Giving Tuesday

February 25th

#GivingTuesday is Tuesday, November 28. Find out more about this 24-hour, special opportunity to make 2X impact, click here.

National Adoption Month Archives • Upbring

1

Adopting Through Upbring: Clare and Phil’s Story

Clare and Phil relaxed on their couch and watched a movie unaware that in less than 12 hours, their lives would change forever. Before heading to bed, they noticed a missed call from Kelly Keen, Upbring’s Domestic Adoption Specialist. Their hopes soared. Clare and Phil dialed Kelly’s number, holding their breath and silently praying that this was the call they had been waiting for.

Tears streamed down their cheeks as they learned that their prayers had been answered. Not only had an expectant mother chosen them as parents, but the baby had just been born! Clare and Phil quickly packed an overnight bag and set off to meet their daughter, phoning friends and family to tell them the good news along the way.

Clare and Phil often reflect on that day and the process that changed their lives in the most beautiful way. Having started the adoption journey with another agency, the couple felt like they were on their own throughout the process. Yearning for a more personal experience, they searched for other options. “Clare is a researcher and did her homework to find Upbring,” Phil said. They knew they were in good hands from their very first phone call with Upbring’s Director of Adoption, Erin Patterson.

Kelly later guided Clare and Phil through the adoption process and paperwork and kept them updated along the way. When they were able to officially adopt their daughter, Joy, Kelly was at the courthouse celebrating by their side. The couple continues to be impressed by the level of care and support Upbring shows their family. “We tell everyone we know who mentions they are interested in adoption to contact Upbring because the entire process was wonderful,” Clare said.

At Upbring, we limit the size of our domestic adoption program in order to offer personalized, high-quality and ethical care as well as lifetime post-adoption services for all members of the adoption triad (expectant families, adoptive families and adoptees). We understand that adoption is a life-changing decision, which is why the Upbring family will be with you every step of the way. For more information on the adoption process, please call our adoption hotline to speak to one of our adoption specialists at 1-833-80ADOPT or visit Upbring.org/Adoption.

0

Paying for Adoption: Resources

The journey to becoming a parent can be a challenging process with many routes to get there. For families pursuing adoption, the process can be a long, complicated and emotional ride, with boundless questions and unknowns.

 

Undeniably, one of the biggest challenges of navigating adoption is the cost. Adoption is an expensive endeavor and many often wonder why. It’s important to know that you are not paying for a child, but paying for the many services required to bring your child home in a safe and ethical manner. Those services can include adoptive parent training, home study services, expectant parent fees, background checks, legal fees, medical fees, post-placement support and much more.

 

While adoption may be a complex and costly process, don’t lose heart! Below is a list of resources available to make any form of adoption attainable for your family:

 

  • Employee Benefits Program – A growing number of employers are offering adoption assistance in various forms, including reimbursement for adoption-related expenses.
  • Military Reimbursement – Active duty members and reservists are eligible for up to $2,000 in adoption expense reimbursement.
  • Sliding Fee Scales – Some adoption agencies, including Upbring, offer a sliding fee scale which bases adoption fees on your gross annual household income.
  • Adoption Grants – Many agencies offer grants to adoptive families, such as Show Hope, Helpusadopt.org, Gift of Adoption Fund and many more. Please note many of these applications will require that you provide a copy of your finalized adoption home study, so be sure to start that process as early as possible.
  • Adoption Loans – There are several agencies, such as A Child Waits Foundation, that offer low interest or 0% interest loans.
  • Crowdfunding – The advent of funding websites has made it much easier for families to ask friends, family and their community for financial support during an adoption. One example is AdoptTogether.com, used by many clients as a virtual baby shower where individuals can donate to a loved one’s adoption fund.
  • Tax Credits – If a family is eligible for an adoption tax credit, the credit amount can be applied to a family’s tax liability. Further, if the family’s credit exceeds the family’s tax liability, it can continue to be applied for up to 5 years. For additional information, please visit https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.
  • Fundraising – This is a great opportunity to use your creativity! Some creative ideas we have seen families come up with include empty baby bottles at cash registers to collect coins, an auction for horseback riding lessons and homemade spaghetti plates prepared with donated ingredients and sold for the donor’s amount of choice. The options are endless!

