Where can I go to find answers to all of my non-biological family planning questions?

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Photo by Daquella manera, used under Creative Commons license.
I have been pregnant. I have had a child. He has reached his first birthday, and passed it by a few months. I feel that now is the time to start thinking about if, when, and how we might add a sibling for him.

I know that I do not want to be pregnant again — I hated pregnancy. I felt like the victim in a B sci-fi film. It was not a happy glowy experience for me and I see no reason to put myself through it again when there are so many other options when it comes to adding a child to your family. The problem is that, while I know there are options, I have no idea how to start filtering through them!

I feel like there must be someone out there whose job it is to collate all this information, and then talk to people about what they’re looking for and tell them which options they should discount and which they should investigate further. Unfortunately, all my Google fu has managed to turn up is law firms dealing with the rights of surrogate mothers, and Planned Parenthood. Are there any Offbeat Families (or Sponsors!) who know how to find a family planning counseling or advice service for people who are looking to have children in a less conventional way?Anie

Comments on Where can I go to find answers to all of my non-biological family planning questions?

  1. I will never ever get pregnant again, either. It’s been the worst experience of my life. I hate saying that, because I am so excited about my twins, but it has. When it’s over, my life will begin again. I just had to say that, since very few people make me feel like it’s a safe thing to say, or admit that they’ve felt the same way.

    It took us two years to get pregnant, and I spent some time looking at the non-biological options, too. I would answer your question first by mentioning finances, which may be a taboo subject for some. But a lot of people can’t afford all of the options. Costs vary, of course, but surrogacy will cost you between $50,000 and $100,000. International adoptions are around $40,000. Domestic adoptions are around $10,000. Foster care is free besides small registration fees, and some money is provided for the care of the children.

    My husband and I would never be able to afford a surrogate, and international adoption isn’t affordable at the moment, either. We tried to register as foster parents, but I couldn’t handle the emotional toll of even the videos, and we dropped out of the program for the time being. This left domestic adoption as our best choice. I can’t really tell if I’m presenting this information in an insensitive way, but hopefully that can provide you with some direction.

  2. Not sure if this helps, but I might suggest going to one of the LARGE message board sites for parents, and looking through the different categories. For example, look at message boards for Fostering Families, Adoptive Families, Building a Family Through Surrogacy, etc…and then look at the top of each message board, which will often have a “FAQ” or “Just Starting Out” post. Then you can gradually compile information that way.

    But I agree, that would be great if there were one post/site with Everything. Maybe you should create one! 🙂

  3. I understand this feeling. We tried for 5 years for my now 7week old daughter. Before i conceived we planned to adopt immediately. I found the website to my local adoption agencies and requested every packet that seemed possible for us. It is a lot to sift through, but after i was more informed i was able to speak to someone from the agency about our options. After going through this pregnancy i know adoption is definitely our next move. I really have no desire to birth another baby, and i know there is someone out there who will be happy to call us theirs some day. Good luck, i’m not much help just know that you arent alone in your feelings.

  4. Anie, I’m not sure whether you saw my reply to your comment on a previous post, but others might also want the info here.

    The steps will vary based on your location’s policies and laws, so I picked ATL/GA links for you. Contacting an adoption agency for general info is free and should get you started in planning.

    http://www.cradleoflove.org/adoptive_parents/ (recommended through JF&CS)

    Also, here’s one example of a First Steps checklist that you can refer to (just be aware that the specifics will be different):

  5. First step is to meet with a few area home study agencies. start asking questions and go from there. talk with other families about ethics. speak to those that have been through the process and are on the other side of it, about ethics. go depp and ask he hard stuff.

  6. As long as it gets renewed, there is an adoption tax credit- about $12k, which for us was about half our cost. We did an open domestic adoption through an agency called Open Adoption and Family Services. Their website (openadopt.org) is full of resources about adoption and I think general family planning. They are awesome, wonderful, and everything I could have hoped for. Open adoption is a beautiful thing, in part because the birth parents choose you to parent their child. The journalist/activist Dan Savage used the same agency and wrote a book about it called The Kid. It is a great read, and also gives lots of info about the process. Good luck!

