Sunday, December 21, 2014

There and Back Again: A Houston Tale

Time usually flies by quickly around the holidays and that seemed especially true for us this past week, but for reasons unrelated to Christmas. Early in the week, we were saddened to hear that Chris's grandma had passed away.  We spent time up in Ionia on Wednesday and Thursday for the visitation and funeral, and mourned the passing of an amazing woman.  We hurried back down to Coralville after the funeral on Thursday so that we could make our evening flight from Cedar Rapids to Houston to visit our birth mother.  Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as smoothly as we had hoped Thursday night.  We ended up with a cancelled flight and having to wait until 6am on Friday to fly out.  Thankfully, our birth mother (lets call her "A") was very understanding and we were able to make it down to Houston by 11:30am on Friday.  

It's hard to put into words the emotions that we were feeling as we drove to "A's" apartment to meet her for the first time.  There was certainly nervousness and excitement mixed together! Seriously, what do you say to the woman who is going to change your life forever?!?!

We went out for a quick lunch together before heading over to a business that does 4D ultrasounds.  "A" graciously let us sit in while she had the ultrasound done and we were able to see our baby girl!  We've got several pictures from the session that we will share later when we have time to scan them onto the computer, but let me assure you, she is absolutely beautiful!  She didn't want to give us any clear pictures of her face, but it was amazing to see her little heart beating (167 bpm!) and see her hiding her face behind her curled up fists, stretching her legs up by her head, and finding out that she was sucking on the umbilical cord while we were watching!  We need to invest in lots of pacifiers!  The ultrasound technician also showed us on the ultrasound where you could see all of her hair - she's got a full head of hair already!  

We headed back to our hotel fairly early Friday evening (we were pretty tired after our early awakening at 3:30am to make our 6am flight!).  On Saturday, we spent most of the afternoon and evening with "A" and her boyfriend (the father of the baby, lets call him "B").  It took a little while for all of us to get really comfortable with each other, but by the end of the night I feel that we can truly call "A" & "B" our friends!  We even had the opportunity to meet "A's" father and pray with him about our adoption and the baby's future.  We truly hope our time with "A's" father helped him become more comfortable with the adoption plan that "A" & "B" have made.  "A" & "B" expressed to us that they are confident in their adoption plan and we truly feel blessed to have them in our lives.  There is no doubt in my mind that God has brought us together and we are looking forward to future visits with "A" & "B" and continuing to build our relationship with them!

Houston's reputation for heavy traffic proved to be true! Thankfully our GPS kept us from getting lost, but a little relaxation tonight after travelling so much the past 5 days sounds great to us!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Post of Christmas Past


We thought it would be fun to add some pictures of past Christmases.  

This little gem is from Finnley's first Christmas

Finnley with her cousins in front of the Christmas tree at Grandma & Grandpa's

Grandma Bernice getting some help opening presents from her great-grandson, Owen

Grandma Helen Bonfig

Finnley with some of Grandpa Dave's old figurines

Chris and Finnley opening presents in 2011

Finnley with her mini snowman

Finnley making Christmas treats with Aunt Julie

Finnley posing with the tiny tree Grandpa Dave gave us for the apartment

Finnley is skeptical of the bag of coal she unwrapped!

Finnley talking to Santa when he visited the Ionia Fire Station

Crazy Uncle B.J. opening presents

Finnley and Mauer in 2012

Daddy and Finnley opening presents at home in  2012

Christy and Finnley opening presents at Bev & Ev's in 2012

Gift opening at Grandma & Grandpa's

Christy and Finnley making cookies at home

Finnley taking aim!

About to see Santa at the North Pole in 2013

Finnley with Santa in 2013

Finnley's gift to Bev - a shirt with a mustachioed cow!

I can't believe we actually got a picture of!

Finnley with "Walter the Farting Dog" (a character from one of her favorite books...and yes, the stuffed animal does fart!)

Cousin Kyra and Grandpa Dave "decorating" the tree together

Finnley with the Costco Santa this year

Looking forward to "Christmas Present" and "Christmas Future" with our new baby girl next year!

