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The goal of the Pacific Northwest Program is to help people make satisfying adoption plans they can live with forever. Birth parents and adopting families in this program usually meet and choose each other, have some relationship after placement either through letters and pictures, phone calls, and/or visits. Birth and adoptive parents in this program do not view one another as adversaries, but as people who are working together to meet mutual needs, and especially the needs of the child. All adoptions are individually designed and negotiated, which means they fit the people making the adoption plan. We don’t tell you what to do. We don’t judge your decisions. We will be your adoption educators, facilitators, counselors and providers of emotional support. We will always be direct and honest with all information available to us.
WHAT KIND OF CONTACT WILL THERE BE WITH BIRTH PARENTS BEFORE AND AFTER PLACEMENT?
Pacific Northwest Program adoptions typically range from what is called “open placement” to “fully open” adoptions. Closed adoptions are unusual in this program but do happen perhaps once or twice a year. (See Open Adoptions on the Q & A page.) Many adopting families come to our agency worried about contact with birth parents. Most do not fully understand what contact — or lack of it — can mean in their lives and in their child’s life. Our focus on education empowers adoptive parents to make informed choices about this critical life decision. Adoption is forever, so events and needs five, ten and fifteen years away must be considered. The terms and style of your adoption will not be determined by us but by you and the birth parents of your child. After discovering the range of openness that feels workable for your family, we will look for a match with birth parents whose desired contact falls within that range.
WHAT WILL WE KNOW ABOUT BIRTH PARENTS’ HEALTH INFORMATION?
As an agency, we believe in full disclosure. Therefore, as the adopting family you will have ANY and ALL information to which we have access. This includes relevant medical records, social and psychological history, case history of birth parents, genetic family history and any collateral referral source information.
WHAT IS THE ETHNIC BACKGROUND OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST BIRTH PARENTS?
The children placed through the Pacific Northwest Program are most often of Caucasian or Caucasian and Latino heritage, but may be of any heritage.
HOW LONG WILL IT BE BEFORE A CHILD JOINS OUR FAMILY?
Part of your wait will depend on how quickly you do your preparation work. The other part will depend on being chosen by birth parents who meet your criteria and want the kind of adoption workable for you. Some families are chosen very quickly and some take longer. The average wait, once prep work is complete, is ten to fourteen months. Your preparation work includes five items. They can happen in any order, as timing and schedules permit:
1. You must fill out our application form.
2. Your home study must be completed.
3. You must attend our adoptive parent training seminar.
4. You must prepare an album of pictures and information about your family. This will allow birth parents to get an idea of who you are.
5. You must fill out our Preference Checklist, which lets us know what’s important to you about your adoption.
HOW DO BIRTH PARENTS FIND HERITAGE?
Birth parents reach out to us for help based on our reputation, exposure in the Yellow Pages, referrals from physicians, counselors, churches, schools, neighbors, correctional facilities and from former clients who have already used our services. Most of our clients ARE NOT extensive substance abusers. However, we are always looking for families who are interested in special needs babies.
HOW OLD ARE BABIES PLACED BY HERITAGE?
Nearly all of the children placed through the Pacific Northwest Program are newborn infants who go directly home from the hospital with their adopting families. Most of the time all parties involved are at the hospital together and often there is opportunity to be present in the delivery room for the birth of the child.
HOW DOES THE MATCHING PROCESS WORK?
Birth parents may come to us at any stage in their pregnancy. That may be after their first pregnancy test or it could be a call from the hospital after delivery. Most often, however, they get in touch sometime in their last trimester. We begin the counseling and assessment process right away. When we feel confident that they clearly understand and plan to choose adoption, we begin by showing them adoptive parents’ albums. When they choose a family, we provide that family with all the information we have available about the birth parents. If the adoptive family agrees to proceed we usually arrange for a telephone call or meeting. Afterwards, both parties will be asked privately if they feel comfortable with the match and want to go on. If they both say yes, we have a match!
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ADOPT THROUGH THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST PROGRAM?
The fee for our professional services in adoption planning is $18,000-$24,000. This covers all agency services, which may include but is not limited to the following:
- Intake and assessment of birth parent calls.
