Monica: My Single Parent Adoption Story

By the age of 34, I had a graduate degree, a house, a good job and a few years of travel under my belt. I’d been trying to become a mom for 18 months and had 8 failed IUIs with a donor. I had chosen the donor route because I thought it would be faster, cheaper and easier than adoption. Boy, was I wrong. I took another look at adoption and decided to go for it. Here’s my story.

Getting Started – Agencies vs. Attorneys

I started my single parent adoption journey in July 2011 by selecting an agency to do my home study. I also interviewed another agency and two attorneys.

I didn’t like either agency. Their fees were high and they only placed with single women every 2 – 3 years. They required minimum budgets of $15,000 and placement fees were based on race.

One attorney came highly recommended, but most of his birth mothers came from churches and private schools. They were also very young, and most adoptions were closed. I didn’t feel this was a demographic likely to choose a single parent, so I chose not to work with him.

The second attorney (who I’ll call BL) was very positive and energetic, and she never once expressed any doubt or concern about my single situation. She also came highly recommended and didn’t have any upfront fees. She and her assistant gave feedback on my parent profile and even provided little plastic booklets for me to put the pages in. I felt they truly wanted me to become a parent.

I decided to work with BL and completed my home study in October 2011. The process was easy and fun. I took classes at the local hospital and read and reported on some parenting books to fulfill my education credits. The home visit itself went fast and the caseworker didn’t even check to make sure my bath tub was clean.

Money

Three months later, I decided I should get serious about financing. I’d been advertising for myself by handing out pass-along cards and running Facebook ads where legal. I’d been fundraising and had a weekend job, but most of that money was going to cover a 6-week unpaid maternity leave.

My credit score was well over 700 and I had no consumer debt, so I figured I’d have my pick of banks who wanted to loan to me. Wrong. This was the most frustrating part of the process. There were many days I had to mentally pick myself up and force myself to take one step forward.

There’s no such thing as adoption financing. It’s all considered a personal loan, so as far as the bank is concerned, I was asking to borrow $10k to go shopping at Mall of America. I couldn’t borrow against my 401k and my employer offered no adoption benefit.

After multiple loan rejections without explanation, I applied through the National Adoption Foundation and Bank of America, who boast special financing for adoptive parents. Their offer was a credit card with a $3,500 limit at 26% interest! What a joke.

At that point, I learned that multiple credit requests in a 2-week period won’t harm your credit, since the reporting agencies figure you’re shopping around for the best rate. So I applied at a number of credit unions and finally settled on a $10,000 credit card at 9.9% interest.

I opted for a card over a loan because I didn’t know when I’d need the money, and with a loan, you have to start paying it back right away, even if you aren’t using the money yet.

Checking In

On March 21st, my attorney’s office called because they wanted to show my profile to a birth mother who had rejected a number of other profiles. By chance, she was in a neighboring state with the agency that had done my home study, but they didn’t have any adoptive families who met what she was looking for. I had 2 1/2 of the 3 traits she was looking for, and she was due in less than 2 months.

The attorney faxed me her social profile, and I was trembling while I gushed the details to my coworker…so much for keeping a secret! I immediately emailed my family the details with a warning, “Do NOT get excited.”

For two weeks, I didn’t let go of my phone. I waited in anticipation as meetings with the prospective birth mom kept getting postponed due to sick children, conflicting schedules, etc.

The Call

On April 3rd, I left my phone in the car while I changed into a dress for a dear friend’s funeral. He had passed away suddenly, and we were reeling from the shock of it all. When I got into my car to go to the funeral, I noticed I had a voicemail. From the attorney. She wanted me to call her back right away. Eeks!!

I called back. She and her assistant had me on speakerphone as they shared the news. The birth mom had chosen me. She’d wait to meet me at the hospital. Oh my god, oh my god. I pulled into a random parking lot and the rest of the conversation was a total blur.

Sharing the News

Due to birth mom’s personal details, I felt confident this match was solid and the adoption would work out. I immediately called my family members to tell them. My dad had to leave a meeting and could hardly understand me through my tears. My mom was wearing a paper gown on an exam table and took the call anyway. My sister-in-law, who was nursing at the time, said “I’ll pump faster!” so we could have some breast milk for the baby. I had a reason for all my teary friends at the funeral to smile. Such a bittersweet day; I’ll never forget the feeling.

Welcome Baby

After a last-minute work trip and lots of fast planning, my son was born by c-section a week earlier than his due date. He and I met his birth mom together after recovery, and he spent about half our hospital stay with her. In his birth state, parents can sign adoption papers immediately after birth, and it’s irrevocable – no extra waiting period. Two days later, we were discharged from the hospital and went to stay with friends while we awaited clearance to leave the state. He is the happiest, cutest, most engaged little guy ever.

Finalizing the Details

The adoption ended up being through an agency I didn’t want to work with (because birth mom was with them), but my attorney handled the legal parts. We spent almost 3 weeks in my son’s birth state before getting ICPC clearance to return home, and that was really frustrating. Otherwise, things went smoothly. Two sets of paternal rights were terminated (one for absent birth father and one for legal husband, also MIA) and we finalized on National Adoption Day.

Looking Back

The entire adoption process took about 10 months, with my active waiting time less than 6 months. I know this is unusual and I consider myself very fortunate. I credit much of it to my honesty in my parent profile. If I had followed the coaching of others, I would have made myself sound more “cookie cutter” and his birth mom wouldn’t have seen what she was really looking for.

She never asked about me being single, and never asked what I do for a living or how much money I make.

Looking Forward

We have a semi-open adoption at birth mom’s request. I send a letter and pictures through the agency a few times each year.

