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Resources for expectant parents
considering adoption


The most important thing that expectant parents who are considering placing their child can do is educate yourself about adoption so that you can effectively determine if placement is a choice you want to make.

To begin, we will talk about adoption and how it works and then discuss some helpful resources.

At this point, since you are just beginning to consider adoption, it is very important to receive some kind of adoption counseling in order to determine if adoption is a choice you might want to make. The decision to place a child for adoption is a difficult one. It is an act of great courage and much love. Remember, adoption is permanent. The adoptive parents will raise your child and have legal authority for his or her welfare. You need to think about these consequences as you make your decision. Try to educate yourself on adoption as much as possible, so you can understand what it will mean to you and your child.

Pregnancy itself can affect your feelings and emotions. Are you only thinking about adoption because you have money problems, or because your living situation is difficult? These problems might be temporary. Have you called Social Services to see what they can do, or asked friends and family if they can help? If you have done these things and still want adoption, you will feel more content with your decision.

Here are some places that can help you with adoption counseling and provide you with information:

  1. Crisis Pregnancy Center (or more commonly called "CPC")

    Crisis Pregnancy Centers specialize in helping pregnant women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. They offer free, confidential counseling and can help you with many things. It might even have a maternity center attached where you could live until the baby is born. These Centers are extremely helpful to pregnant women in need and you do not need to be in "crisis" in order to contact one. They can provide you with free adoption counseling, maternity clothes, medical referrals, support groups, crisis intervention, legal advice, and many other services.

    Some Crisis Pregnancy Centers are even licensed adoption agencies. In this case, they would be able to help you with your pregnancy needs and help you with all of the adoption proceedings (if you choose adoption). An example of a Crisis Pregnancy Center that is also a licensed private adoption agency is the Children's Home Society.

    A list of Crisis Pregnancy Centers can be found online or you can call any of the following toll-free numbers for your nearest center:

    • National Life Center pregnancy helpline: 800-848-LOVE
    • Carenet Pregnancy helpline: 800-395-HELP
    • America's Crisis Pregnancy helpline: 888-467-8466
       
  2. Adoption agency - This choice is good if you are already leaning strongly in the direction of adoption. We can provide you with a free list of adoption agencies for up to five states.
     
  3. Health Department or Social Services - A food stamps or welfare worker can tell you which clinic or department is the right one. Look in your phone book for these numbers.

Terms to know

Adoption agency

An organization, usually licensed by the State, that provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents, and children who need families. Agencies may be public or private, secular or religious, for profit or nonprofit.

Adoption attorney

A legal professional who has experience with filing, processing, and finalizing adoptions in a court having jurisdiction.

For an adoption attorney referral in your state, you can look in your phone book under "American Bar Association" or contact:

American Academy of Adoption Attorneys
(Quad A)
P.O. Box 33053
Washington, DC 20033-0053
E-mail: trustees@adoptionattorneys.org
World Wide Web: http://www.adoptionattorneys.org
Phone Number (202) 832-2222

Adoption consultant

Anyone who helps with the placement of a child, but specifically someone who makes it his or her private business to facilitate adoptions.

Adoption facilitator

Individual whose business involves connecting birth parents and prospective adoptive parents for a fee (only allowed in a few States).

Adoption placement

The point at which a child begins to live with prospective adoptive parents; the period before the adoption is finalized.

Adoption triad

The three major parties in an adoption: birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted child. Also called "adoption triangle" or "adoption circle."

Birth parent

A child's biological parent.

Closed adoption

An adoption that involves total confidentiality and sealed records.

Consent to adopt (or consent to adoption)

Legal permission given by the birthparent for the adoption to proceed.

Relinquishment

Voluntary termination of parental rights; sometimes referred to as a surrender or as making an adoption plan for one's child.

Decree of adoption

A legal order that finalizes an adoption.

Finalization

The final legal step in the adoption process; involves a court hearing during which the judge orders that the adoptive parents become the child's legal parents.

Grief

A feeling of emotional deprivation or loss. Grief may be experienced by each member of the adoption triad at some point.

Independent adoption

An adoption facilitated by those other than caseworkers associated with an agency. Facilitators may be attorneys, physicians, or other intermediaries. In some States independent adoptions are illegal.