And as we look forward to 2015, remember all donations made to our matching grant are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE!  All contributions, big or small, will be DOUBLED!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Taking Nothing for Grant-ed

As we mentioned in our last post, we were awarded a matching grant through the MICAH fund organization to help fund our adoption.  We were honored to be chosen for a grant by this amazing organization, but we quickly realized many people outside of the adoption world may not understand what a matching grant is and what an exciting opportunity this is for us.  I’ll try to explain a little about adoption grants, but feel free to contact us if you have additional questions!

Adoption grants are basically “free” money to help cover adoption costs.  Of course, the obvious question you are probably thinking right now is:  “Well, if it’s free money, why doesn’t everyone sign up for an adoption grant to cover the cost?”  If only it were that easy! 
 Applying for adoption grants is HARD work.  I’ll explain more about what goes into the application process in a moment….but first, I want to touch on the 3 different kinds of adoption grants/loans.  There are direct grants, matching grants, and covenant loans. 

Direct grants are the most desired, but also the hardest to get.  Direct grant organizations review applications and award money outright (the money is never paid directly to families, but is paid to the adoption agency or attorney).  There are numerous examples of direct grant organizations, but many of them have stringent eligibility requirements (income caps, who/where you are adopting from, biological children in the home, infertility status/treatments, religion, marital status, etc).  We applied to seven different direct grant organizations, and heard no from almost all of them (there are a couple that we never heard back from, but since these types of grants are highly sought after, that isn’t unusual). We weren’t too surprised by the fact that we weren’t chosen for any direct grants, since these are the most popular and the organizations receive thousands of applications. 

Covenant loans for adoption are a unique resource that we had hoped we’d have more success with.  There are several organizations that offer “covenant loans,” which are essentially interest-free loans, where your agreement is a covenant with God, and your loan repayments are in obedience to Him and His work and provision in your life.  We applied to four different organizations for covenant loans, but were not selected by any of them.  These were probably the most disappointing “no’s” to hear, as these applications were the most exhaustive and we had hoped that we could partner with some of these smaller organizations for future fundraising efforts even after our adoption was finalized. 

Matching grants are basically a combination of a direct grant WITH fundraising.  The grant organization allows you to fundraise and provide a tax benefit to your donors (remember, any donations you make toward our MICAH fund adoption grant are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!).  Then, the organization will match a certain dollar amount of the donations received! 

For example:  we were awarded a $2,000 matching grant from the MICAH fund.  In order to receive any money at all from the MICAH fund, we must raise money first!  If we raise $500 by the end of our fundraiser, our agency will receive a check for $1,000 from the MICAH fund ($500 of funds raised + $500 of grant money from the MICAH fund).  However, if we raise $2,000 by the end of our fundraiser, our agency will receive a check for $4,000 ($2,000 of funds raised + $2,000 of grant money from the MICAH fund).  Extrapolated forward, if we raise $3,000 by the end of our fundraiser, our agency will receive a check for $5,000 ($3,000 of funds raised + $2,000 of grant money from the MICAH fund)!!  Every dollar donated via the Pure Charity website toward our adoption is DOUBLED!  And, tax-deductible!

We applied for 3 different matching grants and heard no from the other two organizations.  We were elated to get the award letter from the MICAH fund! 

As I mentioned above, applying for these adoptions grants was a lot of work.  You can’t apply for any adoption grants until your family is home study approved – so by the time we could actually start applying for these grants, we were already sick of paperwork, so the idea of MORE paperwork definitely seemed overwhelming!  Plus, like many adoptive families, we thought we might make too much money to qualify for any grants, so it was tempting to skip applying for grants altogether…  Inevitably, I am glad that we did go through all of the work, since we were blessed with a matching grant, but the “no’s” that we received from the grant organizations were coming in at the same time that we were presenting to birth mothers and hearing “no,” and even coming in when we were going through our failed match. 

Just to give you an idea of the paperwork involved in grant applications, for one of the adoption grants that we applied for, we had to fill out an 8 page application and include a detailed breakdown of our adoption costs, with a statement of net worth, cash flow, recent credit scores, current bank statement, tax returns for the past 2 years, a written statement of faith, husband and wife salvation testimonies, adoption testimony, pastoral reference letter on church letter head, 3 letters of reference from family/friends/co-workers,  a copy of our completed home study, and a picture of our family. And that was just one organization!  Each application was a little different, and although most of them asked for similar information, there was always something a little different in each application that needed to be included.  Whew! 

