Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

A Panel of Birth Moms Talk About Adoption

April 27, 2022 Creating a Family Season 16 Episode 17
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
A Panel of Birth Moms Talk About Adoption
Show Notes Transcript

We talk with a panel of birth moms about their adoption experience. What is the adoption experience for birth mothers and what do they think of some of the controversies in adoption, such as pre-birth matching, adoptive parents at the hospital, adoptive mother breastfeeding, etc.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Tell us what your child’s adoption looks like.
  • What are your ideas on:
    • Options counseling being provided by adoption agencies—is there a conflict of interest.
    • Pre-birth matching
    • Some have stated that an infant should go into temporary or foster care for a time (usually 1-2 months) between birth and placement as a revocation period. 
    • Fundraising for adoption
    • Adoptive parent breastfeeding.
  • What did you look for in adoptive parents?
  • There is a lot of talk in adoption world about subtle and not so subtle forms of coercion that could influence a mom’s decision to place. 
    • Hopeful adoptive parents attend doctor appointments.
    • Adoptive parents being present at the birth and at the hospital?
  • How involved do you think adoptive parents should be at the hospital?
  • Openness:
    • How was openness described to you before the adoption.Does the reality of open adoption match what was promised.
    • Benefit and limitations of post adoption contracts. (Did you understand open adoption wasn’t enforceable (may depend upon the state)?)
    • Ethical adoption practices that expectant parents considering adoption should know about.
  • Tips for birth parents and adoptive parents to look for in adoption agencies to make sure they are choosing an ethical agency as to how they treat expectant and birth parents.
  • Importance of separate legal counsel for birth parents. 

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Please pardon the errors, this is an automatic transcription.
Welcome, everyone to creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am both the host of the show as well as the director of the nonprofit creating a Today we're going to be talking with a panel of birth mothers to talk about some of the controversial issues in adoption, such as pre birth matching adoptive parents being present at the hospital, and adoptive mom, breastfeeding and things such as that this was a re air or is a rare of a show that we did a couple of years ago. It is such a good show such a, I think that listening to the of the triad hearing from birth moms, if they're one of the members of the tribe that we hear the least from, well, birth fathers too, but certainly birth moms as well. And I think it's really important for us to hear what they have to say. So I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Welcome Kelsey, Katie and Laura to Creating a Family. We are so glad to have you. Thank you, thank you. Well, I think it would help for everybody to kind of get a lay of the land to understand the what your adoption looks like, you know, from an openness, contact, all that type standpoint. So Laura, let's start with you. What was your son is three and a half. And he was placed at birth, I guess everybody's children are placed at birth. So tell us what does your adoption look like?

Mine is a very open adoption and very fortunate about are fortunate to have it. Originally, I was hoping that good just to this year, and the death of dad was like, Well, how about every other month and I said soul. So I get to see him every other month. He knows me as funny. And he knows me as his birth mom. He's gonna shock me the other day by saying I was in your belly? And I'm like, yes. Yes, you are. Wow. We also share a text at a group text. And I get a couple of updates through that. But primarily, my updates come with each visit. So very, very awesome. open adoption.

Okay, good. Kelsey, what is your adoption look like?

So it looks a little different. I used to live in Indianapolis, and I moved out west about a year ago. So when I lived in close proximity, we had probably five or six visits a year. And then we have we text and we'll FaceTime and call, maybe like once a month, and but now I see him probably. I saw him once in the past year. And then I will probably continue on that by seeing him once or twice, humbly Max, but it's nice. We have a close relationship. We talk, we still text and we'll FaceTime every once in a while. So it's gotten a little more few and far between over the past year. But I also think that's because he's, he's three, and it's just gotten less and less over the years. So but it's still it's still consistent and steady.

Do you feel like that the length the diminishing of contact is more from the adoptive parents standpoint, or from your standpoint?

I think we both contributed to that. Because I'm new. So I definitely get that part. But yeah, I think I get less text from them. I think they have another son and I think that life gets busy. No, that's just kind of reality.

Okay, okay. Katie, tell us what your adoption looks like you have had, you've been your daughter is 17. So you have the most the most longevity here?

