Frequently Asked Questions
- As a perspective adoptive parent, what information do birth parents provide?
- What information will the birth parents have regarding the perspective adoptive parents?
- What are the most common tests performed when a birth mother visits her ob/gyn?
- When the baby is born, are thre certain tests the hosptial performs on the infant?
- Are there certain guidelines designed for contact after the baby is born?
- Is a perspective adoptive parent, we are very nervous about our meeting with our birth mother? Are there things we should or shouldn't say?
- Our birth mother is extremely important to us. We want to make sure she has the ability to receive counseling if she decides. What type of counseling is usually done?
- What type of communication is given to the adoptive parents when the birth mother delivers?
- As a perspective adoptive parent, we are aware that we may be supplying living expenses to our birth mother. If she does not place with us, do we receive any compensation back?
- When will the consent for adoption be signed?
- Once the consent has been signed, can a birth parent change their mind?
- Can you explain the right of a birth father?
- As a birth mother, am I eligible to have my living expenses paid?
- Do we need to contact our health insurance provider to alert them once the baby is born?
- What is post-placement supervision?
- When is an adoption final?
- Where can we obtain a birth certificate?
- When and where can we obtain a Social Security card?
- How and when can we take the dependent child tax deduction?
- Is the earned income credit and child tax credit available for adopted children?
- Is there a tax credit for adoption?
- Should we update my will?
- How much does adoption generally cost?
- What is a home study?
An extensive family, social and medical history compiled by the birth mother and, if available, a similar document from the biological father. Specific medical records on both the birth mother and the child also normally are secured including OB/GYN records and labor and delivery records from the hospital.
Your birth mother letter and family profile. The birth parents may also ask additional questions which will be answered with your approval. It is not uncommon, for example, for a birth mother to want to know the first name you select for the baby.
Standard tests for the birth mother include: HIV; drug screening; hepatitis; and all the normal OB/GYN tests. Sonograms also routinely are done, but other testing, such as amniocentesis, is not done unless medical indicated. You also may request additional testing and daily advances in modern medicine may suggest certain other pregnancy-specific testing. Best to stay up to date on all the medical advances through your own research or in consultation with your adoption professional or other resource in the medical field.
Where indicated, HIV, drug screen, hepatitis and thyroid tests. If you request others, these can almost always be obtained.
There are no specific, etched-in-stone parameters for this contact. Normally, it is whatever that is agreed to between you and the birth mother and/or between you and any biological father. Common place, however, are pre-birth telephone contacts and/or pre-birth letter exchanges, including e-mail; obviously, face-to-face contact is encouraged and, if not done pre-birth, normally takes place at the hospital in the run-up to placement. While these contacts almost always occur pre-birth and/or during the hospital period, there are birth mothers, along with the occasional birth father, who request another one-time, face-to-face meeting, even after birth.
You should focus on being yourselves, letting the birth parents get to know you and establishing a comfort level. You want the birth parents to have concern and empathy for your situation, and for you to understand theirs. You should not be interrogative, ask for personal or confidential information or question medical history. If you have a question in this regard, let your adoption professional handle it
Counseling is strongly advocated for the birth mother. Some birth mothers are not willing to attend counseling and, of course, cannot be forced to do so.
Given the dizzying and daily advancements in technology, communication these days nearly is instantaneous provided, of course, all involved parties, and primarily the birth mother, utilize the technology. Depending on the specific relationship you and the birth mother may establish pre-birth, it may be you who is alerted directly by the birth mother that she, in fact, is at the hospital or on her way to the hospital. Otherwise, your adoption professional will contact you, the timing of which could be critical, especially if the birth mother wants you present for the delivery.
The reality is that very few birth mothers have the resources to re-pay prospective adoptive parents, but one recourse is to file a lawsuit to recover these living expenses. There also is the tax “write off” more fully outlined below.
Under Florida law, generally, the birth mother may not sign her Consent to Adoption until forty-eight (48) hours after the baby is born; however, Florida law makes one (1) exception for a birth mother to sign the consent to adoption earlier than 48 hours. If the birth mother has been notified in writing, either in her patient chart or medical discharge release paperwork, that she is medically discharged, the birth mother then may sign her consent to Adoption on her discharge date and need not wait the forty-eight (48) hours. With a c-section, the birth mother’s signing of the consent to adoption may go beyond the forty-eight (48) hours, as your adoption professional must ensure that the birth mother is free of narcotic medication at the time of signature.
Under Florida law, a man may sign the Consent to Adoption at any time after the baby is born, but never beforehand, in contrast to an Affidavit of Non-Paternity, which under Florida law may be signed at any time, even before pre-birth.
Pursuant to Florida law, a birth parent who executes a consent for adoption involving a child six months or younger, does not have a grace period in which to change her mind. The consent for adoption is permanent and irrevocable from the moment it is signed, and only can be overturned based on fraud or duress; however, in cases where the birth parent is placing a child older than six months, the birth parent has three (3) business days to revoke the consent for any reason. Once this period passes, the consent only can be overturned based on fraud or duress.
Question to be answered shortly.
Yes, under Florida law, birth mothers not only can have their reasonable living expenses paid, but also their reasonable and necessary medical expenses, all of which may be paid during the pregnancy and for a period of up to six (6) weeks post-partum; however, Florida law only allows payment for living expenses for that birth mother who herself is unable to pay due to unemployment, under-employment, or a medically diagnosed disability. Moreover, Florida law sets forth that reasonable living expenses encompass: rent; utilities; basic telephone service; food; toiletries; necessary clothing; transportation; insurance; and expenses found by the court to be necessary for the health and well-being of the birth mother and the unborn child.
