Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Adoption #2- Response from CSS.
Thank you all for your kind comments yesterday. I do appreciate the support, the insight, and the prayers!

Thankfully, my email to Ms. Dowly generated a response from her. She returned my email the same day and apologized for not getting back to me. She claims that she never got my voice mail message and confessed that she may have accidentally deleted it while trying to check her messages remotely with her cell phone (she was out of town that day). I'm still not pleased about that but at least she gave me a prompt response with her email and when I called her back yesterday late afternoon, she spent a considerable amount of time with me answering some of my questions.

Here's what I learned.

1) We qualify for their infant adoption program based on our length of marriage, the fact that we have only one child, the fact that I am unable to have biological children, and a couple of other qualifiers that I can't remember.

2) We'd have to fill out an application and clarify what (if any) health issues we'd be willing to consider in a newborn and what race we'd be willing to consider. We can not specify gender. I forgot to ask if there's an application fee. I suspect there is.

3) We have to go through a training series involving 6 seminars which cost $300 for the two of us. Their next series won't be until sometime in January. Apparently they had one scheduled to start in early October but they canceled it because they only had one perspective adoptive couple signed up and it wasn't cost effective to do it for just one.

4) We'd have to be fingerprinted again at a cost of about $34 per person.

5) We'd have to have a homestudy done at a cost of $2,000. The $300 cost for the 6 seminars would actually be applied to our homestudy fee. Of courses, the homestudy involves criminal and financial background checks, home inspection, individual and couple interviews, a completed autobiography, and references. It also involves post placement visits once a baby is placed in our home.

6) The time to become qualified and eligible to adopt is about 3-4 months, if we don't delay getting our homestudy paperwork in and taking the 6 classes.

7) The placement fee is 15% of our combined annual gross salary, not to exceed $15,000. The fee includes legal services for us and the prospective birth mother, living expenses for the prospective birth mother if she needs financial assistance during her pregnancy, court fees to include adoption finalization, and counseling fees for the prospective birth mother. It does not include medical expenses if the birth mother is not insured, the cost of a certified copy of the adoption decree or the baby's birth certificate, or fingerprinting fees.

8) The placement fee is not due until a child is placed in our home with the intent to adopt. The first half of the fee is due within the first month following placement. The second half of the fee is due 30 days before the court date for finalization.

9) If your match is disrupted, you're put back in the waiting pool and you don't pay another placement fee.

10) So, given all of that, it looks like an adoption through this agency could run us up to about $18,000. Let me just say that's a lot more than the cost of Snuggle Bug's adoption, but as I look at other agencies, it's much less than some others charge.

11) When I asked about what they offer their expectant mothers, I was informed that CSS is first and foremost a pregnancy crisis center and that they do what they can to help the expectant mother parent. There's a separate division within CSS that work with the expectant mothers and Ms. Dowly doesn't get involved unless the expectant mother has reviewed all her parenting options and resources and still decided to make an adoption plan for her child.

12) The expectant mothers are counseled during their pregnancy and given resource information to show them how they can parent. They're offered pregnancy housing and counseling for up to a year if they decide to parent. If they place, they're offered counseling during their pregnancy and for as long as they feel they need it after they place.

13) No match is made until after the expectant mother is at least 7 months along. They don't want the expectant mother to have undue pressure placed on them by having a long-standing relationship with the prospective adoptive parents before their baby is born and they don't want the prospective adoptive parents to get too attached because they realize the expectant mother will have to make her decision all over again after the baby is delivered.

14) Many of their matches are considered "emergency" placements where an expectant mother has just given birth and decides to place or has to place because she tested for drugs. Some matches are made at the 7th month of pregnancy or later.

15) I asked the question, "What happens if we have gone through your classes and the homestudy process and we're qualified and waiting but then we're matched through a family or friend." Ms. Dowly said that it would be understood upfront that we would bring the prospective birth parent to CSS and let them offer her their services and we would still pay the placement fee, even though we'd found out own match, in part because that fee includes legal and counseling fees. Oronzo and I have to talk about this scenario some more.

16) The average wait time once licensed to adopt is between 15-18 months. They have a family that was approved in Jan 05 that's still waiting. A family that was approved in Apr 05 but then placed a hold on their adoption until Sep 05, they're still waiting.

17) She was a bit vague on how many placements they've done this year and I'll have to nail her down on more specifics before we make a decision but I believe they've had 3 adoptions that were finalized and 1 situation in which the expectant mother decided to parent. That doesn't seem like very many placements for 1 year. Can anyone share insight on this?

