Help from Start to Finish.
There are a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to adopting a child. The Adoption Help Firm at Hughes Law Office can help ensure you are informed on the process before beginning the adoption journey.
The path to adoption is different for every couple. For some, the decision to adopt arises out of an unsuccessful and costly course of infertility treatment and medical interventions. For others, adoption is a moral calling. Whatever the reason, adoption is a wonderful choice that a child the chance to thrive.
The Adoption Help Firm offers:
- Help understanding the adoption process.
- Organization and facilitation of potential adoption leads.
- Guidance and support throughout the process.
- Legal finalization of the adoption.
The Steps to Adoption
- Adoption home study – Required for all adoptions. Performed by a social worker.
- Finding a birth mother – Get on as many lists as possible.
- Family profile – Show birth mothers what kind of family you have.
- Interstate Compact for Placement of Children – You must receive approval before crossing state lines.
- Finalization of adoption – After visits from a social worker, adoption may be finalized.
- Adoption Tax Credit – Know which tax credits you qualify for.
Adoption Home Study
Home studies are a chance for you and a social worker to make sure that you have the appropriate environment to raise an adopted child. The Adoption Help Firm can help you find a social worker and assist you with the adoption process.
What is an adoption home study?
An adoption home study is a written report of the adoptive couple prepared by a licensed social worker or approved adoption specialist.
It is based on interviews and includes the results of a criminal background check and a child abuse and neglect check. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to place a child in a home without a home study.
Once you have a home study on file with the Department of Social Services it must be updated each year.
Home studies are required for all adoptions
No person may place a child in a home for adoption until a home study has been completed by a certified social worker eligible to engage in private independent practice, the department of social services, or a licensed child placement agency and the report has been filed with the department of social services.
Some things that the social worker might ask you to provide are your birth certificates, marriage certificate, divorce decree, military discharge, criminal records, a copy of latest income tax return, health statement from a physician, insurance verification, employment verification, reference letters from friends, family members, etc.
Questions will also be asked regarding your motivation to adopt, your childhood and family life, spousal relationship, your financial status and your beliefs about discipline and religion.
Finding a Birth Mother
The more people that know that you’re looking to adopt, the greater the chance of finding a birth mother. The Adoption Help Firm has a nation-wide network of adoption professionals who work with expectant mothers and who refer to our firm.
Let your family and friends know you’re looking to adopt
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the more people that know you are looking to adopt and the more “lists” you can get on, the better your chances. We actively encourage you to work with as many reputable places as possible. We are happy for you no matter how you find a baby!
You will need to decide if you want to work with an adoption attorney, an agency, or a facilitator (advertiser). Many adoption entities have application fees. Make sure you ask them what their policy is regarding working with more than one adoption professional. Be careful and read the fine print to see what their rules are if you should find a baby on your own or through another source. Many adoption entities will not refund the money you have already paid.
Another way to spread the word is to tell your physician, banker, attorney, hair stylist, work associates, church, school counselor, school nurse, hospital social worker, or any person that has contact with the public.
The reason it is so important to tell your family is that your nieces and nephews, for example, might have a friend or classmate who is pregnant. Your family members also have different contacts than you do and they will likely be good resources in your search for a baby.
If you do happen to find a birth mother on your own it is important to get your adoption attorney involved so that boundaries can be established. It will be important for your adoption attorney to line up another attorney to represent the birth parents.
At some point before the birth mother gives birth she will also need to receive counseling. Having the proper professionals involved acts as a check and balance, for example, if the birthparents are not showing up for their counseling appointments, this will serve as a red flag that something needs attention.
Creating a Family Profile
At some point, you will be asked to put together a family profile and “Dear Birth Mother” letter. These items are given to a birth mother to help her choose an adoptive family. The Adoption Help Firm can help you create a family profile that fits your family and lifestyle.
Let birth mothers see what type of family you have
Think of the family profile as a photo album of your family and go from there. Be as creative as you’d like with the layout and captioning of the pictures, but make sure the profile reflects who you are. Include photos of your family, pets, house, vacations, extended family, etc. Choose meaningful pictures that will give the birth mother a good glimpse into your life.
Once it is prepared, scan it or make color copies so that you can keep the original and easily distribute the copies as needed.