My son’s adoption story will always be open and talked about, but there are some things I won’t be able to answer for him. I don’t know why his birth mom thought she could handle her other children, but not him. I don’t know why she doesn’t want visits. I don’t know why his birth dad was deported. I don’t know what he looks like, whether he has other children, or where he is. His name is extremely common and will never be of any help. I worry about answering these questions more than I worry about explaining why I’m not married.

If you have questions for me, want feedback on a parent profile, fundraising ideas, grant info or anything else, please let me know in the comments! I had to cut a lot of details here to keep it a reasonable length.

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  10 comments for “Monica: My Single Parent Adoption Story

  1. Monica
    June 29, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    So I just randomly decided to Google “Single Adoptive Moms” and your blog was at the top of the page. I chose to read it because we share the same first name! You see I too am a single adoptive mom and very happy still 13 years in. Our stories are somewhat similar – I was 35 but didn’t go through an agency, mine was a private adoption, but he was mine right from birth. You worry about the questions your son will ask about the birth family. I too worried about it, but still they have not come. His adoption has been openly talked about and discussed since he was born, he does have siblings and knows where he came from. He has a relationship with the siblings which is important to me. But he is very secure in his place in life, knows where he belongs and how he came to be, I don’t think he has the need to have the questions asked. It is not my place to answer them any way, if and when the time comes for your son to ask – let him write the letter to her through the agency. But who knows, you sound very much like me being open and not avoiding the issue he may not need to know. Enjoy every moment with your son and embrace the changes as they come don’t wish them away.

  2. Kristin
    June 13, 2016 at 3:44 am

    It was touching reading your story. I myself was adopted by a single mother. I was 2 1/2 years old when she adopted me and my 6 month old sister. Now I have a daughter of my own and she’s been asking questions about where my Dad is. My adoption was open and technically my mother would genetically be my great aunt (my birth mother was her niece), and I occassionally see my birth parents at family functions. I was wondering if you had any tips as to how I should explain this to my daughter or maybe a children’s book I could read her.

    • Monica
      June 13, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your story! My son (now 4) hasn’t asked yet about why there’s no daddy in our family, nor has he asked about his birth father. He has a birth story book I made him that includes a pic of his birth mom and some of his bio siblings. I also adopted a second child last year and even that hasn’t sparked any questions about bio parents. He knows I have a dad, and that some people have them.

      I think he knows about different family structures because we read Todd Parr’s The Family Book, and honestly it’s really rare that our friends’ husbands/father’s show up to anything, so he doesn’t feel like anything is missing for us.

      I would just tell your daughter that you were adopted by a mommy, and your family had a mommy and a little girl. I think that is more positive than saying “I just had a mommy, not a daddy.” etc. If your daughter is old enough to know it takes two biological components to make a baby, you can explain that your birth parents weren’t able to care for you, and so they choose for you to be raised by your mom.

  3. Michele
    November 1, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I am a single woman in my mid 30s seriously considering adopting. I’m educated, have a good career, and live near plenty of family and friends. Unfortunately I rent a small apartment and do not have a lot of “extra funds”. I hope to look into buying a condo in less than a year. I don’t even know where to start with adopting and what else I can do for myself to look good as a single adopter. Can you give me advice?

    • Monica
      November 2, 2014 at 9:44 am

      I think the best thing you can do is be sure to highlight what makes you unique in your parent profile. Expectant parents don’t always care about where you live or where you work. Those things are usually at the bottom of their lists, from what I’ve heard and seen. They are more likely to choose someone they just feel a connection with. So include all your personal details, especially if they are unusual. Hobbies, traditions, languages you speak, pets, how you spend your weekends, etc.

      To get started, call around and schedule some free consultations and intro classes with agencies and attorneys you might want to use. You can start to piece together a budget ad decide who you feel will truly be on your side throughout the process.

      • Michele
        November 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm

        Thank you so much for the advice. Definitely a good place to start. Any other tips on what I can do on a personal or financial level regardless if I adopt nationally or internationally? I’m just so concerned that there are so many cards stacked against me as a single woman that I want to have a good “resume” including financial and living situation so that I would be a good candidate no matter which route I take.

  4. GATORCKJK@GMAIL.COM
    March 2, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    WHAT MADE YOU FINALLY CHOOSE ADOPTION? I HAVE BEEN WRESTLING WITH THE DECISION OF WHETHER TO TRY ONE OR TWO MORE CYCLES OF IUI OR JUST QUIT AND TRY FOR ADOPTION.

    • Monica
      March 3, 2014 at 9:56 am

      I knew it was time to move on when there was nothing new to try. We had tried everything in the book (and all my tests came back great) so there was no explanation for why it wasn’t working. I was a very poor responder to meds so even increasing dosages wasn’t really an option, and for me that ruled out IVF as well. Even on injectibles I never had more than one mature follicle not was baffling and frustrating and I just couldn’t keep throwing money at a process I had lost faith in.

  5. Joanne
    December 1, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I am a single woman who desperately wants to adopt. I can afford it but just haven’t found an agency that I am comfortable with. Would you be willing to share the name of the two attorneys you used and the cost. How did you choose an attorney? I would be interested in any advice you may have.

    Thanks

    • Monica
      December 3, 2013 at 8:35 am

      Hi Joanne, the attorneys I met with only work in my state. I would recommend you call around and set up as many free consultations as you can, and just go with your gut when it comes to choosing one. I wanted to feel like they were truly supportive and excited for me to become a parent, and not just helping me because it was their policy to help single people.

      The cost was definitely in the low end (under $15k), but birth mom was with an agency so we ended up doing sort I a hybrid adoption – her agency and my attorneys – because her agency had been unable to find an adoptive family she liked.

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