18) They don't do very many interstate adoptions, unless a prospective adoptive couple brings an expectant mother from out of state to them. Most of their expectant mothers are local.

Okay, I think that's all I know for now. Ms. Dowly is sending me a packet of info to include fingerprinting cards, an application, and the fee structure information.

I've shared all of this information on my blog so that others looking into adoption have just one idea of what's out there and in the hopes that others will share their insight with me. Do the fees sound reasonable? Should I be concerned about the low rate of placements? Does it sound as though the expectant mothers are being treated ethically? Are there any other questions I should be asking?

We will continue researching other agencies. This is just the first one we've gotten concrete information on. All feedback is appreciated.

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5:52 AM

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Stacey said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!! Especially thank you for being so detailed about the fee structure! We just would never be able to afford that! It breaks my heart!

Would you be willing to email me privately about the specifics (money wise) in your adoption of Snuggle Bug? I don't remember reading it in the story and we just are praying for that type of situation to come our way.

I think that all of it sounded fine until you shared that in the event you and Oronzo find your own match, you will still have to pay the placement fees...that seems ridiculous but others may have some insight as to whether or not that is typical.

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Erin said...

It sounds pretty typical for an agency and a lot like the CSS agency we used in Michigan, although the fees are more than we paid. Here it was a flat fee for everyone. Bethany Christian Services was a set fee sliding scale based on income, now it is a percent of income like this CSS agency.

The process seems fairly ethical in terms of what they do for expectant moms. In fact, it is probably a "good thing" they have so few placements, it may mean women are finding the resources they need to parent. I guess my big thing is that even if the mom decides to look into adoption, she should be able to also have all the parenting resources in place.

You never know really what is going to happen in terms of placements. The CSS agency we used normally places about 5-6 infants a year (that finalize). The year Widget was born, they placed more than double that, the majority of them from July on. The BCS agency we started with placed about 10 babies the first year we were in the program but only about half that the second year.

As for bringing in your own "match", I think it seems reasonable for them to expect the same in fees because the expectant mom should be able to access all the same resources any expectant mom coming in would get access to.

I know it is such a struggle to decide what to do and how to adopt with breakign the bank. Good luck and I'll be thinking of you!

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Daddy D said...

Sounds like such a struggle....but in the end, it will all be worth it. Some of it sounds a little out there and too much, but I just figure they do this all the time, they would know best....or at least I hope so.

- Jon
- Daddy Detective
- www.daddydetective.com

At 8:39 AM, Blogger DeAnna said...

Hmmmm, lots of thoughts on this, but the ones that stick out - yes the fees seem typical - we paid a little more just because we travelled to other states and had to stay in a hotel, it sounds like they are ethical in their treatment of expectant mothers and trying to help them first parent or at least it seems they are probably giving them good counsel so they can be very sure about their decision. This to me is very important for both parties involved because if they aren't counseling then the mother could place the baby feeling she has no other option and then have to go through difficulties the rest of her life, they could also not be talking to the mother and really looking out for warning signs - and I'm not meaning that the mother doesn't have a right to not place the baby after it is born, I'm talking about the mothers - like the one we dealt with before Amelia - who I totally feel is a "professional scammer" (long story). For me, the low rate of placement would be a big concern - 15-18 months?! Especially since I think in most states homestudies only "last" for one year, so if you wait longer than that, you would pay extra to get it renewed. This might be typical for some agencies, although for us we only waited 1 month for Isabella and (after going through the failed adoption) 1 1/2 months for Amelia. Granted, we weren't too specific about race or gender so that probably makes a difference. As far as them not giving your money back if you find your own situation --- I think they are ALL like this!!!! With the adoption scam we went through, we didn't get money back -- which is frustrating on so many levels, because now our hopes of having a bigger family will have to wait because of paying off money that we really might as well flushed down the toilet. With Isabella, we went with a facilitator, they aren't all good, but this was one wonderful!!! Then with Amelia we went with an organization called Special Link (this was after the adoption fraud, they weren't involved in that) that just deals with bi-racial or AA situations.
Are you only wanting local or are you considering interstate? Although, I loved both of the places we went through, I would love to see God just "drop" a situation in our lap next time without having to use an agency - because like you said, the cost would be much easier to afford - but I guess we'll just have to see what the Lord has in store for us!! I'll pray that He will lead you in the way you need to go to your next child!!!

