Author Archives: Eric Gonzalez

Why use an Adoption Agency?

Are you thinking about adoption? If so, you may be thinking about how to plan your adoption. One big part of that plan is whether you should use an adoption agency. The short answer is yes. But let’s dig deeper into that answer.

 

Why Choose an Adoption Agency

There are many reasons why you should use an adoption agency when planning an adoption. The first is that adoption is complicated. There are legal hurdles associated with adoption that may be hard to navigate on your own. For example, if you are planning an interstate adoption, you need to comply with the requirements of the Interstate Child Placement Compact. Even if you are planning an intrastate adoption, you would still need to complete legal paperwork. You would most likely need to hire legal counsel to deal with this and other issues absent a qualified adoption agency.

 Financial Support

There are also financial costs associated with both pregnancy and adoption. An adoption agency can help offset the cost of pregnancy and child birth by helping you apply for benefits for which you are eligible. Navigating the application process for these benefits is often cumbersome, so much so that benefits navigators exist to guide people through the health benefits application process. This makes working with a licensed professional so important. Alternatively, an adoption agency can help arrange for the adoptive parent to pay for some or all of the expenses associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

 Adoptive Family

An adoption agency can also help you find a perfect match for your child. Adoption agencies have multitudes of families waiting for a child. These families are vetted and screened to ensure that they are capable of providing a safe and secure upbringing for your child. For example, at Adoption Choices of Missouri, birth mothers have access to biographies and pictures of prospective adoptive families. The prospective families are also required to undergo a background check if they seek to use Adoption Choices when planning their adoption. This can help you find the perfect forever home for your child.

 Professional Support

Finally, going through an adoption agency allows you to get impartial professional advice at all stages of the adoption process. As previously stated, adoption can be a complicated process. There are many times you may feel unsure about some aspect of the adoption process. You may feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, or even scared. Adoption agencies can counter these feelings by providing crucial counseling and education services at all stages of the adoption process. Having a professional, legal, or emotional shoulder to lean on can make the difference when planning a successful adoption.

Independent Adoption

Knowing of all the benefits of going through an adoption agency, one may ask if there are even any alternatives. The answer is yes, they are called independent adoptions, i.e. an adoption without an agency, but an independent adoption may be difficult. First, some states heavily restrict adoptions without an agency. For example, some states restrict an adoptive parent’s ability to independently advertise for a birth mother. Some limit the amount of money that an adoptive parent can give a birth parent for prenatal and birth expenses. Four states disallow independent adoptions all together.

Second, independent adoptions aren’t entirely independent. You still need to seek legal counsel to perform the legal paperwork and other legal tasks associated with an adoption. However, this attorney will not provide all the services that you can get with an adoption agency. For example, an attorney does not help match birth parents to adoptive parents, meaning that they have to find each other on their own. This raises security questions. Yes, security questions. Unfortunately, adoption fraud is a thing, which is why it is so important to have an adoption agency vet adoptive and birth parents.

Finally, while independent adoptions don’t involve agency fees, they are not free. You will most likely hire an adoption attorney, who you will have to pay. Someone also has to pay for the birth mother’s prenatal and birth related expenses, whether it is the birth mother, the adoptive parents, or someone else. These expenses can amount to thousands of dollars.

 

So there you have it. An adoption agency, while it does cost money*, provides so many benefits that you simply don’t have with an independent adoption. That is why you should strongly consider using an adoption agency to plan your adoption. Learn more at Adoption Choices of Missouri.

 

*adoption only cost money for adoptive families, adoption is always free for the birth parents

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

Everyone is talking about the constitution lately. Specifically, a provision of the constitution that begins with the letter I. But I don’t want to talk about impeachment. There is actually another provision of the constitution with huge ramifications for the adoption process. It is the interstate compact provision of the constitution.

The interstate compact provision of the constitution states that states may form certain agreements with each other, provided that they have consent of Congress to do so. The Supreme Court has interpreted this provision to require congressional approval if the compact would expand the power of the states at the expense of the federal government.

