The content of this website can help a person or family living in the U.S. or any foreign country with information about a domestic adoption or international adoption. It can help you with both a closed adoption and an open adoption. It includes major areas and sub-areas of content, all of the broken down for your convenience by state, starting with general information about us and then specific information about the adoption process. Several of the topics are linked for your convenience, and others are not linked but are just in bold print to help you identify the topic
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is a licensed non-profit adoption agency licensed in multiple states and is able to help birth mothers, birth fathers, and adopting families living anywhere in the world, U.S. military personnel and expatriates living in foreign countries, and citizens of any country. I created after I had worked for several years with pregnant teens and women in the Pittsburgh, PA school system and found that these women had nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help.
domestic adoption program specializes in the placement of healthy newborns, infants and children from the United States. international adoption program places children from China, Russia, Guatemala and other foreign countries. We provide assistance in all types of adoption.
This Free Self Help Adoption Manual will take you step-by-step through what you need to know about each type of adoption. Whether you are considering a private child adoption, an agency adoption, a domestic or international child adoption, or an open or closed adoption, this free manual can help you.
The following summarizes the information you will find on each of the 50 U.S. state sites in the right hand column.
Types of adoption explains that the major distinctions are between agency child adoption and private child adoption, open adoption and closed adoption, domestic adoption and international adoption, and intrastate and interstate adoption.
An agency adoption is the safest route for a birth mother or a family interested in child adoption to take. An agency child adoption is arranged through an adoption agency that is licensed and monitored. Agencies can be profit or non-profit, public or private; the most critical factor being whether or not they are licensed. A licensed adoption agency has been carefully screened by the state to assure that quality services are available to a birth mother, birth father, and adopting family.
A private child adoption is an adoption arranged through a private
individual, often a lawyer, physician, non-licensed facilitator, or referral service. Without a licensed adoption agency supervising the process, adoption can be a nightmare. When you read horror stories
in the news, these are most likely private adoptions. It is strongly recommend you proceed only with a licensed agency.
In a closed adoption the birth mother and adopting family are anonymous. While many details may be shared, no identifying information is exchanged. In an open adoption, biological and adopting parents exchange identifying information and are then able, if they so choose, to be in contact with one another directly. The main issue for an adopting family in an open or closed adoption is what type of contact you want with the birth mother and/or birth father and what type of contact you want them to have with you. Whether an adoption is open or closed will depend on what you want, what your state allows, and what agency you select.
A domestic adoption involves adopting a child who is a citizen of the same country as the adopting persons. For U.S. adopting families, this means adopting a child born in the U.S. or adopting a U.S. citizen who is born abroad. A domestic adoption must meet the requirements of your state of residence, the birth mother's state of residence, and the requirements of the Interstate compact Act.
An international adoption involves an adoptable child and a family interested in child adoption that are citizens of, and who live in, different countries. Currently, the top choices of U.S. families interested in child adoption involve a China adoption, adoption from Russia, and adoption from Guatemala. An international adoption must meet the requirements of the state, U.S. Government, foreign government, and the Hague Convention.
Intrastate, interstate, and international child adoption is one way of classifying all adoption. In an intrastate child adoption, the birth mother and adopting family live in the same state while in an interstate child adoption they live in different states. Both intrastate and interstate adoptions are considered a domestic adoption. In an international child adoption, the birth mother and adopting family live in different countries. The distinction between an intrastate adoption and an interstate adoption is important since each type of adoption brings forth a different set of legal requirements.
The selection of just the right agency is an important early step for both a birth mother and a family interested in child adoption. Agencies come in a variety of forms. They can be for-profit or non-profit, public or private and domestic or international. The most important fact to remember is that child adoption agencies licensed by the state give you options and important protections that are not available when you deal directly with an adoption facilitator, doctor, or attorney.
Agencies licensed in your state and other states provides a family interested in adoption with a comprehensive list of licensed U.S. agencies in all 50 states on a state-by-state basis.
