After we adopted Krystina, Grant and I discussed fostering to adopt again so I reached out to our county Department of Children & Family Services in California. I was told that, as a military family, we were less than desirable because we were not "stable"; That our lifestyle and his deployments didn't make us great candidates for parenting. I was heartbroken and mad... honestly MAD. How can you question our parenting ability based on my husbands potential to deploy; if we had a biological child you wouldn't take it away so what was the difference. Well, I never figured it out but it changed so much in my heart at that point.
We moved forward with infertility treatments, even though in my heart I knew it wasn't going to work. I was meant to foster and adopt, I knew that in my heart. I was frustrated beyond words that anyone would think that we weren't stable parents because of my husbands career. I have always been there, we are a stable family regardless of where my husband is because we are STILL a family. By the time we ventured back into the land of adoption we had gone down every road we needed to and were back whee we started... adoption.
Navigating adoption while also navigating military life can be tricky. Some states view your life and unstable while others beg you to take children.
Here are some hints and tricks to navigation from a mommy who has been there! Our family chose foster care adoption for both of our children. While this is a more unsure option it was the one that worked best for our family. We have been through a lot with our two little ones but to know that we are parents to these two beautiful souls means more to us than they will ever know.
First things first!
What type of adoption are you looking into? There are a few options:
Foster to Adopt: Foster adoption or fost-adopt, is a form of adoption in which a child is placed into a home as a foster child, with the expectation that the child will become legally free and be adopted by the foster parents. Some children are not adopted by their foster parents. Typically the cost of adopting through foster care is negligible and in many cases at NO COST to the adoptive parents.
Domestic Adoption: Domestic adoption (or private domestic) refers to the placement of U.S.-born infants for adoption by their birth parents, who legally consent to the adoption with an adoptive family of their choosing.
Adoptive Families Magazine surveyed 1,100 families who adopted a child in 2012-2013 and reported:
- Average Total Cost: Adoption Agency – $39,966; Independent Adoption – $34,093
- Agency Fees/Program Application: Adoption Agency – $16,962; Independent Adoption – $3,357
- Legal Fees: Adoption Agency – $4,141; Independent Adoption – $12,693
- Birth Mother Expenses: Adoption Agency – $3,233; Independent Adoption – $5,590
- Advertising/Networking: Adoption Agency – $2,340; Independent Adoption – $3,978
International Adoption: International adoption (also referred to as intercountry adoption or transnational adoption) is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parent(s) of a child who is a national of a different country.
Average Total Cost of International Adoption by Country 2010-2011/2012-2013
- China: $31,801/$36,338
- Ethiopia: $34,125/$45,960
- South Korea: $46,688/$43,795
- Ukraine: $42,035/$40,067
Finding your agency
Finding a reputable agency seems difficult but in all honesty it’s no different than finding any reputable company. Go into it with the mind of a consumer. Building Your Family has a great questionnaire to use when speaking to various agencies. You can download it HERE.
Some questions you want to ask regardless of your adoption journey are:
- What training does the adoption agency offer for various types of adoptions?
- If you are adopting internationally, how will the agency prepare you for parenting children of a different racial and/or cultural background?
- Are parents who are adopting children with special needs well prepared to do so? (This is essential!)
- What other support services does the adoption agency provide?
- What help is given to families experiencing post-placement difficulties?
- If you are adopting an infant domestically, what counseling do the birth parents receive?
- If you adopt from another state, will your local agency work with you to satisfy the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)?
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Adoptive parents and foster parents are a wealth of knowledge. We all know what we would have done differently or wish was different in the process. Knowing what to expect is beyond helpful.
Check your fee structures and itemized fees. No one wants to be blindsided when it comes to money… adopting and parenting often feels like an ever flow of outgoing money. Be sure you know ALL costs and fees before you sign anything.
Investigate agencies carefully. An adoption agency should be licensed, and the workers should be professional licensed social workers, preferably with master’s degrees in social work and experience in adoption!
Find out how long the agency has operated and how many children it has placed in recent years.
Ask the agency about its professional affiliations; for example, is it a member of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services and/or the Council on Accreditation?
There is a wonderful Adoption Reimbursement Credit through the military. The U.S. Department of Defense has an adoption reimbursement program for qualified military families. These reimbursements can cover medical expenses and other fees related to adopting a child under 18 years of age, but do not include travel.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Call the Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau in the state where the agency is licensed to check whether any complaints have been filed against the agency.
Military OneSource offers specialized consultations for military families. This is a confidential peer-to-peer support service where families can speak to someone who has experienced adopting from foster care first hand.