Originally written by Wendi in Spring 2011

Since “relocating” to Ramstein, I have gotten into two separate conversations (at the playground of all places) about adoption. I am very careful, now that Isaac is three, not to bring up his adoption when he is near. Not that he doesn’t or won’t know he is adopted. But because I don’t want him to hear, repeatedly, “Yes. They are very close in age. It’s because one is adopted and one is biological.” JB and I just don’t think that is healthy fodder for such a little guy. We want discussion of his adoption to be something he chooses to discuss.

But as he wanders away, I will often be more upfront with the conversation and questions. I want people to be able to ask me about infertility. Those five years that we spent in the pits of despair are part of the woman and mom I have become. I want people to be able to ask me about adoption. I want to help point them in the right direction and share the cold, hard truth: there is NO difference between a biological and adopted child. I consider myself an advocate about both topics, but I do believe that the miracle of adoption is where my heart is currently truly residing.

But the truth is, while infertility and adoption are my two “causes”, they are not related issues. They are different. They are unique.

It’s important to remember that adoption is not a “cure” for infertility. Sarah Kelly, an adoptive mom and freelance writer living in New York said it better than I ever could. “… I made sure I wasn’t using adoption as a replacement for having a biological child. Adoption is separate from infertility. It isn’t the answer. In fact, the only aspect the unite the two in my mind is the common desired result: to be a parent. Which is why you cannot tell someone to ‘just adopt.’ As if there were anything ‘just’ about it. It’s not like, ‘Hmm, what should I do today? Oh, I know! I’d love to fill out 500 government forms! … The complicated process aside, before making a new map for your life and choosing to adopt, you need to go as far as you feel comfortable going with treatment, mourn not being pregnant, and say goodbye to the future you assumed you’d have. While I’d love to say to my friend, ‘I know how much you’re hurting,’ and ‘Yes! there is light at the end of the tunnel if you adopt,” I believe that we need to exhaust all hope until, well, until it exhausts us.”

I have been contemplating creating some sort of “brochure” for adoption questions, resources, and information. I hear the same questions so often and often wish I just had something I could whip out of the diaper bag and share with people. Or at least something I could email them when our time at the park is through.

So here is my rough draft of adoption questions in as concise a format as I can muster. (The following information was obtained from The Adoption Guide 2011.)

How much does adoption cost?

  • The majority of domestic newborn adoptions cost between $20,000 and $35,000.
  • International adoptions average more than $25,000.
  • U.S. foster adoption is the least expensive adoption route, by a significant margin, with an average cost of less than $5,000. (During 2009, 57,000 children were adopted from the foster care system. An all-time high.) There are currently 115,000 children waiting to be adopted in the foster care system. Most people have grave concerns about adopting these “troubled” children.The Adoption Guide 2011 has a whole section addressing concerns of people contemplating this option.
  • 35 percent of domestic adopters had at least one “false start,” in which adoptive parents worked with one or more birthmothers before a match that succeeded. The majority (71%) of “false starts” cost less than $5,000.

How can I afford to adopt?

  • Thank you to President Obama for continuing with the tax relief bill brought in under George W. Bush. The bill is now good through the end of 2012 and provides families who adopt a maximum of $13,360 in tax reimbursement. This means just what it says. If you spend $15,000 on an adoption, you will receive all but $1,640 in reimbursement. (Please visit this link to help make this a permanent inclusion in our country’s tax laws.)
  • Many states have state tax credits for adoptive families. Contact your state adoption unit for more information.
  • Children with special needs may be eligible for reimbursement of adoption-related expenses. Click here for more information.
  • Families who adopt from the public system might be eligible for reimbursement of adoption-related expenses. Find out more here.
  • Military families are eligible for a $2,000 reimbursement for adoption expenses. Read more here.
  • Some employers offer a reimbursement program. You can lobby your employer for reimbursements. In addition, here is a guide to adoption-friendly work environments.
  • You can get loans to finance your adoption. Some are no-interest.
  • Some adoption agencies and organizations offer grants and low-interest loans.

What are the different “types” of adoptions?

