Friday, July 30, 2010

Things I should have told you... and tears.

Things I should have told you:

Dumb me forgot to tell you some very important details about the adoption that may help you understand the process a bit more as you go through it yourself.

First: The ICPC actually went a lot quicker than we expected. We were told it could take up to 14 business days... that's 3 weeks people... Fortunately, our lawyer informed us that it was also possible that it could go a lot quicker. I guess it really depends on how quickly your lawyer puts together the paperwork and how quickly each state is at contacting each other.

You may remember that we were staying at a week-by-week hotel. It was much cheaper than paying for a hotel nightly. This leads me to my suggestion for you: ONLY BOOK ONE WEEK AT A TIME! We booked for two weeks and ended up only staying in that SC for nine days. Now, we did only book one week at first. But, our lawyer got her days mixed up and thought Thursday was Friday. So, on Thursday she told us she wouldn't get the paperwork until Monday and that we could leave on Tuesday morning. So, we went ahead and booked another week, because it was still cheaper than paying for five days at a nightly hotel. Then, right after paying for the next week, she calls us and tells us that she thought today was Friday and she will actually have the paperwork tomorrow (Friday) and that we could leave tomorrow night if we wanted. While this was great news because we wanted to go home, we had also just shelled out a fistful of money for an extra week! We ended up staying until Saturday morning and then coming home. So, keep in close contact with your attorney. They will let you know how the process is going and give you estimates. If you book two or three weeks, in advance, then you might end up paying for days you don't need.

The ICPC process was easy. It was mostly waiting. They started the paperwork the day the relinquishments were signed. It involved faxing us some materials at the hotel, which we had to sign and send back, and then a lot of lawyer to state office, state office to state office, state office to lawyer work. (Confused yet?) :)

We used these nine days to get to know our daughter on our own. I hated being away from home, and really wanted to be sleeping in my own bed, rocking my daughter in my own recliner, watching my own TV, using my own DVR, visiting with our families, and petting my sweet cats (who I missed terribly). However, it was much needed time with our baby. We were able to bond with her, without anyone else around. While it would have been nice to have family helping us out, it was good to just be US. We got used to her cries, her feeding schedule, her need for being held. We spent the time loving her and dedicating ALL of our attention to her - not work or lesson planning, etc. ICPC time actually turned out to be very valuable time to us.

Second: Every state has different birthfather laws, relinquishment laws, and revocation periods. So, your experience may differ from ours, but I figured I would share it so you could have something to compare it to.

In SC, the birthmother goes to a hearing BEFORE the baby is born to determine that there is no coercion taking place. Here, she tells the judge who she's chosen, why she's chosen them, and why she's chosen to pursue adoption. This allows the judge to see that she is making the decision on her own, that there is no "baby buying" taking place, and that she is in the right frame of mind. Some states have this hearing after the baby is born. A had her hearing in June. It went well. Our lawyer got the chance to meet her and talk to her.

After the baby is born, most states require that birthmothers wait 24-72 hours (some states even require weeks) before relinquishments can be signed. In SC, the relinquishments can be signed any time after the baby is born, as long as the birthmother has been off pain medication for a total of four hours. In our case, A had a C-Section. She wanted to rest for a day, and we wanted her to rest for as long as she needed. The lawyers were trying to pressure her into signing the papers the same day the baby was born, but we all wanted them to wait until Saturday or Sunday. Honestly, Nick and I figured that they wouldn't be signed until Monday. I know that if I had just had surgery, I'd want pain meds for as long as I could. (I'm a bit of a wimp).

A signed the papers Saturday morning, not even 24 hours after the baby was born. We were thankful and surprised for such a quick process. In SC there is no revocation period.

In our situation, the birthfather was not named. SC is different from most states, in that the birthmother does not have to release ANY information about the birthfather if she so chooses. A chose not to release his name or identifying information, though we did know his age and race. The way SC handles terminating birthfather rights in such a situation is through advertising. They will run an ad in the paper once a week for three weeks. After that, they must wait 30 days. If no one comes forward, they will terminate the birthfather's rights. Since they have no name, it appears in the paper as a John Doe letter. A's name will not appear in the ad.

Third: Finalization! We will finalize in SC, where the adoption took place. Some states require 3-6 months for finalization, and I believe some are even quicker. In SC, finalization can take place 90 days (3 months) after the initial placement. They need this time to file paperwork with the court, get the birthfather's rights terminated, and have post placement visits. In our case, the post placement visits will be done by the social worker who did our homestudy. Our state requires 6 post placement visits (once a month). That means if we were finalizing here, we would have to wait 6 months for finalization (and probably longer). SC only requires one post placement visit. So, our SW is going to send along her first report to the lawyer, but she still wants to complete her 6 visits. So, we'll still be having post placement visits even after we've finalized. It's very strange to deal with two different states at one time because neither state knows the other state's rules and things like this end up happening. But, we are happy to oblige. We don't mind visits, and it won't change our ability to finalize in three months.


And Tears...

I broke down today. I am working like a dog lately. I have four jobs total. I teach at two different universities, I work as a tutor online, and I am a realtor. Currently, I'm not teaching since it's summer, so I'm only working two jobs right now. But they're kicking my butt. I have been away from the house so much this week - and I hate it. Today, I left the house at 12pm and won't get to go home until 8 or 9pm tonight. (I'm at work right now, answering phones at the office). It's been like this every day this week. What am I going to do when school starts back up????!!!!??? I HATE being away from my Mimi so much.

I didn't think it would be this bad. I knew that I'd be away, but I also knew that when I'm gone she'll be with her Daddy. But I can't stand it. I want to see her chubby cheeks. I want to feed her. I want to change her poopy diaper. I want to sniff her baby feet. I cried and cried before I left for work today. I miss her terribly.

When school starts, I'll be working every day of the week. I don't know how I'm going to do it. I wish I could be a stay at home mom.

Unfortunately, it's just not possible. :(


Carlynne said...

Since you mentioned relinquishment time periods....a mother has no way of knowing what she is getting herself into BEFORE the baby is born. IMO... mothers should wait an absolute bare minimum of 2-4 weeks before even considering relinquishing her child. Pregnancy hormones and post-partum hormone changes do have an affect. Please, please, please..... people who are considering adopting children... please have the heart to wait. Your gain is this mother's loss for the rest of her life.

Stephanie said...

We would have waited as long as A needed. She signed when she was comfortable signing.

Jacksmom said...

Stephanie-I just wanted to thank you for being so transparent. I know it is a big decision for a mom, and believe they should have to be off of pain meds for more than 4 hours, although it sounds like A was not going to be rushed despite the lawyers persistence. It also sounds like she could have waited longer if she had so chosen. It sounds like in SC they have the hearing, and it seems like they have to be educated as to their rights and choices as well.

Going back to work when you have a little one at home sucks, no matter the age. I will tell you that while it is so hard in the beginning, once you get into a routine, it gets easier. Do you still think about your child all day long, and think about what you could be doing with them, yes. But as you well know, unfortunately we have to work to pay the bills and provide for that little one. It will work out, and once you're more into the swing of the routine, it will be a little easier. *hugs*

Chris said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences and well as your suggested tips. As someone going through this process now, your observations have been incredibly helpful. Best of luck with the transition to working mom-hood.