Yeah, so, um, I play 17 years ago. And at the time, I think that was considered an open adoption, because I knew their information. We exchanged all of that. But I would say over the years. For modern, you know, sake, it's probably more semi in the fact that I haven't seen my daughter since the hospital. And so what it's looked like is that it's been, you know, pictures and updates. In those early years, maybe until she was about four or five, it was pretty regular, probably three or four times a year. Also during those years, I would get lunch with the adoptive mom on a regular basis. So I get those kinds of updates. And then through the years it's kind of diminished that her adoptive mom actually friended me on Instagram. And so sometimes I will get an update that way or she'll send me a text but it's it's pretty sporadic. Now there's no consistency in what the relationship kind of looks like, or the updates look like.

And from your

standpoint, how is the the inconsistency or the unpredictability, something that is you're fine with? Or is it? Does it make it more difficult for you?

I think it's complicated, because on one hand, it's, it's something I accept, because it's reality. But there are definitely times that I wish it was more consistent or was more predictable. I also placed in an era where there weren't contact agreements, it was kinda like, a gentlemen's handshake. Yeah, we agreed to send you this, but there was no, there was no predictability to it. Yeah. Okay. It's complicated.

Okay. All right. And then at does sound like I would almost think by the terminology we use now it would be considered semi-open. So Katie, from your standpoint, what are your plans for? Will you reach out to her? Are you going to wait for her to reach out to you? Is there an age that you feel is that you want to wait until she is whatever age or do you feel like you need to work through her adoptive parents? Or is this not anything that this point you are interested in?

No, it's for sure. Something I'm thinking about? Because I think through her life, I've always anticipated like 18 Oh, you're an adult when you're 18? And maybe something would happen, then I realized it may very well not, I think, and she just recently turned 17. So we're kind of in that year, would something happen? Could something happen? Could it be another 10 years? My plan is to reach out to her adoptive mom and send her an no and, and just check in that way. I don't plan to reach out to her without speaking to her adoptive parents first,

per month. Okay. So we got questions from adoptive parents and adoptees. And they wanted to know your thoughts on a variety of things. One of which is options counseling, if you received it from an adoption agency. Did you feel like there was a conflict of interest? Did you think it was adequate? So yeah, let me start with you, Kelsey.

Options, counseling was kind of not really a thing. I guess I went to a pregnancy center. At some point, I have a weird experience with that I went to Planned Parenthood and then I went to pregnancy center. And everyone. I think the only thing that people didn't offer to me was parenting. And it was everything. I felt very pulled in either direction, I didn't feel pulled by the pregnancy center, I only went there once. And they were very supportive to me, because I was very scared. And they really just walked me through talking to my mom about being pregnant because I hadn't told her so they didn't really do options, counseling, I just don't think I was at that stage with them. Um, it went to them with like shock. And with Planned Parenthood, the route they wanted me to go was abortion. And then with everyone in my life, it was very much like adoption, or go back to the clinic and get an abortion. And so I never felt like getting one. Well, not not the right person, I guess was telling me was giving me unbiased options counseling.

So you connected with an agent, or did you eventually connect with an agency?

Private Attorney, just matching and stuff in Indiana, and now I never options counseling from them, either.

Okay, let's see. Katie, what about you 17 years ago? What was who counseled you on what your options were, which might include adoption, but might include other things as well?

Well, I think I had a I still do have a very supportive family. And so we sought counseling separate from an agency and or an attorney or a pregnancy center went to just a therapist. And so I do believe she, she did provide me with options counseling, but it was all on our own. It wasn't, you know, by the time I got to where I was going to make an adoption plan, then the agency that we worked with, it was very sighted towards adoption and not of their fault. So I don't know that the attorney or the agency would have done that. But we did that as a family on our own.

Okay, Laura, what about you, were you counseled by anyone? And if so, what was that experience? Like? Was it fair? Was it unbiased?

So you My first I guess random counseling came from a few of my friends, the day I found out, and she kind of, like we talked through all, you know, all three options, and she had experience or the the mom or the family, she had experience with another family friend of theirs who had such difficulty with infertility. And so she knew about the adoption world because it's something that they were exploring, like, a couple years before I found out, and so she kind of gave me just a good framework about what to think about the three different options. Personally, I did not think abortion was going to be the best option for me, my, my child, so that was off the table immediately. And by the time I made it to my adoption agency, my heart was set on adoption. And so I kind of came about that on my own, before I went to my agency and my agency was was very good about being hands off as far as letting me make my decision. So I knew my options before I made it to the agency. But they made it clear that if I did choose to parent, the child, that they would be completely supportive of me and helping me with the resources whatnot. So as far as the options, counseling, that was more on my own in your family friend,

okay. Another there are some in the adoption world who feel like pre birth matching is coercive to expectant women or expectant parents, that it would be better to not allow expectant parents to know anything and to make choices about the adoptive parents. There are other people who feel that it's, it's fair, it's a fair thing for this big of a decision that expectant parents have the ability to have time on their side When making this decision. Thoughts on that? Katie? Do you feel that pre birth matching has a coercive element where it puts too much pressure on the expectant parents, once they meet the adoptive parents and get to know Him to place? Are Is it a good thing? Because it allows the expectant parents to have time?

