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Post-Placement and Finalization

By Ashleigh

– The Adoption Process: Part 5 of 5

Post-Placement/FinalizationIf you have decided to grow your family through adoption, you have a long and exciting journey ahead of you. This five-part series is meant to give you the basics on the main steps of the process.

You’ve already taken your new baby home – all that’s left is a few more assessments and then finalization. Over the next several months, you will need to meet your state’s post-placement requirements, and then you will be able to appear in court to make the adoption official.

Read the sections below to learn about post-placement studies and finalization.

What is a Post-Placement Study?

A post-placement study is a series of assessments that your home study provider will conduct after you bring the baby home. The post-placement period usually includes two to six visits over a six-month period, depending on where you live.

In a post-placement assessment, a social worker will usually be checking to make sure that:

  • You and the baby are adjusting well
  • The child is developing normally or as expected
  • Your home has maintained the same standards to meet the needs of a child
  • You are prepared for the finalization process

When Do I Finalize the Adoption?

After the post-placement period, which is usually about six months, you will be asked to appear in court to formalize the adoption. This is commonly called finalization day, and it’s a day for celebration – once the process is finished, your adoption will be complete!

So there you have it – the basics of adoption, simplified to five steps. If you’re new to the adoption world, then this series on the fundamentals hopefully brought you one step closer to growing your family!


Meeting the Baby at the Hospital

By Ashleigh

– The Adoption Process: Part 4 of 5

Meeting BabyIf you have decided to grow your family through adoption, you have a long and exciting journey ahead of you. This five-part series is meant to give you the basics on the main steps of the process.

After a long journey of getting approved to adopt, waiting for an adoption opportunity, and getting to know a birth mother, the day is finally here – it’s time for the baby to arrive!

The hospital trip is the most anticipated event in an adoptive family’s journey. To help you prepare, we’ve answered some of the most common questions hopeful families have about what to expect. For more questions about the details of the big day, feel free to get in touch with one of our Adoption Specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION.

When do I need to travel?

As soon as the birth mother goes into labor, you will be contacted and notified to travel. Since it’s usually impossible to predict when this will happen, we recommend that you don’t make travel plans based on the mother’s due date. Wait for directions from your adoption professional, and then arrange for travel as quickly as possible.

Who should travel to see the birth mother?

If you are adopting as a couple, you and your partner should both be present at the hospital. If you have other children, make arrangements for someone to care for them at home. Because the birth mother will need your full attention during this time, it is best if only the adoptive parents meet her at the hospital.

What should I bring with me?

Here is a list of the basic things you will need to have with you:

What to take before you go:

  • 1-2 receiving blankets
  • 3-4 onesies, pajamas and other weather-appropriate baby clothes (more can be bought later)
  • 1 going-home outfit for the day of discharge
  • 2-4 bottles and pacifiers
  • Camera
  • Gifts for the birth parents, if applicable

What to buy when you get there:

  • Diapers
  • Formula
  • Car seat
  • Pack-n-play or other item where the baby can sleep

When will I get to see the baby?

The procession of events at the hospital is up to the birth mother. Before the birth, she will have made a hospital plan indicating who she wants to see at the hospital, how much time she wants with her baby, and more.

Can I bring a gift for the birth mother?

It depends on where you live, but a gift of some kind is always a good idea! Check with your Adoption Specialist to see what gift ideas are allowable in your state.

When does placement occur?

Every state has different laws regarding placement. Usually, a birth mother will be able to give written consent between 12 and 72 hours after giving birth, at which point custody will be transferred to you.

What do I do next?

If you are adopting from another state, you will first have to stay in the birth mother’s state for 7-10 business days while you wait for ICPC clearance. After that, you will be ready to go home and begin the post-placement period.

Stop by tomorrow for the fifth and final part of the adoption process: post-placement and finalization!


Finding a Birth Mother with Adoptive Family Profiles

By Ashleigh

– The Adoption Process: Part 3 of 5

Finding a Birth MotherIf you have decided to grow your family through adoption, you have a long and exciting journey ahead of you. This five-part series is meant to give you the basics on the main steps of the process. Today, we are going to cover the third component of your journey: finding and getting to know the birth mother.

First, you will need to create an adoptive family profile to send out to prospective birth mothers. After you have been selected by a birth mother, you can begin pre-placement contact. Read the sections below to learn about this step of the process.

