Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Introduction to Domestic Infant Adoption

August 16, 2023 Creating a Family Season 17 Episode 35
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Introduction to Domestic Infant Adoption
Show Notes Transcript

Are you considering adopting a baby? Join us today to learn more. Our guests will be Karlee Wagner, a Program Supervisor for Infant Adoption and Birth Parent/Pregnancy Services at Children’s Home and LSS in Minnesota (CH/LSS); Erin Quick, the Founder and CEO of PairTree - the organization dedicated to helping families navigate private adoption in the healthiest way possible and mom of two through adoption; and Courtney Lott, the owner and founder of Faithful Adoption Consultants, a consulting service that seeks to walk adoptive families through the adoption process from beginning to end. She is a mom to eight children: six through adoption and two biologically.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How many domestic private infant adoptions happen in the US each year? 
  • Average cost of adopting a baby in the US. 
  • Average length of time prospective parents wait for an adoption match. 
  • What is the domestic infant adoption process at your agency or organization?
  • How does the process differ when using an adoption attorney rather than an adoption agency?
  • How do domestic infant adoptions today differ from how many people think about adoptions?
  • What type of expectant mom considers adoption for their child?
  • How many adoptive parent profiles are usually shown to an expectant mom?
  • What do you see that expectant moms or couples look for when choosing adoptive parents?
  • Is it harder for single women to be selected by expectant moms or couples?
  • Is it harder for same-sex couples or singles to be selected by expectant moms or couples?
  • After an expectant mother or couple chooses an adoptive family, what is the next step?
  • What type of counseling is available for expectant parents both before and after the adoption is finalized?
  • What are the ways that different adoption agencies and attorneys handle birth parent expenses?
  • How early in the pregnancy do adoption agencies and adoption attorneys match expectant moms with adoptive families?
  • What does open adoption look like?
  • What percentage of domestic infant adoptions in the US are open?
  • What are some typical "special needs" that prospective adoptive parents may be faced with in matches? What situations are the hardest for adoptive parents to decide about?
  • How much information will adoptive parents have in deciding whether they should accept a match?
  • What factors influence the cost of adoption? 
  • What factors influence how long families wait for an adoption match?
  • What’s your best advice if someone has applied to adopt an infant and is not getting selected by an expectant mom?
  • Failed Adoption Matches: How Common? How Costly? How to Survive

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Please pardon any errors, this is an automated transcript.
Dawn Davenport  0:00  
Welcome, everyone to creating a family talks about foster adoptive and kinship care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host of this show, as well as the director of creating a Today we're going to be doing an introduction to domestic infant adoption. We will be talking with Karlee Wagner. She is a program supervisor for infant adoption and birth parent pregnancy services at Children's Home and Lutheran Social Services in Minnesota. We'll also be talking with Erin Quick. She is the founder and CEO of PairTree, the organization dedicated to helping families navigate private adoption, in the healthiest way possible. She is also the mom of two through adoption. And our panel will be rounded out with Courtney Lott. She is the owner and founder of Faithful Adoption Consultants, a consulting service that seeks to walk adoptive families through the adoption process from beginning to end. She's also the mom to eight children, six through adoption and to biologically. Welcome Courtney, Aaron and Carly to creating a family. I'm going to be hearing you. All right. We're going to begin just with some numbers. And I'm pulling these numbers from a creating a family article that's updated annually, and it's called adoptions in the US how many how much and how long. So we'll start with the how many? And I wish I could tell you really the truth is we don't 100%? No, the estimate is around 19,000 in the US every year, the average cost of adopting a baby. And we are talking total costs. So that would be all cost included, would be anywhere from 25,000 to 55,000. So yes, a very large range. And the average length of time prospective parents wait for an adoption match, about 60% are matched within one year and about 80% are matched within two years. And these are accumulative numbers so that obviously there's some shorter and some longer. Alright, first, I want to start with finding out what is the process at your agency or organization now, pear tree and faithful adoption consultants are not agencies per se. So we'll be talking about what the process is. Aaron, let's start with you. What's the process? What does pear tree bring? And how does that process work?

