Maine is such a charming state. This New England state has a lot of features you might desire: cities, fields, lakes, beaches, and mountains. There is so much to do and see. From quaint coastal towns with beautiful lighthouses to rich, vibrant farmland; it’s a great place to vacation and can be a great place for you and your family to set down roots.
There are many things that might have led you to this guide. Maybe you are exploring your options for starting your family. You might not know if you want to add to your family through adoption. You might not know the differences between adoption and fostering. Here, hopefully, I can teach you more about the different types of adoptions whether it is independent, international, open, or closed. Perhaps you have learned you are expecting and have begun considering placing your child for adoption. This guide is meant to answer some of your questions and prepare you for other challenges along the way.
Adoption Attorneys and Agencies
No matter which role in the adoption triad you are, an adoption attorney or agency will be of great value to you. There are numerous places to look for a good attorney or agency to use. Adoption.com allows viewers to search according to your location or state. Maybe you aren’t sure if you should pick an agency or an attorney; which would be more helpful? Either one should help answer your questions and allow you the opportunity to make a well-considered decision.
When talking to attorneys or agencies, it’s always a good idea to have a list of things you would like to ask. Sometimes you can forget important things in the heat of the moment. I would recommend keeping a notebook with any questions or concerns in it. You may or may not take lots of notes throughout this process. They can help clarify any confusion you have throughout the process. Adoption.com is a great resource for learning more about state-specific laws. If you decide to work with an attorney, they might become very close with your family, so it’s best to select someone you feel comfortable working and talking with.
No matter what you choose, a good support system is essential for this process. As an expectant parent, you might question the feelings you’re having or the emotions you’re going through. You might be curious how other expectant parents weighed their options, what choices they made, and why. If you are an adoptive parent, you could be going through a completely different thought process. You might want someone to talk to: a listening ear. Maybe you are curious about fostering and need to know more about the process or what fostering would look like for you. A good place to start getting answers is with the forums on Adoption.com. You can search these forums by topic or question.
Another excellent place to gather personal insight is Facebook. There are groups and communities specifically created to support members of the adoption triad. Groups are formed to listen, answer questions, and help you along your journey.
If you are an expectant parent, a good resource for you could be speaking with another birth mother. You can schedule a call with a birth mother if you’d like to learn more. She could provide you with answers to upcoming questions. It’s very likely that she’ll understand what you are experiencing because she has been in your shoes and, even though everyone’s experiences are unique, she might have insight for you on the feelings and emotions you might be going through.
If you have decided to foster, there are C.A.R.E.S. meetings to support you and your family. C.A.R.E.S. stands for Connecting, Advice, Resources, Education, and Support. These meetings with dates, times, and locations are listed here. These meetings are meant to help you find your way, answer questions, and give you the tools necessary to be an asset to children and families you may encounter.
Expecting? The choice is yours.
Perhaps you are expecting and have decided that adoption is the route for you. Maybe you just haven’t come to that conclusion because you still have questions. Planning a placement might seem stressful, but it can be an astounding blessing in your life. There are so many articles out there about the adoption option. Deborah Ann Rang wrote a very informative article covering how far adoption has come in this day and age, finances, and perspectives regarding open and closed adoptions.
As I mentioned before, having a strong support system, no matter what side of adoption you are on, can make a huge difference. “What Birth Parents Should Know After Placement” is an excellent article with resources that can help you balance your expectations and perceptions. It may offer guidance on how to plan for a smooth transition. There is information on support, the different emotions and feelings you might have, and how to have a successful open adoption, among other things.
Adopting? Decisions, decisions.
If you are looking into adopting, congratulations. There are so many options. Begin contemplating what you desire from an adoption. Do you want to do international adoption? Do you want to proceed with an independent adoption? Do you want to foster children with the intention of pursuing adoption? There are lots of possibilities for you to consider.