 

While covering the cost of adoption can be daunting, it is possible! At Upbring, we have seen clients fund their entire adoption process using these tools, and we encourage you to learn more about the options available to make adoption attainable for your family. If you’re interested in learning more about the adoption process through Upbring, please visit Upbring.org/Adoption or call 1-833-80ADOPT to speak to an adoption specialist.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Patterson, LMSW

Director of Adoption 

Erin Patterson is the Director of Adoption at Upbring where she supervises international adoption, domestic infant adoption and post-adoption support services. Erin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master of Social Work with a concentration on Community Administration and Leadership and holds the certification of Licensed Master of Social Work. An Upbring employee of nearly 10 years, Erin has a background in disaster relief and adoption services in their various forms.  Erin has been fortunate enough to work and travel in countries such as Ghana, South Africa and Haiti, granting a deeper understanding of the realities of adoption in developing countries. Erin now lives in Austin with her husband and two children and spends her free time cooking for a crowd.

0

A Deeper Look at Open Adoption

When an adoptive family decides to take a leap of faith and pursue a domestic infant adoption, they will inevitably be faced with a steep learning curve. They will learn about home studies, transracial adoption, fingerprints and post-placement reports and will find themselves growing as they face each new issue. Arguably, one of the most important issues they will consider is the level of openness in adoption.

 

Because the history of domestic adoption is rooted in secrecy, negative stereotypes and a lack of communication, openness has only recently become a norm in the United States. Today, we define openness in adoption as varying levels of contact between biological families and adoptive families. Essentially, if an adoption is open, the terms of communication between the two families can be anything that both parties agree to, and Upbring staff will act as a mediator between parties as needed. In our history conducting domestic adoptions at Upbring, we have seen many interpretations of open adoption; everything from weekly visits to annual photo updates to a lifetime of silence, but knowing that the door is open should any member of the adoption triad (the adoptee, adoptive family and biological family) want to contact the other that is key.

 

As our profession has followed the trajectory of openness in adoption, we have learned a great deal. By 1999, we learned that two-thirds of domestic adoptions were open and by 2012, U.S. agencies reported that 95% of adoptions fell somewhere on the continuum of openness. Research shows that all members of the adoption triad benefit from openness in adoption. For example, adoptees report feeling a greater sense of identity and peace with their adoption story. They have access to vital medical and psychological information and report having healthier relationships with their adoptive families, among other things.

 

It is important to remember and consider that openness in adoption is not always possible or advisable. At Upbring, we do everything we can to educate adoptive families and biological families on the nature of both open and closed adoptions. There are circumstances where closed adoption is the appropriate choice, and we work to support our clients in identifying and following the path that is right for them. If the families choose a closed adoption, it is just that – communication between the involved parties ends at the time of placement, and there is no recourse later in life.

 

Upbring is honored to assist both adoptive and biological families as they consider the possibilities for openness for the life of their adoption and support both parties along the way. If you’re interested in learning more about the adoption process through Upbring, please visit Upbring.org/Adoption or call 1-833-80ADOPT to speak to an adoption specialist.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Patterson, LMSW

Director of Adoption 

Erin Patterson is the Director of Adoption at Upbring where she supervises international adoption, domestic infant adoption and post-adoption support services. Erin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Masters of Social Work with a concentration on Community Administration and Leadership and holds the certification of Licensed Master of Social Work. An Upbring employee of nearly 10 years, Erin has a background in disaster relief and adoption services in their various forms.  Erin has been fortunate enough to work and travel in countries such as Ghana, South Africa and Haiti, granting a deeper understanding of the realities of adoption in developing countries. Erin now lives in Austin with her husband and two children and spends her free time cooking for a crowd.

0

Building Families Through Adoption: Which Type of Adoption is Right for Your Family?

The journey of adoption usually begins with the exploration of the different types of adoption available. Researching the ways hopeful adoptive parents can expand their families and making a definitive decision on which path to choose can be overwhelming. This guide will explore the three types of adoption that are available to families looking to provide a child or children with a loving and forever home — Foster to Adopt, Domestic Infant Adoption and International Adoption, all offered by Upbring.

 

Foster to Adopt and Straight Adoption

Upbring Foster In Texas works with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to find loving temporary and permanent homes for children who have been removed from their biological parents due to neglect, physical abuse, substance abuse, etc. In most DFPS cases, the child is removed from their home and placed with a foster family. A judge will order the biological parents to complete certain tasks within a “reunification plan” to regain custody of their children. If the biological parents successfully complete all tasks asked of them and it is safe for the child to return home, then the child is reunified with their biological family.

