In this Utah adoption guide, we will review the different pieces of adoption in Utah as it pertains to expecting families and hopeful adoptive families. We hope that it gives you some guidance and direction into your adoption journey!
Making the Decision
If you have found yourself in an unplanned pregnancy, you have three options available to you. You can choose to parent, choose to terminate the pregnancy, or choose to place your child for adoption. As you know, this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a big choice to make. As your baby’s mother, you know what is best for your child.
When considering parenting your child, there are a few questions you might want to ask yourself.
· 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 needs?
· Am I ready to love a child now?
· Am I ready to have less time for myself, more stress, and am I ready to deal with the money needed to support a child?
· What would it mean for my future if I have a child now?
· Do I have support from my family and friends? (Source)
If you decide to parent, it is a great idea to research the resources available in your community. There are options for government assistance to provide housing, food, and career/childcare resources.
If you are considering placing your child for adoption, there are a few questions you want to ask yourself.
· What are my feelings about adoption and another person being my baby’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 place my baby with someone else?
· Will I be able to cope with the feelings of loss that I may have after the pregnancy is over?
· Is anyone pressuring me to choose adoption?
· Do I have support from my family and friends? (Source)
Finding an adoption agency to work with can be very helpful in your decision-making process. Agencies generally have guidance or options counselors to help you walk through the process and help you decide what is best for you and your child.
Hopeful Adoptive Family
If you are considering adoption, there are questions for you to think over, too.
· What is your motivation to adopt?
· What type of adoption do you want to pursue (domestic, adoption through foster care, international)?
· How much money do you have to spend on adoption?
· Is your family and community of friends supportive of your decision to adopt?
· Are you interested in a closed, semi-open, or open adoption?
· What type of child are you hoping to adopt (age, gender, race, disability, etc.)?
· Will you be able to handle the emotional roller coaster that accompanies the adoption process?
Adoption is a big process that takes a lot of work, patience, and money. The end result can be so worth it, and the opportunity to grow your family can make all of the hard days seem small!
As the expecting family, you do not need to have a home study completed. A home study is an overall look at a prospective family. They will need this to legally adopt. If a family is not home study approved, they will not be able to adopt your child.
Hopeful Adoptive Family
Our Utah adoption guide would be incomplete if we didn’t cover the home study process for hopeful adoptive families. The home study process can be a little overwhelming but completely manageable when you take it one step at a time. If you are working with an adoption agency, they will connect you with the right professional to complete your home study. If you are looking to get your home study done on your own, you need to find a licensed caseworker to complete your home study. They will ensure that it meets all of Utah’s state requirements for a home study.
Your caseworker will send you a list of documents that you will need to collect before she or he meets with you. These documents usually include the following:
· Social Security card
· ID (driver’s license)
· Immigration documentation (if applicable)
· Birth certificates
· Marriage license (if applicable)
· Divorce documentation (if applicable)
· Background check
· Medical insurance
· CPR certification
· Pet vaccinations (if applicable)
· Proof of income (pay stubs, tax forms, letters from employers)
Caseworkers need a full overview of your medical, physical, and financial health. They will also send you some questions to prepare you for the home study. They will want you to think about and talk about as much of your life as possible. They will want to know about your childhood, education, discipline strategies, relationships, parenting philosophies, life goals, career, and many other things. They want to get a clear view of you and each member of the family in your home.
They will schedule a time to come visit you in your home to meet you and your family. They will look around to see that there is enough space for a child, that your home is safe, and that your home is clean. They will sit down with you as a family and talk about the questions you answered and possibly ask a few more. They will also meet with each member of the family individually. While this can seem like a big thing, your caseworker isn’t there to find something wrong with your family. She is there to get a complete understanding of your family so that she can complete the home study write-up.
The type of adoption you choose (domestic, international, or through foster care) will affect the type of home study that you have. It is important to clarify this before a caseworker is chosen.
As an expecting family, you will ultimately decide the major pieces in your adoption story. You will get to decide how open you want your adoption to be. Some parents choose a closed adoption where there is no contact with their child or the adoptive family after placement. You can also choose to have a semi-open or open adoption, depending on what you think is best for you, your child, and what the hopeful adoptive family agrees on. Openness can range from yearly emails with updates to visits, phone calls, and pictures shared.
