Adoption is a complicated legal and emotional process for both adoptive parents and birth parents. No adoption will unfold exactly as you planned, and the path you take will depend on everyone's individual circumstances and needs. The steps below represent one picture of what our clients experience when they pursue an open adoption of a non-relative infant.
Choosing an attorney for an adoption is an important and personal decision. Make sure you ask prospective attorneys about their background and philosophy, and pick someone you feel comfortable with. John Chally will be happy to answer all of your questions and spend time letting you get to know him. Read more about John here.
You will need to undergo a home study and obtain a pre-placement report certifying that you can provide a suitable home for a child. We will guide you through this process.
Your profile will be your first introduction to the birth parents. It is an opportunity to share a sense of who you are as an individual or couple, your relationships with family and friends, and the kind of life you hope to create for an adopted child. We work closely with clients to help them prepare the most successful family profiles possible.
When birth parents contact us about placing a child for adoption, we present them with family profiles that match their preferences and expectations for their child's future family.
Many adoptive parents have successfully located birth mothers through advertising. We provide you with the opportunity to place print and web classified advertisements to diversify your efforts to find birth parents.
We also encourage you to network. Spread the word to everyone you know that you are looking to adopt a child, and ask your family and friends to do the same. A significant number of our clients locate birth mothers through this word-of-mouth method.
When a birth mother chooses your profile or responds to your advertisement, we will arrange a meeting for you to get to know one another. This first meeting is a valuable opportunity to determine whether both parties are interested in proceeding. If you or the birth parents choose not to proceed, we will continue to present your profile to other potential matches. If both parties want to continue, we will move on to Step 6.
We will evaluate the birth mother's needs and help establish a plan for you to cover her living, medical, counseling, and legal expenses.
We will negotiate a detailed adoption agreement between you and the birth parents that outlines your financial responsibilities (including living, medical, and counseling expenses for the birth mother) and your agreement about the degree of openness (form and frequency of visits and other communication after the birth). You and the birth parents may sign the agreement at this time, closer to the birth, or after the birth when the consent documents are signed.
We may arrange additional social meetings between you and the birth parents to allow you to become better acquainted, and help negotiate expectations about how involved you will be during the pregnancy. We will also work with you and the birth parents to establish a plan for the birth and the time you spend at the hospital afterwards.
Before the child is born, the birth parents' attorney will carefully review the consent documents with them to ensure that they fully understand that they will be relinquishing their parental rights to the child. If the adoption is being finalized in Washington, the birth parents may sign the consent documents at this time; if it is being finalized in Oregon, they must wait until after the birth.
When the child is born, you and the birth parents will follow the directions of the birth plan. This usually includes a provision for the adoptive parents to spend time with the baby at the hospital.
Please note: If you live in a different state than the birth mother, you will be required to obtain approval from the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children before leaving the state with the child. Our attorneys are experienced with the Interstate Compact and will explain the process to you in its entirety.
After the birth, the birth parents will sign any remaining documents to irrevocably relinquish their parental rights to the child. In Oregon the consent documents can only be completed after the birth, at which time we will also file documents with the court to have you appointed as the child's guardians. In Washington, the consent documents may be signed before or after the birth. If you have not already done so, at this time both parties will sign the Open Adoption Agreement.
You will be granted temporary custody or guardianship after the birth. Once this has been granted, you may take your new baby home.
Our attorneys will complete the necessary documents and file your Petition for Adoption.
After you take your baby home, you are required to undergo a post-placement home visit to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for the child. In both Oregon and Washington, the resulting Post-Placement Report must be filed before your adoption can be finalized.
In Oregon your family can choose whether or not to appear before the judge when she signs the General Judgment of Adoption. In Washington you will be required to meet with the judge and testify at the finalization hearing when the court signs the Decree of Adoption. If you live out of town, the court may allow you to make your appearance by phone.
In both cases, it is an occasion to celebrate that your adoption is official and complete. Bring your cameras!
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