We have put together an all-inclusive New Hampshire adoption guide to help individuals through the adoption process. Whether you are a hopeful adoptive family or an expectant family considering placing your child for adoption, this New Hampshire adoption guide should give you a little bit of direction and answer your questions.
For the Expectant Family
If you have recently discovered your unexpected pregnancy and are considering placing your child for adoption, you should know: you are not alone. There are women all over the world, and in our own country, that are in the same position. The thought of placing your child for adoption can be overwhelming, so it’s important to review all of your options.
When you are pregnant, there are ultimately three options to choose from. You can parent your child, place your child for adoption, or terminate your pregnancy. There are important questions to ask yourself for each option and things to consider.
First, if you are considering parenting your child, reflect on the following questions:
- What are my feelings about being a parent and taking care of another person?
- Does becoming a parent feel like what is best for me at this time in my life?
- Am I ready to take care of all my child’s potential needs?
- Am I ready to love a child?
- Am I ready to have less time for myself, more stress, and financially support a child?
- What will it mean for my future if I have a child now?
- Am I supported by my family and friends?
While raising a child can be intimidating, it is also very rewarding. If it is something you feel like you can manage, reach out to your local government assistance office to learn more about the services and support you might qualify for. Depending on your needs, you might be able to receive help with medical bills, food, living expenses, and transportation to and from your doctor appointments.
When deciding whether or not to place your child for adoption, reflect on the following questions:
- What are my feelings about adoption?
- What are my feelings about another person being my child’s parent?
- Does adoption feel like what is best for me at this time in my life?
- Can I go through pregnancy and birth then give my baby to someone else?
- Will I be able to cope with the feeling of loss that I may have after the pregnancy is over?
- Is anyone pressuring me to choose adoption?
- Am I supported by my family and friends?
If you feel that adoption is the best option for you and your child, reach out to a local adoption agency. It’s important to find one that is ethical, reliable, and will put the needs of you, and your child, at the forefront. You can call and meet with a few different agencies before making your decision. A good adoption agency will guide and support you through the whole adoption process. They should connect you with adoption professionals, hopeful adoptive families, and ensure that everything on the legal side of the adoption is handled correctly.
Open vs. Closed Adoption
Another big decision to make is what kind of adoption you want to have. This is relevant to both the expectant parents and the hopeful adoptive family. Adoptions can range in openness from very open to very closed. An adoption that is more open might include regular visits, phone calls, video calls, letters, pictures, etc. A closed adoption would be just that – closed to communication. You can also find a middle-ground. This might look like contact once a year, or simple email exchanges with updates and pictures. Knowing what you are comfortable with when getting to know a hopeful adoptive family can make the process much easier.
For the Hopeful Adoptive Family
Navigating the world of adoption can be intimidating and overwhelming. With this New Hampshire adoption guide, we want to lighten that load by explaining how some things in the adoption world works. There are three main forms of adoption that can be pursued that we will outline below.
Adoption through Foster Care
Adoption through foster care is a beautiful thing, but can often be misconstrued as complicated due to its intricate moving parts. It’s important to understand that the purpose of foster care is not to find adoptive homes for the children in care. The purpose is to provide a temporary safe home for children while their parents work to improve their circumstances.
Children are placed in foster care for a variety of reasons: specifically, neglect, abuse, and/or drug use. Parents who are found to be unfit are given the opportunity to improve, work assigned services, and improve their circumstances. A judge will decide what services the parents need to complete in order to be reunited with their child(ren). With the help of a caseworker, parents are guided through the process of getting help. This might include rehab, parenting classes, proving the ability to keep a job, and showing proof of adequate housing, among other things.
Children placed into foster care range in ages from newborn to eighteen years old. Sometimes, children up to age 21 are a part of the “system” and can benefit from a family and/or mentor as they navigate adulthood. When deciding on becoming a foster parent, you will need to think about the type of child or children you would feel comfortable taking care of in your home. What age? Would you be willing to bring in more than one? A sibling group? What types and levels of disabilities are you comfortable with? Do you have a preference for race or gender?
