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Adoption Information Meeting: Amara Parenting & Adoption Services

on March 16, 2014

When we first started considering adoption and looking for agencies, there were a few criteria that we both agreed on:

1. The agency has to provide great support and services to women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. This means educating them about parenting, termination and adoption equally and supporting their choice no matter what it is. This is important for a couple reasons; one is that we are very pro choice and even though we’re in a situation that would greatly benefit from more pregnant women choosing to place their children for adoption, we would never want someone to be coerced or pushed towards a choice that isn’t right for them. The other is that if a woman is pushed or guilted into adoption the chance that she will change her mind is much higher. I want to avoid a disruption as much as possible, and I hope that a great agency that makes really really sure that this is what the woman wants to do should help prevent that.

2. They have to adopt to all types of families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religious affiliation, race, etc. One reason for this is that while The Husband was raised Christian and considers himself to be still (thought he doesn’t really believe in the bible nor go to church…hey who am I to tell him what he is, right?!), I am an Athiest (read more about that here) and I absolutely will not pretend to be religious or lie about it in order to get in the good graces of an agency or a birth-mother. The other reason is that I can’t in good conscience work with an organization that would deny children loving homes based on the gender or sexual identity of the parents. This flies in the face of like every single one of my morals and I just won’t do it.

3. They have to be a well established agency, have been operating for at least 15-20 years, and have a kick-ass professional looking website. I have looked at a few sites that just look kind of 90’s or cheesy or otherwise like they didn’t hire a professional web designer and it really turned me off. If you can’t even manage to put together a decent web site in 2014 then how great can you be at facilitating adoptions? I also want to see clear “next steps” like “if you think you may be interested in adopting, attend one of our informational meetings or request a packet or blah blah.” I don’t just want to see “Contact Us” which is super vague. I want to feel confident about their services and that we will feel really supported by them. Bonus points if they actually list average costs and how they break down.

 

So the very first place I was drawn to, which I found months ago, was Amara Parenting & Adoption Services in Seattle. I knew immediately that they fit my first two criteria; they offer all options to pregnant women and they adopt to all types of families. Looking through their website, they had pretty clear “next steps” that included signing up for one of their informational meetings, which we did. Bonus points for having their fee schedule listed on the site. Though I found them a long time ago, I had to wait until The Husband was ready to start actively looking into adoption before taking it any further. We reserved a spot at their informational meeting yesterday morning at 10am.

They’re located in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle in a single story building all the way at the end of Union Street. Though it was a ways off the freeway, it was easy to find and had lots of parking. We were the first ones there, and they had us sign in then grab an information packet. They also had coffee fruit and girl scout cookies. In all it was a welcoming atmosphere. Once everyone was there, about 40 people, they first showed us a video that had interviews with a couple families that had adopted through them. This of course was totally tear jerking and sweet. One thing I noticed is that both of those families had adopted from foster care. After the video, they started talking about who they are and what they’re about. They have been open for 93 years, which I knew, and while they do facilitate infant relinquishments (pregnant women chooses a family to adopt her child before birth) they primarily do foster-to-adopt. They only placed 6 infants last year. They talked about the process, which requires all families, even those who want to do infant relinquishment, to become certified  foster parents. I’m not going to go in depth into the actual adoption process at this point, I’ll save that for if and when we actually make a solid decision and choose an agency.

Then they had a couple come in who had adopted three kids, siblings, from foster care. They did not feel to me like a good example of typical people who adopt. For one, they had always known they would adopt, rather than having come to adoption after infertility. They were also both child psychologists. When the kids came to them they’d been moved 4 times in 2 years and were 2, 5, and 9. They had a lot of behavioral issues and had to have “line of sight” supervision for about 3 months due to “inappropriate behavior.” The adoption was just finalized a couple months ago but the kids have lived with them for about 2 years.

