Archive for April, 2016

The Importance of the Adoptive Family Screening Process

There are many details to consider when choosing an adoption agency. As you begin the adoption journey, you will want to find professionals who are licensed, trustworthy, and committed to you at every step of the way. You want to choose an agency that is also fully committed to finding the best possible home for your child. How will you know that your child will be placed in a safe, loving, and supportive family? Which adoption agency can ensure the stability and security for your child?

The safety, security, and happiness of your child are very important to us. That is why, at Adoptions With Love, we prescreen and assess all of our adoptive families through a comprehensive series of home visits, interviews, background checks, medical checks, income evaluations, and more. This thorough screening process is known as a ‘home study,’ and is a crucial component of the adoption process.

In most states today, only a licensed adoption agency or licensed adoption social worker can complete a home study. Before you select an adoption agency, ask their staff about the typical screening process for adoptive families. Do they have professionals trained to conduct home studies? If so, how long is the home study process? What are the requirements for that process?

If you choose to make an adoption plan with Adoptions With Love, we want you to rest assured that your baby will be supported and cherished in his or her adoptive home. To ensure that we match your child with the best adoptive family, we conduct a two-to-three-month long home study. Over these initial months, we get to know each prospective family to confirm they are emotionally, physically, and financially prepared to raise a child. During the initial stages of our home study process, we:

  • Conduct a series of criminal background checks including an FBI check, a sex offender registry search, a review of state criminal records, and a search of child abuse/neglect reports.
  • Evaluate the waiting family’s medical history to ensure that family members are all in good health and fit to raise a child to adulthood.
  • Confirm a family’s financial stability by carefully reviewing their income statements and tax return forms. Adoption is a lifelong commitment, and it is important to ensure that they are financially prepared to provide for a child for at least 18 years.
  • Require personal letters of reference to gain an outside perspective on the family and understand how others believe they will succeed as parents.

After this initial review, a trained social worker at Adoptions With Love schedules a series of personal interviews in the office and visits to the home of a prospective family. Through this ‘home study,’ we are able to see each family in their natural environment, and judge how prepared they are to bring a child into their lives. We make certain that their home is a safe and warm environment in which to raise a child. During these visits, we check the home to make sure it meets safety standards, and also review the neighborhood to assess the community, its security, and the educational opportunities for a child in the area.

The extensive interviews allow us to get to know each potential adoptive family. In these interviews, a licensed agency social worker meets with the prospective parents, with the family as a whole, and with each family member one-on-one. These meetings tell us a great deal about the family and their reasons behind adopting. We gain a sense of the stability of relationships within their home, the family’s parenting philosophies and experience, and their plans once they do become parents. We also aim to get a sense of their motivation to adopt a child, as well as their feelings surrounding openness in adoption.

As part of the home study process, each prospective family is required to attend a pre-adoptive group at the agency.  This group is facilitated by a licensed social worker.  In this group the families discuss all aspects of adoption including meeting their child’s biological parents, maintaining a relationship over the years, talking to their child about adoption as well as a multitude of adoption-related topics.  If a family has not raised a child from infancy, they are required to attend a baby care class.  This class is taught by a nurse.  They are taught everything from changing diapers to safety issues.

The in-home visits do not end once the adoption takes place. Over the six months following the adoption, Adoptions With Love conducts regular post-placement visits to ensure that a child and family are all comfortable with their new situation.

As you consider potential adoption agencies, ask them about their relationships with their adoptive families. How well do they know each waiting family? How much time have they spent with the family? Do they speak on a regular basis? It is very important to find an adoption agency that builds and maintains relationships with each and every one of their adoptive families.

As a licensed, not-for-profit adoption agency, Adoptions With Love takes great time in getting to know each prospective family over a several-month period. By doing so, we can ensure that each baby is matched with a family who can meet his or her needs in a loving, healthy, and safe environment. If you would like, you can Meet our Families, too!

To learn more about our home study process, or to get started on an adoption plan for your baby, call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731. If you are still researching adoption agencies, download our free guide below to learn what you will need to consider throughout the process.

choosing an adoption agency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Signs to Look for When Choosing the Best Adoption Agency for You

The adoption process is full of choices.  Today, you can choose an adoptive family for your baby.  You can also choose to meet that family.  You even have the option to keep in touch with your child and his or her adoptive family over the years.  These are all choices made in your adoption plan.

As an expectant/birth parent, you also have the right to choose an adoption agency that can help you design your perfect adoption plan.  The right adoption agency will educate you on your many options, prepare you for the adoption process, and help you make informed decisions each step of the way.  The right adoption agency will be there to support you now and in the future.

