Adoption Resources That Should Be On Your Radar

Adoption Grants Blog Photo

Let’s picture it for a moment. You’ve decided to expand your family and immediately begin researching adoption. Your excitement is palpable, your
friends and family members are sharing in your happiness, and then you have a thought that never occurred to you before: How in the world am I going to afford this? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. For thousands of families exploring adoption, cost can be a scary factor. Luckily, with these grant options, these hurdles can be easily maneuvered. Read on to learn a bit more about four different grant opportunities that help adoptive families around the United States on a daily basis.

Non-Profit Organizations and Foundation Grants

Many non-profit organizations and foundations offer grants to adoptive families to aid in the adoption process. These grants generally cover between $3,000 and $7,000 of adoption costs and operate similarly to student loans in terms of eligibility. Grants are offered to families depending on certain demographics and occupations. Teachers, for example, are often given these grants, as are military families. Non-profit and foundational grants are offered for domestic and international adoption. For more information on these grant opportunities, please visit the Child Welfare website.

Employer Benefits

In today’s competitive job market, we often see employers doing their best to give their employees amazing job perks. These can include on-site daycare for children, on-site gymnasiums and casual Fridays. Luckily for those considering adoption, these benefits can also include adoption grants. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer if they offer adoption benefits. More information regarding adoption friendly workplaces can be found here.

Government Adoption Tax Credit

Over the years, this adoption tax credit has made it financially easier for families in the United States to adopt. Though the maximum amount offered peaked at $13,400 in 2016, it is important to note that these taxes are nonrefundable. Visit the IRS’ webpage for more information about this credit.

Military Subsidies

While military families may benefit from non-profit and foundational grants, there are other opportunities available to them as well. If you are a member of a military family, it is important to note that the United States government offers up to a $2,000 reimbursement for adoptive families. These military subsidies also include a guaranteed adoption leave of 21 days. More information regarding military subsidies can be found here.

Adoption can be a daunting process where finances are concerned, but these resources can significantly help individuals seeking to expand their families. For additional resources and information, visit Resources4Adoption. To learn more about adoption and the different services offered, please visit http://www.afth.org or call 610.642.7200.

The Home Study

What is the home study?hyacinth-1369537_1280

The home study is “an assessment of prospective adoptive parents to see if they are suitable for adopting a child.” It covers many elements of the prospective parents’ lives to not only ensure that they are ready and able to take care of a child, but that they will be placed with a child that is the best fit for everyone involved.

What is the process?

While a portion of the process, as the name suggests, is in the home of the prospective parents, there are other steps as well. In the “home” portion of the process, a social worker or case worker will evaluate where the family lives and plans to raise the child. They will check to ensure everything is safe for children, such as child locks on cabinets containing cleaning supplies, as well as the home is up to code, if that state requires that type of check. You can find out more about the laws in each state here.

Outside of the check of the home itself, there are many pieces of the home study. There will be several documents and statements the prospective parents will need to provide the social worker such as health statements, income documents, background checks, and potentially more depending on the particular state or agencies standards. The prospective parents will also have multiple interviews with the social worker, and potentially write an autobiographical statement about themselves, to provide more information. Information from interviews and statements include but are not limited to; family background, education, previous and current employment, daily lifestyle, past experience with children, previous and current relationships, religious affiliations or belief system, their surrounding family and friends, and their feelings about adoption and welcoming it into their lives.

In addition to these logistical measures, there will be aspects of the home study that explore the character of the prospective parents. This portion is not in place to discriminate who is able to adopt a child. Rather, it is to help ensure that the parties involved are ready to be parents and that they will be matched with the right child based on their abilities and lifestyle. References from people who have known the prospective parents but are not related will give the social worker more background as well as give them a view of the network of loved ones that will be around.

Other aspects may be included on a case by case basis. For example, if the prospective parents already have children, those children may be interviewed to gauge their thoughts about welcoming a new family member as well as helping to ensure the safety of the home by how they have been raised so far.

What’s the purpose?

LGBT ISTOCK - LGBT FAMILY 2 (1) croppedThe purpose of the home study is to prepare the prospective adoptive parents while assessing the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents to adopt and match them with a child who they can responsibly care for.

I really want to start my family, how long does this process take? Is it expensive?