Maybe I am being naive, but I felt like the environment the kids came from and the level of issues they had aren’t typical, even when adopting from foster care. We weren’t really strongly considering adopting from foster care at this time, but I feel like if we were that would have scared us off. Yes it is their experience and yes a lot of children in foster care have suffered a lot of abuse and neglect that means they have a lot of behavioral and emotional issues that may need a lifetime of therapy, but certainly not all children in foster care have such severe issues that you literally can’t let them out of your sight for a second. I mean these people put cameras in the kid’s rooms so they could watch them all the time. While fostering is something I definitely want to do someday and I think it is so so important, it’s just not something we’re ready for. There’s a possibility that we could have a child under two years old placed with us, but even then it’s likely that the parental rights wouldn’t be terminated and they would be reunited with their birth family, which is the goal of the foster care system. There are children whose parental rights are already terminated and are “free to adopt” as they say, but I think most of these children are older-also not something we’re ready for.

So although Amara is a really great organization with great values that does a lot to help children, we don’t think it’s the right fit for us. With how few infant relinquishments they do each year, I think our wait would be much longer. And I also think that with their heavy focus on foster to adopt, we may get talked into doing something we just aren’t yet equipped for. So we will keep looking.

On the car ride home, we talked. A lot. I asked The Husband again whether he feels like adopting now and doing IVF later is an option for him, and expressed how I would be so much more open to trying IVF if we already had a child and the risk wasn’t as big. He said that he thinks that if we adopt, we won’t want to do IVF because we’ll already be parents. I was like….doesn’t that tell you that it’s not the right choice? I have a hard time understanding his motivations. He still swears that wanting to do IVF isn’t about thinking he’ll love or want a genetic child more. Like one second he says “yes I really want a bio child” and then the next minute he says “no having a bio child isn’t important.” I don’t know if he’s changing his mind or just doesn’t know how he feels. I said I felt like we were at an impasse because he is still definitely leaning towards IVF and I am definitely leaning towards adoption and I don’t see how we can make a choice. One of us shouldn’t have to do something we don’t want to or not get a chance to try something we want to. So he decided we should each weight how we feel towards each option, and he said he is about 60/40 in favor of IVF. I was surprised by this because I thought he had much stronger feelings towards IVF. I then told him that I am about 80/20 towards adoption. So he said that in light of that, and that he is only slightly more in favor of IVF, he thinks it’s likely we will adopt. We’re still not making any final decision, but I felt a lot better knowing that.

Even if we could make a solid decision to adopt, we also can’t agree on domestic or international, and he doesn’t think he likes the idea of an open adoption. It’s so frustrating for me because I have already done so much research and have made decisions based on facts and he is still in the “gut instinct” phase. I also was freaked out by openess at first and now that I’ve read about it and listened to radio shows and understand it, my mind is completely changed. I keep telling him he NEEDS to read things and do his own research, because I am way ahead of him and it makes it really hard to not just say “you don’t even know what you’re talking about!!!” when he gives his opinion on things. Le sigh. When will life be easy again? Oh never? Fuck.

Oh did I forget to mention that I started my period right after we got to the adoption meeting? It was real cute.

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4 responses to “Adoption Information Meeting: Amara Parenting & Adoption Services

  1. rosiedd78 says:

    Ugh. My husband and I are doing the same thing – back and forth, measuring where we are in the IVF vs. adoption boxing ring. So much pressure! And my period started today, too. Super cute.

  2. rosiedd78 says:

    Sorry, I pressed POST too soon. Good luck coming to a decision, I wonder how long it will take us to get on with it. I also wonder when life will be easy again. Or maybe just for a day?

  3. waitingonourwelcome says:

    Hey there!, just wanted to post. my husband and I are just finished our foster care training and our home will probably be open within a month. Sadly to say, those behaviors are pretty typical of children in foster care. Not to say by any means that ALL children have those extreme needs, but it is a common thing. And honestly, they may HAVE been trying to scare you. Our entire 30 hour training was worst case scenarios. Then at the end we had a panel of foster families come and we could ask them questions. But with foster care so much is unknown. You could have a strict refusal to parent any sexually abuse child. But you get a kid in your home, and three months later, once they have developed trust, they tell you about sexual abuse. So the training (and our informational meeting) really were showing us the ugly side of it.

    With that being said, it doesn’t sound that like this agency is right for you. We are likely going to do domestic infant adoption in addition to fostering, but not yet. But with that, I want an infant, whose mother was fully educated on her options as well.

    • Mallory says:

      Thanks for that. We are definitely not ready to foster, but I hope to do it later on after we actually have some parenting experience. Good luck!

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