An adoption facilitator is one "choice" that should be carefully weighed by both a birth mother and a family interested in adoption. Adoption facilitators have become such a risk and concern that the U.S. Government has warned both birth mothers and families interested in child adoption to work with an agency and avoid an adoption facilitator.
Adopting Family Resources is a website that provides information and guidance needed by persons who are thinking of a domestic adoption or an international adoption. It can help you regardless of your age, race, marital status, where you live, whether you are just starting the adoption process or have already adopted.
International Adoption Help is a website that provides general and specific information and guidance needed by persons who are adopting internationally. It even provides post-adoption information and help.
Help in defraying child adoption costs, federal grants, loans, employer benefits, child adoption tax credits, and state and federal child adoption subsidies are available to persons interested in child adoption. Adoption medical leave is discussed in relation to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and information on employer adoption financial help is provided.
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 has a provision that guarantees adopted children the same access to health insurance as birth children." This is an extremely important resource for adopting persons since some insurance carriers sometimes try to avoid paying adoption related expenses that may be covered under this law.
Government Agencies A-Z gives you a comprehensive list, with links to each, of hundreds of federal agencies and departments, many of which can be a valuable resource for persons adopting both internationally and domestically.
Your state child welfare agency can provide resources to help you to understand the adoption laws, regulations, and procedures of your state or of any state. This site will help you locate the appropriate state office by providing website addresses for state child welfare agency offices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Government services & benefits lists the multitude of U.S. federal government benefit programs and services available to adopting families and their adopted child. After answering some basic questions, the user receives a customized report listing the benefit programs for which the user may be eligible.
Health and disease information provides advice from a variety of sources regarding child care, child illnesses, and childhood diseases. There are also lists of hospitals and physicians, a medical encyclopedia and a medical dictionary, health information, extensive information on prescription and nonprescription drugs, and health information from the media.
Organizations from the private and public sectors to help adopting persons are listed. Included are such organization and support groups as the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, Adoptive Parents' Committee, the Child Welfare League of America, the Committee for Single Adoptive Parents, International Concerns Committee for Children, and the National Adoption Center.
Medical clinics can be very helpful after an adopting family has received an adoption referral. An adopting family can check with a local doctor and pediatrician with the referral information.
Adoption support groups in your state and neighboring states can help provide pre-and-post adoption support in a domestic child adoption or international child adoption.
Photo-listing services and state adoption exchanges connect prospective adoptive parents with children waiting in the states' foster care programs. This site provides the addresses for state adoption exchanges and photo-listing services.
Emotional issues related to child adoption and the emotional impact of adoption on the adopted child and on the entire adopting family is examined. It is recognized that the child and the family face some emotional and developmental issues that are different than those faced by a child that has been biologically born into the family.
Support groups are available for adopting families and adopting persons. Each support site offers something a little different but all try to offer support, encouragement, information and alternatives.
The rights of an adopting family are, in part, determined by whether the adopting family is engaging in an international adoption or a domestic adoption. If it is a domestic adoption, rights may vary depending on whether it is an intrastate adoption or an interstate adoption. The adopting family's rights also depend on whether the birth mother and birth father parental rights have been ended. Please remember that when it comes to laws and legal rights, there is no substitute of an experienced attorney.
A birth mother's legal rights, just like the rights of a birth father, are protected in every U.S. state and territory. The ending of parental rights, called a termination, surrender, or relinquishment, ends the legal parent-child relationship so that the child is legally free to be adopted.
A Birth father's legal rights, just like the rights of a birth mother, are protected in every U.S. state and territory. Each state has requirements that must be met prior to the ending of the birth father's parental rights.
Child adoption laws exist in every state and must be followed in every adoption. An adoption family involved in a domestic adoption must follow the laws of their state of residence, the birth mother's state, and the requirements of the interstate compact act. An international adoption must meet the requirements of the state, U.S. Government, and foreign government.
