Friday, February 8, 2013

Considering adoption

Two years ago, I signed up for this conference:  

Parenting Through Adoption

John and I had already attended an open house at an adoption agency, and I wanted to dig a little deeper into adoption before signing on. At that point, we had been trying to have a baby for almost two years. We hadn’t exhausted all of our options fertility-wise, but I was inspired by a friend to consider any and all ways to bring a baby home. Saying the words, “we’re investigating adoption” was scary but also invigorating. I went into the conference nervous, excited, hopeful and fearful all at the same time.

It was an energizing experience. I felt like I was about to join a new club full of happy, passionate people. I felt encouraged, forewarned about the challenges, and then encouraged again. It was a day spent dreaming about my future children and how they might come to me. If you are in the Chicago area and thinking about starting to think about adoption, I highly recommend this conference.

One of the big questions we struggled with was whether or not we should start the adoption process while going through IVF. There are a lot of things that play into that decision. First of all, some adoption agencies won’t let you start the process if you are still pursuing fertility treatments. There are probably a bunch of obvious reasons why, but mainly I think they want you to be “all in” when you decide you want to adopt. For us, the emotional and financial cost of doing both simultaneously was too much, and we decided to try IVF first. We were lucky to have amazing insurance that covered the cost of my treatment almost completely, so it was an opportunity we had to seize. However, adoption was a very real consideration for us, and still is.

The other drawback to choosing adoption was the cost. Adoption is very expensive. Like, down payment on a house expensive. Some may be surprised to know that a private adoption through an agency can range from 20-40,000 dollars. Ouch. That was money we just didn’t have and couldn’t imagine coming up with for a long time. Of course, there are tax credits and some financial aid programs. If you want it bad enough, you can find ways to make it more affordable.

But last night, as I was thinking about this subject, I had an epiphany about the cost of adoption. Maybe it’s supposed to hurt.

We’ve recently put away our credit cards and are living on a cash-only budget. I can attest that it is much harder to hand over our hard-earned cash than it is to swipe a piece of plastic. When a purchase is coming out of a limited fund of money that’s in our bank account, rather than some imaginary fund of money that’s not really ours, we think twice about it. It’s really changed our perspective on spending and saving and value. So it dawned on me – maybe that’s why adoption is so expensive. Or, at least, maybe that’s a benefit of it being so expensive. You don’t do it on a whim. It takes patience and goal setting and time. You have to work for it. 
It’s painful to hand over a check for $20,000. But if and when you do, you know that you mean it.  This is really what you want.  You’re committed.  Of course, more than anything else, a child deserves that. And when you think about it, how much more valuable is a child than a house? For me, anyway, there’s no contest.

So, this is my new insight on adoption. I don’t know if or when it will be in the cards for us. I know it’s very much on my heart. And when the day comes to hand over that check, I know we’ll do so with the expectation that it won’t be the hardest part of adopting, but also that it will be returned to us ten-fold in the joy only a child can bring.

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