To become a foster parent in New Hampshire, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be married or single
- Complete an inquiry packet
- Submit fingerprint-based Criminal Records and Central Registry Checks of child abusers for household members over 17 years of age
- Provide medical clearance statements on all family members
- Submit the names of five references
- Provide local fire and health inspections of the home
- Participate in at least two home visits with a social worker
- Successfully complete Foster & Adoptive Care Essentials (FACES) training
- Complete a home study with a CDYF Resource Worker
The training for foster parents in New Hampshire is designed to prepare you for everything you might experience in foster care. From caring for children to caring for yourself, the training should prepare you for this large life adjustment. The program that New Hampshire requires foster parents to compete under the Foster & Adoptive Care Essentials (FACES) training includes:
- The Developing Child
- The Effects of Childhood Trauma
- Experiencing Grief and Loss
- Promoting Positive Behavior
- Lifelong Connections
- Basic Medication
- Overview for Prospective Caregivers
- First Aid and CPR
A child who comes into your care through foster care is likely not going to be able to be adopted right away. if you becoming interested in adopting your foster child, you will have to wait to see if parental rights are reinstated or terminated. If you are hoping to adopt sooner, you might look into New Hampshire’s Waiting Children list. These are children whose parental rights have been terminated and are waiting for their forever homes. These children are generally older, are part of a sibling group, and/or have mild to severe disabilities.
Private adoption is the route taken by most families who want to adopt an infant. With private adoption, you can either work with an adoption agency or independently. When working with an adoption agency, you should be guided through the whole adoption process from start to finish. Often, an agency will help you with your application, home study, matching, communication with the expectant family, and finalization through an adoption attorney. For many people, working with an adoption agency is worth the time and energy they are able to save. Expectant mothers generally seek out an adoption agency and are able to choose from the list of families provided by the agency.
When seeking an independent adoption, you will seek out your own caseworker for your home study and find an adoption attorney to finalize everything. Those who pursue independent adoption often find their match through mutual friends or acquaintances. Expectant mothers can use Adoption.com’s Parent Profiles to find a family that they want for their child. After a match is made, an adoption attorney will help to finalize the adoption.
Whether you move forward with an adoption agency or work toward an independent adoption, you will need to complete a home study, a family profile book (digital or in print), and work with an adoption attorney. These are things that are rarely inconsistent across the board.
International adoption is when a family from the United States adopts a child outside of the United States. You will want to work with an international adoption agency to ensure that your adoption follows Hague standards. The Gladney Center for Adoption website explains what a Hague accreditation includes, saying,
“The Hague Convention protects children and their families against the risk of unregulated adoptions abroad and ensures that intercountry (district) adoptions are made in the best interests of the children. The Convention also protects against unethical, unlawful and inhumane adoption practices.”
International adoption requires a specific type of home study.
When thinking about international adoption, there are a lot of different factors to consider:
- Your budget
- The age of the child you are hoping to adopt
- The country you hope to adopt from
- The wait time to bring your child home
- The gender, race, and level of disability you are comfortable with
Most children adopted internationally come from an orphanage in their home country. This will require some adjustment to a new culture, language, food, and surroundings. Depending on the country you adopt from, you can wait as long as two years to bring your child home.
Whichever path you choose for adoption, you need to consider what is the best fit for your family. Adoption is an exciting gift for so many families. For more information about adoption in New Hampshire, please visit this link.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.
Michelle Donner is the mother to two beautiful children and a hopeful adoptive mama of one more! When she isn’t chasing her kids around, she is working as an adjunct professor teaching college writing and working as a freelance writer. She loves to be creative and runs her own floral design business for weddings and events. Her titles of wife and mother bring her the most joy, fulfillment, and challenge in her life.