We are excited to work with the wonderful people at the MICAH fund to raise funds for our adoption!  Please check out our story at Pure Charity and we truly appreciate any assistance that you are able to provide!

If you actually stuck with me all the way to the end of this post, I appreciate it!  Your reward, a cute picture of Finnley!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Biracial Miracle

When we started our adoption journey, we had assumed that the cost was fairly uniform, with some variance by state, legal fees, and agencies.  When we actually started really researching the costs of adoption, we found an inequity in the process that surprised and saddened us.
We found out that the majority of children up for adoption are African American, Hispanic, or biracial.  And we were shocked to learn that those minority children are often “less expensive” to adopt than Caucasian children.  From the beginning, we’d discussed being very open in our adoption.  Parents who go through the normal pregnancy don’t have a choice on gender, so we had no problem not specifying a sex.  And we knew from the start that we’d be happy to raise a baby from any genetic background.  Still, finding out that there was such a chasm in the costs of adopting a minority baby, our hearts went out to those children whose heritage made them less “in demand” in the adoption world, and we both began to hope for the opportunity to welcome a child whose ethnicity was different than ours.
Our quiet wish came true! Our birth mother is Caucasian and the baby’s genetic father is African American, meaning the baby we’re only a few months from seeing is going to be a beautiful, biracial girl.  And we had the wonderful opportunity to interview with an organization who felt the same way we did.
The MICAH Fund is an organization, established in 1990, that "exists to glorify God by promoting the adoption of domestic African-American and bi-racial infants and children by providing adoption grants for qualified adoptive families".  We’ve interviewed with them and were chosen for a matching grant! The MICAH Fund will match money that we’re able to raise, up to $2,000.00 to cover final agency and placement costs.  We posted early on in our blog about the high costs associated with adoption, so, as you can imagine, this is an enormous help for our family!  You can follow this link to the Pure Charity page we’ve set up through the MICAH fund: 
Pure Charity provides a safe and TAX-DEDUCTIBLE way to help us reach our matching grant goal.  All funds collected through Pure Charity are paid directly to our adoption agency, so these donations will help us make our final payment at the time our baby girl is placed with us after birth.  Using the website listed above (or the widget on the side panel of our blog) you can donate via credit card, debit card, or ACH check online.  You can also mail a paper check directly to Pure Charity, and there are specific instructions listed on the Pure Charity website to help guide you (you need a reference number to write on the check to ensure it goes into our account). If you have any questions about how to donate, don’t hesitate to ask us!
We’ve been so grateful for the friends and family who have helped us get to this point in our journey.  And we’ve talked a lot about ways we can continue to commemorate the people who have assisted us, so that our baby knows how many people helped us to bring her into our home.  So, we’re asking anyone who graciously donates any amount of money for our matching grant to also assist us with our adoption baby book.  We’re going to make a book filled with your messages that our little girl will be able to keep forever.  We’d like you to email (Chris, Christy & Finnley) with advice for our new baby as she grows up, stories about one of us that make you, pictures, prayers, or whatever else you’d like to share.  We’ll use those to create a book that we’ll keep in the nursery and revisit often.
A big thank you to the MICAH Fund and to any of you who decide to donate.  Adoption is a long process with so many obstacles, but the kindness so many of you have shown our family is what we’ll all remember most.    

Monday, December 1, 2014

What Can You Say?

