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“Forever Family”

For many reasons, my wife and I were hesitant about “going public” with our story about the adoption of our two boys through the Jefferson County foster care system.  However, our positive experience with the system and the individuals involved and the need for awareness of the foster care epidemic in our County made us step forward.  It’s not fair to ask everyone to open their doors to a foster child, but, we can assure you, there are many ways you can help.  We hope our story encourages others to step forward and help our County and our needy children down the right path.

Click here to read the full story of Brandon Moonier’s journey to a “Forever Family”.

The Moonier family

Is your workplace adoption friendly?

If asked this question most would say “of course my place of business is adoption friendly as we support all families”. In reality, most businesses are not adoption friendly. When a woman has a child she is given up to 12 weeks off to bond with the new family member before heading back to work. When a family adopts, the 12 week rule does not apply and most families are forced to take all of their vacation time during the process and when the child comes home. In many out-of-state adoptions couples or individuals could spend up to two weeks in another city before coming home leaving little to no time to create a lasting bond with their new child.

In 1990 only 12 percent of the top 1,000 businesses in the U.S. offered any type of adoption assistance. In recent years this percentage has risen to more than 50 percent but there is still another 50 percent to go. While less than 1 percent of employees will utilize any adoption assistance from the employer it is a life changing benefit to offer for a very low cost.

No matter how families are formed, new parents need time to bond with their children. Employees who build families through adoption are likely to incur significant costs and participate in a lengthy, sometimes stressful process. Providing support for employees throughout the process bolsters productivity, goodwill and loyalty.

You may know Dave Thomas as the man who created the fast food chain Wendy’s. What you may not know is that he was also one of the largest supporters of adoption the world has even seen through the creation of the Dave Thomas Foundation. On his website there is a very simple application that a business can fill out to become an adoption friendly business. There are also tools for adoptive parents to request help with their adoptions from their employers.
Adoption friendly workplace resources (click here)

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It does not take much time or investment to change families forever so we hope that you take a moment and become an adoption friendly workplace as nothing is more important in this world than family.

The History of Adoption

Did you know that November is National Adoption Month?  Here is a brief history about how adoption started and how we got to where we are today.

Ancient adoptions were not always in the interest of the child

For many people today, adoption is a way to create a family. For others, adoption helps to expand a family. Adoptions in ancient times, however, were not conducted in the interests of children. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Orphaned or abandoned children often became slaves.

Ancient adoptions in the Roman Empire mostly involved adult males and the aristocracy. Wealthy families that were sonless would adopt older boys or men to provide them with male heirs. Several Roman emperors, including Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, were adopted.

Adoption as practiced in ancient times declined during the Middle Ages, as bloodlines became paramount for inheritance. At this point, the Catholic Church began to encourage adoptions in the interest of abandoned and orphaned children, establishing homes and standards of treatment for these children.

Modern adoption has its roots in the United States

From the time the first settlers arrived in the United States, war, poverty, disease, and other tragedies left countless children orphaned. Until the 1850s, informal adoptions were the norm; another family, usually a relative, would take in an orphaned child. As the number of these informal adoptions increased, the need for legalizing the process became apparent. In 1851, Massachusetts passed the nation’s first adoption statute. It required that judges determine if adoptive parents had consent from the adoptee’s guardian or parent, “sufficient ability to bring up the child,” and that it was “fit and proper that such adoption should take effect.”

The number of orphans in the United States exploded amid the Civil War and as immigration increased in the 19th century. Homeless children crowded city streets, particularly in New York. Charles Loring Brace, a protestant minister who founded the Children’s Aid Society of New York in 1853, conceived the idea to relocate and find homes for the orphans. Between 1859 and 1929 some 200,000 orphaned children were transported from coastal cities to rural areas in the Midwest. They traveled on what were called “Orphan Trains.” The outcome of this controversial social experiment was mixed. Some say the orphans became indentured servants; others say the children were spared a life on the streets. Nevertheless, the program ushered in America’s foster care system.

In the early 20th century, part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Movement was aimed at improving child welfare. At the First White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children in 1909, Roosevelt recommended moving away from institutional orphanages and toward placing children in family homes. Consequently, other states followed Massachusetts and passed legislation governing adoption, but the consent provision was loosely implemented. In 1917, Minnesota passed a law mandating that a child welfare agency investigate all placements.