How will you find the best adoption agency for you?  Look for the following positive signs of a reputable adoption agency.

  • They provide you with more than one option. A good adoption agency will encourage you to explore all of your unplanned pregnancy options before making a final decision. They will take the time to educate you about each one of these options so that you are fully confident in your choice.  Not only this, but the right adoption agency will also continuously remind you that it is okay to change your mind at any moment during your pregnancy.
  • They advise you regarding all of your legal rights. As an expectant/birth parent, you have the right to make all decisions regarding your child up until the adoption takes place.  Look for an adoption agency that works with adoption attorneys who can advise you on all of your   rights as well as the specific laws in your area. For example, they should be able to help you understand the exact period of time you have to make a decision and how long you have to change your mind.
  • They offer many types of adoption plans. The right adoption agency will give you more than one choice when it comes to making your adoption plan.  You should always have the option to design a closed, semi-open, or open adoption
  • They prepare you for the ups and downs of the adoption process. Adoption is a very positive choice for women facing an unplanned pregnancy, but it can also be a complex and deeply emotional decision. The adoption agency you choose should help you understand what to expect before, during, and after the adoption takes place.  They should be open and honest every step of the way. The right adoption agency will help you understand and cope with your emotions.
  • They express a lifelong commitment to you and your baby. How will the adoption agency support you after you place your baby for adoption?  Do they offer ongoing counseling services following the birth of your baby?  Do they have support groups?  Can they help put you in touch with your child down the road?  The right adoption agency will commit to you for years to come.
  • They are not-for-profit. Many adoption agencies today are in the business to facilitate adoptions and to profit from those adoptions.  A non-profit adoption agency, however, is not looking to make money.  Rather, they are looking to find the best possible home for your child.  Non-profit agencies are often the best adoption agencies to pursue.

If a prospective adoption agency exhibits any of the following, it is likely they do not have you or your child’s best interest in mind.  When choosing an adoption agency, consider these warning signs:

  • They give off a sense of urgency. If the adoption agency you are considering wants you to make a decision quickly, you may want to reevaluate their intentions. Some adoption professionals will want you to “make a decision by tomorrow” without fully educating you about your options or the adoption process.
  • They advertise “big budgets” and luxurious accommodations to recruit pregnant women. If the adoption agency is advertising big bucks and hotel suites to expectant parents, take it as a red flag.  Adoption agencies that attempt to recruit pregnant women are likely to pressure you into a decision later on or make you feel unable to change your mind.  This may also indicate they are only concerned with big profits, not you or your baby’s best interests.
  • They only show you glowing reviews and testimonials. Adoption agencies that only share glowing reviews or testimonials from other birth mothers may be ones to question.  This type of adoption agency may not give you the most accurate view of adoption.  They may only provide you with adoption’s fairy tale endings.  They may glamorize adoption to be the perfect solution, even when adoption may not be right for you and your baby.
  • They are not a licensed adoption agency. Ask the potential adoption agency for their license and a phone number to call to check their legitimacy and authority. If they cannot provide you with that certification, they are not a licensed adoption agency.

At Adoptions With Love, we truly believe that the more informed you are about adoption, the more positive you will feel about each choice you make throughout the process.  The best adoption agency for you will be open and honest as you consider the positive choice of adoption.

For questions to ask a potential adoption agency, download our free eBook, the Guide to Choosing an Adoption Agency.

Free Download Thumbnail


Dear Ben, Love Your Adoptive Father

This is a letter from a dad to his son, written on the day he and his wife finalized the adoption and welcomed Ben into their family forever.

Dear Ben,infant adoption

Last night you went to sleep around 7pm, following a quick 4oz bottle, diaper change and a dozen kisses from your Mom and I. Today, you woke up to a similar routine of bottle and kisses. It will be an ordinary start to the day for our family with one exception; it’s your adoption day.

Today is the first day we have been able to celebrate as an official, legally certified family of 3.  We are driving from West Dennis to Cambridge for a 9am court appointment.

Your Mom and I often lay in bed at night and talk about how lucky we are. Of course, we did not plan to have years of struggle starting a family.  We did our best to stay positive, optimistic and committed to our family plan. I will never forget the day we received the call and the day we first met. These are memories I will treasure forever. You have enriched our lives in ways that neither your Mom nor I could have ever imagined.

There are times I wonder what would have happened if your birth mother chose a different family or made a different decision.   Then I am around you and I am reminded that we were meant to be a family. You can call it fate, or god’s will; we know you belong with us.  As you know, you were not born from your Mom’s belly, however you were brought into this world via the love of many individuals including your birth mother, Mom and Dad. I promise you that most days you will never even think about being adopted. But when you do, I hope you know how much you are loved.  Although there are many other adopted children in this world, you are truly special.

