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New to this, have some questions


I am from NJ, trying to find the best agency or path to adoption.  Is it typical to pay an application fee, and if so, what price is typical?  Is there any websites on the internet where you can just view profiles of birth mothers and post your own profile, without an agency?  Any other pointers are appreciated.  I am new to this and very confused of where to start and what to look for,

Replies

The first step is to complete a home study, if you do not already have one.  Often times, the agency that does your homestudy will have some suggestions for you. Application fees can range in price. We utilized several agencies, and attorney, to referral services, and two facilitators. It depends upon which way you want to go. If you are looking for foster care adoption, that is a totally different game. To give you some pointers the readers will need to know what you are planning.

Posted by pednurse91 on Oct 01, 2017 at 9:24pm

As far as I know, there are no websites where expectant parents place profiles of themselves for HAPs to view; usually on the web HAPs place their profiles, such as on parentprofilesorg, or with an agency, and then expectant parents who are considering adoption look at them.
As pednurse91 said, it would be helpful to know what you are planning. Are you looking at domestic infant adoption? If so, there will always be fees involved and while you may informally meet expectant parents who are a match through social media or other such means (some people say they have adopted successfully that way), the usual path is through a licensed agency.

Posted by Maryam on Oct 02, 2017 at 2:08am

The first step is actually to consult an adoption attorney or agency in your home state. Every state has different laws. In some states, it’s not legal to advertise that you are looking for an adoption match. In some states, you must use an agency, and cannot use an attorney. You have to abide by the laws in your state. An adoption attorney or agency can tell you, generally, what they are.

After you know the laws, you can decide if you want to work through an agency or not (assuming the latter is allowed in your state). I highly recommend using an ethical agency. Open Adoption & Family Services has an excellent reputation, and they work with families nationwide, although they are located in the Pacific Northwest. Adoptions From the Heart is an agency that operates in the New Jersey area. They tend to get acceptable reviews. I don’t know much about them, firsthand, though.

I wrote this for adoption.com awhile back. I hope it helps!
https://adoption.com/adopt-10-easy-steps

Posted by rredhead on Oct 02, 2017 at 4:13am

domestic newborn adoption is expensive, there is no getting around that. even if you don’t sign with an agency, there is still a homestudy fee, birthmother expenses, legal fees, and possibly travel expenses. it is possible to adopt without using an agency, but you would most likely wait longer and put you at higher risk of being taken advantage of by scammers or having your heart broken by a mom who changes her mind about placing her baby once its actually born. there are people who adopt successfully without an agency, but there are so many horror stories out there, I would research the risks involved more before pursuing that option

Posted by rn4kidz on Oct 02, 2017 at 4:26am

We used Gladney and they had to apply online with basic information at no expense.  If that went through okay, they do require you to go to a introduction seminar in Dallas, which I would highly recommend doing with any agency because it really opens your eyes to the process, expectations, and a chance to talk to other couples adopting as well as birth mothers that have been through the process.  Once we went through the seminar, they give you the application, which is 300 dollars.  Every agency is going to have you do an application fee I believe, but I liked that our agency gave you an in person information session to know if they are the right agency for you and what you are getting into.  Like they said, domestic infant adoption is expensive!

Posted by Clittle on Oct 02, 2017 at 12:39pm

Some states allow you to cut out the middleman, the agency, and go straight to an adoption attorney. New York is one of those states - you’d have to find out if NJ allows it. In some states, the attorney can bring expectant mothers (EM) and prospective parents together. In others, like New York, the prospective parents must find an EM on their own and introduce the EM to the attorney.

We met with a couple agencies and they encouraged us to not sign with them but to go the attorney route. We also talked to a couple that adopted successfully through an agency, and they recommended we go the attorney route as well. They were in the process of retaining an attorney and giving up on the agency when a girl left her baby in a hospital and picked them on her way out the door.

We signed a contract with our attorney laying out a maximum amount to be paid for a successful adoption, and another smaller maximum for a disruption. We gave a retainer and then paid the fees above the retainer amount when billed. Upon taking guardianship, we had to pay the max.

We hired a social worker to do the home study and with it our attorney got us court approved to adopt. We advertised with our attorney’s guidance - we placed print ads in different states and we advertised online as well (Google ads worked best for us). The advertising costs were ours but we decided where to advertise and how much to spend. You could easily spend thousands per month if you wanted to advertise in every paper.

We had a website, email address and a toll-free number that went to our home phone. We handled the initial contact and if both parties wanted to move forward, we then got our attorney involved. Scammers usually went away after we told them to call our attorney to discuses what we could legally give them for expenses. The attorney would contact medical providers to verify the pregnancy and would get medical records for us to review with our doctor. Our attorney provided a local attorney for our child’s birth mother for which we were financially responsible.