Loss

A feeling of emotional deprivation that is experienced at some point in time. For a birth parent the initial loss will usually be felt at or subsequent to the placement of the child. Adoptive parents who are infertile feel a loss in their inability to bear a child. An adopted child may feel a sense of loss at various points in time; the first time the child realizes he is adopted may invoke a strong sense of loss for his birth family.

Maternity home

Residences for pregnant women. The number of homes has decreased over the past three decades, and existing homes often have a waiting list of women. The women who live in a maternity home may pay a small fee or no fee to live in the home and they often apply for public assistance and Medicaid payments.

Open Adoption

An adoption that involves some amount of initial and/or ongoing contact between birth and adoptive families, ranging from sending letters through the agency, to exchanging names and/or scheduling visits.

Paternity testing

Genetic testing that can determine the identity of the biological father. Paternity testing can be done with or without access to the biological mother.

Post-legal adoption services

Services provided subsequent to legal finalization of the adoption. There are primarily four types of post-legal service providers: social service agencies, private therapists, mental health clinics and self-help groups.

Putative

Generally regarded to be true.

Putative Father

Legal term for the alleged or supposed father of a child.

Putative father registries

Registry system that serves to ensure that a birthfathers' rights are protected. Some states require that birthfathers register at these facilities, while other states presume that he does not wish to pursue paternity rights if he doesn't initiate any legal action. We can provide you with a list of states that have putative father registries.

Placing a child for adoption:

There are mainly three ways that a child can be placed for adoption: 1) through an adoption agency (public/State operated agency or a privately owned agency), 2) independently, by using an attorney or an adoption facilitator, and 3) direct placement (only some states allow this).

There are also three kinds of adoption: 1) confidential (closed) adoption, 2) adoption with some degree of openness, and 3) open adoption.

Closed adoption means that the birth parents and the adoptive parents never know each other. Adoptive parents are given background information about you and the birth father that they would need to help them take care of the child, such as medical information. In closed adoption, there is no ongoing contact between the birthparent and the adoptive family.

"Openness" refers to some degree of contact, whether it be a one time meeting between the birthparent and adoptive parent or yearly pictures and letters exchanged. In this kind of adoption, you may be able to choose the adoptive parents for your baby.

Open adoption, on the other hand, is one in which the "adopted child has the potential of developing a one-on-one relationship with his or her birthfamily" throughout their life. Many adoption professionals believe that this is true open adoption.

Talk to your counselor about the type of adoption that is best for you. Do you want to help decide who adopts your child? Would you mind if a single person adopted your child, or a couple of a different race than you? Would you like to be able to share medical information with your child's family that may only become known in the future? If you have strong feelings about these things, work with an agency or attorney who you feel will listen to what you want.

Know your legal rights

It is important that you find a professional, whether it be an attorney or an agency professional, that will advocate for you and will keep your best interests in mind. Every state has different adoption laws and you should obtain your own copy of them. You can ask the attorney or agency that you work with for a copy of the laws for the state in which the adoption will be finalized in or you can access them online via our links to State legislative Web Sites in our publication "Resources for State Adoption Statutes". If the agency or attorney will not provide you with this information, you have the right to question this. Make sure that you go over the laws with your adoption worker. State adoption laws change frequently, so make sure you receive the most current information.

On this Web site, we also provide State law summaries on the following topics:

Signing Documents

Think very carefully before signing any paperwork. Make sure you know what you are signing. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you understand when you are legally able to sign the "consent forms". In many states, these are not signed until after the birth of the baby. You will also want to know how much, if any, time you have to change your mind or "revoke your decision" once you have signed the consent forms. Keep in mind that you retain your parental rights until the consent to adoption papers are signed. Get copies of everything you sign.

Birthparent Expenses

Approximately 43 States have statutes that specify the type of birth parent expenses a prospective adoptive family is allowed to pay. The actual dollar amount is usually limited by the standard of "reasonable and customary." Read our law summary on how each state regulates adoption expenses.