States have formed compacts for a variety of reasons. One example is compacts to handle environmental issues and natural resources that cross state boundary lines. In the context of adoptions, states have used the interstate compact provision of the constitution to form the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (“ICPC”).

What is ICPC

So what is the ICPC? The ICPC is a law that governs the enforce-ability of out of state adoptions, meaning adoptions where a child from one state is placed for adoption in a different state. It sets the requirements that must be met before a child can be placed for adoption in a different state. This ensures that prospective placements are safe and suitable before approval. The ICPC also states that the individual or institution placing the child remains legally and financially responsible for the child following placement until the child is formally adopted by the adoptive parents in the receiving state.

How does the ICPC work?

The process starts when the adoption agency handling the adoption in the sending state requests a home study and completes paperwork required by the ICPC. The paperwork is sent to the sending state’s central ICPC office, which sends it to the receiving state for review. The paperwork is reviewed by the receiving state’s central ICPC office and forwarded to the prospective parent’s adoption agency, meaning the adoption agency handling the adoption in the receiving state. The adoption agency then conducts the home study to see whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. The agency will approve or deny the adoption based on this study. The adoption agency then sends the results of the home study to the receiving states central ICPC office for formal approval. If it provides this formal approval, then the adoption can be finalized.

What is the Reason for ICPC?

All of this may seem tedious. Why have all this red tape when you are ready to adopt a child? The reason for the ICPC is simple. A state’s authority normally ends at its boundary lines. The ICPC creates a uniform nationwide set of laws and procedures to ensure that children enjoy the same protections and benefits regardless of the state to which they are moving. It also removes any question of responsibility for the child by stating that the individual or entity placing the child remains legally and financially responsible for the child following placement and until the adoption is formalized.

This is important because different states have different laws regarding adoption. For example, a child born in Missouri could be adopted by a family in California. The ICPC allows Missouri to step in and enforce its laws to protect the child if something went wrong with the adoption after the child moved to California. It also gives a set of uniform protections to the child regardless of whether he or she moves to California, moves back to Missouri, or moves to a different state. Before the ICPC, this wasn’t possible.

Adoption Choices of Missouri knows that the ICPC may be hard for some individuals to navigate. That is why we are here to help. Let Adoption Choices of Missouri handle the specifics of the ICPC so you can focus on building a forever home for your new child! We are delighted to hear from you, call us toll free: 1-877-903-4488

 

 

 

Choosing an Adoptive Family

Are you an expectant mother seeking to place your child for adoption? Let Adoption Choices of Missouri help. There are a lot of choices to make when placing a child for adoption. The first is whether to have an open, semi-open, or closed adoption.
After you decide the type of adoption to have, you will want to choose an adoptive family. Choosing the right family is very important, as it has numerous ramifications for your child’s upbringing. You might be asking yourself what are some criteria to consider when choosing an adoptive family. There are many things to consider, although nothing fully replaces your gut instinct of a good match. Here are a few things to consider:

A good starting point when considering an adoptive family is the life your child will have as he or she grows up. Do you want your child to have siblings, or would you prefer that he or she is an only child? Do you think your child needs a mom and dad, or do you prefer a same sex couple? What about a single parent? Do you want the adoptive parents to be young, or do you prefer older parents? Do you want your child to have pets? These are just some of the things to consider when choosing an adoptive family. The answers to these questions will help you choose the right adoptive family for your child.

Another thing to consider is where your child will grow up. Do you want your child to grow up in an urban or rural community? Do you want your child to live close to you? Do you want your child to have a close extended family? Do you want your child to grow up where you grew up? Where your child grows up is important, especially in open adoptions where the adoptive parents agree to let you visit your child from time to time.

Kansas – Text or Call (316) 209-2071 | Missouri – Text or Call (816) 527-9800

You might want to consider the race or ethnicity of your adoptive parents. Do you want adoptive parents who are the same ethnicity as your child? Are you open to a family with a different ethnicity? Many prospective adoptive parents are open to different ethnicities. In fact, mixed heritage families are becoming more common across the United States. Maybe its right for you.

