Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A New Chapter and LDS Family Services

 
It is for the precious children like Sierra that
we dedicate our lives.
Keep rooting for me sweet girl!


Yesterday LDS Family Services made the announcement that they would no longer be doing adoptions as of August 1, 2014. There are several contributing factors in their decision. but with this change many people have no place to go to fill their adoption needs. Family Services provided a lower cost adoption option. They also created a place for birth moms to have hope and feel secure knowing they would find a strong family that met their criteria. With Family Services getting out of adoptions they leave a void.

LDS Family Services plans to refer all birthmoms to local adoption agencies and focus only on counseling. I'm glad they are still going to counsel but sending these mothers to local agencies may not be the best option. Once the birthmoms are affiliated with an agency they can then only choose from families that have paid fees and signed up with that agency. There is never a guarantee that these girls will find an LDS  family if that is their choice. Yes, the birthmom can make that one of their requirements but in the end they may have one choice of a family and that could be after a scramble on the agency's part to find an LDS family. We've been part of that scramble and one of the families found through that scramble. This scenario especially applies to agencies located outside of the state of Utah. Families are typically counseled by social workers and agency staff to put their religious affiliation down as "Christian". This makes it more difficult for the agency to sift through and find the LDS families if they are even willing to do so. Agency staff can be very intimidating and the whole process of choosing a family daunting and overwhelming. Birthmoms do not always feel they have the ability to voice their opinion or ask for more profiles of families if they don't feel comfortable with what they have been presented. We have seen this happen and advocated for birthmoms in this position. The birthmom needs to feel secure that she will have the opportunity to choose, not just a good family, but the best family that meets her desires. Agencies will limit the birhtmothers ability to find her family because they can only pull from the pool of families they have.

This change will also greatly affect the adoptive families. Most families at Family Services chose the agency because they are of the same religious affiliation and the fees are much lower than other agencies. Some of these families are now struggling with their faith and hope that they will ever find their child or even be parents. The typical agency fees are $30,000 - $50,000 with medical and travel expenses on top of that. Before the families even get to placement they have to pay for a homestudy that can be as high as $3,500 in some states. Not many families have this kind of money and many get second mortgages, private loans, cash out their 401k and any other thing they can do to come up with the money to adopt just one child. I fear so many of these wonderful families will never realize their dream of being parents.  This is one of the main reasons Doug and I want to help by building a network of affordable attorneys who can do it for less than $5,000, educate birthmoms about the practices of conventional agencies and develop a website that will match babies and families.  We feel strongly that we want to fill the gaps in guide couples along this journey that can still be very affordable.

All of my older children, who are still young in life and careers, have at least one friend that is hoping to adopt. Some of these deserving families are either still in college or just out. They can afford a baby but not the fees to the agencies. We can not turn our back on them. What if it was me or one of my children facing this challenge?  Or one of my daughters was in the position to place a child for adoption and I did not have the knowledge I do about adoption? I would be lost and feel very isolated and alone. Because of this Doug and I and our family have created a place for birthmothers and adoptive families to connect. A place that allows the birthmom to feel hope and security in knowing she has options. Where the adoptive family can add to their family and pay a much more reasonable amount to get the legal paperwork done. We have set up a Face Book page and are in the process of creating a website that will have a database of perspective adoptive families, adoption education and information and support for both birth families and adoptive families through the adoption process. In time we will provide resources for social workers and attorneys in different states. All of this will be done with no fees. That way the adoption can happen through an attorney or as a private placement with an agency, which is much cheaper. We are working on getting our non-profit status and plan for all of this to expand.

It is a big undertaking and at moments a little intimidating. Tyler, Jessica, Sereen, Jared, and Britton have all stepped up and given of their time in this cause. I know Ressa and Jason will too as soon as we have time to come up for breath and call them. I also have a person that is very close to me that has been a birthmother twice. She is part of our team and a very valuable source to understand the view of the birthmom.

We have a request. Please share our Face Book page and website with all those you know. No one wants to find out that someone they love is in a position of being pregnant at the wrong time, but it happens and we can help.

our links are:

http://www.mygiftoflove.org/

https://www.facebook.com/mygiftofloveconnection


Two days ago a lost quote ended up on my desk. At the time I remembered how much I loved it and wondered where it came from. Yesterday as all of this came to fruition I read the quote again and realized how fitting it was for this moment and knew that Heavenly Father meant for it to be there. This morning I decided that an angel must have put it on my desk as a source of encouragement and strength. I feel sure this is the path we are to take. So sure that I began to feel very anxious and inadequate at the prospects ahead. "How could I do this? Maybe I really don't want to after all. I just want to move to Tonga." At that moment I heard a whisper in my mind that this is what I prayed for and I could do it. Don't give up. I have read my lost quote many times in the last two days and am very grateful for it.