International law applies to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. This important Convention document provides formal international and inter-governmental recognition of intercountry adoption.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies to the custody and adoption of children of Native American ancestry. Since the adoption of children with Native American Indian heritage is treated uniquely in the legal system, and because there is a significant number of children born who have at least some degree of Native American Indian heritage, it is critical for adopting persons and their agency and/or attorney to meet its requirements.
Adoption expenses emphasizes that nearly all States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have enacted statutes that provide some regulation of the fees and expenses that adoptive parents are expected to pay when arranging an adoptive placement.
Use of advertising in adoption is spelled out in many state laws. In an effort to protect the interests of all parties, many states have enacted laws that either prohibit or regulate private adoptive placements and advertising. You may want to check with an attorney or check your state laws.
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 confers United States citizenship automatically and retroactively to certain foreign-born children adopted by citizens of the United States. These are children who did not acquire American citizenship at birth, but who are granted citizenship when they enter the United States as lawful permanent residents.
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 is important for any adopting family to review since it relates to health insurance coverage for the adopted child. In this Act is a provision that guarantees adopted children the same access to health insurance as birth children.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that an employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for several reasons, one being the placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care. Please see this site for details.
The Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994 (P. L. 103-382), addresses many important adoption and other
adoption-related issues; however, knowledge of the specifics of the Act may have little practical everyday use for adopting persons.
The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 covers a variety of areas impacting on children in foster care, children to be adopted, and special needs children. While this Act is important, the specifics need not be addressed by most adopting persons.
Promoting Safe and Stable Family Amendments of 2001 (P. L. 107-133): One of goals of this Act was to encourage and enable States to develop or expand programs for adoption and adoption support services. While this Act is important, the specifics need not be addressed by most adopting persons.
Special adoption situations include child adoption by a single woman or a single man, child adoption by gay and lesbian singles and couples, adoption by relatives of the birth mother or birth father, and step-parent adoption.
A single woman or single man will often have a harder time adopting than does a married couple. Thousands of children in the United States and other countries are living with single men and women who have chosen to become adoptive parents. This site assists a single person in the U.S. who wants to adopt.
Gay and lesbian singles and couples often find many doors closed to them and have a difficult time adopting. This site lists several organizations and publications supporting gay and lesbian parenting, including the status of gay and lesbian parenting, issues, laws, and more.
Relatives of the birth mother or birth father may want to adopt the birth mother's child. Each state defines "relative" differently. Generally, preference is given to the child's grandparents, followed by aunts, uncles, adult siblings, and cousins.
Step-parent adoption is the most common form of adoption. In these situations the adopting step-parent assumes financial and legal responsibility for his/her spouse's child or children and releases the non-custodial parent of parental responsibilities, including child support.
The adoption of a special needs child may be eligible for special adoption assistance from the federal government and from state authorities. The information on this site provides general information on eligibility and limitations for, and termination or modification of, adoption subsidies for special needs children.
Federal and State required fingerprinting is required for all international child adoptions and most domestic child adoptions. This U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) site provides helpful information.
Trans-racial child adoption and trans-cultural adoption involves the placement of a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group. In the U.S., trans-racial or trans-cultural adoption usually refers to the placement of children of color or children from another country with Caucasian adoptive parents.
Disruption of an adoption or dissolution throughout the United States consistently ranges from about 10 to 25 percent. The term disruption describes an adoption process that ends after the child is placed in an adoptive home and before the adoption is legally finalized, resulting in the child's return to foster care or to the birth mother. The term dissolution describes an adoption that ends after it is legally finalized.
Child health and disease provides infant and child care advice from experts. Included is health related information from a variety of sources including the Mayo Clinic, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institutes of Health, the National Library of Medicine, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Prevent child abuse includes the National Child Abuse Hotline and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Also provided are sources of government information about the subject of child abuse, child abuse prevention, and much more.
Breastfeeding by an adopting mother is difficult, but not always impossible. This site will help educate anyone who is thinking about breastfeeding her child.
