best to answer them from my perspective.

Strewth wrote:

My ex was adopted, and the one thing she was grateful for was that her parents never hid the fact she was adopted from her. They were always amused when people would toss out the "oh, she looks just like you!" comments.

On the other hand, she filled out the paperwork to locate her birth parents, but never told her adopted parents about it. She felt they would freak out in the "I raised you, therefore I'm your Mom," and thought they would feel betrayed and rejected. Really she didn't want to replace them, just learn some history and find a connection to the past, but she thought they wouldn't understand.

A few years passed, and she was eventually able to get in contact with her birth mom. They write and get together once in a while. Due to the wild 70s, she has no idea who fathered her, but she does have a half-brother. It's probably been at least six years since she found out and still has kept it secret from not only her family, but most of her friends as well, at least those where there's a chance it could get back to her family. I never said anything but you can't tell me that's healthy.

So seeing it from the other end, my advice is to be as open about it as possible and don't keep it a secret from them. Also, don't make them feel ashamed when they get curious about their past. Don't push the issue, but when the time comes that they want to start looking, make sure they know they can come to you for help or understanding.

Being adopted myself, what Strewth says is totally accurate. Don't hide the fact, since it's really not that huge a deal in the grand scheme of things. However, if you are willing and able to do so, please do get medical information about the biological parents for your child. I'm coming up on 40, and I still don't know whether I have biological predispositions for certain complications. It's really quite a pain in the behind.

On top of those, though, I do want to commend you both for looking into this. I know my parents went to an adopting parent group, and while there weren't the biological triggers as mentioned, they had a group of people who knew what they were going through, and were there for them while they were all waiting for the news.

I agree. I like to think the idea of not knowing you were adopted is at least as outdated as the idea that I can't make a phone call while walking on the sidewalk.

Good luck, Andrew. I wish I had advice to pass on.

A friend of mine and his wife went about it a slightly different way - foster parenting with focus on eventual adoption. It was a bit rough on them though - they were supposed to get a couple months of training but there was some emergency case and they got dropped with two boys right away - a 2 year old and a mildly autistic 4 year old. Good kids, came from a very bad place. Then they had a high-schooler for a while, and then finally they got two little girls where they were able to move for adoption.

It was hard for the because the foster system has a lot of uncertainty - at any moment an eligible family member could step forward and claim custody or something could happen with the parents' trial - any number of factors.

Also, a good friend of mine was adopted. Her family never hid it from her, but being an Asian kid in the whitest of white families, not sure there was a choice there. I do know that now, she's very interested in learning more about the culture she was born from (half Japanese, half Korean), but she doesn't have as much real interest in trying to find her birth parents.

Firstly kudos to both of you.

In terms of tips;

Be patient, you'll be needing plenty of that as parents anyway. Unlike biologicial children in Canada(last I checked) at least you generally have to prove you're not sh*tty people before you adopt, this may involve background checks, reference checks, etc, all of which can take time. Then there's the matter of finding a match; if you're not picky about gender and/or are willing to accept children older than newborns the process may be faster but clearly the experience will also differ accordingly. It is probably worth discussing these sorts of issues with your wife.

Also +1 on getting any medical history about the biological family you can, if/while you can. The bioparents may not be available or willing but at least inquire about it. One of the first question's about many medical issues is "is there a family history of ___? " and it's a bit frustrating not to know the answer to that.

I have a little knowledge about domestic adoption. I was a nanny. I was hired to nanny for a 4 week old baby girl, adopted by her parents, here in CT. Great family, super sweet baby girl. Except, the birth mom changed her mind on the 59th day. (a bit more to the story, but nothing worth posting).