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Kathleen Marie said...

From what I am told Bethany's fees are about $15000.00, so similar and they place from all churches/faiths/etc... not just one. They want the adoptive parents to be Christian but they ladies placing the babies don't have to be. In little Rapid City they had place 4 babies by July. Tara's would have been the 5th but she decided as you know to parent. Tara and Cody can both receive counseling for life and they helped them a bit financially as well. I hope this helps and that you find the perfect placement agency for you. We are praying for the perfect baby and sibling for Snuggle Bug!

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Dawn and Joe De Lorenzo said...

That fee is much less than we are paying so in my eyes it is good :-)


At 9:50 AM, Blogger Tracey said...

Having never adopted, I have no BTDT advice, but I have some questions:

Have you checked any other agencies out yet to compare?

Can you talk to several other adoptive families that went through this agency to get their input/complaints/etc.?

Can you get detailed information (in writing and/or in person) regarding their counselors, and if they offer any post-placement help to the mothers?

Good luck to you guys. This must be a very exciting step!

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous chelle said...

Wow! I know nothing. I am sending you many many positive vibes and wishing you some luck .... How exciting!

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Brony said...

Wow, there is lot of information to process. I can't comment on the fee. I have no experience with this. It does all sound logical.

There still seems to be some unanswered questions. They seem to have left some things open ended.

Are you comfortable with them?

Did you get a good feeling?

I agree with Tracey's question: Can you talk with another family?

I'll keep you in my prayers.

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

I'm glad you did finally get a response and had some questions answered!

I've never been through any of this before so I have no experience to draw from.

I find it strange that if you find an expectant mom through friends or family that you have to bring her to this agency and still pay them a placement fee- for what? You found the woman; and what if this mom wasn't interested in going through CSS?

I would find it a bit frustrating to have to do a home-study when you already had one through the other agency (or do those only last for a certain amount of time?) What are the 6 sessions you would have to take? You didn't say how you felt about that, but seems to me you both have already been through an adoption once, what more could you need to learn? It seems like they make it so hard for parents to adopt; couples having a baby don't have to go through all of that!

Their track record for 3 placements sounds a little low - but again I have no experience to base that off of! I guess you would have to look at it in more details - how many expectant mothers do they get in a year who do decide to place and how many families are on the waiting list? If they have a small # of expectant moms, then I guess it wouldn't be unreasonable to only have 3 placements.

Praying for you guys that this all comes together for you!

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Barb said...

I, too, have never been through this process so my input is necessarily very limited. The one thing that strikes me as a little strange is that you're being treated as though you are first time adoptive parents. I understand the need for caution on their part but does it count for nothing that you've adopted before?

That in itself makes me question their training series. And I question why you'd have to be fingerprinted again. Aren't your fingerprints on file somewhere?

Just a few things that would be bothering me.

Still, I definitely agree with Tracey and Brony that I'd try to meet other people who adopted successfully through this agency. The agency should be more than willing to connect you with people they've successfully placed children with.

The one thing that struck me as very positive is their emphasis on doing everything they can to help the birth mother.

I'm excited for you, though, and I'll pray that this whole process moves smoothly and as quickly as possible for you.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger AMH said...

The process they described for an adoptive family is nearly identical to what we've gone through with our agency. The placement fee is very similar as well. Although, with our agency, if you locate your own birth mother at any point throughout the process you can still bring her to the agency for counseling etc. but you only pay a very reduced placement fee.

Our agency was VERY upfront with their placement stats, etc. They also do a LOT of networking with other agencies in other states to bring birth mothers and adoptive parents together.

Sounds like CSS is on the right track, but I'd ask for some more concrete numbers. Fees seem reasonable for an agency (as I've heard of people paying 30-40k through an agency and also wanting $$ upfront) Seems like they are providing a lot of birth parent support which is good.

The only thing is if their wait is 15-18 months... and you'd have to pay a placement fee even if you located a birth mom in that time... well that could be a deal breaker to you.

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi OW,
Never posted before, but found your blog through Naked Ovary. Just wanted to weigh in on the agency thing. I have heard that adoption through Catholic Social Services or Catholic Charities for domestic adoptions can be difficult. This from our sw who did our international homestudy, who happens to work for Catholic Charities!! Wow, huh? There are tons of other great agencies out there. I would keep looking. In our own quest for an agency, if someone didn't return my calls right away or were just nasty in their responses, they were immediately taken out of the consideration for adoption. We chose Dillon International, for our adoption from India. You will know when you find the right agency. Trust me. The whole finding a private adoption situation then forcing the expentant mother to use your agency???? I'm not too sure about that. My first thought would be, oh they still want our placement fee. Just a thought. Good Luck!

