We're considering adoption . . .

The DH and I have some fertility issues that we’ve known about for a few years. We’ve tried conceiving and after 4+ years, nothing. We’re creeping close to our 30’s and child-rearing has been on both our minds a lot.

A couple days ago, my DH says he thinks he wants to adopt. Wonderful! He said he wanted to adopt a child maybe 3 or 4 years old. I told him that while I respect his opinion, I really want to adopt an infant. We have another method of conceiving, if we go through a donor, but my DH has reservations about it. So I told him we can compromise, we can adopt but I’d like a baby.

If you go through private adoption agencies, you can be set up with a mother who is pregnant. I found this wonderful place in California who averages placement in roughly 9 months. They have the mother pick you out and you meet her, hopefully forming a bond. Some have turned out very well and I’m not against an open adoption, as long as the mother doesn’t want custody down the road after she changes her mind.

Adoption unfortunately is very expensive and I’m not too sure what everything will cost up-front. I have read about the $10,300 tax credit and you can apply for grants for the remainder, my DH’s company might even provide additional monetary help (we’re not sure yet). Since we haven’t decided to go forward with this yet (we’re still deciding on a timeline, DH wants to wait until he gets his master’s so about 3+ years), I’m not completely comfortable contacting one of the professionals at this agency I like just yet. So has anyone adopted through a private agency? Is there any advice you can give? What should I expect?


I have no advice to offer.
Just to wish you lots of luck, and I hope that whatever happens you have the family you want at the end of it.

A question, and not a judgement – why do you want an infant so much?

I’ll have to adopt if I have kids, so I’ve thought about it, and I’d rather adopt an older kid, like your husband. I’m just wondering what your reasons are.

Oh, and good luck!

My wife and I adopted our son and brought him home from Ukraine about five months ago. We went through a similar discussion process before we even started the process. At first we talked about in-vitro and the wife actually had some surgery done to remove some benign cysts that would improve our chances.

In the end, we decided that either adoption or IVF would be very expensive and with the latter there were no guarantees, while with the former, there would be, although timeframes were unknown.

We then considered a US adoption versus international and decided for the latter. One reason is that we aren’t as young as we used to be (she’s 41, I’m 34) and the idea of spending three or four years waiting was going to be too much. Another reason was the idea of the potential repurcussions of having the birth mother pop back into the child’s life at an inopportune time. My wife is adopted and while her birth mother never appeared (and my wife had no desire to try and find her), it remained a concern.

Now that we decided on an international adoption, we then needed to find a reliable agency. We had heard horror stories, including one from an ex-coworker who signed a contract with an agency. The agency worked very slowly and the couple got a baby from another company. The first agency, however, demanded $10000 in payment because the contract was fulfilled when they brought in the baby, regardless of how it was done. We were fortunate that we had a coworker use an agency for a domestic adoption that was competent and trustworthy (http://www.opendooradoption.com/).

We filled out mountains of paperwork, went through the homestudies, etc., and if you want more specifics on this, let me know and I’ll be happy to share. The other important thing to consider at this time, if you opt for international, is to do your homework on time frames, requirements from the host country and other issues. If your agency is a good one, they will be able to help you every step of the way here, although you need to keep in mind that things in these countries can change constantly (details below).

Like you said, adoption is not cheap. I think in the end, including fees, plane tickets, meals, rent, and transportation in Ukraine, we spent $20k-$25k. We are forutnate that our employer has reimbursed a small part of that, and the rest of it becomes either a tax credit or is deductible (I haven’t looked at the tax forms lately, so don’t quote me on this).

After everything is done, you wait, and wait, and wait. One of the reasons we chose Ukraine though is that they were a fast country for obtaining a child, and the whole process from the day we decided to adopt to the day we brought our son home was about 18 months. I understand China, for example, can take up to 3 years. Another reason for choosing Ukraine is that my wife and I are both caucasian and it was important to her to have a child that looked like us. I was not so hung up on these details, and as we talk about having a 2nd, it has become a non-issue for her as well.

Oh, and did I mention that we originally wanted an infant girl, or at least a girl no older than 18 months? Well, when we finally got to Ukraine, and went to their national adoption center, we were presented with with two sisters that could only be adopted as a pair (the oldest one being six years old), and four separate, single boys, aged up to three. We were VERY distraught and had considered just walking away at this point and coming home. Our translator insisted that we see one single boy that was recommended, even though he was just over two years old. We relented (again, I was not so hung up on the sex thing as the wife was) and took a long train ride to the adoption center. We met the boy as he played with blocks and spoke Russian (just a wee bit, he was still young) to his instructor. It took us about 8 seconds to fall in love with him and his smile. It is a good thing too because after only 30 minutes with him, we had to decide if this was the child for us, or if we wanted to travel back to Kiev and wait potentially a week for another appointment to see a list of children, of which there was no guarantee any would be a girl. One thing our agency did not tell us, they may not have known, is that in Ukraine, girls are most often picked by Ukrainian adoptive parents, and then certain European countries are next on the priority list, with the US being near the bottom. Of course if you are willing to adopt from China, a girl is almost guaranteed.

