Adoption Process for Adoptive Parents
All people wanting to adopt an unrelated child must have a Pre-Placement Study (also called homestudy). Sometimes relatives and stepparents must also have a Pre-Placement Study to adopt a child. It is best to check with a licensed adoption agency, licensed adoption provider or an attorney to see if a Pre-Placement Study is needed.
Only agencies and individuals appropriately educated and licensed to provide adoption services may do Pre-Placement Studies, matching for adoption, birthparent counseling and post placement supervision of an adoption.
A normal agency adoption by a NM family of a child born in New Mexico through Adoption Assistance Agency, is about $20,500, which includes the application fee, the Pre-Placement Study, the Listing Fee, the Birthmother Expense Fee and the Placement Fee. It does not include legal fees.
A Pre-Placement Study takes about 3-4 months to complete. The family has some control over part of the time frame for the homestudy.
If approved through the Pre-Placement Study process, the adoptive family will prepare a photo album to be used to introduce them to prospective birthparents. They will be able to view other albums and will determine what pictures and information to share in the album.
Birthparents typically select the adoptive family they want for their child. When the adoptive families undergo the homestudy, they are asked what ethnicities they wish to accept and what level of openness with the birthparents they desire. The birthparents (most often the birthmother) are shown the albums of approved adoptive families that match what she is looking for in a family and for whom she is a good match.
Since birthparents select the adoptive parents, AAA does not have control over the waiting time to be matched. It could be weeks up to about 2 years. It is best for families to emotionally prepare themselves for a wait of at least 14-15 months, since many families wait this length of time and it is better to plan for longer than to think it will happen right away.
We do limit our approved and waiting adoptive family pool to about 20 families. This is the only way we can help assure that no family will wait a really long time.
Adoptive parents are notified when they are chosen and are given all of the information that has been obtained on the birthmother and the prospective adoptee. However, it is not possible to have complete medical and historical information on the birthparents at that time. The provision of medical and historical information on the birthparent/s and the child is ongoing as information is obtained. AAA is committed to providing all of the obtainable medical and social background information on the birthparent/s and adoptee to the adoptive family.
Open adoption refers to some level of ongoing contact between the birthparent and the adoptive family. It can be as minimal as meeting one time before the birth to meeting on a regular basis. It is NOT co-parenting and should never compromise the ability of the adoptive parents to parent their child. It can refer to only letters and pictures provided to the birthparent/s from the adoptive parents or could involve letters and pictures going both directions. The level of openness and the specific arrangements are determined through a negotiation process through the caseworker.
Adoptive parents initially may fear open adoption contact because they erroneously think that it may:
- Make the birthparent want the child back;
- Make the adoption unstable;
- May confuse the child or stir a desire in the child for their biological parent/s.
In adoptions through private agencies, the birthparent/s seek out the agency for help in making an adoption plan. They are not recruited, bribed, coerced or pressured to do an adoption. THEY choose adoption only if they believe it is the best plan for their child. They are strongly motivated to see the adoption succeed.
Secondly, open adoption contact tends to reinforce that they have chosen well for their child and they tend to feel affirmed and comforted in their choice. Birthparents are often more able to move ahead in their lives when there is open adoption contact.
Children should be told about their adoption from the time they are infants. Appropriate information about birthparents should be shared in an age-appropriate manner. Children know who is feeding them, tucking them in at night, kissing their boo boos. They know who their parents are, even if they have questions and curiosity about their birthparents.
A birthparent may not sign a relinquishment of parental rights and consent to adoption until a minimum of 48 hrs. after the birth of the child. There is no upper time limit, otherwise an older child could not be placed for adoption. Most adoptive families elect to take the new baby home from the hospital. There is some risk to this because the birthmother cannot have been to court yet to relinquish her rights. However, 99% of infant adoptions are done this way. There is a post placement period after the baby has gone home with the adoptive family which may last 4-6 months or so until the adoption finalizes.
At the time of the baby’s birth, an original birth certificate is created which bears the name of the birthmother and may or may not have the name of the birthfather. It will also bear the name, if any, selected by the birthmother. At the time the adoption finalizes, a new birth certificate is created which bears the name of the adoptive mother and adoptive father and the name for the child which they have selected. The old birth certificate is “sealed” and the new birth certificate is the one for the child from that time forward.
If a family is interested in adopting an older child or older children- we place primarily infants because it is primarily new infants who are voluntarily released for adoption. Most older children who become available for adoption are children who have been removed from their homes for abuse or neglect by state authorities. There are typically a number of attempts to reunite the birthfamily prior to the child’s final removal from the home and termination of parental rights. Adoptive families for these children must be aware that they can be very wounded children and usually require parents with knowledge and skill in handling the issues the child brings into the home such as physical or sexual abuse or acting out or other complex issues.
Our average placements are about 16 per year. We have been in business since April 1997. We have placed over 200 children in that time.
Birthmothers who come to us to plan an adoption are most commonly between 18 and 42 and have one or more children already. We do get some birthmothers who are pregnant for the first time. It is rare to have a birthmother under 18 who does an adoption.
Birthmothers come to us at all stages of pregnancy and even following the birth. However, the most common time to come in is during the 2nd trimester.
Birthmothers of all ethnicities choose adoption but there are cultural biases against adoption in the Hispanic, African American and Native American cultures.
Adoptions of children who have significant amounts of Native American heritage are governed by the tribe with whom the child could be enrolled.
We have provided services for international adoptions in the past, but the Hague Treaty, which now regulates international adoptions, has added many new requirements. It would require us to bring our agency under the auspices of another accredited international agency, which we are reluctant to do at the present time.