Anyway, they knew they wanted to adopt again. They used a large agency in CA for their first adoption, and it had quite a long wait, so they found another smaller, reputable agency in Utah (if you want the name, PM Me). The agency in Utah had a much shorter wait, depending on the race of the baby. Not gonna lie, black babies were a very short wait, while white babies, much longer. My boss was open to a mix of races, and within 4 months, was in Utah watching her daughter be born. This agency was fabulous. They had support for the birth mom there, as well as support for my boss. Utah has parental rights terminated in 24 or 48 hours, I forget (as opposed to CT and the 60 day wait). The agency in Utah has the birth mom live there in a provided apartment and makes sure she has everything she needs, and all the support she needs and wants. It was a much different, and better experience all around. I flew to Utah the second week she was there, as her husband needed to come home and get back to work, but interstate compact usually takes about 2 weeks and you can't come home until approved.

I know the cost of the whole procedure was about 50K when all was said and done. From start to finish. It was such a shame to see people, who wanted to be parents so bad, and deserved to be so much, have to pay so much for something, that so many people take for granted.

I think adoption is a fantastic way to become parents, even more so if from the foster care system, but every situation has it's risks, and benefits. Good luck. Please keep us updated.

Have you considered embryo adoption?

Thank you everyone for the responses, and sorry for not posting again sooner. I've not been ignoring the thread.... but there's so much to figure out, and none of it is really easy (intellectually or emotionally) - at least not yet.

To respond to some of the things in here:

1. I hadn't really considered whether or not to be up front with my eventual child(ren) over their adoption status, but given what I've read here, the only 'right' choice is to be transparent whenever the question comes up. That said, my wife is Chinese and I'm Caucasian, so it's almost impossible that we'd be able to hide the fact - half asian children, in my experience, are very distinct (and absolutely adorable).

2. Embryo adoption isn't really something we want to try. After 3 or 4 years of fertility procedures, science has failed us..... at this point we just want a child - no more gambling. (And yes - we know that there is still gambling with adoption - birth mothers have the right to change their mind.)

3. We'll either be adopting from Canada (where we live), or maybe China. A Canadian adoption is cheaper but more risky (in terms of the adoption falling through). Going international is far more expensive, but there is almost no risk of losing the child once adopted.

4. I really appreciate the "pregnancy is a small moment in life" comment - my wife still has a lot of sadness that she won't be able to carry our baby. I hope that this outlook helps her.

5. On requesting the medical history of the birth parents.... good call - I hadn't thought of that.

6. We would really like to adopt an infant for a lot of different reasons. We haven't talked about adopting an older child.... at least not yet. That said, we watched 'Butter' the other night (not having any idea that an adopted child was part of the story), and it was a heartwarming movie that highlights how such a thing can be good for the parents and good for the child. I guess that will have to go into the decision making process.

7. Adopting in Canada is intrusive in a way that originally really pissed me off - you have to submit yourself to background checks and interviews that "normal" couples never need to deal with to have kids. I've mostly got over than, but it still bugs me sometimes. I know I can get through it - I have pretty high security clearance for my job so have been through worse - but it's a major irritant.

I've bookmarked the site for Holt International - seems like it's worth reading up on. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with Canada Adopts - they charge a premium for access to some services, but I'm not sure if it's worth it or not.

oilypenguin wrote:

I wish I had advice to pass on.

Same here. Best of luck to you and your wife!

Here's a bit of a brain dump, for those who might be looking at getting into this. This is all Canada-focused, but I suspect a lot of it translates fairly well to the US.

Types of adoption

Public Domestic - Adopt a child that is currently in some form of government custody. (Foster home, orphanage, etc)
Cost: Virtually free
Pros: Relatively quick to get a child. Lots of children available. (30,000-60,000 in Canada) Birth parents have no legal right to the children.
Cons: Almost impossible to get a newborn. Children may have significant issues to deal with. (abusive parents, drug use, etc)

Private Domestic - Adopt a child from birth parents via an intermediary adoption agency / lawyer.
Cost: ~$10-12k
Pros: Easiest way to adopt a healthy newborn. Full knowledge of birth parents and medical histories.
Cons: Uncertain wait times (1 year minimum, but varies wildly). Birth parents might change their minds.

International - Adopt a child from another country.
Cost: $25k-$50k
Pros: Infants are relative easy to adopt. No chance of birth parents changing their minds once the adoption takes place.
Cons: Extremely expensive. Varied requirements by foreign governments. Uncertain medical histories of birth parents.

