Thursday, May 20, 2010

Home Study Paperwork

I just sent off the paperwork for the home study.....YAY! It seems like it was a long time coming, but I'm hoping that since I have the first step behind me, the rest will be a downhill stroll. It took me awhile to find a social worker that I felt comfortable with, but I finally found an adoption expert that definitely knows her stuff and isn't afraid to tell you about it! A little hint for those prespective adoptive parents that are on the verge of finding someone to conduct their home study and isn't provided one by their agency; it can be a little difficult to find a reputable social worker that can do all the services needed for the adoption process. Believing that I can find everything I need on the internet, I began my search there. Not very much comes up when you Google 'Home Study Austin, TX', but I did look into a Houston based law firm. I never was able to talk directly to the lawyer and the secretary constantly called me by the wrong name and made the process very confusing. With that in mind, I scratched them off my list and started again. I looked into a Dallas based law firm and was pleased with them; I talked directly to the person that would be conducting the home study and she seemed very nice, but they wanted to charge me for the travel to Austin. I figured I'd try to find someone more local. My next step, I contacted a family friend that actually conducts home studies and she was able to refer me to a law firm that would charge an incredibly low price, but unfortunately, they were unable to provide all the services I needed. Frustrated, I went back to the list of local agencies sent to me by my adoption case worker with AdoptHelp. I then began researching which agencies were reputable and called the one with the most positive feedback. I asked them point blank, "Can you refer me to the person that does your home studies?" And they gave me the information to Janie Cravens. She was a Godsend! She took the time to talk to me about the adoption process, she strictly laid out her opinion on who I should adopt from, and that, along with the fact that she has been doing home studies for 30 years, convinced me that she was the person I was looking for. Another great thing about Janie, everyone else was wanting to charge me $1000; Janie's fee $850. I know its not a huge saving, but when you're spending $30,000 for an adoption, every penny counts!
Anyway, perspective adoption parents, make this process easier than I did! Here is a link to a website that lists all the adoption agencies according to states:
Click on your state in the left hand column and you will get a list of agencies in your area. Next, you should look into which agencies have a good reputation. Here is a website I like to use:
Once you find an agency you feel comfortable with, give them a call and ask them who to use for your home study. They should be able to lead you in the right direction.
Just so you're prepared, you will need to gather quite a bit of information before you can even get started with the home study process. Janie required us to send her a very personal questionnaire, three reference letters, a copy of our drives licenses, a copy of our marriage certificate, proof of health insurance, proof of employment and income, a request for child abuse registry (notarized and sent to her), criminal history reports, and a sketch and picture of our home. The questionnaire requires you to delve into some pretty extreme issues (childhood, how you will handle discipline, use of drugs and alcohol past and present, and a lot of questions about how you will handle certain situations unique to adopted children). When she told me she would send me the paperwork, I actually thought, "Great! I will get these sent back tonight." Little did I know that it would take me three weeks to finally send in the documents. I'm not sure if all social workers require you to provide this information up front, but you will need to provide it eventually.
As always, I hope this helps!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Our Birth Mother Letter

After months of writing, editing, designing, and printing (the reason I haven't posted lately) our birth mother letter is completed and sent to our adoption counselor! Here it is:

For all the other prospective adoptive parents; for the graphics I used As long as you are not using the graphics for commercial purposes, they are all free. They have a wide variety of graphics for you to choose from. I used both Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to construct the letter, but I was told Design is actually a better program. If you have any questions or need any help (I was a bit lost when I first started the letter) feel free to contact me at
Now I'm on to the home study process!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Phone Meeting with Adoption Network Law Center

I know that we've pretty much decided to go with Adopthelp, but my husband and I set up a meeting with ANLC which took place this morning. We still think we're going to use Adopthelp, but I thought I'd discuss both companies..Should be helpful for others considering these two law firms.
Today during our meeting I learned a few things about ANLC...First of all, I brought up the negative comments that I came across during research (failed adoption concerns, lack in communication after being matched, and costs). I completely understand the fact that this law center does 300 adoptions a year and with those kinds of numbers, there are going to be people that are never going to be satisfied. I'm complete a people pleaser and even I've ran into that problem in my business. Sometimes, even if you bend over backwards, there is absolutely nothing that you can do. Don't be mistaken, ANLC did not give me this as an excuse; I was actually the one that mentioned it. What impressed me is that they were completely aware of the comments and are currently working on resolving those issues. I was somewhat taken aback by this, because I thought that maybe I would take them completely off guard by bringing up this situation. ANLC has actually come under new management since a lot of those complaints were made and they have been striving to better their company. As for the failed adoptions, many people were complaining about having to pay more or not recieving a refund. I have to admitt, I'm not concerned about the refund, because if we do experience a failed adoption, I will try again until I have a baby! They did explain to me that the only extra fees that adoptive parents will be responsible for on the second go around would be birthmother expenses. This is actually understable, because it is a fee that is consumed and the money just can't be given back. Aother common complaint was communication issues. ANLC explained to me that they use to have a seperate adoption counselor for the birthmother and the adoptive parents. The breakdown in communtication came because the birthmother counselor was disconnected from adoptive parent counselor. They have now changed this policy and now the same person is in charge of both the birthmother and the adoptive parents. Communication is now a lot smoother. Last concern....Pricing. They require a few fees. The first payment is for mainly advertisement and goes to ANLC to begin the process and that fee is $14,500. There is a phase two fee that goes to the law firm for matching expenses which is $9,800. The other fees involved include birthmother fees (around $5,000), lawyer fees (around $10,000), and the homestudy (preformed by another company; around $1000). So that makes the grand total just under $41,000. EXPENSIVE! I aksed about any other hidden cost or anything else that we can possible pay for and Kelly with ANLC told me that the only possible cost is travel expenses.
I know that I haven't had a formal meeting with Adopthelp, but the reasons that I've pretty made decision with them is quite substantial. During my initial conversation with Adopthelp, they did tell me that cost are going to be between $25,000-$30,000 and that includes everything. Also, they mentioned that their success rate is 92%. Although ANLC has a high success rate, it is 89% to 90%...Not much lower, but lower. And even though, I understand about the negative comments with ANLC, Adopthelp has SOOOO many postive comments! When people are upset they will tell the world, when people are happy they will say nothing, but when people are blown away they will post positively. It wasn't exactly what people saying about ANLC that made the difference, but it was what people were not saying that swayed me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Announcing Our Law Center

