Taking Advantage – gotta get it off my chest!

I got a random message on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/HannahandEthanadoption) yesterday from the Adoption Center in Utah that was on Birthmom’s (A show on TLC). The message read about them having 8 birthmoms and needing adoptive families. He left me a phone number and said please call.

So, on my lunch break I called. As the phone rang I was somewhat hopeful that they would be a great place since they are only a state away but felt this feeling of uncertainty.

As I spoke with him he explained their set up and then he jumped to the fees. Without taking a breath he said our fees are 33-55 THOUSAND!!! Then as his run on sentence continued he said “of course that doesn’t include medical and your fee that you pay directly to the marketing firm.” He then explained that the fees vary depending on the length of their stay, includes money for them to buy groceries each week, go out to the show (isn’t that old speak for the movies?) and then sending money with them as they go home so they don’t have to work for a few months after the adoption.

Okay, so I was soaking this all in and I was okay with it. Then I asked about the cost of the marketing $9800!!!! yes, you read right. I couldn’t believe it.

So, I definitely knew this wasn’t the place for us but he was still explaining things and then he put it over the top. He was telling me that there is a woman who is due in early September, a girl. As he told me that this baby is black and if we sign up for ______, I missed that part we will get a discount and the charge will only be $28,000 (plus medical and marketing, etc.) Disregard the money I was SHOCKED at the idea that a baby could be “discounted”. I could not believe the way he was speaking to me.

I asked about the show Birthmom’s and he said yes, they were the agency from the show. I then asked about them living there and said not most agencies have that situation. Once I heard the next statistical sentence I had to work extremely hard not to hang up.

I was told that they bring them to Utah to live at the agency because there is a better chance they will place if not in their home state. He then goes on to explain the stats something like 35% more than if they stay home place their infants for adoption. All I could think was COERCION.

I just felt like whatever was happening down there was morally wrong. How could I be okay with adopting a baby from a place that felt that way? My hope is that this isn’t the standard but just this person but in my heart I just don’t feel like it is.

It was hard to bring up A New Beginning – a wonderful local agency here in Boise that truly cares for their birthmoms and adoptive parents. When I said they charge only 10,000 he came back with that if a birthmom doesn’t place then we can apply the 30-50 K to another adoption. I couldn’t resist asking if it meant that the adoption has to go through them and he said yes. A New Beginning (http://www.adoptanewbeginning.org/) has never, EVER given me that feeling and hands down I would recommend them to anyone.

We clearly cannot afford such a large sum for an adoption but I just would not feel right about adopting from them. I’m sure there are others who feel differently but I just felt like there was racism and a sense of selling in his voice and I am not okay with that.

So, I let him know that I have some concerns after watching the show and so I don’t think we will be using their agency. Before saying goodbye he made sure I was aware that other agencies would like to be in their position with too many birthmom’s and not enough families.

My heart breaks to see that this isn’t about helping expectant mothers through to make the decision that is right for them and their baby, I just don’t think that is what adoption is all about and even though my wait may be longer than others, I am okay with the decision we made to pass on this opportunity and wait because we know that ~ Our Day Will Come ~

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A Complicated View

More rights for birth mothers is an article on MSNBC about the suggestion that states should change their laws to allow Birth Mother’s more rights including enforceable openness agreements, free non-bias counselling and a longer period to change their mind after placement.

I am struggling with this idea for many reasons. When I think of an openness agreement I think of trust on both sides. As an adoptive hopeful parent I am being entrusted with this precious little person who by adopting I am taking on the responsibility to do what is best for him or her. I question if that would be possible if an openness agreement is enforceable. For us, and many others, we don’t have a bunch of money to go back to court if a birth parent is doing things that I don’t feel are right for my child. I question if the limitations that this leaves the adoptive family with are what is best for the child. The stress that puts on the adoptive family. As life moves forward things change. What happens when the adoptive family cannot afford to arrange a visit one year, or life gets busy and they miss a phone call? Where’s the limit? And how does a family truly be a family when they have the looming fear that they could be taken to court for doing something wrong? Is that right for the child?