Most insurance companies in Florida are mandated by law to provide coverage for an adopted child. Coverage can exist from the moment of birth if the adoptive family agreed to the placement prior to the child's birth. You should contact your insurance company as soon as you have a match so that you can ensure your coverage is in place for the child's birth.
Post-placement supervision begins after the child is placed with you in your home. It entails at least one (1) face-to-face visit in your home, along with additional contacts to determine the suitability of the placement, over a period of at least ninety (90) days. For the first ninety days, there is to be no longer than a thirty (30) day interval between these contacts. If, after ninety (90) days, additional contacts are needed, your adoption professional and/or local home study professional will alert you. Normally, whoever originated your preliminary home study is who conducts the post-placement supervision.
For purposes of adoption placement, the period of post-placement supervision also may begin even before your child physically is placed with you or before you actually return to your home and/or your home state. Normally, this is when your child’s medical needs require that your child remain hospitalized, as with a child who is born medically complex or premature.
Florida law permits finalization once the 90 day post-placement supervision period has expired, however, the Petition for Adoption cannot be set for final hearing until 30 days after entry of the Final Judgment Terminating Parental Rights. Finalization generally occurs within five months after placement, but can be delayed by a birth parent's failure to cooperate or the court's crowded docket. Read more regarding Florida Statute Number 63.
After finalization, your adoption professional will apply for the birth certificate. This is done though the vital records bureau in the state where your child was born. In Florida, this process normally takes 6 to 8 weeks, but for an additional, nominal fee, this process can be expedited to take only 2 to 3 weeks.
You may apply at your local social security office once you have your child’s new birth certificate in hand, along with your Final Judgment of Adoption, and other evidence of who you are. All this is spelled out in the Social Security Policy Manuel, POMS Section RM-00203. 200E-4.
Again, as outlined above, what is best is to consult with a tax advisor and preferably a CPA. Generally, you would utilize the deduction in the year you took placement of the child, but that is not always the case and your case-specific facts will matter greatly. You may apply to the IRs for an adoption taxpayer identification number if you do not yet have a social security number for your child.
Yes, if you otherwise qualify under the IRS rules and regulations. These are two separate tax benefits.
Yes, and it is much improved and makes adoption much more affordable. For calendar year 2010, the maximum credit is $12,170 per child, although the credit gradually phases out once your modified adjusted gross income meets $182,520, up to a modified adjusted gross income level of $222,520, when it completely phases out. For domestic adoptions, the tax credit may be claimed, even if the adoption does not take place; however, for non-domestic adoptions, the tax credit only may be claimed after the adoption becomes final. While without question meticulous record keeping is essential, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lists a wide range of “qualifying expenses” including but not limited to: adoption fees; court costs; attorney’s fees; and travel-related lodging and meals. And, for adoption of the broadly defined “special needs” child, the IRS allows a claim for the full amount of the tax credit, without any attendant requirement either to document, pay, or incur related costs. Plus, separate and distinct from any tax credit, the IRS permits adopting families to exclude from income those adoption-related expenses either directly paid for or reimbursed by an employer assistance program.
Once the adoption process is complete and you have welcomed your son or daughter home, take a few minutes to let it all sink in, and then make an appointment with your attorney to revise your Last Will and Testament. Having an up-to-date Will is important for all of your children whether they came to you through birth or adoption. There are many reasons why parents should have a current Will. The two most important reasons involve naming your children as beneficiaries of your estate and appointing their guardians.
Although most states treat adopted children the same as birthchildren, it is best to specifically identify your adopted child(ren) as a beneficiary of your estate. The second reason has to do with appointing a guardian of the child and a conservator of the child's property. A Will is the only place you can make these designations. If you fail to designate someone to act in these capacities, the Court will make the determination for you.
While the costs attendant with an adoption are wide-ranging and impacted primarily by the birth mother’s living and medical expenses, there are a variety of funding sources, some of which are listed below, over and above the very attractive and general tax benefits outline earlier in this section.
These funding sources include but are not limited to grants from entities like:
- Gift of Adoption, www.giftofadoption.org for singles and married couples
- www.helpusadopt.org for married couples and singles
- The National Adoption Foundation, www.nafadopt.org
- Also for singles and married couples; www.showhope.org,
- Steven Curtis Chapman’s organization for Christian families pursuing adoption; and Parenthood for me, www.parenthoodforme.org, which also includes adoption through assisted reproductive technologies.
Among the funding strategies involving loans are:
- A Child Waits, www.achildwaits.org, for international adoptions
- Including special needs children; Oxford Adoption Foundation, www.oxfordadoption.com
- Also for international adoption; International Association of Hebrew Free Loans, www.freeloan.org, a state-by-state listing of interest-free adoption loans for Jewish families
- The ABBA Fund, www.abbafund.org, interest-free adoption loans for Christian couples
As concerns family donations, prospective adoptive families may set up their own personalized website registries, such as those suggested by:
A home study is an independent investigation undertaken to verify your suitability as the adoptive parent(s). In Florida, a favorable preliminary home study is valid for one (1) year after the date of its completion and easily may be updated. You may contact us for more information on obtaining a home study. Among those qualified to conduct a home study include a licensed child-placing agency, a registered child-caring agency, a licensed professional such as an L.C.S.W. (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) or an M.S.W. (Masters Of Social Work)