Frequently Asked Questions About Adoption
If you are a pregnant woman, we can help.
If you are pregnant and are considering adoption for your child, you probably have many questions and are looking for support.
This is a difficult decision to make and we are here to support you in both the emotional and legal aspects of your decision. We can help you through this process and help you find out if adoption is right for you.
Open adoption has been a great option for thousands of woman who have gone through an unplanned pregnancy. Below are questions that you may have about the adoption process. We are here for you to help you make the decision that best suits your needs.
An Open Adoption means that YOU will be the one who chooses the adopting parents for your child, which is very different from the traditional adoptions where an agency determined who would raise your child. You will participate fully in your adoption plan. You will get to know all about the adoptive parents, the values, and the attitudes that determine what kind of people they are, and the life your child will share with them. You will decide what kind of contact you want in the future, be it pictures, letters or visits with the family.
We understand that you are in the process of making a very difficult decision. We strongly encourage you to explore your adoption plan with the support of an adoption counselor to determine if it is the best decision for you and your child. We can help you find an adoption counselor in your area who will provide you with counseling during pregnancy and after placement. There will be no cost to you for this service.
We also can introduce you to other birth mothers who have placed their children in a home of one of our adopting families. They would be very pleased to talk to you on the phone or in person about their personal experience through the adoption process.
We have many couples who have delayed parenting and now desire to become parents. Our families have thought long and hard about adoption and have the resources to adopt and provide for a child. You will inform us as to what characteristics you want in adopting parents and we will begin by providing you with a personal letter and pictures of our families looking to adopt that match your expectations. If our office does not have the appropriate family for you we will use all our resources to help find the right match. Meet some of our families.
You and the potential adopting parents can first meet on the phone to begin to get to know each other. If you enjoy talking with each other we would like you to all meet in person. The adopting parents will provide the necessary transportation to the meeting or come to where you live.
If, after meeting, you decide that you would like to place your child with this family, we will sit down together and discuss the details of your adoption plan. You are now considered a "match." For example, how often would you like to get together during the pregnancy? Will you need any financial help through the pregnancy? All money will be distributed through our lawyer's trust account so that money is never an issue between adoptive parents and their birth mother. Do you want the adopting parents in the delivery room with you at the hospital? What kind of special time do you, and possibly the birth father, or your family, want with the baby? We will send a letter to the hospital detailing your wishes for this time in the hospital. What kind of future relationship do you want after the baby goes home with the adopting parents? Letters and pictures? Phone calls? Visits?
All of this may be put in writing. It is a reminder of the intent and expectations of all the parties through the pregnancy and the lifetime of the child you will all love.
It is helpful if the mother and father are supportive of each other through the pregnancy and adoption process. We welcome involvement of fathers. However, this kind of cooperation may not be present. Even if you are in contact with the father, be it your husband, boyfriend, etc., for both legal and ethical reasons we must give him notice that an adoption is being planned. We will need your help in finding him so we can serve him with notice of the adoption.
If the father is your husband, he can be advised and can sign a termination of his rights, just like you; or, if he prefers, he may sign a presumed father waiver of his rights in front of a notary, even before the birth of the child. If he is an alleged father, not married to you, or supporting you through the pregnancy, he may sign a waiver of his parental rights before the child is born. A father may prefer to do nothing after service of notice and our office will terminate his rights through the court. If a father is going to contest the adoption, we want to know early so we can discuss how best to interact with the situation. Our office is always careful to handle the father in a courteous and legal manner so that we will have a safe adoption for your child.
If there is more than one possible father, we will privately give notice to each. If you have no way of determining who the father is, we will need an affidavit explaining the situation and will terminate his rights through the court.
Every adoption in California requires an investigation by either a state or private licensed adoption agency of the adopting parents. They are fingerprinted, provide social and employment histories, financial information, reports of medical examinations, and letters of reference. A social worker goes to their home to make sure it is child-safe. Any criminal record or child abuse history is checked. You can read this investigation report if you would like. No child need to go to foster care if there is an adoption plan in place. Your child can go home directly with the adoptive parents that you have selected.
You can give birth to your child in your home state and the adoptive parents will come to your state to take the baby home. Some adoptive parents even go to your state to be there for the birth, if time permits. However, any expenses of your pregnancy paid for by the adoptive parents must be considered acceptable expenses in your state. You will also need to sign consent papers after the birth of the child, usually of your own state and those of California. The adopting parents may not leave your state with the baby until both states have approved of the adoption and they are given permission to leave your state. Often there will be an attorney and an agency coordinating these efforts with our office in California. It is not complicated but rules of both states must be carefully followed. Our office will coordinate this for you and the adopting parents.
Once you have successfully matched with adoptive parents, and before you go into labor, it is time to plan for the birth of the baby. Labor and delivery can be a very emotional experience for everyone. Although you are considering adoption, the choices about labor and delivery are totally yours. You are the parent of the child through your pregnancy and delivery, during the time in the hospital, and until you have terminated your legal rights, if you ultimately do so. Although you intend to go forward with adoption, you should not be pressured by anyone to place your child for adoption. You cannot sign a termination of your rights until after discharge from the hospital, and when you are ready and certain you want to go forward with the adoption.
After you create a delivery/hospital plan that feels right, we will notify the hospital by a letter to the hospital social worker. This letter will inform the staff that you are planning to place your baby for adoption and outline your wishes for the delivery room and hospital stay. It will also include a release of information that authorizes hospital staff to share all medical information with you and the adopting parents. If you go ahead with your adoption plan and want the adopting parents to take the child directly from the hospital, you will need to sign a hospital release at the time of discharge to allow them to care for the child.
Questions to Guide You in Developing a Hospital Plan
Who will be at labor? At delivery?
Who should hold the baby first?
Do you want to remain on the maternity floor after delivery?
Do you want to spend time alone with the baby?
Do you want the adoptive parents to spend time alone with the baby?
How will discharge from the hospital be handled?
What name will you put on the original birth certificate?
Birth parents are not responsible for any professional fees, such as legal, social work, or counseling fees. All such services are free to birth parents. These costs are paid for by the adopting parents with whom you match. Living expenses and medical expenses that you cannot cover yourself can be assisted with during your pregnancy and for a month or two after delivery by the adoptive parents, where appropriate and legal.
In California, once a match is made, a mother may be assisted by adopting parents with pregnancy-related expenses during pregnancy and until a month or so following the delivery. Within what the law allows, and what you need, you may be helped with living expenses and maternity clothes. If you do not have medical insurance or do not qualify for MediCal/Medicaid, the medical costs will be covered by the adopting parents. In addition, you have the right to your own attorney and the right to counseling.
The policy behind this financial assistance is that you should not be in debt after the process of adoption. However, you may not profit by placing a child. The acceptance of cash, gifts, a car, etc., is against the law. Biological fathers are not entitled to receive help with living expenses.
Adoption FAQs? Contact Us.
If you have any questions, feel free to call us at our toll free number at 1-800-U-ADOPT-US or you can contact us online.
If you would like to be introduced to several of our adopting families, please look at their pictures and a short description about them on the following pages. If you want a complete profile about a family, call us or e-mail us and we will send it to you immediately, and if you want, we can arrange for a telephone conference call between you and the family.