Speaker 2  2:26  
Yeah, so we're a little bit different than anything that has existed in the adoption world before. So we call ourselves an adoption enablement platform. And what we do is we collaborate with licensed adoption professionals to provide expecting and adopting families all have the resources, they need to plan and manage their adoption journey, in the healthiest way possible. And we say when we say healthy, we're meeting social, emotional, physical and financial. And so long story short, adoption professionals partner with pear tree. And we have built them products and services, things like a home study productivity platform that we call home base, that makes it really easy for their families to walk through their custom home study process all online. And then with that, then we bundle it with what we call pear tree Connect, which is our online profiles where families can communicate their intent to adopt and connect with an expectant mom and communicate directly with them, again, guided by their adoption professional.

Dawn Davenport  3:24  
Okay. Carly, tell us about children's home and Lutheran Social Services. You guys are, as I understand it, a full service domestic infant agency. So what is the process for a family who is interested in? What's the domestic adoption process look like? Yeah, so

Speaker 3  3:40  
we kind of really do everything from beginning to end. And so really, that starts with that education process, making sure that families kind of know what they're getting into feeling informed before making a decision if infant domestic infant adoption is really the best route for them. And then we have an application process. And so that's a thorough process of background checks, reference letters, all that good stuff. And then the home study process. And so that's the legal document, which is a state formatted document. And so that will depend on what state what the requirements are, each state is different, some have more thorough qualifications, and some don't. And so it really depends. And then that is renewed annually as well. So even throughout the home study process, and as their home study approved, we're continuing to stay engaged with them, no matter what their process looks like to make sure that's up to date, and backgrounds are up to date, all that good stuff. And then really, we kind of walk into the matching process. And so we do have birth parent and pregnancy services at our agency as well. And so families can choose to go into our profile service. So we only work with clients located in Minnesota. And so that means we're working with adoptive parents in Minnesota and birth and expectant parents in Minnesota. And so we strongly encourage our families to use other resources, other agencies, consultants, those types of things, to broaden their reach outside of Minnesota since we're kind of just In that state. And so we kind of give families the tools to kind of navigate. And some families choose to do that some families just decide to kind of stay within house. So we kind of walk families throughout that process. And then from there through placement and post placement supervision, once placement occurs, we do at least two post placement visits, and follow again, if it's in a different state following those different state laws. So that's a very brief overview of kind of the steps.

Dawn Davenport  5:26  
I wanted to ask you. So how does the matching process parents prepare a profile of them? And then you show the profile to expected parents?

Speaker 3  5:36  
Yep, exactly. Yeah. So we kind of each agency in organization has their own like profile guidelines. So we have ours, we kind of share that with families, there's, that's an additional fee, like an optional fee service that families can use. So some families choose to do that some families choose to do their own, whether that's kind of informal, with like, oh, word of mouth, or friends or family or a more formal outreach with those other like consultants, different agencies. And so we can kind of be as involved in that, as they let us be otherwise, like, are kind of out doing their own thing as well. And just making sure that we're checking in seeing how that's going if we can offer support to them throughout that as much as we can. And then with that profile service, and then expectant parents, if they are considering adoption, can look through those profiles and kind of navigate and select a family in that way.

Dawn Davenport  6:25  
Okay, Courtney, what does a consultant and adoption consultant do and how does it fit into the domestic adoption process? We want

Speaker 4  6:34  
families from the beginning of the process to the end of the process, and so we like a home so the agency would collect all the documents for a home study, we collect all the documents after they've completed their home study, and all their ICPC documents and collect all those documents. So the family is ready a profile. And then we network those families with licensed agencies and attorneys throughout the US, thereby hoping that they would be able to match on the expected family sooner.

Dawn Davenport  7:03  
Okay, we should mention that you can use an adoption attorney. In the United States, most states, I should say Most states allow you to work with either an adoption agency or an adoption attorney. And in some states adoption attorneys are allowed to do the what's called matching, or in some states, it's not as you can hear from my words, that adoption is very state specific. It's ruled by state law. So everything we say we have to always couch it by say, check with your state. And that would be the case, let's say coordinate and you have had experience in working with attorneys as well as with agencies. Generally, how does the process differ? If prospective adoptive parents use an adoption attorney, rather than an adoption agency,

Speaker 4  7:51  
I feel like an agency is more full support and full support for the expected family, more counseling opportunities, more hand holding, whereas an attorney has less of that. And they're more just the legal work and connecting the two families. We don't work with a lot of attorneys because of that we work with a lot more agencies because we like the full service that is provided as the expected family.