Yeah, well, I'm not even sure I fully understand what people who don't agree with having the mom have have the ability to match pre birth, what they would do, where would that child go? You know, I, I really believe in early life stability for newborn, and this is a significant trauma. So if if they then think this child should go from home to home to home before it goes to an adoptive family, then I would certainly not agree with that. And in my experience, personally, and even professionally, just looking on again, I don't have the inner thoughts of the women that I work with. But I do believe that there is a sense of like peace that comes when you've, you've selected that family now, certainly you still have the option to not choose adoption. But there is an element of of, you know, relief, okay, that this is moving towards towards something. So I definitely, I think there could be coercion involved in it if it's not done correctly, but I think it's right for a mom that they have that option. Laura, thoughts

on that?

I'm gonna echo their last last phrase there. I think it is right for expectant mom and father to find their find their match. I know for me and my my story, personally, I was still very fuzzy, experiencing a lot of anxiety up until I met my family up until I called up my counselor and I'd still told her like, I want this family and just I feel a connection with them. And having made that decision and made that choice to place with that specific family. And having seen the profile and almost certain vision what this child's life is going to be like in their family and seeing their pictures and everything. I got the piece of I received from making that decision and shaking hands with them and seeing them face to face. I knew that they were no longer strangers. They were a family that I was interested in my child too. And I cannot fathom at all having to make a decision post birth. That would be just crazy. And again, what exactly what the the alternative to placing these alternatives like to post birth choice? Would my child be shopped around or not shopped around but like handed off from foster home to foster home? That's kind of the reason why I went through with adoption and placing him into the arms of the family I chose instead of of trusting him to foster care which there's some issues with foster care, let's be honest, I wanted to make sure that my child had a home to go to, but I knew that I was entrusting them to. And it was the last bit of control that I had over his life before I surrendered my rights to them, technically to agency but paperwork paperwork, I knew who was going to, and that gave me probably the most amount of peace out of the entire my entire journey with adoption.

Okay, Kelsall. Any, any thoughts from your experience?

Yeah, I hear this argument. I've heard this a couple times about how rebirth matching is coercive. And it just, I just, I really do think like, in an effort to make things sometimes like, in people's minds and effort to make things more ethical for us, they're taking our choices away, sometimes. And it's really frustrating to me to hear, because a lot of times, I hear these things, and it's not even coming from birth moms about the choice the birth mom makes. And so it's I, I can't imagine going through my adoption process and being told, like, you're going to have to endure this nine months, all alone. And you can't pick a family till after or you can't get to know them until after and that time I spent getting to know my son's family was so important. And you it's you're able to build this relationship. And if I chose to parent after I gave birth, and then that was going to be okay. So I just can't I just don't understand, I guess how that plays into, you know, realistic terms, I understand that there are a lot of parts about adoption that can be extremely coercive. And I do believe that the conditions of a match could be coercive as far as who the parents are, or how the agency acts like or how people conduct themselves in this relationship. But the concept alone of pre birth matching, I don't believe is coercive. And I don't, I know there's a lot of women that have matched after or they've placed afterwards, or their children have gone to, like cradle care in between that time. And that's their choice. As long as that's that woman's choice. I have no qualms. But if it's if it's not her choice, and are now forcing this woman to do extra things that she, you know, can't do. And we can't wait can't like paint with a broad brush and adoption. So that's my, that's my two cents.

You know, as long as we're talking about coercion. Another thing that we hear that could be coercive is when hopeful adoptive parents attend either doctor's appointments with expectant mom, or their presence at the hospital, or even their presence at birth, during the birth itself. So thoughts on that, Kelsey, we'll start with you this time. Okay.

