Adopting a newborn“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” – Valerie Harper, adoptive parent

There’s a saying that, “Love makes a family.” Money sometimes makes a family on top of all that love. Or at least a deposit of $4,000 begins the process. Technically, it’s labeled a “retainer” and we wrote the check on Saturday morning to a law office in Los Angeles specializing in private adoptions.

We’re buying a baby.

It sounds a bit crass to describe it that way, but that’s what it boils down to. We were told to budget $25,000 to $30,000 to get our baby. There are less expensive paths to adoption as outlined by Adoption.com.

Adopting from the U.S. foster care system is generally the least expensive type of adoption, usually involving little or no cost, and states often provide subsidies to adoptive parents. Stepparent and kinship adoptions are often not very costly. Agency and private adoptions can range from $5,000 to $40,000 or more depending on a variety of factors including services provided, travel expenses, birthmother expenses, requirements in the state, and other factors. International adoptions can range from $7,000 to $30,000.

But we’ve quickly learned that money is another way of ensuring our preferences. “Preferences” is the politically correct way of saying we want a white baby. Before everyone pounces, I wrote about this once before when we were first considering sperm donors. I used a review of a story line from The L Word way back in Season 2.

Central to the show is Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) and Tina Kennard (Laurel Hollomon), a lesbian couple who, after seven years of dating, want to have a child by artificially inseminating Tina. The character of Bette Porter is biracial, of black and white descent. Bette and Tina struggle to find a suitable sperm donor until one day, Bette announces that she’s found the perfect man. Tina is shocked when the donor turns out to be black, and she realizes that she hadn’t fully processed the possibility of having a part-black child. Bette is surprised and hurt that Tina would be so uncomfortable with having a biracial baby, but Tina finally comes around and she is successfully inseminated.

What was left out of the review was Tina defending why she thought they should have a Caucasian baby. In the heat of their debate, Tina said (this is the paraphrased version because I couldn’t find the quote online), “Isn’t it hard enough for a child to grow up with two mommies… why would we want to burden it with being biracial too?”

It’s strange, but the more we talk with our friends and family about adopting, race is always brought up in the conversation. Why is that?

In December, we attended a seminar for an agency adoption. The social worker was wonderful and we learned more about the process, but we decided that our chances for a match would increase if we retain the law office with 12 couples on its wait list versus the 150 represented by the agency.

Of course, there’s a premium for increasing these odds and it equates to $10,000 more than the agency price. After spending $55,000 on fertility treatments this still seems like a bargain and low risk, since we’re practically guaranteed to get a baby. Or so they say.

There still are financial risks. I’ll refer back to Adoption.com and its blurb on Domestic Independent Adoptions:

Adoptive families who pursue independent adoptions report spending $8,000 to $30,000 and more depending on several factors. Independent adoptions are now allowed in most states, but advertising in newspapers, magazines, etc. seeking birth parents is not allowed in all states. Costs for advertising for birth parents can be in the $5,000 range.

Adoptive parents may find that they pay birth parent expenses for birth parents who then change their mind and that money is not reimbursed. Some couples have had more than one arrangement with a birth parent fall through. Some states require that adoptive parents pay for separate legal representation for birth parents, in addition to their own legal representation. If the child has medical difficulties, birth expenses can be much higher.

Next step: We need to complete our homestudy with the State and this will cost another $2,500.

In parallel, we write our parent profile. This is a marketing vehicle and the primary way a birthmother will decide to select us. The adoption director at the law office encouraged us to emphasize that Jeanine is an attorney. He indicated that birthmothers gravitate to professionals because of the “stability” perception. He also suggested a beach photo since we live in Newport. Midwestern birthmothers love the thought of their kid growing up near the beach and seemingly the good life. That allusion to money is a weird thing… whatever it takes.

Jeanine and I will create our profile in the next two weeks. Then we wait for Juno.