To the editors:
I have just read your article entitled, "Babies Wanted" [May 12] and, while it appears that an attempt was obviously made not to misrepresent the issues, our experience has been vastly different than you have portrayed in a couple of significant areas. There is at least one agency which works very closely with adoptive families and birth parents and extensively counsels the birthmother--Family Counseling Clinic in Grayslake, Illinois.
I am a practicing attorney who, with my teacher-wife, went through five years of infertility testing and craved becoming parents. We are both Jewish and were thirty-five at the time we adopted our daughter.
While I would not suggest that our experience is typical, it was illuminating. We had already sent our $2,000.00 non-refundable deposit to Easter House and, though outraged by paying high prices that we believe were for their legal fees to defend their program, we had borrowed enough money to cover their then-current fee of $20,000.00.
We then received "the call" from our doctor and friend who advised us that his nurse's cousin was seven months' pregnant and had decided to give up the baby. We were elated, but cautious. Our contact recommended that we talk to Nick Stevenson, who I consider to be the pre-eminent adoption attorney in Chicago. He has worked closely with a number of the agencies for years and clearly knew the ropes. Nick spoke at length with our birthmother, Sarah (not her real name), and suggested that we create a hybrid--an agency-assisted private adoption. Sarah had been dissatisfied with the East Coast since they did not offer open adoptions so she could be more involved with the people that would raise the child she gave birth to. We had an opportunity to meet with her one evening and my wife and I will always be thankful (despite everyone being quite nervous in the beginning) for the opportunity to tell our little girl about her birthmother. We liked and respected our daughter's birthmother and we all got along very well. She has started working with Family Counseling Clinic and they repeatedly counseled her and us so that she was fully informed and prepared. In many instances, we were advised that the birthmother was the "client" but our interests and questions were always well addressed. We worked more with Linda Blumberg and Sarah worked with Sandy Arbit. The experience left us feeling eternally grateful to Family Counseling and with a very high regard for their integrity and ability to benefit all parties. They were up front and were willing to go anywhere to make the adoption work (Sandy drove to Rockford to get the birthmother's consent). Our total fees were approximately $8,500.00 of which $5,700.00 represented the birth mother's medical and living expenses and $1,500 represented legal expenses. The balance went to the agency for counseling for our birthmother and agency charges.
When our child was born, we hurried to the hospital and, despite our mutual intent to help Sarah through the experience, we were only able to meet with her parents. While we don't expect all experiences to work out so wonderfully, the important thing to note is how closely some agencies do work with the adoptive families and birthparents. Family Counseling has meetings before and after delivery--(the latter meeting is one in which adoptive parents meet with other prospective birthparents to dispel myths in society) and do extensively counsel birth parents. I have recently had the pleasure of dealing with Enid and Deanne, who are with the Adoption Connection, in the process of helping friends of ours who are trying to adopt and completely concur with all of your praise for their efforts.