FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the costs involved in adoption?
Every prospective match with a birth mom is unique, so an accurate cost estimate is not possible until a specific birth mom’s needs are assessed. I charge a flat fee once all facts are taken into consideration. The average cost of an adoption through my law firm is $30,000 – $40,000, which covers the birth mother’s monthly expenses, prenatal and delivery medical expenses and assistants and office expenses. The only other costs you may incur are: hiring a local attorney to finalize your adoption, travel costs and baby’s medical expenses.
What do I need to start the adoption process?
1. An Adoption Profile:
The best kind of profile is a digital one that you can email to us. If you need assistance with this please visit adoption.com for help, or contact us and we can recommend a professional. We suggest more pictures and less words. A lot of birth mothers have Facebook so we would encourage you to also set up an account for you to share photos, etc. with her, and often Facebook Messenger is a good way to communicate.
Take into consideration that most of our birth mothers have limited English skills so the more pictures and less words the better. A lot of birth mothers have Facebook so we would encourage you to also set up an account for you to share photos, etc. with her, and often Facebook Messenger is a good way to communicate.
2. A Home Study:
Before we can consider you for a match opportunity you will need to have a current home study. What is a home study? A home study is an independent investigation to verify your suitability as adoptive parents. A home study is valid for one year and can be updated easily. In most States, only a Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), or a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) who is supervised by an LCSW, is legally empowered to conduct and prepare home studies. Specific requirements for home studies vary by state and agency, so be sure to ask for a list of the items and information your agency or social worker needs. The purpose of the home study is to evaluate the fitness of a prospective adoptive family and evaluate and prepare them for the adoption process. During your home study, the social worker will gather comprehensive information about you and your spouse, your personal and family histories, your current physical, mental, and financial situation, your home and community environments, and your motivations, attitudes, and preferences concerning adoptions.
3. Background Checks:
The home study should include state-of-residence criminal background checks on the adoptive parents and all household members eighteen (18) years of age and older, as well as Child Abuse Checks and FBI checks. We will need to obtain copies from the social worker so that they may be filed with the court. Typically, the background checks must be less than one (1) year old. If your State is one in which they will not allow the release of the background checks then we will need a letter from your agency or social worker that these checks have been done and that no records were found.
How are birth mothers and couples matched?
There is no typical scenario. My coordinator or I interview birth mothers and I talk to prospective adoptive parents, we get general information from each, and then a match is made when the preferences from birth parents are the same as the preferences of adoptive parents.
Does the birth mother pick a family? If so, how?
Some birthmothers have specific requirements, such as religion, how many older siblings she wants for the baby, where you are located, etc. Most of the time Paul tells her about a few families he has with those requirements, if possible he will send her physical profiles to choose from and she will select a family. However, sometimes the birthmother leaves it completely up to Paul and then he takes into consideration where you reside, how long you have been waiting, etc.
What is the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC)?
The ICPC is a uniform law drafted in the 1950’s, which today has been enacted in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The ICPC contains 10 articles, which establish the procedures for interstate placements and assign responsibilities for all parties involved in placing a child for adoption. The ICPC applies only to children who are placed for adoption across state lines, but not to placements made with a parent, stepparent, grandparent, or other close adult relatives. We can provide guidance concerning the applicability of the ICPC on a case-by-case basis.
If we choose to do ICPC in your adoption, based upon the facts of your case, you will likely need to hire an attorney in your state of residence to finalize the adoption for you once you are home with the baby. Paul and I will do all the heavy lifting of the ICPC process and get you approved to leave the State the baby is born in with the baby as soon as possible. Typically, we tell a family to expect to be in the state your baby is born in for about 2 weeks.
How will we get to show that the baby is legally ours if we are doing ICPC?
You will get copies of all the consents and relinquishments the birth mother signed, a power of attorney and the approval notice from the state ICPC office.
What happens in a failed adoption? Do fees roll over or are they lost?
My fees roll over but any birth mother’s living expenses are lost because we cannot recoup that (the money paid to a birth mother is unconditional and not in lieu of her giving up the child). In the very rare case that the adoption is unsuccessful, I will work on re-matching you with another suitable match so that any fees paid will cover the new adoption. However, these situations are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
How are Birth Mothers cared for before and after the birth?
We provide living expenses: money for rent, utilities, food, gas, etc. We pay for pre-natal care and set up doctor’s visits for them. We help them apply for Medicaid and they know that they can communicate with us about any problems they are experiencing. If necessary we can provide counseling for the birth parents, however many States do not requires this and in our experience the birth mothers we work with opt out of counseling when offered to them.
Can you or a social worker be at the hospital to help the birth parents and us through the process?
This answer will be based on where your birth mother is located and which hospital she delivers in, what your relationship with her looks like at the time of birth and her ability to effectively communicate with you without the need of an interpreter.
What does a typical Marshellese open adoption look like?
We encourage dialogue and connection between the birth families and adoptive families, therefore, please feel free to discuss these matters directly with the birth parents at any time. The birth parents’ medical, social and genetic history will include their physical address. If you agree to send photos and updates, using email or Facebook may be best. You can also ask the birth parents directly for their information. Remember, communication may at times be difficult and even frustrating because of the language barrier, adoptive parents just have to be patient, understanding and do the best they can.
