We found out that a home study was the first step in adopting. No big deal, we figured we would have to cover outlets and buy a fire extinguisher. That was the easy part. We knew we would be spending some money going down this road, but we had no idea how bad it was going to be.
Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means a cheap skate, I have a very well paying job and I understand that certain professional services cost money and will pay for them when required. But, this home study business is a complete ripoff. We got quotes from $1500 to $5,000. Let's look at that. The average home study takes 3 visits to the home of anywhere from 2-4 hours each. That makes a total of 12 hours of on-site time. Add another 6 for them to prepare the report and administrative time. Total of 18 hours. That puts their billing rate between $83 and $277 an hour. COME ON people, that's absurd. While I understand that there is licensing and such involved, and everyone needs to make a profit, but even at $83 an hour they are raping you.
So, we start the process of getting our home study done. We agree to pay it in thirds at each home visit, at least this lessens the blow to the wallet. The first visit goes fine, and she collects the basic information from us. She collects copies of drivers licenses, marriage license, divorce decree, all that jazz. She talks with us about our feelings about trans-racial adoption. We had already discussed this amongst ourselves and we have no issues with it. Upon learning this, she tells us she knows of a situation in Charleston where there is a baby being born later in the year that they are having trouble placing. She calls her contact about this and gets them in touch with us. It seems like we are off to the races much faster than we expected.
On a side note, if you are going to be getting a home study done, buy an all in one printer that will make copies. It will make your life SO much easier when they ask you for a copy of this or that. They can be had for around $100 and in the big picture of this process, that's nothing.
We submitted our "profile" to the agency and were told that they would call us and let us know when they presented it to the birth mother. 2 weeks later, we call them to check on things to find out that they had presented it a week ago and were waiting for an answer from her. Strike #1- Not doing what you say you will. Another two weeks and we call them back again and find out that she had decided to parent. Strike #2- Not doing what you say you will (AGAIN). At this point we do not want to work with them. The way I see it, when I am paying more than $10,000 to them for their services, they best do what they say they will, if they don't, buh bye.
So, we go on the search for other agencies that we may like to work with. We quickly discovered some things that did not sit well with us.
- Many want at least a large portion of their fee up front
- Many request that you "apply" and must be approved before they will talk to you.
- A fair number want you to pay an application fee of $100 to $300.
- Most ask you to specify how much you are willing to spend when applying.
Based on this, I developed my own little criteria when looking at agencies.
- Fees should be clearly posted on their website or given when requested.
- I will not pay them upfront unless the contract specificly stipulates performance requirements and allow me to terminate the contract if these are not met and any fees paid will be returned to me with interest.
- I will not pay to see if they will accept me as a client.
What we found when talking to all these agencies was that they exsist to broker/sell children. Call it what you want, but that is what they are doing. Unreasonably large fees for the services they provide, practices that any legitimate business would be very reluctant to do. My final conclusion was that I wanted no part of this process.
The unfortunate part is that if you want to do a private adoption, you have to play this game. I completely understand some people are willing to do this, and in the end they are still helping the children and I respect them for that. So, if you are reading this and are doing private adoption, please don't take this as an attack against you. I just personally feel strongly enough about these things to not take part in it.
After speaking with several people, we were introduced to NYAP (National Youth Advocate Program), which is primarily geared at foster parenting, but also works with foster to adopt. After meeting with someone from there we decided that we would go with them and do foster to adopt. But, that story is another post about foster parenting.
Although I generally don't comment on comments, I do read them and appreciate them. So, please keep leaving them.
And for those men out there that are facing male factor infertility, you are not alone and unless you castrated yourself with a pocket knife or something, your not to blame either. It's just the way things go, so don't be too hard on yourself.