Expectant Parents FAQ
Below, you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions expectant parents have regarding adoption. If you still have questions that were not answered or would like to get more information, please Contact Us.
A: There is no cost to a birth parent(s) who chooses adoption. All costs associated with adoption are covered by the adoptive family, including prenatal and delivery medical expenses. Counseling, agency, and attorney fees are all covered by the adoptive family as part of their total adoption cost. Adoptive families are informed of this when they begin pursuing adoption.
A: Birth parents do not get paid for choosing to make an adoption plan, in fact, it is illegal to offer compensation to a birth parent for choosing adoption. Ohio law, however, does grant birth mothers up to $3,000 in assistance for living expenses. Such expenses may include money for groceries, gas, clothing, rent, utilities, and car payments. Living expenses must be distributed by the adoption agency or the attorney arranging the adoption. Paid for by the adoptive family, these expenses are to be used for everyday living expenses that affect the birth parent(s) during the pregnancy.
A: Yes, adoption plans can be created confidentially and privately. Birth parents are able to choose who they inform and who they do not. Their wishes to keep information confidential are honored by the professionals working to support them.
A: Ultimately, birth parent(s) make the final decision as to who they wish to inform (and who they do not). Our professionals will follow their lead and only discuss the adoption plan with those the birth parent approves of.
A: Although Caring for Kids encourages minor expectant parents to inform and involve their parents, those under the age of 18 do not need permission from their parents to create an adoption plan. In private adoption situations, only the birth parent(s) has the right to choose the adoptive family for their baby. Birth grandparents do not have parenting rights unless the birth parent(s) selects them as the adoptive parents or guardians. Regardless of age, in the state of Ohio, expectant parents are considered adults and are thus legally capable of making decisions concerning their child. Caring for Kids requires that birthparents under the age of 18 consult with an attorney before the relinquishment of their parental rights.
A: Our job at Caring for Kids is to provide expectant parents with education. We use an options counseling approach so that those facing an unplanned pregnancy can become aware of all their available options. Birth parents are never pressured or obligated to choose adoption. Our professionals support expectant parents in whatever decision they choose, whether it be adoption, parenting, or another alternative. Our counselor’s goal is not to convince expectant parents to make an adoption plan, but to educate about their options so they can feel confident making an informed decision for their unborn child. We are proud that one of our Birth Parent Counselors is a birthmother herself who has first-handedly experienced making an adoption plan; her valuable perspective enhances our ability to serve expectant parents.
A: After the baby is born, legally the birth parent(s) must wait at least 72 hours to sign the Permanent Surrender of Child. This time frame allows for a birth mother’s body to begin to heal and her mind to clear before making her final decision to choose adoption. These 72 hours also allow the birth parent(s) to spend time with their child. The Permanent Surrender of Child does not have to be signed at the 72 hour mark; if a birth parent(s) needs more time, arrangements can be made. A birth parent can change their mind at any point while creating an adoption plan, before or after birth, as long as the Permanent Surrender has not been signed. The Permanent Surrender of Child, once signed, is irrevocable and cannot be changed. This means that after the signing of the permanent surrender, legally, the birth parent(s) does not have any further rights to the child, therefore, the adoption will move forward. This paperwork is not signed until a social worker has spoken at length with the birth parent(s) and the birth parent(s) is comfortable and ready. As long as the baby is under six months of age, expectant parents working with Caring for Kids do not have to go to court for adoption paperwork.
A: Caring for Kids has several adoption professionals who work closely with expectant parents. Our Birth Parent Counselors offer education and support throughout the entire process at no cost, whether the birth parent(s) chooses adoption or to parent. In order to help our expectant parents cope with their grief and loss, they will continue to receive counseling and support even after the permanent surrender. Referrals to other adoption professionals are made if more in-depth services are necessary for coping with the grief and loss associated with adoption. In order to ensure open communication and that the needs of both families are being met, Birth Parent Counselors are also available to act as mediators between the birth and adoptive parents. Our counselors work with expectant parents when and where they feel most comfortable, whether that is at their home, at the office, a local coffee shop, or elsewhere in their community. Due to the high level of emotion that comes with adoption, we encourage expectant parents to bring a friend, family member, or someone else of their choosing to this meeting so that they feel at ease.