The time and cost of home studies can vary dependent on the type of adoption, state laws, specific agency fees, and more. The average time of compiling a home study report is 3 to 6 months. For domestic infant adoption through a private agency, $1,000-3,000 can be expected but that may also include other fees. For foster care into adoption, it can less, and for international adoption it can be similar or more.

How can I make sure I get approved?

There are no set standards for who gets approved to adopt a child through a home study, other than elimination of those with history of abuse and certain crimes. Different agencies and states may have varying views and guidelines they must follow. Race, religion, sexuality, gender, and other identifying elements are not in any way accounted for in someone’s ability to be approved for adoption. These aspects may help a social worker see what children could be a potential match, but they will not affect the approval process.

Some general tips to keep in mind for a positive home study experience are:

  • Know the laws and requirements for home studies in your state
  • Be completely yourself and 100% honest
    • Whether it be about your income, previous relationships, or potentially even matters of your criminal history, always be honest. Social workers can help, even with criminal activity if one is rehabilitated, dependent on the crime, of course.
  • Stay organized and have any potential needed documents readyfriend-1107005_1280
  • Ask for references from people who really know you and have for some time, not those who you think might have nice things to say about you
  • Keep your home clean and safe but do not try to be perfect
    • Social workers are not looking to eliminate applicants based on normal household clutter. They are looking for an environment that is clean and organized to a degree that is safe for a child while adhering to safety measures such as a working smoke alarm.
  • Start thinking about your parenting style, what your capabilities are, and how a child will fit into your current lifestyle.
    • No matter how much you want to grow your family, not every child being placed for adoption will be a good fit for you, nor you for them. Being open and honest with yourself and your social worker will help ensure you are placed with the child who will become part of your forever family.
  • Be flexible and have a sense of humor

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The home study can be a stressful process, but if you keep an open mind, be yourself, and let your social worker help you, you will find relief. For a more detailed view of home studies, check out this resource and be sure to research the home study services of your local adoption agency!

Secret Revealed: What Women are Looking for in Adoption Profiles

What women are looking for in adoption profilesOnce families are far enough along in their adoption process to begin working on their adoption profile, the number one question asked is, “What are women really looking for?” The adoption profile can range in length however includes photos and details about a family to help give expecting parents a view into their lives to see if they might be the right family for them. There are lots of articles and blog posts out there about what to and not to do when creating your profile. One of the best we have seen which includes lots of information and helpful guidelines is How to Create a Successful Adoption Portfolio by Madeline Melchner. Agencies offer classes going over the specific information that should be included in profiles and many different companies have sprouted up offering professional profile design services which some families may feel they want to utilize.

Even a long time adoption professional who has seen thousands of profiles over the years found herself stumbling when it was time for her and her husband to put pen to the paper to create their own profile. Even though 10 pages seem like a lot, it’s hard to capture who you are as a family in that limited space. How you met, why adoption, information about your professions, community, families, and what makes you different than the many other profiles he or she may also be looking at.

Truth be told, there is only one answer to the question “What are women looking for?” and that is…drum roll please…it could be ANYTHING! Ok, that may seem like a cop out but it’s so true. Over the past 30 years, Adoptions From The Heart social workers have seen families chosen for so many different reasons. Behind each and every reason is that it made a deeper connection.

One social worker even said that often when she is preparing profiles for expecting parents to review, she will guess the family that the expecting parents will choose however 9 out of 10 times she is wrong. “Even if I’ve been working with her for month and think I know her really well, so often she will find something about a family that I never noticed or will connect on a level that I have overlooked.”

Take a look at this very real list of why families’ profiles have been selected. And it’s probably not why you think.

