CEO and Founder Michele Fried answers and updates Frequently Asked Questions about Adoption STAR as an agency. These questions are in addition to the ones on our website – see the list of FAQ links here.
- What is your fee schedule?
Please contact us and ask for the Fee Description and Agreement. It is also included in every Registration packet. If you have specific questions related to the fees, please do not hesitate to ask.
- If an adoption falls through do we still get charged? Does it add to our costs in any way?
In the event that a birth parent has a change of heart before the termination of her rights, the bulk of the placement fee will be returned if it has already been paid. However, there may be a financial loss due to time on the case, services you’ve received, legal fees, and any costs associated with medical or hospital expenses, birth parent expenses, etc. This however would not be a surprise, as you would have received a “match letter” along with a financial risk statement outlining the match and any financial risks that would be involved in a particular case. You will be encouraged to pass on a situation should the potential loss of fees prevent you from following through with your adoption plans.
- Do you have contracts you sign with adoptive parents? Can we have a copy?
There are several documents throughout the process that you will be required to sign. All of our documents are shared prior to them needing to be signed and you are encouraged to have an attorney review all paperwork prior to signing. You should also keep a copy of all paperwork.
- How much do adoptive parents typically pay in healthcare bills for the birth mother?
Most birth mothers are covered by some form of medical/health insurance or Medicaid, etc. In the event that there is no or minimal insurance and/or co-pay fees, the adoptive family is responsible for the full cost of the prenatal care, delivery and/or associated costs. The Agency works very hard to help birth mothers obtain financial assistance, such as Medicaid, however, The Agency makes no guarantees as to the availability of any medical assistance/insurance coverage/Medicaid/etc., and bills can range from 0- $10,000 + for a birth parent(s’) pregnancy related medical expense(s). Additionally, adoptive parents must secure medical insurance for their child immediately after placement and be prepared to show a copy of such coverage.
- How much do adoptive parents typically pay in legal bills for the birth mother?
Adoptive parents are responsible for all legal fees. A portion is due at time of match and the balance is due at time of placement. The Agency encourages all birth parents to have separate legal representation in connection with the surrender of their child for adoption. Adoptive parents will be responsible for this fee to be paid either directly to the attorney or through The Agency to maintain confidentiality. Depending upon the state the birth parent resides, the fee can be $500 – $3,000 +.
- How much do adoptive parents typically pay in birth parent expenses?
An expectant mother/birth mother may need financial assistance with rent, utilities, maternity clothes, food, transportation and other reasonable living expenses. Although living expenses are not involved in every adoption, payment of such expenses is regulated either by the state in which the expectant parent surrenders/consents to the adoption or, the state where the adoption will be finalized. These costs could range from 0 to $5,000+ depending upon the needs of the birth mother and the laws of the state.
- How many placements did you make last year and how many do you see happening this year?
We publish an annual placement statistic report and that is freely shared. In 2010 for example we reached 69 placements, in 2011 we had 57 placements and in 2012 there were 73 placements, this includes both domestic and international adoptions.
- How many infants versus older children do you place?
Our domestic infant program predominately places newborns while our international program makes referrals of children who are toddlers and older.
- Does the staff have degrees in social work, counseling or psychology?
Absolutely! Individuals who work directly with clients are predominately social workers with master’s degrees in the field. We also have licensed mental health professionals and psychologists on staff. Additionally, all employees of the agency have extensive experience related to the specific work they are assigned. We also believe in continuing our education and our staff receives more than 15 hours per year in adoption related training.
- How many staff work for the agency?
We have three office locations and several staff throughout those three states so we have over 50 individuals providing anywhere from full time, part time or per diem support to the agency and it’s clients.
- Are you a nonprofit?
Yes, we are a non-profit 501-c3 organization.
- What makes this agency special and different from other agencies?
There are differences between adoption agencies. It is important that you select an agency that you feel comfortable with and one that will provide you with the support and assistance you need. This is your adoption journey… selecting the right agency makes all the difference.
- Our approach is very personal. You’ll never hear voicemail.
- We pride ourselves on the diversity of our families.
- Our fees are consistent regardless of the infant’s race.
- Fees are based on a sliding fee scale.
