Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mainly About Hypothetical Babies

So Tabby's having a boy! I am very excited for her. (I'd have been excited for her either way. Both boys and girls are nice!) It does seem weird because of the over a dozen pregnant women I know, I only know of two that are having girls! But some I don't know what they're having, and my younger sister and boyfriend both say they know pregnant women who are mainly having girls, so I guess it all balances out.

Personally, I want girls. I actually want like four or five kids. I'm one of three, and I think a slightly larger family would be awesome. I want to adopt one to three of those, I think. And I don't really want more than two boys. Boys are NUTS! They're cute and sweet and all, it's not that I don't think they're great. But they are always running around, they don't think before they act, they are more immature (scientific fact), and as a woman with only sisters, I don't really understand little boys. So when I think about having kids myself, I'm not as keen on boys. But then, I think of like a little boy's arms around me calling me 'Mommy', and I think of my youngest cousin, Paulie as I last saw him, and my heart melts a little. And Ryan wants a son. So one boy seems okay. And then I think that one boy with three or four sisters? That's not bad, per se, but it'd probably be better to have two boys, so that they have a playmate for 'boy type' games. So two boys sounds okay. But three? Three BOYS?? Yeah, that sounds like way too much.

Admittedly, I don't get to plan it much. :) But I do want to adopt. And Ryan and I have talked, and ideally, we'd like to have the biological kids first. Why? Well, mainly because it'd be nice to start of the whole parenting thing normal like. We'd get the nine months to prepare (with adoption, there's more of an unknown on how long it takes). We'd get to start with a newborn, so we'll learn to parent while he or she can't remember our mistakes. :) So, I admit this could all totally change. I might have trouble conceiving, so we might decide to go for adoption first. But right now I'm thinking, in a very flexible not really a plan way, that it'd be nice to have a biological baby. Then the next kid I think we should either have another biologically or adopt from India. Basically we'll probably try biologically, and save up money in the meantime, and if it was taking a while, try adoption. Ryan is Indian, if you didn't know, and preference is given to Indians in adopting from India. There are thousands of orphans needing homes. We'd probably adopt a toddler (like three or so). I'd ideally like that child to be younger than the one we already have, though the adoption process takes over a year, so that probably means only waiting until our first is like two to start the process. They also want you to be married for five years (at the completion of the adoption), or at least together for that long, and prefer you to be at least thirty. So really that will depend on how soon we have the first kid. Both Ryan and I are 24 now, and will probably be 25 or 26 when we marry.

If we birthed the second child, I'd probably try to adopt the third. If we adopted, then I'll try to conceive a third. If not, then I think I'd let it sit for a while and raise either my three or my two for a while.

When our kids are in their pre-teens, I think I'd look into adopting a sibling group, of either two or three, from foster care, with the oldest being younger than our youngest child. Not only do I want to preserve 'birth order' if I can, but also kids tend to mimic older children. I'd rather have my newly adopted kids pick up good habits from the kids I already have then have the kids I already have pick up bad habits from the newly adopted kids. The way foster care works, they make every effort to find a blood relative to place children with before they put them up for adoption (that's why kids eligible to be adopted from foster care are usually older, since this takes time.) Which means all children eligible for adoption from foster care (which is the minority of kids in the foster care system) either have no relatives, or have no relatives capable of providing a stable home for them. So, they might pick up bad habits. That doesn't mean they can't be loving, wonderful, amazing kids. But I definitely would rather have the kids I've raised from infancy or toddlerhood influencing these hypothetical children then the other way around. :)

This is all totally hypothetical. I'm a novelist. I can't really help but write stories for myself, you know? But there are ten thousand variables. Like, I may be infertile (I have polycystic ovarian syndrome). Or maybe I churn out five bio kids in quick succession! Maybe I have twins or triplets! Or we can't find the money to adopt from India. Speaking of India, the question of whether Ryan and I will start out life in India or America has not yet been answered, and of course would change things (for one, it'd be much easier and cheaper to adopt from India if we were residents!) And how long we'd stay in either country changes things too (if we live in India forever, there's no way we'd adopt from American foster care).

You might wonder why I talked about international adoption and foster care adoption, but not the very common domestic infant adoption. Oh, yay, I'm going to teach you a little about adoption! I learn about these kinds of things for fun, and it's always nice when I can use this knowledge I've processed but not used yet.

