Lots of people have asked us questions about Kalia's adoption, and I wanted to answer them here. We don't mind answering questions...in fact if you have any, please ask us! We didn't know ANYTHING about adoption when we started this journey 5 1/2 years ago, but we have learned a TON since then.
1. Do you have an open adoption? / What is an open adoption?
YES! We enjoy an open adoption with Kalia's birth mother and her children...and in the future, if it turns out to be healthy, we would like to have an open adoption with her birth father and his family as well. In our case, open adoption means we know and have met Kalia's birth mother "V" and her four birth siblings. We talk with V on the phone every few days, we text each other, and I post pictures on Facebook for V to see how baby is doing. V's birthday was this past week and we called her on her birthday and sent her a present in the mail. V has asked for pictures and that is all she wanted. She told us that she didn't want to make us visit her or require specific numbers of letters or hoops to go through; she just wanted pictures. We get to work out how open our adoption is with V, and do what works best for all of us. There really aren't any "rules" for how we interact with V. We love her and her kids very much and I think that keeping in regular contact with her is healing and comforting for her and will be therapeutic for Kalia as she gets older and is able to understand how she came to be part of our family and who her birth mother is and why she chose to place her in our family.
2. Did you get to choose Kalia's name or did the birth mom name her or did she suggest any names?
Kalia's birth mom is amazing! She asked us on the day we flew over to meet her for the first time what we wanted to name our daughter. She told us that if we wrote it down for her, she would put the name we chose on the birth certificate for us so we wouldn't have to change it later! She told us she knew we were the one's to raise her baby and she wanted everything to go smoothly for us! She did exactly that. We have the original hospital birth certificate that says Kalia Willamina Jensen on it!
3. Did you use an adoption agency?
We chose to use LDS Family Services to adopt. Our adoption worker's name is Sally Lee, and she is one of the most amazing, hard working ladies you will ever meet. She is also one of the happiest, friendliest, bubbly people on the planet!
When we initially applied for adoption over in Maui, there were not as many dis-qualifiers as there are now. We had to go through a pretty intensive screening process and fill out almost more paperwork than we did to buy a house! Some of the basic qualifications were that we had to provide financial information, be married two years, have a current temple recommend, and pass all the state's requirements for an adoption.
We got a letter in the mail almost two years ago that said couples seeking to adopt with LDSFS:
"must seek professional medical assessment and treatment for infertility prior to applying for infant adoption. Documentation must be provided by a licensed medical physician. If either partner has had an elective sterilization procedure, adoption manager approval is needed."
"A couple may apply for infant adoption if they have two or fewer children."
We can see now that Heavenly Father had to get us in this process early, because we would not be eligible to adopt through LDSFS today if we had not already been clients!
4. How much does it cost to adopt?
The initial fee with LDSFS is $1000, which counts towards your final adoption fees at placement. LDSFS adoption fees range from a minimum of $4,000 to a maximum of $10,000 based on 10% of your combined gross annual income as reported on your previous year's taxes. Many (if not all) other domestic infant adoption agency fees tend to be between $25,000 and $45,000! The reason for the difference in price is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints subsidizes the adoption fees through a grant for members who are qualified to adopt through LDSFS.
5. Does the birth mom have to be a member of you church? Will they try and convert me to your church?
LDSFS does not require anyone who is considering an adoption plan to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or Mormon). They will also not proselytize to you or try to convert you in any way. They offer free counseling to birth moms, birth dads, and birth grandparents! They will not lock you into an adoption plan. If you change your mind about placement or if you just have questions, they are there to listen and answer questions.
To find out more about LDSFS, please visit https://www.itsaboutlove.org