Last April I was excited and nervous to announce that my partner and I were in the early stages of trying to adopt a baby. I’ve been very aware of how long ago that announcement was and how silent I’ve been on the process. Some of this has been because it was suggested to not be too vocal about the process at our adoption workshop, but more has been because of the challenges this process has brought so far. When we attended the adoption workshop back in April, things felt like they were moving along smoothly. We’d had two visits with our home study social worker, we were signing on with the agency we’d chosen to work with for placement. Everything was very positive. Of course, things didn’t continue in that way.
The original paperwork we filled out for the home study required disclosure of any prescription medication and hospitalizations. Because I am on psychotropic medication for the management of my mental illnesses, the home study agency required letters of recommendation from both my therapist and psychiatrist. Originally, the instructions for these letters was very vague in what the social worker was looking for and my first letters were rejected for not being detailed enough and for implying but not outright saying the exact phrase “I am in support of this adoption”. Our social worker offered to let my providers write a second round of letters, but there was an issue with the second letter that my therapist wrote which sent up red flags within the agency and my psychiatrist was told by the lawyer at the clinic where she works that she was not able to answer specific questions pertaining to my ability to parent or use the specific language required. After clearing up the issues with my therapist’s second letter, which had resulted from a miscommunication between her and the social worker, our social worker said she could write yet another letter but did not follow through on her offer to reach out to my therapist again to clear up any confusion. My therapist wrote a third letter with the guidance of my partner and myself and it was submitted a couple of weeks ago. I was waiting to hear back from the social worker about the last letter when we got the first major bad news.
Yesterday, we received an e-mail from the Independent Adoption Center, which we had chosen to do our placement, that they were filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy and closing all of their offices immediately. The e-mail cited the declining number of domestic adoptions happening in the country and the increase in number of families trying to adopt a child as a reason for them shutting their doors. Apparently the money they have at this point will go in a court appointed trust and after their debts have been paid, all the families that had signed on with them, more than 300 last time I looked, would be contacted to submit claims as to what they felt they were owed. It sounds like if there is money left over, there will be some process of divvying it between families, but I don’t imagine there will be much returned of the $15,000 we’ve paid them. This news was devastating. My partner lost her job three weeks ago, money has been tighter than usual, I used a chunk of my savings to pay for the final agency payments to IAC. It looks very unlikely that we will be able to sign on with another agency any time soon. After all of the initial excitement, our hopes of starting a family in the next few years were effectively ended.
Then I got a call from our social worker about the home study this morning. Unfortunately, my psychiatric history is pretty extensive and includes seven inpatient hospitalizations from 2012-2015, three of which were for a month or longer. I had to report them because leaving them off of my paperwork would have been fraud and easily discovered if the adoption agency requested copies of my medical records. Because of this, the social worker and the agency she represents felt that I had not been stable long enough for them to take the recommendations of my therapist and psychiatrist and find in our favor. Our social worker offered us two options. The first was that we could continue the home study and have a negative outcome. The second was that we could stop here, not complete the home study and wait until I had a longer period of stability, at which point we could start another home study in the future and not have this current home study impact our ability to adopt. I had been expecting this from her because she’d discussed it with my therapist a couple of months ago while waiting for the third letter. When I asked her how long of a period of stability they were looking for though, she told me five to ten years of consistent therapy and no major hospitalizations. At this point, I have been stable and out of the hospital for two years and some weeks. With this recommendation, the earliest we can hope to start another home study is three years from now and I could still be told that they want to wait closer to ten years at that point.
So that’s where we are. Our placement agency is bankrupt and I’m too crazy to pass a home study right now. It feels pretty hopeless and bleak. I keep having dreams about parenthood but the reality of that happening feels impossible. I’m trying to stay positive. Tai chi class last night helped give me a solid 90 minutes where I was completely focused on what I was doing, which helped. But still, I feel like the rug was jerked out from under me. I’m alternating between completely numb to very angry and sad.
So yeah, it’s been a week already and it’s only Wednesday.