Religion may also be a part of your life. It may even influence your choice of an adoptive family. For example, do you want your child to grow up in a household that shares your faith? Or do you prefer a household that does not emphasize religion. Knowing if and whether religion will be a part of your child’s life is always something to consider.

You also want to consider parenting styles. Some parents are strict, while some are lenient. Parents also have different methods of disciplining children. You may want to ask your prospective adoptive parents about their parenting styles before choosing an adoptive family.

You may consider whether the adoptive parents will pay for some or all of your medical expenses associated with your pregnancy and giving birth. Depending on the laws of your state, your adoptive parents may help you with medical and living expenses. You may also be eligible for state and federal aid. Adoption Choices can help you get the financial assistance you need.

Kansas – Text or Call (316) 209-2071 | Missouri – Text or Call (816) 527-9800

Most importantly, you want to be sure your child will be raised in a stable and loving home. You want to make sure that your prospective adoptive family has a strong relationship and is able to provide a stable upbringing for your child. This can involve two parents, one parent, a same sex couple, mixed heritage couples, or nonreligious parents, as long as the child has a good upbringing. Having a good upbringing is very important as many parents place their child for adoption because they do not feel they can provide a stable upbringing for their child.

Finally, think about the importance you place on these and other criteria. Are some of things non-negotiable, or are you flexible? Whether or not you are willing to negotiate will make a difference when choosing an adoptive family.

Of course, none of these criteria replace your gut instinct. Sometimes birth parents choose adoptive parents because of something huge, such as the relationship between the prospective adoptive parents and how it relates to the upbringing they will be able to provide for their child. Sometimes the smallest things will lead to the choice of an adoptive parent. For example, a birth parent may choose an adoptive family based on their careers. At the end of the day, the choice is yours. And sometimes it just feels right, whether or not you can quantify your reasons.

Want to learn more about choosing an adoptive family for your child? Contact Adoption Choices of Missouri today.

Kansas – Text or Call (316) 209-2071 | Missouri – Text or Call (816) 527-9800

Employee Adoption Assistance

Thinking about adoption? There are a lot of things to think about, including finances. Can you afford adoption? Where can you get help with your finances? These are just some of the questions that come to mind. A good answer to these questions is yes and through your employer, respectively. That’s right. Your employer. Many employers are offering adoption assistance benefits to their employees. In fact, some sources estimate that over 50 percent of employers offer some type of adoption assistance benefits. Here is a quick rundown on what employee adoption assistance benefits are, what they cover, and why employers provide adoption benefits.

There are three main types of employee adoption assistance benefits. They are financial support, information resources, and parental leave policies.

Let’s start with financial support. Financial support is an amount of money that an employer provides an employee to cover specific adoption expenses. This can include things like the legal expenses or agency fees that accompany an adoption. It can also include things like travel expenses, medical costs or pregnancy costs for a birth mother.

Some employers pay these expenses up front as they accrue or provide lump sum payments. Others provide reimbursement for these expenses after the adoption is finalized. For example, if Gabby sought to adopt a child, her employer could provide a $10,000 lump sum to cover her legal fees associated with the adoption. Alternatively, it could reimburse her for a certain percentage of her adoption related expenses after the adoption is finalized.

Financial assistance for employees seeking adoption is important because an adoption can cost up to $40,000. This is why some employers provide anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 to employees seeking to adopt a child. It is also why many employers reimburse employees for a certain percentage, usually 80 percent, of certain adoption expenses. If you are interested in adoption, make sure to check with your employer to see what financial assistance you may be eligible for and how it is paid out.

The next type of employer provided adoption benefit is informational resources. Informational resources include things such as referrals to licensed adoption agencies, counselors, and support groups. It can also include things like access to an adoption specialist who can answer questions about the adoption process or who can navigate a prospective adoptive parent through the specifics of special circumstances such as adopting a special needs child. For example, if Isaac is seeking to adopt a child, his employer could refer her to Adoption Choices for more information on the adoption process.

Finally, adoption assistance benefits can take the form of parental leave policies. Parental leave includes leave policies that extend beyond federal and state guidelines. Federal law requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide 12 weeks unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. State laws also have varied leave requirements upon the birth or adoption of a child.