We felt like we more control of the process than what we heard about agency adoption. It took us 6 months to get court approved to adopt, and 5 more months before we took our baby home. Our total expenses did not exceed the maximum adoption tax credit.

Posted by JimGL33 on Oct 02, 2017 at 6:57pm

Thanks for all the helpful info.  I would like to do a domestic infant adoption.  I was curious if I could adopt an infant through the foster system (but not foster, just adopt directly), but that sounds like its not very possible. 

I once looked into an agency from a different state, and they said I had to do the home study from NJ so I couldnt work with them.  Once I do a home study with one agency, can it be used for other agencies?  Or do you need to do a seperate home study for each agency?

I do keep hearing good things about adoptions from the heart, I just dont understand some of their fees, like a $6,000 “program fee”. And an “education” fee that is seperate from the home study.  I’m waiting to hear back from them about that.

Jimgl33, With the attorney, what does a retainer cover?  Sorry, dont know much about it.  Do you pay an hourly attorney fee on top of that?  could you explain more about what you mean about a maximum and minimum payment?  I contacted a local attorney to see if they could help, but they charge a few hundred dollars for a consultation.  Not sure if there are any out there with free consultations of if its typical to pay.

Posted by Emiluke on Oct 02, 2017 at 8:33pm

Also,  what have your experiences been with the tax credit?  How much did you get deductions for?  Is it typical to get the maximum $13,000 or so, or is it usually a lot less?

Posted by Emiluke on Oct 02, 2017 at 8:42pm

Definitely not going to adopt a newborn through foster care without fostering first. Bio parents are usually given a couple years to get their act together, so if a newborn is taken into foster care he will be a toddler by the time he is old enough to be adopted, and then will almost always be adopted by the foster patents

Posted by rn4kidz on Oct 02, 2017 at 10:05pm

As others have said, you need to decide what kind of adoption you want to pursue, and also research the laws in your state, as every state is different. 

If you have considered adopting from foster care, then you should talk to the local DCF in your area.  It is worth at least getting some information.  There are people who successfully adopt young infants from the foster care system, so it is not impossible.  They also have seminars that you can attend for free, that may give you more insight into adoption.  Some states let you sign up as “foster to adopt”, meaning you will only take a child who is legally free for adoption, but, as rn4kidz points out, those children are usually toddlers or older. 

If you are interested in domestic newborn, then that is a private adoption, and the laws for private adoption differ in each state.  Depending on your state’s laws, you may be much better off with an agency, or better off with an attorney.  There are also adoption facilitators, but not every state allows you to use them.  In some states only agencies can advertise, in other states adoption attorneys can, too.  The scenario you are describing is possible in those states that allow prospective adoptive parents (PAP) to advertise for expectant parents (EP) or expectant moms (EM).  BTW, when referring to a woman or couple who are considering placing their child for adoption, EM or EP is the correct term; the terms birth mother or birth parents are reserved for those who have already placed a child.  Unfortunately, there are people out there who prey on PAP’s, trying to get money from them by promising a baby that may not even exist.  (there was a report of someone using an ultrasound picture from the internet to fool a prospective family).  An agency or attorney experienced in adoption is more likely to pick up on these scammers.

At some point you will need an attorney; if you work with an agency, they will have an attorney that they use, so you won’t have to hire that person separately.  Adoption law is highly specialized.  You want someone who practices adoption law, not family law.  In fact, most family law attorneys will not do adoptions unless they are stepparent adoptions, which are completely different from private adoption between unrelated people.

My advice is that once you decide the kind of adoption you want to pursue, and you understand the laws in your state, the next step is to research adoption professionals.  I would encourage you to meet with agencies and attorneys, even if you have to pay an initial consultation fee.  There are ethical agencies and ethical attorneys, but unfortunately there are also those adoption “professionals” who are quite unethical, and it may be worth a little money up front to save you money and heartache later.  To answer your question, we were able to use our home study when we left the agency, although I have heard from others that this was not the case.

Good luck on your adoption journey!  I know this all seems so daunting.  You will figure out what is right for you and your family.

Posted by jszmom on Oct 03, 2017 at 1:15am

I think we paid a consultation fee but it was added to the retainer when we signed a contract with the attorney.. Retainer is just paying In advance a certain amount. Once the retainer was used up, we started getting bills based on the hourly rate in the contract plus expenses, if any. After taking our child home from the hospital, we were billed for the remaining amount to reach the maximum in the contract. This maximum amount was basically what we agreed to pay for a successful adoption, regardless of the actual billable hours. There was another smaller amount in the contract that we would be responsible for had we experienced a disrupted adoption.

The adoption tax credit is not a deduction from your taxable income. It is a tax credit which reduces your taxes dollar-for-dollar before taking into account withholding. Several years ago it went from being refundable to non-refundable. This means that you can’t reduce your taxes below zero and get refunded for taxes you didn’t have to pay. You can carry over any amount not used into subsequent years.