We recently had our first call with the birth mother, which is an incredibly nerve-wracking occurrence.  For days leading up to the call, you worry.  You worry that she chose you from your book and that actually speaking with you will disappoint her.  You worry about awkward silences, or a bad call connection, or that you’ll say something so wrong that she’ll change her mind about you.  You think, “What can we say to a woman who is entrusting us with the baby she is carrying?”
Then we wondered about her.  Was she nervous to speak with us?  Did she worry we’d judge her for the circumstances that lead her to put her baby up for adoption?  Did she worry, like we did, about saying something wrong or that we’d have little in common?  What does a person say to the people who will care for her baby life?
The call started off well.  We laughed when she said it was cold where she was, only 68 degrees.  We told her it was 14 degrees outside our home.  Then, after introductions and small talk about the weather, the question loomed again.  “What can you say to this person who will change so many lives forever?”
The answer was honesty and openness, for both of us.  We thanked her for choosing us.  We conveyed our family’s excitement and how much joy we felt when we found out we were matched with her. We told her about Finnley’s joy that she would be a big sister.  We told her how Finnley had already put pink stuffed animals in the baby’s crib and gone through her closet to pick out clothes she would give her sister when she was older.  We let her know we would make sure this baby was loved and cared for.
She gave us the same honesty and openness.  She talked about why she was looking for a home for her baby. She talked about how carefully she had looked through the family profile books and why she chose us.  And she told us she was very confident in her decision. 
After the call, we wondered what we had been so worried about.  She was a wonderful woman.  And we did have a lot in common.  We all want this baby to have the best home she could possibly have.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Girls 3, Boys 1

Our family is excited to announce that we are matched!  We feel very grateful this Thanksgiving week to have been chosen by a wonderful woman in Texas to provide a forever family for the little girl she is expecting in the spring of 2015.

That's right, we are going to be the proud parents of a little baby girl and Finnley is going to have the little sister she was hoping for! Finnley was incredibly excited to find out that the baby's due date is just 2 days after her own birthday!

Given our past experience, we know how quickly things can change during the adoption process - but for the same reasons we chose to share the news of our first match, we felt strongly that sharing the new of our current match was important.  We appreciate all the prayers and support as we continue on our adoption journey!  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our Gratitude

It has been 2 months since our adoption fundraiser (it's crazy how quickly time flies by!).  We are still in awe at the amazing generosity shown to us by all of our family and friends!  

We are incredibly grateful for ALL of the support we have received since starting our adoption journey.  

We especially want to thank our parents, who put so much time and effort into planning and organizing the fundraiser.  Also, a huge thank you to all of our donors, we were overwhelmed by the number of generous donations!  We appreciate all of the people who purchased raffle tickets, bid on silent auction items, joined us at the soup supper, and those who offered donations.  Thank you!

A special thank you to our friend, Renae, at Launder Life & Art, who managed to capture some amazing pictures of Chris and I for our adoption profile book....which is no small feat!  Also, thank you to Amanda, at Manda Julaine Designs, for creating the beautiful thank you card above and her work redesigning our blog.  

We raised enough money to cover the costs of our home study, the cost of printing our profile books for birth mothers to view, AND our initial application fees to the agency we are working with in Texas!  AMAZING!  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Adoption Resuscitation

Several weeks ago, we were on our way to an infant CPR class in Waverly.  We were still reeling from our failed match, struggling with the idea of having to start again from the beginning, and saddened that we had been excited for a baby that never really existed.

We went into the small town library and joined a group of people familiar with the adoption process.  We saw some friendly faces that had been to our adoption fundraiser and met others from our Facebook adoption group face to face for the first time.  A few had recently finished their adoption process, some were waiting to be matched, and one couple had recently had a failed match, like us. 

We listened to the presenters and watched videos, we learned where to position our hands and how hard to press, and we were taught the differences between adult and infant CPR.  We laughed at the fact that the two songs that are the perfect tempo for CPR are "Stayin' Alive" and "Another One Bites the Dust," although the AMA prefers to promote the first for obvious reasons.  It felt good to be among people who were on the same road we were travelling.  We talked afterwards with everyone there about low points, high points, home studies, fundraisers, and birth mother visits.  We left with a renewed confidence that, despite our tragic setback, we were still on the right path. 

This was the first step in our adoption CPR.  We had called for help and gotten support from friends, family, and our consultant.  We pressed firmly on our adoption book to be presented to potential birth mothers, and we breathed new air into our commitment to find our baby.