Some employers help employees seeking to adopt by providing them with more unpaid leave than required by law. Some employers provide paid leave to their employees. Others allow employees to combine unpaid leave with other paid leave like vacation or sick days. For example, if Jessica is seeking to adopt a child, her employer could provide her with 8 weeks of paid leave that is separate from her vacation time to help her bond with her adopted child.

Why provide adoption assistance to employees? Employers state that providing these benefits helps them retain and recruit employees. It also helps the employees they retain remain productive. They also say that providing these benefits is the right thing to do. This makes sense. Taking away some of the financial and other stresses associated with adoption allows employees to focus on what is important, namely bonding with their adoptive child. Employees that are able to develop nurturing bonds with their adopted children can return to work in their best mental state, which ensures their productivity. And providing employee adoption assistance is definitely the right thing to do.

Want to learn more. Contact Adoption Choices of Missouri for more information on employee adoption assistance and for other information on the adoption process.

 

Lion Movie Review

Adoption can be complicated. Books and movies rarely explain all of the issues surrounding the adoption process in a friendly and realistic manner. Sometimes, however, a movie comes along that  understands the complexity surrounding adoption. Lion is one of those movies.

Lion tells the story of Saroo. Saroo starts out as a 5 year old child growing up in India with his birth mother, brother, and younger sister. Moviegoers receive a detailed look into Saroo’s relationship with his older brother, Guddu, whom Saroo idolizes. Together, Saroo and Guddu steal coal from trains to get milk for their family. One day, Saroo convinces Guddu to take him to a train station to help him pick up money and other items from empty trains at the station. This is when the movie takes a dark turn. Saroo falls asleep on the train platform and wakes up to discover Guddu is missing. In a panic, Saroo boards an empty train, only for it to leave the station. Suddenly, Saroo is in Kolkatta, over 1,000 miles from his hometown.

Alone on the streets of Kolkatta, Saroo tries to survive and find his birth family, despite not knowing the local language. He sleeps in tunnels, evades thugs and predators, winds up in an adoption agency, and eventually gets adopted by John and Sue, a Tasmanian couple. Saroo quickly bonds with his adoptive parents. The movie also introduces Saroo’s adoptive brother Mantosh, whose character provides a nice foil to Saroo’s experiences with adoption. Mantosh, unlike, Saroo, seems deeply traumatized by the circumstances surrounding his adoption, which results in frenetic outbursts. The movie then flashes forward 25 years to reveal a fully grown Saroo.

Adult Saroo leads a seemingly normal life. He has a girlfriend, job, and circle of close friends. All of this changes when a chance encounter reveals a memory from Saroo’s distant past. This leads Saroo to decide to find his birth family using Google Earth as he struggles to grasp the meaning of adoption and family.

Lion features good character development. One can really empathize with young Saroo as he attempts to find his birth family and then as he builds a relationship with his adoptive family. You also understand the anxiety adult Saroo feels as he struggles to cope with what it means to be adopted. Lion also gives a glimpse into the mindset of Saroo’s adoptive parents towards the end of the movie. Sue discusses the reasons that her and John adopted Saroo in a very climactic moment. This highlights the different reasons adoptive parents have for adopting children.

The cast also does a great job playing their roles convincingly, especially Sunny Pawar, who plays young Saroo. I can still hear his anguished cries for his birth mother and brother two days after watching Lion. Dev Patel, who plays adult Saroo, also does a great job showing the angst that many adopted people feel as they struggle to define their identity. Nicole Kidman, who plays Sue, also does a great job explaining why she adopted Saroo and Mantosh instead of having biological children.

Lion also features gorgeous cinematography. From the slums of Kolkatta to the Tasmanian coast, the scenes have vivid detail. One can really grasp the poverty that Saroo was born into and compare it to the privileged life he ends up leading in Tasmania. Adult Saroo’s apartment is also disheveled in an appropriate way when compared to Saroo’s mental state as he struggles to find his birth family. Even the shots of Google Earth are set up in a way that make them compelling.