I think to reiterate my points from a forest, it's got to be her choice because I know women, I for me, personally, I can say I didn't want them in the room when I was giving birth. I didn't I didn't really involve them too much in the hospital, they came on the second day I was in the hospital and I literally let them spend a couple hours with him while I caught up on sleep. And that was it because I my full time with him. But I know women that wanted them in the hospital or I know women that didn't have literally anyone else in their life and they needed someone to be there. And they thought in their mind who better to be there than these people that I've decided to place with. Still, I'm still believe that she should be able to change her mind, you know, but I I just think that it's it's got to be her choice. She's got to be in in control in that situation. I think that the

what I hear is that it's presented to expectant moms that this is how it's supposed to be done. So it's not a it's not a full choice that she's making. It's a choice that that is presented as kind of a fait accompli, that this is how it's done type of thing. I think I mean, I'm not maybe articulating it completely well, but I think that it's the it's it sounds like in your case, you had total control and wasn't presented that way.

All the good, decent, you know, agencies attorneys, are gonna properly inform her of the choice of and tell her that the hospital plan is 110% up to her. Obviously there's a lot A lot of corruption and adoption. And I have no doubt in my mind that places are telling women that this is how it's supposed to be done. And I definitely don't back that whatsoever.

Okay, Laura, what was your experience? And do you feel like that attending doctor's appointments or you know, OBGYN appointments and being present at the hospital is, is putting undue pressure,

I think it should be entirely up to the mother. And I think that should be part of the the options counseling is like, you are making an adoption plan, that also includes your birth plan, that also includes your doctor's visit, plan, like, keep the control and in the expectant mothers hands, I think is his right, and probably what we need need to do for me, I did not want them in my doctor's office, I'm still getting freaked out by the sonogram, or not the sonogram, but like the heartbeat monitor, whatever it's called, I still freaked out whenever I heard the heartbeat because, you know, that's still like it, it was just something I could not really understand. And I didn't want to have that. That weird. the expecting mother, sorry, the hopeful adoptive mother was super excited about hearing my heartbeat hearing the heartbeat of her her hopeful son, and I'm just like, there's a thing inside of me. So I did not want them in the room. Also, they didn't know them. Until about two months before I gave birth, I did not make my plan, or didn't commit to an agency until about two months before I gave birth. So I was pretty late to the game, according to another agency I went to, but as far as you know, the agency that I placed through, they were super hands off as far as allowing me to make my own decisions. But I did want the mother in the room with me in the briefing room. And it was the probably one of the most beautiful moments of my story is having the knee the the birth mother and then her the adoptive mother in the room, and I let her cut the cord. Just in my mind, that was a way for me to almost give her her child was to cut the cord from me. But that was my story. And it had a really surreal story as far as like all the little intricate details. But I can definitely see how especially the doctor's visits that can be on the core side of things, especially that whole heartbeat thing. And, and but it's entirely up to the expectant mother. And that is that should be the normal practice is how do you want? You're like how do you want the hopeful adoptive parents to be involved with your medical stuff?

Okay. Katie, any thoughts that are? Do you agree kind of with the what's been said up to this point? Yes. Okay. Another question that we got is, what did you What were you looking for? When you were choosing a adoptive family? What were the factors that and I, I asked this knowing full well that it is so individual, but what were factors that were important to you when making this choice? Katie, let's start with you. Um,

you know, I struggle maybe answering this because it's kind of been a touchy subject for me through the years because I don't really feel like I was provided with that many options

to have families did you choose from

three or four? Maybe? Okay. So, yeah, I struggle because that this, I just don't think I was provided with enough. I don't agree with sending people 100. But I don't agree with the practice of limiting the number of options to that professional like that. That attorneys pot of families or that agencies, pot of families. I think that's a terrible practice that goes on daily in this industry. Okay,

Kelsey, some thoughts on that. What I

looked for in a family, I looked for something that was familiar, I looked for something that was similar to the way that I grew up. I looked for financial stability and emotional stability. And someone that was, I don't know, that just was like, kind of felt like my personality that we would get along. And I mean, I think that's what I found. Definitely. And Laura, what were

you looking for?

Primarily a Georgia family who's looking for an open adoption. And then that had about five families to choose from, and what I the family I went with, they just seem to have the most open personalities as well. Whereas what their interests were they weren't super, like hyper focused and passionate about one thing. They just had just a general variety of interests in they love to travel, which is something that I hoped for my child or future children is that we could be in a place where we can travel and explore different cultures and whatnot. And that family seemed to have that, you know, all of that. And then echo what Kelsey said, the emotional stability and financial stability that I could not provide. And my family, it was Ultra Fox.

