Knowing your options when proceeding with a thoughtful adoption plan in the beautiful state of Hawaii
This article is a Hawaii adoption guide for those starting on their adoption journey: birth parents as well as hopeful adoptive parents. Each story is varied, and we hope to cover all the necessary topics in this guide.
Hawaii is known to many as a vacation or honeymoon destination with its beautiful sandy beaches and spectacular gem-toned colors. Whether you are sipping on a Kona coffee, hiking in the Volcano National Park, or sitting on a pink sand beach, Hawaii is truly one of the most majestic and colorful of all the states. With a population of 1.4 million people and 9.9 million visitors per year, Hawaii’s main industry is tourism. People come from all over the world to visit. Some even settle down in this tropical paradise to raise their family.
This adoption guide can be a beginner’s tool in the world of adoption in Hawaii. May you experience a smooth journey through your own navigation of adoption.
Expectant Parents: Choosing to Place a Child for Adoption
As an expectant parent in Hawaii, you may be beginning your journey towards placing your child for adoption. This may be an unexpected place to find yourself in. Know that there are many resources and supports for each step of your journey. You are not alone. Placing a child for adoption takes much courage and bravery, and you may be overwhelmed where to start. A good first place to start is to begin researching all your options. Whether you choose to parent, abort, or place your baby for adoption, the choice is yours. Adoption.org, the Gladney Center for Adoption, and Adoption.com are all great resources that have a lot of helpful information that may be able to guide you towards a decision you feel is best for you and your child. If, however, you’d like to speak to an adoption counselor right now, please call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to an Options Counselors at Gladney. They can provide you with compassionate, nonjudgmental support. Always remember: you have options.
Depending on your particular situation, the birth father may or may not be involved in this placement of your child through adoption. Be sure to check with the adoption agency or adoption professional that you are working with for guidance and counseling regarding birth father rights.
Finding an Adoption Agency
Gladney Center for Adoption provides a pregnancy hotline which is a helpful resource. It is best practice to decide what you value most within an adoption agency prior to choosing which adoption agency to work with. This could mean choosing a faith-based agency over a secular agency, which is an aspect to consider when researching what is available.
Choosing an adoption agency is of great importance to the process. Whichever you choose, the adoption agency should be your support throughout the adoption process and should provide you with necessary financial arrangements such as healthcare, transportation services, living expenses, or counseling (be sure to check with your specific adoption agency as to what birth parent expenses they may be able to help you with as this varies by agency). The agency where we adopted our daughter from provides life-long counseling to birth parents, which I think is an invaluable resource to those who find themselves in this position. Grieving the loss of your child through adoption may require life-long counseling and resources, and there is hope in setting the foundation for that support through finding the right agency for you. Placing a child for adoption is a very selfless and courageous choice to make; however, it is not without heartbreak and pain. Make sure that whatever agency you choose to work with supports you in whatever decision you make, whether or not you place your child or decide to parent your child. The decision should always be yours to make.
Finding an Adoptive Family for Your Child
Finding the right family for your child may be one of the most important decisions of your life. This family could end up being an extension of your own family, if it were an open adoption, and could be in your life forever. As studies show, open adoption can be highly beneficial to all parties of the adoption triad, as stated in Science Daily. Choosing this family may seem to encompass a lot of pressure as it can sometimes be a challenge to ask yourself: what do you want the future to be like for yourself and for your child? There are many ways to envision this. Ask yourself some questions such as the following:
- Do you want your child to be placed with a family of a specific religion?
- Do you want your child to be placed with a family of a specific ethnicity?
- Does it matter if their ethnicity is different from your own?
- Would you like this family to already have children or not have any? (and does it matter if they are adopted or biological?)
- Does the adoptive parents’ age matter to you?
- Does it matter how long the adoptive couple has been together?
- Are you okay with a single parent? Same-sex couple?
Our daughter’s birth mother ended up choosing us based on the fact that we already had a son, that we looked adventurous based on our profile, and we had a large family. Some things cannot be changed about your circumstances in life; therefore, when she chose us for these reasons, it felt “meant to be.” Looking through adoptive family profiles and choosing the right family for your child might come down to just a feeling. It might feel like a tug at your heart. You might feel at ease knowing your choice could truly be the keystone of your child’s well-being.
Hopeful Adoptive Parents: Choosing to Adopt a Child
Choosing to adopt a child is an exciting undertaking with the potential for learning and self-growth. When my husband and I first began our introduction to the world of adoption, we found out some surprising facts. One of which was we were not allowed to advertise the fact we were hopeful adoptive parents.