Most importantly, Lion portrays a glimpse into a chilling reality. Over 80,000 children go missing in India every year. Not all of them end up with loving adoptive parents. Some end up on the streets or worse. Watching Lion, especially the first half of the movie, brings this critical issue to light.

Does Lion get everything right? No. There are a couple instances of negative adoption language, albeit when Saroo is in a heightened emotional state. Saroo’s girlfriend also doesn’t add much to the movie other than to establish that Saroo is growing distant from people he cares about as he struggles to find his birth family. Despite these shortcomings, Lion is a good movie that gets a lot of things right. I recommend watching Lion.

Adoption Types – What’s the difference?

Open Adoption, Semi-Open Adoption, Closed Adoption

Thinking about adoption? Adoption Choices of Missouri is here to help. You may think adoption is adoption, but that isn’t the case. Adoption can take many forms. The three main types of adoption are open adoptions, semi-open adoptions, and closed adoptions. All three are very different in terms of the birth parents’ relationship with the adoptive parents and adoptees so it is important to know which one is right for you. Here is a rundown on the difference between open adoptions, semi-open adoptions, and closed adoptions.

Open Adoption

Open adoptions are adoptions where birth parents and adoptive parents share all of their identifying information, meaning that the birth parents and adoptive parents share their first and last names, medical history, and personal contact information. Open adoptions also allow birth parents and adoptive parents to maintain direct contact with each other. This is great for a birth mother who cannot provide for her child but still wants a relationship with him or her. However, open adoptions aren’t the equivalent of co-parenting. The adoptive parents still have legal parenting rights.

Open adoptions can take many forms. It all depends on the boundaries that the birth parents and adoptive parents agree to at the time of the adoption. For example, Amy, the birth mother, and Brenda, the adoptive mother, could agree to the adoption with the agreement that Brenda will allow the adoptee to visit Amy twice a year. Brenda could also agree to send photos and letters about the adoptee directly to Amy on an occasional basis. Amy could also agree to send Brenda updated medical history as she ages. Amy and Brenda could also change the terms of their adoption agreement as time and circumstances change.

If you are unsure about the type of adoption to choose, Adoption Choices recommends open adoptions. Open adoptions allow the adoptee to ask both their adoptive parents and birth parents about their adoption. This allows adoptees to easily find out why they were placed for adoption and learn more about their birth parents. Open adoptions also make it easy for the adoptee to develop a loving relationship with both their adoptive and birth parents. Open adoptions make it easy for adoptive parents to obtain medical information that may be relevant to their child’s physical or mental health.

Semi-Open Adoption

Semi-open adoptions are adoptions where the birth parents and adoptive parents share non-identifying information with each other. This means they share information like first names and where they live, but don’t share last names or other identifying information. The birth parents and adoptive parents also do not maintain direct contact with each other. Instead, they maintain indirect contact using the adoption agency as an intermediary. Semi-open adoptions offer a combination of openness and privacy.

Semi-open adoptions are great for a birth mother who wants some contact with her child, but doesn’t necessarily want to maintain contact with the adoptive family. In a semi-open adoption, Charlotte, the birth parent, could agree to the adoption if Devin and Daniel, the adoptive parents, agreed to send letters and photographs of their child to their adoption agency, which would in turn send the letters and photographs to Charlotte after removing any identifying information from them. Devin and Daniel could also use the adoption agency to get in contact with Charlotte if their child wants to learn about Charlotte. Charlotte, Devin, and Daniel could also change their agreement to make it more open or more private as time and circumstances change.

Closed Adoption

Closed adoptions are adoptions where birth parents and adoptive parents do not share any information with each other. This means that there is no communication or contact between birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee as the adoptee grows up. The adoptee can only open his or her adoption records to find out about his or her birth parents after he or she turns 18. Adoptive parents also do not obtain updated medical information from birth parents. They only obtain some non-identifying medical information from the birth mother at the time of the adoption. However, birth parents are still in control of their adoption plan, including choosing the adoptive parents.

