This story is months in the making and would take too long to scribe every painstaking detail...but here's the gist.
When we first started researching adoption agencies we thought we should go with a national one...larger agency, larger pool of birthmoms, yada yada. But when we realized how much cost (and travel) was involved with an out-of-state adoption, we figured it was better to stay a little closer to home. We then picked the largest agency in Michigan with the most placed adoptions and signed on the dotted line.
[enter irony...we're now in the middle of an out-of-state adoption]
There were things along the way that I wasn't totally impressed with (i.e. finding "Ben and Jessica" in our homestudy), but stuff happens and we were excited to just be moving forward. Our agency frustration hit an all time high when the agency announced their doors might be closing and slapped a $1000 fee on us (due two weeks later). Ben and I walked away from the meeting with the understanding that once we were linked we would no longer have to pay "supplemental" fees, which were scheduled to continue every few months until the end of the year. As irony would have it, Rebekah called our agency three days after I sent our $1000 check in. We were too excited about the baby to care and were happy that we no longer would have to pay them...
[enter menacing music]
Several weeks ago our case worker told us that we would need to get another agency involved (in Rebekah's state) so that she could have a case worker close and to save us money (we pay a hefty hourly rate that would get out-of-control if our case worker had to fly to Rebekah multiple times). She also explained some of the interstate laws (ICPC) and what would be required of us.
I really didn't get hung up on the details. Everything with Rebekah was beautiful and I knew it would all get hammered out eventually. Mentally, I sort of took a deep breath, let down my hair, and boarded the fun train...well, until yesterday.
For a faster read, let's look at yesterday's events in bullet point:
- We receive a bill in the mail for the next supplemental fee installment from our current agency (I was told we heard wrong at the meeting and could still have $1200 to pay before baby boy is placed with us).
- Case Worker (CW) emails me all the new contact information for the new agency/attorney, lists the fee schedule ($7,000 more than we expected to pay), and includes many "to-do" items. I wonder what the heck we're paying all these people to do.
- I call CW and calmly explain my frustration and question the rightness of us paying additional supplemental fees (Remember...Rebekah found us and now we're being handed off to another agency...)
- CW recommends that I call the new agency to make sure I understand the fee schedule (i.e. don't freak out until you see it for yourself) and reminds me that my adoption is still within the $18,000-30,000 range that they prepare clients for [Gee...that really helps. Thanks.].
- I call new agency...but, oh wait. CW gave me the wrong agency information and they have no idea who I am.
- I call CW and rip her a new one over voicemail.
- In the meantime, the new agency has contacted Rebekah and sent her paperwork to fill out [shouldn't I have given the green light first?] Rebekah has correct contact information that I'm able to use.
- I ask Rebekah to do me a favor and hold off on doing anything until I can get everything straightened out.
- I have a mini meltdown and cry out of frustration. Why does this have to be so difficult? I think about all the people in my life that had sex, got pregnant and then brought their babies home without batting an eye.
- I call new agency and finally talk to someone who knows what the heck they're talking about and is able to answer all of my questions (anyone at my agency had yet to do this). I learn that our hands are completely tied and if we want this baby (is there any question?) then we have to move forward with both agencies...and pay all the extra fees.
- CW never called me back.
Be thankful I gave you the censored version. It was a hot mess.
Ben and I laid on the couch last night, unwilling to do anything but soak in our misery. I told him I wanted to crawl in a hole and cry for days...he said he wanted to go punch someone...we were both stressed and I hate that.
Thankfully, we've recovered...It wasn't anything a good cry, great sex, sleep, and chocolate couldn't handle. There were some bright spots amidst the chaos...and I was able to seem them clearly, this morning.
Bright Spot #1: New agency is more than competent. They are AWESOME. Their licensing allows us to have an expedited relinquishment process and settle the adoption out of court. Which means...Birth father rights can be terminated 60 days before the due date. (This news was a huge relief to Rebekah as she has been concerned about it) and we can forgo the awkwardness of us all being in court.
Bright Spot #2: Because our case won't require a hearing, we simply have to wait for ICPC paperwork to be approved and filed. We'll be able to go home in 10-14 days! (That sure beats the 6-8 weeks we were anticipating!)
Bright Spot #3: Baby Boy is now 26 weeks. He's just shy of 2 lbs, 14 inches. He's inhaling and exhaling like a champ and his boy parts are "descending" (apparently this takes 3 days...who knew?) Ben held me close last night and we looked at our little miracle. He is worth all the trouble in the world...
Bright Spot #4: I got a new belly shot from Rebekah and talked to her on the phone. She is the sweetest, most considerate, compassion person I've ever met.
My world is right side up again as I muddle through the new details. Our plates are a little full right now...but we're keeping it all in perspective. I had a dream last night of me putting baby boy in Ben's arms for the first time...and it was nothing short of amazing.