  • The expecting mother noticed in the background of a family photo that their refrigerator was full of their child’s artwork. The fact that they took such pride in her creations was enough to show her they were the right family for her.
  • Recently a family was selected because they included a Ron Burgundy quote from a Will Ferrell movie. When the family had asked for feedback from social workers about their profile as they were getting ready to update it, it was one of things suggested the family might consider removing from their profile. However the family decided it was important to keep it in because it really captured who they were and in the end it actually became the reason they were picked!
  • The way the couple interacted in the video. It wasn’t forced, they made eye contact and smiled at each other and you could see their love. You’d be surprised how many couples don’t even look at each other during the video.
  • The expecting parents noticed a picture of the prospective father making cookies in the kitchen with kids from the neighborhood and loved how involved the couple was with children in general.
  • The couple showed goofy photos of themselves and she loved it! She knew they would bring so much laughter to her child’s life.
  • We have seen families picked because of their pets. Whether it was the type of animal they grew up with or even the pet they had wanted and never had when they were little.
  • A women chose a family because she noticed a photo with the father wearing a kilt at the Renaissance Faire. She had gone to the Faire each year and even suggested they host their visits there.
  • The family liked Mexican food and so does she.
  • The moment she heard the prospective adoptive father’s voice on the video, he reminded her of her dad and immediately she knew they were the right family for her.
  • The couple went blueberry picking and that was something the expecting mother had done with her family as a child.
  • The prospective adoptive mother was so put together, makeup and jewelry, in many her photos but this one photo she was holding a giant fish on a fishing pole. The woman thought it was awesome that she was a girly girl who wasn’t afraid of getting a bit dirty.
  • They were fans of the same sports team.
  • The woman who would classify herself as Gothic saw a photo of the prospective adoptive mother in her younger years dressed in Goth.
  • The prospective adoptive father’s mother, who would become her child’s grandmother, resembled her own grandmother.
  • The family lives in the state the expecting parent looking at profiles grew up in or visited and had special childhood memories from.
  • After seeing their Halloween-themed wedding, she knew they were the ones because that was her favorite holiday.
  • The family rode horses and the expecting mother had ridden when she was little and really wanted a family who would take her child riding.
  • She loved the beach and chose a family that vacationed at the shore each year.
  • The expecting parent played piano and when she saw a piano in the couple’s profile and found out the mother was a pianist, it made an instant connection.
  • She chose a single female who was a college professor for two reasons. One was that she was well educated and that was important. And two, because during her video she was so nervous her voice shook terribly the entire time and the expecting mother found it funny that she was so nervous even though she was a college professor.
  • The couple loved the outdoors and they were also very athletic which mirrored the expecting mother’s passion for both.
  • Names can often be a reason a connection is made. The prospective adoptive father’s name was the same as her father’s name who unfortunately has passed away and in another situation the prospective adoptive mother’s name was the birth grandmother’s name.
  • Sometimes a family is chosen because they already have children, especially if they had another child brought into the family through transracial adoption.
  • A same-sex male couple was once selected because it was the expecting mother really wanted to feel like she was her child’s only mother.
  • They were a military family and the expecting mother was in the military and it made an immediate connection between the two.

So you can see that it can really be anything big or small that makes a connection between the two families. It’s not to say that those men and women are choosing families for their children on a whim or without giving it much thought. It’s more about looking for signs and making a connection. Honestly, when making the extremely difficult decision to place your baby into another family’s home, 100 pages isn’t even enough explanation of the family one is choosing to entrust their child with.  It’s much deeper than that. It’s taking a leap of faith based on a gut feeling to choose to place a precious piece of yourself with another family and trust that the promises will be kept and that their profile was as real representation of who they are in real life.

So take Dr. Seuss’ advice:

SUESS1And just be YOU. You are not a PR person who is trying to make a pitch. The best adoption matches come from genuine connections. And you can never predict what it will be that makes that special connection and leads to the phone call that you’ve been waiting for.

If you want some more inspiration, take a look at lots of different varieties of profiles here.

If you are a birthparent, we would love to hear what it was about the family’s profile that created a connection for you?

How to Choose the Right Adoption Agency for Your Family

Choosing an Adoption Agency or attorney to work with you through your journey of building a family is not an easy decision. These are the people that will help join you with your future child. There are many elements to consider when deciding what agency to work with during your journey.

Explore Different Adoption Paths 

Different Types of Adoption– There are a few different avenues for adoption and it’s important to research them all in order to find the best fit for your family. Are you looking to adopt internationally or domestically? Would you be interested in starting as a foster parent? Are you willing to have an open adoption? Are you looking to adopt a baby or an older child? Would you consider a child with special needs?

If you are looking to adopt internationally, there are only certain agencies and attorneys who work in such capacities. Find out more about Intercountry Adoption through the US Department of State website.  

If you would be interested adopting from foster care, there all ages of children who are in need of homes. Please be aware that while there are some children in the system who are immediately available for placement, the intent of foster care is reunification and so in many cases fostering does NOT equal permanent placement. Find out more here.

