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About Adoption
 
What is adoption?

Adoption ends the legal relationship between a person and his or her original parents and creates a new and legal family relationship.

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Did you know that…

  • Most Americans, six out of ten, have had personal experience with adoption, meaning that they themselves, a family member, or a close friend was adopted, has adopted a child, or has placed a child for adoption. (Evan B. Donaldson Institute, 1997)
  • Adoption by Americans of foreign-born children continues to grow in popularity with a record number -- more than 20,000 -- adopted by Americans in 2002. (National Adoption Information Clearinghouse: Immigrant Visas Issued to Orphans Coming to the United States)
  • In the United States, there were 542,000 children in public foster care as of September 30, 2002, and 22% of them, 119,240 children, had a goal of adoption. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Foster Care National Statistics, June 2003)
  • In Florida, 7,100 children were seeking new parents in 2001. (Florida Department of Children and Families, 2001, as reported by the Florida State Foster Adoptive Parent Association.)

This information was put together by Laurie Slavin, executive director, Advocates for Children and Families. She can be reached at 305-653-2474 or laurieslavin@adoptionflorida.org.

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Myths vs. facts about adoption

Myth l: An adopted child will feel “different” from other children.

Fact: The statistics reveal that one in ten children is adopted. In fact, many children feel “special” because their birth and adoptive families made a plan in his/her best interest.

Myth 2: Adopted children will never know about their birth family or their background.

Fact: Adoption agencies and attorneys are required to get, whenever possible, background information from birth parents who place their children for adoption. The background includes such information as: How the parents grew up, if they have sisters and brothers, if they have other children, their education, their interests and talents and a medical history about the parents and their families.

Myth 3: Adopted parents should not tell their children that they are adopted.

Fact: Professionals agree that adopted children should be aware at an early age that they were adopted so that they have a clearer understanding of who they are, whom they look like, and what their ethnic/cultural heritage is -- the things that other children know about themselves and their families. To keep this information from an adopted child can create future lack of trust issues between parents and child.

Myth 4: Birth parents who place their children for adoption just don’t care what happens to them.

Fact: Placing a child for adoption is a painful, loving decision made by birth parents who want the best for their children. Birth parents often place their children for adoption when their present situation and circumstances do not allow them to properly provide and care for them. They are putting their child’s best interests before their own.

Myth 5: If I place a child for adoption, I will never know what his/her life is like as he/she grows up with the adoptive family.

Fact: It is quite common for birth and adoptive parents to meet personally and to exchange photos and letters about how and what the child is doing as he/she grows from baby to young adult.

Myth 6: You have to be wealthy to adopt a child.

Fact: There are many adoption options open to families of different lifestyles and incomes. While the law requires a home study to confirm that a family is suitable to care and provide properly for a child, emotionally, physically as well as financially, the cost of a particular adoption depends on the type of situation appropriate for your family. The federal government offers an adoption tax credit to assist middle-income families with as much as $10,000 back. Additionally, the adoption of children in the care of state foster care programs may be subsidized, with most adoption costs waived.

Myth 7: Nobody wants to adopt a child with special needs.

Fact: Many waiting families want to adopt only a special-needs child. They may have other children with special needs, or believe that they are emotionally and financially capable of providing all the attention, nurturing and care that the child requires.

Myth 8: I will be on a waiting list for years before I can adopt a child.

Fact: The length of wait depends on many factors and can be short. The usual range is 6-18 months. Factors such as age, health, race, ethnicity and needs of the child play a role in the length of time before a child is identified as appropriate for a waiting family. Remember, however, that prospective adoptive parents must take the first step by completing an application with an adoption agency, adoption attorney or state agency. Diligence and perseverance are both important. A child cannot find a family if the family is not right there in his or her path.

This information was put together by Ginger S. Allen, director of legal services, Advocates for Children and Families. She can be reached at 305-653-2474, or gingerallen@adoptionflorida.org.

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Different types of adoption

  • Domestic: Sometimes children are adopted directly from their birth families using the services of adoption attorneys or adoption agencies to make sure that the legal requirements are met. Usually, the child’s biological family chooses the adoptive family, and decides how much future contact the original family will continue to have with the newly created family.
  • Foreign: Orphans from other countries can be adopted by American parents with the approval of the governments of both countries.
  • Relative: Children are sometimes adopted by their stepmothers, stepfathers, aunts, uncles or grandparents, if one or both of their parents cannot take care of them. These adoptions also need the assistance of licensed adoption professionals to make sure legal requirements are met.
  • Domestic Adoption from state foster care: Many children in the community need new families because they are growing up in state-sponsored foster care in temporary situations that can change at any moment. These children are all ages and races, some with health problems and some with none. Having suffered losses, these children need new parents who are committed to helping them make the transition to a permanent home and the optimism and hope that a permanent family can offer.

