Archive for March, 2019

Baby Safe Haven or Adoption: What Birth Mothers Should Know

In 1999, there was a spike in the number of babies abandoned by their birth parents. Many of these babies were left in unsafe places, and many were harmed as a result. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may be able to imagine how many of these birth mothers were feeling at the time: alone, scared, anxious, hopeless, and unsure what to do.

In response to keep babies safe, particularly in these cases where birth parents could not parent the baby, many states came up with Safe Haven laws. A baby safe haven is a place that a birth parent can leave their newborn baby, safely, such as a hospital or fire station, and not be prosecuted. If you have seen shows like NBC’s This is Us, or CBS’ Code Black, you have likely heard of a baby safe haven laws.

If you are pregnant and are unsure what to do, you are certainly not alone. Across the United States, thousands of young women are facing unintended pregnancies. Many, like you, may not feel ready to parent a baby for life. They may be exploring other options. In this article, we will explain baby safe havens and what they can mean for your baby. We will also share helpful information about a positive, alternative option: adoption.

Baby Safe Havens:

Safe Haven Infant Protection Laws allow a person to leave  a baby anonymously in a safe specified location. As long as the child has not been abused, the birth parent may use a baby safe haven without facing charges. The purpose of these laws is to protect babies from being hurt or dying as a result of neglect.

Perhaps you have heard heartbreaking stories of infants left in dumpsters. The birth mothers responsible may have been under severe emotional stress. Perhaps they had hidden their pregnancies, fearful of the reaction of their families. They may have been in an abusive relationship and fearful of the birth father becoming angered by the situation. They may have felt like they had no other options and nowhere to turn. Whatever the reason, these mothers abandoned their baby. All too often, this abandonment results in the baby’s death. It is also illegal, and results in arrest and prosecution if found. Safe haven laws work to avoid these tragedies, providing birth parents with safe places to leave their newborns.

Many states have adopted different Safe Haven Laws, so it is important to reach out to a knowledgeable professional regarding the laws of your state. In Massachusetts, for example, a parent may legally surrender newborn infants 7 days old or younger at a hospital, police station, or manned fire station without facing criminal prosecution.

According to the National Safe Haven Alliance, over 2,000 babies have been positively impacted by the Baby Safe program in the United States. Many of these babies have been adopted by loving families. However, most babies left in a safe haven do end up in the foster care system. Children in foster care can stay there for many years, without a permanent family. If your child goes to foster care, you will likely not know (or have any say in) who adopts your baby.

Private Adoption:

While the Safe Haven laws have protected the lives of many babies and birth mothers, there is an alternative path for those who want to ensure a happy and healthy life for their baby. At Adoptions With Love, we understand that facing an unplanned pregnancy can be scary and overwhelming. Often, it is a time of complete crisis. We want expectant/birth mothers to know that adoption is an option for you. No matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, and even if you have already given birth, you can make an adoption plan for your baby. Adoption is a positive and loving choice for many reasons, such as:

  1. Adoption puts you in control. Instead of dropping your child off at a fire station or leaving him/her at a hospital, never knowing what will happen, adoption allows the birth mother to make more decisions for her baby. You can hand-select the adoptive family. You can imagine the kind of life you want for your child. You can even maintain contact with the adoptive family and child, with a custom-made open adoption plan.
  2. Adoption gives you the gift of time. It gives you time to think over your decision, and imagine the kind of life you want for your unborn baby. With adoption, you need not feel that you are neglecting or “giving up your baby.” Instead, you can take your time to consider your decision and make a thoughtful plan for his or her life. You also gain support from a private adoption agency, such as Adoptions With Love, that will guide you through the adoption process. With an adoption agency, you will also find great emotional, physical, and financial support during pregnancy and long after the adoption is complete.
  3. Adoption gives you support and guidance. Your adoption agency’s social workers will sit with you to discuss your options and create your ideal birth and adoption plan. You will also be able to discuss your experience, feelings, and questions with a caring counselor any time of day. Unlike a Baby Safe Haven, where you leave your child and are left dealing with the emotional consequences all alone, you will have a network of professionals who care about you and your baby. They will check-in regularly and be your shoulder to lean on, all at no cost to you. There are a variety of services an adoption agency can provide, such as legal assistance and help finding prenatal care, completely free of charge.

At Adoptions With Love, we want the best for birth mothers and their babies. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and are unsure of what to do, let us help. We can chat with you about your options, with zero pressure or judgment. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us – for free and confidentially – toll-free at 1-800-722-7731, or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072.

