The topic for this round of the Open Adoption Roundtable is money: Does money have an impact on your open adoption? If so, how? (Could be issues pre- or post-placement, expectations, assumptions, costs of visit activities, travel, gifts–you name it.)
I’ve never participated in the Open Adoption Roundtable before though I always enjoy reading the posts.
As you may realize, one of the biggest stressors in a marriage/relationship is MONEY. Apparently, there’s never enough or one person has more than the other and power struggles can ensue. Who saves and who spends? How much debt can you live with? And did we fight about it? Oh, yeah, you betcha – particularly because thousands of it went for IVF treatments that didn’t result in a pregnancy.
When we first attempted IVF, I was doing really well and my private insurance was at the highest level so I had just enough money to pay for treatment, acupuncture, naturopathy and drugs. Just enough. I also had money coming in from a US national commercial, so I had cash on hand. By the time we called a halt to all treatments, I was out of money, my income had plunged 60%, my insurance level had dropped along with my income, our credit cards still carried balances from IVF drugs and procedures, hubby had gone through 2 job changes…. and we still wanted to be parents one day.
So having made the decision to adopt, the money had to come from somewhere as once we were chosen, we had to have the money ready to go at any moment. We agreed that there was no way we were going to borrow the money from the bank or from friends. We had to cash in most of retirement plans in order to make it happen. So technically, no, we couldn’t AFFORD to adopt, we just LOOKED like we could. Plus once we set our minds on something, we just find a way. Let’s not forget that in our social circle, if you can’t get pregnant via IVF, why not surrogacy and if not that, well, JUST ADOPT! We’ll simply have to make more money for our retirement. Yet there was no point in going deeper into debt than we already were, right? How many people do you know that have kind of money sitting in a bank account collecting dust? Honestly, I was hoping we could use that money for a down-payment on a home, but when you’re trying to conceive, your life is on hold.
We did apply for local adoption, but no one seemed to think that was going to work out that way. Apparently in Canada, adoption is not the huge industry that it is in the States. Not that it doesn’t happen, but the wait can be closer to 5 years. Our social systems support people who choose to keep their children (that is not to say that the US system is not equipped to do the same). It is quite difficult to network across country. Each province does their own thing. The Canadian adoption lawyers all knew each other, but they had more than enough clients. Since we were a biracial couple, I thought our chances might be better in Ontario or Nova Scotia. No such luck. You have to have a homestudy done in that province to qualify. I was told that Nova Scotia pretty much discourages adoption and Ontario had more than enough waiting parents. I actually emailed a lawyer in Toronto (I never heard from her in person) and begged her secretary to take our profile just in case. Not so much as a peep. You could hear a pin drop.
Comparatively, the private adoption lawyers in the US always returned our calls promptly. They were extremely attentive and EAGER to work with us. All staff were friendly and responsive. Here? Not so much. Getting information and costs from US agencies were incredibly easy, all details promptly emailed over. Even non Hague affiliated agencies were apologetic that they didn’t work with Canadian couples.
All the other profiles we were emailed to us came from the US. So that meant US prices so we had to factor at least 20-30% more. There were more than a few profiles that we were interested in that were well beyond our budget. One time, I was so excited to get a phone call from the agency about a particular profile but by the time she told me the price, I almost drove off the road (yes, that’s when it was still legal to be on the phone and drive.) The healthy teen pregnancies apparently came at a premium. Each state seemed to have widely different fees for agency services. We paid about $400 for an online profile service here in Canada (which of course was active for all of 2 weeks before we got matched). We contacted a lawyer in the southern US and had a great consultation with him but nothing came of it.
Eventually, we were matched through a West Coast lawyer and paid all expenses for the birthmother and her friend’s travel because she lived in another state. We used airmiles for our airfare, hotel and car. We cut down our own personal spending for 2 years. What was I willing to sacrifice in order to be a parent? Forget a new car, fancy shoes, sporting equipment or new clothes. The money went into escrow to be disbursed as needed. We were now supporting another person, and 2 lawyers, not to mention a social worker and we had to still pay our agency once we came home with the baby.
We live in Canada so we knew air travel would be a necessity. W e brought gifts for the birthmother and her son each time we saw her and paid for meals; I always wondered if was too much or too little. I had been advised to not overdo it. I also sent her a special gift when we got home. We had to leave the same day we got the news she was in labour, but luckily we saved we had enough airmiles for the fare and rental car but not the hotel. We had to throw in the unexpected expense of boarding the dog as there no time to drop her off at friends or the in-laws.
I had not prepared a nursery, though hubby had painted the 2nd bedroom in an act of faith. There would be no baby shower until after I brought a real live baby home. Family and friends were incredibly generous, so there wasn’t much we truly needed right away. And of course, I am self-employed, so I had to cancel last minute work I had lined up. But we carefully planned for all of these things, so we were ready.
Another real issue that truly highlighted finances was when I went to visit the birth mother. It was obvious that if she had money, she would not have given up her child. But more importantly, she didn’t have any emotional or family support. Her entire social circle seemed to be young people who have kids by different partners or aren’t married or in a committed relationship. I knew she loved him enough to want more for him. I realized could have given her home an extreme makeover, and pampered her like a princess but it would not have changed her life. That was simply up to her.
When we left town, we gave a few baby items we couldn’t pack to a housekeeper who had a new grandchild. I realized then that I didn’t need more things, just more life.
Please link here to read more at the Open Adoption Roundtable.
PS. I hope this makes sense, it took me 8 hours to do it.