Waiting Child China
Events and News
Q and A
Come Visit Us
Answers to all the most frequently asked questions
AFTER HEARING HORROR STORIES ON THE NEWS ABOUT INTERNET ADOPTION AGENCIES, HOW DO WE KNOW YOU’RE LEGITIMATE?
These kinds of stories give the whole legitimate adoption community a bad name, and are as horrifying to us as they are to you. The first thing to know is that we are not primarily an Internet adoption agency. We have an office located in Portland and practiced adoption for many years before we developed a website. The Internet is simply a resource for us, a way to provide information to families who may be interested in working with us or knowing more about adoption.
We will be glad to send you a copy of our licenses to practice adoption in the states of Oregon and Washington. We encourage you to verify our legitimacy by calling the State of Oregon Adoptions Unit at 503-945-5670 or the State of Washington Department of Human Services Licensing Unit at 360-413-3428. We invite you to call families who have adopted through us, and will be glad to provide their e-mail addresses or phone numbers to you. Feel free to ask any questions that will help you feel confident in our intentions and abilities. In addition, we would urge you to meet us and talk with us to satisfy yourselves that we are people of integrity.
WHAT IS A HOME STUDY? HOW WILL IT BE USED?
The home study is a document required by the government for every adoption, domestic or international. It includes documentation such as birth and marriage certificates, tax and income records, police and child protective services record checks. People who know you well will supply references. You will fill out a questionnaire about your background, parenting practices and reasons for adopting. A case worker will come to your home one or more times to interview you and all members of your household, and to be sure your home has no safety hazards for a child. She or he will write a report based on all the information received. This document will be reviewed by the INS and the government of the country involved for an international adoption, and by the court where your adoption is filed. After placement, one or more further reports are required to insure that all is going well. These are called post placement reports, and will also be filed with the court for a domestic adoption or sent to the country involved for an international adoption.
HOW LONG DOES A HOME STUDY TAKE?
Part of it depends on you — how long it takes you to assemble your paperwork and get it in. Part of it depends on how long your police and child protective services checks take. And part of it depends on the agency completing your study. At Heritage, once we have all your paperwork and completed record checks, we can usually schedule a home visit within a week or two. After that, we usually have the finished document ready within four working weeks.
WE LONG TO HAVE A BABY SO BADLY, IT’S HARD FOR US TO IMAGINE LETTING GO OF A CHILD. WHY WOULD ANYONE PLACE A CHILD FOR ADOPTION?
Any baby placed for adoption will be placed due to severe environmental stressors. Poverty, under-education or unemployment, abusive personal relationships or mixed race parentage of any ethnicity may be that stressor. Birth parents may already be parenting one or more children and be overwhelmed by the idea of another. In U.S. adoptions, the birth father may have left the relationship, perhaps because of the pregnancy. It is common to have little information about the birth father in these cases. In China adoptions, the stressor is usually the government’s policies due to the country’s overpopulation, combined with the family’s need to provide for their old age through a son. In Guatemala, Haiti and Kazakhstan, severe poverty is the problem.
HOW LONG IS THE WAIT FOR A CHILD?
It will vary with each program. Please look for the answer to this question on the page for the program you’re interested in.
WHAT IS OPEN ADOPTION?
It’s easier to define a closed adoption than an open one. Closed adoptions, the kind that used to happen twenty or thirty years ago, are unusual in the U.S. today. This would be an adoption in which birth and adoptive parents never meet, exchange no identifying information, and are mutually selected by the staff of the agency. Post placement contact in a closed adoption may be non-existent or may be limited to a small number of pictures and letters sent to the agency to be held and passed on if birth parents request them. Most, but not all, adoptions by Americans of children born in other countries are closed.
aying an adoption is open is like saying a door is open. It may be barely ajar, flung wide, or somewhere in between. Sometimes we refer to an “open placement,” which means birth and adoptive parents meet each other, choose to work together and, with our help, develop an Adoption Agreement for post placement contact. This usually includes pictures and letters sent by adoptive parents on a schedule that decreases over time to once or twice a year. For the sake of confidentiality contact usually is via the agency.
Fully open adoptions involve people who meet and choose to have a relationship with each other through the years, although specifics may vary. As with an open placement, the parties will meet and write an Adoption Agreement with our assistance. Contact will certainly include pictures and letters. Families may also choose to stay in touch via e-mail, phone calls and/or visits. Visits may be scheduled, at birth parents’ request, or casually invited by either party rather like extended family. Visits may take place at the Heritage office, in public places like parks or restaurants, or in one another’s homes. Heritage staff may or may not be present as needed. A fully open adoption includes full disclosure of last names and contact information, and will usually include post placement contact unsupervised by Heritage.
Most adoptions of American-born children placed as infants range from open placement to fully open.