Adoption FAQ: Do I Need Consent from the Biological Father to Make an Adoption Plan?

Unplanned pregnancy often brings about many questions for expectant and birth mothers. Some of the most commonly asked questions we hear at Adoptions With Love relate to the biological father – his rights, his involvement, his consent in making an adoption plan. As an expectant/birth mother, you too may be wondering, ‘Do I need consent from the biological father to make an adoption plan?’, ‘Should he be involved in this process?’, or perhaps, ‘What is the father’s role in all of this?’ What if you do not have a relationship with the baby’s father at all?

Every situation is unique. Right now, you may or may not be in contact with the biological father. You may or may not have a good relationship with him. Perhaps you do not know where, or who, the baby’s father is. This is okay. When you work with a trustworthy adoption agency, you can always feel safe and confident as you move through the adoption process, even if and when the biological father gets involved. You will also have a good understanding of the biological father’s rights in your state.

You see, adoption and biological father consent laws vary state to state. Depending on where you live, the biological father may or may not need to know about your adoption plan. If the father is known, he may be required to establish paternity (i.e. prove his fatherhood) if he wishes to be involved with your decision. If he does not establish paternity, or waits too long to do so, he may not have any say in the adoption. Some states require that the father of the child be legally married to the mother in order to have any parental rights.

Some states require a biological father to be made aware of his rights and responsibilities, if he is known. If the biological father is unknown, unaware, or unsupportive, some states will allow you to pursue the adoption without his involvement. You can learn about the adoption laws and birth father rights of your state by contacting Adoptions With Love. The legal assistance we provide to expectant/birth parents is always free of charge.

If you have a safe and sound relationship with the biological father of your baby, we encourage you to talk to him about your pregnancy and interest in adoption. You may find that, in your situation, he becomes a great source of emotional support. In fact, you may discover that he wants to go through this journey with you. At Adoptions With Love, 80 percent of birth fathers are involved – on some level – in making an adoption plan. They have supported this positive choice and signed the legal documents allowing the adoption. If this is not your situation, that is completely okay, too. You always have support available, whenever you need it, at Adoptions With Love. Our caring staff is here to help you day or night, with free counseling services as needed. You are not alone.

If you are unsure of how to tell the biological father the news, try to think of it as an educational process. You can help him understand the positive benefits of adoption, and explain to him how you arrived at this decision. If he is involved in the adoption, he can always opt for a different adoption plan than you. He may desire only a semi-open relationship with an adoptive family, while you decide on a fully open adoption. Or, he may not wish for any contact at all. This is okay. Each expectant parent gets to define their relationship with their child and with the adoptive family, on an individual basis.

If the biological father is on board with the adoption plan, he is also entitled to free support and counseling at Adoptions With Love. He will likely have many of his own complicated emotions surrounding the adoption and pregnancy, which we can help him work through, as well.

Should a biological father disagree with the adoption plan, he must be fully prepared to establish paternal rights in court, as well as take care of you and the baby, both emotionally and financially, for many years to come. If he is ready commit to a child, he must also be willing to commit to child support.

Some expectant/birth mothers may not be in contact with the biological father or may not feel safe contacting him. If this is your situation, Adoptions With Love can step in and make contact as needed. Our professional team can contact him through a licensed adoption attorney. We will present him with his legal rights as a father, and work to get those rights relinquished so that you can move forward with the adoption plan. You do not have to have any direct contact with the biological father at all. Adoptions With Love has the experience and professional wherewithal to handle all kinds of circumstances. We also have the appropriate legal resources to terminate parental rights as needed. Should you ever feel uncomfortable regarding contact with the birth father, Adoptions With Love can handle it. We do not want a birth mother to feel stressed about this situation during her pregnancy.

Should an expectant/birth mother not know who the birth father is, that is completely okay, too. We will walk you through the adoption process and be a shoulder to lean on along the way. We will also help you understand your state’s adoption laws in this type of situation.

Whether you have a relationship with the biological father, do not have any contact with him, or simply do not know who he is, you can always find support, respect, and advice at Adoptions With Love. You should never feel pressured into a decision – even by the biological father. Remember that this is your decision. As an expectant/birth mother, only you know what is best for your baby.

Adoptions With Love can help you, no matter the circumstance, with sensitivity, support, and zero judgment. For even more answers and information about adoption and birth father rights, please download our free eBook, “Adoption FAQ for Birth Mothers.” You may also call us toll-free at 800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072. We are available anytime of day, any day of the week to answer your call.