 
"God does not ask us about our ability but about our availability,
 and if we then prove our dependability he will increase our capability."
 
Neal A. Maxwell

8 comments:

  1. I just happened upon your story through LDS Living. This is my answer to years of heartfelt prayers. I too have dreamed of a little one I know we are supposed to adopt, but without enough funds have felt this would be impossible ans have felt at a loss as to "how" to proceed forward with this prompting. I've been told to be patient and a way would open up. I've been patiently waiting for 4 years now. While reading through this post I experienced such a washing feeling come over me and the spirit telling me this will be the way for us to fulfill this dream and finally act on this prompting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am honored and a bit in awe that Heavenly Father would allow me to be a part of answering prayers. I too have waited for my children but not so patiently. Stay strong. The Lord always provides a way to accomplish what he asks. Please stay in contact. I love happy endings!

      Delete
  2. I found your blog from the article in the Deseret News. You guys are amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I too found this through LDS Living/Deseret News. The picture of your family above makes me happy. I am the 11th child out of 16. The youngest is adopted and has Down Syndrome (my mother "only" had 15 ;) ). I love large families. Never a dull moment! I look forward to reading more on here. Much love <3

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for your blog! You inspire me! We are a hopeful, prospective adoptive family working with LDS Family Services. We have been in meetings with LDSFS and we received a letter regarding the changes with LDSFS. I just wanted to share and clarify...LDSFS will STILL provide adoption services. The services are now free for adoptive couples. Expectant mothers will STILL be directed to our online profiles to find their families and again this is all free now. The $4,000-$10,000 agency fee no longer exists. Now, when you are matched through LDSFS, you will choose an attorney to complete the paperwork. Most attorneys I have contacted will charge $1,000 -$5,000 to complete the adoption. So, in most cases this will be less expensive then paying the LDSFS agency fee. LDSFS told us they are starting to market the "itsaboutlove" website heavily around the country, to draw more expectant mothers to LDS adoptive couples. These new changes are SO much better. We, as a current prospective adoptive family, are very excited. Please share this. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at: andreajasonhopetoadopt@gmail.com or our blog is: www.andreajasonhopetoadopt.blogspot.com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea - you are inspiring in many ways yourself! Thank you for comment and update. By their own admission, the information surrounding the announcement by LDSFS is still evolving. And as always, the interpretation of the person delivering the information could differ. But I concur with what you shared. Here's is what I got out of a LDSFS meeting last night and references made in their letter. Their services after 12/31/2014 will be limited to 1) Consultation, screening and registration of adoptive couples on the matching website. 2) Counseling, referral to matching website to review profiles of adoptive couples, and referrals to bishops for welfare needs. The itsaboutlove.com website will be professionally managed by an outside source. They don't know who yet, but I don't think it will be the church. I think they also said the name (URL) will also be changed. I got the feeling that the site will become a third party "community resource" just like the attorneys, agencies and other social workers providing the complete adoption services Family Services will no longer provide. If couples currently in their system are matched before12/31/2014, they can still receive a full service adoption from LDSFS through next year. If they are not matched by the end of this year, the families will have to seek services else where to complete an adoption. I received a testimony of the objectives of the 1st Presidency - Increasing adoption opportunities and providing more support for single expectant mothers, families and church leaders. As more couples explore other options, they will broaden their exposure to more available babies and children and find more adoption opportunities. The church saw their number of adoptions drop by over 50% in the last 7 years. They have a lot of families waiting on their list and with the number of expectant mothers coming to them to place babies going down, that wait will just get longer. I know the Lord will open many doors for these couples (and you :)) as other options are sought after. There is no way we could have adopted 9 children in 13 years with Family Services. We also don't make the income most people would assume we make to be able to afford these 9 private and international adoptions. The Lord just seems to provide the necessary funds when its time to adopt. And He will do that for everyone on this journey of love. Domestic adoptions with attorneys in most states should be less than $5,000, some will be higher, but if couples choose to go international where there are lots of children available, those costs are going to remain high, but the Lord will provide a way and Deanne and I hope we can help in any way He sees fit.

      Delete
  5. We have 4 children already and are truly interested in this. I've tried to research a little but really would love some Insight in how to get started. My husband is an attorney and so we've thought about having him do all the paperwork we may need. I thinks its inspired and inspiring what you are doing. We'd love to learn more! Bless you all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie, could you email me at dwalker14@msn.com? I would love to help however I can.

      Delete