How do I Find a Birth Mother?

At the beginning of your adoption journey, you and your adoption professional will discuss your preferences for birth mother situations. When you are considering what you are and aren’t open to, try to be as flexible as you can – if you are accepting of more situations, then more birth mothers will be potentially able to select you.

You are also encouraged to begin your home study as soon as possible. Once it is completed, you will be officially ready to adopt a child.

As you work on your home study, you can begin looking for an adoption opportunity by creating your Adoptive Family Profiles. Profiles are a great way to introduce yourself to many birth mothers and help them imagine what life would be like for their child in your family.

Adoptive Family Profiles typically come in the form of a print brochure that will contain information on your home, community, and lifestyle, along with pictures of your family. Families who work with American Adoptions also create video profiles, which give you the opportunity to express your true self.

Once you have been selected by a birth mother, you will officially be part of an adoption opportunity!

How do I Get to Know the Birth Mother?

Your first conversation with the birth mother will most likely be in the form of a phone call, which will be mediated by an adoption specialist. From there, you can continue to correspond through phone calls, emails, and even a trip to visit the birth mother.

This period of time will also be an opportunity for you to discuss your future relationship with the birth mother. Do you want an open adoption? Semi-open? How often will you send updates? Do you want to meet in person after the adoption?

Also take the time before the baby is born to get to know the birth mother and let her get to know you. By forming a relationship before the adoption, you can both feel more comfortable with one another and have an even more positive adoption experience. Here are some tips for getting to know a prospective birth mother:

  • Be open to talking about yourself – The birth mother will likely want to know as much about your day-to-day life as possible. The more she gets to know you, the better she will be able to imagine her baby in your home.
  • Ask questions that show you care – Your child’s birth mother plays an important role in your family, and she’s making a very difficult decision. Ask her how she’s been feeling through the pregnancy, whether she likes her doctor, and what kind of life she imagines for her baby.
  • Avoid intrusive questions – Some questions are not appropriate to ask a birth mother unless she has volunteered the information. Stay away from topics like the circumstances of her pregnancy, the birth father, or her medical background.

Even if you’ve found an adoption opportunity, an adoption is not official until the birth mother consents to the adoption after the baby is born. Learn more about the hospital trip and relinquishment tomorrow in part four of the adoption process!


All About the Home Study

By Ashleigh

– The Adoption Process: Part 2 of 5

Adoption ProfessionalIf you have decided to grow your family through adoption, you have a long and exciting journey ahead of you. This five-part series is meant to give you the basics on the main steps of the process. Today’s post will cover the adoption home study.

As many families know, the home study is one of the most significant points on any adoption journey. It takes a lot of time, work, and organization, but at the end of it, you will be officially ready to adopt a baby!

Every state’s home study process is a little different, but there are always three main elements. Read on to learn about each component of the home study and what you need to do.

The Paper Chase

Arguably the most time-consuming part of the home study is the collection of all the necessary documents. After you have found a home study provider and filled out the applications, you will need to obtain copies of various forms that will be used in the first part of your home study.

Below is a list of the documents you may need to collect:

  • Financial information
  • Physical and mental health information
  • Child abuse, neglect, and criminal background checks
  • Autobiographical statements
  • References

For specific information in your state, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

The Home Inspection

After you have collected and submitted your documents, you will be ready for your home study provider to visit your home. He or she will then conduct a home inspection to determine whether your home is safe and suitable for a child.

Your home study professional will be looking for some of the following:

  • Sanitation and structure of the home
  • Working smoke alarms and access to fire escapes
  • Locks on cases containing weapons
  • Working locks on doors and screens on windows
  • Childproof door and cabinet locks where appropriate
  • Additional safeguards for your child

If you don’t have everything ready at the time of your inspection, don’t worry – the home study is also a learning experience, and your home study provider will help you make the adjustments you need.

The Interviews

Usually at the time of the home inspection, your home study provider will also conduct family interviews. You and your partner will have a joint interview as well as additional interviews, and your provider will also talk to other members of the household. This will help him or her to create a clear assessment of your family life, your motivations to adopt, and your knowledge and understanding of adoption.

From there, your home study provider will submit your assessments for approval. If the elements of your documentation, home inspection, and interviews meet the standards of your state, then you will be on your way to adopting a baby!