Based on cost, my wife and I are looking into public and private domestic adoption right now. After years of fertility treatments, we don't have and way to finance an international adoption even though that was our first choice - it doesn't seem fiscally responsible given that there are alternatives.

More to come, I'm sure.

Thanks for sharing Andrew. Good luck with the process. I honestly didn't recall international adoption was that much more expensive. Depending on your financial situation, I don't know if there might be flexibility in cost for any of those options.

We have a friend who adopted in our state (this is in the US) and if I recall correctly another potential benefit was that health care costs were covered for the child. Of course as soon I as type that, I remembered you are in Canada and perhaps we should just move.

There may be some organizations as well that provide grants to ease the costs. We didn't explore this path ourselves but it might be worth considering. I see a few examples many of which have a religious affiliation element, so depending again on your situation you might explore that.

My wife and I are the adopted parents of a wonderful 10 year old boy. We adopted him from foster care when he was 8. Before we went with adoption, we went the IUI route (with predicable results).

There are a lot of factors to consider. Please keep in mind that these are from an American perspective.

First and foremost - take some time to resolve yourselves to your loss. It is a loss. You have lost children that are linked to you by your own DNA. Talk to a therapist and work that out.

Second, do your homework. It appears that you have started this already. Here is what I know:

Domestic infant adoption (for the US) runs about $20k and takes two years. We felt the process involved in domestic infant adoption to be somewhat distasteful. It essentially works like a dating website where you put yourselves out there, and hope that a mother-to-be selects you. And there are no guarantees. Depending on where you are adopting, the mother could change her mind, in some places up to 30 days after the birth with no recourse to you. In addition, you may be required to pay expenses for the mother up to the birth, to include things like medical bills, rent, clothes, etc. Another issue is that the trend seems to favor open adoption, which is where the birth parents remain in the child's life. Personally I think this is a horrible idea, but it is what is in vogue.

Foreign infant adoption tends to have more guarrantees but is more expensive. Also infant is a bit of a misnomer as they tend to be 9 months to a year old when you get them. Also these kids could have problems that won't crop up for a while. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, in particular, is big in Russia. These kids are also generally thrown into orphanages where there are 30 babies per worker. That means that they can also develop issues such as Reactive Attachment Disorder. That means that don't bond well.

Domestic adoption from foster care (or as you say government custody) is where you adopt older kids. This is where I would caution you...not from pursuing this option, but just to know what you are getting into. Every single child in foster care has had to contend with some type of trauma, whether it is loss or abuse and neglect. That trauma will come out in behavioral outbursts. My son is a wonderful child who had to go through some truly horrible sh*t at the hands of his birth family. Right now my wife and I are going through hell because he is going through a bad time right now. I love my son very much but within the last two weeks things have been difficult. We have had tantrums where I have had to restrain him for over an hour. He has tried to bite, punch, kick, and scratch me. Know what you are getting into. Therapy will be a necessary thing.

The good news is that if you find a good adoption agency/worker, they should be able to help you navigate these waters and understand what is front of you. You will go through training classes.

If you have additional questions, PM me, I'd be happy to share more of what I know.

Nevin - Sorry to hear your family is working through challenges right now. I hope you have some support yourselves.

Wishing you and your family the best Nevin, frustrating as it is right now please know that the love and stability you and your wife bring him will likely be instrumental in helping him eventually move past the horrors of his youth. That's not to say it will be easy, or fast, but it will help. Thank you both.

I appreciate the sentiments. We are getting through this rough patch and we hope that our son has turned a corner.

Looking back, my post may seem dark. Believe me when I say that my son is my son. I wouldn't trade him for any child on the Earth and we love him so very much.

You need to understand your limitations. Discuss, in realistic terms, what you can and cannot handle. Learn about common physical and mental diagnoses. And perhaps most importantly, learn to read between the lines when you are looking at profiles of children. They often try to cast the child in the best possible light, but if you take it at face value, you might be biting off more than you can handle. Ask yourself, can you handle physical disabilities? What level of learning impairment or behavioral issues can you handle? While it is for the U.S., check out http://www.adoptuskids.org to get a feel of what children are out there (if you are thinking of adopting an older child).

