For Birth Parents - What Are My Options?
As a birth parent, it is both your right and responsibility to take an active role in developing a plan for your child’s future.
Respecting your wishes, in fact, is the single most important factor in the development of that plan. At FFTA, we will help guide you to an ultimate decision that not only serves your needs, but is also in your child’s best interests.
Making a plan for your child begins with the exploration of your options. Our highly trained and experienced staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with confidential counseling regarding your pregnancy, as well as to help you choose among your alternatives: parenting your child; foster care; having maternal or paternal relatives’ take custody of, act as guardian for or adopt your child; or seeking out a non-relative adoption.
If you think foster care is a good interim plan, we can assist you in locating social services to arrange that. Please be aware, however, that once you place your child in foster care, you will no longer be the sole decision-maker for him or her.
Social services and a local judge will not only be involved in planning for your child’s future, but will also be responsible for ensuring that your child’s daily needs are met.
It is important to remember that foster care is just a temporary arrangement for a child, who, for some reason, cannot live with his or her birth family. Depending on available resources, a child in foster care may have to move one or many times to different foster homes and/or congregate care residences. If your child remains in foster care for over a year, local social services may file with the court to legally terminate your rights as a parent. Once that happens, social services will serve as the child’s legal custodian and decide if and who will adopt the child depending on what kinship/foster parent resources are available.
After a judge determines that a child is freed to be adopted, that child will continue to live in foster care until adopted. Often, the child will be adopted by his/her foster parent. If the child is not adopted, then s/he will remain in foster care until his/her 18th birthday or possibly until his/her 21st birthday if s/he decides to do so. To hear the story of one child’s foster care experience, read the story about Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter.
For more information on Foster Care, you can contact the New York State Office of Children & Family Services at 1-800-345-KIDS or read more at Foster Care - New York State Office of Children & Family Services . The New York State Citizens’ Coalition for Children also provides guidance for those who are considering foster parenting, as well as state, regional and national statistics and research on adoption and foster care.
Parenting the baby, whether alone or with help, is a life-altering decision. In considering this option, you must first assess the level and kind of support you can count on from your family or your child‘s father and his family. Whatever they don‘t provide in terms of financial and emotional assistance for you and your baby, you will have to provide yourself.
Your child‘s basic needs will include shelter, food, clothing and baby equipment, as well as medical attention for both well-baby care and illness. If you must work to support the two of you, you will also need to consider child care.
If you ultimately choose to parent your child, there are local, state and federal agencies that offer help, including Medicaid, which can provide health insurance if you are eligible and WIC, which provides food vouchers for pregnant women and women with infants and small children. FFTA can help you identify the medical, financial and emotional assistance you may need.
If, on the other hand, you choose adoption, we’ll help you to explore all the adoption options that are available: non-identified or identified adoption ; adoption by a two-parent family or by a single-parent family; adoption by a family of the same racial and/or ethnic background as you; or adoption by a family of a different background; or an international adoption.
Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. will work with you to select an adoptive parent or parents with whom you are comfortable. We will actively recruit families for your baby throughout the United States and overseas, using our extensive network of contacts with other agencies, attorneys and parent support groups. We will do everything within our power to assure that all our children go directly into safe and permanent loving homes. Often birth mothers are reluctant to place their children locally – a specialty of FFTA is assisting birth parents in placing their children for adoption with an adoptive family residing out-of-state or even out of the country. If you like, we can facilitate your meeting with prospective adoptive families, or provide you with as much information as you need to come to a decision (within the confines of non-identified or identified adoption policies). And once you choose your child’s adoptive parent or parents, we can help you to feel comfortable with your decision through counseling, an open exchange of information, and even, if you desire, one or more face-to-face meetings.
In anticipation of the adoption, Forever Families Through Adoption will pay all of your legally approved pregnancy expenses directly from our escrow funds. In addition, Forever Families Through Adoption will assist you in locating medical care and prenatal services to help to ensure your health and the health of your unborn child. We regularly investigate and help birth parents obtain insurance coverage or Medicaid, if they’re eligible. In addition, we investigate the policies of the hospital in which you intend to deliver, to ensure that the hospital personnel and policies are sensitive to your needs.
As for the adoption, itself, FFTA’s staff prepares all of the consents and affidavits that are required, and reviews these documents with you to ensure that you have a complete understanding of the legal process. Once your baby is born, we are responsible for obtaining your consents, filing the documents necessary and accompanying you to Court. You will be given the option of either surrendering your rights to your child in court, which becomes irrevocable immediately, or out-of-court, which becomes final after (30) thirty days.
Once your baby is placed, we can provide you with post-adoption counseling through support groups, and individual or group counseling. If it’s desired by both the birth parents and the adoptive parents, we’ll arrange for periodic exchange of information and/or photographs. In addition, FFTA will continue to provide counseling services, including support groups and individual therapy, if either is needed by your child during any stage of his or her development, especially during the tumultuous times of adolescence. If such services can’t for some reason be provided directly by FFTA, they’ll be identified by us from within the community.
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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."