It is an exciting time to be adopting. There are so many options available. But, with so many choices, how do you know which one is the right one for your family?
Most prospective adoptive parents are overwhelmed with the variety of choices available to them, between open or closed adoptions, domestic or international, who to work with, and more.
The result may be the same – having a baby in your home. But, the experiences and the processes are very different. What works for another family may not work for yours. One size does not fit all.
It is important to be guided by the issues that are important to you.
- Legal risk
- Medical risk
- Openness & Future Contact
- Level of involvement
- Birth Mother Expenses
- Revocation Periods
- Interstate Travel
These are some of the important factors to consider in making your decision. You should never make decisions about money, legal risk, medical or health issues, or future communication when you are pressed for time.
If you are just getting started, now is the best time to start thinking about what is important to you. Those decisions will guide you to the best choice for your family.
We can help. In a general consultation, we discuss all your options. We listen to what is important to you. We can help you identify where you fall on the range of options for each of those important factors and recommend resources to help you develop a plan to build your family through adoption.
Common Adoption Topics
- Home Study
- Consent & Revocation
- Birth Mother Expenses
- Future Contact
- Interstate Compact
- Baby Name & New Birth Certificate
- Health Insurance
- Tax Credits
- How To Pay For An Adoption
- Who Can Help Us Adopt?
Do I need a home study?
Unless you are adopting a very close relative, everyone who wants to adopt a child must obtain a home study. A home study is sometimes called a preplacement assessment.
What is a home study?
A home study is what is sounds like. An adoption professional, usually a social worker, comes to your home to interview and everyone who lives there.
The agency conducts record searches – state criminal record checks and Federal finger print clearances, child abuse registry clearances, sex offender registry clearances. Most also require personal references.
In North Carolina a home study is valid for 18 months. If this is an interstate placement, your home study must be completed or updated within the past 12 months. When a home study has or is about to expire, it can be updated and is good for another 12 to 18 months.
What is done with the home study?
Your home study is filed with your petition for adoption. It is reviewed by the court.
In North Carolina, in an independent adoption a placing parent must be provided a copy of the adoptive parents’ home study.
The agency may redact detailed information reflecting the prospective adoptive parent’s income, financial account balances social security numbers and detailed information reflecting the prospective adoptive parent’s extended family members, including surnames, names of employers, names of schools attended, social security numbers, telephone numbers and addresses and other similarly detailed information about extended family members.
In an agency placement, the birth mother does not receive a copy of your home study. If the placement is open or semi-open, the placing parent will know your names. In closed adoptions none of your identifying information is disclosed.
In North Carolina, a birth mother may sign a consent to adoption any time after the child is born. It is good practice to wait 24 hours after to delivery to allow time for her to recover from fatigue and medication, so that she is making a knowing and voluntary decision.
A father may execute a consent either before or after the child is born.
When a parent signs a consent to adoption, the parent has the right to revoke that consent. A consent to the adoption may be revoked within 7 days. The revocation period starts on the day following the day on which the consent is signed, inclusive of weekends and holidays. If the final day of the revocation period falls on a weekend or legal holiday when North Carolina courthouses are closed for transactions, then the revocation period extends to the next business day.
In an independent adoption, if physical placement of the child occurs before the preplacement assessment is given to the parent or guardian who is placing the minor, then the revocation period is extended five business days after the date the individual receives the preplacement assessment or the remainder of the seven-day period, whichever is longer.
Adoptive parents are permitted to pay for certain expenses for the mother.
- Medical Expenses
- Legal Expenses
- Living Expenses
Living expenses include any actual, reasonable, ordinary living expense incurred during the pregnancy and the six-week period following delivery.
Any expenses paid must be itemized on a schedule attached to the Consent to Adoption and on a separate schedule signed by the adoptive parents and filed with the court.
Agreements regarding future contact are permitted. They are not legally enforceable. I recommend that any understanding be reduced to writing. If you have agreed upon arrangements for communication or contact, please notify us.
The provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) must be satisfied when an adoptive placement involves transportation of the child across state lines. Compliance with the ICPC typically requires adoptive parents to remain in the state in which the child is born for as long as two weeks following placement. Failure to satisfy the requirements of the ICPC could be cause to deny the petition for adoption. It is usually necessary to engage an experienced adoption attorney in the state where the child is born to facilitate compliance with the Compact.
The mother selects the name that appears on the original birth record. It may be the same as or different from the name selected by the adoptive parents. Once the decree of adoption is entered, the decree will reflect the name selected by the adoptive parents and a new birth certificate will be issues identifying the adoptive parents as the child’s parents and the name the adoptive parents have selected for the baby. The original birth record is sealed.
The mother should have private insurance or Medicaid. The baby may also be eligible for Medicaid.
All group insurance policies (excluding governmental and church plans) are required to cover adopted children from the time of placement just the same as any other newborn. A final Decree of Adoption is not required for health insurance coverage.
In NC the law provides that “[e]very policy of insurance …, and any health care plan operated by a health maintenance organization … that provides benefits on account of any sickness, illness, or disability of any minor child … shall provide the benefits for those occurrences beginning with the moment of the child’s birth…. Adoptive children shall be treated the same as newborn infants and eligible for coverage on the same basis upon placement in the adoptive home, regardless of whether a final decree of adoption has been entered; provided that a petition for adoption has been duly filed and is pursued to a final decree of adoption.”
Placement means “the assumption and retention … of a legal obligation for total or partial support of such child in anticipation of adoption ….” A final order is not required to be eligible for coverage.
In a direct placement, placement usually occurs when the consent to adoption is signed.
In an agency placement, adoptive parents become “responsible for the care and support” of the child upon the physical placement of the child in their care by the agency.
It is customary for adoptive parent to accept responsibility for uncovered and unreimbursed medical expenses for mother and baby, including baby expenses before placement.
You should keep track of your adoption related expenses and retain receipts. An individual income tax credit, may be available to you as a result of having incurred adoption related expenses. Keep receipts for your expenses. The IRS is requiring verification of expenses claimed as credits.
You may also be eligible for adoption related benefits offered by your employer.
What are my payment options?
Find out about your payment options for an adoption in our article “Adoption Payments“.
Are there financial assistance programs available to help with my adoption?
Absolutely! Here’s a great summary of how to fund your adoption journey: How To Fund Your Adoption
We have partnered with My Adoption Advisor to offer our clients a wide range of services:
- Free information about adoption topics
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To find out more, visit My Adoption Advisor.