One other thng the agency did not know, and this falls back to the comment about things changing, is that we were originally informed that the adoption would require a single 30-day stay in country and then we could bring the boy home. However, after Yuschenko got elected (we got to visit the ‘village’ that was set up with the protestors!), a lot of corruption was going to the wayside, and as such, the laws in this particular region were followed strictly. This meant that after we finished the first set of paperwork, we had to wait 30 days to take the boy, and then another two weeks of paperwork before we could bring him home. We did not have this much vacation, so we had to make sudden flight plan changes and make arrangements with our (awesome) company to work for a month, and then leave again.

This all went smoothly though, and except for the horror story about being stuck in the Amsterdam airport overnight (with a fun 8-hour wait on an airplane where there is no ac on to save gas) because of their worst snowstorm in 45 years, it all went well.

I have pictures and my wife has her journal up on our website, www.abunchof.us. Like I said, if you have any questions regarding international adoption, or adoption in general, let me know. Otherwise, I wish you the best of luck. The waiting will drive you crazy at times for sure, but I would not trade Alex for anything in the world (well, most of the time!).

Mostly because I want that experience, but also because I want more of an impact on his/her personality, emotional well-being, etc. My DH is still on the fence about using a donor and he knows how much I want to experience the whole pregnancy and giving birth thing, but I told him that I could skip the other stuff if he didn’t feel comfortable with it. When I hold my nieces and nephews (when they were still that small - not any more :frowning: ), feeling that connection and warmth with a little one wakes up the mommy in me. Not that an older child wouldn’t, but I really want to have that bond.

I looked at our state and county adoption websites and sadly a lot of the kids have severe mental/physical/emotional disabilities. Money is tight (I know you get help), we both need to work full time, and quite honestly I don’t know if I’m mentally prepared for numerous doctor visits and the heartbreak of something tragic happening. I am well aware that you run that risk regardless of whether or not you get a baby, but the agency I’m looking at has complete medical records and you possibly get to meet both parents (if father is known of course). It’s more of an open adoption group. One couple I read about had formed such a bond with the mother, she allowed them into the room when she gave birth. Not that I expect that, it’s definitely the exception and not the norm.

TommyTutone, your experience sounds scary and wonderful! I wanted to look into adopting from China, but with travel expenses and the uncertainty we’re not leaning that way. I can see how you fell in love with him, he really is precious. Besides the travel expenses, what money is involved up front? We don’t have anything saved up right now and I wanted to get an idea of how much the up-front costs were to get the process moving.

I guess I could contact one of the professionals at the agency and just get info, but I trust you guys here to give me sound advice as well.

Thanks for the comments and well-wishes so far!

First, regarding the bonding thing, I wouldn’t fret too much about it. Speaking only anecdotally, my son has bonded to us perfectly, and it was funny, but about a month after having him home where we spoke only English, we brought him to the office to show him off. Everything went well until he met our admin who was from Lithuania and spoke Russian, so she wanted to talk to him in his ‘native language’. The poor kid freaked out, hiding behind his mother and eventually wanting to get out of the building. I think it is safe to say that at 2 and a half (he turned three two weeks ago), he is very well bonded with us.

Regarding the costs, you definitely want to speak with the agency, but the major fees broke down into (and my notes are at home, so forgive me if things don’t add up):

  • the application fee for the adoption agency and then all of the fees you will pay for the paperwork. I seem to recall this being about $3000 for the first, and another $500 or so for the various fees (the FBI fee being the highest)
  • the airplane tickets I think ran us about $800 for the first roundtrip. Keep in mind that you will want to get exchangable tickets so that if things change, you aren’t completely screwed into buying a new ticket.
  • this was the fun part. We needed to bring about $12000 in cash, in crisp, unmarked $100 bills to Ukraine. We additionally brought another $5000 (we ended up using none of these) or so in traveler’s checks, just in case (we were actually approved and were considering two children when we arrived). We had to declare it at customs in Ukraine, and while we were told we would be brought to a ‘private room’ to count it out, they had us pull out the cash and count it in front of the line of people! Of the $12000, we paid $8000 immediately to our facilitator and translator (two separate people), which is their fee as well as covers all fees for paperwork in their country, including bribes (which may make you feel funny, but very much pays off when you see a huge line at the notary office and you suddenly get called in right away). The remaining went to our driver (about $20/day), our rent (about $60/day), and our food/drink ($20/day, food was dirt cheap, but very tasty). There was some additional money for souvenirs, the train (we had our own sleeper cabin for $20ish), and another $500 or so for the US Embassy and US medical tests.

Another anecdote is that when we were in Kryvi Rig (about 8 hours south of Kyiv by train) to visit the orphanage, we were fortunate enough, due to our translator, to stay at the apartment of the seamstress for the orphange. While there, she stayed with a friend. The rent was $30/person/day, but that included three cooked meals from the seamstress, and WOW was the food wonderful. After two or three days there, we had to insist that she cook less food as there was always so much and it was so good. Things like borscht to start, a cooked meat (usually chicken), fresh cabbage salad of varying types, other fresh veggies, and always bread and butter. It was a real steal for us since in Kyiv we had to eat out more often than not and the home cooked foods were welcome.