It was a joy to hear a few weeks later that the other couple present at the training whose match had failed was rematched, and they now have their child home with them.  After having our own hearts broken, it's comforting to know that we can also keep our adoption hopes alive if we "press firmly" ahead and remember to "breathe" while we "wait for our (divine) help to arrive.”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Holiday Spirit

We are getting into the holiday spirit early this year at the Bonfig household! 
We decided to try out a popular Pintrest idea leading up to Christmas.  We wrapped 24 children’s books for Finnley and she gets to open one book each night before bed.  We read the book together as a family and she gets to add lots of new books to her collection!  As a bit of a twist, we decided to start this early (on November 12th, actually).  Since she’s only at our house ½ of the time, this works out to equivalent of the normal advent calendar, but in terms of “Finnley Day’s” versus calendar days. 

Looks like most people on Pintrest actually do 25 Christmas books leading up to the holiday….but since we were starting so early, we went with a mix of different books from many of her favorite authors and subjects.  I LOVE the element of surprise added by wrapping each book, even though Chris and I both know all of the books under the tree, we never know which book will be opened on any given day!  Thus far, it’s been a huge hit with Finnley! 

Of course, our love of books made it difficult to limit ourselves to “just” 24 new books….  I think in the end we actually ended up with 38 books (whoops!).  We saved some of the longer books for actual Christmas presents, and then combined groups of books (pairing books that she can read by herself with books that she’ll need some help with) to get down to the 24 wrapped books/book sets under the tree. 

Here are a few of the books that we are looking forward to reading over the next few weeks! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Our Design Unveil!

As you can see, we finally came through on our promise of a new look for the blog!  With the help of another adoptive mama (Amanda at Manda Julaine Designs), we have a fresh start for our blog AND our adoption journey.  

First, we want to thank Amanda for all the hard work she put into making our blog look more polished and user-friendly.  She does amazing design work and offers numerous services other than custom blog designs, including announcement cards, business designs, and lots of other add-on design services.  Check out her website for more information, she is wonderful to work with!

In regards to our adoption, we are back in the waiting phase, so there isn't much to report.  The last month has been tough, and we apologize for not updating more often, but we are back on track and have lots of things to post about as we move forward.  We'll *finally* have a proper thank you post from our fundraiser, we'll share some insights into what has happened over the past 6 weeks, and hopefully we will have good news to share again in the near future!  

We are confident that someday we will be able to look back at this process and see God's hand, even in the most difficult moments. We are excited to "reboot" our adoption journey and our blog to help keep us positive and focused on the end outcome:  OUR baby!  
.....and here is the obligatory Halloween costume picture!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Adoption Reboot!

We are more determined than ever to complete our adoption, despite the recent setbacks and disappointments.  We will be updating with more information soon on how our adoption process has changed, how we've adapted to these changes, and what we've learned from our experience with a failed match.  We've also got some fun and exciting changes planned for this little blog!  :)  Although we haven't updated recently, there have been lots of changes and progress on the adoption front - we've just been working through some things before making any announcements. 

Stay tuned, we promise to post more frequently in the near future!  Until then, here is an adorable fall picture of Finnley!

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Setback

A few weeks ago, we joyfully shared with the world that we had been chosen by a birth mother in Texas who was due in December and that our long road to bringing a baby home was finally nearing an end.  We should have thrown in a tiny disclaimer that things can change at a moment’s notice… 

Although we knew it was a possibility, we had hoped it wouldn't happen to us:  a failed match.

Honestly, it is difficult to find the words to explain what happened.  There are still many unanswered questions….and we will likely never fully understand the reasons why, but our match began to fall apart about 10 days ago.  After a confusing sequence of events, we heard the words no adoptive parents can imagine hearing from their agency:  “We have reason to suspect your birth mother is not actually pregnant.” 

Wait, what?

We did everything right.  We hired an adoption consultant (who has been AMAZING throughout this entire ordeal), we matched with a birth mother working with an agency, and we followed all the rules. 

But there is always a certain level of risk involved in adoption.  Thankfully, we found out fairly early and didn't go months’ thinking a baby was coming, only to find out that one never existed. 

Our birth mother had all of last week to prove that she was pregnant with a blood test.  She did not comply.  On Friday, our match was officially over. 

The money we lost for “birth mother expenses” and won’t see again wasn't the hardest part by a long shot.  The first weekend after finding out there might not be a baby for us to adopt was the worst.  Waiting all of last week to find out if she would or would not complete the blood test was difficult.  Learning that she had not complied with the blood test was upsetting.  Telling Finnley that she was no longer going to be a big sister in December was heart-breaking. 