The type of expenses most commonly allowed under the law are:

  • Maternity-related medical and hospital costs
  • Temporary living expenses of the mother during pregnancy
  • Counseling fees
  • Attorney and legal fees; guardian ad litem fees
  • Travel costs, meals and lodging when necessary for court appearances
  • Foster care for the child, when necessary

Approximately 21 States also specify expenses that the adoptive parent is not permitted to pay. These include educational expenses, vehicles, vacations, permanent housing, or any other payment for the monetary gain of the birth parent. In six other States, the statutes do not specify the types of expenses that are not allowed, but do include language indicating that any expense not expressly permitted cannot be paid by the adoptive parents.

In addition to regulating the type of expenses that can be paid, a few States have set time limits, typically four to eight weeks, on how long after the birth of the child an adoptive parent is required to continue payments for the birth mother's living expenses or psychological counseling.

Agency Fees and Costs

The fees charged by agencies and the extent to which they are regulated by State authorities vary from State to State. Regulation is ordinarily determined by administrative rules, regulations, and standards, not by statute. Very few States specify a dollar amount for agency fees or specific services that agencies provide. In most States, the statutes simply authorize agencies to collect "reasonable and customary" fees for the adoption services provided.

The services that agencies typically provide include preparation of the pre-placement and post-placement home studies of the adoptive family; a social and medical history of the birth family; and birth family counseling. Sometimes agencies also will receive payment for birth parent expenses and make appropriate disbursements. In addition, in some States, agencies are allowed to factor a portion of their administrative costs into their placement fees.

Helpful Resources:

Professionals

  • The best way to locate a professional is through local birthparent support groups. The support groups will know of professionals who offer services to birthparents. Search our National Adoption Directory to locate support groups.

  • At this time NAIC is aware of two professionals holding retreats for birthparents. If you are aware of any others, please contact the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. Inclusion on this list is for information purposes and does not constitute an endorsement by the Clearinghouse or the Children's Bureau.
     
  • Brenda Romanchik, a birthparent who chose adoption several years ago, is the founder of R-Squared Press. She has written many helpful pamphlets and other materials to help explain the process of adoption and to inform birthparents of their rights and responsibilities. She is an advocate of open adoption, holds healing retreats for women who placed children in an open adoption, and has written a pamphlet entitled, "What is Open Adoption?". Brenda has also written: "Your Rights and Responsibilities: A guide for expectant parents considering adoption," and "Birthparent Grief." You can contact Brenda to order her pamphlets or to ask her questions at:

    R-Squared Press
    721 Hawthorne Avenue
    Royal Oak, MI 48067
    (248) 543-0997
    E-mail: brenr@r2press.com
    Web site: http://www.r2press.com

  • Susan Love with PACER (Post Adoption Center for Education and Research) does healing retreats for women who have placed a child for adoption. These retreats are done in the San Francisco, California area. Ms. Love can be contacted at: 510-287-8981.

Support:

If you decide to place your child for adoption and would like to find support from other birthparents:

  • Search our online National Adoption Directory for a listing of birthparent support groups near you
     
  • Contact CUB (Concerned United Birthparents) to find a CUB support group near you:

    CUB
    2000 Walker Street
    Des Moines, IA 50317
    (800) 822-2777
    E-mail: cub@webnations.com

  • PACER (Post Adoption Center for Education and Research)
    P.O. Box 309
    Orinda, CA 94563
    World Wide Web: http://pacer-adoption.org
    (925) 935-6622

Adoption Books (for women considering adoption)

  • Pregnant? Adoption is an Option by Jeanne Warren Lindsay. Morning Glory Press. This book discusses adoption and all its complexities, benefits, and hardships. It also addresses the emotional part of placing a child for adoption. Contact your local library or Tapestry Adoption Book Catalog at (800) 765-2367 to find this book.
     
  • May the Circle be Unbroken by Lynn Franklin. Authored by a birthmother who explores current issues in adoption. Contact your local library or Tapestry Adoption Book Catalog at (800) 765-2367 to find this book.
     
  • The Spirit of Open Adoption by James Gritter. Contact R-Squared press (see above) to order this book.
     
  • The Third Choice: A Woman's Guide to Placing a Child for Adoption. Foge, L.; Mosconi, G. This book, written for birthmothers, provides an overview of the adoption process, offers information and consideration to women first finding out about their pregnancies, and guides them through their pregnancy, birth, relinquishment process, and the grief and recovery periods afterward. Contact Creative Arts Book Co., 833 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94710 (510) 848-4777 FAX: (510) 848-4844 to order this book.

Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.


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