Open adoption is more often than not how domestic adoptions are being done, so if you do think closed adoption is best for you, your options are more limited, and you may find international adoption is generally, not always, a more closed process. However, there are many misconceptions and fears around open adoption which may cause families to want to steer toward closed adoption, so before settling on closed adoption, please consider some of the important benefits here.  If you are looking for an open domestic adoption that usually places prospective parents with infants, there are many agencies who can help you learn more and start you journey, including Adoptions from The Heart.

Financial Need– Adoption can be an expensive process and varies depending upon the type of adoption you choose to pursue. It’s important prior to jumping into the process, to really explore the financial aspects. What can I manage financially, will I be borrowing out of my retirement or do I have another way to cover the initial expenses? Is international adoption too expensive? How will the federal tax credit of over $13,000 benefit me personally? Are there adoption grants or loans I qualify for or does my employer offer an adoption benefit? What are the agency’s fees and what do they cover? Are their additional legal fees I will need to  save for as well?

Find out more about financing an adoption here.

Accessibility– Does your career allow for you to travel to faraway for international adoption or even an out of area domestic placement? How much time will you get off work both before and after being placed with a child? Are you willing to make traveling arrangements for visits with the birthparent if you choose open adoption? Do you want your child’s birthparent close enough that they can attend special events in your child’s life should they want to?

If you want accessibility in your adoption journey, during and post placement, whether it be for work, your child’s ability to connect with their roots, or any other reason, you should consider working with a local adoption agency. Find one in your area here.

 

Know your options and ask for help

Adopting a child is no doubt a big milestone in life. Asking for help from those around you who are in some way related to adoption can make all the difference. You may know someone who has adopted a child, or who was adopted as a child. You may even know someone who placed their child for adoption if they are open about it. 6 out of 10 Americans are touched by adoption in some way, so chances are, you know someone! Ask that person if they are comfortable answering some of your questions. If they aren’t, that’s okay; there are other connections to adoption in your life.

Reaching out to your doctor or OB/GYN to ask questions and get recommendations is always a valuable place to begin. From working with expectant parents considering adoption, or other families like yourself, looking to adopt, they probably have some ideas of agencies people have enjoyed working with, and knowledge about the adoption process in general.

You can also call a local adoption agency, even if you don’t end up working with them, just to get some general questions answered from a social worker who works in adoption every day. Many agencies host free information meetings or online webinars where you can learn even more about the process.

There are also great support groups and blogs online where you can read and chat with people who have experience with adoption from all around the world! Check out some of the best adoption blogs out there!

 

Gauge what level of support is available to you, your child, and the birth parents

Some agencies will help you get placed with a child, and that is their main purpose. Others want to support you, the child, and the birth parents throughout the whole process, even after placement. Consider what services they provide outside of placement. Do they offer counseling, education opportunities, or support groups? Do they act as a contact liaison between your family and the birth parents in an open adoption? Are their services available to EVERY person involved in the adoption triad? If the answer is yes, you’ve found a great agency. If the answer is no, but you aren’t looking for that level of involvement, that’s okay too. Just know that even if you don’t think you want that level of support, working with an agency that offers it means they will always be there to help if you change your mind.

Consider how they make you feel

Adopting a child and building your family will no doubt be one of the greatest journeys of your life. However, that does not mean it is easy. Prospective adoptive parents could be in waiting for just a month while others wait more than two years. You may be chosen by an expecting parent, but they may decide to parent before the child is placed or the adoption is finalized. You may go through post-placement depression, similar to post-partum, after having a child placed with you. The journey to adopting a child is not easy, but the agency you choose can help you through the difficulties and share the joy with you during the good times.

If you find an adoption agency that makes you feel overly-optimistic, like nothing could go wrong and you’ll be placed with a baby in a matter of weeks, know that this positivity is not always good. They might be over promising and you might only discover a different reality once they have collected large fees. On the flip side, if an agency makes you feel defeated and hopeless and makes you wonder why you’re even trying adoption, that isn’t good either. Having realistic expectations is important, but you should also have a support system that encourages you to put your heart into adoption and rejoice in the growth of your family so that you can put your best most truest self forward in your adoption profile and when meeting expecting parents. If you find an agency that encourages your excitement about adopting, but is real with you about the difficulties of adoption, and teaches you about the losses involved for everyone in the adoption triad, then you’ve hit the jackpot.

 

Ultimately, every family is different and you have to be honest with yourself about what is best and most comfortable for you. However, you should educate yourself on all of your options before making the all-important decision of what agency will help you grow your family.

