April 04, 2009,
H.T. asks from Brookfield, MA on April 02, 2009
Experience with Open Adoption Process????
I have an interesting request/situation. I currently have a student who is pregnant and planning on giving her baby up for adoption, but is looking to have an open adoption. My partner and I are interested in adopting the baby and are open to the idea of an open adoption (no pun intended) but are not sure how to proceed. I know we are in a different situation than most families, and the baby is due in 10 weeks, but we've just started discussion adoption with the birthmother. If she wants us to "have" her baby, what do we need to do to make that happen legally?
Any advice on how to find out more about the adoption process in this case? I'd love to hear from others who have experienced the adoption process, especially in an open case. **also, we are in Massachusetts, near Worcester.**
Thanks so much!
1 mom found this helpful
A.R. answers from Boston on April 03, 2009
Hi H., congrats first off! And second you need a LAWYER!! You need one with experience in open adoptions ect... I would do this as soon as possible, you want to have all the legal stuff complete before the baby is born, without that it is all a free game for the birth mom. She could give you the baby, then say she wants it back ect... I would get an attorney today, and maybe hire one for her as well so that everything is explained right and she is also protected. Good luck:))
S.B. answers from Boston on April 03, 2009
I have no experience with an open adoption but have the name of an attorney that my partner and I used. My partner and I are legally married in the state of Mass, and I gave birth to our son 19 months ago. Even though my partner's name was on the birth certificate, and she was legally the other mom, we decided to have her adopt our son.
Our attorney is a lesbian in Boston, and we thought she was great. I don't know if she would be of any help, but here's her info.
The attorney's name is Donna Turley, though we dealt mostly with her assistant, Kristine Grimes.
Glickman Turley LLP
250 Summer St
Boston, MA 02210
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M.B. answers from Boston on April 03, 2009
I am going through the adoption process as we speak and it is a long process. I am in MA so the department of children and families has to come out once a month for home visits until the process is complete.
Within the first week I was granted temporary custody I had three home visits. They just want to make sure your home is safe and there is room for the child. You should get a lawyer that specializes in adoption first and maybe contact DCF or Planned Parenthood for guidance on the process.
Good luck with everything, You are doing a wonderful thing.
M.J. answers from Boston on April 03, 2009
I adopted my son through DSS. It was/is an open adoption. You definitely need a lawyer. The Childrens Friends in Worcester conducted the adoption assessment and home study. They are a non profit adoption agency. They also have other services. An open adoption means the biological parents get to meet you and you agree to send them pictures of the child as he or she grows. The pictures are usually sent through your lawyer. My adopted son is actually a relative so in my case, I allow his biological mom to see him once or twice a year. However it's my choice to allow the visits.
Hope it works out,
L.L. answers from Portland on April 03, 2009
The only experience I have ever had with open adoptions is on the Reservation in Princeton, ME.
BUT, the NA culture is much different than ours. They consider the tribe a family unit, it doesnt matter WHO brings up the child as long as it stays on the Res and is raised by a NA family. It is very common for a young girl to get preggers , go to a woman who cannot have children and ask her if she wants the baby. Or for a childless woman, or one who wants more children, to approach the pregnant ( usually) teenager and ask her for her baby. The child will know who its mother and father is, will be visited by them, will visit them, but call the adoptive woman Mum and her husband, Dad.
They often do take legal steps, secure a lawyer and have either guardianship papers or adoption, drawn up.
I have also seen, when there were no adoption papers, the birth mother, after she has grown and matured for eight to ten years, come and take the child back. No papers, no recourse for the adopting mum.
In the case I refer to the birth mother brought the boy back to his adoptive home in less than a year.
Personally I feel an open adoption is the very best way to handle an adoption. Leaves no "hanging chads" so to speak and the child has a known background to grow from. No questions left unanswered. Mentally healthy I should think.
Of course on the Res a nine year old will know the genealogy of every family there...it is quite amazing.
So, I would strongly recommend you secure legal help with this, have adoption papers drawn up ect.
I think you can and should discuss the "open" aspect with the birth Mum and decide how open it will all be. Photos and annual or semi annual visits? Or weekly?
I think you need to decide this all NOW before you do the papers thingy.
Good for you !!! And congratulations on your new baby !!!
Best wishes and God bless
M.M. answers from Boston on April 03, 2009
We adopted our little (OK, no longer so little --He's 7 and ahalf)boy from the Phillipines. And although a overseas adoption is somewhat different than a domestic( and open) adoption, in Massasachusetts, prospective adoptive parents, regardless of the type of adoption, need to have a home study thru an adoption agency. Wide Horizons for Children handled ours from start to finish (including the legal/ court/finalization stuff)and they do also handle domestic adoptions and I believe they have services for birthmoms too.