Closed adoptions are increasingly rare, but they are appropriate for birth parents who want to move on with their life after placing their child for adoption or adoptive parents who do not want to maintain contact with the biological parents. For example, if Elizabeth, the birth mother, had an unexpected pregnancy that she wanted to keep private, she could place her child for a closed adoption with Francis, the adoptive father. Alternatively, Francis could prefer a closed adoption if he lives in Australia, and does not want to deal with the logistics of having his child maintain contact with Elizabeth, who lives in Canada. Francis could also prefer a closed adoption if Elizabeth has a criminal history and Francis does not want the adoptee to be exposed to it.

Your Adoption, Your Choice

At the end of the day, it is your choice whether to choose an open adoption, a semi-open adoption, or a closed adoption. Neither choice is wrong, but it is best to make an informed choice because it has huge ramifications for all members of the adoption triad. For more information, visit Adoption Choices of Missouri or call us at 1-877-903-4488

 

 

 

Positive Adoption Language

baby's fac

Words are important.  They are so important that infants as young as 6 months old can understand some words, despite being unable to speak.  Words also convey both facts and feelings. That is why words have a denotation, or literal meaning, and a connotation, or implication. For example, the phrase “bad apple” literally means a rotten apple, but the implication is that the target of that phrase is a bad person. In the context of adoption, different words can lead to a different perception of the adoption process. They can even influence the decision to place a child for adoption. That is why it is so important to use positive adoption language when describing the adoption process.  Here are three quick examples.

1 – The adoption process starts with the decision to place a child for adoption. Placing a child for adoption is a huge decision, but it isn’t a bad one. That is why it is important to use the term “place for adoption” instead of terms like “giving up for adoption.”  Giving up for adoption conveys the notion that adoption is bad, or at the very least worse than raising a biological child, or that the birth mother is giving up on a child by placing it for adoption. The truth is that placing a child for adoption is no worse than raising a biological child. Sometimes placing a child for adoption is the best choice for a child, especially in situations where the birth mother is unable to provide a safe or healthy environment for her child.

The phrase “giving up for adoption” is also harmful to the child, because it implies that the child was unwanted. This isn’t true. Birth parents place their children for adoption for a variety of reasons, and the decision to place a child for adoption requires a lot of courage and responsibility.

2 – After an adoption is finalized, a child has both birth parents and adoptive parents. Neither are a more or less important part of a child’s life. That is why it is important to use the term “birth parent” instead of terms like “real parent”. Birth parent has a neutral connotation that doesn’t denigrate the fact that an adoptive parent has an equally important role in an adoptee’s life. The term “real parent” implies that an adoptive parent is somehow a less important or unreal part of a child’s life. This simply isn’t true. Parents are the people who raise you and make you the person who you are, not simply those with whom you share a genetic link. Both birth parents and adoptive parents play a crucial role in a child’s upbringing, particularly in open adoptions.  They are both a “real” part of that child’s life.

3 – Finally, an adoptive child was adopted, but that doesn’t mean he or she is simply an adopted child. Adopted children are children. The fact that a child was adopted is simply another part of his or her life story, it isn’t the beginning and ending of the story. That is why it is important to acknowledge that a child was adopted when appropriate without referring to him or her as the adopted child. Labeling a child as the adopted child belittles their status as a human being by defining them only by their status as adopted, not by their character traits, hobbies, or interests. This can be detrimental to a child’s self-esteem and can cause them long-term psychological harm. Instead, acknowledge that a child was adopted when appropriate, but simply refer to them as a child in any other circumstance.

It is important to always keep positive adoption language in mind. Simply put, there is a huge difference between positive adoption language and negative adoption language. One conveys the truth about adoption, namely that it is a process where adoptive parents and adoptees form a loving family relationship. The other gives the false impression that an adoptive parent or adoptee is somehow worse than a birth parent or biological child. That being said, the above examples are neither the beginning nor the end of positive adoption language. For more examples of positive adoption language and to find out more about the adoption process, contact Adoption Choices of Missouri or visit us at www.adoptionchoicesofkansasmissouri.com

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