Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Researching Adoption Agencies and Clearing Our First Hurdle

When we first began looking into adoption we knew absolutely nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. We had seen the movie Juno. However, when it began our turn to learn about options we had no idea where to start. I even pictured orphanages where we would adopt children who had lost their parents. I guess I had just watched Cider House Rules as well that week. Not even thinking that those children were probably in the hands of loving grandparents or other relatives.

For some reason that I can’t remember now, DH had happened to have an innocent conversation with a colleague about families. This man, K, had two adopted children. They are both around the age of ten now so K talks about it openly. And he mentioned the name of the faith-based agency that he used. We tucked that away for future use.

Fast forward three months later, after three unsuccessful donor IUI’s and I was feeling the itch to start researching adoption. By that time we had decided to order more sperm and try for three more rounds, but I think I already knew at that point this wasn’t going to work. The same instinct that told me something was wrong that led to the fertility clinic was the same one that was gearing me up for donor sperm not to work. I felt an incredible urge to get this train moving and feel like I was making real progress.

I spent time doing some internet research on adoption. I think my google search terms were “how do you adopt a baby?” No joke. If I can recall everything correctly, I found a list of adoption agencies from the Tennessee Department of Child Services government webpage. I started there and googled all those names. Some were creepy. Not going to lie. Did not look legit. Lots of promises to get you a baby within one year. I don’t remember where I picked that nugget up, but I remember learning along the way to never trust an adoption agency that guarantees an adoption within a time frame.

We narrowed it down to three agencies, all faith-based because those seemed to be the most trustworthy. We met with the one K used first, and then the other two. Our first questions were how much does it cost and how long does it typically take. The coordinator was absolutely charming and warm and gave us more information about the process, but nothing to overwhelm us. We left this first agency with a very good feeling about them and our role in the adoption process. The second agency was the exact opposite, very big, a little cold, and seemed more focused on the birth mother and less focused on the needs adoptive parents were going to have.

It was also at this agency that we hit what we thought was going to be a major hurtle, one that could derail this train. They required that we be members of a church. No exceptions. You ask, “why don’t you just tell them you are?” Thought of that. Had to have written proof. Okay, we said. And on to the third agency.

This one was more like the first agency, very small and cozy and again we felt like important parts in the adoption process, not an after thought. However, we got through the entire one hour meeting only to be met at the end with the same news: church membership required. I couldn’t believe it. Here we had been on such a journey and had so many doors slammed in our face, and now here was another one. We were not able to conceive a child because DH has no sperm. And we are not able to adopt a child because I don’t go to church.

How did I not know this? What were we going to do? Did this mean we were going to have to go with private adoption and advertise ourselves and not use the assistance of an agency? Should we scrap the whole plan? Should I have a come to Jesus moment and join a church?

I started worrying about everything and questioning our decision. I remember sitting at home and watching this huge wall go up right before my eyes that was keeping me from my baby. Just when I thought we were on the right path it seemed that our train tickets were no good. It hurt a lot and I took it very personally, because I knew I was a good person and would be a wonderful mom. We still had three more vials of sperm left, and those three vials became more important than ever. I kept thinking, please God (ha!) let this work because I don’t go to church and I don’t know what to do.

During our last IUI cycle, in February 2011, I had an epiphany. For international adoption that is done through the government, surely they don’t have a church requirement because not all countries have Christianity as their main religion. There was hope after all! I immediately placed a call to the very first agency during work, which broke my cardinal rule of never using my work phone for feritility/adoption related calls, that is how anxious I was. I left a message with the international adoption coordinator to call my husband at home ASAP and tell him if international adoption requires church membership. Then I bit my nails for the next two hours....completely forgetting that I was also still in the two-week no-man’s land of waiting to see if an insemination took.

He called me at work with the news: no church requirement for international adoption on their end. Plus, no church requirement for domestic adoption through this agency. We would have to talk about our faith in our questionnaire for our home study (for a later post) but no requirement to go to church or written proof thereof. We were back in business!

And the news couldn’t have come at a better time, because a week later I got my period on what was our last vial of donor sperm.

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