- You do not pay a deposit toward your placement unless you are matched with an expectant parent or until placement occurs.
- We are authorized and licensed in more than one state, providing more opportunities for clients to adopt.
- You will be provided your own agency representative known as a Family Advocate that will offer you support and compassion throughout the process.
- We don’t make promises about time frames or about adopting. We believe in the sharing of honest and helpful communication.
- We view our relationship with our clients as life-long, just like parenthood. Our adoptive families and children are connected with us into the future and are provided with post adoption educational opportunities and support.
- We provide pre and post adoption education and support for adoptive families, birth families and adoptees (childhood through adulthood).
- Support groups and our mentoring program keep you linked to other adoptive families. This is another learning and sharing opportunity for you.
- Our professional staff is knowledgeable and passionate about adoption.
- How long does a typical home study take?
This varies depending upon when you enter the process, when you attend the classes and how quickly you return the necessary paperwork. The time frame generally ranges from 1 to 4 months.
- Does your agency have a board of directors? Who are they?
Yes, the board of directors is comprised of professionals in the community, many who are personally touched by adoption. They have a broad range of experiences in adoption, non-profit, marketing, fundraising, management, professional development, strategic planning, medicine, communication, etc.
- Are the birth parent’s parents involved in the adoption?
We encourage all of our expectant parents (prospective birth parents) to involve their parents and other family members or other people they would feel comfortable including. When we work with expectant birth parents that are minors we do ask that a parent or guardian participate in the process, however it is up to the birth parent of any age to include or not include members of their family. During counseling we review family history and determine who are family members that are supportive and non-supportive or unaware of an adoption plan. We advocate for honesty and encourage our clients to share an adoption plan with one’s family but cannot force clients to share their confidential information with others.
- How do you obtain birth family health history information?
We have our birth parent clients complete a background packet describing physical characteristics, and answering questions related to hereditary factors such as medical conditions, mental illness, disabilities, drug use and abuse, etc. We also request pre-natal records, birth and delivery and infant clinical records. We routinely receive results of drug screens and are able to request other testing if it is warranted. It is important to know that much of the health history obtained is shared by the birth parents.
- Do you counsel the birth mothers? If so, what kind of counseling?
Yes! Counseling and education is imperative. We provide both pre and post adoption counseling and conduct counseling one-on-one in-person and we are available to the client via telephone, including texting, emailing, etc. We provide a support group for our birth parents known as Blue Rose, a support group for Birth Grandparents as well. In addition to our support group meetings we host several birth family social events. We also provide transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and assist with many services via direct service or referral. We have a 24-hour live answering service for birth parents who wish to reach us after hours.
- What do you do if a birth mother refuses counseling?
When counseling is simply a part of the day-to-day process of integrating a new client into the program, it is rarely if ever declined. One can receive counseling on the way to a pre-natal appointment, having lunch together, meeting at their home or another location.
- How do you obtain medical info on the child?
We request and obtain medical information with signed HIPPA compliant releases. Additionally we obtain family history directly from the birth parents and provide forms for the hospital to complete upon discharge of the baby.
- How do you define ‘special needs’?
To us special needs means a child born with a significant disability, such as a cognitive and/or physical disability. Down Syndrome or other chromosomal abnormality is one example. The definition for “at-risk for special needs” is defined as a child whose birth mother may have a mental illness, or has abused drugs or alcohol during the pregnancy.
- What will the agency do if the child has unexpected medical problems?
Our commitment is always to the child and we will work to be sure that s/he receives the best possible care and examine whether or not the family who was matched with the case wishes to proceed with the adoption plan knowing the new medical issues involved. If not, our agency is committed to assisting the birth parents in selecting another family that can best meet the needs of the child.
- What other questions should I ask?
You can ask for references. For example, Adoption STAR has a Mentor Program and can provide you with names and contact information of clients including match you with families who can provide you with more insight to adoption issues that you wish to learn more about or are concerned about.
Some of the things that make us special and different from others:
Next, we recommend that you ask YOURSELF some questions.
- Do I feel comfortable with this agency and the people you have connected with?
- Are the people in this agency friendly and helpful?
- Do I feel like I can call them anytime I have a question?
- Do I feel like this is the “team” you wish to work with?
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Best wishes on your adoption journey!
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