A: Nothing can occur until 72 hours have passed following the birth of the baby. At this time, if all other legal paperwork and steps have been completed, a social worker will meet with the birth parent(s). This meeting can take place wherever the birth parent(s) is comfortable – the hospital, their home, the office, or another neutral location. At this meeting, the Permanent Surrender of Child will be signed, giving permanent custody to the agency. Birth parents do not have to go to court at this point and, typically, not at all when working with Caring for Kids. The social worker then meets with the adoptive family, who will sign placement paperwork as well. This paperwork shows that the family is accepting the responsibility of adopting and caring for the child. The child then goes home directly from the hospital (or Cradle Care) with the adoptive family. For at least the next six months, an adoption assessor will visit with the family. This professional will visit within the first seven days, and monthly after that, to interview the family and assess attachment and bonding. After six months, the adoption can be finalized in court, at which point the family is presented with a birth certificate that identifies them as the legal parents of their adoptive child.
Questions about Birth Fathers
A: Unless the birth mother is married to the birth father or he is involved in the military, a birth mother does not have to inform a birth father, who is not involved in her life, about the pregnancy or that she is considering adoption. The law states that the duty of finding out about any possible pregnancy belongs to the birth father. If he fails to register with the Putative Father Registry, fails to contact her during the pregnancy and up to 30 days after the birth, or fails to take further legal action to establish parenting rights, the birth mother has no obligation to inform him of her adoption plan. Caring for Kids will work with the birth mother’s individual situation to determine what is necessary regarding informing/involving the birth father. All education provided regarding this issue is due to a desire to ensure the adoption plan, that a birth mother takes time and love to create, is as secure as possible.
A: Birth fathers do have rights in Ohio. Often times, the extent of these rights depends on how involved the birth father attempts to be. If a birth father remains uninvolved with a birth mother during the pregnancy and does not take any appropriate legal steps before or after the birth of the child, he does not need to be involved with the adoption. If a birth father chooses to be involved through independent legal action (or with the consent of the birth mother), signs the birth certificate, and/or is legally married to the birth mother, then his involvement is necessary to secure the adoption.
A: The Putative Father Registry identifies and informs alleged fathers that a birth mother is making an adoption plan. The term “putative” is used to identify a man who may be the birth father of the child. There are several cases in which the term putative father applies: if the birth father and mother are not married, if paternity has not been established by a court of law, or if an affidavit of paternity has not been signed. In these cases, if the birth father wants to be notified of the adoption, it is up to him to register with the Putative Father Registry. Our agency will search this registry throughout the birth mother’s pregnancy and then again 30 days after the birth of the child. If there is no match in the Putative Father Registry at the 30 day mark and the birth father does not take other independent legal action to establish paternity, then the child can be adopted without the birth father’s consent. If there is a match, Caring for Kids will make every effort to contact the birth father and attempt to educate and involve him in the adoption process.
A: A birth father can prevent a birth mother from creating an adoption plan. In order for this to occur, he must be able to prove paternity as well as take the appropriate legal action to oppose the adoption. Unless the expectant parents are married or he has taken appropriate legal action to establish paternity, a birth father does not have to give consent for a birth mother to choose adoption. An adoption can take place with only the relinquishment of a birth mother’s parental rights. A birth father can choose to not be involved with the adoption plan, but also not oppose it.
A: Birth grandparents do not have parental rights in the state of Ohio. The only individuals that must give consent to the adoption are the birth mother and, if involved, the birth father. This stands true even if one, or both, of the expectant parents is a minor. Regardless of age, in the state of Ohio, expectant parents are considered adults and are thus legally capable of making decisions concerning their child. Paternal or maternal grandparents do not have the ability to prevent an adoption.
A: If both potential fathers are actively involved with the birth mother during her pregnancy, then both alleged fathers could sign a surrender of parental rights. If neither potential father is involved or supportive, then the adoption can take place without their paternal consent. If only one potential father is willing to be involved and supportive of the birth mother’s adoption plan, then he can consent to the adoption and surrender his rights as the birth father without a DNA test. If one of two fathers is involved but not supportive of the adoption plan, then a DNA test is necessary, prior to the placement, to determine if he is the biological father. If he is in fact the biological father and he does not consent, the adoption agency will not proceed with the adoption plan.
