In various prior posts to our blog, we have discussed some of the reasons why we decided to pursue surrogacy to build our family, rather than through adoption. In a particular post we also discussed how one of us having a genetic link to each of our kids matters, and how it doesn’t. Essentially, it doesn’t in any way affect how we love and care for our kids, but it does matter in how our parental rights are legally recognized and accepted by society in general.
Recently, in effort to bolster legal protections for our kids, we each completed second parent adoptions of the twin set to which we are not biologically related. We spent months working on this, and the experience helped us appreciate some of the challenges foster parents and parents through adoption face.
When we first told friends and family about our plans to have kids through surrogacy, some responded with the question of why we didn’t “just adopt”? At the time we suspected that adoption was not that simple, and now we know for a fact that it’s not. We completed extensive paperwork and gathered all sorts of financial documentation to show that we were a stable home capable of raising children. We found the questions on the paperwork rather intrusive and struggled to answer some. If our kids weren’t already with us, I would imagine that the way we answered some of these nebulous questions about our personalities might take on earth shattering significance. We would fret that every answer would make or break our chance of being chosen to adopt a child!
After we submitted the paperwork, we had a social worker visit our home for a home study. A home study is of course by definition intrusive. Childless people hoping to adopt probably go to great lengths to make sure their homes are immaculate, and that everything is safe and baby-proofed to show how prepared they are. Our challenge with two sets of twins (and a dog) already living in the house was a little different. We had to make sure the social worker didn’t trip over anything and that the kids don’t injure themselves during the visit!
The cost of legal fees and the home study are significant. I know that in private adoptions of newborns there are additional expenses. Adoptions are still certainly less expensive than surrogacy, but the total cost can still put adoption out of reach for many.
I also know that parents seeking to adopt through the foster system are also required to attend parenting classes which pose an additional hurdle for many.
When we finally had our day in court, everything was taken care of quickly thanks to our diligent attorney. The only hiccup was the judge taking a minute to understand that we were actually doing two adoptions at the same time. We had heard that the judge likes to take pictures with the adopted kids, but we decided to have the kids keep their regular school routine and not attend. Again, I imagine that the hearing would have much heavier emotional weight if we were adopting in the traditional sense.
So now we are a fully recognized, legal family of 6. We only had a small taste of the challenges adoptive parents face, and it has given even us more respect for foster and adoptive parents everywhere. Props!