In Hawaii, advertising the fact that you are a hopeful adoptive parent is very much a go-ahead, and hopefully, through word of mouth or a social media post, you may meet a potential birth parent who you could connect with. Most adoptive parents then proceed with an adoption agency as there are many adoption details needing professional assistance beyond just the initial connection of birth parents and adoptive parents.
Who Can Adopt?
In Hawaii, there are no marriage requirements for adoption. The Hawaii state laws allow any of the following to adopt: an unmarried adult, same-sex couples, the spouse of a child’s legal parent, or a husband and wife jointly.
As for age, typically, agencies work with families who are between the ages of 22 and 50. Be sure to research individual adoption agencies and choose the agency that feels right for you and your family.
There are legal implications if a felon would like to adopt a child in Hawaii; there are set requirements regarding the background of an adoptive parent, and depending on the felony, may become a hindrance to the adoption process.
As for any hopeful couple, there are important emotional questions to ask yourself prior to starting your adoption journey such as the following: am I open to adopting transracially? Is my marriage or committed relationship suitable for an adoption plan?
Finding an Adoption Agency
It is always a great idea, when searching for an agency, or adopting through the government, to fully research all options beforehand. When choosing an adoption agency to start your adoption journey, you have full control over the decision process. Are you looking for the most popular adoption agency within Hawaii? Are you looking to adopt a child with special needs? Perhaps looking into public adoption or foster care would be more suited to your specifications. There are several criteria when adopting that are so specific to each adoptive family, only you will know the answers to these questions. Therefore, it is imperative to research and find the most well-suited agency for your specific criteria.
There are both public and private adoption agencies within Hawaii; as with every other state, there are many children in foster care available for adoption. Foster care is processed through Hawaii Social Services. The actual number of children adopted through the Hawaii public child welfare agency is only a small portion of the total number of all Hawaii adoptions. As a resident of Hawaii, you would not be limited to adopting a child born in Hawaii, you could always adopt in another state or internationally.
When my husband and I were seeking an agency that suited our needs, we asked around via word of mouth to see what people recommended. We also looked up the top three agencies within our city with the most placements per year. Then we narrowed it down to the agency we were most interested in and attended their initial seminar; we were hooked as soon as the first words were spoken.
Creating a Financial Plan
It is always wise, with any additions to your family, to have a financial plan that allows for growth. There are a lot of fees associated with adopting that can range from legal expenses to fees for the birth parent’s health care. Know that costs may vary depending on the specific scenario and agency you find yourself with. Each adoption is unique; therefore, there are unique costs that go along with each situation.
Completing Your Home Study
The home study is typically the last step before officially being placed on the adoption list; it is an important step in securing your position as an adoptive family. The home study can also help you feel prepared to begin parenting a new child. There are some great tips on how to prepare for a social worker or administrator to assess your home. First off, be yourself. Not every speck of dust needs to be cleaned from the shelves for you to be considered a worthy candidate for adoption.
When my husband and I presented our home to two social workers, we cleaned. But our home was what it was. We already had a 2-year-old at the time, there were toys out of the box, and some dishes leftover from breakfast. Don’t question your own validity; you are an authentic couple (or family) hoping to expand, so it is good to present as such. The main reason social workers enter your home is to personally view your space to be certain you can provide a loving, and safe home for a child.
One thing we forgot to have on hand was a fire extinguisher. I remember my husband rushing to the hardware store shortly afterward to get one. In our case, we also needed a carbon monoxide tester on each floor of the house, which we had. This is not the case of every agency requirement, but that may be a question to ask your agency beforehand: “Is there anything we absolutely must have?”
Bedrooms are of great importance. At the time, we didn’t have a bed or crib set up because we weren’t sure if we would be placed with a newborn or a toddler. Looking back, the important piece was showing where we would place the bed or crib; foresight is key in this stage.
Whether you are a birth parent looking for options or a hopeful adoptive parent, know that there are supports and resources in place to help you along the path. Wherever the adoption journey takes you, I am wishing you smooth navigation filled with ease and comfort in the beautiful Aloha State of Hawaii.
Claire Waters is a married Mama to two incredible children. Claire enjoys all things creative including writing, painting, photography, videography, and doodling. Claire and her husband are advocates for adoption, as it completed their Transracial family of four. Claire’s family aspires to be a bucket-list family, traveling and exploring all the world has to offer.