We have little info on our son's birthmom and have no contact with her. However, we do send pics and updates to the orphanage he lived in and the sisters love them and its there should his birthmom ever seek it out...And the whole adoption process, as overwhelming as it seemed at times, was well worth it.
S.S. answers from Boston on April 04, 2009
My best friend from the Chicago area and her husband adopted a boy through an open adoption. They were actually at the birth and then got their son a few days later. They were on pins and needles for those few days, afraid that the birthmom would change her mind, but she didn't. It was incredible to be there, literally from the birth to the present.
The birthmom was married, had a child already, but was in the process of a divorce. Considering the circumstances, she decided adoption was the best route.
My friends worked through Lutheran Social Services, if I remember correctly. There were home visits, group discussions for prospective parents, and extensive questionnaires. It helped them really process if this was the right thing for them. After approval, then it was just a matter of waiting. They were willing to adopt domestically or overseas, but then this adoption came up within the same metropolitan area, making it much easier and faster for all involved.
At first, I wondered how an open adoption would work but it has been great for them. On occasion, they've had to pull back a little because the birthmom wanted too much contact and it began to feel awkward, but they have since sorted that all out. As long as you have your legal and personal boundaries drawn well, it can be a wonderfully rewarding way to go.
It has been an interesting road. Their son knows he has a blood brother. In fact, he comes for weekend visits on occasion or the two families occasionally do things together. Once, when the birthmom went to a psychiatric ward for a couple of weeks, the brother stayed with them for the duration.
That was the point where they had to draw the line. The birthmom had just kind of shown up and said she was going to the hospital, without any warning. Other last minute requests had happened in the past, I think, so when the birthmom was healthier again they had a talk with her. They had a good relationship with her, but this experience was too disruptive for comfort. They drew the line and said, if this happens again, they were prepared to go for custody of both boys. However, that bumpy road has been passed and the boundaries are much clearer.
It also, prior to that experience, got a little weird at one point, where my friend realized the birthmom felt like she was going to be best friends with them all. But my friend had to put some boundaries on that as well.
That being said, it has been a wonderful experience for them. Their son is most definitely their son, they are most definitely his parents, the birthmom is more like a friend of the family as well as the brother. They probably have more contact than many open adoptive/birth parent arrangements, but it works for them. I think the contact can be defined however both sides agree to do it--cards and pictures, or more.
My friend has often said how interesting it is to know both her son and his birth brother...and, in fact, the birthmom, too. It gives her a window into how he will look as he grows older. It gives them insight into behavioral patterns and diseases. It gives their son a link to another human being with the same genetics. The boys are now 12 and mid-teens.
I would encourage you pursuing the adoption through a lawyer or an adoption agency. It always helps to have all of your I's dotted and your T's crossed. I don't know the MA laws, but I'm sure there are many. When you pursue adoption via legal paths, the boundaries are defined and it clarifies things down the road.
My sister adopted her granddaughter. Talk about an open adoption! That one had the potential to be a lot fuzzier on boundaries than my friends' situation. But it is clear to all involved, especially with it in writing, and it also works well for them.
There is also an organization in MA that makes arrangements so that the birthmom lives with the adoptive family for the last few months. They get to know each other, the adoptive family pays for all birthing expenses, etc. I don't know if there is contact after the birth and adoption, but that is another option.
Best of luck! And act quickly, if you think you want to follow this path. I don't know how long this could take, if both parties are already known. But I know my friends' process took roughly six months. My sister's process was much faster because it was relatives involved. But you may all need time to work out the specifics and to process your feelings about it all.
Good luck and enjoy!
K.D. answers from Boston on April 03, 2009
my husband and i adopted our son two and a half years ago, and we have an open adoption... which means that we send pictures and letters (thru the agency) on a yearly basis. on our son's birthday, the birthfather's mom sends a card to our son (again thru agency).
i would try to find an adoption lawyer b/c you want to make sure that all t's are crossed, etc. are you in massachusetts? if so, i would be more than happy to give you the name of the lawyer that we used. the birthmother will need to "sign" the baby over to you, legally, 4 days after the birth (not before that... again, if you are in ma)... then the earliest that you can go to court for the actual, legal adoption is 6 months later. you also have to make sure that the birthfather signs over all rights as well.
i would call an adoption lawyer though... s/he will know all rules, etc. but that is the basic run down.
please let me know if you want anymore info from me.
M.H. answers from Boston on April 03, 2009
Be yourself have faith and ask her if you and your partners would adopt her baby you will be surprise what she might say i am sure she wants what is best for her baby
best of luck