Adoption gains momentum

Following World War I, the demand for babies began to grow. Three major factors that contributed to the new adoption trend included the sharp drop in population caused by the war, the influenza epidemic of 1918, and the development of a successful feeding formula. The number of adoptions exploded, and “closed” adoptions became the norm. In closed adoptions, the identities of the birth parents and adoptive parents were kept a secret because, it was thought, this helped the child bond to his or her new family and avoid the stigma of illegitimacy.

By the mid-1950s the demand for healthy infants began to exceed the number available. Factors contributing to the decline in available infants included the increased availability of effective contraception, a rise in the abortion rate following Roe v. Wade in 1973, and an increase in the number of unmarried women keeping their babies rather than giving them up for adoption.

During the 1970s, “open” adoption, in which adoptive and birth parents are known to each other, became more accepted. A growing number of prospective parents adopted through private placement, by contacting a birth mother directly, through an advertisement, through the services of a lawyer, or through other professionals specializing in adoption. Adoptions reached their highest point in 1970, and have since leveled.

Recent trend toward international adoption

Since the late 20th century, international adoption has become prevalent in the United States, providing homes to children that have been orphaned by disease, war, poverty, and in the case of China, a national policy that permits couples to have only one child. Indeed, celebrity adoptions have become commonplace and generate intense publicity—wanted or not. You can’t look at a magazine at the grocery store checkout without seeing Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s growing brood plastered on the covers of tabloids. But millions of people experienced the joys of adoption long before it became a media event.

 

I am single, can I adopt? One woman’s journey through the adoption process.

By the age of 34, I had a graduate degree, a house, a good job and a few years of travel under my belt. I’d been trying to become a mom for 18 months and had 8 failed IUIs with a donor. I had chosen the donor route because I thought it would be faster, cheaper and easier than adoption. Boy, was I wrong. I took another look at adoption and decided to go for it. Here’s my story.

Getting Started – Agencies vs. Attorneys

I started my single parent adoption journey in July 2011 by selecting an agency to do my home study. I also interviewed another agency and two attorneys.

I didn’t like either agency. Their fees were high and they only placed with single women every 2 – 3 years. They required minimum budgets of $15,000 and placement fees were based on race.

One attorney came highly recommended, but most of his birth mothers came from churches and private schools. They were also very young, and most adoptions were closed. I didn’t feel this was a demographic likely to choose a single parent, so I chose not to work with him.

The second attorney (who I’ll call BL) was very positive and energetic, and she never once expressed any doubt or concern about my single situation. She also came highly recommended and didn’t have any upfront fees. She and her assistant gave feedback on my parent profile and even provided little plastic booklets for me to put the pages in. I felt they truly wanted me to become a parent.

I decided to work with BL and completed my home study in October 2011. The process was easy and fun. I took classes at the local hospital and read and reported on some parenting books to fulfill my education credits. The home visit itself went fast and the caseworker didn’t even check to make sure my bath tub was clean.

Money

Three months later, I decided I should get serious about financing. I’d been advertising for myself by handing out pass-along cards and running Facebook ads where legal. I’d been fundraising and had a weekend job, but most of that money was going to cover a 6-week unpaid maternity leave.

My credit score was well over 700 and I had no consumer debt, so I figured I’d have my pick of banks who wanted to loan to me. Wrong. This was the most frustrating part of the process. There were many days I had to mentally pick myself up and force myself to take one step forward.

There’s no such thing as adoption financing. It’s all considered a personal loan, so as far as the bank is concerned, I was asking to borrow $10k to go shopping at Mall of America. I couldn’t borrow against my 401k and my employer offered no adoption benefit.

After multiple loan rejections without explanation, I applied through the National Adoption Foundation and Bank of America, who boast special financing for adoptive parents. Their offer was a credit card with a $3,500 limit at 26% interest! What a joke.

At that point, I learned that multiple credit requests in a 2-week period won’t harm your credit, since the reporting agencies figure you’re shopping around for the best rate. So I applied at a number of credit unions and finally settled on a $10,000 credit card at 9.9% interest.

I opted for a card over a loan because I didn’t know when I’d need the money, and with a loan, you have to start paying it back right away, even if you aren’t using the money yet.

Checking In

On March 21st, my attorney’s office called because they wanted to show my profile to a birth mother who had rejected a number of other profiles. By chance, she was in a neighboring state with the agency that had done my home study, but they didn’t have any adoptive families who met what she was looking for. I had 2 1/2 of the 3 traits she was looking for, and she was due in less than 2 months.