We are still working through the emotions and still figuring out how best to move forward with our adoption plan.  There are many decisions that still need to be made (some of which are out of our hands).  At this point, we have very little sense of how long it may take us to match with a different birth mother. 

This definitely was not our plan, but God has something wonderful in mind for us, so we trust in that.  We are praying for healing and patience.  We know our baby will come to us in God’s perfect timing, and until that time we appreciate your support and prayers.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thank you!

We have had a whirlwind (roller coaster?) week at the Bonfig house!  We apologize for the delay in posting updates this past week.  From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank each and every one of you who took part in our adoption fundraiser last weekend! 

It has truly been a blessing to witness all of the support we have from our friends and family!  We were overwhelmed by the donations…we were amazed by the people who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the soup supper…. we were touched by the generosity of those who organized, contributed, and participated in our fundraiser….and we were encouraged by the heart-warming and kind words of support!

We appreciate the prayers being offered.  Thank you!

We appreciate those who shared a financial donation.  Each and every donation was a great blessing. Thank you!

We appreciate all of the item donations we received from local businesses and friends/family for the raffle/silent auction, it was a great success.  Thank you!

We appreciate the immense time commitment our family put forth to organize this event.  Thank you!

We will never be able to fully express our gratitude, but please know:  YOU are the reason our fundraising event was such a success! 

We’ll post more about how the money will be applied in regards to our adoption costs. We've even got some pictures to share!

Until then, we would ask for your continued prayers as we move forward on our adoption journey. You never know what twists and turns may be on the horizon...


Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Match Made in Heaven

We've MATCHED!!!

We were chosen by a birth mother in Texas.  Our baby is due December 19th!  This means, if all goes well, we will be picking up the newest addition to our family from a hospital in Texas in mid-December! We don't know yet if it will be a boy or a girl, but we may find out later this month.  We are very excited to expand our family and Finnley is VERY eager to become a big sister!  

Adoptive couples must always decide whether or not to share with friends and family that they have matched, since the birth mother can, of course, change her mind at any point before the birth. After some discussion, we decided that any birth has risks and this news was too exciting to keep to ourselves!  Also, we learned through our experiences with recurrent miscarriage that each positive pregnancy test was exciting, even if we tried not to get too excited since we knew the chances of miscarriage were high. This situation is similar, we know there are risks, but we are very excited and want to share our news with everyone! We also know that the support of friends and family can lift us up if this situation ends in disappointment, which is unlikely!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Q & A

We have had some questions regarding our adoption plan and how the whole process works – we’ll try to address some of the general concepts in this post, but if you have other specific questions, please feel free to ask!


When we first started to seriously consider adoption as a path to grow our family, I immediately envisioned us adopting a baby with a cleft lip from China (Christy).  Special needs international adoption was our initial preference, but after some research we realized it wasn’t a great fit for our family (traveling out of country for 4-6 weeks at a time, specific qualifications that we didn’t meet for certain countries, etc). 

After we decided to pursue a domestic adoption, we had to decide whether to go through the foster care system or to adopt privately. This was a difficult decision, because we know there many children in need of a stable home in the foster care system. In order to adopt through the foster care system, we would have to be willing to take a child up to 8 years old…  At this point, we do not feel like foster-adopt would be a good fit for our family due to the issues related to foster care adoptions not being permanent for a significant period of time (which seems like a lot for Finnley to comprehend and for our hearts to handle!) and we have concerns regarding bringing a child older than Finnley into our home.  We want to adopt a child that is ours permanently from the very beginning!

So, once we decided on a domestic infant adoption, we were all set, right?  I wish!  Now a whole new set of decisions needed to be made!  Go through agency?  Adopt privately? Utilize a consultant?  Who will do our home study?  How do we find an ethical agency/attorney that will care for our well-being, as well as that of the birth family?  How do we raise all this money?  Open or closed adoption?  What race are we open to?  What about special needs or prenatal drug exposure? 