A: If the birth father tries to be involved with the birth mother both during and after her pregnancy and takes appropriate legal action, then yes, he still has parental rights. Legally, he should be informed of the adoption plan and his consent or lack of active opposition would be necessary.
A: Yes, if paternity is established. This can be done with a family court-ordered DNA test. After paternity is established, Child Support Enforcement Agency can require child support payments to mothers from fathers.
Questions about Adoptive Families
A: Our adoption professionals talk in depth with birth mothers and fathers to see what they desire in an adoptive family. These values and wishes are then matched to adoptive families who have already been approved by our agency. Each adoptive family creates a picture profile book about their family to share with the birth parent(s). They also write a more in-depth letter, to be shown to the birth parent(s), giving further information and details about their lives and families. After reviewing the books, the birth parent(s) can choose to meet with prospective adoptive families or set up phone interviews to get to know them better. Birth parents can also choose a family from simply looking through the books. If the birth parent(s) would prefer to not be involved with the selection process, the agency can take on the responsibility of choosing the adoptive family.
A: All adoptive families are put through a very rigorous screening process before being approved to adopt through Caring for Kids. Prospective adoptive parents have criminal background checks, medical exams, as well as screenings for a history of child abuse and neglect. They also have their financial situation evaluated and are asked to submit letters of reference written by family, friends, and employers. Before being approved, families also complete a homestudy, conducted by a social worker. This process takes a great deal of time as prospective adoptive families are visited in their home and asked multiple questions about their personal history, their desire to adopt and parent, their support system, as well as all of the elements mentioned above. Their homestudy is then approved by Caring for Kids and submitted to the state for additional approval before any children can be placed in their home.
A: It is up to the birth parent(s) to decide if they want to meet the adoptive family- they are never obligated or forced to do so. If a birth parent(s) chooses not to meet the adoptive parents right away, they can always change their mind later. There is no time frame in which the birth parent(s) must meet adoptive families. Birth parents should keep in mind that, in most cases, the adoptive family would like to meet the birth parent(s)!
Questions about Openness in Adoption
A: Yes, in an open adoption, expectant parents who are interested in seeing their child again or knowing about them as they grow up have that opportunity. An open adoption can mean anything from exchanging letters and pictures to multiple visits throughout the life of the child. Birth parents interested in some level of openness are matched with families who are willing to consider a similar level of openness. Birth parents also have the option of a closed adoption. A closed adoption means that no identifying information is exchanged between the birth and adoptive families before or after the birth of the child. Ultimately, the birth parent(s) decides whether an adoption is open, semi-open, or closed.
A: Yes, this would be considered a closed adoption. This means that no information, other than non-identifying information contained in the social medical history, is exchanged between the birth and adoptive families. This holds true both before and after the birth of the child.
A: Yes, this would be considered a type of open adoption. Openness in adoption is considered to be a continuum. Birth parents can choose to see the child for visits or simply exchange information with the adoptive family before the birth. Anything in between these two ends of the spectrum can also be considered.
A: Adoptive parents that have attended training through Caring for Kids are educated on the importance of sharing the child’s adoption story. Our agency strives to portray the emotional benefits of openly discussing adoption with the adoptee. Having said this, the adoptive parents can only tell the adoptee what they know. If a birth parent chooses to meet with the adoptive family, they have the opportunity to get to know each other, allowing for a greater exchange of information with the child later in life. If an open adoption is maintained, the child could grow up knowing both their adoptive and expectant parents. In the case of a closed adoption, the adoptive family is given as much information as possible from the agency. Typically, adoptive families do a wonderful job of focusing on the good and portraying expectant parents in a positive light. Their gratitude and love for you, as their child’s birth parent(s), is the motivating factor behind this.
A: At birth, many expectant parents give their child something to hold on to for the rest of their lives. This can be a letter for them to read later in life, a blanket, or any other object. Many of our expectant parents fill out scrapbook pages, which Caring for Kids can provide, about themselves for the adoptive family to place in a book for the baby. This is not a requirement but is encouraged by our professionals and the adoptive family.
A: In the state of Ohio, an openness agreement between birth and adoptive families is not legally binding. It is possible that the level of openness agreed upon by the birth and adoptive families will not be maintained by one or both parties. Adoptive families are given an abundance of information on the benefits of an open adoption and, in our experience, do maintain the agreed upon level of openness. In the event that an adoptive family does not continue with the agreed upon level of openness, our agency will intervene in order to work out the situation with all parties involved.