The attorney faxed me her social profile, and I was trembling while I gushed the details to my coworker…so much for keeping a secret! I immediately emailed my family the details with a warning, “Do NOT get excited.”

For two weeks, I didn’t let go of my phone. I waited in anticipation as meetings with the prospective birth mom kept getting postponed due to sick children, conflicting schedules, etc.

The Call

On April 3rd, I left my phone in the car while I changed into a dress for a dear friend’s funeral. He had passed away suddenly, and we were reeling from the shock of it all. When I got into my car to go to the funeral, I noticed I had a voicemail. From the attorney. She wanted me to call her back right away. Eeks!!

I called back. She and her assistant had me on speakerphone as they shared the news. The birth mom had chosen me. She’d wait to meet me at the hospital. Oh my god, oh my god. I pulled into a random parking lot and the rest of the conversation was a total blur.

Sharing the News

Due to birth mom’s personal details, I felt confident this match was solid and the adoption would work out. I immediately called my family members to tell them. My dad had to leave a meeting and could hardly understand me through my tears. My mom was wearing a paper gown on an exam table and took the call anyway. My sister-in-law, who was nursing at the time, said “I’ll pump faster!” so we could have some breast milk for the baby. I had a reason for all my teary friends at the funeral to smile. Such a bittersweet day; I’ll never forget the feeling.

Welcome Baby

After a last-minute work trip and lots of fast planning, my son was born by c-section a week earlier than his due date. He and I met his birth mom together after recovery, and he spent about half our hospital stay with her. In his birth state, parents can sign adoption papers immediately after birth, and it’s irrevocable – no extra waiting period. Two days later, we were discharged from the hospital and went to stay with friends while we awaited clearance to leave the state. He is the happiest, cutest, most engaged little guy ever.

Finalizing the Details

The adoption ended up being through an agency I didn’t want to work with (because birth mom was with them), but my attorney handled the legal parts. We spent almost 3 weeks in my son’s birth state before getting ICPC clearance to return home, and that was really frustrating. Otherwise, things went smoothly. Two sets of paternal rights were terminated (one for absent birth father and one for legal husband, also MIA) and we finalized on National Adoption Day.

Looking Back

The entire adoption process took about 10 months, with my active waiting time less than 6 months. I know this is unusual and I consider myself very fortunate. I credit much of it to my honesty in my parent profile. If I had followed the coaching of others, I would have made myself sound more “cookie cutter” and his birth mom wouldn’t have seen what she was really looking for.

She never asked about me being single, and never asked what I do for a living or how much money I make.

Looking Forward

We have a semi-open adoption at birth mom’s request. I send a letter and pictures through the agency a few times each year.

My son’s adoption story will always be open and talked about, but there are some things I won’t be able to answer for him. I don’t know why his birth mom thought she could handle her other children, but not him. I don’t know why she doesn’t want visits. I don’t know why his birth dad was deported. I don’t know what he looks like, whether he has other children, or where he is. His name is extremely common and will never be of any help. I worry about answering these questions more than I worry about explaining why I’m not married.

While everyone’s journey is different, here at the Thurman Law Firm, we can help you navigate any issues that you may have during the process and answer any question you may have as an adoptive parent or birth parent.

Gotcha day…a day as much about loss as celebration

I ran across this story from a girl who was adopted about her take on “gotcha day” and how her family decided to make some changes to this day that many of us celebrate.

“I was five and a half years old when my parents adopted me in China and brought me to my new home to America. As my mom always says, I eagerly ran into her arms and truly have stayed there for the past 12 years. She is my mom, my best friend, the woman I admire most in the world. But for the longest time, my family marked that day we met in China as something known in adoption circles as “Gotcha Day.”

Lots of families celebrate the day they met their adopted child and became a family. But while I appreciate the love and everything else my parents give me, Gotcha Day can be a mixed bag — one that leaves kids like me sad and confused. What’s missing from Gotcha Day is this: The acknowledgement that adoption is also about loss.

While adoptive parents may be celebrating a long-awaited child finally entering their lives, that child in their arms has experienced abandonment or has been surrendered for reasons they may never know or understand. It’s a lot to process. And sometimes while adopted kids are processing it, their feelings of loss override their feelings of happiness. Gotcha Day is one of those times when we think about our past and how little some of us actually know about it. We think about our biological parents and wish we knew them and could ask them why they didn’t keep us. We think about what our lives would be like, where would we be, what our futures would look like, had there been no Gotcha Day.