I think we have to take a look at it from a more beforehand side.  We are not living in the dark ages. Women have rights, and lots of them. And counselling is one way to do that. The question I have here is that they are talking about free non-bias counselling for those who are considering adoption. Well, where is the money for this coming from? Non-profits, the state, or the adoptive family? I question how much more costly adoption can get. Our states budgets are already stretched to the max, non-profits are struggling to make it and adoptive families are paying all of their savings so they can’t afford anymore. So who is paying for this? There have been many stories I’ve read about birth parents being pushed to sign over their rights. This is very wrong, but I question what kind of counselling those who are pushed to sign are being given? Because if it is a licensed counselor then we have a completely other issue on our hands. I think we need to consider those who are giving this counselling, if they are licensed professionals then they aren’t following the code of ethics and so we need to address that.

The thing that is bothering me most and what lead me to write was the idea that birth mothers should have more time to change their minds. This troubles me because I wonder how long will they have? A week, a month, 3 months, 6 months, more? There is very important bonding that happens in those first few days, weeks and months. So does an adoptive parent move forward and bond, or do they protect themselves and try not to fall in love with this amazing little person they have longed for? And then what if the birth mother decides she wants the baby back? The adoptive parents are in a fragile emotional state as well. They have been through a lot of heartbreak and so I wonder if it is best for the baby to put those parents who want nothing more to love this child without fear of losing him or her to put them in that position.

On the other hand, is it best for the birth mother to have an additional few months, or weeks to change her mind? How does she move forward with her life after she has signed knowing that she has time to change her mind? If she goes into counselling how does she put her heart into it knowing that she can fix her heartbreak by changing her mind? I don’t know this would be best for anyone involved. I think birth mothers are strong, loving women who want what is best for their baby. I think they are women who have big hearts and I am not saying they would change their mind lightly but I question if giving them that time is right? Is it right for a month old, or 3 month old, or 6 month old to have to leave the people they know as mom and dad and learn all about a new person? Personally I don’t think that is right for the baby. The birth mother has 9 months to think about this decision and chose a family. They have chosen adoption for a reason and I wonder if when they are dealing with hormones and the sadness that they are feeling is the best time for them to make the decision to change their mind or not.

And then there is the question of money? Adoptive families are already stretched thin paying for the adoption. 10’s of thousands of dollars that they are paying for the adoption. So what happens there? Do they not have to pay for medical, lawyer, agency fees until after this waiting period that is being suggested? And then if the birth mother changes her mind is it her responsibility to pay those who were involved in the adoption? Or does the Adoptive family get their money returned or is it just a loss? I have a really hard time saying a loss is okay because for us and many others replacing that money to try again would take quite a while. Plus, is it right that the adoptive family pay for something they can’t prevent? They are paying for an adoption, not an empty baby room and a broken heart. So, I think it is only right that the issue of money be at least considered.

I think there is a lot to consider here, it is not simple and it is not easy but I hope that both the birth mother and the adoptive family are considered but mainly, the child ~ who is at the heart of it all.

Birthmom expenses – a cafemom post

So I was on Cafemom and found this question about birthmom expenses:

How much do you feel is appropriate for birthmom expenses and what for? Do you believe everything should be paid to the company/place that needs the money from her or do you believe she should be given the cash? Also what do you think about the money if she backs out? What should happen? Should it be tax deductible or should she re-pay it or should it just be a loss?

As I read the responses I was shocked. Some people had said “whatever is needed” others had limitations but not one person mentioned legal issues. So, since it is late and more and more came to me as I wrote I ended up with this response:

I think this is a very valuable discussion to be having here but I think the one thing that has not come up yet is the fact that your laws need to be covered. The state of Idaho says no more than $500 can be given for expenses outside of medical. This amount can go up to $2000 of there is a need shown but it MUST be approved by a judge. I have heard that other states do not have caps but have certain things that are legally allowed to be paid for. So I would recommend checking on that to make sure that if a baby does come into your home you don’t end up unable to finalize because laws weren’t followed. That is a reason I would recommend that all money change hands through the professional. In Idaho we’ve been told that all money that is changed should go through our attorney in order to ensure that we are covered and there is no risk of us being accused of “buying a baby”.  So you may want to check the laws in your state and talk with your adoption professional whether that be an atttorney or agnecy to make sure everything is covered.

