By the time we had made up our mind about adopting, the birth mother was already nervous about the delay in our decision, but was very grateful that we had indeed decided to adopt the twins.
The next step was pursuing the legal process. Youth Villages let us know that they could not facilitate the adoption. I was also disappointed to hear from other infant adoption agencies in town that in order to use an agency, we had to have another home study written, even though we already had one that was just a couple of months old. Had it been inexpensive, we would have gladly had it redone, but it was $2000-$3000 of unnecessary expense. Each of the adoption agencies recommended the same thing: independent adoption. Working through an attorney, who would handle the legal process, and an agency to handle birth mother counseling, we could piece services together to adopt the twins.
I had heard from several other adoptive couples, and from the adoption agencies themselves, that the lawyer of choice for adoption. Everyone had wonderful things to say about one particular lawyer.
But there was another option.
A friend of mine from church, who was a recent law school grad, was interested in adoption law, but needed experience in order to specialize. She was also giddy with excitement over helping Ken and I build our family through adoption. She also was a single mom with some unfortunate circumstances in her life, and I thought giving her the opportunity to earn some money and gain some experience would be a blessing to her as well. I met with her, and told her that I would consider letting her take our case if: 1. She would find another attorney who would oversee her every step of the way. I told her that my preference was the attorney that everyone recommended, but if she was not available, I would consider others. 2. If our case was too much for her to figure out (a birth father in another country, a closed adoption between people who already knew each other, no agency involved, etc.) she would refer us to another attorney who was more qualified to help us.
She agreed to meet with the more prominent attorney, and the next week wrote to let me know that she did have a meeting to get things narrowed down. The following week at church, she let me know that everything was all set with her mentor, and that she felt comfortable and excited about taking our case.
We had a phone appointment to officially discuss the adoption case, in which our attorney explained to me that in the State of Tennessee, adoptive parents “can and are often required to” pay for living expenses of the birth mother in the third trimester up to the time that the infants are 45 days old, including medical, legal, social and psychological counseling, housing, food, clothing, utilities, and transportation. She told me to expect $20,000 in expenses before the twins were even born, and the birth mother could still keep the babies if she changed her mind, and she would owe us nothing in return.
Twenty thousand dollars was not something we had planned or saved for, and we were already in the month of February, and the third trimester was just a couple of weeks away. While I knew that the birth mother was definitely in need, we didn’t have that kind of money.
Then I began to think about it: the birth mother was living with someone for free (she was helping to care for a disabled woman in exchange for rent), WIC and food stamps were both something she qualified for, I had a small stockpile of groceries from couponing, she was already on TennCare, some of the members of our church had already finished paying off her car. Maybe this would work.
After all, if God had brought us to this situation, He had a plan already worked out.