There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to adoption. Whether you are a hopeful adoptive parent or an expectant parent considering placing your child for adoption, we’ve gathered together this Wisconsin adoption guide to help you navigate the world of adoption.
For Expectant Mothers: Your Choices
If you are currently expecting a child and are considering placing him or her for adoption, there are probably a million things running through your mind. One of the most important things to remember is that you are not alone and there are a lot of resources to offer you support.
You have three options to consider. You can choose to parent your child, place your child for adoption, or terminate your pregnancy. If you choose to parent your child, it is important to reach out to a local case worker to see the resources available for expectant mothers. You might qualify for medical coverage, groceries, and/or help with rent.
A few questions to ask yourself if you are considering parenting are:
- 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 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?
If you decide to parent your child, you should reach out to your local benefits office. A case worker can help you to apply for benefits including but not limited to medical support, food subsidies, and/or help with rent. Most hospitals and benefit offices offer new parent classes to help prepare you for caring for a baby, delivery, and coping with the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy and postpartum.
Another option to consider is placing your child for adoption. A few questions to think about are:
- 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 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?
- Do I have support from my family and friends?
Choosing to place your child for adoption can be a brave and huge decision. When you choose adoption, you can have a big say in the life that your child will enjoy. You can choose whether or not your child will live in a two-parent home and whether or not the family is religious, has any other children, and/or what type of hobbies the family may enjoy. You will be given the chance to read through many profiles of different families hoping to adopt. As an expecting parent, you have the right to choose which family your child will be placed with.
Open vs. Closed Adoption
You also get to choose how open you want your adoption to be. You can choose to have an open adoption, a semi-open adoption, or a closed adoption. With an open adoption, you might request to have regular visits with your child, participate in special celebrations, and/or talk on the phone regularly. Some parents choose to have a semi-open adoption which might include updates and pictures sent through email once a year, phone calls once or twice a year, or other limited contact. With an open adoption, it is up to the expectant mother and the hopeful adoptive family to agree on what level of communication will be observed. Open adoptions can be incredibly beneficial for adopted children. It can help give them a sense of identity and knowledge of their origin.
A closed adoption is just as it sounds—closed. In a closed adoption, there is no contact between the birth family and the adoptive family. Some parents choose this path in order to keep the child safe from harm or because they believe communicating with their child will be too painful. Whichever decision you make, it is important to communicate your expectations clearly and effectively.
You also get to choose which process you’d like to pursue for adoption. You can choose to work with a licensed agency or work to find a match for your child on your own. A good adoption agency will provide you with support and guidance through the whole process at no cost to you. They can connect you with healthcare providers, counseling services, and guide you to finding a match. Families that are hoping to adopt generally seek out an adoption agency to help them make a match, as well. Working with an adoption agency will give you the chance to view a lot of potential families.
You can also find the match on your own. Adoption.com has many family profiles that you can view. You can reach out to families directly to begin asking questions and making connections. Families also connect through common acquaintances like friends, professionals, or through word of mouth. Whether you use an adoption agency or find a hopeful adoptive family on your own, an adoption attorney will finalize the adoption.
For Hopeful Adoptive Parents: Your Choices
When it comes to adoption, all of the options can be very overwhelming. Hopefully we can break them down for you in this Wisconsin adoption guide. The first choice that you may make is the type of adoption that you’d like to pursue. You can choose between adopting from foster care, private adoption, or international adoption.
Foster care is a system put in place to provide safe homes for children who have been removed from their parents’ care because of abuse, neglect, or drug use. Foster care is meant to be temporary care for children until they are able to be reunited with their parents. Parents are required by a judge to complete services unique to each situation to show they are able to care for their children. If they are unable to complete their services and the judge terminates parental rights, then the child or children are available for adoption. Children placed into care can be anywhere from newborn to eighteen years old.
If you want to adopt directly from foster care, you might consider a waiting child in Wisconsin. Waiting children are children whose parental rights have been terminated, but have not found their forever homes. These children are generally older, part of sibling groups, and/or have a disability.
To become a foster parent in Wisconsin, you must:
- be 21 years old or older.
- be responsible.
- pass a criminal background check.
- pass a home study.
Foster parents in Wisconsin are:
- different ages.
- different races.
- have different income levels.
- come from different occupations.
- may be single or married.
- homeowners or renters
- working in or outside of their homes.
- already parenting or have no children in the home (yet).
You are also required to complete training that will prepare you for the emotional, physical, and mental demands it takes to be a good parent for children that have experienced trauma. You are also required to complete a home study that is specific to foster care.
Private Domestic Adoption
When you adopt through private adoption, you can either work directly with a licensed adoption agency or pursue an independent adoption. When working with a licensed adoption agency, you are given support and guidance throughout the whole adoption process. They will walk you through each step and connect you with the right adoption professionals. They also assist in finding a match for you and your family. While adoption costs may vary, agencies generally offer you ways to finance your adoption, apply for loans, and apply for grants. Adoption agencies can also act as the go-between between the hopeful adoptive family and expectant parents.
An independent adoption is when a hopeful adoptive family and an expectant mother are able to make a connection on their own. This can be done through Parent Profiles on Adoption.com, through mutual friends, or even through social media. An independent adoption is much less expensive than a private adoption, but it can get a little bit messy. There is rarely a mediator between the hopeful adoptive family and the expectant parents. Whether you use an adoption agency or not, an adoption lawyer can help ensure that everything is done legally, ethically, and correctly. You will also need to have a completed home study for any form of domestic adoption that you pursue. If you work with an adoption agency, they will direct you to or provide you with a licensed home study care worker. If you are working towards an independent adoption, you will be responsible for connecting with your own licensed home study care worker.
International adoption is an exciting adventure. It is a bit more complicated than domestic adoption, but will be an opportunity to grow your family while providing a home for an orphaned child. Most children that are adopted internationally are cared for in an orphanage before being adopted. Depending on the country that you decide to adopt from, you might not bring your child home for months or even years after a match has been made. There are a lot of legal hoops to jump through and paperwork to fill out. For this purpose and many others, you can use a Hague accredited adoption agency for an international adoption.
The Gladney 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”. The home study that you complete for an international adoption must follow Hague guidelines. This is just one of the many reasons why you will want to work with an international adoption agency.
If you are an expecting parent considering placing your child for adoption, you will not need to pay for anything in regards to your adoption. It is also very likely to get help with the medical bills associated with your pregnancy.
If you are a hopeful adoptive parent, you might be overwhelmed with the cost of domestic or international adoption. There are many options for you when it comes to financing your adoption. First, you need to take a look at your current budget. Look for places you can make cuts or do without as you save money for adoption. It’s amazing to see families that have adopted with little to no debt and the sacrifices they’ve made.
You can also host fundraisers. Many families host garage sales, t-shirt fundraisers, or other activities to get their loved ones and communities involved in their adoption. Generally, people are eager to help and support each other. They just need to know where the need is first. You can also take a look at your talents and skills to see if there is a service you can provide or an item you can create that can bring in some extra money.
Some families take out a loan to pay for their adoptions. You can apply for no- to low-interest loans that can really help if you are in a pinch. You can also apply for adoption grants to fund part of your adoption. You can apply for multiple. Some families pay for almost all of their adoption with grants.
The possibilities are endless as you begin the research necessary for this step.
I hope that this Wisconsin adoption guide was able to help you as you begin this journey whether as an expectant mother or as hopeful adoptive parents. If you have any other questions, keep looking through adoption.org for more information.
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.