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June Book Reviews

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All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

 

ABA Consumer Guide to Adopting a Child by Robert & Jeffrey Kasky – Despite the horrific title and the fact that by the ABA endorsing a book of this title seems to be promoting the image of baby selling, I thought this book was really useful in regard to describing the process of adoption with a few exceptions.  There were a few things that I found incorrect in the book regarding private adoptions in all states when not all states allow private adoptions (like Delaware). However there is a disclaimer at the beginning about the authors basing the book on Florida law.

There were stories of true situations scattered throughout the book which I found very realistic.  I also really appreciated that the authors were very adamant about prospective adoptive parents not committing fraud by making promises to pregnant women with no intention of follow through.  The fact that these broken promises constitute fraud and could adversely affect the termination of parental rights is something all parents should keep in mind.

Overall though this book has a lot of good information despite its minor flaws.

Buy: Paperback – $19.95 | Kindle – $19.99

 

A House for Happy Mothers: a novel by Amulya Malladi – This is a powerful and timely book.  As surrogacy becomes more popular in the united states and abroad, this book looks at the emotions involved.  While this book is fiction it really puts you into the place of both of these women.  Priya is very believable as a woman struggling with infertility and desperate to have a child. Asha is a mother who is desperate to help her family, and provide for her gifted young son.

This book is an emotional roller coaster that reminds me very much of books by Jodi Picoult.  There are two sides to this story but the lines are fuzzy about what is right, it’s a huge moral dilemma and an excellent read.  This would make a great book for a discussion group or book club.  It would also help those who are considering surrogacy overseas to take a look at the other side of things.

Buy: Paperback – $9.00 | Kindle – $4.99 | Audible – $6.95

Birthfathers’ Rights in the Adoption Process: Know Your Options, Know Your Rights

Birthfathers’ Rights in the Adoption Process

Birthfathers’ Rights in the Adoption Process: Know Your Options, Know Your Rights

There is a common misconception in today’s society that a child’s birthfather has less rights than birthmothers do and that they are unable to make choices regarding their baby. Did you know that the birthfather starts out with the same legal rights as birthmothers? Birthfathers have a right to parent their child and a right to object to an adoption of their child even though statistically, many adoptions take place listing unknown birthfathers or birthfathers who choose to be uninvolved in the process after being notified and some men who voluntarily relinquish their rights and choose to be involved in some level of an open adoption. As a birthfather, it’s important to be aware that you do have a choice and there are laws to protect your rights and even more important is knowing what those laws are and how they affect you.Birthfathers’ Rights in the Adoption Process (1)

Notifying the Father of the Adoption

Whether an expecting mother is working with an attorney or an adoption agency, the representation for the adoption will do whatever possible to make sure that the father is aware and decides either to consent or contest the mother’s decision to make an adoption plan regardless if both parents are in a relationship or even speaking terms or not. This is done in advance to avoid a situation in which an absent or uninvolved birthfather steps back into the picture and challenges the adoption. With that said, there are occasional situations when a birthfather reaching out to the agency to contest the adoption after the child is already placed in the home with an adoptive family and this is called a disruption. However, if the birthfather knows about the adoption and his rights, receives counseling, is made aware of all his options, and feels adoption is the right choice for his child, chances of disruption are significantly lowered. Adoption is less likely to be disrupted or challenged if the child’s birthfather participates in the planning and is fully aware of his rights along the way. Adoptions From The Heart welcomes the father’s presence and participation in making the adoption plan. Whether or not the child’s mother wants an open adoption, the father is able to decide the level of openness he would like as well as the number of visits each year. Even if the father isn’t in agreement with the adoption, he still needs to be kept well informed of the events and be very much aware of his rights.

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Laws of Birthfathers’ Rights Vary by State

Every U.S. state and territory has a statute providing for the termination, surrender, or relinquishment of the parental rights of the birth mother and birth father. What termination means is that the parental rights end the biological parent-child relationship. Each state has its own requirements that must be met regarding making this decision. Only when this relationship has been ended, the child is legally free to be adopted. Even though these laws differ in all US states, please find a few highlights of child adoption laws for the states where we are licensed in below.

To check the laws of the state in any of the other states, feel free to check out www.childadoptionlaws.com.

