Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Parenthood and Cancer

Speed Bump

The biggest surprise as we completed our home study was a requirement to document how we plan on being home with the baby for 12 weeks. Now we know why adoptions typically take two years and there is a very specific order for each step. In a typical adoption, this wouldn’t be a surprise because your home study would be completed months or possibly a year before you are matched with a birth mother. This would be part of your planning and you would be saving and negotiating with your employer to make this happen.

Honestly, we didn’t plan on being home with him for 12 weeks. My new company doesn’t offer paid parental leave, nor does my husband’s. Because I’m not giving birth to him we don’t qualified for short term disability, either. That means we will be down to one income the entire time we are home with him. My husband’s company is also too small to be subject to FMLA.  Luckily my new company has grown enough over my year with them and now offers FMLA. I also (just barely) meet the year of service requirement.

The surprise nature of this adoption means we get a little blind-sided as we go through the process. I knew my new company only offered short-term disability for maternity leave, but hadn’t really thought through how that applied to adoption when we said yes. I did realize later, but then assumed we’d simply have to take a much shorter leave than we’d like to be with Baby H. Unfortunately, a lot of mothers have to do this. I have so many friends that had to return to work after a mere six weeks.

The requirement to put in writing and sign an agreement on how we will be home with him for 12 weeks throws a wrench into everything. I understand the intention: to make sure we fully bond. And for an older child, I’m in complete agreement. Given that my girls didn’t sleep longer than three hours at a time until they were over 10 months old, I’m pretty sure that Baby H and I (and my husband) will have plenty of time to bond during the wee morning hours.

At the same time, I like the idea of a longer leave. I took 4.5 months of leave with my girls and would love to spend 12 weeks at home with Baby H. 

We’re just not sure we can swing it. I don’t know yet if this is a state requirement, agency requirement or an agency preference. That answer will guide how we handle this one. I’ve got a call in to the attorney to clarify, and then I’ll see what I’m able to negotiate with the home study agency.

The funny part of this is that the more time we take, the harder it will be for us to bond with Baby H in some respects. We were planning on leaving the girls in daycare for the first few weeks so that we have one-on-one time with Baby H. We need a little time to ramp up to being parents of three. And if my sleep deprived memories are correct, it’s hard those first few weeks, or months. To swing three months of parental leave,  the girls will have to quit daycare as soon as he is born and Tim & I will get a crash course on staying at home with three littles full-time.

For the sake of everyone, we hope to very gradually transition the girls from their current daycare to their new one, and give them some time to get used to the new baby. I’m actually dreading the daycare change. They are happy where they are and it’s going to big a big change to go to an in-home provider.  Too much change at once is tough on toddlers. We want them to react as positively to Baby H as possible.

They’re too young to understand most of what is going on, but they will definitely notice the difference once he’s here. We want to do everything we can to make the transition easy on them, so that they are loving and caring with him. We love him, and we want them to as well.

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Attorneys and Counselors and Home Studies, Oh My!

Once we said we wanted to adopt the baby , the reality of the gargantuan task in front of us began to sink in. Adoption isn’t cheap. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t take that path and pursued medical treatments the first time around.  When we researched adoption, we found that adoptions typically cost between $35,000 and $45,000 and may take about two years to finalize.  Costs were really the same for domestic or international adoptions. The costs for adoptions also have a wide range, because a lot is dependent on the needs of the birth mother, the complexity of the legal case and unknown medical expenses. If complications arose, the cost could be more than $50,000. The cost and the time were both detriments in our eyes.

Hind site is 20/20.  What I didn’t know at the time is that with medical treatment for infertility it typically takes 3-5 years to have a successful pregnancy and even with insurance  covering some of our treatments, it would ultimately cost us just as much.

The path that I thought was the expedient and cost-effective one- wasn’t.  It did, however,  give me the two most wonderful daughters in the world and we don’t regret our choice.

When we compared options  before, all of my research was on agency adoptions and international adoptions.  We had never researched a private adoption.  These type of adoptions are more rare.  Most birth mothers contact an agency because they handle all of the details and match you with a birth mother.

The birth mother found us, and now it was up to us to handle all of the details. I started calling places frantically to find out who could handle each bit or piece of the process. As I began my research it became clear that the first step was to get a home study.  We have to have every aspect of our lives scrutinized and have our house examined and be approved to be adoptive parents. The funny thing with this is before we had our twins, we weren’t considered attractive candidates during this process because we were infertile.  Now that we had biological children the conversations we had with home study agencies focused on how easy it should be to get approved.  Before, the conversations centered on whether or not we had gone to counseling and grieved the losses of our biological children and most agencies required a year-long waiting period between ending fertility treatments and pursuing adoption; making it three years before we would have a child. This time, we were told it should take about six weeks to complete our background check and get approved. There would be no problem having everything  lined up by the time the baby is born in April.

Next we needed to find a counselor for our birth mother. The counselor provides support as the birth mother goes through the grieving process and helps her determine if she is resolute in her decision.  The counselor will be there for her both before and after the adoption. Geography proved to be a challenge on this one, as usually the birth mother receives counseling through the agency that does the home study.  We ended up finding sister agencies that worked where we live and where the birth mother lives that were willing to provide counseling.

Finally we had to find an attorney.  I met with the first attorney and found out, I don’t just need ONE attorney.  I need one for us, one for the birth mother, and potentially a third attorney for the birth father.  I can honestly say I never expected to have three attorneys on retainer.

This was one of the most nerve-racking parts.  Attorney costs are one of the most expensive parts of the process and there is so much that has to be done correctly in an adoption.  My fears are that the birth mother will change her mind or we won’t follow the law and the adoption will be overturned on a technicality. I watched the Baby Veronica case ferociously while I was undergoing infertility treatments and was appalled at how she was removed from her adoptive parents without any introduction to the birth father and that an obscure statue was used to do it. Based on this case and other stories I’ve heard through my infertility support group, I spent 45 minutes peppering the attorney with questions. As expected, his quote was quite a range.  If everything went perfectly the legal costs for him could be around $4,000.  If the case became more complicated- he wouldn’t give us a high end, but stated $10,000 would not be out of the realm of possibility.  From what we know the birth father is not happy about the adoption, but he also doesn’t have custody of his 4-5 other children and no one in his family does.  He also has not been supporting his other children according to what we’ve been told. Based on this, I was optimistic that we would be more towards the $4,000 end of this range.

I didn’t realize how much this appointment meant to me until I left the attorneys office and burst into tears in the parking lot. I couldn’t even start my car. I just sat there and cried.

I felt overwhelming relief after talking to the attorney and paid him a retainer on the spot. He made this adoption seem possible. As I cried, I just sat there saying to myself, “We’re going to be able to make this adoption happen. We’re going to have a baby.”

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