It’s been said that adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where everyone expects the victims to be grateful and appreciative. I am grateful and appreciative, but I also want to remind people that someone’s happiness over building their family through adoption may also be someone else’s sorrow over losing their child for circumstances they couldn’t control. Gotcha Day feels like a day of fake smiles if we don’t acknowledge that it’s also about loss, not just gain.

In my family, we now celebrate Family Day. My parents show my brother and me the photos of when we first met. We talk about how she fed me a big bag of M&M’s (still my favorite candy; how did she know?) that I promptly threw up on her in the cab ride back to the hotel. I tell her every Family Day how she shouldn’t have let our guide throw away the yellow sweatsuit that I vomited on. It was the last thing my orphanage caregivers dressed me in and was a tangible part of a past that has many unknowns. (I forgive her; she was jet-lagged and the guide took away the dirty clothes and just put them in the trash knowing my mom had a suitcase full of new things for me to wear from America.)

Every Family Day, we laugh about my little brother’s Elvis sneer and bewilderment at the events of the day we got him. We laugh about how — I was 7 at the time and had been living in America for two years — I took one look at him and began asking my mom if we could get a puppy instead. We remember how while my parents were busy filling out paperwork and he and I sat coloring and my dad threw a ball at his head. My mom screamed and my brother, without even looking up from his coloring, raised his left hand and caught the pitch perfectly. “A leftie! Yes!!” shouted out my dad, a life-long Cubs fan. I’m not sure if the Chinese officials thought it was funny, but we sure laugh about it every Family Day.

I love our Family Day. It celebrates our love for one another plain and simple. And we always end it by lighting a candle for our first families and going outside to talk to the moon.”

 

10 questions not to ask adoptive parents…

The world of adoption can act in mysterious ways.  One day the couple next door has no children and the next day they have kids playing in the yard.  While each adoption is different there is one thread of commonality to all – “the story”.  Each adoptive family has their story about why they chose to adopt and how it all transpired.  Many who have not gone through the process can be a bit awkward around a new adoptive family and want to know all the details.  Image if you asked some friends who had a biological child everything about the process…it gets real personal…real quick.  The same holds true for adoptive families.

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Adoptive families and children that have been adopted deserve the same level of privacy that any other family has.  They can choose to share “their story” or they can choose to keep their journey to themselves.  When my wife and I adopted we had many friends and family want to know all the details of how we adopted our child.  We decided that our story was in fact not really our story but rather our child’s to share if and when they were ready.

The adoption process is highly emotional for the birth parents, adoptive parents and the child involved.  It is filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I wanted to pass along a list of 10 questions to avoid asking adoptive parents.  This is not meant to exclude you from the new family, but rather to allow the new family to bond and become a family.  Trust me, my wife and I have heard them all and then some.

What Not to Say:
“Who are his ‘real’ parents?”

“Aren’t you wonderful to adopt this child?”

“How could his ‘real’ mother give away an adorable baby?”

“Do you know anything about his background?”

“What will you do if he searches for his ‘real’ mother?”

“Your kids look so different? Which one is yours?”

“It’s just like having one of your own, isn’t it?”

“Why was she given up for adoption?”

“How much did you pay for your baby?”

“Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll probably get pregnant, don’t you think?”

When someone finds out that my child is adopted my favorite question is always – they look just like you – how did that happen?  My response is always the same…they are my child, why wouldn’t they look like me?

Reasons your adoption petition may be denied if you choose to adopt through an agency – why using an adoption attorney may be a better path

Approximately 130,000 U.S. children are adopted each year, but that doesn’t mean the adoption process is easy.  Private adoption agencies are allowed to set their own criteria for prospective parents, while public agencies are governed by state laws that can put adoption out of reach for certain individuals.  No matter what type of agency you work with, there are a number of reasons an adoption petition have been be denied by some agencies.

Marital Status

Most agencies, public or private, prefer to place children in a two-parent home.  If you are single, it’s possible for your adoption petition to be rejected because you either live in a state that does not allow single people to adopt or because the birth mother wants her child placed in a two-parent home.  Additionally, if you have been married for less than three years, or if the agency determines your marriage is not stable, your adoption application can be rejected.