Visit tomorrow to learn about the next step of the adoption process: finding and getting to know a prospective birth mother.


Choosing an Adoption Professional

By Ashleigh

– The Adoption Process: Part 1 of 5

Finding an Adoption ProfessionalIf you have decided to grow your family through adoption, you have a long and exciting journey ahead of you. This five-part series is meant to give you the basics on the main steps of the process.

To begin this process, you will need to decide who you want to help you through the steps of your adoption. There are multiple types of adoption professionals, including:

  • National agencies
  • Local and regional agencies
  • Adoption facilitators
  • Adoption attorneys and law centers

To help you decide which of these professionals works best for your situation, ask yourself these questions:

Have I Already Found a Birth Mother?

If you are pursuing domestic infant adoption, you need to connect with a birth mother who is placing her baby for adoption. Adoption agencies will help you to find an adoption opportunity, or match, as will adoption facilitators. Adoption attorneys may sometimes be able to help you find a birth mother, but you will most likely need to find one on your own.

What Services Do I Need or Want?

Some adoption services are required in order for your adoption to be legally recognized. For example, you will need a social worker licensed in your state to complete a home study, which will ensure that you are ready to adopt. You will also need the assistance of a lawyer to formally finalize the adoption.

Other types of services, such as counseling, are very helpful but not necessary to making your adoption official. If you choose to find a birth mother with a facilitator, you will most likely not receive any counseling, mediation of contact with the birth parents, and post-adoption support.

What is My Adoption Budget?

Unsurprisingly, adopting a child takes some financial planning. Adoption professionals charge widely varying fees depending on the number of services they offer, and only you can determine what works for your budget.

It’s important to include as much flexibility as you can in your adoption budget – some expenses are variable and can change over the course of the process. With American Adoptions, you are able to set a maximum budget, and if the costs of adoption exceed it, you may choose to reassess an adoption opportunity.

By answering these questions, you will be able to determine which adoption professional best fits your needs. Stay tuned for part two of the series, where we will talk about completing a home study!


Ask an Adoption Veteran: Surviving the Wait Time

By Ashleigh

Shawn KaneIn Ask an Adoption Veteran, we offer you advice, tips, and insight from people who have been through the adoption process before. Today, we talked with American Adoptions executive director, Shawn Kane, who is an adoptive father himself. We got his input on a challenge that all adoptive parents can understand: making it through the wait time.

Q: How long did you wait for an adoption opportunity?

Shawn: We waited about a year. We started the process, and then we had three disruptions before we were able to adopt.

Q: What were you feeling during that time?             

Shawn: The wait time is frustrating. Before that, you’ve got a flurry of paperwork and then the profile, so you’re nervous but excited at the same time. You have something to do. Looking back, that part was comparatively easy to when we were waiting. It’s hard. You have triggers throughout the day – other people and their kids, friends getting pregnant – things that remind you of what you’re going through.

Q: What did you do to stay sane during that time?

Shawn: Well, in our situation, we had a son, so that kept us busy. Tips for other people might be just sticking with your routines, volunteering your time, and spending time with your family and friends.

Q: Did you and your wife handle the wait differently?

Shawn: Definitely. I probably internalized things and didn’t talk as much. Amy had some stress and guilt that came from the fact that we’d had miscarriages before. I think she felt some regret – like she had failed the family – but I never felt that way. She probably talked more about it and confided in me.

Q: How did you feel after finding your adoption opportunity?

Shawn: Initially, we got excited. But then the level of anticipation increases and intensifies as you wait for the due date. It’s on your mind even more. You would think that it would get better, but now it’s more tangible. Then there’s more stress when the baby’s born, because there’s a revocation period and birth father issues to sort out. It’s not until you get to finalization day that you really feel that sense of relief and completion. You finally got to the finish line.

Stay tuned for future “Ask an Adoption Veteran” segments, where we will cover topics like home studies, parenting adopted children, and more.


A Birth Mother’s Guide to Manners

By Ashleigh

Emily PostMy grandmother believes in traditional Southern values, manners, and Emily Post. One year, for Christmas, she actually bought me “The Girls Guide to Manners.” I was raised to be polite and sensitive, and to try to be sincere. I understand that “how are you” and “do you have children” are questions that come from a genuine place of attempting to be polite. I am ever so grateful for my grandmother’s influence in my ability to behave according to social standards.

