How Things Work with Our Adoption Agency

by GfG on December 5, 2014

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In doing our home study paperwork, I have noticed that many people (including all the doctors we saw) don’t understand the agency process for adoptions, so I want to share how our journey looks.  If a private adoption makes an appearance, things change, but for now we are on track with our local agency.   I will list fees too (every agency is a bit different, so these are our agency’s, but they are consistent with all agency adoptions).  These are only the agency fees, not other entities.

So…   a glance at an adoption journey via an agency:

1) Waiting List  Many agencies currently have waiting lists for adoptive parents.  A small fee is submitted ($50 for ours) and your application waits in a file.  The length of wait list time depends on each agency and how many families they prefer in their “pool” and how many birth moms come in to make plans.  We were on the waiting list nine months.

2) Application Review  Once your application is moved off the waiting list, it then is read by the case manager.  It involves about twenty pages of questions about your finances, reasons for adoption, willingness for race and diabilities, your upbringing, your marriage, and more.  A fee is paid. ($300  minus the $50 wait list fee, if you were on the waiting list)

3) Home Study  If you application is approved, you the move to the home study phase.  This phase is broken down into three parts for our agency.

Part 1: Paperwork  This involves a list of 32 tasks/forms (more if you have adopted before or have been divorced) to be done.  Physicals for everyone, fingerprinting, financials, proof of work, autobiographies, letter to birth parents, willingness forms, birth certificates, etc.  Lots and lots of paperwork.  Some of these involve fees to complete with the entity that does them.   ($400)

paperwork done!

Me turning in our huge stack of paperwork yesterday! 

Part 2: Interviews  Everyone in the family in interviewed, including the children.  The couple is interviewed separately and together. This is so the agency can determine the health of the family, emotionally and socially.   ($550)

Part 3: Home visits  The home is inspected for safety and child readiness. Two visits are made and there is a legal checklist of safety necessities.  This can be combined with the interview of the children, so they are in their “safe” place for those. ($550 if approved)

4) Submit Family Book  Once a couple is home study approved, they make a family album for birth moms to look at while deciding their adoption plan.  Each couple chooses how to make their book, but most are done digitally now.  I made ours on Snapfish because it’s the one I was familiar with from making other albums.  Two copies are ordered: one for the agency to have for all birthmoms and one in case they need to mail it somewhere.

Once your book is put into the “pool”, you are “listed”.  This means you are on all lists for options as an adoptive family with the agency (fee: depends on cost of your book + $5,000)

5) Wait  This can be short or long.  It’s all about waiting for a birth mom to choose your family for her child. I anticipate this phase being difficult for me.  Our book will be shown to birth parents that “match” our application (drug and alcohol, race, disability, etc; aka: willingness forms).  We have very few limits on our application, which is supposed to help our wait time.  (no fee)

6) Matched and Meet  This happens after a birth mother chooses your family and is called a “match”.  Once a match is made, it is most common for the birth mom/parents and the adoptive couple to meet with the agency case worker in attendance. The two parties (birth and adoptive) meet one another and visit.  A relationship starts to form as well as plans.  ($4,900)

7) Have Baby Placed  The timing on this depends on the plan chosen by the birth mother.  We may be at the actual delivery or we may wait in another room for the baby.  Either way, adoptive parents are at the hospital to receive their child.  In New Mexico, the birth mother may not sign relinquishment papers until 48 hours after birth and they must be submitted in court.

This means that most adoptive couples go home with the hospital without these legal papers, but with others in place.  There is a risk that the baby will have to be returned to the birth mom.  The bonding and time together is irreplaceable, so adoptive families risk the loss.  ($8,800)

8) Finalize the Adoption  After a legal time period (each state is different), the court appearance by the adoptive parents and child happens.  This is when the child legally becomes theirs.  The birth certificate would then reflect us as the parents.  After this, everything is complete.   New Mexico is about two months between placement and finalization, depending on court availability (fee to court, not the agency: $1,500).

That’s a glance.  In there could be a disruption, lots of waiting, or other events.

So… as of today, we are only on #3.  I’m thrilled to be there though.  We have our paperwork submitted and start our interviews next week.  It’s incredibly nerve wracking, actually.

These are not all the fees involved with an agency adoption.  These are the basic agency fees.  We may also have medical expenses for the birth mother (if she doesn’t have health insurance), travel expenses for the case worker, out of state placement fees, and such.  There are also expenses for getting the house “home study ready” if you don’t have the listed necessities  (fire ladder for every upstairs room, for example… not cheap; socket covers for every single socket; specific items in a first aid kit; etc.).

Hence the fundraising.  We are committed to not going into debt, so we are working hard.

We have worked hard and have been blessed by others donating.  Some are those who do not want to adopt, but want to help our adoption, Some are other adoptive parents who understand our journey and needs.  

Our puzzle art is still only a bit more than half done and we hope to complete that before we are “matched”.  {We would LOVE to see YOUR NAME on our puzzle art for all of time!  Supporting us and helping bring Maybe Baby home!}

As you can see it’s a long and busy and expensive process.

I can’t think of anything more worth it though!  Adding a family member who needs a home, blessing and helping a birth mother who needs help to make a beautiful plan, making sure agencies who love birth mothers and love the LORD get to keep helping (as opposed to only government agencies).

How familiar are you with this process? 


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