For two weeks on Tuesday Tips and Table Talk Thursday we will be featuring a 4 part series on Families Grown Through Adoption
by Marcia Hall
If you missed the last 2 weeks of articles about adoption, please take a minute to check it out. Tuesday the 16th I gave some of the top books to read to children about adoption. Thursday the 18th I explained the 3 different forms adoption can take (open, semi-open and closed). I also gave some explanation to the motivation behind and drawbacks of one method of adoption – Foreign Adoption. Tuesday the 23rd I gave nannies some tips to navigate the challenges in working with adoptive families. Today I am continuing my discussion about methods of adoption with Private and Public Adoptions.
Private adoption is any adoption in the USA that utilizes an adoption agency. Sometimes the adoptive family finds the birth family on their own and simply uses the agency for the legalities of it all and sometimes the adoptive family works through the entire process with the agency. If you are an adoptive family that found a birth family on your own, it is also possible to use a private lawyer. I still consider that a Private adoption.
This type of adoption has a lot of benefits. Like a foreign adoption, you are working with a group of people that know what they are doing and are able to help you through every part of the process. After the application and home study is complete, the adoptive family puts together a portfolio that tells their story. This is what birth mom’s will look at to make the biggest decision of her life – whose family her baby will go to. Once this portfolio is complete, adoptive families have nothing to do but wait for a birth mother to make the life altering decision. This can take weeks to months and even years.
Then again it could happen in the blink of an eye like it did for Valerie and Will. They learned through someone they knew, of a baby that was 3 days old. They had to work through 6 months of applications and home studies in 2 days so they could fly to meet their baby girl. For this adoption everything went well. Their second adoption did not go as smoothly but they now have two beautiful children Debra-Jane and Sam.
Domestic private adoption is a more doable price. It can cost anywhere from $12,000 to 20,000, which certainly isn’t free, but is not as steep as the foreign adoption. Most of this cost can be recouped eventually with the tax incentive I talked about last Thursday from the US government. This fact makes private adoption a real possibility for a lot of families.
So once a birth mother chooses an adoptive family, things move forward. However there are still some potential bumps in the road. At any moment, even up until 2 days after the birth of the child, the birth mother has the right to change her mind and keep the baby. This has broken the hearts of a good number of families including Robin and Scott. They had been chosen by an adoptive mom and flown to Georgia to be present for the birth. They spent 2 days with the little baby girl that had been promised to them only to have the birth mom change her mind just before signing the necessary paperwork. Scott and Robin had to fly home empty handed, save the car seat and all the supplies they had bought thinking they would be flying home with a newborn baby. The good news here is that a few months later they got a call that there was another birth mom that had chosen them. This time all worked out well and they now have two beautiful children – Ella and Emmett.
Another possible distraction is if the birth father is not willing to give up parental rights. This can potentially stop the entire adoption but will at least cause things to drag on longer and make things more expensive because an additional lawyer needs to be paid for by the adoptive families. This happened to Steve and Jennifer with their first child. It meant that they were not able to bring him home for almost 2 months due to a court hearing to legally terminate the parental rights. They were eventually able to bring him home and now have 2 wonderful children; Josiah and Sam.
The last method of adoption is Public Adoption. This has many names it is known under: state adoption, foster to adoption, foster care and legal risk adoption. These are adoptions that happen through a state and local government agency. Here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin ours is called Children Service Society of Wisconsin (CSSW.) As a disclaimer, this is how my husband and I adopted our daughter Nadia.
Many people are afraid of this form of adoption because of the great risk of losing the child. Unlike most private adoptions, an adoptive family welcomes home the child before the rights of the birthparents are officially terminated. Speaking from experience this is a giant risk.
This adoption is free, in fact in most states the adoptive parents are paid to care for the child while they are still officially in foster care. Often times, but not always adoptive parents are given a stipend and other benefits like state healthcare for the child until he or she is 18 years old. This form of adoption will generally get a child in your home in the shortest amount of time and is quickest if you are willing to accept an older child or a child with special needs.
Unfortunately this method of adoption has the most drawbacks. The risks or dangers are many. Though most of the social workers you will work with through this system are knowledgeable and friendly, they have very large and overwhelming workloads. This causes home studies and paperwork to take longer. There are usually classes that need to be taken and once you take custody of a child, you can expect visits from social workers every other week.
Also, with this kind of adoption the birth parents generally do not want to give up their child. The child is usually being removed because of neglect, abuse or parental drug use. This in itself presents the increased possibility of long term effects on the child. However, the fact that the birth mom or dad is actively fighting the decisions of the court causes many families to stay far away from this method of adoption.
I said my husband and I adopted Nadia through public adoption. Though her adoption went smoothly, we had a heartbreaking event with our first attempt of adoption. We were in the process of taking custody of a 9 month old girl when the courts made the decision she would stay where she was – which was another adoptive family that was neglecting her. Of course this was heartbreaking and I still think and pray for this little girl named Grace.
Nick and Esther Crawford have had another difficult road to adopting their little girl Peach. They had a 1 year old boy when they made the choice to adopt through the state. Peach is now a 6 year old that has been in and out of foster care for her entire life. Nick and Esther worked hard to include Peach’s birthmother in their lives even going so far to invite her to Thanksgiving and other family events. They did this because they wanted Peach to transaction well and they also wanted her birthmother to know she could always be a part of Peach’s life. This had mix results. Her birthmother has gone back and forth in her willingness to terminate her parental rights. Nick and Esther are unwavering in their commitment to Peach and somehow are able to love her birthmother through all these issues. They are confident they will someday be able to officially call Peach part of their forever family, it will just take time.
Public adoption is clearly not for everyone, however I believe there is a sense that some of the children in this system have no one else. I personally know this is what motivates me to adopt through the public system. And I guess I would say it is one more benefit to this type of adoption.
I strongly believe that any form of adoption you choose, you are welcoming a child into your home that needs you. Every family is different and needs to decide for themselves which is right for them.
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these articles, interviewing the families and nannies I did. Adoption is very near and dear to my heart. I hope what I have said has helped you to understand adoption a little more, helped you to support adoptive families you might work for and maybe even consider adopting someday yourself. Thank you for your time and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. marcia(at) strongrootsfamilycoacing (dot) com
Families Grown Through Adoption: Motivation, Choices and Tips Part 1
Families Grown through Adoption; Motivation, Choices and Tips Part 2
Families Grown Through Adoption; Motivation, Choices and Tips Part 3