A couple of stories from friends who have adopted overseas:

My friend Rob and his wife adopted a little girl (she was about 9 months old when they got her) from Russia. It cost about $45k and required them to spend 2-3 weeks in Russia. Their daughter is a beautiful, well-adjusted little girl. Two years later they dropped another $45k on an infant son. And while he is a beautiful boy, he may have Reactive Attachment Disorder and a touch of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. They have had to deal with some issues with him, particularly in the areas of family bonding and learning. Personally, I think part of the problem is that they changed his name from the awesome name Vlad to the not so powerful name Rudy. Regardless, they love him and their family is complete.

My friend Miguel and his wife adopted a little girl from China. She was about a year old when they met her and brought her home. Their daughter was lucky; she was in a special program where she had a single caretaker. As the adoption process proceeded, the caretaker started introducing their daughter to their pictures before they met her. They have a beautiful little girl with no issues thus far.

It is a bit of a crap shoot, honestly. But so is natural birth.

Go in with your eyes open. Know that parenting is the most difficult and worthwhile thing that you could ever do. Work with your wife as a team and make sure that you make time for yourselves. Understand that, sadly, love does not conquer all. But it sure does help. Get support systems, both for regular parenting and for those that understand adoption.

It's funny, I wrote and deleted this thread twice over the past few months. My wife and I are starting the process of planning for adoption and looking at all our options. I hope it all works out for you Andrew.

Good luck to you as well Michael. I'm guessing it goes for the others who offered as well but feel free to PM me too.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Nevin. You and your wife are amazing people to adopt an 8-year old and deal with the challenges that entails.... I couldn't imagine doing that right now - at least not for my first child. I don't mean this in a negative manner, but our hope is to have as "normal" a parenting experience as possible given our circumstances.

Here's more on what I've figured out about the Canadian process, in step-by-step format. A lot of these steps can be performed in parallel:

1. Find an adoption practitioner in your local community. They are a specialized social worker that focuses exclusively on working with parents looking to adopt.

2. Get a home study completed with the adoption practitioner. This can take a couple of months, and involves a lot of meetings and discussions with the social worker as well as a police background check. They want to make sure not only that you are financially able to support a child and are not a criminal, but also that you've dealt with any baggage that you might be carrying as a result of the road that led you to adoption. (i.e. infertility, etc.) Everything I've read and the people I've talked to all agree: it is common and perfectly normal to feel resentment at this part of the process - the redneck down the street who beats up his kid didn't have to go through this invasive process, so why should you? As a hopeful adoptive parent, you just need to suck it up and play the game.

3. Attend a "PRIDE" course. This course is specific to my home province - Ontario - but I wouldn't be surprised if other jurisdictions have similar requirements. The content of the course, from what we've read and heard, is 50% information and support about parenting topics that are specific to adoption, and 50% sales pitch to adopt from the public domestic stream (e.g. kids in foster care). It sounds like the course is 6 days, and has a variety of tracks (three full consecutive weekends, one day per week for six weeks, etc)

4. For a private domestic adoption, retain the services of a lawyer that deals with adoptions, or else an agency that facilitates them. This will be your main conduit for advertising yourself to birth parents seeking adoptive parents for their child.

5. Create a profile. This is basically a booklet where you describe yourselves to prospective birth parents - you have to sell who you are through words and photographs, and hope that someone will find you appealing as parents. Your lawyer/agency will help you with this. This, by the way, is what Nevin was referring to when he said that private domestic adoption works like a dating website... the analogy is bang on, and it IS a little distasteful. Unfortunately, just like the home study, above, if you want an infant you have to play this game.

6. Wait. Maybe a long time. Maybe a REALLY long time. Once you have 1-5 complete, you've done all that you can and you need to wait for someone to select you. Once that happens, you need to be ready to react, because things could be on a very short fuse.... you'll have to go meet the birth parents and get to know each other, and that might involve significant travel. You'll also be on the hook for all expenses incurred by the birth couple during the process.

