I'm going to re-post some of what I already wrote partly because there are a few more readers now and so I can keep it in chronological order.
Toward the end of 2008 David and I really began to get serious about adoption. There was never a shining moment when we decided it was what we wanted to do. It was gradual. The more months that went by with negative pregnancy tests, the more we talked about it. We must have started talking about it by October 2008 because I remember discussing it with my parents when they came to visit at the end of October. At that point we were trying to figure out where to start. We knew of a couple from the chapel on base who adopted through a particular agency so I looked into their program. David was really interested in international adoption but I was more interested in domestic adoption. I don't know how we came to the conclusion of going domestic, but somehow we did and decided to go with the agency our friends used. I guess I just wanted to go with an organization that was well established and that I felt I could trust.
We contacted the agency by an email that was listed on their website in December. We had a very brief interest form to fill out and were put on the waiting list for classes. The first step with them was to attend 6 information sessions. We found out in January that the classes were going to start the last week of February. We were a little impatient to start the classes since our first contact was in December and the classes didn't start until the end of February. But looking back it really wasn't a long wait. It feels much longer to be waiting for a baby than to have been waiting for classes to start!
Our first class was an orientation. We were given a folder with several forms to fill out over the next few weeks. We also had to gather all bank statements, proof and copies of insurance benefits, tax forms, pay stubs, copies of pet licenses, copies of our marriage license, and copies of our birth certificates. We each had to write an autobiography. We were given a page with specific questions to answer in our autobiographies. We also had to get fingerprinted. (For those of you in Tucson, if you ever need to get fingerprinted, I highly recommend going to the sherrif's office off Benson highway--it is computerized so no ink! I've had fingerprinting done before with ink and the no-ink method is definitely the way to go!) During the first class we also went over the adoption fees and tax credit laws.
All the paperwork we had to submit was so we could be certified through the courts and basically approved to adopt. The two social workers leading the class told us that if we were able to pass through their process that we would be able to pass through the courts. They also said they only had one couple they weren't able to get approved and it was because of some things they found on the couple's myspace page that weren't appropriate.
I think there were about 10 couples in the first class. We were of course sizing everyone up in the class! It was a good feeling to be in company with others who have experienced the same frustrations with infertility that I had. The agency requires that couples have an infertility issue in order to go through their adoption program, so I knew everyone there was in a similar boat.
We were most interested to find out that first class about what we could expect for timing--we wanted to know when we were going to get our baby! Our classes would be the next 5 weeks, then a joint interview, two individual interviews, and then waiting to be approved through the courts. Once on the "waiting families" list, the average wait time was less than 10 months. However, they'd had couples adopt in as little as 2 weeks or take as long as 2 years. They explained the longer wait times usually corresponded to the couples either having more restrictions on race or wanting a "closed" adoption. The agency encourages open adoptions, where there contact between the birthfamily and adoptive family occurs after the adoption. Studies have shown it is better for adopted children to have contact with their birthfamilies throughout their childhood. We learned more about open adoption as we attended the other classes.
It felt good to get the process started after that first class. It was also nice to be able to put a timeframe on when we thought we might get a baby. I told myself it would take about a year. David told himself it would take about 10 months. I of course was more conservative so as not to get my hopes up! I really dislike the thought of having my hopes crushed. I figured there could be plenty of opportunities for that to happen during the process so I was trying to minimize them as much as possible. It's good though that David and I have different perspectives on timing because it helps balance each other out.
Stay tuned to find out how our second class went!