BAY CITY, Mich. — More than 3,000 children in Michigan are waiting for permanent, loving homes.
This is according to the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange.
While some people are willing to grow their family through adoption, many fear the process that goes along with it.
NBC25/ FOX66’s Amanda Chodnicki looked at the process and explains how it is much different than it was a decade ago.
She talked with a mid-Michigan family who grew their family through adoption, thanks to the help of social media.
After several miscarriages and unsuccessful infertility treatments, Bradley and Vanessa Fotopoulos decided to adopt.
"Adoption is something we always wanted to do,” Bradley said.
He said they just didn’t picture adopting so soon or in that order.
The duo said they started their adoption journey sitting alongside 15 other couples at a local adoption agency orientation, where they were told the process would take about two years to complete.
“I remember sitting there thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we're longing to build a family right now!’" Vanessa said. “I just felt this feeling like I just can't sit here and wait. We're going to go on a pursuit to find our child."
That very pursuit began with a Facebook page and a website.
“It was very much stepping out of our comfort zone,” she added.
Four months after launching the search, the Fotopoulos family finally got the message that changed their life.
“I remember reading it being like, ‘Oh my gosh, is this real?’” Vanessa said. “’Is this really going to happen?’"
They were contacted by a local woman who was 20 weeks pregnant, looking for a good family for her so.n
That two-year timeline they were first told was cut in half all because the aspiring parents made their own connections.
This is something Christopher Swartz with A A Swartz Adoption Attorneys in Saginaw said is becoming more and more common.
"Adoptions have been changing really quite a bit,” Swartz said. “And that's really because of the internet."
In fact, he said about 50 percent of his case loads are with couples like Vanessa and Bradley who "self-matched", or found each other on their own.
Just 20 weeks after receiving the email, the Fotopoulos’s got to hold their baby boy Gabriel and finally start a family of their own.
Not too long after, they learned Gabriel would soon have a baby sister and without question, they took little Anabelle in as well.
While Swartz said “self-matching” may be quicker than the traditional adoption process, he said there are still steps a family must take to finalize the adoption through the court.
Swartz's agency helps to delegate the adoptions fees for couples.
He said the breakdown includes the following:
- $2,000 fee for the home study or assessment of the family
- $12,000 attorney service fee
- Court costs
- Hospital bills
- Other birth mother expenses
While adopting a child sounds like it comes with a hefty price tag, Swartz said there is some good news.
"There's a federal tax credit of $13,400 that the family can get for adopting the child,” he said.
But the Fotopoulos’s said having these little ones to love is the best gift of all.
"If it's been placed on your heart, definitely pursue it,” Vanessa said.
If you are interested in adopting, or even fostering, again there are 3,000 kids especially teens in need of good homes.
Click here for more information and resources.