WHAT IS RESEARCH SAYING ABOUT OPEN ADOPTION?
Although many parents and professionals have voiced concerns about the possible outcomes of open adoption, recent research has put minds at ease. Adoptive parents are real parents who find that open adoptions allow them to experience a greater sense of entitlement. The anxiety of not being able to answer their children’s questions is greatly relieved. Adopted children gain the solid mental health that comes from knowing their history, and the reasons for their adoption. They feel loved by both adoptive parents and birth parents, and do not experience the confusion many people have feared. Birth parents experience faster recovery and less devastating loss over their adoption decision as they are reassured of their child‘s well-being. They enjoy the opportunity to express their love and concern and have a role in their child‘s life. Open adoption is not, however, a panacea. Education and support are the keys to understanding its realities. For more information about how open adoption works, we recommend The Open Adoption Experience by Lois Melina & Sharon Kaplan Roszia. To gain an understanding of how and why openness developed, read Adoption Without Fear and The Spirit of Open Adoption, both edited by James Gritter. To understand a birth parent’s needs and point of view, pick up Lifegivers, also by James Gritter, or go to www.r2press.com, a website developed by Brenda Romanchik, a birth mother herself.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT TRANS-ETHNIC AND TRANS-RACIAL ADOPTIVE PLACEMENTS?
As an agency we are committed to every child’s right to a loving family. While adoptions across ethnic and racial lines create additional variables in family life, we unconditionally support families as they make decisions to parent. Education and support are key to well adjusted, thriving children, whether they are biological, adopted, same race or trans-ethnic in make-up. The most recent research clearly shows that trans-ethnically adopted children do very well as they grow to adulthood.
WE’VE LOOKED AT SO MANY PROGRAMS. HOW DO WE GET RID OF THE CONFUSION SO WE CAN FOCUS ON JUST ONE AND MOVE FORWARD?
There are many questions to ask yourselves to help determine the course of adoption that will ultimately be most satisfying to you.
- Do you have an interest in or love for a particular country? If so, perhaps adopting a child from that country would be pleasing and allow you to learn even more. In addition, your knowledge of and interest in the country would benefit your child as well. You will be more inclined to have books and artifacts about the country in your home, maintain knowledge about the country’s political situation and travel to the country for a visit as the child grows older.
- Is the gender of the child you adopt important? If so, adopting a child already born and waiting may be the best solution. Most adoptions in America are dependent on an ultrasound to determine gender, which as we all know does not always provide infallible answers.
How comfortable are you with travel? With new and unfamiliar situations? If they feel like an exciting adventure, an international adoption may be great for you. If not, you may want to choose domestic adoption or spend time brainstorming solutions to your anxiety.
- How long can you be away from home? If being away is difficult, a domestic adoption may be the right answer. Domestic programs, even if the child is not born locally, usually allow you to be back home within a few days to a week. International programs vary in their travel requirements, from only three days for Guatemala to about four weeks for Kazakhstan.
- Do you meet the requirements of the program or agency you’re interested in? If not, no amount of wishing things were different can change the facts. Most international program requirements are set by the country involved. Most domestic requirements are determined by the adoption process and the circumstances surrounding typical adoptions.
- Are there programs you can eliminate due to the expense? If you can’t afford the program you’re most interested in, might you be eligible for an adoption grant? (See our Financial Resources page.)
- Is the age of the child you adopt important? For domestic adoptions, adopting parents are usually present at the hospital and accept custody a day or a few days after birth. Most children adopted internationally range from a few months at the youngest–like Haiti and Guatemala–through toddlers and older children–like China, Haiti, Kazakhstan.
- How do you feel about the opportunity to know and/or interact with your child’s birth parents? Those who would like to believe their child’s birth parents don’t matter really need to pick up a copy of Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge. Whether you know a lot or a little about birth parents, your child will think about them. This is entirely normal. Your job as a parent will be to make it okay to think about and talk about them.
- Those who feel strongly that they want to provide as many answers as possible for their child will find that domestic adoption meets their needs. You may feel a sense of satisfaction in meeting your child’s birth parents, having the opportunity to interact with them, have photos of them, and/or have an ongoing relationship with them.
- One thing that can be hard for many people to acknowledge is that the ethnicity of the child they adopt matters to them. It is important to them that the child looks like he or she could have been born to them. There can be many reasons for this. They may have family members who would not welcome a child whose ethnicity is different from their own. The adopting parents may feel unprepared to meet the needs of a child of a different ethnic background. They may not want to feel conspicuous and answer the questions put to them by strangers.
- If this is an issue for you or your family, acknowledging it is critical. It is better for you to be honest, so that you do not adopt a child who would not be altogether welcome and celebrated in all his or her glory.