We Are Evolving

However, society has evolved and the old niceties have a new twist. The nuclear family is no longer the norm in our society and blended families are much more prevalent and accepted than they were in the past. Therefore, a simple polite question has turned into a loaded question. Consider if you really want to know how someone is doing before you ask them, because these days, you might actually get the truth. Manners are not about superficial niceties anymore. Manners are about genuine concern for others.

5 Topics of Etiquette When Engaging with a Birth Mother

  1. “Do you have children?” It’s like asking someone “How are you?” Sometimes people really want to know how you are doing, but most of the time, it is just someone attempting to have nice manners. Most inquirers are looking for a simple answer, but birth mothers do not have simple answers to what seems like such a loaded question at times. Please, do not ask this question to women unless you really want to know the answer. Be sincere when you ask someone, “How are you?” And be sincere when you ask someone if they have children.
  2. Please, don’t share your negative viewpoints on adoption with me. This typically comes from misunderstanding. Lack of education on certain topics does wonders to breed ignorance and seems to almost give people permission to pass judgement. If you don’t understand it, don’t judge it.
  3. I think that most people believe adoption is a great thing in general. They consider it the alternative to abortion, or they believe in personal choices and empowerment.  Each of these mind sets seems to be sweet on the surface, but on the root level, they come from places of complete misunderstanding about what it means to be a birth mother. Having an abortion and placing a baby for adoption come from two completely different schools of thought regarding the value of a woman’s body and the value of the life of a child. Being a birth mother, and making that decision to place a child for adoption is about genuinely loving that child. It has nothing to do with anything else except, what I consider, pure love.
  4. Things I wouldn’t say to a birth mother have to do with the assumption that people make about being a birth mother. Don’t say things to me that are based on your own negative assumptions and stereotypes of what it means to be a birth mother. Don’t assume that I was “too young” or “too dumb” or “too uneducated” or “ill-prepared” to be a mother. Don’t look at me as if you pity me. Don’t ask me intimate questions about my situation if we don’t have an intimate relationship in which those questions are appropriate. For example, don’t ask me why I did it. I think this is the biggest thing. Why we do things are our business. My adoption story is personal, and so is every other birth mother’s story.
  5. When you ask a biological mother if she has children, and she has custody of them, and the typical answer is, “Yes, I have three children.” I don’t think that most people think to ask, “Why did you have those children?” “Was it planned?” So if I wouldn’t ask a mother who has her children that question, why would I ask a mother who doesn’t have her children that question? In my mind, a mother is mother. How she got there or what her circumstances are, that’s her business.

So if the question is, “What shouldn’t you ask/say to a birth mother?” The simple answer is: don’t ask questions that are personal in nature if you don’t really want an honest answer and don’t say things based on negative assumptions you may have about adoption and birth mothers. As far as what you should say, perhaps a simple, “That’s wonderful.” If you don’t know what else to say, leave it at that. Please, be sincere and show me respect because I am a mother, no matter what “type” of mother I am.

~Lindsay Arielle

Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.


6 Not-So-Helpful Things People Say to Adoptive Parents

By Ashleigh

We Are a Real FamilyMaybe you know someone who has recently adopted a child – maybe it’s even someone close to you. If this is a new experience to you, you may not know much about adoption and how to talk to parents who have adopted. For that reason, it can be easy to accidentally say something that seems positive but can actually be upsetting.

Here are six common things that people say to adoptive parents that aren’t as helpful as you might think, and what you can say instead.

“I’m sorry you couldn’t have one of your own.”

Adoptive parents may or may not have tried to have a child biologically, but it doesn’t matter – their adopted child is their own. Celebrate adoption for what it is: an addition to a loving family.

What to say instead: “I’m so happy for you!”

“I can’t believe someone would give up such a beautiful baby!”

Many people don’t understand the incredibly difficult decision that birth mothers make. They do not “give up” their babies for adoption – they make the choice that is best for their babies.

What to say instead: “I bet the birth mother is happy she found you.”

“You’re so lucky you didn’t have to deal with pregnancy and labor.”

Statements like this imply that an adoptive parent had a baby “the easy way,” which doesn’t acknowledge the very real challenges that they face. Many adoptive families have also struggled with infertility – which they certainly don’t want to be told they are lucky for.

What to say instead: “Adoption isn’t exactly easy, either.”

“He’ll probably want to meet his real mom.”

