The private adoption match is incredibly exciting. I remember my first one like it was yesterday. I knew I’d be getting a call in the afternoon about if I was selected by the birthmom and I couldn’t focus at work. At 1pm, I was so anxious that my sister suggested I go home and relax a bit, so I did. As soon as I got home, I got the call and was immediately brought to tears. Everything I had worked for over the last year and a half was coming true. I was so excited!
By that evening I had the contract with the agency in my hand and I can admit now that I think I was a bit overwhelmed and rosy eyed to really understand the contract fully. I also didn’t know what normal was for an adoption agency contract and the process for what to expect in the next week – especially the additional information about the birth father which, to this day, I feel like the agency held back on letting me know until after I had signed the contract and sent my deposit it. (that may be a different blog post)
When you are matched with a birth mom through private adoption, you will then be asked to sign a contract – assuming that you want to move forward. Generally the contract needs to be signed and a deposit is to be sent within 48 hours. Within the contract there are a few sections that call out the rights of the birth mom, birth father, the next steps and payment. One thing that is incredibly important for prospective adoptive parents to review and ask questions about is the rollover vs. the refund.
Definition: If the adoption does not go through, some (note some!) of the payment that has already been made by you can be rolled over to the next adoption with that agency. Please take special note of that amount as it’s usually only a percentage of the total you had already paid. And, it never includes birth mother expenses.
Pros: If you decide to stay with that agency for the next adoption, you owe a little less. You somewhat save a bit of money this way.
Cons: In my experience, the agency has no desire or need to work to find you another baby because they already have your money. With my first agency, I was contacted once the following January (match failed in September) about a possible birthmom. There was a deafening silence after my match fell through. You are also somewhat stuck with the agency because you have a pretty large sum in a rollover account for you. Some prospective adoptive parents have only saved up enough for one adoption so a rollover isn’t really an option for them.
Definition: If the adoption does not go through, some (note some!) of the payment that has already been made by you can be refunded back to you in a check. Please take special note of that amount as it’s usually only a percentage of the total you had already paid. And, it never includes birth mother expenses.
Pros: The nice thing about this option is that you get some of your money back. You will never get all of your money back, but you will get some. You are also not stuck with one agency and are able to work with a different one.
Cons: In my experience (it’s been a long process for me!), you will have to chase the agency down to get your check. One agency I worked with had this policy (yay!) but after the adoption failed (my decision to stop it), it took more than 6 months and a complaint to the Better Business Bureau to get my refund. Within three days of my complaint, I had my check. So, although it seems great, you may have to do some work to get your money back.
It would be nice if agencies allowed the prospective adoptive parents to choose if they’d like a refund vs. rollover. What do you think?