All right, let me pause for a moment and remind people that this show is underwritten by the jockey being Family Foundation, and their mission is post adoption support. And one of the ways that jockey being family does that is through their backpack program. It is for agencies to apply it is free for the agency and free for the families that the agency applies to all of their newly adoptive families get a backpack with the child's initials embroidered. And then inside the backpack is a Bear OH, stuffed plush bear, and a blanket, and a tote bag full of parenting resources for the parents. So if you're an agency, or if you're a parent, and you would like your agency to participate, let them know about this. And they go to the website, jockey being And click on the backpack program and it's super easy to sign up and all of your families will have access to this. Okay, so another topic that it seems like all the topics I'm raising or you know, controversial topics, but that's what the other questions came in on. So when adoptive parents fundraise to pay for adoption, let's be honest, adoption is not inexpensive. And parents, many parents have the the the money to raise a child, but not the cash in the bank to necessarily pay for the adoption out of hand. So what we see more now is adoption, fundraising, where parents do any number of things anywhere from a GoFundMe or from, you know, yard sales are, you know, spaghetti, separate church, things like that, to raise money to help pay for the adoption? Well, this brings to mind about how expected parents would feel about this, because in fact, you know, oftentimes, finances financial issues are a motivating factor for placing. So let me ask what are your thoughts about adoptive parents fundraising to pay for an adoption Lark?

That's seen some stuff on this on Instagram, people going back and forth, I don't see an issue with it, it, it takes a village to raise a child. And if they're going if they're going to adopt, and they didn't answer the call to adopt, it takes a village to adopt a child and raise it. And so I don't see an issue to that. Yeah, I, one of the reasons I placed was I did not have a financial support, personally, to raise a child. I mean, I'm still trying to figure out what career I want to do and definitely have not made enough in the past three years that barely support myself. So I can understand that correlation where well if an expectant mother is placing because of financial difficulties, and she hears the adoptive parents are fundraising, you know, what's that? What's that? Like? Like? What does she think about that? I wouldn't have the money to raise them anyway. And if they have money to raise but not to adopt, and they need a little extra help from their village? Why not? Like, why is that an issue? In my

Yeah. All right. Katie, what are your thoughts? Um,

I am conflicted on it. I think if they, if they provided her with the full information, then go right ahead. But I doubt that some of them would be comfortable enough sharing how much they raised with that mom that is asking them, you know, to place their child with them. So I think if they were fully honest about what they raised, then great. And she's all on board with that then, then cool, but I think if people are out there raising $20,000 then as an expectant mom, I'd be like, Wait, why? Why do you need $20,000? And why is this costing 20,000 or 30 or 40? Or whatever that number is? And if you you know if you needed that are you going to be able to provide for my child. So I think if it was if the information was shared, then I'm cool with

it. Okay, Kelsey, thoughts? Yeah, I actually wrote We'll have an article on this, like, earlier this year. And I took a couple of surveys from people on, you know what their thoughts were. And at the end of it, I kind of concluded with, if you're not feeling comfortable with the way that you're fundraising as adoptive parents, and if you if what you're doing is making you feel kind of icky, and it's time to, like, revisit that matter. If you feel like you couldn't tell your birth mom, or your you're not your birth mom, but the expectant mom, if you feel like you couldn't disclose with her anything about the fundraising? Or if you feel like you would have to keep it a secret from the the child one day, then maybe revisit, I do think that the main issue, and this is not the fundraising, but the cost of adoption in general. I mean, people are paying 40,000 50,060 Plus, and a lot of situations with facilitators and some attorneys are charging that much. It's It's absurd. And so I think that's definitely the main issue. A lot of women have said, you know, all if you're, if you're spending all this money, you know, why couldn't you just give it to the expectant mom. And that's not the point. But it is something to think about a lot of times financial hardship, is the top reason that a woman chooses to place her child and, you know, this lack of financial financial stability, combined with this moment of single motherhood is kind of heavy. So I think there's a, there's definitely ways to fundraise that are, I guess, humble. And I, what I typically think is a little sketchy is when I see them fundraising for the entire amount, the entire amount is like 50. Plus, that's troubling to me. I kind of as a adoption professional now I, I basically, I want to see that you're committing to tightening your budget, since you've decided to adapt. And I want to see that you know, your fundraising in an appropriate way I've seen on Instagram, some people fundraise by like doing a giveaway and like making it really it's just, I don't desensitize the process. When you're fundraising. I think that's kind of

