ANSWERS TO YOUR COMMON QUESTIONS
Our agency is unique because there is a minimal application fee of only $350 and we encourage families to apply with multiple agencies.
We also have a low risk policy. If you have a failed placement, only 10% of your adoption fees are at risk. There are no add–ons or surprise fees at the end.
There are three types of expenses that are associated with our adoptions.
The first is the ADOPTION FEE. This is the fees that you pay to the agency. These fees cover all the birth mother expenses and the agency expenses. All of these fees are low risk. Though the full fee for all situations is $40,000, we offer a grant of up to $10,000 for families who otherwise would not be able to adopt a child. Additionally, on specific special needs situations the fee will be lowered.
The second expense is MEDICAL EXPENSES. Some of our birth mothers do not have medical insurance. The adoptive family assumes all of the medical expenses that are not otherwise covered. This includes doctor visits, emergency room visits, hospital costs, and pediatrician costs. The medical expenses can vary by state and hospital. Most families will pay between $3,000 – $10,000 for a full medical situation.
The third fee is the LEGAL FEES. Babies born in the state of Utah will not normally have legal fees other than the cost to finalize the adoption and if we need to hire an attorney for an extra legal proceeding. For babies born in other states, Heart to Heart is required to pay additional fees to facilitate the execution of legal documents. Those fees average $6,000 but could go higher when additional legal proceedings are required.
Almost all babies that have Native American heritage require additional legal work. The birth mother is required to go before a judge and state she understands the laws regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act and that she is choosing to place her child outside of the tribe. This is usually an additional cost of $4,500. The fee for a Home Study in Utah is $750.
We will discuss your adoption budget with you before you become active with our agency, and you will be able to tell us the level of fees you are comfortable with.
We will discuss all fees associated with each particular situation with you before we show your profile to any potential match situations.
Wait times vary with each situation. We don’t know in advance who will be calling to place their baby for adoption. The more restrictions a family has the more their wait time will increase. We find that couples waiting for African American babies don’t wait more than 6-9 months. Couples waiting for a Caucasian baby don’t wait more than 12-18 months. Perspective adoptive families will wait a little longer if they fall into one or more of the following categories.
- Want a specific gender
- Cannot pay for medical costs
- Are single
- Are older
- Have many biological children
- Live in a state that has laws that are difficult to work with
We have even had families get matched and have a placement within days of becoming active. The important thing to remember is that the baby that is right for your family will come in his or her own time.
The Adoptive Pre-Placement Evaluation, generally called a “Home Study”, is to help prepare you for adoption and ensure that you meet agency and state requirements.
If you already have a current home study, we will assure that it is in compliance with Heart to Heart standards.
The Home Study consists of one or more interviews as well as written information provided by you and others. You may ask your social worker questions at any time during the Home Study process. The written material includes medical background, information about your marriage and family, parenting styles, and finances. Reference letters will also be requested from 3 references, including 1 related and 2 non-related references.
We accept completed adoptive home studies from other sources that adhere to similar professional adoption standards as Heart To Heart Adoptions. In addition, if we complete an adoptive home study for you, we are happy to forward it on to other adoption agencies with which you may be working.
Yes, we do place with single parents. However, most of our birth families are looking for a two parent family. This creates a much longer wait time for single parents hoping to adopt.
Open adoption usually involves contact between adoptive and birth parents over the phone or in person before the adoption and after the adoption. It may include a third party to keep personal information private or you may choose to share information with each other and make your own arrangements.
In a closed adoption, the birth family and adoptive family do not have any direct contact. There is a myth that closed adoptions are safer. In actuality closed adoptions are based on fear and control.
Most adoptions fall somewhere in between open and closed. This is called a semi-open adoption. In this situation, neither the adoptive family or the birth parent has the other’s direct contact information. In these situations, Heart to Heart acts as a facilitator, by receiving information from one party, and forwarding it on to the other. Common ways to stay in touch include pictures, letters, e-mails, blogs, or conference calls with a third party.
As with all relationships, they evolve and change. Some adoptions that start off one way may turn out totally differently. The child that you love will have questions, characteristics, and a history that they will want to know about. The more open the relationship is, the better for all parties.
Although we will do all we can to place a child with your family, we cannot guarantee placement. Many factors influence the selection process including the number of approved applicants, the number of children available for adoption, the birth parents, and your preferences.
However, we will present your profile as often as we can to birth parents that match your criteria. Obviously the broader your criteria the more often you will be presented.
We will ask permission and let you know each time we present your profile. Once your profile is selected by a birth mother, we generally arrange for a conference call between you and the birth parents. If you both are pleased with each other, we consider you matched.