Wow, sorry for the sidetrack there. but yes, the biggest hurdle up front is the money for the adoption agency, and that will vary of course.

I wanted to chime in here with that there are a couple of dopers who have adopted children whom I know will be sharing their experience.

No, thank you for sharing! I love details as I don’t know many people who have adopted and have no one to question. Feel free to add as much as you like. I feel like I don’t know where to turn, the info on the net is so vague. Since I consider you guys my extended family, I knew I could get some good, honest advice and you all would share your stories.

We only know one couple who adopted and personally I don’t trust anything the wife says (we still don’t know exactly HOW she got to adopt, she has severe emotional issues that her parents neglected to treat her for and just brush it under the carpet). Plus they live far away from us and adopted through the county and that’s not the route I want to take.

FYI, we haven’t decided 100% on this yet, the money issue is what will hold us back if we can’t do it. I wish there was more to help couples, it seems like this is another area where if you have a load of cash you can get whatever you want. Hey, I work hard, pay my taxes, am a compassionate person . . . I deserve to have a family as well. :smiley:


I hope it works out, I really want to be a mother some day and I know my DH will be a wonderful father. We just have to figure out HOW to get this accomplished.

Thanks again everyone.

Thanks. That’s pretty much what I thought. And I do understand. My SO’s sister was adopted from Korea when she was about two, and I am vastly relieved that he’s okay with the idea of adopting kids, since my having them would be problematic on several levels. I don’t mind the idea of missing infancy; sure, they’re wonderful, but it’s not terribly important to me.

We won’t be doing anything about this for awhile, if ever. Among other things, we want to get married first. Also I want to finish school and get a real job. After that, who knows?

I don’t want to encourage you to be financially irresponsible but keep in mind that money is just a ‘thing’ and a child is forever.

Also, again another anecdote: near the end of our trip, we met a couple that had been there for about a week. The wife and I treated them to dinner and we spoke and found out that the couple had four sons and really wanted a daughter to ‘complete’ the family. As such, they insisted that they adopt a girl and a boy was not an option. Like us, they were first introduced to just boys and one girl. They chose the girl, traveled the long distance (they had to fly to their region, the train did not go to where they wanted) met the girl, and discovered she had a mild case of Down’s syndrome.

They came back to Kyiv, had to wait a week for their next appointment and as I recall, that one came up empty too. Their THIRD appointment (another week or so later) finally hooked them up with the girl they would go on to adopt. In the meantime, the wife couldn’t bear to leave the country so the husband had to come back alone because he works for himself and was not getting paid during this extended absence (about two weeks longer than they thought, and they still have to pay rent every day). AND, they still had the four sons at home (two of which as I seem to recall were adopted) staying with relatives AND the husband was still required to go back for that second time around.

From what I recall, they had a very tough time with it, but they had help from their church and family, something that may be an option for you?

My husband and I are atheist/agnostic so the church thing is out. Same with the family thing. My mom is barely making ends meet and his mom is going through a messy divorce. I’m sure she’d have money after it’s settled, but I would never ask her for it. I love her, but she has a way of guilt-tripping you when you’ve done something (perceived) wrong in her eyes. She has been known to complain about how much she contributed to our wedding and compairing it to what my mom contributed (which was next to nothing because she was going through a divorce at the time, she still has no extra money). We never even asked her to give us anything, she offered it then made us feel bad for it.

I don’t know. We’ll see what happens I guess.

We adopted six and a half years ago from South Korea. A boy. Six and a half months when he came home. Cartooniverse and Shodan also have Korean kids - theirs are older than ours.

My data is pretty out of date. We decided not to adopt domestically because we didn’t feel we were likely candidates to get out of “the book” quickly. Nine months may be average, but find out “how long is the longest person in the book for” and "do you eventually “age out.” Some agencies will throw that nine month figure at you, and not tell you you only have two years and then you’ve wasted your money. Brainiac4 is also an atheist, and we felt that birthmoms in an open adoption would be more likely to find a religious upbringing important. Certainly the birthmom’s we talked to during our exploration all mentioned chosing parents of the same religion was important.

I have to bop to a meeting, I’ll come back and fill in more later.

And the meeting was postponed…

Bonding can be an issue in any adoption (and rarely, even with bio kids). Generally speaking, the younger they are placed, the fewer issues will occur. Toddler adoption (and older) can be particularly problematic. There is a very good book (but scary book) called “The Weaver’s Craft” about toddler adoption.

Once we decided to go international, we got a list of countries our agency worked with and went through them. Some were out because we didn’t meet requirements. Some were too expensive. Some had long waits. You’ll have your own criteria to decide what is right for you – starting domestic vs. international (and if domestic, a lot of states have waiting children programs - sometimes completely free - though often the kids are older and sometimes have a lot of needs)

This is the current international chart for the agency we used:

http://www.childrenshomeadopt.org/sites/17a3c32c-1a73-4262-9340-5a597bd43340/uploads/USA_Chart.pdf (Add another $5k for agency costs, home studies, immigration, etc. Probably a little more than that, but this does give some country fees).