 

If the biological parents do not take the necessary steps recommended by the courts, they will likely have their parental rights terminated, and the child will be eligible for adoption by relativestheir current foster family or another foster family licensed to adopt through foster care. Hopeful foster and adoptive families should understand that the primary goal of the DFPS is to reunite children with their biological parents. If that is not in the child’s best interest, they work to place them with relatives or with their current foster family when possible. If their current foster family is unable to adopt, the child will be placed with a foster family who is licensed to adopt. Foster and adoptive families should remain open to the possibility that the child or children will be reunited with their biological parents or placed with a relative.  

 

There are also thousands of children whose parents’ rights have already been terminated and are waiting for a forever family to adopt them from foster care. This type of adoption is called “straight adoption and is ideal for families who are not looking to take on the challenge of fostering a child but would prefer to adopt a child whose rights are already terminated. 

 

Adopting from the foster care system is generally free for foster and adoptive families as it is funded by the state of Texas and the DFPS. Some small fees may be incurred by the family for health and fire inspections of your home as well as FBI fingerprints during the background check process. With children under the age of six, the adoptive family may also be responsible for legal fees.

 

Domestic Infant Adoption

Domestic adoption is the voluntary and permanent relinquishment of an infant born in the United States by the biological parents. In most cases, an adoption plan is created by the expectant mother during her pregnancy with the help of a child-placing agency like Upbring. With the help of counseling from an adoption professional, the birth parents will decide the type of adoptive family they want for their child as well as the amount of contact they desire with their child and adoptive family. Some birth families will prefer a more open adoption, while others may choose to keep the adoption closed and have no contact with the adoptive family after placement. Typically, relinquishment documents are signed by the birth family at the hospital and the infant will go home from the hospital with their adoptive family.

 

Because Child Protective Services and the state of Texas are not involved with private infant adoptions, adoptive families are responsible for the fees associated with the adoption. In most cases, these fees are first paid to the adoption agency who manages costs and the adoption process on your behalf. The fees help pay for the adoptive family approval process (application, training and home study) and case management services, as well as birth parent, agency and attorney expenses, among other things.

 

It’s important to note that while there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of non-relative domestic adoptions completed over the past decade, there’s been no reduction in the number of American families looking to adopt infants via domestic adoption. In fact, some figures estimate that only 18,000 infants are adopted by non-relatives in the U.S. every year, and there are 36 waiting families for every one child who is placed.

 

Finally, wait times for families looking to adopt domestically can vary greatly depending on several factors including openness of the adoptive family regarding race and background of the child, the amount of contact they are willing to engage in with birth parents and ultimately, what expectant parents are looking for in an adoptive family for their baby. In Texas, most adoptions are finalized in court approximately six months after the baby is placed in the adoptive home at the conclusion of a period of post-placement supervision.

 

International Adoption

International adoption, also known as intercountry adoption, is the process of a family adopting an eligible child or children from a country outside of their own.

 

When a family considers international adoption, the first decision they must make is identifying from which country they hope to adopt. This is a vital first step because everything about the adoption process varies from one country to another. For example, dossier documents, wait times, the matching process, post-placement reporting requirements and many other things vary depending on the country you adopt from.

 

Once you’ve identified the country, your next step is to find an adoption agency, often referred to as a placing agency, that has a program operating in that country. This agency will then guide you through the complex process of finalizing your adoption. From the beginning tasks of having a home study conducted, completing necessary paperwork and navigating the immigration process to meeting your child, returning home and conducting post-placement reports, the agency you choose will stand by you step by step.

 

While the adoption process, including its many types, can seem overwhelming, Upbring’s adoption specialists and Foster In Texas staff stand ready to guide you through it allFor more information regarding domestic and international adoption, call 1-833-80ADOPT or visit Upbring.org/AdoptionFor more information about foster to adopt or straight adoption, please call 877-747-8110 or visit Upbring.org/FosterInTexas. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Keen, LMSW

Domestic Adoption Specialist

As a Licensed Master Social Worker with a background in foster care and adoption, Kelly Keen has a wealth of experience working directly with children and families. Kelly graduated from Texas State University with her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and received her Master of Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. As a Domestic Adoption Specialist at Upbring, Kelly has a passion for serving all members of the adoption triad; expectant parents, adoptive parents and children. She is committed to creating meaningful connections with expectant mothers and strives to provide the counsel and support they need throughout the adoption process and beyond. Kelly and her husband have three amazing children and reside in the Austin area.