The 411 on International and domestic adoption.
My Instagram DM’s have been blowing up with questions about the adoption process ever since Joe and I announced the arrival of Amaya. I love connecting with women in such a positive way, sharing our story and helping to navigate the the tough decisions that come up. Here is a comprehensive guide to the adoption process. Whether you’re looking into International adoption, domestic adoption through an agency or private domestic adoption, I have you covered. Joe and I touched upo n all three…
Joe and I began the adoption process with International adoption for a few reasons. One was because if you adopt from America, the biological mother has a certain amount of days after the baby is placed with adoptive parents to take him or her back. This is called the revoke time frame. The amount of time varies by state but can be anywhere from three days to a year. Here’s a state-by-state guide. I didn’t want to risk it. We had enough “bad luck” (Yes, that’s what one of my doctors called it and I hated him for it.) when it came to creating a family already.
We interviewed with agencies to partner with and ended up choosing to work with Holt International and after learning about different programs, we chose to adopt from Thailand. After we were paired with a social worker and our home study was complete (here’s an article on the home study process), we were told by the agency that the wait time for a child went from a year and a half to three years. It was about the same for all countries they worked with. Plus, we were waiting on a list of other hopeful families for the perfect match. Since we were ready to have a child sooner, we decided to take the domestic route (risks and all) and take the process into our own hands, which was both empowering and frustrating.
When you adopt Internationally, you’ll find that children are either in orphanages or foster homes and chances of getting a newborn are slim to none. We chose Thailand, because we would have matched with a 2 to 3 year old child (pretty much the youngest you can get Internationally) who was living in a foster home. It was important to us to have a child that was a young as possible and we liked that they had at least some care in foster care even though we found out the foster care situations weren’t all that great due to poverty. No matter what country you choose adopt from, besides common attachment issues, most of the waiting children also have a variety of special needs. The term “healthy” is very different in each country as well.
During this short lived process, we found that International adoption is becoming less and less common. Wait times are being extended, many countries like Russia and Ethiopia have cut off adoption programs with America and countries are more interested in having their children adopted domestically than internationally. As a matter of fact, inter-country adoptions have dropped 12% since 2016.
Unlike International adoption, where you need to work with an agency, when it comes to domestic adoption there are two avenues to choose from – working with an agency or finding a biological mother on your own. Joe and I decided to do just that, private domestic adoption.
Private domestic adoption means that you market yourself and connect with different potential birth mothers on your own. You need a social worker to complete your home study and conduct post placement visits (we continued with Cindy from Holt International), a lawyer to handle logistics and pediatrician to review any prenatal medical records you can get your hands on before committing to the adoption,. Here’s a post on our adoption team.
Joe and I built a website and ran Google ads, we created profile books on Shutterfly showcasing who we are as a couple for our social worker and lawyer to send out to their contacts and mailed adoption flyers with letters to over 1,500 places across the country like Planned Parenthoods, clinics, hospitals, colleges, churches, etc. Networking to find our birth mother was a full time job. We’ve been doing it behind the scenes for the past six months.
It’s also important throughout the adoption process to keep your identity private, which is why i didn’t promote that I was looking to adopt on any of my social media channels. Birth moms that we connected with knew only our first names and that we lived in New Jersey. We created a separate email account and had a separate phone line to communicate through. This was the advice of our lawyer, and thank God we listened. We encountered a lot of scammers and sick people who legit harassed us.
We connected with many different potential birth mothers who called, texted or emailed and it took a while until one felt right and came through. I knew in my heart the second we spoke that she was going to be the one, yet we didn’t find out that she chose us until months later when she was in labor. (Crazy!) Once you connect and form relationships with these women, the next step is to have them get in touch with your lawyer. This is a tricky part. They‘re supposed to give a bit of social and medical history and send any prenatal records they have. None of the 16 women we connected with followed through with this and therefore weren’t serious about the adoption. Another thing we found is that most didn’t have any prenatal care, which is something you need to be accepting of.
Private domestic adoption is a very time consuming and stressful way to go about adopting. Even though it worked for us, I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. Emotions were at extreme highs of hope and then extreme lows, because more often than not, we felt like we were being taken advantage of. The screening process was very hard. Right before we found out our baby was born, Joe and I actually shut off our adoption phone to take a vacation without the frustrations. We also were about to begin working with an agency as another avenue Before we even met with the agency, Amaya found us. Funny how things happen.
In the end…
If Joe and I were to adopt again in the future, we’d most likely partner with an agency for domestic adoption. Once all of the paperwork, home study and logistics are done, it’s a waiting game while the agency connects with potential birth mothers and brings real opportunities directly to you. Having someone else do the screening takes a ton of pressure off of the process, frees up your time and helps to keep your emotions and expectations level. The domestic adoption agency we almost started working with, Shepherd Care out of Florida, told us the wait time is somewhere between a year and a year and a half. It’s a lot shorter than International adoption.
We’re home now with our baby girl and she’s truly ours. Papers are signed. Amaya Jo Lombardi is here and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Adoption is a beautiful thing. I wanted to adopt my whole life, two of my very best friends are adopted and I feel it’s a calling. After all, love makes a family.
I hope you find this post helpful, but remember I’m no expert. These are my learnings and experiences and I’m sharing to answer your questions. Of course, if you have any others, please feel free to reach out to me via email or DM on Instagram. I couldn’t be happier and would love to help.