interesting. I didn't realize you had written an article. If you'll send me the link, I will include it with the show notes. Okay. Another topic that we get questions for is birth and birth parents, adoptive parents, adoptive moms, who want to induce lactation so that they can nurse their adopted child, let me be honest, upfront that it is not always in fact, usually, you're not able to produce enough breast milk to fully support the child. So oftentimes you are doing you're also having to supplement through formula but it for some adoptive parents, adoptive moms, it gives them an added sense of of bonding or whatever. So and then they would want to try it and they want to do it. So I'd like to hear and then but the counter argument is that so how do birth parents feel about this? So Katie, let me start with you. How would you feel about how do you feel about an adoptive moms inducing lactation or trying to induce lactation so that they can breastfeed? Yeah, so

I've dealt with this a number of times as a professional working, you know, kind of in the agency setting with families and the expectant parents, and I think I kind of have a theme, but my theme is always just honesty, and you know, giving that information. So if a mom and a prospective adoptive mom wants to do this, then I think she in that time where you're kind of meeting or getting to know that expectant parent, she should be forthright with that information. So she has the opportunity to explain how she's come to this decision why she wants to do this. And, and then that allows that expectant mom to have the time to process that information and decide if she's comfortable with that. So I I have a problem. I've had a problem professionally when it's been the secret we're telling you as the professional but we don't want her to know well, that that's been really troubling for me because that's that's not okay. Why if you're leaving, if you're keeping this kind of information secret from her, what else are you going to keep from her over the years

a secret

Yeah, well, if you have a theme of honesty, it's not a bad thing to have. So just just throwing it out there. Kelsey, what are your thoughts on adoptive breastfeeding as an

adoption professional? I'm like, completely on board with Katie. As a birth mom, I'm just gonna be blunt. I think it's so weird. And

it's so bizarre in my birth mom mind. I've seen this discussion across a couple of like Facebook groups or birth moms. And it's typically the same theme across of opinion. I'm in response to that. I, I just I don't understand it. And I've tried to, and I just don't think that I ever will. But I do agree is not my choice at the same time. So if that does arise in my professional work, that's the way Definitely I agree with Katie. And that's the way we handle it.

But yeah, but your blood reaction as a birth mom is,

you hear

about it. I'm just like, I'm just going to turn my phone off.

Laura, adoptive moms breastfeeding,

I don't have adoption professional experience here. So I've just have the birth mom perspective. And I agree with Kathy, that's weird. And I don't really want to know about it. If you want to induce lactation and try and Breastfeed the child, go for it. Cool. But I don't know. That's your that's your world, dude.

Yeah, and I think this is Katie. Again, I think the only, I mean, I've only become okay with it, because I now parents, three children, and I did nurse them. But prior to parenting a child, I would have felt like Kelsey and Laura, it would have been weird. So that's why I think you as the adoptive mother have to be honest and provide some some reasoning why and kind of not education, like don't preach to her. But what what does this mean for you? What is this doing for you?

Okay, all right. When you were when Oh, and Katie, this may be less relevant to you, because I'm not sure openness was opened this then was the fact that there was contact information being shared. But how was so this is probably more for the Kelsey and Laura, who have more recently placed, how was openness described to you? And and is the reality it has that is the reality worked out to be how it was described? Or did they paint, they paint the picture with you know, and all roses and unicorns and things like that, and, and the reality is, is has not worked out to be that way. Laura will start with you.

So my agency was really good about describing the different levels of openness as far as their definitions go. So they described closed as closed, there's no contact, semis updates, regular updates, and they kind of describe the schedule those lessening by the time they get to 13 and then once you turn 13 it's their decision whether they want to keep continue updates, and then complete open and open adoption had that same update schedule as the semi but it also included contact with the family. And that's obviously the one I chose these paperwork describe one visit a year as their minimum open requirement. And for further adoptive families, and I thought I was going out on a limb and asking for for to this year and then they blew my mind and said every other month so for me by my expectations and my reality and expectations have far been over achieved I should say. And I'm grateful for it however that I know that that is not the case across the board. I have heard from several my now friends as I've grown into the sound my my people and the birth bond community here in Georgia, which is so exciting. But as I as I've talked with them unfortunately, they will have an understanding of an openness and they've placed two years ago to and and yet their families have just completely dropped the ball and not not completed their end of the open open adoption and unfortunately they just go years without hearing anything or any updates. So I am fortunate that my fortune saying this but it breaks my heart well at the same time that my To open adoption, my expectations and my reality are unfortunately, an outlier out there.

