From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 35 - November 26, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Is adoption for you?
Part 2 of 2
by Deanne Swain and Rhonda Swain

Adoption ... one word ... three syllables ... a thousand emotions.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and National Adoption Day was celebrated Nov. 22. In 2002, the adoptions of more than 1,200 children were finalized during this event, according to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

In order to adopt in the state of Wyoming, you must be a resident of the state at the time of application and at the time of placement. Each application is considered on an individual basis. Before placement, adoptive parents must fill out questionnaires, pass a criminal/child abuse background check and have a home study completed. At times, many adoptive parents feel that if everyone who wanted children had to answer the questions they are asked, no one would ever have children. Both singles and married couples of all ages are allowed to adopt a child.

Wyoming is considered a closed adoption state, meaning that once an adoption is finalized, the records are sealed and access is limited by law.

Most young couples are interested in the adoption of infants (birth to a couple months old); they look domestically (in the United States) or internationally for their children.

Domestic adoptions proceed much more slowly than international ones, with an average national wait of four or more years. However, according to Carol Burman-Lindly of Wyoming Children's Society, Wyoming adoptions don't typically take that long.

An adoption agency since 1911, WCS is able to provide reliable service for prospective parents through three different adoption programs. The first program involves domestic adoptions, with birth mothers in Wyoming. WCS staff provides service and counsel to those upcoming mothers, many of whom Burman-Lindly said decide to keep their child.

"If they decide to adopt, we help them select a parent" through home studies and "Dear birth parent letters" from the prospective parents.

WCS's international program sets up Russian adoptions directly from Russia. Burman-Lindly said these involve children as young as six months of age, and usually take from four to six months from the time the home study is completed until a couple is able to take the child home. International adoptions are more expensive than domestic ones.

The third program is for those interested in adopting older, school-age children. There is no charge for adopting through this program because parental rights have been terminated, according to Burman-Lindly.

She said because these are children who have been in foster care, neglected or abused, have handicapping, they are more challenging. She estimated that nationwide, 100,000 of these children are waiting for families.

For domestic adoptions, Burman-Lindly said the waiting time from home study until placement is not the nationwide average of four years.

"It's hard to give an average because birth moms select their families - she comes up with the criteria, and some don't wait long at all ... it could take less than a year," she said.

"It's a good time (to adopt)," Burman-Lindly said. "We feel real good about the services we're able to provide ... people have a tendency to call you if they know of someone else who needs this type of services."

Costs vary greatly for international adoption, but one can figure on $20,000 plus. Many international government officials expect to be bribed to help the paperwork move faster and complete the adoption sooner. Costs also vary in domestic adoption; Wyoming Children's Society charges 15 percent of your joint yearly income.

Currently there is an adoption tax credit of up to $10,000 that can be used the year the adoption is finalized.

The courts treat the transfer or adoption of embryos as a transfer of property, with the genetic parents having three days to change their minds before the transfer is binding.

Nightlight Christian Adoptions of Fullerton, Calif., is one of the few non-profit agencies handling this delicate situation. It was the first licensed agency in the nation to provide the adoption of embryos. The embryo adoption program is called Snowflakes. In this program, genetic parents see a profile with non-identifying information, much like a traditional semi-open adoption, and they choose based on that information. The families may or may not have a relationship in the future - that is up to the families. The adoptive parents receive six frozen embryos that they pay to have transferred to the clinic of their choice, the embryos are implanted three at a time, and the adoptive parents are not allowed to selectively reduce the number of children.

There is a $500 application fee, you must pay for a home study (typically $700 in Wyoming), the inter-agency frozen embryo adoption plan is $4,000, plus costs of shipping and storage of embryos, uterine transfer, pre-natal care, labor and delivery, etc.

The genetic parents receive no money for the embryos, all money goes to Nightlight for expenses.

Regardless of what type of adoption a couple chooses, and its ensuring costs, as Pinedale's Dave Hill says, "The rewards are paid back many times over."

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