A: Our adoptive families are educated on the importance of truth regarding adoption. Many of our adoptive families have close and loving relationships with the birth parent(s) of their children, allowing the adoptee to know their birth parent(s) and have them involved in their life. In our experience, this enables adoptees to see that their parents were simply choosing what they felt was the best option for their child. Adoption should be seen as a loving decision, and our professionals and adoptive families strive to reflect this to adopted children.
Questions about Process at the Hospital
A: Before the birth of the child, our Birth Parent Counselors meet with the birth parent(s) to create an individualized birth plan, which greatly dictates what happens after the delivery of the baby. This plan is communicated to the hospital where the child will be delivered and includes: who the birth parent(s) wants at the hospital and/or in the room with them, if they want to care for the child during the seventy-two hours following birth, if they would like to remain on the maternity floor, as well as a number of other things. This gives our Birth Parent Counselors the ability to contact the hospital’s social worker in order to discuss the birth parent’s wishes. The hospital’s social worker can then share this information with the nursing staff. The birth plan, however, can be changed at any time if the birth parent(s) changes their mind.
A: This is dictated by the birth parent(s) and is something that is discussed while creating the birth plan. Typically, the adoptive parents are available to be at the hospital at any time the birth parent(s) wishes. Some expectant parents ask the adoptive parents to be in the delivery room, some request that they not come until after the Permanent Surrender of Child has been signed, while others request something in between. This is completely up the birth parent(s).
A: Again, this is something that is discussed during the creation of the birth plan. The 72 hours following the birth of the baby can be spent however the birth parent(s) chooses. Birth parents can choose to handle the care of the child for that time or allow the adoptive parents or nurses to care for the baby. Birth parents can also choose to split the care of the child with the adoptive family. Again, this is dictated by the birth parent(s).
A: The soonest that paperwork can be signed is 72 hours after the birth of the child, however, that does not mean that the paperwork has to be signed at the 72 hour mark. If the birth parent(s) needs more time to decide or simply wants to spend more time with the child, arrangements can be made and the Permanent Surrender of Child can be signed at a later time.
A: If the birth parent(s) would like more time to decide, Caring for Kids offers Cradle Care, a program that provides temporary housing for the child to stay in until they go home with either their birth or adoptive parents. This allows the birth parent(s) time to go home and think about their decision before making it permanent. Our agency specially trains parents and families to care for infants in their home while a birth parent(s) makes their final decision regarding adoption. While in Cradle Care, the birth parent(s) and prospective adoptive parents are welcome to visit with the baby. The birth parent(s) still makes all of the decisions regarding the child, as their parental rights have not been permanently severed. A birth parent can take the child home if they prefer, but it is difficult to have quality time to make this decision while caring for the baby.
A: Typically, the hospital will allow the baby to stay even if the birth mother chooses to leave the hospital. In this event, a temporary custody order will be filled out and signed by the birth parent(s). Generally, the adoptive parents are able to stay at the hospital to care for the baby until the Permanent Surrender of Child is signed. Temporary custody will be terminated prior to the signing of the Permanent Surrender of Child. If the hospital needs the room and the baby needs to leave, Caring for Kids offers Cradle Care for this one to five day period of time.
A: An entrustment ceremony is a ceremony that celebrates adoption. This ceremony is used to symbolize the transfer of parental rights from the birth parent(s) to the adoptive family. Entrustment ceremonies are typically dictated by the birth parent(s) and can involve a number of different elements such as a blessing from a clergy, poetry or music, discussion of the roles each individual has played, as well as expressions of loss or grief.
A: If they choose to, the birth parent(s) has the option of spending time with both the adoptive family and the baby. This is something that is discussed during the creation of the birth plan. If the birth parent(s) is more comfortable spending time alone with the baby that is fine too. In many cases, the adoptive family and the birth parent(s) have already established a relationship and often care for the baby alternately during the time at the hospital, allowing both families to have private time with the baby.
A: If all the paperwork has been taken care of prior to delivery, the Permanent Surrender of Child can be signed at the 72 hour mark, and the baby can go directly to the adoptive family’s home. If the proper paperwork has not been signed or the birth parent(s) needs more time to make a decision, then Cradle Care will be utilized.