Home is Where the Love is: Families in the Lowcountry choose adoption
Amy Prikazsky is a proud mom – and justifiably so. Her daughters, Annie Rice, 2, and Maggie Ruth, one month, bring great joy to Prikazsky and her husband, Kaz.
“You Are So Special, Little One”
Following the adoption of her first child, Amy Prikazsky wrote a book to help share her family’s story with her daughter. “You Are So Special, Little One” is available on Amazon.com and through Tate Publishing, www.tatepublishing.com.
But Prikazsky’s road to motherhood wasn’t what she planned. After struggling with infertility, Prikazsky’s husband suggested adoption.
“I said absolutely not,” she says. “Maybe a month later, it was confirmed that we were supposed to adopt.”
November is National Adoption Month, so designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to raise awareness about the adoption of children in foster care. In South Carolina, more than 1,500 adoptions took place in 2008, the most recent year reported by HHS. Whether domestic or international, public or private, open or closed, adoptions all have the same goal: uniting children and parents for the best possible future.
The Prikazsky family welcomed their oldest daughter to their Summerville home when Annie Rice was almost one year old. Their journey to parenthood had several roadblocks along the way. After seeking a private adoption through a local agency, the family was chosen by an expectant birth mother.
“We were paired with a birth mom who was really young,” Prikazsky says. “We went through the whole pregnancy with her. We knew after the ultrasound that she would probably change her mind.”
Once the baby was born, the birth mother did decide against adoption.
“The next day, we got a call about our daughter,” Prikazsky says.
Several months ago, Prikazsky says she and her husband began to think about adding to their family.
“We really felt like the Lord was telling us to adopt again,” she says.
This time, the new addition came quickly.
“On Labor Day, I got a message from a friend who wanted to know if we were interesting in adopting a baby that would be born at the end of the month,” Prikazsky says.
Prikazsky’s husband was leaving for a trip to China, so moving forward required perfect logistics and according to Prikazsky, some divine intervention.
“In five days, everything worked out,” she says.
What to consider when adopting
Denice Fisher, executive director of A Chosen Child Adoption Services in Summerville, says prospective parents have much to consider before adoption can become reality.
For private domestic adoptions, costs can vary between $10,000–$30,000, Fisher says. International adoptions cost more, largely due to travel costs and in-country stays. Fisher says an adoption from Russia could cost approximately $60,000 currently, but costs can vary wildly depending on the country.
“Generally, with international adoption, it’s paperwork intensive, but most families can adopt within a year or two,” Fisher says.
Currently, some of the popular and up-and-coming sites for international adoptions include Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, the Congo, Ethiopia and Haiti, Fisher says.
Domestically, Fisher works primarily with South Carolina birth mothers.
“It’s usually less expensive to start in the state where you live,” she says.
Steps to adoption include home studies, safety checks and more.
Many families are choosing open or semi-open adoptions, requiring all parties to make choices about the extent of the contact to be maintained between birth parents and the child. Contact, if agreed upon, may include visits, emails, photos and more.
“Our agency helps to moderate how much contact is going to happen,” Fisher says.
In a private adoption, once the birth mother selects an adoptive family, Fisher says the parties can meet. In some cases, adoptive parents attend prenatal visits and are present for the baby’s birth. Families are encouraged to form a written agreement as to what their expectations are following the baby’s birth.
“It’s not legally binding, but that way everyone knows what is expected,” she says.
Consider fostering a child
While hundreds of children annually in South Carolina are adopted through the foster care system, many more are awaiting homes. More than 3,300 children are currently in foster care in the state.
“Of those children, there are 1,155 with a plan of adoption,” Jackie Adams, a recruiter with the South Carolina Department of Social Services North Charleston office, says.
Adams says those children need and deserve a family.
“Some may think that love is enough, but patience and commitment are what parents need,” she says. “All children are different. They all come with their own histories that are not erased because they are adopted.”
Adams says parents need to be realistic, loving and understanding. Many of the children who have been in foster care and who become available for adoption have experienced traumatic events, but many are classified as having special needs because they are “harder to place,” according to Adams. Those hard to place children include Caucasian children ages 10 and older, African-American children ages 6 and older and sibling groups. If children in foster care are not adopted, they will age out of the system without a family and, Adams notes, without guidance for their future.
No matter what the age, race, nationality or needs of the child, Adams says prospective parents need to assess themselves thoroughly and realistically. Adoptions through DSS are available at little or no cost after credits, Adams says.
“Our main goal is to find families for children, not children for families,” Adams says. “We have to focus on the children. These children don’t come with receipts. They can’t be considered something that is disposable – something you return to the store.”
But with help, families can navigate the waters of adoption.
“For a lot of people and for us, it’s a very overwhelming thing,” Prikazsky says. “Even though a lot of people don’t understand it, how much of a blessing it is for the family, the child and even the birth family.”
At times, the process can be emotional and trying, but Prikazsky says having her two daughters makes it all worthwhile.
“The timing is perfect for the baby that’s meant for you,” Prikazsky says. “It might not feel that way at the time because the road can feel long, but the timing is perfect.”
Chris Worthy is a wife, mom, writer and wearer of a few other hats. Visit her online at www.chrisworthy.com.