After a TON of research and disappointment we've finally decided on a company that we want to take care of our adoption. Drum roll, please.....The winner is Adoptionhelp Law Center!
I couldn't feel better about our choice. Every review that I've found is glowing, they have an A+ rating with the BBB, and their adoption success rate is 92%. They are a national adoption law firm based in California, so they work with birthmothers from many different states (meaning relatively fast match time). Their fees are in between $25,000 and $30,000 and that includes EVERYTHING, even the homestudy.
I'm so glad that we have finally gotten over this hurtle. Now its time to move on to the fundraiser phase. We have decided to put together a family garage sale, a small banquet fundraiser in Belton, and a larger elaborate fundraiser in Austin. We also have thought about a fund raising poker tournament and a Chick-Fil-A fundraiser. We'll see how everything goes!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Making Some Progress!

Last night I sat down and did a TON of research; called about ten agencies, looked into social services, looked into adoption agencies, and state programs. I think that Will and I have a few options that we are going to do.

The first thing that we are going to do is the Lutheran Social Service ( We've filled out and sent in an application and now we wait until their intake period (which will be sometime late summer, early fall). They take 10 couples a year during the intake period and their costs are on a sliding scale from $14,000-$23,000 dependent upon income. This is a private adoption service, so the birthmother relinquishes the rights. We will still have to pay lawyer fees which will be $600-$1500.

Pathways Youth and Family Services

The other option that we are looking into is a straight adoption of a toddler through Pathways ( This is a state run program so we will be adopting a 1 1/2 to 3 year old toddler that has been taken from their family and relinquished to the state. Why we are looking into adopting an older child is because until the child is about 1 1/2 there is still a chance that the family will be able to take the child back (which is called legal risk). This is a very cost efficient program with the out of pocket expenses total about $200 for background checks and $600-$1500 for lawyer fees. Also, with this we will more than likely receive daily compensation of about $20 to help raise the child, a $10,390 tax credit, Medicaid health insurance for the child, and reimbursement for college tuition. Since these children are usually physically or emotionally abused we will need to take classes (which, in my opinion, would be beneficial to any parent to be). The entire training/application/background check process will take about 6 months and after that is the waiting period. Since Will and I are rather selective about the child willing to adopt (1 1/2-3 years; Caucasian, mixed race, or Hispanic) its hard to tell how long it will take for or 'forever family', but it can be anywhere from a few months to one year.

Kids deserve a Happy Home Caring Adoptions: Finding Families for Kids since 1991Kids Come First

The last option that we are keeping in mind is Caring Adoptions ( This is a adoption agency that deals solely with direct adoptions with birthmothers relinquishing their rights. This agency charges $18,900 and this is collected in three different payments; an initial deposit to begin the process, a middle payment, and a final payment due at the time of taking the child home (sounds like my price structure). We would pay the lawyer fees, but comparatively this agency is one of the more reasonable ones out there. Most of the ones I've looked into are closer to $30,000. In order for us to start the process, we will have to committ, so we're saving this for a last option.
Well, even though I feel like we have some pretty good matches, I'm still going to dig up all the info I can on these three agencies, but I will definitely update any changes. Right now, I'm feeling pretty good about these options and I like the fact that I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket. =)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is the Beginning Always This Frustrating

I'm not sure why I'm starting this blog or if anyone will look at it other than myself, but I guess there is no reason not to. I plan to keep this as an update, a journal, and a resource for the adoption process that I'm going through.
Its now been about month, maybe even longer, since Will and I decided to adopted and I'm already frustrated with the process. It seems like we've gotten absolutely nowhere and doesn't seem like progress is going to speed up anytime soon. Our first step was to talk to Kacie Brooks, a childhood friend of mine, who works with Children's Connection. She had the adoption counselor, Jeriva contact us and after a long game of phone tag, we finally touched base and were given names of possible agencies that we should look at. After considering the list of about 8 different agencies, we decided that Abby's One True Gift would be a wonderful choice for us. We swung into full gear...The first thing they wanted us to do was to have a homestudy completed. Will and I started thinking of fundraisers and getting those together while also looking into getting a homestudy done by Children's Connection. Then we hit a big, huge brick wall...After a bit of digging, I found out that Abby's One True Gift isn't as amazing as they first appeared.
Everything was completely put on hold and Will and I decided to look into a foster-to -adopt program. After researching that option, we've now decided it just might not be the best for us. We really don't know if we would be able to relinquish a child that we have been raising as our own to their rightful family if that were to ever comeup.
Now we're completely back at square one....Researching adoption agencies and trying to think of how we can possibly come up with the $30,000 that it will take to complete our 'forever family'.
The main agency we're looking at right now is the Lutheran Social Services. After reading about all the horrors that the prospective parents went through with Abby's One True Gift, I'm still a bit timid about agencies that are not some type of 'social service'.
Now, back to more research and hopefully my next post will be a little more positive. =)