  7. Before you consider domestic infant adoption, please, please head over to The Lost Daughters, a blogging project for adult female adoptees.

    There, you will see that adoption is not an “all beautiful” solution to parents’ family planning dilemas. There is grief, pain and loss involved in adoption. Please, please educate yourself as to the emotional toll that adoption makes on even an infant (and the first mother), and consider helping a child from foster care who truly NEEDS a family.
    Thank you,

    • While there is certainly loss, grief, and even trauma involved in adoption, I wouldn’t say that’s a reason not to adopt an infant. Some mothers, in spite of the grief, choose to place their babies for adoption. I am an adult adoptee who has reunited with my birth mother. Everyone has their own experience, and mine is unique to me, but in spite of the hard parts of adoption, my birth mother says she made the right choice for her, and for me. I wholeheartedly agree. I’m so happy to know her now, but I also wouldn’t trade my amazing adoptive family for the world and would not be the woman I am today without BOTH of my mothers. And aunts and cousins and siblings, etc. I am doubly blessed with both of my families. I think every child in foster care deserves a family, for sure! But there are infants who need to be adopted, too. I needed my adoptive family. My birthmother made a difficult but informed choice to place me for adoption. I know that’s not the case for every birth/first mother, but it is the case for some! There are families who survive the trauma and come out stronger on the other side of the grief and loss.

    • i would strongly encourage anyone to foster, but i would seriously reconsider fostering if your only goal is adoption.

      most foster cases result in reunification with the family, and it is unfair to the family, the kids and yourself to view the process as a means to an adoption.

      that is not to say that you can’t foster ethically while being open to, or even looking forward to, adopting. and of course you can adopt children out of foster care without fostering them first.

      i just wanted to include that, because i see a lot of negative impact on the foster system (and kids!) from the focus so many people in it have on adoption.

      that said, so far foster parenting is amazing – it is perfect for us right now, and i highly recommend considering it in anyone’s family planning. but it’s not for everyone (like having babies is not for me).

  8. A great website about all kinds of adoption (and infertility too, although that’s not relevant to this conversation) is http://www.creatingafamily.com
    It’s filled with great information, a searchable database, videos, articles, blog posts, and more. Also, they have a consulting page, which seems like it might be exactly what you’re looking for. http://www.creatingafamily.org/consultingservices.html

    Hope that this helps.
    Oh, and they also have a podcast, which is my favorite part.

  9. Open adoption- at least the way our agency did it- acknowledges and addresses the loss and grief. Certainly that doesn’t minimize it or make it go away, but no one tries to cover it up. Many birth parents report that an open relationship has helped them process their grief, and many adoptees have said the same.

    We are in regular contact with my son’s birth parents and extended birth family, and they will continue to be part of our lives. I’m not sure how an infant adopted this way is less “needy”. My son’s birth parents count not raise him, so they sought out adoptive parents. Foster care adoptions can be wonderful too, but come with their own issues. I worked with at-risk teens and know very well some of the things families in the foster system deal with- yes, many of them need a family, but they, for better or for worse, have a family. That family is just not able to care for them. I personally wanted an adoption where the birth parents gave their approval for me to raise their child.

    In the end you have to decide what you are able to handle and what fits with your life.

  10. My mom is a member of a Unitarian Universalist church. A couple who is a member of her church made an announcement and put in the bulletin that they were looking to adopt and asked if anyone knew of any situation where someone was pregnant who didn’t want to keep the baby. People in her church spread the word and after not too long a member’s friend’s teenage niece (or something like that) who got pregnant and wasn’t ready to be a mom got hooked up with the couple. The match was perfect and they were able to adopt with reasonable lawyer fees, not the 30K it can cost to go through and agency. I think spreading the word is an underrated option.

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