After the application, they invite you to an orientation so you can learn more about their agency. You can go to as many orientations as you want, but it does cost around $50 for their time. Here is where you ask all your questions and get all your details. At this point, you feel like this agency is right, but you can easily change your mind on the agency or the adoption altogether. It’s like choosing a college to go to…they have an orientation so you can get to know more about it and then make a more informed choice.
Back to our story, Nathan and I took off work so we could go on a Thursday morning. Our agency is in Houston and we debated putting all this off until the summer, but they squeezed us in to the May orientation so we could move through the process faster. Their next orientation would not be until the Fall because they had already had one in the Spring. We were fortunate they were doing this for us, so we jumped at the chance to get started. We left our house at 4:30 am to get there in four hours. We learned it only takes us three hours (Nathan drives fast and it is on the outskirts of Houston) so we stopped for breakfast and then sat in our car for an hour.
The orientation was short and sweet and answered many of our questions and concerns that I will go into more details about with future posts. We heard about the timeline, the court process, the paperwork, and the homestudy. So much I could write about all this because each of those topics is a full post in itself. The biggest aha is that the birthmom has 48 hours after the birth of the baby to change her mind. After that she signs over her rights and there is no turning back. The dad is given an ample amount of time to protest the adoption and then his rights are terminated. That might not all be 100% accurate, but that is how we understand it to be in simple terms.
We get asked that a lot…what if she changes her mind? If she does, then it wasn’t meant to be. The truth is: I don’t blame her. The agency counsels them throughout so they understand what they are doing and the relationship we build is important so she knows that the baby is going to a good family. It is all built on trust. Obviously, we are not this far into the process so we are speaking from how it is supposed to be and not from experience. Ideally, all works out so that after 48 hours, the mother has signed over her rights, we can take the baby home, but we wait six months before it is finalized in court and the child is ours permanently. During this time, the families work together to decide how much visitation they are comfortable giving and receiving.
I felt overwhelmed with the travel and almost backed out of the process to choose an agency closer to Dallas. However, this was my first reality check that it is not easy and I will be tired with a baby so get used to it. We knew God was leading us here, but that doesn’t mean it would be easy and we had to accept He only promised that He would be with us.
The good new is: The orientation sealed the deal that this agency prayed about every step of this journey. They knew each adoption personally, wanted to stay in contact in the future, and saw it more as a big family than a business.