Personally, I have had one experience with someone who asked for $10,000 plus expenses. She was having her 7th baby and said they couldn’t afford to keep it. She was due in 3 months and she offered that we could pay them monthly, but a lump sum would work better for them. We were shocked and I asked what these expenses were for and she said rent, utilities and other living expenses. I felt that was really high so when I asked about that she said, well, my husband is working and we have 4 kids at home and so we have a big house and I”m a stay at home mom so we need the money. When I told her we weren’t comfortable with that because we felt we were “buying a baby” she stopped talking with us. That was an extreme case, I feel.

As for what we are comortable with, I think Idaho has it right. While we understand that there are many people who need help they are going to an agency who can provide them with assistance. The agencies, I feel, should be helping expectant mothers with finding the assitance that they need. I feel that there are many times when this doesn’t happen and instead they say “we will have the adoptve parents pay for that” I feel this is a dis-service because if they helped with getting them set up with the assistance that they needed while they were pregnant then they would be in a good place and set up with some assitance to help them move forward no matter what their decision after the pregnancy is over.  Then the adoptive parents don’t end up with expenses that they’ve paid for and just lose the money if they go home empty handed, too. I personally feel that the agency fee should cover those expenses, especially since they can help the expectant mother get assistance through the state. I mean technically if a person is on state assistance then as a taxpayer I am supporting her financially.

We decided to use an attorney because I couldn’t figure out what I was really paying the agency for. They were wanting $10,000 once the baby was born plus living expenses, plus medical, plus counseling costs. So what was they fee for? Well, it was for the marketing costs and their staff, but when it comes down to it they are advising their clients to market themselves by using facebook, websites, etc in order to get the word out that they are looking to adopt. To us we felt like why would we pay for what they are telling us to do?

I think the hard part about expenses is that there is no doubt that there are women out there who need that but the view of those hoping to adopt is that they are desperate and will spend anything in order to have the family. Well, to some extent that is true, we will spend as much as we can, but this isn’t the same as if we were pregnant. I don’t get to use my medical insurance that I pay for each month and if the expectant mother doesn’t have any then I am expected to pay in full for that. I feel that at some point, maybe after the birthparents sign or the adotpion is final (i’m just brainstorming here) my insurance should pay those maternity expenses as if I had been pregnant. Sure I can put the infant on my insurance after it is born, but why not the maternity? 

We are constantly being told that there are so many children out there who need homes. Well, there are so many people out there who would love to give them homes but financially cannot afford the adoption process.

So now that I’ve given a long drawn out answer I’ll sum it up with personally I think there are a few things that are reasonable to pay for like medical but what it comes down to is choosing adoption is not a way out of money troubles and in todays society there is a lot of assitance out there that can be utilized whether the person chooses to parent or not.

I would never give cash or a visa card directly to a person, I’d go through my adoption professional to ensure everything is covered legally and the less money that changes hands the less negative either side will feel later. This is an emotional process for everyone involved and I believe that you are right Takes_a_village, adoptive families need to be protected too so a repayment would be good. Personally, i think putting back on the taxpayers isn’t right, we all need to take our own responsibility and an expenctant parent has every (and I stress EVERY) right to choose to keep the baby in her arms but if a bunch of money has been given then some sort of repayment is reasonable. Considering, many of those adopting are using their life savings and may not be able to try again. I also think that agencies shouldn’t be able to keep the money if an adoption isn’t finalized but that is a whole other topic!

Please remember everything said in this post is my opinion and I don’t mean to upset anyone with what I have said.

What is came down to is I learned a lot about what is in my head and how I am feeling about the idea of paying for expenses and how I feel like we (adoptive parents) are viewed as those who are desperate and will do/pay anything. Well, Ethan and I have morals and ethically (and financially) could not pay whatever is requested of us and I feel VERY good about Idaho’s laws.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the laws and the whole adoption process. I just might have to start changing things!

Chip-In

We have decided to do something this Holiday season and ask that our family and friends NOT give us gifts but instead give us the gift of chipping in toward the large costs of adoption. We are blessed with stuff and are not in need of anything so we thought this would be an excellent way to get some extra savings toward unanticipated costs that may arise.

Chip-in toward our adoption – helping us have our dreams come true.

This is part of being younger while dealing with infertility and adoption. We are in the early stages of life and while we both have great jobs with excellent benefits that we just can’t cash in on because unfortunately insurance doesn’t cover adoption and only small bits of IVF and other infertility treatments that we tried. Just one challenge of being a baby of infertility