Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?

One of the questions we get asked all the time is, "Why does adoption cost so much?!?"  Many people have even asked us why we chose our agency instead of adopting through the State or even a cheaper agency.  These are tough questions, but we want to answer them in hopes that people can understand that this was not just a decision we came to overnight.  This was a decision that we put much research and prayer into making and I hope that this post may be helpful for understanding our journey and adoption as a whole.

Why We Chose Domestic Adoption:
We have a heart for both domestic and international adoption and plan to adopt internationally at some point; however, as we began the overwhelming task of researching adoption we found that domestic adoption offers clear guidelines and parameters (as much as possible) and we were able to find an amazing agency within miles of our home. We decided that for our first child we would walk through domestic adoption of an infant, and then see where God leads us in the future in regards to choosing a country or age for future international or domestic adoptions.

How and Why We Chose Christian Homes and Family Services for our Agency:
Back in the fall of 2011, we received an invitation in the mail to attend an event benefiting Christian Homes and Family Services.  David L. Cook,  the author of the book Seven Days in Utopia was scheduled to be the keynote speaker.  We had recently seen the movie based on the book and really enjoyed it, so we were excited about the possibility of hearing the author speak.  In addition, God had begun tugging on our heart about adoption, so we were also naturally interested in the event.  God used the event to speak to us in many ways and as a vehicle for nudging us to begin our adoption journey.

It was at this point we began to research the MANY different avenues for adoption.  This process can be extremely overwhelming, but if you are considering this process I would encourage to just begin searching the Internet and reading all that you can.  In addition, talk to people you know and spend lots of time in prayer over this decision.

We had already heard great things about the agency and were very impressed from the event we attended, but we didn't just stop there.  We spent hours and hours reading all that we could about all the different ways to adopt.  In the end, we chose Christian Homes.

We believe the history of the Agency speaks for itself.  I have included the history below (from their website - I have bolded some points that were important to us).  In addition, one of the things we loved about the agency was their incredible ministry to the birth mothers.  Yes, we could have chosen to go through the state (which is very needed form of adoption) but for us the birth mother is paramount and we believe shining Christ to her through this agency is another way we can indirectly impact her.

At our orientation, they were very upfront with us in saying that they are not the cheapest agency out there but they are also not the most expensive (they right in the middle).  They helped us to understand the costs involved and why they believed these costs were necessary and important to both the birth mother, us, and the baby.  To us excellence in ministry is very important and we believe Christian Homes and Family Services does that well.  Their history is listed below and then I have included the approximate cost of the adoption below that.

Our History

For decades Christian Homes & Family Services has been known as two agencies: Christian Homes of Abilene, a ministry originally conceived by the Highland Church of Christ in 1962 to provide foster care for young needy children; and Christian Services of East Texas, a ministry given life in 1975 by the Glenwood Church of Christ in Tyler also to provide foster care for children rescued from neglect and abuse.
In 1999, the two independent agencies, both recognized as 501(c) 3 organizations by the Internal Revenue Service, merged and in 2006, the agency began operating under the same assumed name, Christian Homes & Family Services.
Almost as soon as Christian Homes began operating, it discovered and began responding to a desperate need for maternity care for young women with unplanned pregnancies. For more than 50 years, Christian Homes has provided residential and community-based care for young women with unplanned pregnancies. Most often, the care culminates in the agency finding loving parents to adopt their precious babies.
When a young woman with an unplanned pregnancy reaches out to Christian Homes for maternity care, our goal is that through the ministry, her life, as well as the life of her child, will be transformed. We may arrange for her housing, either in our comfortable apartments in Abilene or in her hometown, and we may also provide her food, clothing, medical care, legal services, moral support, counseling, and if needed, foster care for her newborn.
Our Abilene foster parents stand in the gap for birth mothers and adoptive parents. Foster parents love and care for newborn babies who must leave the hospital before all the legal hurdles have been jumped and they are cleared for adoption by their new and forever family. Infant foster care is provided according to the same strict standards as is required by the State for all foster care provided for minor children.
For young children who have been removed by the State from the home they likely shared with biological parents or relatives but where they were abused or neglected, our goal is that a Christian Homes’ foster family will be the last foster home they ever need. Our ministry is to identify, train, and prepare loving, Christian couples to welcome young foster children into their home and to ultimately make them a forever member of their family through adoption.
Christian Homes & Family Services is governed by a 23-member Board of Trustees who for more than three decades has operated independently of its founding church congregations. The agency is served by a 21-member team of dedicated employees; five of whom have worked for the agency more than 25 years. All trustees and employees are faithful and committed Christians. The agency is licensed by the State of Texas to provide maternity care and foster care, and in both Texas and Oklahoma to provide adoption services.
Approximately 40% of the agency’s $2 million budget is funded by adoption fees. For the balance, the agency relies on the generosity of individuals, churches, sympathetic businesses, foundations, and sound investing of the dollars donated to the agency’s endowment fund.
Since 1962 Christian Homes & Family Services has placed more than 1850 precious babies and children into loving adoptive homes, provided maternity care for more than 2500 women, and cared for more than 1570 foster children.
Christian Homes Fee Schedule:
  • Pre-application -              $95
  • Orientation -                    $250
  • Application -                   $750
  • Home Study -                 $1500
  • Social Services -             $4,800
  • Marketing -                    $6,000
  • Match/Placement -         $10,000 - $25,000 (sliding scale based on income of adoptive family)
  • Parental Termination -   $1,500
  • Consummation -              varies