The mom that you are talking to is his real mom. And whether or not he wants to meet his birth mother is for him and his family to decide.

What to say instead: “Are you still in touch with his birth mom?”

 “Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll probably get pregnant.”

The purpose of adoption is not to get pregnant. Families adopt because they are committed to taking that route to grow their families – and more importantly, because they want to be parents.

What to say instead: “Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll probably be a very busy mom.”

“Your baby is so lucky.”

Instead, say: “You’re so lucky.”

When talking to an adoptive parent, it’s important to remember that adoption is a deeply personal experience. If you have questions about adoption, most parents would be happy to answer you, but also remember to see them for what they are: parents.


Q&A with Executive Director Jennifer Kittredge

By Ashleigh

Staff PhotosWe want to bring you, our readers, into the day-to-day of our agency by sharing more about the people you get to work with through each phase of the process!

As an Executive Director, Jennifer works closely with our adoptive family and birth parent specialists as well as local attorneys in Florida. She is there to build relationships and help expand American Adoptions of Florida; she has been extensively involved in the work that American Adoptions does, and her knowledge and support help families have a positive and fulfilling adoption experience. Keep reading to learn more about Jennifer and the life of an Executive Director!

What is your name and position?

Jennifer Kittredge, Executive Director, American Adoptions of Florida

How long have you been working for American Adoptions?

2 years

What are your tasks at American Adoptions?

Support and supervision for our Florida staff, growing the Florida office and the number of adoptions Florida handles, building relationships in Florida with local resources and attorneys, scheduling consent singing, training our local contract workers, Liaison with our licensing representative, carry a small case load of birth parents, approval of Florida Home Studies as well as post placements, yearly reviews of employees. (So a little bit of everything!)

What does a typical work day look like?

Supporting Florida staff with their case load, reviewing and approving home studies, reviewing post placements, scheduling local workers to meet with prospective birth parents, reading and reviewing cases notes, scheduling consent signings, meeting with local resources in the community to build relationships, call back prospective birth parents from online submission forms, and meetings…lots of meetings.

How has adoption impacted your life personally?

I am an adoptive mom. Our daughter, Emma is ten and came home from China in March of 2007 when she was 16 months old. We could not imagine our lives without Emma. She brings us so much joy and laughter every day!

What is your favorite part of working for American Adoptions?

Working with such an amazing, passionate team.

What is your favorite time of year at American Adoptions?

The holidays. It’s so fun to catch up with our Adoptive families and see how much all the children have grown.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories?

One of my favorite adoption memories is a sweet birth mom who placed her 2.5 year old twins. As difficult as this was for her, she felt in her heart that they needed a stable two parent home. Through many tears, I walked with her through her adoption journey. I am happy to say almost a year later she is doing amazing! She just visited the boys and has a wonderful open adoption. These are the adoptions that make my heart so happy.

How many adoptions have you been a part of?

I’m a part of all of the Florida adoptions since I staff and schedule our workers so I’m not quite sure.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in your position?

Growing the Florida office. It’s been a great accomplishment and I can’t wait to grow even more!


15 Inspirational Adoption Quotes

By Ashleigh

Born in Our Hearts

“Little souls find their way to you whether they’re from your womb or someone else’s”
– Sheryl Crow

“Adoption is a journey of faith, from beginning to end.”
– Johnny Carr

Adoption is Like a Marriage

“Families don’t have to match. You don’t have to look like someone else to love them.”
– Leigh Anne Tuohy (adoptive mother portrayed in The Blind Side)

“If you have a heart for adoption, don’t let fear stand in the way”
– Doug Chapman

Life gave me the gift of you

“Whether your children are yours through biology or adoption, they are yours through love.”
– Sadia Rebecca Rodriguez

“I don’t even bother playing the lotto because we’ve already won. Without a doubt, by far, they are the greatest gifts in our life. It’s so understated to say that. We’d walk through two fires to do that again.”
– Mike, AA adoptive father

From the First Moment

“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.”
– Desha Wood

“Adoption was a bumpy ride, very bumpy. But, God, was it worth the fight.”
– Mariska Hargitay

Birth Mother Quote - Natasha

“The adoption was challenging – the LOVE arrived instantly.”
– Unknown

“There are times when the adoption process is exhausting and painful and makes you want to scream. But, I am told, so does childbirth.”
– Scott Simon

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