Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adoption FAQs

When discussing adoption I use words like "home study" and "placement" like they're just regular words everyone knows! But if you have never had to research adoption (and you likely haven't), then you probably don't know a lot of the "ins-and-outs" of the process. I recently read these explanations on a blog I follow, so I thought I would post it as she writes about it better and more succinctly than I do. I'll fill in my own comments in red ink. So remember, unless it's in red, the "my"s and "I"s are hers and not mine.

NOTE: Keep in mind while reading this that we chose to do private, domestic, infant adoption, that all states have different adoption laws, and that our experience may differ from others.

What is a home study?
A home study is basically a piece of paper stating that you are able to adopt. If you've ever read the phrase "paper pregnant," that is often referring to an individual or a couple becoming home study approved.
The home study involves adoption training, LOTS of paperwork, including a lot of self-assessment, getting fingerprinted, extensive medical exams, references, having a social worker visit your house, etc.

How much does an average adoption cost?
Our agency estimates the cost at anywhere from $18k to $30k for domestic infant adoption. The national average is somewhere between $25k and $30k.
The 2 agencies we have chosen are slightly less than that. We're looking at between $15,500-$22,000 depending on which agency matches us first. 

How much of that money is due up front?
With our agency, we had to pay a $2,250 fee with the submission of our application ($750 for the application fee and $1,500 for the advertising fee). $15,000 is due upon "match" (which I'll explain later). The rest of the cost is legal fees, birth mother expenses, etc.
We've paid about $2,000 up front for home-study fees and application fees, and hundreds more for medical visits, fingerprintings, the cost of printing our profiles in color, etc.

Are you doing closed, open, or semi-open adoption?
Most adoptions today are semi-open. In most cases, this means that you have contact with the birth mother via the agency. (For instance, you would send letters and photos to the agency, and they would pass those along to the birth mother.) However, we also put down that we would be open to an open adoption if the situation felt right.
We're open to the whole spectrum.
Once you are on the waiting list, how long does it take to get a baby?
It depends. The average wait time with our agency is about one year, but it's largely based on individual circumstances. For instance, it could take longer to adopt if you have a gender preference.
Our agency estimates the wait time between 18-24 months.

Does the birth mother pick you or do you pick the birth mother (or child)?
In most cases, the birth mother chooses the adoptive parents based off of their profiles (and most likely a meeting). In rare cases, an agency might choose the adoptive parents if the birth mother does not want to choose or if a child has already been born and parental rights are relinquished.

Are you told every time someone looks at your profile?
No. The reason we were called during the first week is because those situations were special circumstances. This meant the agency had questions about whether we would be okay having our profile shown to these particular birth mothers.
We don't think our profile has been shown yet. And even if it's been shown, it certainly hasn't been chosen!
What is a "match"?
A match is exactly what it sounds like - it's when an adoptive parent or couple is matched with a birth mother or a child.

When does a match occur?
With our agency, matches can occur anytime after the 3rd or 4th month of pregnancy.
In our agency (Catholic Charities), they like for the expectant mother to wait until she is 6 months pregnant, so that she has really had a chance to get counseling and to be very confident in her decision to place for adoption! This can also happen even after a child is born.

What happens if a birth mother changes her mind?
This is different with each agency. With ours, the $12,500 we pay when to the agency when we are "matched" with the birth mother is held by the agency until we receive another match. Many agencies will also place you on a priority list of some sort - meaning they will work to get you another match as quickly as possible.
This is why we've chosen agencies that we don't owe additional money to until after placement (when the child is in your legal custody).

Do you get to name the baby?

How soon can you take the baby home?
In Florida, birth mothers have 48 hours to relinquish their parental rights. After that time, we would most likely be able to take the baby home (should he/she be medically ready to leave the hospital).
In Tennessee, it's about the same. However, you have to wait a minimum of 6 months to finalize the adoption before the courts and make it OFFICIAL.At the same time, this is 6 months after the parents have already surrendered their rights, so this doesn't mean that the birthparents can come and take the child back unless there is some VERY unusual and legally imperative information that has resurfaced.

So, what questions have you been dying to ask?

Submitted by Angie: I have heard something about a tax deduction/refund for adopting, but that was a few years ago, is there still a tax break for all of the adoption expenses?
Yes, there is a still an Adoption Credit. You can read more about it here. The current credit is $13,360 and is fully refundable. I believe the amount reduces in 2012, and it becomes non-refundable.
Actually, this is interesting. The big credit expired in 2011. And the current credit will only go through 2012. The fact that it's now non-refundable means that if you adopt and you spend more on your adoption than you spend in taxes, you will get all you paid in federal taxes refunded to you. HOWEVER, it can ONLY happen if the adoption is FINALIZED in 2012. And as I mentioned earlier, in Tennessee, the adoption is only finalized after 6 months of having the child in your care. So, if we do not have a child placed in our home by June of this year, we will not get ANY adoption tax credit money.

Submitted by Dawn: The company I work for was purchased by another larger company and they offer adoption assistance which wouldn't come close to covering it, but I guess I'm curious if many companies offer this or if it is like IF coverage (i.e. you're lucky to have it).
There are a number of companies that offer adoption assistance. Conceive Magazine provides a great list of some of the best employers out there and their benefits. (I believe the Dave Thomas Foundation has a similar list, but does not disclose the amounts.) We are very fortunate that Joey’s company offers $3,000 in adoption reimbursement benefits.
We don't have adoption assistance officially at any of our jobs or the church. We are thinking we might have a fundraising event at the church later this spring, so that would be a great way of assistance.

Submitted by gailcanoe: When should you tell your employer about your plans to adopt? I know that all the people who get pregnant don't go telling their boss that they are having baby-making sex and wait to say something until they are a few months along, usually. So, when is a good time to broach the topic when adopting?
I told my employer immediately (partly because I needed an employer verification form signed for the home study and partly because I wanted to). I also met with my human resources representative a week or two after going on the waiting list to make sure that they were prepared to do any sort of LOA paperwork at a moment's notice if need be. My theory is this: you wouldn't wait until month 9 to tell your boss/company that you are pregnant. And, with domestic adoption, every day could be month 9. You never know when you might get a call from your agency.
I also told my boss pretty soon because it CAN happen at the last minute and that would be extraordinarily stressful for him. So, for his sake I hope we can give him a little more notice. :)

Submitted by gailcanoe: When adopting domestically, do you have the opportunity to choose the race of the baby? What happens if the mother of the baby doesn't know the father's race because she isn't sure who the father is?
Yes, you do have the option to choose race. The races we are open to are not only listed on our home study, but they are also checked off on our adoption application. In situations where the mother is unsure of the father's race, the agency or birth mother will notify you of the potential race(s) of the child and you can decide from there whether you want to proceed.
We're open to absolutely any race, so this makes no difference to us. :-)

Taken from http://www.fromiftowhen.com/.

Any other questions?


  1. Thanks! Nice to know what you're thinking on some of these FAQs.

  2. I'm so excited about this blog and this new chapter in your life! I can't wait to see what unfolds :-)


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