The Adoption Storyline in the Movie, Instant Family

Image result for instant family movie

The latest Mark Wahlberg comedy to hit theaters, Instant Family, tells the story of a couple who sets out to adopt a foster child, and ultimately winds up caring for three children. The film is based on the real-life story of director Sean Anders and his wife, Beth, who took in three young siblings to foster together in 2012. At the time the children were six, three, and 18-months-old. They later chose to adopt these children and give them a permanent home.

The storyline goes into specific detail of the foster care adoption process, because, as Anders said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, “When my wife and I got involved in foster care to adopt when we first were taking the classes in such, we were really surprised that we didn’t know anything about it – from movies or from TV.”

That unknown of foster care later inspired Anders to team up with co-writer John Morris, to share a story of adoption with a playful mix of humor and heartfelt drama.

Instant Family, released this past November 2018, follows Ellie and Pete Wagner, a successful house-flipping couple (think Chip and Joanna Gaines). After an ongoing discussion about having children, the two decide to explore the foster parenting world. They initially seek a young child, as many prospective adoptive parents do, then talk about adopting a teenager because of how many need a home. The couple eventually welcome a teenager and her two younger siblings home. This is just the first of many instances in which Instant Family properly addresses the foster parenting journey.

Often, hopeful parents seeking to adopt from foster care wish to adopt a younger child. However, as is the ongoing focus of National Adoption Month, there are many teens in system in need of forever homes – currently, over 13,450 children between the ages of 15 and 17 are in foster care. Not to mention, many of the children in foster care are siblings, which can make finding a forever family more difficult. Federal legislation and child welfare as a whole both emphasize the importance of keeping siblings together whenever possible. It is three siblings that complete the Wagner family in the movie, Instant Family.

Throughout the film, the Wagners face many challenges. Some of these challenges are typical with caring for any child, and some are unique to children who have been in the foster care system for some time. Either way, the many circumstances the Wagners face are both relatable, touching, and, at times, humorous.

Mark Wahlberg told the Associated Press that the filmmakers were very careful in the way that adoption was portrayed throughout the film.

“We always talked about, ‘Is this too much? Is this pushing the envelope a little too far?’,” Wahlberg said. “It can be really hard and it’s honest in that way that there are a lot of great times, there are a lot of difficult times, but ultimately it’s so rewarding and that’s what it’s all about.”

Instant Family is sure to be an instant family favorite for foster and adoptive families. It strikes the right balance of entertainment with comedic parenting moments, combined with genuine relatability for those who have faced the challenges that come with the foster care system.

The film does a great job at addressing the “white savior” myth associated with fostering, while also addressing the terrible “just in it for the money” types of fostering parents. The filmmakers made it a point to include a variety of ethnicities, sexualities, and genders in the character roster. In addition to his own family’s adoption journey, Anders said he also pulled inspiration from other adoptive families, to reach a wider, more diverse audience and to give a more accurate depiction of the modern family today.

Tig Notaro, who portrays one of the clinical social workers in the film, says the Instant Family adoption story has a real message and actually takes an honest look at adoption from foster care:

“I think this is a pretty realistic portrayal of that world and it’s like, ‘Sure, this is tough and scary but there’s a lot of tough and scariness in the world, but here’s the great part of it all,’” she said. That’s where the humor in Instant Family works so well.

As Sean Anders explains, “There’ve been great movies about the subject of adoption and foster care, but unfortunately they a lot of times focus on the trauma and the tragedy. They leave people walking away with feelings of fear and pity and negativity and that sort of adds to the stigma. I wanted to make a movie that doesn’t shy away from the kind of tragedy and trauma that is involved with it, but also gets into the laughter, love, and the joy of a family coming together in that way.”

The creators of Instant Family hope that this one will be appreciated by parents of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. There also could be a positive message here for anyone considering growing their own family through adoption.

As Wahlberg said, “I think knowing that there are a lot of kids out there who are in desperate need of a home, hopefully that will pique people’s interest and make them kind of look under the hood a little bit more and hopefully look into bringing foster children into the home and eventually adopting.”

Sean Anders continues, “I would encourage anybody making a film on the topic of foster care to make sure that they touch on who these kids are, and that even if they’re hurting and even if they’re coming from a traumatic place, that they’re still just kids who need love, and need moms and dads at homes to live in. And that these kids are also really strong. A lot of times they are stronger than your average kid, because of what they’ve had to persevere through. So I just wanted people to have a better understanding of who the kids are.”

Learn more about adoption at Adoptions With Love. Our caring staff is available to help you grow your family, and can chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.