Saturday, August 2, 2008

Foster care, Domestic or International Adoption.

A lot of Prospective Adoptive Parents go through a lot of soul searching when trying to figure out whether to do a private domestic adoption, adopt from the foster system or adopt internationally. All have their pros and cons and everyone has to make the decision that is best for their family. We are still struggling with the decision of where to adopt from and are praying that God would make it clear to us the direction in which to go. Please join us in our journey as God reveals where our child is!

We had initially committed to adopting through California's Child Welfare System, but I am not sure if my State's foster care system is committed to placing children with adoptive parents! We are still early in the process--4 months with nothing tangible to show for it except bureaucracy and many calls that are not returned. A few friends who have tried adopting through the foster care system have had to wait 2-5 years for a child. In the interim, they have had foster children placed in their homes only to go through heartbreak when children they thought they were going to adopt were placed with biological relatives. In their opinion, prospective adoptive parents in the foster care system in California have no voice.

Foster care adoptions involve alot or risk and we are struggling with just how much risk we are wiling to take. We understand that families hoping to adopt through foster-adoption should prepare themselves mentally before taking the plunge--and our experience so far with the foster care system makes one ready to give up! Adoption is really not for the faint hearted!

The primary goal of the foster care program is reunification with the birth family. In California, they do what is called concurrent placement, which means that you first get a foster child who you hope you will be able to adopt. While the foster/adoptive parent is raising the child, there are parenting specialists, crisis workers, case managers, social workers, rehab specialists and the like, all working with the birth family with the goal of putting Humpty Dumpty together again. Ideally, this is how it should be. But foster parents are often at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to weighing permanency placement options; social workers, the birth family, and even the courts often prefer kinship care if reunification isn’t possible. Families hoping to adopt from the foster care system have to steel themselves for the ups and downs and frequent heartbreaks when children they thought they were going to adopt are suddenly taken away to be placed back with either the birth family that abused them in the first place or with relatives. We have to take into consideration the best interests of our four year old child in the home-- how do we explain to him why a child he has viewed as his brother or sister for 2-3 years is suddenly not in the home because the foster system has decided to place the back with the birth family or other relatives? Children in foster care invariably come from less than ideal backgrounds. Some children have been voluntarily relinquished, but most have been removed from their birthparent’s care because of abuse or neglect. Some have been exposed to drug and alcohol in their mother’s womb and these children have special challenges. Others have been sexually abused and others have had food withheld from them and suffer from malnutrition (yes, even in the world’s richest country), and 65% of all mothers whose children are either placed for adoption or taken by the foster care system smoked during pregnancy . Often children have been in multiple foster placements, increasing the chances that they will exhibit some degree of difficulty attaching to others. It requires a lot of mental preparation and prayers!

We had also looked at private domestic adoption, but the price is prohibitive. Private domestic adoptions primary involve infants and can cost up to $40,000 depending on the race of the child. Yes, as despicable as that sounds, children of certain races command higher fees and prospective adoptive parents go to extraordinary lengths so that the birthparent/s can choose them to adopt their child. Some prospective adoptive parents pay consultants thousands of dollars to prepare their profile--this is their life story and tells the birth mother why she should place the child with that particular family. There are approximately 40 prospective parents for each infant in private domestic adoptions--we do not feel that this is where God is leading us.

In California, the birth family has 6 months to change their mind about placing the child for adoption and both domestic and foster care adoptions carry this additional risk.

The other option is International adoption. We are drawn to Africa and it costs approximately $25,000 to adopt a child from Africa. Financially for us, it will require a tremendous amount of faith--right now we are not sure how to pay the $250-$500 application fee to the adoption agency let alone coming up with the remaining $24,500! We are sure that God has called us to adopt a child and if international adoption is where the Lord is leading us, and then we will just have to trust him to make a way!

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Hi, there!

I don't know you, but I ran across your blog somehow while reading blogs by various prospective adoptive parents (you know how that goes!). Maybe I saw a comment of yours on Carolyn's blog (The Stitch That Makes The Sweater Perfect)...?

Anyway, my husband and I are adopting from Ethiopia (in the VERY early stages), and I just wanted to encourage you on the money issue. Affording adoption can seem like an insurmountable challenge, but you *can* do it. We will definitely pray for you (the best method of all!), as I know finances can be so discouraging. But I also wanted to mention a program that has proven extremely helpful to us.

We just signed with the adoption agency WACAP, and they offer something they call their "Promise Child" program. If you adopt a Promise Child (typically, an older child or a child with special needs of some sort), your adoption fees are either significantly reduced or completely done away with.

For example, because my husband and I are interested in adopting elementary-age children from Ethiopia, we will not pay any fees to WACAP; just the fees for our homestudy, travel (airfare, hotel, etc.), and all the immigration and incidental fees (passports, visas, etc.). But overall, we're getting essentially $10,000 knocked off the price because we're not paying any agency fees. And WACAP even offers interest-free loans to help defray travel costs.

If you are at all open to special needs--whether it be adopting a slightly older child (even as young as 2 or 3) or a child with health issues--I would very much encourage you to look into this program. It's available for both domestic and international adoptions in every country WACAP works in, and you can get more information at their website: .

I know this seems like one of those "too good to be true" sort of things, but it really is true! I believe this WACAP program is underwritten by the Bill Gates Foundation, so that's how they're able to provide their services for no fee. We've been so pleased with them thus far, so when I ran across your story (and understood that familiar despair, feeling like you'll never be able to afford adoption!), I wanted to share what's working for us, in hopes that it might be able to help you, too!

Take care! =)