Our compassionate professionals answer some frequently asked questions as part of our Friends in Adoption Q&A Series!
Olivia: It doesn’t matter what age you are. The only thing you’re going to have to do is pass a home study.
Patty: All of our families need to have a home study and clearances that are run: FBI clearances, child abuse clearances, and state clearances.
Olivia: So, my job is community outreach and development manager. That means that I’m on the road 3 days a week and I visit hospitals, doctors, OBGYNs and talk about the agency with them in hopes that we are going to build a professional relationship. That means that if somebody’s coming to them with any kind of pregnancy crisis or they want to hear about their options, they’re considering an alternative to parenting, they’re talking to that professional and hopefully that professional is then referring to us. Getting us connected with that pregnant individual and we’re able to talk to them, talk about adoption, talk about all of their options with them and that’s really important because I think a lot of people do find us on the internet but a lot of it is a face-to-face contact that they make. You know, that professional can say, well, I know this agency. I’ve talked to someone from this agency and so they feel like we’re a safe option for them.
Patty: Open adoption is many different things. I always think that there’s not a clear-cut definition of open adoption, there’s many different levels to it. We ask that our families are open to updates twice a year. A minimum of updates twice a year and a minimum of two visits a year because I think when pregnant individuals or birth moms call in they do have an idea of what they’re hoping for in their placement if they’re open to an open adoption and then it just kind of unfolds from there. The case manager really works with the prospective adoptive parents, as well as the pregnant individual and/or birth mom to talk about what their plan would look like. So, it really kind of starts with what the pregnant individual or birth mom is hoping for.
Mary: An open adoption can take a lot of different forms. Usually, there’s a visit or two and usually, it’s at a neutral location. It might be the park, or a picnic, or a zoo or something as people start to get comfortable and they start to trust each other, as they build the relationship. It will often have letters and pictures sometimes shared through email or Dropbox or something along those lines and in New York State, these post-adoption contact agreements are legally enforceable if done through an agency adoption and they can certainly grow with time and there’s no requirement that you can’t do more but basically, it’s legally enforceable for the minimum amount of visits and/or letters and pictures. For the most part, people do a good job of living up to what they’ve agreed to but it takes work and everybody has to be in it for the child. It’s the best interest of the child that has to be the mantra that governs all of these agreements.
Patty: We offer support and counseling services to help them formulate the best plan possible for them and their child. Counseling services, helping them make their hospital plan, talking to them about what kind of contact they may want during their match with their prospective adoptive family and what their post-adoption will look like after placement. We follow them very closely for a year after just to check in with them and make sure they’re doing okay. How are things going? Do they need any kind of update on how their child is? Again, we are a lifelong resource for them. They may not take us up on their counseling services pre-birth or post-birth but they may take us up on those services 7 or 8 years down the road. Something may trigger and they may start having difficulty at that time. So, we’re a support service for them throughout their child’s life as well.
Patty: The first step to joining the agency is to attend our Getting Acquainted Workshop which is offered 4 times a year. After you attend that you don’t have to join the agency but in order to join the agency you have to attend that workshop.
Olivia: For the adoptive family’s side, they have a case manager who’s going to work with them all through the adoption and offer them also any kind of support they’re going to need and they’re about to be new parents so they need reassurance and they need resources.
Patty: We’re a lifelong resource for adoptive families and their children. So, they can call us at any time or reach out to us at any time for any support or questions that they may have throughout their child’s life.