Our promise to your birth mother was that we would love you, and raise you to be kind, happy and strong.  In addition, we made a promise to always portray her in the most positive light, for the sacrifices she had to make and for placing your interest above all. Your Mom and I hope you are as proud of our family and your adoption as we are.

Finally, we want to thank you for your love, laughter, cries and smiles.  Thank you for letting us be your Mom and Dad.

Love always,
Dad

 


Adoption Facilitators, Lawyers, and Agencies: Which is Best for You?

As an expectant mother, you are the only person who truly knows what is best for you and your baby.  You are the only one who can make a decision regarding your baby’s future. While you have the most control in creating your personal adoption plan, you do not have to go through it alone.  There are many knowledgeable, compassionate adoption professionals who can help you navigate this journey.

When facing an unplanned pregnancy, it can be difficult to know where you can and should turn for support.  There are thousands of different professionals who can walk you through the adoption process.  As an expectant mother choosing adoption, how will you decide upon the most reliable, professional support?  How will you know you are making the right choice?

In this blog, you will learn about three common types of adoption professionals available to you: adoption attorneys, adoption facilitators, and private adoption agencies.  Each professional varies in terms of the services it offers, the certifications it possesses, and its involvement with you and your baby.  Who will best ensure that all of your needs are met?  Who will give you the consistent support you deserve?  Let us take a deeper look.

Adoption Facilitators

Adoption facilitators are professionals who assist in connecting prospective adoptive families with expectant/birth mothers considering adoption.  They offer general matching services and advertising for families in exchange for a fee.  In most cases, though, that is the extent of their offerings.  Once an expectant/birth mother selects an adoptive family for her baby, the facilitator steps out of the equation.  He or she is not certified to complete the adoption process or continue support for anyone involved.

The benefit of adoption facilitators is that they work with many different waiting families and will likely have a variety of options available to you and your baby.  However, adoption facilitators provide less than one-fourth of the services that licensed adoption agencies offer. They do not have resources in place to guide you through the adoption journey.  They are not qualified to offer  counseling on your many unplanned pregnancy options or help you decide whether adoption is truly right for you.  They are also not able to offer you any financial, housing, medical, or legal assistance.

Typically, adoption facilitators are companies or individuals who are unlicensed and unregulated by the government.  For this reason, their services are illegal in many states throughout the country.  If you are considering working with an adoption facilitator, it is crucial to consult with someone about your state adoption laws.  The unlawful use of an adoption facilitator can impact the legal standing of your baby’s adoption.

Adoption Attorneys

Some attorneys specialize in the field of adoption.  They are the professionals who are able to legalize and finalize the adoption process.  For this reason, all adoptions in the United States require the work of an adoption attorney.  But not all attorneys specialize in adoption and know all the adoption laws.

Many adoption agencies work closely with adoption attorneys and offer legal services as part of their service offerings.  If you choose to make an adoption plan with a full-service agency, you will likely get free legal counsel from an adoption attorney specific to your area.  In this case, you will not need to hire an adoption attorney on your own.

Some women, however, choose to work independently with an adoption attorney.  This is particularly common for expectant/birth mothers who already have found an adoptive family.  If you choose to work with an adoption lawyer on your own, you will be required to take on a more independent role throughout the adoption process.  You will need to seek additional support through other resources, such as an adoption social worker.

While adoption attorneys do comply with state adoption laws, they do not always offer binding post-placement contracts.  In a lawyer-facilitated adoption, there may be no option for regulated, ongoing contact between you and your child’s adoptive family.

Private Adoption Agencies

Private adoption agencies are social service agencies that work with expectant/birth parents and waiting adoptive families to find the best possible home for each and every child.  They are made up of well-trained, well-established, and highly qualified professionals.  Private adoption agencies are regulated and licensed by the state to provide extensive services to pregnant women, birth parents, and adoptive families at each stage of the adoption process.

If you choose to work with a private adoption agency, you will always have someone to turn to for help.  Unlike adoption facilitators and attorneys, an adoption agency professional will be there for you during your pregnancy, and after the adoption takes place.  They will arrange for someone to support you while you are in the hospital. They will help you design your perfect adoption plan, and offer resources and guidance to you at each stage of the process.

Today, most private adoption agencies offer free services for birth mothers, such as matching services, legal representation, one-to-one counseling, and financial assistance.  They also screen all of their adoptive families to ensure they are fit to adopt a baby.  Not only this, but most private adoption agencies offer legal, binding contracts so that birth parents can maintain longer-term contact with their child and his or her adoptive family.