- Screening, counseling, assistance with all required forms including the Social Assessment, Genetic and Medical History, Interstate Compact
- Birth parent decision counseling, family counseling with parents and siblings and all other casework services
- Preparation of local adopting parents’ home study and post placement reports; approval of non-local families’ home studies under Oregon laws
- Adoption education workshop for parents
- Development of the match meeting and birth plan
- Hospital social work services, and discharge planning
- Legal consents preparation and execution, notary services
- Budget planning with birth parents, financial monitoring and check issuing
- Case conflict resolution
- Assembling legal documents and delivery to finalizing attorney
- Lifetime availability of post-placement birth parent counseling at Heritage
Adopting parents must choose an attorney to finalize their adoption. Fees are moderate and variable. We are pleased to provide a list of attorneys who are members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.
Please contact us for detailed fees and a program application.
WHEN ARE FEES DUE?Fees are due at the time services are received. Usually that is as follows:Application Fee. Payable when you turn in your Application packet.Adoption Education Fee. This covers our two day seminar, consultation and education you will need to prepare your Family Album and the development of your Dear Birth Parent materials. The fee is due when you register for the class, OR meet with us to develop the materials, whichever occurs first.Home Study Fee. Due and payable at the time of the home visit. Mileage is also charged directly to the family by the social worker at 38 cents per mile, round trip*. The family is to pay the worker directly at the time of the home visit.
*Outside the Portland Metro area, there is also a charge for travel time at $20 per hour.Match Fee. Due and payable at the time a decision is reached by the birth and adoptive parents to work toward a placement. This fee solidifies the match and must be paid within 24 hours of the match. The match fee is non-refundable.Placement Fee. Due and payable when your child is placed in your physical custody, usually at the hospital, upon discharge.Post Placement Fee. Due and payable at the time of the Post Placement Visit.\
Birth Parent Expenses. At the time of the match, you will be asked to deposit this amount with us, from which we will pay birth parent expenses. You will be expected to maintain the account at $2,000. At the conclusion of the adoption, we will refund to you the portion not used for expenses or send a final bill for any expenses not yet covered. It is typical for us to assist birth parents with their expenses one month post delivery for a vaginal delivery and six weeks for a cesarean birth. These funds will cover birth parent and baby medical expenses if not otherwise covered, maternity clothing and other necessities, basic transportation, lost wages replacement if needed, food, rent and utility assistance. We will be happy to discuss with you in detail our policy regarding birth parent expenses.
ICPC Fee for families outside of Oregon.
WHAT IF THE ADOPTION FALLS THROUGH?
We encourage each family to be aware from the outset that in an adoption, it’s never over until it’s over. It’s important to guard your hearts to some extent so that if the worst happens, you have retained a piece of sanity on which to build. To that end, we urge families not to decorate a nursery for a specific match, not to let friends and family give showers until after the placement, and to buy only the basics before the baby comes home. You must acknowledge that the nursery is more for parents than for the baby! The showers will be more fun with the baby there to see and hold. And all the stuff you need for the baby can be done in one gigantic shopping trip to Target or Babies “R” Us.
In the event an adoption does fall through, most families need some time to recover before they throw their hats in the ring again. Once a family is ready to move forward again, we work to find them another match. We always hope a family that loses an adoption will find another match as soon as possible, but we have only a small ability to influence those decisions.
From a financial standpoint, the loss of an adoption is extremely difficult because the monies spent toward legally allowed expenses to care for the birth parent cannot be recovered. Additionally, the match fee, which represents the specific work the agency has completed on behalf of this specific adoption, has also been used to provide services to both the birth parents and adoptive parents. Professional fees have been expended, services rendered on the specific adoption in question. While no fees can be refunded, each situation is evaluated individually to determine whether a percentage of the match fee can be applied to the family’s new match.
We are well aware of the dual hurt of heart and finances when an adoption fails. Our goal remains to make all our adoptions successful and long lasting. It’s important to know that we have not had an adoption fail in two and a half years. While we wish this were not the reality of adoption, we feel strongly that we must be honest and open with our families by acknowledging that it is a possibility.
Serving you step-by-step through this incredible process is our goal. We are happy to answer any questions you have about how we work and are pleased to refer you to a cross-section of families who have adopted through us. If you have questions or would like more information, please e-mail Deborah Aronson at [email protected] or call Deborah at 503.233.1099.