Monday, April 30, 2018

1.5 Years Post Adoption FAQ

Gideon Aaron Hart
Born 11/7/2016
Placed with us 11/15/2016
Adoption Finalized 5/23/2017

A few times a month I receive messages through Instagram or email asking about our adoption. I get so excited to hear of people starting the process and looking for encouragement and advice and love sharing the story of our adoption. Many people ask the same questions.... agencies, cost, emotions, type of adoption... and I've been wanting to compile all of that info in one space. If you're a mama, you know how that goes... you have an idea in your head and it takes months to execute. I wrote a blog post here, right after we announced we were adoption that answers the questions:

  • Why are you adopting?
  • What type of adoption?
  • What is a home study?
  • What agency are you using and why?
  • How long does it take to be matched?
  • A little bit about open adoption. 
So if you are looking for that information, please click over to that post! Today I want to answer some questions about our specific experience in adoption and post. If you have additional questions, please email me at ruthiehart1@gmail.com

Agency
I talked more about how we chose to work with Christian Adoption Consultants in my previous post, and now post adoption, I couldn't imagine walking through it without them. Susan VanSyckle was our consultant, she was amazing every step of the way. Not just her work before and during our adoption, but she has created a private group for her clients that provides the deepest and most incredible support and encouragement. Adoption doesn't end with you bringing home a baby. There are challenges and obstacles that families made only of biological children will never face. There is sadness and brokenness that comes with adoption, and walking through it with other families going through the same thing is really beautiful. Our first match was through Adoption Choices of Nevada and when that match failed (more below), we went to the top of their matching list and matched with Gideon a few days later. CAC only works with "Adoption Friendly States". You can adopt in all states but "adoption friendly" means that once birth mom relinquishes her rights 48-72 hours after birth, they are irrevocable. 

Failed Adoption
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you would know that we were matched with a sweet birth mama for 4 months and thought we were going to be welcoming another daughter into our family. The baby girl was born, beautiful and healthy, and mama chose to parent her. As much as it broke our hearts, we were also filled with so much joy. Baby girl would not have to experience the trauma of leaving her mama. She was never ours to begin with. We have full peace with what happened, especially knowing that this was the road that led us to Gideon, who was always meant to be our son. 

Stork Drop
Gideon was known as a stork drop. His birth mama had been working with Adoption Choices of Nevada for a few weeks before he was born but didn't have the chance to match with a family before he was born. We got the call about a baby boy born on 11/7/2016 on 11/8. He was not even 24 hours old and our social worker sent us his picture. We prayed and knew that presenting our profile book to this mama was the next step in our journey. It was only 4 days after we found out we weren't going to bringing home baby girl, but it just felt right. We laughed at the thought of having a son, bringing him home to his beautiful pink nursery upstairs. We FaceTimed with Gideon's first mama on 11/9, she chose us on 11/10, and relinquished her parental rights on 11/11. We flew to Las Vegas that evening and met our son the next day, 11/12/2016.

Naming Your Child
We named Gideon and you can read about how we chose it here. Gideon's first mom named him Aaron Royal and that was listed on his original birth certificate along with her last name (more on his amended birth certificate in the finalization paragraph). When we signed placement paperwork, we had to declare what we wanted his name to be changed to. We kept his first name Aaron as his middle name. Many adoptive families use parts of the name given by the birth family or collaborate on a name. But as the adoptive family, you get to name the child whatever you'd like. His legal name post finalization is Gideon Aaron Hart and that is on his birth certificate and social security card. 

