DOMESTIC ADOPTION - U.S.A
Today I'm pleased to present a guest post from an American author - David Dubrow. David is a professional writer and experienced video producer. After his first book was published, "The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse," he turned his talents to writing full-time. However, today David presents a subject he knows a bit about - Adoption in the USA.
Thanks, Dave ...
When my wife and I decided to adopt a child domestically in the state of Colorado, we had no idea what we were getting into. There’s only so much that counseling, information packets, and online adoption forums can teach you: the rest, which is really quite a lot, you have to live. Despite the significant financial cost, invasive personal interviews, the incredible grief of a failed placement, and several other hurdles, we were eventually blessed with a baby boy.
The process wasn’t easy. There’re no orphanages in the United States, nor is there a baby automat where you can place your money and get a child from behind the window. If you want a newborn, like we did, the birth mother picks you. You have to put together a brochure, of sorts, that includes pictures of you and your family, essays about your parenting strategy, descriptions of your home and job, and other personal details that might persuade a birth mother that you’d be the best parents for her baby. This is called a Parent Profile. In this major respect, you, as the potential parent, have very little power.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the Parent Profile stage, you have to tell the adoption agency you’re working with what sort of baby you’d prefer: gender, race, and if you’d be comfortable with a child with significant handicaps. Then the agency goes through their files of expecting mothers to determine a potential match. If there are any matches, the agency gives you the birth mother’s health history, as well as the birth father’s, if they have it. From there, you can agree to be “presented,” which means that the agency will show your Parent Profile to the expectant mother.
Many expectant mothers have their own conditions for adoptive parents, some of which they’ll communicate to the agency, and some they won’t. Often there will be a religious condition: Lutheran, Catholic, very active in the church, prefer atheist, etc. Some will want the child to be adopted into a family that already has children. Others will want a more “open” adoption, where the birth mother visits the child on occasion and gets personal updates about the child’s welfare.
Being presented is an exciting time for adoptive parents: you’re not there for the process, so all you can do is speculate and wonder if maybe you should have put different pictures in your Parent Profile. I had always joked with my wife that what we should have done was taken pictures of ourselves in doctor’s lab coats and posed in front of a paddock. These jokes became less funny over time, when we’d been presented several times and hadn’t been picked. It was always a disappointment. You tend to ask yourself if there’s anything wrong with you, if you should redo the Parent Profile, if you’ll ever be picked, etc.
If the birth mother picks you, you’re “matched”. What this means is that the birth mother has promised to relinquish her child, once it’s born, to you. This doesn’t mean that the baby’s yours. It just means that when the baby’s born, the birth mother will agree to sign her parental rights over to you. It’s an important distinction. In Colorado, the birth mother has five business days from the day the baby’s born to sign the relinquishment forms. Other states have different lengths of time. Birth mothers can change their minds at any time before signing the papers, and occasionally do. Some, upon seeing the baby for the first time, decide to parent instead.
Between the time you’re matched and the day the baby’s born, you typically agree to take on some of the birth mother’s expenses: rent, food, transportation, doctor’s visits. In the initial, pre-match paperwork, you can opt to not do this, but it makes it less likely that the birth mother will pick you. It makes a certain kind of sense: after all, you want the birth mother to have a place to live and food to eat, as she’s carrying your potential baby. This can get expensive, obviously, and if the birth mother changes her mind, you don’t get that money back.
Possibly the most nerve-wracking part of the process for adoptive parents is the five business days the birth mother has to change her mind and decide to parent. Even if she signs the relinquishment papers during that five days, she can still decide she doesn’t want to go through with the adoption. If the baby’s healthy, he or she will go home with the adoptive parents as soon as the hospital allows. So in addition to the massive difficulties of taking care of a newborn, you, as an adoptive parent, have to worry about whether or not the birth mother will change her mind.
This happened to us with our first match: we’d brought home the baby, cared for him for a night and a day, and then the birth mother decided to parent. This is called a “failed match”. On average, this happens about 33% of the time.
In the event that everything went well and you made it through that five day period without a call from the social worker, you’re still not done. You’re still provisional parents. The adoption will be finalized, with your name as the official parents on the child’s birth certificate, six months after the relinquishment papers have been signed and filed. This has to be done in a courthouse, with a family court judge making it official.
It’s only then that you can heave a sigh of relief, but it’s short-lived. You still have a baby to raise. There are diapers to change and naps to arrange and bottles to prepare. But finally, he or she is yours. Your child. Forever.
Here is the link to my book "The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse": http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1581607431
Here is the link to my book "The Blessed Man and the Witch": http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ITU5Z7G
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Dave. Wow, what a nerve-racking experience. Appreciate your candid post. I admire your patience and passion to have a child. Anyone prepared to go to such lengths deserves to have a child. And, the child deserves you guys as a parent.
Hey, we all wish you and your wife the very best.
Think about this!
I think Dave and his wife
have climbed a few mountains already.