7. Hopefully bring home a healthy child. This, after all, is the end goal.

My wife and I met with a couple yesterday who adopted a child four years ago, and are in the process of adopting a second child now. Just getting a chance to talk to people who had been through the heartbreak of failed fertility treatments but came out the other side and now have a beautiful 4 year old girl was amazing. They were able to share their experiences, give us a lot of advice (some of which I've included in this post), and refer us to people within the adoption system that they have worked with and trust.

I hope to get the ball rolling for real next week.... I'll continue to share anything that I find out along the way.

So glad you found some folks to talk with Andrew. I think that is a really helpful step in the process.
In terms of looking at the social work time, you are absolutely right that it is frustrating the 'jerk down the street' didn't have to go through the process. After going through it though I really wish everyone had to. I think it would head off a lot of children in families that aren't ready and it helped my wife and I talk through some things we hadn't really thought to focus on before hand.

Totally - I would 100% recommend talking to someone now that I've done it. It was a super-valuable experience.

Status update: I've lined up an adoption practitioner and our first meeting is April 30th to kick off our home study. We have a pile of paperwork to fill out before then, and the meeting itself is 2.5 hours.

Good luck.

My sister and her husband went through a very similar situation. They gave up trying to have kids after multiple failed rounds of IUI and IVF and went the adoption route. They now have two boys, 12 and 10.

AndrewA wrote:

2. Get a home study completed with the adoption practitioner. This can take a couple of months, and involves a lot of meetings and discussions with the social worker as well as a police background check. They want to make sure not only that you are financially able to support a child and are not a criminal, but also that you've dealt with any baggage that you might be carrying as a result of the road that led you to adoption. (i.e. infertility, etc.) Everything I've read and the people I've talked to all agree: it is common and perfectly normal to feel resentment at this part of the process - the redneck down the street who beats up his kid didn't have to go through this invasive process, so why should you? As a hopeful adoptive parent, you just need to suck it up and play the game.

Yup. The home study brought my sister to tears a couple of times. At that point in her life she wanted a child so badly that she couldn't even attend the baby showers of her friends and co-workers without having her emotions bubble over. She had a very hard time having her and her husband's life put under a microscope and having everything about them judged when that clearly wasn't happening to people who could have children.

But you're absolutely right, you just need to suck it up and do it. But also be prepared to deal with the emotions and frustrations.

Also be aware that if the adoption process takes too long or you switch agencies that you might have to go through the home study all over again. I know my sister had to go through it twice.

AndrewA wrote:

4. For a private domestic adoption, retain the services of a lawyer that deals with adoptions, or else an agency that facilitates them. This will be your main conduit for advertising yourself to birth parents seeking adoptive parents for their child.

Definitely get a lawyer. My sister and her husband struggled to gain any traction with the adoption agency they had chosen. After more than a year of absolutely nothing they met a lawyer at an adoption conference and he was the one that ultimately helped them get their two sons.

AndrewA wrote:

5. Create a profile. This is basically a booklet where you describe yourselves to prospective birth parents - you have to sell who you are through words and photographs, and hope that someone will find you appealing as parents. Your lawyer/agency will help you with this. This, by the way, is what Nevin was referring to when he said that private domestic adoption works like a dating website... the analogy is bang on, and it IS a little distasteful. Unfortunately, just like the home study, above, if you want an infant you have to play this game.

My sister poured her heart and soul into her profile. I know this made all the difference for her and my brother-in-law's second son because his biological mother said so. She told my sister that their profile stood out from every other couples' because their's focused on the extended family Ryan would be joining while the other couple's focused on the materials things and resources he would have. The biological mother was an only child and wanted to make sure her son wouldn't be alone.

Obviously the mileage on your profile is going to vary wildly, but they do have an affect.

