FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. We’ve heard of adopting through an agency, but are unsure of what an independent adoption is.
An agency adoption is where the birthmom relinquishes her child to an adoption agency which then places the child with the adoptive parents. Most states, including California, allow a birthmom to directly place a child into the home of the adoptive parents of her choice. This is called “independent or private adoption.”
Q. What kind of financial assistance may the adoptive parents provide to the birth mother?
The assistance must be limited to maternity-related expenses and certain necessary living expenses. Financial assistance must be charitable in nature, which means it must not be conditioned on the birth mother’s cooperation in the adoption. The amount of financial assistance required by the birth mother will, of course, vary from case to case depending on her needs and situation.
Q. Is there any financial assistance available to help with the cost of adoption?
Great news for adoptive parents is the federal adoption tax credit. For many adoptive parents, this greatly reduces the cost of their adoption, sometimes even making it eventually free.
The 2012 tax credit is set at $12,650. Adoptive parents may claim the tax credit if their modified adjusted gross income is not more than $189,710. For those with incomes in excess of this amount, the credit can still be claimed up to modified adjusted gross incomes of $229,710. Because the permitted income levels are so high, virtually all adoptive parents are eligible for the credit. (In 2011 the tax credit was $13,170.)
The $12,650 credit can be used for any lawful expenses in an adoption (home study fees, attorney and/or agency fees, birth mother’s counseling and legally permitted assistance with living and medical costs). The tax credit applies to both domestic (independent and agency) and international adoption. It does not apply to step-parent or adult adoptions. In domestic adoption, normally the credit is taken year-by-year as the expenses are incurred, ending at the finalization. In international adoption, the credit is taken all at once, upon finalization.
To learn more about the federal tax credit, and confirm if it will apply to you, consult a licensed tax professional. See also our page Adoption Resources
There is also in the state of California Paid Family Leave Insurance disability compensation to allow individuals who take time off work to bond with a new child. See also our pageAdoption Resources
Yes. At Alpha Adoption Centers, we encourage at least one structured meeting in an office setting where there is normally a lot of heartfelt communication. In addition to the birth mom’s opportunity to express the thoughts and feelings she wants passed on to her child in the years to come, and her right to evaluate the adoptive parents’ ability to love her child. The adoptive parents have the opportunity to evaluate the degree of certainty of the birth mom’s decision to allow her child to be adopted. “Open” communication is encouraged at this meeting.
Q. How much personal and medical information will we receive about the birth mother?
In the meeting mentioned above, you may ask as many questions about the birth mother’s personal philosophy and medical background as you wish. In addition, the birth mom will sign an authorization so that we may obtain, on your behalf, full medical reports from her doctor and the hospital where she will be delivering. You will also receive a copy of all the forms she fills out which contain family health history, drug use, reasons for choosing adoption, occupation, hobbies, skills, etc. Oftentimes the adoptive parents are also invited to attend an ultrasound with their birthmom.
Q. Is the consent of the birth father required for the adoption?
Generally speaking, if the birth father is married to the birth mom at the time of birth or conception, or if he takes the child into his home and acknowledges the child as his, then he is referred to as the “presumed father” and his consent is required for the adoption. Biological fathers who are not “presumed fathers” are legally referred to as “alleged fathers.” The law generally accords less rights to “alleged fathers” than to “presumed fathers.” Generally speaking, if the alleged father is not actively contesting the adoption, his legal rights may be terminated in a court proceeding if he is unwilling to sign a consent form.
Q. Is there any safeguard for the child to ensure it is being placed in an appropriate home?
Yes. As part of the statutory framework in California and most states, a formal process is instituted either prior to or immediately following the placement of the child in the adoptive parents’ home. This involves a physical inspection of the home, review of the adoptive parents’ financial stability and state of wealth, as well as an overall investigation of the circumstances of placement. This report is referred to as a “home study.” See our page titled The AAC Homestudy for more information.
Q. In independent adoptions, is it unusual for the identity of the adoptive parents to be kept from the birth mother?
Yes. The birth mother must have sufficient information about the parents to make an informed decision about where to place her child. In most cases, birth mothers are interested in personally meeting the adoptive parents. In California, in order for the child to be taken home from the hospital by the adoptive parents, a state-provided infant release form must be signed by the birth mother. The adoptive parents’ names and address appear on the form and a copy will be offered to the birth mom.
Q. Is it necessary for adoptive parents to go to court?
Yes. In California, an Adoption Request is filed shortly after placing the child in the adoptive parents’ home. Approximately 6 to 9 months after the birth, this Request will culminate in a court appearance with the adoptive parents with the child. The birth mother generally does not go to court. Most states have similar procedures.
Q. Following the adoption, what sort of documentation will we receive showing that the child is ours legally?
In addition to an Adoption Order or Decree, a new birth certificate is issued which reflects the adoptive parents’ names as the child’s legal parents. The original birth certificate and other court records are sealed and are no longer accessible to the public.