At 5:32 PM, Blogger scribbit said...

I don't have much to contribute to the conversation outside of good luck to you. My husband is an attorney who did adoptions for years and he found it so satisfying and I wish adoption was given a lot more screen time than it currently gets. I'm not an expert on the fees and placements but the only thing that I would mention is that I don't think the trend toward open adoptions is a good thing. Once a child has found parents, cutting the strings is very important--most adoptions find the birth mother in less than ideal circumstances (or she wouldn't be placing her child for adoption) and it's unfair to the adopting parents to have to work with another adult in the raising of what should now be fully their child. I can't imagine having another woman hanging around the background as a second figure in my children's lives. But unfortunately I don't think there's much control over that issue for the adopters. Oh, I'm rambling. Hope this comment makes some sense and doesn't offend.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Mia said...

Overwhelmed how exciting for you! I wish you all the best!!!! I can only imagine how trying this process is but you seem so loving and caring and strong, you will do well. I love that you have concern for the prospective birth mother. You know this relationship will be of significant importance to the child you adopt and your attention to that is a true sign of the unselfish/wonderful mother you are and will be!!!

As for CC I don't have very good things to say about them as a whole although I'm sure there are individuals within CC that are decent. If you have questions regarding my experience please email me and I will try to shed some light on this comment.

Scribbit you have a lot to learn. Your comment angers me but I will not take up Overwhelmed's comments to vent my frustration at your ignorance. Please educate yourself on this matter. It is significant and important to all adoptees everywhere that we change archaic thinking like this.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Pamela said...

Wow, how sweet of you to share all this valuable info in the event someone else is interested in adopting! I am so excited for you all!


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Name: Overwhelmed

My complete profile

It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

(the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)
(Part 5)
(Part 6)
(Part 7)
(Part 8)
(Part 9)
(Part 10- Adoption Finalization)

Fostering isn't for the faint of heart!

(our journey to adopt again through foster-to-adopt, the good, the bad, & everything in between)

Adoption #2- considering the State
More Adoption #2 thoughts
Adoption #2- Back to considering the State
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 1)
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 2)
Family Foster Home Licensing Prep Checklist
Adoption #2- Long overdue update
PS-MAPP class homework assignment
Our preliminary home inspection went well!
Adoption #2: Licensing update
Adoption #2- Foster Facts
Adoption #2: I love it when things go my way!
Adoption #2- The home inspection
Adoption #2- We failed our home inspection!
Adoption #2- We passed the follow-up home inspection!
Adoption #2- Still waiting
Adoption #2- We're getting closer
Adoption #2- An update & a lead
Adoption #2- The lead that didn't pan out.
Adoption #2- We're licensed!
Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
Adoption #2- Quick update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is staying longer!
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is growing!
Adoption #2- Overdue update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- The latest on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Shopping spree for Baby Bug
Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
Adoption #2- Meeting Boo
Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
Adjusting to three 3 and under!
Stressful moments in fostering.
Adoption #2- Update on our foster daughters
CPS Workers Jerking Our Chain!
It's getting much worse!
Fostering: Update on Baby Bug
Fostering: Update on Boo
The effects of fostering on Snuggle Bug
The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.
Good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
My heart is breaking!
Bittersweet news about Baby Bug.
Next Friday is going to be tough.
Packing up Baby Bug's belongings
It's done- Baby Bug is gone.
Working on finding peace, one day at a time.
Referral to the Early Intervention Program
Baby Bug update
Home Inspection for re-licensing
Parole granted for Boo's bio mom
Baby Bug is turning 1 year old soon.
Day 2 of Boo's permanency hearing
A prayer answered today!
Attending Baby Bug's 1st birthday party
Foster news
Good news for Boo's case
Boo's bio family visits
Termination Trial date set!
A new caseworker for Boo
I've been asked to testify in court.
Court hearing for "John Doe"
Contested termination trial begins tomorrow afternoon
Boo's adoption has been finalized!

Adoption #2- Trying to get a response.
Shout out for upcoming blogger events!
Five Ingredients Friday (Caramel Brownies)
Counting to 10
Bye Bye Baby, Hello Little Boy
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Adoption #2, exploring a new avenue
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Results of Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style
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