You know, and that raises an interesting issue. And, and so I'll point this to you, Kelsey, were you aware that it would be very hard to I don't even know if if there was a specific contract, a post adoption, openness contract. But even if there was that, were you aware that you would probably have a very hard time enforcing it? Was that something that was that you felt like you understood that you it was a handshake type of agreement? Not necessarily one you could enforce.

We didn't have most adoption contract agreements in Indiana. They're not allowed. Um, and I was aware that like, that this was all by, you know, this informal, you know, agreement and agreement isn't even the proper word, because it wasn't, you know, but it wasn't enforceable. I knew that I they told me that. The, I guess what the previous question to it is, when I went into this, I said, I wanted to open it option, and the attorney gave me, you know, the, the stack of profiles to look through. And when I met this family, and whenever I told or when I talked to them on the phone, I told them that, you know, I want to open adoption. And my understanding when opened, adoption was not with visits, it was just pictures and letters, because that's what the attorney informed me. And when they brought up visits, I told the attorney and the attorney was like, Well, you might have to make a new family then if you want visits, because that's just because that felt like I had asked for too much. Even though they brought it up. Yeah. Wow. bizarre, but yeah, but the attorney definitely made me feel like I had asked for the moon and the stars by asking for visits,

or any contact interesting. So Katie, let's talk with you some about the, again, not from your personal experience, but having as a social worker, and working in adoption. Do you feel like that expectant parents understand that, that the as after the adoption, the control resides? Even in my opinion, even when there are when even when there is a post adoption agreement, that the the power resides with the adoptive families? Do you think that that agencies do a decent job of explaining that to expected parents when they're making these choices?

So are you talking about the contact agreements or like their relinquishment or consent documents? Like

the No Contact agreements? The others are making that clarification, no, not relinquishment of parental rights. That is, that's a legal document that is absolutely forcible. I'm talking about post adoption, contact, openness agreements.

So I think it really varies on the professional that is drafting that for the, for the birth, parents in California, we do have what are called, you know, they are enforceable contract agreements, of course, they would never overturn the adoption and I, but they are enforceable, and you know, can result in mediation or even court.

It's hard. It's yes, you're correct. But it's, it's going to be, and I haven't looked at the case law in California. And it's possible that you're right, that a judge would force adoptive parents, but all adoptive parent has to say, it seems to me is that it's not in their child's best interest. And ultimately, that's the standard that we use for judging. So I don't know you would you're in California, and probably no more so.

Well, I do know that there's more and more cases going to court and even potentially, like, I don't know, if they do trial, I would have to ask the attorneys that I know that are, you know, working on these. But I think that it really depends on that attorney that sat and created that document with the birth parents. I know that there's a lot of birth parents that think that their contract agreements were filed in court and they never were. And so those are you can't even do anything about that. So I do think there was there's no standard like, like proper care in this. It really depends on who that person got connected to.

Yeah, yeah. Okay. And so that's, it's probably across the board and we hope that so that leads us directly into the question about ethics and F To call adoption practices that both expectant parents as well as adoptive parents are aware of when they're choosing adoption professionals, be they an adoption agency or an adoption attorney. Katie, let's start with you, then. What are some hallmarks of an ethical agency, our attorney that both parents, both sets of parents, adoptive and birth are expected, should look for when they're choosing.

I, for me, first and foremost that an ethical adoption professional believes in providing the expectant parent with her own representation, her own legal representation. It's not required in every state, but it should, I think it should be a standard of practice that she has her own attorney this is, you know, technically contract law. And yet in any other contract in, in a legal setting, both parties would be provided with their own attorney. And that does not happen in adoption. In fact, expectant parents think that the attorney that they got connected to is their attorney, and they really are not. They're the adoptive parents attorney. So that's first and foremost for me.