We are hoping to adopt a newborn infant and ideally we will be able to take the baby “home” directly from the hospital.  I say “home” because once the baby discharges from the hospital, we still have to stay in the state of his/her birth until the ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) clears and allows us to travel out of state with the baby…typically it take a couple days for ICPC to be approved, but it can take up to a few weeks depending on how long the paper work takes.  During this waiting period, we would stay with the baby in a motel or with friends/family depending on where our baby was born.

We are open to adopting a baby of any race/ethnicity and we are open to the possibility of a special needs or prenatal drug exposure situation.

Our adoption will most likely be semi-open, at the very least, meaning that the birthmother will choose us and we’ll keep in touch through letters and photos after placement. We hope that knowing that her baby is happy, healthy, and loved will reinforce the good decision she made.

There are basically two ways of adopting domestically:
AGENCY ADOPTION:  In an agency adoption you work with one particular agency that has a limited "pool" of birth moms.  The agency does your home study with their specialists, after that they help you create a profile and they start getting your info out to prospective birth moms. Once you are matched with a birth mom, you meet her, and start to build a relationship with her. If she chooses you to parent her baby, the waiting game starts. Once the baby is born you travel to wherever the baby was born, the birth mom signs paperwork upon discharge from the hospital (usually 24-72 hours depending on delivery type) and the birth mom may have a certain time frame after birth in which she can change her mind depending on the state laws.  Once that period of time is up the baby is irrevocably yours.  You still have to go through legal paperwork and several post placement visits from your home study specialist before the adoption is completely finalized, but legally the baby is yours.
PRIVATE ADOPTION:  The actual adoption process runs just the same as agency adoption. The only difference is that you aren't working with an agency; you are responsible for all the paperwork on your own. You have to market yourself, get the word out to as many people as you can in hopes of finding your own birth mom. Once you find a birth mom everything pretty much runs the same. Think of the movie Juno :)

We will be adopting through an agency or an adoption attorney, but instead of applying to just one agency and limiting our exposure to birth moms, we chose to utilize an adoption consultant.  There are many benefits to working with an adoption consultant, which Susan describes perfectly on her blog:  They are NOT an adoption agency, but for a fee they walk you through the whole adoption process from beginning to end (whether that is 6 months or 2 years!).  Their clients usually matching with a birth family within 6-10 months, versus the 3-4 year wait we were quoted by a local adoption agency! We have been VERY happy with our decision to use an adoption consultant!

With our recent fundraiser announcement, the question of cost has come up as well. We broke down the average adoption costs in our previous post, but this was something we definitely had to think long and hard about before committing to our adoption plan (and the financial aspect is what scares away many families that consider adoption!).  It is a lot of money.  And, like most people, we don’t have $30,000 sitting in the bank (if we did, we’d both be driving much nicer cars!). But, when we are talking about something so valuable (our lives, the baby’s future, the birth family, etc) the cost associated to ensure everything is done with excellence is completely worth it! Taken in context, we know very few people who can afford to walk out of the hospital with their biological baby if insurance wasn’t covering the cost of the medical expenses.  Bottom line: adoption is costly.

Choosing adoption as way to grow our family is a passion of ours and we feel strongly that God has guided us to this path. When push comes to shove, we can find ways to pay the total costs of the adoption without any support by taking out loans, but that would come with a significant financial burden that could result in reducing our own charitable contributions, etc.  We also know that we have an awesome community of friends and family that share our passion for our choice in adoption and may want to be able to help eliminate some of this burden. Supporting our fundraiser is a personal choice that no one is obligated to participate in.

So, if private adoption is so expensive, why don’t we just go through the foster care system where adoptions are free?  As we mentioned above, foster care adoption is not a good fit for our family at this point in time. It is something we may consider in the future, but it isn’t right for us now.  One thing we discovered over the course of our adoption research is that any state assisted adoption is anything but free, with each child in the foster care system costing the state multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars….it’s just covered by tax dollars.  Private newborn adoptions are actually must less expensive, it just doesn’t seem that way because the costs come at once and up front; and it gives the financial responsibility of adoption to the individuals rather than the government. 