Financial or Employment Problems

Financial stability is an important factor in granting an adoption.  Agencies want to ensure you have the financial wherewithal to care for a child, and will give preference to those demonstrating a history of financial stability.  If you have either declared bankruptcy or have a high debt-to-income ratio, an agency may reject your application. An agency may reject your petition based on your job or employment history as well. Unemployment can place a lot of strain on a family, and agencies want to place children with parents who have a high degree of job security.

Substance-Abuse Issues

If an agency suspects you currently use drugs, or you acknowledge using or abusing drugs in the past, your adoption application can be denied.  While occasional alcohol use may not be an issue in a public adoption, some private agencies may choose not to place a child in your home if you consume alcohol, even in moderate amounts.

Smoking

An adoption agency may reject your application if you are a smoker.  This is not only because smoking can severely compromise your own health, but because exposure to second-hand smoke is dangerous for children.

Living Situation

While it should not matter whether you live in a city apartment or a house with a yard, your living situation is a factor when adopting a child.  A home that is unclean, unsafe or located in or near a crime-ridden neighborhood could result in rejection, as can living in a home that is too small or in any way ill-equipped to accommodate a child.

Weight/Health

There are some countries that have weight restrictions for adoptive parents.  These countries have set their limits at a BMI of over 40 for exclusion.  While your adopted child will not have the same biological traits that you do, these countries feel that someone who is obese would not be a good caretaker for a child.

Age

There are countries, not the United States that have age limits for adoptive parents, either individually or an aggregated age of the two adoptive parents.  This number does fluctuate from country to country so if you are looking to adopt outside of the U.S. please become aware of the local rules as the age restriction takes effect when the child is placed so if it takes a few years to complete the process you may not be successful if you are close to the limit when you begin the process.

Benefits of using an Adoption Attorney versus an adoption agency

  • In an attorney-assisted adoption, also called independent adoption, direct placement or private adoption, the adoptive parents and birth mother (or birth parents) each have their own attorney.  That way each party knows they have their own advocate in their corner that will put their interests first.
  • In an agency adoption, the birth parent(s) relinquish their parental rights to the agency, and the prospective adoptive parents work through the agency to adopt.  In a direct placement adoption, the birth parent consents directly to the adoptive parents and never relinquishes rights to an agency.
  • In a direct placement adoption the baby is typically discharged from the hospital directly to the adoptive parents.  Temporary foster care may be required in an agency adoption.
  • Attorney-assisted adoptions often give greater flexibility to both adoptive parents and birth parents.  Agencies may give preference to certain types of individuals or couples (for example, based on religion, marital status, age or sexual orientation), or impose other requirements, such as whether the parties can meet face-to-face before the child is born.
  • Attorneys can evaluate how best to handle contested adoptions, if a problem should arise.

An experienced adoption attorney: 

  • Understands the complex laws that apply to adoption, and how they apply to the specifics of your case.
  • Provides an unbiased explanation of adoption methods and resources and helps you develop a legally secure plan tailored to your needs.
  • Assesses any risks involved in your situation, such as whether the adoption might become contested, and helps you plan accordingly.
  • Is accustomed to dealing with the legal system and the courts.
  • Can help to resolve any problems that arise between the parties during the adoption process, and negotiate with the other party’s attorney if necessary.

During your home study you will review many, if not all of these areas previously listed so none of this should equate to a last minute decision for a denial.  In fact, many of these potential restrictions can be corrected of modified so if you feel as if one of these areas may cause your adoption plan to be unsuccessful you still have time to make some changes.  If you are just starting your journey or have reached a roadblock I encourage you to give me a call to discuss your situation.

Stephen Vighi Attorney and partner at Thurman Law Firm

Stephen Vighi
Attorney and partner at Thurman Law Firm

The dollars and cents of adoption – what you can expect

If you’re just starting on the adoption journey the amount of choices before you can seem daunting at first.   With more options come more decisions, each with its own emotional and financial risks and benefits.  To help you find the right path, here’s an overview of the most common routes to adoption.

