The first thing that we are going to do is the Lutheran Social Service (http://www.lsss.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=198&srcid=-2). 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.
The other option that we are looking into is a straight adoption of a toddler through Pathways (http://www.pathway.org/). 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.
The last option that we are keeping in mind is Caring Adoptions (http://www.caringadoptions.org/). 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. =)