The birth mother will NOT receive a copy of your home study. Your profile is the only information she will have to base her decision on.
If you’re adopting a child from a different state, you’ll have to get approval from the Interstate Compact for Placement of Children before you can bring the child home. The Adoption Help Firm can assist you with this process.
You must receive approval from ICPC before crossing state lines
Whenever a child is born in a state different from where you live, it is necessary to receive approval from the Interstate Compact for Placement of Children, more commonly referred to as ICPC.
ICPC must give approval before you can cross state lines with the child to bring him / her home. This approval process can take anywhere from two days to two weeks. During this time, there is nothing for you to do but wait. The state where the baby was born is referred to as the sending state and the state where you live is the receiving state.
The purpose of ICPC is to ensure that each child that is placed across state lines receives appropriate care, to ensure that both sending and receiving authorities are able to make informed decisions on suitable placements, and to establish appropriate jurisdictional responsibility.
The originating state retains jurisdiction over the child until jurisdiction ends when the child is adopted.
Once the adoption is finalized, the child is treated as your natural child. An adoption can be finalized after the child has lived in your home for a period of time specified by law and after you have completed successful post-placement visits with your licensed social worker.
Once the court declares that adoption is completed, the child is thereafter your adopted child and shall be regarded and treated in all respects as your natural child. The child may take your family name.
Adoption Tax Credit
Families that adopt are eligible for a tax credit from federal income tax for qualifying expenses. Federal law also contains an income exclusion for an employer adoption assistance program. The maximum credit for 2013 was $12,970 and the full credit was available to taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of $194,580 or less. The credit will then phase out completely at an AGI of $234,580.
Qualifying adoption expenses are reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging) while away from home, and other expenses directly related to, and whose principal purpose is for, the legal adoption of an eligible child.
The tax credit may also apply even when an adoptive couple experiences a failed or disrupted adoption.
Types of Adoption
Being informed about the types of adoption and the birth certificate process can make your adoption go more smoothly. The Adoption Help Firm is here to answer any and all of your questions.
In an open adoption birth parents can meet potential adoptive families before making the selection. Identifying information including names and addresses is exchanged.
One or both adoptive parent(s) may attend pre-natal visits, and/or be present at birth with the birth mother's permission. Birth parents may visit the adoptive parents’ home, and may gather as extended family members during special occasions and holidays. There can be direct correspondence, telephone contact, and meetings between birthparents, adoptive parents and the child.
It is important to keep in mind that the adoption of a child shall be final and unconditional. The natural parents of an adopted child shall retain no rights or privileges to have visitation or other contact with the child, except in cases of voluntary termination where there is a written pre-adoption agreement between the natural parent or parents and the adoptive parents. Visitation may be exercised only by the adoptive parents when in the child’s best interests.
The extent of interaction between birth parents and adoptive family and child is agreed to in advance.
Birth parents may request profile information to choose adoptive parents or may request a third party to choose the adoptive parents. No identifying information is disclosed or exchanged. There is no contact between the birth parents and adoptive parents once the baby is born and placed with them.
Semi-Open / semi-Closed Adoption
Semi-open / semi-closed adoptions are popular. This type is a customized blend that is created by the parties involved with a pre-agreed degree of contact. The birth mother usually establishes the guidelines by developing a birth plan.
The birth parents choose the adoptive family from a non-identifying profile. A third party mediates the contact between the parties before and after birth.
Adoptive parents may be present at the birth and may meet the birthparents before the birth. Post-placement contact is conducted through a third party. Adoptive parents often share the child’s pictures and letters with the birth parents and may provide video, images, and other media.
With respect to unmarried birth mothers, the name of the birth father can not be entered on the birth certificate without written consent of the birth father or upon judicial determination of the birth father.
Typically the mother’s surname (last name) shall be the legal surname of the child unless an affidavit of acknowledgment of paternity signed by both parents is received.
Once a child is legally adopted, his/her birth certificate will be re-issued and will reflect their new name and the adoptive parents’ names will be listed as the “birth parents.”
The original certificate and the adoption information is sealed when a new certificate is issued. It may only be opened upon order of a court or by the Secretary of Health for purposes of properly administering the vital registration system or once the child is 18 depending on the laws of that state.