Top Six Adoption Services and Where to Find Them
Adoption can be a complicated process, but fortunately, there are many professionals who provide a variety of valuable adoption services for women considering adoption and families hoping to adopt. These adoption services range from financial, to emotional, to logistical, and it’s up to you to decide which services, and hence which adoption professional, you need during your adoption process. Below are some of the most common adoption services and where they can be found.
1. MatchingMatching refers to the process by which a birth mother chooses an adoptive family to raise her child. While matches can be made through personal connections or networking, adoption professionals provide matching services to birth parents and families who need help finding an adoption opportunity. Where to find this adoption service: Adoption agencies, facilitators, and some adoption attorneys can help match families and birth parents. Because agencies regularly work with birth mothers and prospective parents, they are often the most prepared and most reputable for providing this adoption service. If you don’t personally know anyone looking to adopt, you can receive help finding a family through an adoption professional, who will help you decide what kind of life you want for your child, see families that fit your goals, and finally pick the one you think is best for you and your baby. You may look for adoptive families based on:
- where they live
- how old they are
- their neighborhood or community
- the number of other children in the household
- their lifestyle, traditions, hobbies
- their previous experience with adoption
- and much more
- An introduction to you and your family
- A description of your home and community
- Pictures of your house and environment
- A letter to the woman considering adoption and reading your profile
- Any extra information that makes your family unique
2. Financial SupportFinancial support is a broad term that simply means that an adoption professional should do its best to ensure their client’s financial needs are met and protected. This may come in the form of living expenses for birth mothers or adoption disruption insurance for adoptive families. With the right financial support, expecting women can focus on having a healthy pregnancy, and adoptive parents can focus on the dream of growing their family. Where to find this adoption service: For birth mothers, an adoption agency or attorney will ensure they pay nothing for the adoption and receive as much living expenses as they are allowed; for adoptive families, adoption professionals handle financial protection differently, so it’s important to research several to decide which is best for you.First, as a woman considering adoption, no matter which adoption professional you choose, you should never pay anything for your adoption services – they should all be covered by the adoptive family. Secondly, depending on your needs and situation, you may receive living expenses to help cover those non-adoption related expenses, which are known as living expenses and include:
- Doctor’s appointments
- Maternity clothing
- And much more
3. Legal AidAll adoptions require an attorney to legalize the process. Attorneys will help to make sure the birth parents’ rights are properly terminated, guide the adoptive family through placement and post-placement, provide legal advice, and legally finalize the adoption. Where to find this service: Any attorney specializing in adoption will be able to legally complete the adoption. If you choose to work with an adoption agency, they will likely provide you with one of their trusted adoption attorneys. Regardless of whether you are working with an adoption law firm or an adoption agency, you should always have an attorney that works specifically for you so you understand your rights, understand any paperwork you are signing, and provide any other support and counsel you might need during this process. Some of the legal aspects of adoption that your attorney will help guide you though include:
- Consent – You will legally consent to the adoption and terminate your parental rights around 24-72 hours after the birth of your baby. An adoption attorney (either the one you have been working with or another one helping you with this part of the process) may be there to help guide you through the paperwork, or an adoption social worker will have the paperwork that has been prepared by your attorney.
- Revocation Period – After you consent to the adoption, there may be a revocation period in your state during which you may still legally change your mind; however, most states only allow consent to be revoked if you made your decision under duress or another fraudulent situation. Your attorney will make sure you understand your state’s laws regarding any revocation period.
- Enforceable Contact Agreements – Certain states have legally enforceable contact agreements between birth parents and adoptive families, ensuring the adoptive family keeps what was promised to you in regards to correspondence: emails, pictures and letters, etc. Living Expenses – Any living expenses you receive must be approved by your state’s court. Your adoption attorney will work to understand your financial needs and will file your request with the court to maximize the amount of living expenses you may receive.
- Termination of Rights – Both the birth parents’ rights must be legally terminated for placement to occur.
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) Clearance – If your adoption takes place across state borders, ICPC guidelines must be followed properly to ensure the welfare of the adopted child.
- Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Clearance – If the child is any part Native American, certain processes must be met to ensure the child is eligible for adoption.
- Post-placement Visits – Often regarded as an extension of the home study, post-placement visits ensure that the child and family are adjusting well to their new living arrangements. Usually 2-6 post-placement visits are required, depending on your state’s laws.
- Finalization – A judge will review the adoption process to verify that everything was completed in accordance with the law, after which the adoption will officially be complete and a new birth certificate with the adoptive parents’ and child’s name will be issued.
4. Counseling and SupportAdoption is undoubtedly an emotional time for everyone involved, and while the support of family and friends is crucial, adoption professionals are specifically equipped to guide people through the experiences unique to adoption. Where to find this service: An adoption agency’s adoption specialists are often trained to provide counseling and support. Adoption attorneys may provide this as well, but they often provide it through an unlicensed paralegal or outsource it to a counselor. For a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption, it’s important that she speaks to an adoption specialist to receive information about adoption to help her make the right decision for herself and her child. When you speak with an adoption specialist, they should never try to talk you into making a decision you are not comfortable with. They should be understanding of your feelings and help you in any way they can. If you do choose to pursue adoption, your relationship with that adoption specialist should continue throughout the adoption process. She or he she should get to know you, your goals for your adoption, your dreams for your child, and more, and should do everything possible to offer the counseling and support you will need during this emotional time. Some agencies offer 24/7 support as well, meaning you may contact your adoption specialist at any time of the day, on any day of the week, when you need them most. When you work with an adoption agency, you will have guidance and support through every step of the process. Adoption specialists can provide you with:
- Help determining if adoption is right for your family
- Emotional support throughout the process
- Knowledge of what’s to come throughout the adoption process
- Advice for communicating with birth parents
- Assistance with completing the home study
- Essentially, an adoption agency is prepared to help you at every step of the adoption process, so you can have all your needs met in one place.