Aside from relative adoption (grandma, step parent, etc adopting children) which is actually the most common type, there are three kinds of adoption: domestic private adoption, foster care adoption, and international adoption. Domestic private adoption is almost always infants. There's about six couples wanting to adopt for every baby available. The couples (or occasionally, single) who wants to adopt creates a profile and find an agency. Birth mothers go to the agency when they decide to adopt, look through the profiles, and select a family for their child. Some couples have been selected in a matter of weeks, others wait a decade. The process is very costly, and runs from $8K-$40K, and usually between $15K-$25K. This cost covers the agency's fees and the medical fees of both baby and mother. I'll talk about how to afford these costs below.

Foster care adoption is inexpensive to almost free. Because, as I mentioned about, children in the foster care system are not cleared for adoption until all chance of being placed with a blood relative is exhausted. Therefore, you can almost never get an infant from foster care. If you want to, your best bet is to go through foster parent training and have an infant placed with you. Then pursue adopting the baby, and even if it takes a few years, the baby has been living with you all that time. The trouble with that, of course, is maybe the baby is taken away after you've utterly fallen in love. So usually the youngest you can adopt from foster care is toddlers, and more usually school age children.

International adoption varies greatly as every country is different. Most countries are part of the Hague Convention, which sets a standard, though some aren't. Even with this standard, there are of course variations. So like I said, India prefers couples that have been married for 5 years, with the youngest being 30 (28 at time of application is okay, since it takes a while to complete), and with the sum of the couple's age not exceeding 90, or single women between the ages of 30 and 45. That's India's standard, but it's not all of them. Some will disregard any with medical problems in their past. Some countries, you can't be fat. Some countries have lower ages and are also open to single men. It really just depends. Fees vary from $10K-$35K (India is $25K-$30K). Much of this fee goes to the orphanages, and the agencies (both your adoption agency and the government agencies) and airfare. In 2009, 12,782 kids were adopted in intercountry adoptions. China, Ethiopia, Russia, South Korea, Guatemala, Ukraine, Vietnam, Haiti, India and Kazakhstan are the top ten countries adopted from in 2009. However, Guatemalan adoption has been suspended due to suspected corruption (there were reports of kidnapped children being adopted overseas) and Haitian adoptions have been suspended since the earthquake while everything is sorted out, since many children have been separated from their families and they may or may not be alive (and their birth certificate and such may have been destroyed). Each country has its pros and cons, and anyone going this route needs to do research.

So, considering how expensive domestic and international adoption is, how can any normal person afford it? And what qualifies you for adoption?

Well, for one, there are grants given to adopting couples and you can be sure I'll be applying for all of them if I go the international route. I'll also be doing fundraising. And saving. A child is way more important than a house, after all. :) I mean, I want a house, but if it's one or the other. Also there's a tax credit of about $10K, so you can get some of your money back.

For foster care and international adoption, you don't need to be rich. Usually you just need to make about $10K per year per person in your household (including the kid you're adopting). Not too hard, though an argument for adopting kids first instead of having biological kids first. The same requirement exists for private domestic adoption, but you usually need a great deal more because birth parents are looking for a better home to put their child in, and usually that means financially well off (as well as loved-- but many birth parents love their children and want love plus more for their kids).

I'm not anti-domestic private adoption, but since there's like 6 homes in line for every baby, I'd rather help a child who might not get a home. In both foster and international adoption cases, there are many children who grow up without a family of their own, turn 18, and are out in the world alone. I'd like to think if I adopt from those situations, I'd not only get the amazing gift of a child, but give the amazing gift of a family to someone who might not otherwise get that. This is more important from India than from foster care because foster care is a home of sorts, where as Indian children up for adoption are raised in orphanages.

And as far as what you have to do to adopt, all adoptive families must go through a home study and adoption classes. So there is a qualifying process.

Adoption is strong in my family. Well, or at least a spirit of it. My cousin Samantha was adopted from Kazakstan. My second cousin Christopher was adopted as well. And my cousin Jonathan adopted his step sons. My younger sister Alison and her fiance Brad fully intend to adopt from foster care in the future, after they've both completed their education and established themselves in their fields. So if I adopt, my child will grow up in a family that accepts and supports adoption.

This is a random thing blog post. None or all of this might come to pass... except one thing. Tabitha is having a boy!

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