How Does The Process Work?
Should you decide to move forward with FFTA after your initial
telephone contact, you will be asked to complete an information form and
schedule a meeting at the agency.
FFTA will be working with you throughout the entire adoption process and beyond to help equip you with the “Seven Skills of Successful Adopting.”
The orientation meeting, which you should expect to last several hours, will serve to introduce you to the adoption process in great detail, and will be your first chance to ask any questions that you may have about adopting. The meeting will cover what will be expected of you throughout the process, and will highlight the services that FFTA will either provide as part of its regular services, or can offer you upon request, in connection with your adoption.
After meeting with FFTA representatives, you will need to complete an extensive Adoption Application which will be provided to you at the meeting. It contains basic questions about you and your family, and poses questions to help you think about various adoption issues.
Once the form is completed, the actual adoption process begins.
Working with a representative from FFTA, you will create a non-identifying birth parent profile, which is really a letter of introduction to potential birth parents. Your letter will include information on you, your family and living situation, as well as your hopes and dreams for the future and for your child. It will also include photographs of you, your home, your family and friends. This birth parent profile will help a potential birth parent envision the kind of life that would be in store for the baby should they chose you to be his or her adoptive parent(s). Click here or here to read the profiles of parents who have successfully completed adoptions.
Once armed with your Dear Birth Parent letter, FFTA will help you choose the best and most expeditious route to identify an appropriate birth mother. Although FFTA places Agency advertising to identify birth parents whose babies or children are currently, or will soon be, free for adoption, you may choose to conduct your own advertising campaign. If you do, FFTA’s media staff can write and place the ads for you, or they can provide you with guidance to help you write and place the ads, yourself. Included in the ads will be a toll free number that potential birth parent(s) can use to contact you. FFTA can answer this toll free number for you, should you prefer the Agency make the initial contact with birth parent(s) on your behalf.
Before you can be introduced to potential birth mothers, however, you must go through a State-mandated screening process. A Pre-Placement Home Study, conducted by a Licensed Social Worker, is a part of that process. Its purpose is to assure the State that you are prepared to adopt a child, as well as to ascertain that the home environment into which you will bring the child is safe and secure. The Study includes scheduled visits with a Social Worker, supplemental phone calls, if and as necessary, and State-required Child Abuse and Fingerprint Clearances for the potential Adoptive Parents. Please note that after the child is placed in your home, but before the court finalization, the state requires another in-home visit.
While the process of identifying one or more potential birth mothers is progressing, FFTA will recommend, through its network of social workers, medical professionals and parents, infant care and parenting classes for you. We will, as well, offer individual counseling and support groups throughout the adoption process. FFTA appreciates that both the decision to adopt and the process of adoption, itself, can be difficult for many individuals or families. The counseling services we provide are conducted by Licensed Social Workers who understand the process of adoption, as well as the emotional strain that the process can impose.
Once you have identified a birth mother, FFTA will help you develop the relationship with her that you would like to have. You may choose to stay in close contact with her or not. Some birth mothers become more comfortable with their decision to place their unborn child for adoption as they get to know the adoptive family better. Some adoptive parents even attend pre-natal doctor’s appointments with their birth mother, and many are actually present at the time of the child’s birth. How often, and under what circumstance, you interact with the birth mother you have selected, however, is completely up to you and the birth mother.
During that time period, you will likely be asked to assume some financial responsibility for the medical and living expenses of your birth mother and the unborn child. These expenses may include pre-natal care and delivery costs, as well as the birthmother’s day-to-day living expenses, such as rent, food and maternity clothes. They may include her legal expenses, if any, as well.
Once the baby is born, your birth parents will decide when you may take custody of the child. Most birth parents choose to have their adoptive family take the baby home directly from the hospital. Before you do, however, the birth parents — or just the birth mother if the birth father is unidentified — must sign a legal document acknowledging consent to the adoption. They then have 30 days to revoke the surrender, unless they choose to appear in Court to terminate their rights earlier. After three months have passed, there is a court finalization proceeding during which a judge will review all of the information gathered about the placing and adoptive families and issue an Adoption Order. Your baby’s name will be legally changed, and an amended birth certificate with that new name will be issued. The original birth certificate, as well as all documents relating to the adoption are then Court-sealed and no longer available, even to parties to the adoption.
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Not your typical lawyer. Debbie Wolf got to where she is today one challenging job at a time. After studying psychology in college, her first job was as a social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. This turned out to be both wrenching and rewarding. One Thanksgiving eve, she was charged with delivering a 6-year-old boy whose mother was mentally ill and abusing drugs to his new foster home. "The place was so bad I refused to leave him there,” she said. “Instead I took him back to my office and we ended up spending the night at work with another co-worker until we found a more suitable alternative."