Costs and fees in an adoption are often state regulated. Nearly all States have enacted statutes that provide some regulation of the fees and expenses that adoptive parents are expected to pay when arranging an adoptive placement. This site provides general information on birth parent expenses, agency fees and costs, use of an intermediary, and reporting adoption-related expenses to the court.
Search and reunion involves a birth mother and/or a birth father searching for a child they placed for adoption and for the adopted child searching for their birth mother or birth father. The percentage of adult adopted persons who take action to initiate a search appears to be on the rise.
Adoption registries are sources of information that can help unite an adoptee with his/her birth mother and/or birth father. Many states have an adoption registry and, if your state has one, it may be found at this site.
Birth mother resources and help and birth father resources and help direct an adopting family to information that is designed to help a birth mother and birth father. This will often help a family interested in child adoption to be aware of, and understand, the issues and concerns a birth mother and birth father face.
Overview of international child adoption is provided, as well as information on special international documentation including the following:
Passport help, and passport information, for citizens of the USA is provided by the U.S. Department of State Passport Services Office. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify United States passports.
Authentication of documents is necessary in all international adoptions. Documents issued in one country which need to be used in another country must be "authenticated" or "legalized" before they can be used as valid in the foreign country. This is a process in which various seals are placed on the document.
Fingerprinting for criminal record clearance is required for all international adoptions and in many domestic adoptions. This U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) site provides helpful information.
USCIS I-600a refers to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service form that is used as the quickest way to bring a foreign-born child that an adopting family hopes to adopt to the U.S. It is critical that an adopting family file a USCIS form I-600A before the adopting family formally identifies a foreign-born child to adopt.
China adoption provides an overview regarding adopting a child from China. The people of China have been, and continue to be, responsive to orphans being adopted by foreign citizens, and the Chinese authorities appear to make every effort to refer the type of child requested by the adopting parent or family.
Russian adoption has changed many times over the years. Russia is the second largest sending country after China. Americans in a Russian adoption will either work directly with one of the very few U.S. based Russian accredited agencies or work with a U.S. licensed adoption agency that sub-contracts with a Russian accredited agency. As long as the family checks out their U.S. based agency, the family should be fine working with a U.S. approved sub-contracting agency.
Guatemala adoption involves children coming from either foster care homes or from orphanages run by, or approved by, the Guatemalan government. All international adoptions in Guatemala are handled by private attorneys since there is no state-run central adoption-placing authority.
Re-adopting in the U.S. is an important consideration for every family adopting internationally. If the child is fully adopted overseas, there is no federal requirement for re-adoption in the United States. Although re-adoption may not be required, there are several good reasons for the adopting parents to re-adopt the child in the U.S.
Deciding when and how to explain adoption to the child, to other children in the family, and to friends and relatives is important. This area addresses the issue of adoption, defining it, explaining it to others, and dealing with the feelings that arise.
Developmental issues and adoption concerns are often tied together. An adopting family and the adopted child face some developmental issues and concerns that are different than those faced by a child that has been biologically born into the family.
Problems in school related to adoption occasionally develop. This resource area looks at three areas: 1) How adoption impacts a youngster in school; 2) Specific educational problems that are common to adopted children; and 3) Ways to help students, teachers, principals, and other school personnel to become more sensitive to adoption issues.
Interaction of adolescence and adoption explores the effects of adoption on adolescent development and behavior. Identity formation, fear of abandonment, issues of control, feelings of not belonging, and desires to connect with birth families are described. Topics discussed include parenting the adopted adolescent, how children develop, typical adolescent behavior, adoption and adolescence, when parents should become concerned, and what they can do to help.
Timely therapeutic intervention by a professional skilled in adoption issues can often prevent issues common to adoption from becoming more serious problems. Clinicians with adoption knowledge and experience are best suited to help families identify connections between problems and adoption and to plan effective treatment strategies.
Finding and selecting the right kind of help can often be difficult. Needing outside help after adoption is normal and many adoptive families seek post-adoption assistance.
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