When you are matched you begin to share the financial responsibility for the birth mother with the agency. At that time, you will work with our financial department to fully understand all financial obligations associated with that situation. We generally charge half the overall fee at match, and the other half at the time of placement.
We primarily advertise our adoption services to potential birth mothers on the internet. We also have great deal of expectant mothers that are referred to us from previous clients.
We work with a very large variety of women. They range in age from 14 to 44 years old. We work with women of all different races and backgrounds. Each woman has a unique personality. One thing they have in common is the love they have for their child and courage to try to give their baby the best future possible.
The average age of our expectant mothers is about 26-28 years old. Many of them have other children that they parent. Some have had their children removed from their home. A good portion of the expectant mothers are coming to us in a crisis. Many are homeless, abused, have unsupportive families, are using drugs, or have some mental health problems.
Many perspective adoptive families want to know what the mother is going to do and when. We don’t know because our expectant mothers don’t know. Most have never done this before. They don’t know how they will feel or how they will react to those feelings. It is key for everyone to remember that we need to be flexible and accept things as they happen.
The hospital time is a time of great stress for the birth mother and she needs great flexibility. We talk with each birth mother beforehand about her desires for the hospital. This includes:
- Who does she want in the room during labor?
- Who does she want in the room during delivery?
- Does she want to hold the baby right after birth?
- Who will get the second hospital band? (The band that allows admittance into the nursery. The birth mother will get the first.)
- How much time does she want to spend with the baby in the hospital?
- How much does she want to visit with the adoptive family in the hospital?
We will tell you the birth mother's wishes before you go to the hospital. However, it is very important to remember that the birth mother's wishes will probably change once she enters the hospital. It is important to be flexible. Remember, most birth mothers have never done this before. It is impossible for your birth mother to predict how she will feel or react to any given situation. Your case manager will be in contact with you and guide you throughout this process.
It is good to hear from the staff member that has been working with your birth mother to find out what topics might be good or bad to discuss.
It is good to start with questions about their pregnancy and how they are feeling. Asking about their interests, their future plans, and friends and family are generally safe topics.
It is important for the birth mother to know that you care about her, not just the baby.
Topics such as other children or the birth father may be tougher topics. It is good to share your interests with her as well. Try to find common ground.
Prior to placement only very small tokens of appreciation or greeting should be given. After placement a more sentimental gift and card can be given. It is never appropriate to give a large or expensive gift that may appear as coercion.
This is an exciting time and can take place after a successful supervisory period. The supervisory period is generally 6 months in Utah and most other states. Some states vary. After finalization, the adoption agency will no longer be the legal guardian of your child.
You are responsible for any legal fees associated with finalization. You are free to select independent counsel for all necessary adoption proceedings. We encourage you to find the attorney or agency that will handle your finalization within 30 days of your placement. In some areas we can make recommendations.
Adoption is a lifelong process. After finalization, you are done with the legal aspects of adoption. You will still need to maintain your relationship with the birth family and address the many issues that come up as your child grows and develops.
It is our philosophy that the adoption should never be kept from the child. We encourage families to talk about the adoption and the child's birth family from infancy on. As the child gets older it will be a topic that is natural to discuss.
Each child and each family are different. We encourage you to be open and honest but speak at a level the child understands. There are adoptive family social media groups where families share their experiences. There are several books available on that topic. If you have any specific concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us.
A good portion of the families that come to us to adopt have some type of fertility issue. Couples who have tried to have a biological child unsuccessfully, or know they will be unable to have children, go through a major loss in their lives. As with all loss it should be addressed. Infertility is a loss that is often not discussed or recognized which can make it that much harder.
Adoption is a great option for those who cannot have children biologically. However, it should not be pursued until the loss of biological children has been addressed. Adoption is available to build a family not to replace a desired child. Adoption is also an emotional and stressful process. We encourage families not to continue fertility treatment or pregnancy while pursuing adoption.
As you move from infertility to adoption you will probably experience some or all of the stages of grief and loss. They are listed here. As a couple you should address each of these and see where you feel you are in the process.
- Stage 1 – Denial
- Stage 2 – Anger
- Stage 3 – Bargaining
- Stage 4 – Sadness
- Stage 5 – Acceptance
It is important to have both partners discuss this openly with each other. It is also important to realize that each person moves through grief and loss at different stages. Both parents must be ready to move forward. No one should ever adopt because it will make their spouse happy. If you are unsure about your feelings you can join an infertility group, talk to other couples, talk to a counselor, or read books on the topic.