AndrewA wrote:

6. Wait. Maybe a long time. Maybe a REALLY long time. Once you have 1-5 complete, you've done all that you can and you need to wait for someone to select you. Once that happens, you need to be ready to react, because things could be on a very short fuse.... you'll have to go meet the birth parents and get to know each other, and that might involve significant travel. You'll also be on the hook for all expenses incurred by the birth couple during the process.

Again, yup. My sister and her husband had essentially reached a point where they were ready to resign themselves to the fact that they'd never be able to adopt. Then one Friday night when they were getting ready to take a weekend trip they got a call from their adoption attorney saying they needed to be in Little Rock, Arkansas by Sunday morning. By Monday morning my sister was holding her newborn son, Jacob.

My sister and her husband learned a couple of important things from that experience. One was be prepared. You're going to have to have everything you need for a child instantly and most likely in another city. My sister literally walked into a Target in Little Rock, found someone with a newborn, told them her situation, and asked what she needed to buy.

Another was have your family and friends ready to help and even fly out with you. The adoption process is crazy, hectic, and very emotional. Having another couple of people around you can help greatly.

The last was bone up on the basics of caring for child. For example, the first time my sister changed Jacob she was afraid to tighten the diapers too much because she thought she'd hurt him. Luckily my brother-in-law's sister was there and was able to help her out.

Adopting a kid really takes you from zero to 60 in no time flat. In the case of my sister, she and her husband were a DINK couple on a Friday and proud parents on a Monday. There was no nine month ramp up and plenty of time to prepare. It was just here's your kid.

AndrewA wrote:

I hope to get the ball rolling for real next week.... I'll continue to share anything that I find out along the way.

Good luck to you and your wife. It can be a long and trying process, but it's also very rewarding.

So it's been three months since I posted in here, and I figured I'd give an update on where we were. For fun, I'm listing some costs/timelines for anyone who is looking into this after me.

Home Study (cost - $2000, timeline 4-6 sessions, minimum 3 weeks between sessions):
We have started our home study and had two sessions with the adoption practitioner. The second session brought up some of my wife's past - basically her parents were AWFUL and she has a lot of baggage as a result. It was recommended that she get some counseling to resolve those issues, and the home study is on pause while that happens.

PRIDE course (government-mandated course for adoptive parents, $1500, 29 hours in class + homework)
We signed up for a course and completed it over two weekends. We actually ended up traveling about 5 hours to get into a compressed course is a timely manner (this decision was made prior to finding out that our home study process would be slowed down).

Although I was skeptical/bitter at first, the PRIDE course actually turned out to be an amazing experience. We took the course with four other couples, and it was great on many levels: information, support, and context. Our eyes were really opened on what some of these kids go through... even those that are adopted as infants.

If anyone in Ontario wants a recommendation where to go for PRIDE training, I highly recommend the Cornerstone Adoption Agency in Toronto.... top rate trainers.

China Waiting Children Program (~$34,000, ~6 month waiting list, ~1.5 year process)
Originally my wife and I wanted to pursue a private domestic adoption, however all of the research and courses and talking to people that we've done has changed our minds. We've put our names on the callback list for the China Waiting Children Program at an agency here in Ottawa (Children's Bridge). The program is a toddler adoption program where all of the kids have some sort of minor correctable medical issue - most commonly cleft lip/palette or a heart murmur, but there is a massive range of other issues that kids might have. You opt-in to the issues that you are willing/able to parent, and a child is matched with you.... 6 months later you fly to China to meet your 2-3 year old child for the first time.

A lot of things went into our decision to switch to international adoption, but the two main concerns were the timeline and the certainty that once we had the child, no one could ever take him/her away. 1.5 years is short in terms of the international programs (3 years is more common for international, and domestic timelines are highly variable/uncertain), so that was big. What was even bigger is that these children are orphans.... so not only will we be helping them out of a heartbreaking situation, but we won't need to risk the "21 days of terror" that is associate with private domestic adoption in Ontario. (Within 21 days of adoption, a birth mother can change her mind, no questions asked.... this happens in 10% of cases - a risk we're not willing to take.)