International adoption is an adoption between two countries. These are usually orchestrated through a middle party. Independent adoptions can happen in different ways. An independent adoption can be between two parties or can include a mediator. Maybe you know of someone who knows of someone who is considering adoption placement, or someone has sought you out as a potential adoptive parent.
And then there is foster care. Foster care is when you get a placement through the state or other agencies. The goal of fostering is to reunite the child, or children, with their biological family. There are some instances when that isn’t possible. In these cases, the child may become eligible to be adopted.
Fostering? Where do I go from here?
The first step to becoming a foster, or resource, parent is to contact Adoptive & Foster Families of Maine, Inc (AFFM). They will give you information for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) office closest to you. According to the AFFM website, you will attend an informative meeting that explains the basics of foster care. Once you are ready to proceed, you can call your DHHS office and they will send you an application packet. When your application is turned in, you will be assigned someone to walk you through the rest of the process. This is when you will go through security and background checks, collect references, and schedule home studies. The AFFM website has a list of these steps you will go through. There are lots of helpful links on this site.
A big part of this process is receiving proper training. The training can prepare you for what’s to come; learning from people who have been right where you are. You might encounter a variety of skills and techniques for a multitude of situations. Each step should be explained in-depth and help you acquire the security clearance and background checks you need to move forward. They may tell you what to expect at every meeting, court date, and visit. This is also a great way to meet other families just like yours and, hopefully, build relationships with them. These relationships can act as a sounding board. Utilize them.
One thing to always remember, the main goal of fostering is reunification for the children and their families. The child/children will have a caseworker that will work with you, the child, and the biological family. Expect to see a case plan, step-by-step directions, and goals. Once those goals are met, the expectation is that the child will be reunited with the biological family. You might have visitations, court dates, and doctor’s appointments. Some of these children have suffered some sort of trauma and will need all the support they can get. There are times when the case plan isn’t successful; in those cases, the children you foster may become available for adoption.
If you’re expecting, there are many places for you to search for adoptive parents. Feel free to view many profiles and get a feel for what you would like for your child. I would suggest that you come up with what you are looking for in an ideal family placement. Write these things down. You might have questions you would like to ask potential adoptive parents; jot those down too. There is no such thing as a stupid question. This is your time. Find the right fit for you. On adoption.org, you can do an in-depth parent profile search. You can even search in specific categories such as religion, ethnicity, past-adoptions, and family size. Adoption.com also has a wonderful resource to search through Parent Profiles.
Are you adopting? This is where it can get fun. Come up with your parent profile. Include all of the things that make your family unique. You could even make a scrapbook of your important life events to show during your home study. Include things like pictures of your house, your favorite foods, fun facts about you (and your partner), and information about other children. Do you have pets? Add their pictures. Get creative and have some fun. Allow your personality to shine through. When you are done with your profile, if you’d like, you can start to submit it here.
If you are adopting or if you have decided to foster, a home study is an important part of the process. Often, a social worker from your state or agency will come to assess the capacity of the house to be used while safely raising children. For some, this step might be a cause for stress. There are some things you can do to prepare beforehand. Make sure your smoke detectors work, your medicine is locked up, and cleaning supplies or chemicals are put up in a safe place that is out-of-reach for children. Lived-in is very different than dirty; social workers know what the difference looks like. Don’t stress yourself out. They will most likely interview you and your family together and individually. Just remember to keep it warm and friendly; be yourself. Try to relax so they can see the real you and the place you want to raise your future children.
Having the proper tools at your fingertips will help you discover your own adoption story.
Lisa Kersey is the wife to Chris, and mother to Bentlee and Lainey Grace, both surprises, one through adoption and one through childbirth. A former Librarian turned Administrative Assistant, she’s a reader, writer, planner, and organizer. Just don’t judge her organizational skills by the looks of her house. She loves keto, CrossFit, family time, and girl’s night out. She’s a talker, has a story to tell, and will tell anyone who will listen.