Yesterday we attended an adoption information meeting with another agency. It would be a very different experience with this agency. For international, they work directly with Colombia and are starting a pilot program in Ghana. Otherwise, you would need to select another agency for placement, which could be located anywhere in the country.
I was very impressed with the speaker. He has been working in adoption for 25 years and was incredibly insightful. He really stressed that as an adoption agency, their main focus is doing what is best for the kids, not the adoptive parents. But that as adoptive parents, we are consumers of services and have every right to have a thorough understanding of what we are purchasing. The fees look like they work like this in international:
Registration=around $50 which gets you a copy of the application
Application=$500 to complete (this does not include any fees you need to spend to get copies of marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc to complete the app)
Home study=$2-3k at the agencies we’ve talked to so far. He said that some agencies will offer a really low home study price to get you to choose them and then charge high costs in post placement services, so to consider the total cost. These also need to be updated annually, so it is important to understand if they charge additional fees for that. If you will be using two agencies, you need to make sure your home study will be accepted by the second one and that there are not additional fees for that.
Processing fee=$3-5k from what I remember. This goes to the agency you do your home study through and includes 2 day training, costs for social workers, etc.
Program fee=approximately $14-15k for Russia from what I’ve seen so far. This is for the services in the country. Part goes directly to the orphanage. It also goes to the staff in the country who facilitate your travel, translators, etc when you are there. This does not include travel costs. Program fees vary by country.
Those are the main fees. My question at both agencies is what happens if you are in the process of adopting from a country and it closes. Are any fees transferrable? At the first agency, they said you may get some back. At the second, he explained that your program fee may be at risk if any of the money has been spent on services so far. He talked about how the closure of Guatemala impacted families in that regard. It was a very thorough, transparent explanation.
He also had a slide from 2007 on the number of international adoptions from each country. This info is available on the government website that I think is listed in my links. He said something that was shocking, which isn’t on the gov website. Did you know that 1500 American children were adopted internationally in 2007? That other countries are adopting American children? It really makes you question your beliefs about adoption. We didn’t get into details on that–I assume they are older and may have special needs, which is why they aren’t being adopted here.
He also talked about domestic and special needs adoption. Special needs are kids in the foster system, typically older than 6, who most likely have emotional and/or physical issues due to their background. He admitted that first time parents aren’t what they are looking for with these kids–they want experienced parents who have already raised teenagers. Their domestic program seems more successful than the first agency, probably because it is more of an area of focus. They placed 62 children last year and currently have about 45 families in their book.
So I’m not sure at this point, which route we would take. I do like the seamlessness of working with one agency and having cultural support on-going, like the first agency. But I also feel the second one is very knowledgeable and trustworthy–very open about the pros and cons, what to watch for. I so wish they could deliver all the services.
There are a couple of things that appeal to me when looking at agencies. One is that they provide other services besides adoption. The reason is that if their adoption program is struggling financially, they have other resources to shift around and remain solvent. The other is that it is local, so we can keep the money (besides the program fee) in our local community. (Speaking of our local community, we found out yesterday that Minnesota has the highest per capita rate of adoption and is recognized as one of the leaders in adoption nationally.) So if we selected agency two, we’d probably be going against both of those things. The majority of the agencies approved by the Russian Federation are only adoption agencies.
So anyway….we are learning a lot and have many decisions ahead of us. In additional news, I’m pregnant. Yes, again. So this will delay our pursuit of adoption for the time being. We weren’t trying, so I don’t know exactly where I’m at, but just over 4 weeks. I had my first beta on Thurs at probably 11-13 dpo and it was 75.8 with a progesterone of 32. We’ll see what happens when I go back on Tuesday.
It is strange being pregnant for the sixth time when all the others ended in miscarriages. First of all, I never thought I’d be that woman who keeps trying and trying. But ever since the second one, the docs have tried different treatments and given me hope. Normally I’m so anxious and waiting for the worst. This time, I just have a feeling that everything will be ok. It is a deep-down feeling. And when a little fear creeps in, I tell myself “this is the one”. I also ordered some meditation CDs regarding pregnancy to help me stay calm, centered and positive. Only time will tell.