Pennsylvania

“…(d) Putative father.–If a putative father will not file a petition to voluntarily relinquish his parental rights pursuant to section 2501 (relating to relinquishment to agency) or 2502 (relating to relinquishment to adult intending to adopt child), has been given notice of the hearing being held pursuant to this section and fails to either appear at that hearing for the purpose of objecting to termination of his parental rights or file a written objection to such termination with the court prior to the hearing and has not filed an acknowledgment of paternity or claim of paternity pursuant to section 5103, the court may enter a decree terminating the parental rights of the putative father pursuant to subsection (c).”

New York

“…(d) Of the father, whether adult or infant, of a child born out-of-wedlock and placed with the adoptive parents more than six months after birth, but only if such father shall have maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child as manifested by: (i) the payment by the father toward the support of the child of a fair and reasonable sum, according to the father’s means, and either (ii) the father’s visiting the child at least monthly when physically and financially able to do so and not prevented from doing so by the person or authorized agency having lawful custody of the child, or (iii) the father’s regular communication with the child or with the person or agency having the care or custody of the child, when physically and financially unable to visit the child or prevented from doing so by the person or authorized agency having lawful custody of the child. The subjective intent of the father, whether expressed or otherwise, unsupported by evidence of acts specified in this paragraph manifesting such intent, shall not preclude a determination that the father failed to maintain substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child. In making such a determination, the court shall not require a showing of diligent efforts by any person or agency to encourage the father to perform the acts specified in this paragraph.”

New Jersey

“…(b) The birth parent, except one who cannot be identified or located prior to the placement of the child for adoption, shall be offered counseling as to his or her options other than placement of the child for adoption. Such counseling shall be made available by or through an approved licensed agency in New Jersey or in the birth parent’s state or country of residence. The fact that counseling has been made available, and the name, address and telephone number of the agency through which the counseling is available, shall be confirmed in a written document signed by the birth parent and acknowledged in this State pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1991, c.308 (R.S.46:14-2.1) or acknowledged in another state or country pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1991, c.308 (R.S.46:14-6.1) a copy of which shall be provided to the birth parent and the agency conducting the adoption complaint investigation pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-48) and shall be filed with compliance.

Delaware

“…(2) The biological father and any presumed father of a child; provided, however, that the consent of the alleged biological father or presumed father need not contain an admission that he is the father. In the event that the named biological or presumed father disclaims paternity, an affidavit signed by him to that effect shall be attached to the petition in lieu of a consent from the natural or presumed father. It is further provided that in the event of a petition containing statements described in § 906(7)b.(ii), (iii) or (iv) of this title, after a hearing in which it is established on the record that the mother and father of the child are not living together as husband and wife openly and that they have not done so nor married since the birth of the child, the Court may, following consideration of the social report, dispense with the requirement of the father’s consent in compliance.”

Connecticut

“…(b) A petition for termination of parental rights shall be entitled “In the interest of …. (Name of child), a person under the age of eighteen years”, and shall set forth with specificity: (1) The name, sex, date and place of birth, and present address of the child; (2) the name and address of the petitioner, and the nature of the relationship between the petitioner and the child; (3) the names, dates of birth and addresses of the parents of the child, if known, including the name of any putative father named by the mother, and the tribe and reservation of an American Indian parent; (4) if the parent of the child is a minor, the names and addresses of the parents or guardian of the person of such minor; (5) the names and addresses of: (A) The guardian of the person of the child; (B) any guardians ad litem appointed in a prior proceeding; (C) the tribe and reservation of an American Indian child; and (D) the child-placing agency which placed the child in his current placement; (6) the facts upon which termination is sought, the legal grounds authorizing termination, the effects of a termination decree and the basis for the jurisdiction of the court; (7) the name of the persons or agencies which have agreed to accept custody or guardianship of the child’s person upon disposition.”

Virginia

“…B. No consent shall be required of a birth father if he denies under oath and in writing the paternity of the child. Such denial of paternity may be withdrawn no more than 10 days after it is executed. Once the child is 10 days old, any executed denial of paternity is final and constitutes a waiver of all rights with respect to the adoption of the child and cannot be withdrawn.”

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Have Courage and Be Strong

Now that we have researched the specific laws in our state, we are now confident and capable of exercising our rights. Although each state differs in law, the rights of the birthfather are clearly stated in all 50 states. Birthfathers start out with the same legal rights as birthmothers and have a right to parent their child and a right to object to an adoption of their child. Adoption law has a processes for establishing and terminating a birth father’s parenting rights, but the law does not eliminate all uncertainly.

