I know there are a lot of you cuirous about adoption and some over here (here being Italy) that would like to pursue adoption. I will try to explain our process and add in some links that will hopefully be helpful to you.
The first step in adoption is deciding your budget. Adoption can be very pricey especially depending on you decide to adopt. Foster care adoption is definitely one of the more affordable ways to adopt.
The second step is to decide which sort of adoption you would like to pursue. There are basically three kinds. One being foster care adoption. There is acutally two ways you can adopt through the foster care system. You can actually become a foster care parent and foster to adopt or you can just adopt legally free children from the foster care system. A second way to adopt is internationally. Adopting this way you have to decide on a country you would like to adopt from (such as China, Ukraine, Ethiopia, etc.) and find an adoption agency that works internationally. From what I've seen this can be a very long process, but I cannot go into depth because it was not the way we chose to go. The third way would be a domestic adoption also know as an infant adoption. This is where your have a profile (a letter to the birthparent, pictures, etc.) shown to expectant mothers who are making and adoption plan. You have to wait until you are matched.
Once you decide to adopt you have to find an adoption agency that fits your needs. You can actually contact your state for the foster care system and some agencies actually work with the foster care system as well for placements. I believe this is one of the most important steps. Finding an adoption agency that works well with you and your family will make all the difference and will make or break your adoption plan.
Being a military family stationed overseas it was truly hard to find an adoption agency that would give us the time of day. We had Christian adoption agencies be sincerely mean to us and we were utterly surprised at their reaction. We had others lead us on and made us believe that they'd work with us and they just ignored us. And yet others who wouldn't even respond or give us the time of day. We were lucky enough to find a few that would work with us though and I'm sure there are even more out there that will but these are the three that we came across:
1. The Adoption Center of Choice and our adoption specialist is Dave Williams. He is seriously a great guy and really great to work with. I feel blessed to be working with such amazing people. This adoption agency is in Utah and they have an outreach program for African American adoptions (so no application fee or activation fee). This is the program we joined in January and we were matched with a baby boy March 12. They also work with military families overseas!
2. Heart to Heart Adoptions this agency I have really had to the chance to work with, but they too will also work with military families overseas. They have been super helpful and super nice as well. We just signed with them the week we before we found out we had a match. The also have an African American infant program that is free to get activated in and that is also the program we joined.
3. American Adoptions this agency works with military familes overseas as well. They are a bigger agency and that may be why sometimes you don't get answers right away, but I was sort of disappointed with them. Although a couple here in Italy did adopt their baby girl through them and they had an amazing experience, so I wouldn't cross them off the list. They do have a $195 application fee and a $1,000 activation fee for thier African American infant program which they call Agency Assisted program. They do waive a ton of fees and build your profile for free if you do use this program.
Once you do decide on your agency then you have to get a homestudy. Many agencies have people who can actually do your homestudies and in the states its super easy to find someone to do one. But if you're in a whole other country trying to find someone licensed in the states its a bit harder. We found Randy Barlow. He is located in Germany and is super great. He literally travels all over the world doing homestudies so that not only military overseas can adopt, but all Americans living abroad can adopt. Its super neat to hear his stories and of all the children he's gotten to see placed over the years!
Once you get your agency picked out, agency paperwork filled out and your homestudy done the waiting game has begun. Some will wait what seems like forever for thier match or referral letter and others seem to get a match as soon as they are shown, but this is the hardest part of the adoption! Waiting, talking to potential birthmothers and just not knowing when you will finally be a family!
As for when you get that phone call everyone will react differently. I can honestly say I was in shock and speechless! I know soooo unlike me! I always have something to say, but how would you react when you get that phone call at 0130 saying that your son is going to be born next month? As many of you know as soon as the shock wore off I've been super excited ever since and probably can't stop talking about our future baby boy!
I am still learning the placement part as we are still going through it, but I know that everyones will differ. That every state has a different amount of time to sign papers and how many post placement visits you need. Some will have contact with their birthmothers while others will never meet but its soooo interesting to hear each adoption story! I know this was a very brief description about what we have gone through this far and it really is such an emotional time. I don't even if I can describe it, but this is our journey so far filled with paperwork and unknowing.
We are pretty much an open book though so feel free to ask any questions you may have and I will try to answer them to the best of my knowledge :).