This information was put together by Laurie Slavin, executive director, Advocates for Children and Families. She can be reached at 305-653-2474, or laurieslavin@adoptionflorida.org

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Birth parents

  • Decision: A child’s parents may decide to make an adoption plan for many different reasons. Counseling is the first step in thinking about such an important decision. There may be other ways to solve a parenting problem that are less permanent than adoption. It is always important when considering an adoption plan to keep the child’s best interest as the most important factor.
  • Counseling: Most family therapists and adoption agencies can provide information about how to get adoption counseling.
  • Financial assistance: While pregnant and shortly after delivery, a woman who has made an adoption plan may receive financial assistance from the adoptive family. The law recognizes that the lack of financial and emotional support from others is one reason for making an adoption plan.
  • Support group: Support groups provide information and emotional support from others with the same experience and with many insights to share.
  • Legal services: Every adoption plan requires legal services to safeguard the rights and explain the responsibilities of all participants.

This information was put together by Dr. Harry Henshaw, director of social services, Advocates for Children and Families. He can be reached at 305-653-2474, or info@adoptionflorida.org.

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Confidential vs. open adoption

Each adoption is unique and needs to be designed to meet the specific needs and desires of the people involved. So long as the best interest of the child is the most important goal, the birth and adoptive families are free to design an adoption plan that allows complete confidentiality, or continued communication by telephone or mail, or direct contact over future years with all family members continuing to play a role in the child’s life.

This information was put together by Laurie Slavin, executive director, Advocates for Children and Families. She can be reached at 305-653-2474, or laurieslavin@adoptionflorida.org.

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Choosing an adoption professional

  • It is very important to choose an adoption professional who is licensed and experienced. A nationwide directory of licensed and experienced adoption attorneys can be found on the website of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, www.adoptionattorneys.org. If a referral to an adoption agency is needed, the members of the Academy can suggest adoption agencies with reputations for competence and honesty in most geographical areas throughout the United States.

This information was put together by Laurie Slavin, executive director, Advocates for Children and Families. She can be reached at 305-653-2474, or laurieslavin@adoptionflorida.org.

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Cost of adopting

Adopting can cost almost nothing, and it can cost $30,000 or more. The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse has published the following summaries for the different types of adoptions:

  • Domestic public agency adoption: Zero - $2,500
  • Domestic private agency adoption: $4,000 - $30,000
  • Domestic independent adoption: $8,000 - $30,000
  • Inter-country private agency or independent adoption: $7,000 - $25,000

Domestic public agency adoptions:

Most public agencies place only children with special needs, which is defined differently in each state. Up-front fees and expenses range from zero to $2,500, including travel and attorney fees.

Domestic private agency adoptions:

Licensed private agencies charge fees ranging from $4,000 to $30,000, which includes the costs for birth parent counseling, adoptive parent home study and preparation, child's birth expenses, post-placement supervision until the adoption is finalized, and a portion of agency costs for overhead and operating expenses.

Domestic independent adoptions:

Adoptive families who pursue independent adoptions report spending $8,000 to $30,000 and more depending on several factors. Independent adoptions are allowed in Florida, but advertising in newspapers and elsewhere by individuals seeking birth parents is not allowed in this state.

Inter-country private agency or independent adoptions:

Fees for inter-country adoption range from $7,000 to $25,000, including agency fees, dossier and immigration processing fees, and court costs. However, there may be additional costs for these, none of which are usually included in the fees:

  • Child foster care.
  • Parents' travel and in-country stay to process the adoption abroad.
  • Escorting fees, charged when parents do not travel, but instead hire escorts to accompany the child on the flight to the parents' country.
  • Child's medical care and treatment.

Child Welfare Information Gateway. http://www.childwelfare.gov/

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How to adopt a child

  • Costs: Most adoptions are free to birth parents, but adoptive parents must consider various costs for professional services and assistance to birth parents. The federal government offers a tax credit up to $10,000 of adoption costs to be returned to the adoptive family in the year the adoption is finalized. For more information, see the instructions for IRS Form 8839, at www.IRS.gov.
  • Some employers offer adoption assistance as part of employee benefit plans.
  • All states subsidize the adoption of children from the foster care system by providing most adoption services free.
  • Home study: An adoption home study of the prospective adoptive parents is required for most adoptions. A home study report serves as a recommendation of a family as suitable parents for a child, and must be prepared by a licensed professional. A home study includes biographical information about family members as well as proof of identity, income, criminal history, health and personal recommendations.
  • Parenting class: Getting helpful tips about parenting children who have lost their first families is an excellent idea for prospective adoptive parents. It helps a lot to know what behavior to expect, what it might mean, and what you can do to help.
  • Legal services: Adoption is a legal specialty that requires experience and expertise.
  • Post-placement services and counseling: All adoptions require a post-placement period for adjustment of the newly created family before the adoption becomes legally final. This is the time to relax together, get to know each other, establish new routines, and get help for any issues that may arise.

This information was put together by Laurie Slavin, executive director, Advocates for Children and Families. She can be reached at 305-653-2474, or laurieslavin@adoptionflorida.org.

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Want to know more?
Books:

Magazine:

Facts:

Transracial and Transcultural Adoptions:

This information was put together by Laurie Slavin, executive director, Advocates for Children and Families. She can be reached at 305-653-2474, or laurieslavin@adoptionflorida.org

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Resource list for adoption:

Charlee Homes for Children, www.charleeprogram.org, telephone 305-665-6595

Children’s Home Society of Florida, www.chsfl.org, telephone 305-324-1262

Florida Department of Children and Families, Adoption Unit, telephone 305-377-5006

Advocates for Children and Families, www.adoptionflorida.org, telephone 305-653-2474

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Brought to you by The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education


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