Cost of Adoption
The most common question I get is "how much does adoption cost?". I can only speak on behalf of our adoption which was on the expensive side, but there are cheaper agencies. Private adoption is expensive and I often hear people say "it should be cheaper so more people can do it!". And that is a double edge sword because yes I wish it was more affordable so more people could adopt, but once you adopt, you realize why it is so expensive. There are so many people working day and night to care for these expectant mamas, counseling them, taking them to their appointments, holding their hands as they give birth. There are social workers, lawyers, case workers. So when it comes down to it, they are making very little money and working very long hours. Sorry I am getting off on a tangent but post adoption, I now know why adoption is so expensive and I am not angered by it. Using CAC was more expensive, but we felt God pointing us to them every step of the way. We knew He would provide for what He called us to. Our package with CAC was $2,300 and we spent another $1,500 on our home study (look at this post for more info on a home study).  When we matched for the first time, the entire cost was due within 2 weeks and it was $40,000. We "lost" $16,000 in our failed match and we have full peace in that. That money is not ours to begin with. God used it to care for that mama and her family for 4 months. When we matched with Gideon, we had a balance of $24,000 in our account with Adoption Choices of Nevada and we owed another $10,000 to complete his adoption. We hired a lawyer who works directly with our agency for finalization which was $300. On top of those expenses was travel. We love flying Southwest because you can cancel/change your flights up to 30 minutes before your flight which was very helpful with adoption! Since we booked last minute to go to Vegas, flights were expensive, I think around $500 a piece one way. When you adopt out of state, legal paperwork must be filed between states (called ICPC) and you must remain in the adopting state until you are cleared, anywhere from 7-10 business days. Both of us had to be there at placement but only one of us had to stay through ICPC so we booked Jon a return flight, coming home 1.5 weeks later, and planned on me staying to wait for clearance. His flight was cheaper, but still not that cheap. I got a call a few days after Jon left and was on a plane 2 hours later. Needless to say, that was an expensive flight ($600) but well worth it! We were cleared to go home the day before Thanksgiving, praise the Lord! While in Vegas, we stayed with one of my best friend's Katie, which was absolutely amazing! It also saved us probably $2-3k of housing costs. Most people adopting in other states stay in AirBNBs or with friends when possible! I may be forgetting a few little expenses but my rough estimate is $55,000. Again, our adoption was on the expensive side. You can adopt from an agency in your state and that is often times a lot cheaper, and you don't have to pay for travel. 

Paying For Adoption
We had our first conversation about adoption in October 2012 and started saving for it then. We didn't adopt Gideon until 4 years later and paid for our adoption in cash. Many people raise money for their adoptions through garage sales, MLM parties, t shirt sales, and more. There are also a lot of grants available to adoptive families but I don't have experience with those. Again, I truly believe God will provide for what He calls you to. This doesn't mean $50k will show up on your door step but He will make a way. 

Open/Closed Adoption
Gideon's story is one that we keep within our family. It is his story to tell if and when he would like to. So questions regarding his specific first mom and why she placed him for adoption go unanswered. 70% of adoptions are open and I love how far the world has come in normalizing and removing the shame and stigma of adoption. We have a semi open adoption where we sent pictures and videos and updates to Gideon's first mama but we haven't seen her since we said goodbye in Vegas. We are praying we get to visit with her soon. 

Finalizing Adoption
Once Gideon was placed with us, we were his parents. This part gets a little bit confusing but basically we had physical custody of Gideon for the first 6 months but the agency had legal custody. He had our last name, he was covered under our insurance, he was our son. Each state has different finalization requirements but our social worker had to visit us once a month, 6 times, before finalization. Seems silly since we had already done so much work on our home study but that is the rule! We really enjoyed our meetings with her because we talked about our unique situation, how to talk to our kids about adoption as they got older, and she just got to know our family more. We also had to get medical forms filled out by his pediatrician at his well checks and submit those to our lawyer in Las Vegas. A month before we finalized, our lawyer called us with our court date, May 23rd, 2017. He stood in front of the judge in Carson City, NV with us on speaker phone and the whole thing took less than 3 minutes. But it was the most beautiful 3 minutes. Jon and I sobbed, standing in the same corner of his office we were in when we got the call about Gideon. This time, holding our son. A couple of weeks later we received Gideon's birth certificate listing us as his parents. This was very bittersweet. I know I am his mommy but I hurt for his first mom, seeing her name gone from his birth certificate. Again, there is sadness and grief that come with each part of adoption. From there, I was able to take his birth certificate to the Social Security Administration to get him a social security number. We got that in the mail when he was about 10 months old. 

Adopting Again
We do not feel like our family is complete at this moment but we aren't actively looking to expand it. This may be TMI but Jon got a vasectomy 2 months before Gideon was born after we both felt clear discernment that we were done having children biologically. The Lord has placed foster care on our hearts pretty strongly in the past few months and that is most likely the next step for our family We had 3 babies in 3 years and it was hard y'all! We are really enjoying our kids ages and the dynamic of our family so we are just enjoying it. Do we want a bigger family? Yes! How will it happen? We aren't sure. We want to be faithful to where God has us and obedient to what He is calling us to.

I hope this answers questions you have about adoption but if you are still left with questions, send me an email

2 comments:

Allena said...

So awesome of you to be so open with your journey - I have loved watching your family grow and can't wait to see what the future brings for y'all!

Kaity said...

I love this post!!!

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