From what I have read and already experienced, a lot of the adoption process is hurry up and wait. Pre-activation is long, full of deadlines and you are constantly trying to schedule things and finish things so that you can then wait for them to be created/reviewed and then we hurry up and proof them and wait for them to be live. Now that we are active… we wait. We wait for “the call”.
When discussing this process in person I realize that people don’t know what to call who so here is the appropriate terminology. Before the baby is born we refer to the mother as the expectant mother (EM). After the baby is born we refer to her as the birth mom (bmom). Don’t ever refer to her as the “real mom”.
Part of the pre-activation period is filling out your Adoption Planning Questionnaire or APQ. This is a huge part of the process and this is what they use to match you to expectant mothers (EMs). This is where we state our budget, race we would like to adopt, age of baby, amount of openness we are comfortable with having with the birth mom (Bmom), if we are comfortable with any substance abuse from the EM and how much, what family medical history we are OK with on the EM’s side and other misc. questions.
When a EM comes to the agency she fills out a similar APQ with her information. The computer then pulls profiles that match our APQs. The agency then shows the EM profiles that match the APQ and she will pick a family.
The more open you are on your APQ the more your profile will be shown and the quicker you will most likely be matched. For example, if you were open to any race you would obviously be shown to a lot more EM than if you stated you only want a 100% Caucasian baby. We were pretty open with contact with Bmom and budget, so it makes up a little bit of our choice to have a 100% Caucasian baby.
Once a EM picks you it’s called a match. A match can be a 5-month match, a 5-day match, a mom is in labor right now get your butt here match, or baby was just born, congratulations you have a child match (called a stork drop). You have to be ready for them all! When they call you and tell you the EM is in labor or baby was just born you have 24 hours to get there. The baby can be come from anywhere in the US. I LOVE this Southwest commercial!
Ideally, they like to match you with a few months left in the pregnancy. That way you have time to prepare and to develop a relationship with the EM.
As far as what EMs are looking for when picking a couple, it is different for everyone. Some say the couple reminded them of their family, or looked like their brother or dad, or they liked that they travel. Some might like that we have a child already, but some might want a couple that doesn’t have children yet. You never know why you will be picked so they stress to just be yourself. A common phrase in the adoption world is “your baby will find you”. You are waiting for YOUR baby not just a baby and when your baby does find you it will all make sense.
Unfortunately, some matches fall through because the EM decides to parent the child, and these are called disruptions. About 20% of matches end in disruptions. Usually before the baby is born but sometimes not till after. For this reason, lots of people like stork drops because even if it is disrupted you only knew about the baby for a day or a few hours. Long matches are hard because you could end up waiting 5 months only to find out it was disrupted, and you have to start all over. Honestly, I would 100% prefer a stork drop! How fun to just get a call one day that you have a baby on the way!
Once you are matched and the EM goes into labor you get a call. You have 24 hours to get to the hospital. Every state is different but the Bmom must wait, on average, 24-72 hours before they can sign papers to terminate parental rights (TPR). Again, every state is different but, in some states, this is irrevocable once signed and in other states the TRP is revocable for a short period (maybe a week depending on state). After TPR and the irrevocable period is over the baby is officially and legally yours.
Following TPR you have to wait for Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) to clear. Interstate Compact is each state’s review of all adoption paperwork and documents to make sure it is in proper order. Once the paperwork is reviewed, both states involved in the adoption (bmom state/adoptive family state) provide their approval of the ICPC paperwork before the adoptive family can take the baby out of the state where the baby was born. So generally, families need to plan to stay in the baby/birth parent’s state for 2-3 full weeks. It could be shorter or could be longer. You can go anywhere in the state (after TPR) but you can’t cross the border. Once ICPC clears you can bring your baby home!
I hope this makes sense. It’s a lot of information and if you were like me, and knew nothing about domestic adoption, it’s kind of like a new language!