Okay, Laura thinks that expected and adoptive parents because of course, we want both sides to be looking for ethical, ethical professionals to guide them. So what are some things that they should look at, look forward,

I'd agree with the attorney that the expectant mothers provide an attorney if she'd like one to represent her interests. I agree it is contract law. So there's two sides of the party here are two parties to the two contracts if both knees were equal, and adequate and representation. As far as, for me, I am very detail oriented. So when I made my decision, I looked up three different agencies to enter basically interview as far as like, Who do I want to place through. And the first one I went to, very quickly off the bat, she saw my my belly, oh, seven, seven months long. And she in the first 15 minute meeting, and the only other contact I had with her was maybe a five minute conversation to set up this meeting. She presented me with with three or four different profiles and almost expected me to make a decision as far as what family I was going to place, place my child into. And I felt extremely pressured and extremely awkward with it all. Like it, she did not know me, she did not know my story, other than the maybe total 20 minutes that she'd known me. So any kind of rush to make a decision, no matter how far along the the mother is. That makes me extremely uncomfortable. And as far as my coaching for expectant mothers out there, make sure that when you walk in that you feel comfortable and confident in their ability to hear you out and and heed your word and respect your word, and that they respect you and your story. And that would be for the birth mother side, or the expectant mother side, I should say. And then on the expectant, sorry, the adopted family side that they understand where their funds are going. It is a very expensive process. And they need to make sure that you they have the procedure in place. So when the child is born, they need to make sure that the agency knows to put the child on Medicare or Medicaid, Medicaid, whichever it is, I can't keep them straight, but Medicaid, and then that there's a procedure in place and a policy in place for them to backdate the insurance and everything like that, that they have that sick the C post birth procedure down to a tee and they can walk them through every step of the way before there's even a birth because that was an issue and with my with my adoptions for Unfortunately however, I will say that my agency has addressed all those issues and everything's good. But when going through it and that was really uncomfortable and they felt extremely uncomfortable in that whole situation. Nobody is such a gut wrenching decision to place and then such a huge decision to adopt that the app for all parties should feel comfortable and competent the ability of agency.

Okay, Kelsey, what would you look for with a four ethics and ethical adoption professional being an attorney or a UN agency?

I think the most important thing across the board is that they need to be doing more than the bare minimum and what I mean when I say that is you set these new standards like every day for these ethical agencies ethical was like this buzzword and adoption. Now everybody wants to seem ethical, because that's what adoptive parents are looking for an agency. So agencies will list like, oh, we offer post placement support on their website, and then you get into it and you find out, they really don't, or they offer three counseling sessions. And that's it. So I post placement support is huge, needs to be offered. And it needs to be offered several times, pre and post, then, and that can look like support groups, it can look like counseling, and if they don't have the resources to do it in office, than they should for sure be sending it out, send out referrals to places I separate legal representation is huge for me, but we need more than the bare minimum, and that we need more than just their buddy attorney, who is just gonna, you know, explain the terms in favor of the adoptive parents attorney. And we need an attorney that's working for her. That's that is filling the space of a real attorney, just like in any other situation. I mean, there's other little things, but those to me, those are the main things. And then last class, I really don't want to ever see something more than more than 45,000. Like if there's medical issues, but like a standard adoption, and I'm being generous with the 45,000. Because ideally I wanted a lot lower, but I don't I don't want to see those at all. I'm so

thankful that you talk about, well, all of the favorite all of your points, but the post adoption counseling, and not just for the first month after the after the birth. It's a lifetime decision. And it's so important that the adoption professional community, the adoption industry, realizes that birth parents need to have options for counseling long into the adoption because we certainly know that feelings about adoption change and, and they come in they go I mean, your needs come and they go. So anyway, such a good point. Let me remind people that this show is brought to you not only through our underwriters, but also through our partners and our partner agencies are those that believe in our mission of providing unbiased, accurate information, pre and post adoption. And they do more than just, you know, give lip service to it. They actually put their money behind it and and that means supporting us and that their support allows us to bring you this show. Some of our wonderful partners include adoptions from the heart. They have built over 6000 families since 1985. Through domestic infant adoption, they work with families across the US but they're licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia and Connecticut. And we also have Vista Del Mar. They are a licensed nonprofit adoption agency with over 65 years of experience helping to create families. They offer home study only services, but they also offer full service, infant adoption, international adoption and foster to adopt programs. I want to thank you so much for the three birth moms that we've had with us today. Kelsey van der Vliet, Katie Monroe and Laura Blanca. I have truly appreciated your time and your wisdom and your patience in answering what what may seem like redundant questions to you or even silly questions, but these are questions that adoptive parents and adoption professionals should be asking and adoptive parents are asking. So thank you so much for your time and your willingness to to share. Let me mention that the views expressed in this show are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of creating a family, our partners or underwriters. Also, keep in mind that the information is general advice to understand how it applies to your specific situation you need to work with your adoption professional. Thanks for joining us today and I will see you next week.

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