As a pregnant mother considering adoption, you are entitled to these valuable services, at no cost to you.  Yet choosing an adoption facilitator or adoption attorney as your primary support may limit or exclude you from the extensive support you deserve.

To learn more about where to seek adoption help, please download our free Guide to Choosing an Adoption Agency. You may also call Adoptions With Love any time of day at 1-800-722-7731.

 

Free Download Thumbnail


State by State: How to Place Your Child for Adoption in Massachusetts

Are you pregnant and considering adoption for your baby?  The decision to make an adoption plan for your child is never easy.  It is one of the biggest, most emotional and difficult decisions you will ever have to make, but in time you will find it is also one of the most loving choices you can make for your child.

If you feel ready to consider an adoption plan for your baby, but do not know where to start, you have come to the right place.  Adoptions With Love is a licensed, non-profit adoption agency that helps expectant/birth parents nationwide find the best possible home for their children.

If you are currently living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are specific steps you will need to take to place your baby for adoption.  You do not have to go through this on your own.  Our Massachusetts Adoption Agency will help guide you through this journey.  We are here to ensure that you understand the adoption process, and that you are comfortable and confident with each decision made along the way.

We have created this short guide to show you some of the steps you can take if you decide to make an adoption plan in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

1.) Choose an Adoption Agency

Choosing the right adoption agency is an important first step of the adoption process.  The adoption agency you choose should be by your side throughout the entire adoption experience—as you prepare for the adoption, after placement, and throughout your life.  Your agency professionals should always listen to your wishes, respect your choices, and use those to help you design the perfect adoption plan.

In order to make a legal, secure adoption plan in Massachusetts, you will be required to work with a non-profit agency licensed by the Commonwealth.

2.) Understand the Adoption Laws of Your Area

Adoption laws and regulations differ depending on the state.  It is important to find an adoption agency who is specifically trained in and knowledgeable about the laws in your area.

In Massachusetts, no parent can sign legal adoption documents until four days after the baby’s birth.  This ensures that birth parents are one hundred percent confident in their decision.  Once the legal documents are signed in Massachusetts, the birth parents cannot change their minds.  That is why, at Adoptions With Love, we want you to be completely certain that you are making the best possible decision for your child.

3.) Discuss an Adoption Plan

With a Massachusetts open adoption agency, you will have the option to design the type of adoption plan you want: an open adoption, semi-open adoption, or a closed adoption plan.  You can also select the family of your child, if you wish.

4.) Choose an Adoptive Family

If you would like to choose an adoptive family for your baby, your adoption agency can show you various waiting families who may be a match for your child.  You can take as much time as you need in choosing the perfect adoptive family for your baby.  You can also meet them in person.

In Massachusetts, it is required that all potential adoptive families are thoroughly screened and evaluated by a licensed adoption agency.  We go to their homes to ensure the environment is safe and secure. They have gone through an extensive home study process as well as a series of background checks to ensure the safety and stability of their home.  We want to make sure your baby is placed in a loving, safe, and stable home.

5.) Create an Open Adoption Agreement

An Open Adoption Agreement is a legal and binding agreement offered by licensed adoption agencies in Massachusetts.  This agreement is signed by the birth parents and adoptive parents.  It is entered into court at the time of finalization.  In this plan, you can determine if you want contact with your child and his or her adoptive family, as well as how much contact you would like.  You can choose to have ongoing face-to-face meetings with your adoptive family, communicate with them through email or phone, solely maintain contact through the agency, or have no contact at all.  The choices are yours.

Just as every woman is unique, every adoption plan is unique.  When you work with Adoptions With Love, know that your post-adoption plan will be completely tailored to meet the needs of you, your child, and your child’s adoptive family.

6.) Pursue Ongoing Adoption Support

After your baby’s adoption, it is important to seek ongoing support.  Through a reputable Massachusetts adoption agency, you can participate in support groups or meet one on one with licensed counselors.  At Adoptions With Love, we promise you will have our support and ongoing counseling after the adoption.

Adoptions With Love is a full-service adoption agency.  We provide the following free services to expectant/birth mothers considering adoption in the state of Massachusetts:

  • Complete counseling
  • Help designing your adoption plan
  • Assistance finding quality medical care
  • Housing assistance 
  • Financial assistance
  • Legal assistance
  • Ongoing Contact

This is our State by State Adoption blog series.  To learn about the different areas we service, or to find the specific steps of adoption in your state, please visit adoptionswithlove.org/areas-we-service.