You will also be the one to choose the adoptive family for your child. You will be able to look through profiles of different families. If you are working with an agency, they will show you a variety of profile books of families that meet your desired requirements for an adoptive family. You can also view many hopeful adoptive families on Adoption.com’s Parent Profiles. You can decide if you want the family to a married couple, single, heterosexual, or same gender. You can decide on the general age of the parents, if they have other kids in the home, or if they are religious. You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing the adoptive family for your child.
The Gladney Center for Adoption is a wonderful adoption agency that can help you figure out your adoption options and what you feel would be best for you and your child. You can call their number at 1-800-ADOPT-98 for more information and receive nonjudgmental support and advice.
Hopeful Adoptive Family
If you are living in Utah and wanting to adopt, there are three main choices that you can choose from in adoption. You can adopt through domestic infant adoption, through foster care, or you can adopt internationally.
Domestic infant adoption is the most common route that families take when wanting to adopt a baby. To adopt domestically, you can choose to adopt independently or through an agency. An independent adoption (sometimes referred to as a private adoption) is when the hopeful adoptive family and the expecting family connect on their own or through a common associate. This can be a friend, doctor, or other professional. With an independent adoption, costs are generally lower for the adoptive family. However, there is potentially more risk involved as there isn’t an agency to screen for possible scams. Independent adoptions don’t always provide sufficient support for the birth parents either. Utah adoption law “requires adoptive parents to offer to pay counseling costs for a birth parent before he or she signs a relinquishment document. The offer must be for up to three sessions of 55 minutes each, not to exceed $400, unless the parties agree to provide more. A birth parent may waive his or her right to counseling” (Source). Independent adoptions are finalized through an adoption attorney.
If you choose to adopt through an agency, you can receive a lot of support for both you and the expecting family. It is important to find an agency that is ethical, is transparent with their fees, and puts the needs of the birth mother and her child first. Adoption agencies can also connect you with different adoption professionals to make sure that you are completely taken care of.
Adoption through foster care is a different experience than domestic infant adoption but can also be very rewarding. Foster care is a system put into place to provide safe homes for children who have experience neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse. Children are given temporary homes while their parents work to attain parental rights again. Parents work with a judge and caseworker to create a plan to regain custody of their children. Depending on the parent, this plan might include rehab, proof of steady employment, proof of secure living conditions, and/or parenting classes.
The ultimate goal of foster care is to reunite children with their parents. For this reason, if you plan to directly adopt an infant through foster care, it won’t likely happen. There are stories where it happens, but that isn’t the norm. However, there are a lot of children in need in Utah. There are children that are available for adoption through the foster system. These children are generally older, part of a sibling group, and/or have different levels of disabilities. You can find these children in various waiting children galleries.
The qualifications to adopt through foster care in Utah are the following:
· Be 21 years or older
· Be a U.S. citizen
· Must be legally married or single (couples are unable to foster if they are not legally married or are a same gender couple)
· All adults in the home must pass background checks
· Be financially stable
· Medically healthy
· Not simultaneously fostering and providing daycare (Source)
You will apply to become a foster parent, complete the required trainings, complete a home study, and then wait for placement. If there is a child that you have in mind, you can let your licensing agency know.
If you are looking into international adoption, make sure that you are looking for agencies that are Hague-accredited. To help you understand a little more about the Hague Convention, the Gladney website shares the following:
“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” (Source).
Children who are available to be adopted internationally are generally living in an orphanage or foster home in their native country. The process to bring your child home can be long with the amount of paperwork to be completed. However, it is not impossible!
It does not cost an expecting family anything to place their child for adoption. It is illegal for anyone to pay you for your child. However, adoptive families can donate funds to support your living expenses and possible medical expenses but be sure to check with your adoption agency or adoption professional for more specific details.
Hopeful Adoptive Family
Our Utah adoption guide wouldn’t be complete without talking about how to afford adoption. The first thing to look at when considering adoption and how you’ll afford it is your current budget. Find ways to save the money that you already make. Some families take on extra side-jobs to bring in a little extra money, too. You can host fundraisers to get your family and community involved. You can also explore little-to-no interest adoption loans and grants and look into the adoption tax credit. While the cost of adoption can seem daunting, you can find a way!
Michelle 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.