Adopting a domestic infant via an adoption agency:
Hopeful parents-to-be who seek a U.S.-born infant often enlist the help of an adoption agency.  Private agencies set their own criteria on applicants they will accept, some more restrictive than others.  In the past, those using an agency had their names added to a list and waited for a match.  Today, the trend toward open adoption means that you are likely to meet the birth parents, who may request ongoing contact with the child. The agency is likely to send a few sets of parent profiles to the potential birth parents, who then pick the one they are most comfortable with.  Following the initial selection, the birth parents and adopting parents typically meet.  The child may be placed with the adoptive family immediately after birth or from foster care.  If you insist on a closed adoption process, your wait may be longer, since most agencies now encourage varying degrees of openness.

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Typical cost: $20,000 to $40,000, including the homestudy, counseling for potential birth parents and prospective adoptive parents, legal expenses, medical expenses, and foster care, if needed.

Benefits: If service and support are what you want, an agency guides you through each step of the process, but at a price.

Risks: The agency’s criteria and the birth parents’ desires for adoptive parents, in addition to your own specifications for a child, can affect the time it takes for you to be matched with a birthparent.  A “false start” can occur when prospective birth parents decide against adoption at some time during the process.

Adopting an infant privately:
Among other types of adoption – and a common way of adopting a domestic infant – is by locating a potential birth mother yourself, usually with a lawyer’s help.  Of the estimated 18,000 annual domestic newborn adoptions, at least half are done independent of an agency.

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People looking for an independent adoption mail résumés to obstetricians and attorneys, advertise in newspaper classifieds sections, and even create personal Web pages or biographical blogs in order to match with a birth parent.  Once a match is established, adoptive and birth parents together arrange a plan for the adoption, hospital stay, and ongoing contact, if desired.  The baby typically is taken home directly from the hospital.

Each state has its own laws governing independent adoptions.  In some states, for example, an adoption attorney can head the search for a birth mother for you.  Or you can search on your own and hire a lawyer to screen prospective birth mothers and handle the legal paperwork.

Typical cost: $7,000 to $10,000 in legal fees for yourself and the birth parents, plus at least $7,500 in medical expenses.

Benefits: You control the search process and the degree of openness with the birth parents, have direct contact with them, and aren’t restricted by agency requirements.

Risks: Costs are largely unpredictable.  Advertising, counseling, and living expenses for the birth parents vary widely from adoption to adoption.

Adopting internationally:
In 2013, Americans adopted 7,092 children from other countries, usually young children from orphanages in developing nations of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

Most international placements are handled by U.S.-based agencies, which often facilitate adoptions in multiple countries, each with its own policies on who may adopt and who may be adopted.  The placing organization abroad may be a governmental body, private orphanage, foundation, or other social welfare group.  Most countries require that one or both of the adoptive parents travel to the country to pick up the child.

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Children available for adoption may struggle with undernourishment, developmental delays, or emotional problems, but be otherwise healthy.  Adopters often consult a doctor with international adoption expertise to review a child’s records before accepting the referral, and to examine the child once home.

Typical cost: $25,000 to $50,000, or more, depending on travel and other requirements of the country.

Benefits: The length of wait and fees have been predictable in the past, although changes in adoption programs have lessened this certainty.  Matches are fairly routine and are typically processed in the order in which dossiers are received, making international adoptions a good alternative to those who like not having to be chosen by birth parents.

Risks: Paperwork required by the U.S. government, as well as the sending country, can be cumbersome.  Medical information can be erroneous or incomplete.  Policy changes or domestic problems in the sending country can delay or suspend the process.  Studies show that almost all children catch up developmentally, but there’s always a risk of long-term problems for any child who has spent time in an orphanage or other institution.

Adopting from foster care:
In 2012, an estimated 52,039 children were adopted within the U.S. from the public foster-care system.  State agencies handle these adoptions, which typically happen in one of two ways: families apply directly to adopt a child in foster care, or first become foster parents and then adopt after the birth parents’ rights are terminated.

Foster care words

Children waiting to be adopted from foster care average 7.8 years old, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.  Most are deemed to have special needs because of physical, mental, or behavioral disabilities, age, or membership in a minority or sibling group.

Typical cost: $0 to $3,000 in initial expenses, but fees can be recouped through a federal reimbursement plan or the adoption tax credit. Many families will receive the federal tax credit, regardless of their actual expenses.

Benefits: Reimbursements make cost negligible, and ongoing subsidies (averaging $350 per month) are available to help pay for the child’s needs, including medical and counseling, day care, and tutoring.

Risks: Older children may have emotional, physical, or mental disabilities, or other special needs. The process can take a while because state agencies often are understaffed.