  • Adopting a domestic infant via an adoption agency. These adoptions can be closed (no contact with birth family), semi-open (some contact), or open (unlimited contact). Our adoption with Isaac’s birth family is completely open being as we knew the family beforehand.
  • Adopting an infant privately. You locate the birthmom privately, usually with the help of a lawyer. Of the estimated 25,000 to 30,000 annual domestic newborn adoptions, at least half are done independently, without an agency. (This is how we adopted Isaac.) These adoptions can be closed, semi-open, or open.
  • Adopting internationally. These adoptions are nearly always closed adoptions as usually, the child is orphaned or abandoned prior to adoption.
  • Adopting from foster care.
  • Check out page 12 of this document for a flow chart to help you make this decision
  • Click here to take an online quiz to see what kind of adoption is right for you.
  • Embryo adoption is another “form” of adoption even though it is not included in the above guides. It is often put into the ART (assisted reproductive technologies) side of things, but it does parallel both worlds.

How long will it take?

  • Every adoption is very different. If you are adopting domestically, once you get on the waiting list with an agency or lawyer, adoption lengths can varry from days (really!) to years.
  • With international adoptions, every country is different. Usually, when you begin the adoption process, you are given a pretty good idea of how long the adoption through that particular country and with that particular agency will take. However, changes can still occur in the wait time.

Are there special requirements that I must meet to adopt?

  • There usually are requirements both with international and domestic adoptions. However, while you may not requirements for one agency or one country, it is unlikely that you will be unable to find an agency or country that will be a fit with you.
  • For instance, some agencies require you to be married. Some allow singles to adopt. Other requirements can include: financial, mental, and physical stipulations. Again, do not let one agency or country turning you down dampen your spirits. I have yet to hear of someone who wanted to adopt not finding a country/agency that fit them.

What if the birth mother or father change their mind?

  • One of the many fears some couples have when considering adoption is that the birth parents will change their minds and back out of the adoption. This fear is often perpetuated by television movies and dramatized news stories, further heightening this fear that can often lead couples away from the adoption decision. In domestic adoption, there is always a chance that the birth parents could change their minds. However, adoption law is clear; once the adoption is finalized, the child is recognized as the adoptive family’s child by law. Although there have been a few highly publicized adoption cases in which the adoption was overturned after being finalized, the truth is that these cases were fraught with errors and legal missteps, making them invalid. These cases are rare and are exceptions. In the majority of adoptions finalized today, the birth parents have no rights to the child once the adoption is finalized.
  • The time in which a birth parent may change their mind varies from state to state. In all cases, the birth parents are free to change their minds at any time prior to the birth of the child. This is a risk that couples in a domestic adoption do face. Once the baby is born and the birth parents sign their consent to the adoption, they may have a certain time frame in which they may revoke their consent. This time frame varies in each state. While some states consider the consent irrevocable upon signing, others give the birth parents a set number of days in which they may revoke their consent. Some states even require the birth parents to appear before a judge to give their consent to the adoption.(http://www.americanadoptions.com/adopt/article_view/article_id/3619)
  • International adoption works completely differently as the child is available for adoption once the parents’ rights have already been revoked. In addition, many of the children in the adoptive system internationally are oprhaned or abandoned.

Will I love the child the same?

  • Being as I am a parent via womb and via adoption, I feel I have more “right” to speak ont this particular topic. I wrote a post on the process of bonding and how, for me, it was no different with either newborn I brought into my home.
  • I love this quote: “Perhaps an adoptive parent faces sooner what every parent must face eventually: Our children are not ours; they belong to themselves. What will keep them visiting us joyfully when they are grown is the quality of our relationship, not biology.” — Judy Rader
  • A family is defined as: “two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and rseide usually in the same dwelling place.”

I will end by showing you two videos. One is a video I took just yesterday. The other was one I took over a year ago. Both show the same things. They show my two little boys playing. Laughing. Silly. They show my family. If you didn’t know me personally, could you tell me which one of the children is adopted? Which one seems less adjusted or like they don’t fit in? Which one brings me more or less joy? Adoption results in being a parent. Pregnancy results in the same thing.