What other questions do you have for us?  Ask away!  We are excited to share our journey with all of you!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

No and Yes

Since our adoption journey began, and even for a time before that, we've heard the word "No".  We've heard it when we asked if there was an explanation for what was causing the recurrent miscarriages.  We've heard it in response to some of the adoption grants we applied for.  Today, we heard it for the first time from a birth mother.

"No" is a common response in the adoption process.  There are so many families out there looking to adopt, so many families seeking financial aid, and so many specific (and highly individualized) preferences that birth mothers are looking for when they choose adoptive parents. 

It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the "no's".  We'll likely hear it many more times from birth mothers and agencies as we travel this adoption road.  But we'll happily focus on the "yes's".  We heard "yes" when we asked if an adoption consultant could help us navigate this complex process.  We've heard "yes" from so many friends and family when we asked for your understanding and support.

And someday we'll hear the most important "yes", the one that means we've been chosen.  For the time being, we just have to remember that there are so many "no's" because there is only one baby that is meant for us, and the joy of that "yes" will be greater than 1,000,000 "no's". After all, God has this!  We’ve turned our family over to God and we have faith that He will grow it as He sees fit, in His perfect timing. It may be an adventure in patience and we may be overwhelmed at times, but in the end, it will all be worth it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Future Big Sister’s Research & Other Books for Our Family

When Christy and I started looking at adoption to grow our family, we knew we had a lot to learn.  First we looked into the different types of adoption, such as international adoption, foster parenting, and domestic adoption.  Then, when we finally decided on domestic adoption, we had more research to do.  Luckily, our consultant provided us with some helpful books and materials to help us understand the process, the pitfalls, and financing adoption.  Some helpful resources were:

99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Choosing Adoption by Robert Kasky

Adopt Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption by Julie Gumm

We were starting to feel more comfortable with our knowledge as parents regarding adoption.  When we started discussing how to talk to Finnley, who is now 6, we came to realize that she might also benefit from some reading on the subject.  Luckily, with some great suggestions from friends and people immediately involved in the process, we came up with a great list and hit the local libraries to find some books that have really helped Finnley understand adoption.

A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
Our first book for Finnley was also my favorite.  An orphan bird is looking for a mother.  She finds other animals that look like her (a walrus with big cheeks like her, a giraffe that is the same color) but none of the similar-looking animals will be her mother.  Then she finds a bear who looks nothing like her, but wants to do all of the things Choco would want from a mother and takes Choco into her home where she meets her new siblings.
We told Finnley about our plan to adopt earlier in the day, then read this book that night, without prefacing that it was a book about adoption.  When we finished, she said Choco would be just like the baby we adopted.  It was an amazing moment!

Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
This was a recommendation from Finnley’s teacher, and a great one, because it helped her understand what the end of the adoption process could be like for us.  It’s the story of a girl asking her parent’s to recount how they were woken up by a phone call that she had been born, their subsequent flight to pick her up from the hospital, and her first day with them at home.
Babies Don’t Eat Pizza by Dianne Danzig
Finnley is great with babies and small children, but she hasn’t ever lived with one, so we decided to search for a book about being a big sister.  This book was exactly what we had been looking for.  It covers how infants act, what they like to do, how they communicate, what they eat, and what kind of care they need.  We were happy to see it mentions adoption as one of the ways babies come into families, and that it covers the truth that when a new baby comes along, your family doesn’t love you any less.
Walter, The Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle
Ok, I'm only joking about this one having anything to do with adoption, but not joking when I tell you that this book exists and Finnley thinks it is hilarious!

A few other books we’ve enjoyed and can’t wait to share with a new little one:
Lost Little Bat by Sandra Markle
We Belong Together by Todd Parr
Horace by Holly Keller
How I Was Adopted: Samantha’s Story by Joanna Cole
Another book that has been important to our family has been 100,000+ Baby Names by Bruce Lansky.  We picked it up at a garage sale and we’ve enjoyed looking through it for names we like, laughing at names we think are silly or sound funny paired with our last name, and having our 3-person family panel of judges give a thumbs up or down on names that are suggested.  Finnley even started a little notebook of names she likes, and has written girls’ names and boys’ names in different colors to sort them.   It’s fun, it has encouraged discussion, and it gives us all hope as we go through this process.