Posted by JimGL33 on Oct 04, 2017 at 3:20am

Is the tax credit for all adooptions or does the child have to meet federal guidelines as a special needs child? I was never sure about that.

Posted by Regina on Oct 04, 2017 at 3:49am

The tax credit is for all adoptions.

Posted by babydreams on Oct 04, 2017 at 4:28am

Thanks babydreams

Posted by Regina on Oct 04, 2017 at 4:28am

Thank you everyone.  Any pointers on how to determine if an agency or attorney is ethical?  What should I look for?  There is an agency im NJ called “a loving choice” that I’m looking into, but havent gotten an answer yet about their disruption policy.

Posted by Emiluke on Oct 04, 2017 at 3:04pm

Emiluke, one way to determine how ethical an agency is is to look at their website and see if what they tell expectant parents matches up with what they tell prospective adoptive parents, maybe especially in regard to open adoption, involvement of the first parents after adoption, etc. Also, if they make promises such as short waiting times or have a placement rate way higher than the national average, you’d have to wonder how they manage that. Also, if they tell HAPs that they will “handle” a father’s rights, or not to worry about them, that is an ethical red flag.
That’s for DIA. For international adoption, if they deal with countries that are not Hague approved, or that are essentially failed states (such as the DRC), that’s another red flag.

Posted by Maryam on Oct 05, 2017 at 11:59pm

“Unwanted pregnacy , may consider adoption
txt at (302) 348-9322 Seriously considering to rehome my lovely little boy out for adoption to a lovely prepared caring home that is ready to take good care o…”

(https://adoption.com/community/ritahowell/)

Posted by Maryam on Oct 06, 2017 at 6:38am

Aside from what everyone has told you about the real financial costs of DIA, when you say you are new to this there are other things to consider aside from saving money if you want a DIA.
Are you single and planning to adopt as a single parent, or do you have a partner that is going to adopt as well?
Asking because that is one of the questions that expectant parents who are considering adoption will ask. Are you aware that you can be “matched” with an expectant mother but that the “match” is not a promise and she can at any time including after her child’s birth decline to place with you?
If you want DIA, have you thought about how open you want this adoption to be? Closed? Semi-open? Contact via Skype, visits? What about contact with extended bio family?
If the child has special needs, are you equipped to deal with them? Do you have a support system in place if you become disabled? Or just lose your job or your home?
The part of the triad that you seem not to be thinking of now as you are seeking low-cost adoption is the biological parent—and this isn’t to be rude or mean, but just realistic—ask yourself why someone in crisis would want to place their infant with you. What are you offering? Why would expectant parents in crisis want to surrender their child to someone who doesn’t want to pay a few hundred dollars to a lawyer?

Posted by Maryam on Oct 06, 2017 at 7:01am

Maryam, I never said I didnt want to pay a few hundred dollars,  I was trying to find out typical costs for different things so that I better understand.

Posted by Emiluke on Oct 06, 2017 at 12:20pm

Your last paragraph, Maryam, makes me want to be rude and mean

Posted by JimGL33 on Oct 06, 2017 at 2:28pm

Emiluke, I do not know if you are still looking for an information or you already choose an agency. But I hope you find my post helpful.
We are from NJ too. We started our adoption process about a year ago. We are an active waiting family now During our research we visited a lot of information meetings and on one of them an adoptive mom suggested to us to go to the Adoptive Parents Committee Conference in Brooklyn NY. It is not free, but the money were worth spending, because we had a chance to meet with many adoption agencies in one place and attend educational seminars, such as what to expect from a home study process, what the difference between working with an attorney or an agency, how to choose one, transracial adoption or specific law applications for NY and NJ.
It is an all-day event. If you are interesting the next one is on November 19.
there is a link: https://www.adoptiveparents.org/annual-conference/
We used A Loving Choice Adoption Associates for our home study. Our social worker was incredibly helpful, and made whole process go smoothly and stress free.
Our adoption agency is Friends in Adoption from Vermont. They are a national agency, work with pregnant women and adoptive parents from all states. We choose them because of their ethic. They do not discriminate people of different age, religions, marital status or sexual orientation. Some of agencies we met before had very strict requirements for age or religion.
They require to attend a orientation seminar either in Vermont or Saratoga Springs, NY before accepting an application. During this seminar they provided us with an information on their fees and an application. Their services include building your profile, matching with birth family and one or two per month phone meeting, depends on how often do you want to follow up on your status. They respond very quickly to an emails.
We also engaged a private adoption attorney, she is licensed in NY and NJ, to review our contract with an adoption agency and she will be representing us in a court when the time comes to finalize an adoption. We are on a retainer with her.
Best of luck for your journey!

Posted by Marina27 on Oct 31, 2017 at 8:22pm

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