One problem that birthfathers face is that everyone around them assumes that they don’t care and often times, birthfather pay a price for not exercising their rights says Mary Martin Mason, the Minneapolis-based author of Out of the Shadows: Birthfathers’ Stories. “They were incredibly guilty and incredibly guilty to have lost their children” according to Mason. “This had affected their adult lives-their marriages, their jobs, their relationships.” They weren’t able to move on. It can take a lot of courage for a birthfather to walk through the doors of an adoption agency and we understand that and recognize the immense strength of the brave birthfathers who do take that step.

Adoptions From The Heart wants to personally become more birthfather friendly and cater to their specific needs since much of what is out there focuses on adoptive parents and birthmother needs. We believe by implementing birthfather focused literature, support groups, creating a “Birthfather Friday” marketing campaign, and encouraging general, open communication we can help empower the often forgotten birthparent. If you are an expecting mother struggling to find the courage to tell the father that you are pregnant, realize that you are not alone. Often times than not, your social worker can help you. If you are a birthfather, we hope this article helped you and shed some light on your very real and legal rights in the adoption process. Yes, it may put you out of your comfort zone at first but we assure you, the benefits of knowing all of your rights and exercising your ability to help create an adoption plan for your child if you choose is well worth being as involved as possible. It’s important not become the forgotten half of the story. Your voices is just as important and needs to be heard.

For help or advice please contact us today at 610-642-7200. If you are a birthfather and would like to share your story with us or participate in our “Birthfather Friday” series, please call us or email us Adoption@AFTH.org.
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Surviving the Wait: One Adoptive Mother’s Advice to Waiting Families

Surviving the Wait

Waiting can be one of the hardest parts of the adoption process for families. The journey can feel very much like a roller coaster of emotions and from the beginning of the process where families have a lot to accomplish (classes, paperwork, background checks, homestudy, creating a profile, etc.) followed by entering the books and starting their official wait. Once all the paperwork is complete and a family enters the books, the time frame for moving further in the process is completely unknown. It can often feel like a hurry up and wait situation. Each prospective adoptive parent needs to find their own way to cope with the wait. One couple wrote a very long list of things that would be harder to do once baby arrived that they chose from each month they didn’t get picked. Some people journal, some nest by preparing the nursery or do home fix it projects to prepare for baby. It is highly recommended that waiting families join up for support groups where they can connect with other waiting families, get regular updates from their agency and discuss ways to cope with the wait and any other struggles they might be facing.

One adoptive mother shared her advice to waiting families at one of the above mentioned support groups for waiting families:

From my experience with the adoption process as an adoptive mother, I think it’s important to realize that each family’s process and journey is truly uniquely their own. The process has many ups and downs and can feel much like a roller coaster ride. The wait is no exception. Family and friends will try to be encouraging and will say things like “the right baby will find you” which of course I believe but when you are in the middle of the process those words aren’t often enough to  settle the anxiety of the wait.

The wait wasn’t our biggest challenge during the process, it was post-placement when facing a potential disruption. We have friends who had been waiting about 8 months longer than we had who commented that they came to the realization that they would rather an even longer wait if it meant not experiencing the trials we went through post placement. I think it just goes to show that each adoption journey must be embraced for it’s own unique experience. Some waiting families came from long bouts with infertility prior to choosing adoption and some do not. Some families enter the books in as little as 4 months and for others it takes a good bit longer. Some may wait a month and then be matched with a woman who isn’t due for 5 months and another couple may wait 5 months and have an emergency placement. Yet another couple may only wait 3 months but experience a disruption and disappointment in that short time while others seem to experience the longest time frame for every single step of the process.

The bottom line is that it’s about really opening yourself for the whole journey, your whole experience as it will be from start to finish, fast or slow, hilly and rocky or smooth and easy. It’s about focusing on the end goal, to be a family and opening your lives to the paths that you will travel down to get to that finish. And once you do, there is a whole other challenge called parenthood!

However you choose to cope, having a strong support system is key. Be sure to communicate openly with your partner and with your social worker along the way. And most importantly, remind yourself why you began the process in the first place and set your sights to the day, whenever it comes, that you will hold your little one in your arms because when that moment comes, the stress about the length of time that you waited to meet them will seem to disappear.