As we have outlined, the process and number of options can often cause confusion.  If  you have any questions or need help facilitating your adoption plan please contact us at any time.

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Thinking of adopting? You are not alone!

In the United States, adoption is more common than you think. 6 out of 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption. Either they have a family member or close friend that has been adopted, or they themselves have been adopted.

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Types of Adoption

In the U.S., there are two main types of adoptions: agency and independent.

Agency adoptions fall into two different categories; public and private. While public agencies focus on helping foster children find a permanent home, private agencies typically focus their attention on infant adoptions. As of April 2013, 38% of families privately adopted with 62% of children being newborns or less than one year old.

Independent adoptions mostly involve newborn babies. In the U.S., about 55% of newborn adoptions are completed through independent adoptions, which are mostly arranged by a lawyer and birth mother.

Growing Numbers

Since 2000, there were a total of 2,058,915 adopted children in the United States, and that number continues to grow each year. Research shows that there are approximately 125,000 adoptions annually in the U.S.

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Who Is Adopting?

Married couples are adopting the most out of all demographics – about 71% of all adoptions in 2013.

In 2013, 52% of couples adopted because of infertility and 16% of couples did so to have a sibling for their biological child.

In addition, there is approximately 23% of single females adopting and lower percentages of unmarried couples and single males adopting.

According to a national adopting statistics, 87% of adoptive parents say they would adopt again if they could.

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There is more we can do

In the U.S., 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. 101,666 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 32% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted.

If you are thinking about adopting, or are pregnant and want to discuss what options you have in the adoption process, please contact me at any time.

The pros and cons of an open adoption

Imagine meeting your spouse for the first time at the altar.

Sounds strange, doesn’t it?  Well, the open adoption experience can be a bit like that.

In open adoption, adoptive parents and birthparents often find themselves brought together with under unusual circumstances with next to no notice. What’s more, they’re expected to develop a long and lasting relationship with each other from that point on.

As with every type of adoption, open adoption has its share of pros and cons. Here are some to consider before you dive into yours.

For birth parents, the advantages of open adoption are:

  • The option to choose adoptive parents for your child, talk to them and meet them
  • Creating an adoption plan for your child
  • Maintaining a relationship with your child as he or she gets older
  • The ability to directly answer questions your child may have about why he or she was placed for adoption
  • Feeling less uncertainty about the future, knowing that your child is loved and cared for

For adoptive parents, the advantages are:

  • Having a say in the matching process
  • The ability to talk and meet with your child’s birth parents
  • A heightened sense of security from knowing about your child’s birth parents and why they chose adoption
  • Having access to medical information about your child in the case of serious illness
  • The ability to answer questions your child may have about his adoption
  • The support and encouragement from your child’s birth parents in your child-rearing decisions

For adoptees, the advantages are:

  • A deeper understanding who you are and where you came from
  • An explanation as to why he was placed for adoption by his birth parents
  • The ability to have a relationship with his birth family over the years
  • The No need to search for or fantasize about his birth parents

Most open adoptions are successful. But that doesn’t mean they’re problem-free. As with any relationship, they still require a lot of work. And have their share of potential disadvantages as well.

For birth parents, the disadvantages are:

  • The possibility that the family they choose to raise their child will change their minds before the placement
  • The possibility that the family they choose may be working with another prospective birth family at the same time
  • Pressure to stick with the family they’ve chosen because they’re worried that changing their minds about them will hurt their feelings
  • The possibility that adoptive parents may want more or less contact than outlined in their agreement

The cons of open adoption for adoptive parents are:

  • The possibility that they may not be chosen by prospective birth parents
  • The possibility that the prospective birth parents may change their minds prior to signing the relinquishment papers
  • The possibility that the birth parents could withhold important key personal or medical information about them
  • The possibility that the birth parents could want more or less contact than agreed upon

The cons of open adoption for the child:

  • Depending on the circumstances and individuals involved, he or she still have unanswered questions about his adoption
  • He may not ask question for fear of hurting his adoptive or birth parents
  • He may still have fears about abandonment
  • He or she may feel forced to choose sides in a disagreement between his two sets of parents
  • He may worry that spending time with or showing his support for one set of parents will upset the other one

As with any adoption arrangement, open adoption is far from simple. It has its share of benefits and risks. Having two sets of parents can be complicated even at the best of times. But by keeping things real, adoptive parents and birth parents have the ability to work together and give their child a loving and secure future.