Making announcements
One of the harder things about accepting adoption is learning to talk to your friends and family openly about it. My wife and I started by phoning our immediate families, and then emailed our close friends (or talked to them in person when possible). A few weeks later it was obvious that others were starting to hear about it, and so in order to control the message in our own way, we posted the following announcement on Facebook:

As fast as we can

Some of you already know this, but I assume that most of you do not. We'd like to control the message, and I've been given permission to share it this way....

Jennie and I have been trying to have a baby for five years now. After a couple of years working the conventional route, we swallowed our pride and sought infertility treatment. Two more years, and many thousands of dollars, appointments, and needles later we've decided that the doctors won't be able to help us. It was a tough decision, but it was one that needed to be made.

Six months ago we started seriously looking into adoption as the means to build our family. At first it was just online research and discreet conversations with people who had been there before (a huge thanks to those people - you know who you are). Then, as the snow finally thawed after the long winter we decided to take the leap for real, and threw ourselves into the adoption process. So far we've had a couple of meetings with our social worker, and taken the government-mandated course.... there's such a long way to go and the system is intentionally excruciatingly slow.

A "normal" couple (if I can use that term) announces that they're expecting shortly before it becomes obvious to the world that a baby is on the way - there's only so long that a woman can hide the little one growing inside of her. Jennie and I will never "look pregnant".... we're expecting, except not in the same way that all of our friends with children are or have been. That doesn't mean that we're less excited, or nervous, or happy, or terrified.... it just means that one week you'll see us looking perfectly normal, and the next week we'll have our child with us. (And we don't have the nine month timetable to work with - everything might happen in an amazing, chaotic rush that there is no possible way to prepare for.)

One final thought: Right now Jennie and I are almost certain that we'll be adopting a child from China's "Waiting Children" program. This program is for children who have minor correctable medical conditions that have made them unadoptable domestically. The children are usually 2-3 years old when they are finally united with their forever families. What that means is that our baby has already been born, and is living so very far away from us in an overcrowded orphanage, probably neglected and unwanted.

We're coming little one... just as fast as we can.

Anyways..... there's a long road ahead... it feels good to be pointed in a certain direction though - that's more than we've had for most of this decade.

Please keep us updated and I wish you all the best!

Congratulations and I hope the process goes smoothly. I've often told people I actually wish everyone who becomes a parent had some of the classes adoptive parents often go through. Many of us spend years in education to get our jobs yet being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs we'll ever have. I know some of those steps feel like obstacles now but I really believe they will save you heartache and even time later.

I also thought your announcement was beautiful and well written. One thing for you to consider, you mention your worries about the orphanage but there is one thing for certain. Your baby who is living far away from you now is anything but unwanted. The three of you just haven't had a chance to meet yet.

Good luck on all the next steps.

On a related note we're just a week or two away from our yearly camping trip with now 95 families who've adopted internationally. After checking the map I see it's almost literally you are as far away from Oregon as is possible without getting in a boat but consider yourself invited when you are ready.

Rahmen wrote:

I also thought your announcement was beautiful and well written. One thing for you to consider, you mention your worries about the orphanage but there is one thing for certain. Your baby who is living far away from you now is anything but unwanted. The three of you just haven't had a chance to meet yet.

Oh, for sure. "Unwanted" referred to our future child's status at the orphanage.... odds are it's overcrowded. There is nothing we want more than to be united with that child - whoever he/she is!

Rahmen wrote:

On a related note we're just a week or two away from our yearly camping trip with now 95 families who've adopted internationally. After checking the map I see it's almost literally you are as far away from Oregon as is possible without getting in a boat but consider yourself invited when you are ready.

In a couple of years when we're through all of this we might just make the road trip. =)

Thanks!

Good luck!

It's nuts how much work and money it takes to adopt a child.

obirano wrote:

Good luck!

It's nuts how much work and money it takes to adopt a child.

That doesn't include the work and money often needed after the child is adopted.

Good luck. Just be on the lookout/be prepared for signs of such things such as Reactive Attachment Disorder. Though I'm sure the training classes you have been through has covered such things. I wish you the best.