Another very common scenario that we hear frequently is “my birth mother has not responded to me in a few weeks”. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason for this and I cannot explain the waves of communication. Some weeks she will text you often, some months you will not hear from her. This will be hard for you to understand when she is not communicating but I would say 90% of the time the birth mothers really do want you to keep reaching out even if they are not responding. Do whatever you can to make them feel that you want to be involved in their lives: send them mail, send them facebook messengers, texts, whatever you can to initiate some form of involvement. This will have to be unconditional from your side, without any expectation of anything in return. Keep in mind that it is very intimidating for most birth mothers to communicate with you in English and most of the time this is the reason they won’t respond.
At the end of the day, there is no open adoption that looks the same as another. The important thing is that you be patient with the Birth Mother you are matched with; remember she has chosen you to adopt her child, which is the greatest gift I can conceive of. Everything will fall into place in the proper time, including the openness of the relationship. These things are dynamic and do change over time.
A traditional Marshallese adoption looks very different from your view of what adoption is. For a good recourse and explanation.
How often should I send updates and photos?
Again, this is completely between the birth families and adoptive families to decide. Typically the adopting parents will send the birth parents updates and photos on the baby’s birthday and special holidays or occasions, such as Christmas, graduations, etc. Please remember that even if the birth parents do not reach out to you, updates are important to them! I cannot say this enough.
Is the consent of the birth father neccesary?
The answer to this question is a very fact-specific one. If the birth father and birth mother have a continued relationship and he supports her financially, or if the birth parents are legally married, then yes, we will need to obtain the birth father’s consent. However, if the birth father does not have a significant personal relationship with the birth mother and has not supported the birth mother financially then legally he is what we call a “putative father.” This generally means a man whose legal relationship to the child has not been established but who is alleged to be the father. If this is case, we will simply request that a search of the Putative Father’s Registry be conducted after the baby is born. If the putative father has not filed with this registry, then his parental rights may be terminated without his consent. Every state has different rules and laws regarding the termination of parental rights; you will need to consult with an attorney in your state (if not from Arizona, Arkansas, or Utah).
How will be know when the birth mother is in labor?
Depending on the relationship you have with the birth mother, she may text you directly when she starts having labor pains but typically she will let Paul or Megan know and we will let you know.
The hospital stay:
First of all, it is our practice to inform the hospital that an adoption is planned, so that everyone can be on the same page for when you arrive at the hospital.
For most adoptive parents this is the first time you will meet the biological family of the baby. Be prepared for some awkwardness and some language barriers! Read below where we talk about bringing some food or snacks with you to break the ice. Also, please understand that the translator, may not be able to be there at the hospital to interpret for you. Hopefully the birth parents have someone in the family that can interpret for you, otherwise just make the most of the situation and bond as much with the baby and your new Marshallese family as possible!
Please also understand that each birth mother deals with the adoption process differently. Some birth mothers do not mind if you take the baby to a private room and spend all your time with him/her, while others want to spend as much of their time in the hospital with the baby as possible. If this happens, more than likely this is her way of dealing with saying goodbye and also welcoming a new family into hers. I know you will be anxious to spend alone time with this new precious baby, but try to be patient and allow the birth mother the time she requests.
If the hospital has an available room, more than likely they will give you a room to be in with the baby, on your own. Please ask the nurse about this when you arrive.
What happens when the baby is ready to be discharged?
Again, this is dependent on the hospital’s policy, as well as the laws regarding the timing of taking the adoption consent in the State that your baby is born in. Often the hospital will request that the baby leave the hospital with the birth mother. This only means that she must physically walk out of their doors with the baby in her arms and leave their parking lot with the baby. The only reason for this is that often they do not want to accept liability for releasing the baby to anyone other than the birth mother.
When do I need to decide on a name for the baby?
It would be preferable to have the name you have chosen for the baby before the birth parents sign their consents.
Should I plan to visit my birth family before birth?
If you have the resources to do this then of course this would be ideal! You will be responsible for this trip; we do not plan this for you. Please do make us aware of when you would like to come and what you would like to do while here and we can pass this message along to the birth family if you are not in direct communication with them. A few families have been disappointed because they come to meet their birth families in advance and it seemed like they didn’t make a good connection, again; understand that you are from different cultures and the language barrier is a tricky thing in itself to overcome. We will attempt to have an interpreter there for you but we cannot always guarantee one.
Can I give the birth parents gifts or money?
Most laws prohibit giving anything of value, or promising to give anything of value, in exchange for a child. You may not pay or give any items of value, or promise payments or gifts, at any point during the adoption process. We make every effort to avoid any appearance of impropriety in our adoptions, and any gifts given during the period of time between birth and the deadline for withdrawal of consent are not allowed. Small tokens of friendship that have no value, however, are permitted.
I recommend you arrive at the hospital with a basket of snacks: fruit, chips, cookies, etc. Bringing food is a nice gesture if you are looking for something to “break the ice” when you get there.