Does anyone mind if I rant, rave and otherwise lash out right now?
I want to go over what is holding us back.
When we first decided to adopt, there were a few reasons. These were the biggest.
1) We had always wanted to, since being kids our selves. We talked about this well before we even got married.
2) Instead of the heartbreak of failed fertility treatments, we could give a home; a mother, father, brother and extended to family to a child whose mother was choosing a different future than she could provide for her child. In return, we get our dream of having a larger family + the addition of having some extra family members in the form of the child's biological family. (Or at least we hoped to gain a loving open adoption situation)
Kevin and I believed adoption to be the best option for our family. Fertility treatments held no guarantee anyway, and we believed that an expectant mother considering adoption could see the love we have to give.
We selected an adoption facilitator because the fees were on par or less than some adoption agencies. We also felt that a facilitator would have better outreach to birth families. We qualified for a grant through them, because we went through their African-American Enrichment Program. We chose this not because of money, but because we are an interracial family, and felt that we would be good parents to a bi- or multi- racial child/ren.
We have been open not just to newborns, but infants up to one year old; multiples; and sibling groups where the oldest child was the same age or younger than our firstborn.
We paid $13,000 for their services.
To adopt, you must have a home study. This is done by a licensed social worker, who may or may not be affiliated with an adoption agency. Our was not, both the home study and the update were done by independent social workers. We submitted to home inspections, interviews, local, state and federal background checks. We bought fire extinguishers, fire escape ladders, and made fire escape plans that are posted in our home. We had medical examinations as well.
For this, we paid $1,000 for the original home study. When our wait went over one year, we paid $500 for it to be updated.
Kevin and I were optimistic. We thought that we would be chosen relatively quickly, and perhaps complete our adoption in a year or so. When that didn't happen, we didn't give up.
Finally, after a few close calls, we were matched with R.
This means that we found an attorney, and he spoke with us as well as R. We paid a $4,500 retainer, with the hope that we would not go over that in our adoption. When R decided to parent her daughter, we were entitled to a bit of a refund. About half of that we got back - it was just enough to cover the expenses we incurred driving to the birth, hotels for the time we were gone, food - etc.
So, at this point we've paid $16,500.
Please note that this does not cover incidental expenses - printing our profiles cost $500. We are billed monthly for our 800-number access. We paid the fees for the background checks.
Because of this (incredibly stupid and unfair) law that New Mexico passed, retroactively - we are now prevented from working with agencies or facilitators outside of this state! This means that the $13K we paid to Lifetime - I guess we are just supposed to eat that, according to the State of New Mexico. In R's situation, her state allowed non-residents to finalize there. This law hadn't yet passed, but if it had, we still had the protection of not having to finalize here.
Without realizing that the law did in fact pass, we were chosen by expectant mother, S. S lives in Oklahoma, which does not allow non-residents to finalize. This means that we would have to file a case here in New Mexico to see if a judge would allow our adoption to go forward. Because of this, the legal fees are higher than just completing the adoption.
A conservative estimate from the lawyer -$4500 for the adoption itself, and $2000 or more for the court case before this child is even born.
Do you see what we're up against? This puts our adoption total at $23,000!
And after the failed placement - we don't have the money for the retainer any more. The lawyer requires a retainer of $3,000 to start work on our case, the remainder to be paid before finalization - or whenever the $3,000 runs out. We could *hope* that some other families or adoption agencies would want to get in on the lawsuit against the state, but there is no guarantee that would happen, so we can't count on it to lower those expenses.
We were going to use a credit card for these fees, which is not the most financially sound decision, but the lawyer doesn't accept payment by credit card.
How can they (in general) expect the average family to afford this? We always hear about children who need homes, babies who are abandoned - but it is almost financially impossible to adopt! There is an adoption tax credit - after the fact. Employers sometimes offer benefits - AFTER the fact. There is not much help in the moment, when you have to pay the fees. There are some places that offer grants, but they are few and far between. And so many families want those, not many get them. We applied for several.
We are considering at this point holding a fundraiser or two to help raise the legal fees so that we can go forward. But in this situation with S, it is against the clock. Because we have to fight with the State to see if they will allow placement to go forward, we don't have the time to fund raise. The lawyer needs to file the documents yesterday in his words.
I plan to call another lawyer that we spoke to in the first situation to see if her take is any different. Hopefully it is...but still, I have to wonder where the money will come from.
Our first idea is to hold a dinner of some sort - a soup and baked potato bar, perhaps - at our church. We would spread the word at church, and through friends. It would be held just for donations - and hopefully we can fund the food to get it done!
A bake sale was also suggested, but I am not sure of the logistics.
This is hard.
How do we explain to S
that we might not be able to do this?
How do we live with knowing
that it came down to