Approximate Total Costs -       $25,895 - $40, 895

Hopefully this gives you a better idea of why adoption costs so much and helps you have a little insight into this huge process.  We believe it is important to be transparent with people, as much as possible, about the process of adoption because that helps you to better understand how you can love and support us through this journey, but hopefully it will also give you a heart for caring for the orphans in some way as well.

We are all called to care for the orphans, but we are not all called to adopt.  You might consider helping to care for the orphans by supporting our family through prayer, donating your time or services, or donating financial resources to help provide a home for a child.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crazy Roller Coaster Ride

A few weeks ago we experienced our craziest day yet walking through the adoption process... we met with a birth mother.

We haven't shared this publicly until now because ultimately it is up to her (really the Lord) to choose us and at this point she has not chosen us.

But WOW, this is one crazy roller coaster ride so far.  I describe it as a roller coaster ride because I am not sure people can truly understand the range of emotions experienced unless you have also walked through this process.

It is similar to thinking you might be pregnant, but don't know for sure... except this baby might come much sooner than 9 months from now (this particular birth mom is due in October).

It was similar to a job interview, except it was the most important job interview we will ever attend because it is interviewing for parenthood (except most people never have to "interview" to become a parent).  

At this point, I cannot imagine how my heart will hold up if we have to do this again and again.

Don't get me wrong, we are doing well... this is such an exciting journey.  We know for a FACT that the Lord is in complete control and he has hand picked each of our children way before we ever had the ability to even consider adoption.  But I just have to be real and say this is an unbelievably hard journey, which requires us to walk in complete reliance on the Lord - which is the sweetest place to be.

So now for the details (which is why you are here in the first place, right?) ...

Towards the end of May we received a message from some friends indicating that they had learned of a birth mom who is looking for a good family and they wondered if we were interested in meeting with her.  We agreed to meet with her to see if this was a possibility.

On a Saturday a few weeks ago, we drove to the Metroplex, where she lives, to meet with this sweet girl.  It was a beautiful afternoon, so we sat outside on the patio underneath a umbrella and waited for her to arrive.  I can't even begin to put words to the emotions we felt as we sat there waiting for her to arrive.  But soon they arrived (she and her mom) and the conversation flowed fairly easily.

Kate (not her real name) is 18 and her mom is only 3 years older than me and younger than DJ.  Her mom (I'll call her Missy) had Kate at 18 and she was really encouraging Kate to give the baby up for adoption because she wants her granddaughter to be able to have the life she was not able to provide for Kate.  Kate was also very much on board with the plan of adoption, although we did sense how difficult this decision is for her.

Kate and Missy asked us some very difficult questions and at times it seemed that they were looking for very specific answers in return.  They were so warm and friendly in response to our answers, but we really don't know exactly how our answers matched up with what they are looking for.

Kate was very interested in Open Adoption (which is what we are choosing to do) and wanted to know how "open" we are to open adoption.  We shared how important she is to us as the birth mom and that our baby would know from the beginning that he/she is adopted.  DJ did a great job of explaining to her that our adoption counselor with Christian Homes would be able to help us set up the expectations and parameters for our open adoption and that this would be something that we would all come to a written agreement about.  (Side note:  Open adoption has become the most common form of adoption today and I will write another post later about how this works and why it is the method we have chosen for our family.)

They asked us if the baby would go to private school or if we would choose to homeschool.  I shared with them my heart for public school and some simple reasons why we had chosen that path for our family.  We told them that our children would either attend the school where I teach or the great school in our neighborhood.

They also asked if I would be staying home with the baby or what our plans were for childcare if I continued to work.

We shared with them many, many details about our life... our jobs, family, church, home etc.

Faith was very important to them and we were able to share the up most importance that Christ holds in our lives.  They also asked specific questions about our church and denomination.

Before we left DJ asked if could pray for us.  We prayed and then told Kate that we would continue to pray for her regardless of whether or not she chose us for her baby.  We also told her that the ball is in her court.  We are very open to meeting with her again or talking on the phone if she has more questions, but we are not going to contact her again unless she chooses to make contact.  We gave her the contact information for our adoption agency, in case she was interested.

We walked away feeling hopeful, but also guarded. From the beginning we were so excited about the opportunity to meet her, but we also tried to guard our hearts knowing that she may not choose us.  At this point, it has been 3 weeks and we have not heard from her.  We are OK with that because we know God is sovereign, but we would definitely ask you to pray for us as walk this exciting but difficult journey.  We wouldn't have it any other way and we are so excited for the testimony God is unfolding for our precious babes even before they are ever born.