Dawn Davenport  8:16  
Okay, Aaron, you work with both attorneys, and agencies. Anything you would add as to the difference between working with an adoption agency versus an adoption attorney?

Speaker 2  8:27  
No, I mean, I agree with what Courtney said, I think agencies are typically more full service and support. I think the big difference typically is just in the cost structure for the families, that there can be a pretty significant cost savings through adoption attorneys, if that's available in your state. And so I would definitely recommend that families should look at that. But you have to weigh I think always who you are as a person, because I think if you're going to use an adoption attorney, you're going to be doing a lot more on your adoption journey than you are if you're working with an agency. And that's not right for everybody. It's not right for every family. So it's a constant process of weighing, and being realistic with your own expectations.

Dawn Davenport  9:06  
Well, it's hard to sometimes identify cost, I always think of attorneys as being more like ala carte versus full service. And one area that Courtney brought up that I agree with is that most not all because there are certain states that allow attorneys to really function as almost as agencies do. But generally outside of those states, counseling for expectant parents is usually not included. And if you want that, and I strongly recommend that people should want that. You're paying for that separately. There's usually less protection for birth parent expenses. If the adoption falls through, you're out the amount of money that you've spent. So I'm speaking in generalities because as I said, every state would be a little different. So that's kind of in general the difference however, if you have networked and found an expectant mom or expected couple And it's the right fit, and you have done all that, then what you really might need is just the legal work done. So that's where an adoption attorney would be the perfect thing to do.

Speaker 2  10:12  
Yeah, I would just add to that, I think, because there's you can walk through the process of the steps of the process. I'm an attorney, no problem. But I do. We always recommend that families, even if you're in an in a state where you can use an attorney that they also talked to the agencies in that state, just to make sure, for example, I used an attorney and I was able to walk through the process, legally. But there was a lot that I didn't know, when I was doing that. Because like just the education piece that a lot of agencies really emphasize early on in that process. I was able to complete my adoptions. But it wasn't until a few years after the adoption, I was like, Oh, my gosh, there was a lot that I was able to gloss over.

Dawn Davenport  10:52  
Yes. And not know, I couldn't agree with you more obviously, I run an education based nonprofit. So I would think that but I can't tell you how many times we've had parents reach out to us, because they hadn't received much education. That just things they didn't know, and being blindsided and one area in particular, we often see us and transracial just not having thought through. Now they love their kids, and it's going to be fine. But they're feeling like they're playing catch up down the road trying to oh my gosh, if I had I wish I had started doing this sooner, that type of thing, which I will say there are attorneys who not as many that's just not part of their service. They're not full service. That's not what they're intending to do. Hey, guys, have you heard about our free courses that we offer on creating a Thanks to our partners, the jockey being Family Foundation, we have 12 Yes. 12 Calum courses. You can find them at Bitly slash J BF support, B I T dot o y Bitly, slash J. B F support? And be sure to tell a friend about them as well. All right. How do domestic infant adoptions today differ from what many people think of what adoption is? I think for so many people, they haven't really given much thought. So their idea of what adoptions are is what adoptions were 2030 years ago, even. So, Carly, how do adoptions differ now than way back in the day? Yeah,

Speaker 3  12:25  
I think a good insight into this. I think a lot of times we hear adoptive families, friends and family, ask them like, Oh, where are you on the waitlist. And I think that's a storable thing that people think of you apply to adopt, and you just go up a waitlist. And as soon as you reach the top, that's when you get a baby. And that is very much not the case now, because those expectant parents are selecting adoptive families. And so that obviously makes the weight unpredictable to just because you could be selected right away, it could take some time. That's one big one, I think we also are seeing an overwhelming amount of adoptions that have openness in them. And that's a big change that we're seeing. I would also say, a lot of people think that the people who are making adoption plans are minors or young adults. And that's not necessarily the case. And we do see that, but we also see people who are 50 years old who are making adaption plans. And so I think we're seeing a wide variety in that sense as

Dawn Davenport  13:22  
well. Anything that you would add to that, Courtney,

Speaker 4  13:26  
I agree with everything she said, I think one of the biggest misconceptions now is the openness and closed I definitely think that people expect them to be more closed, and they're much more open now. Which is such a good thing for the children for the expected family for the birth family for the adoptive family, in most situations. But I also agree with the waitlist, people expect there to be a waitlist and you move up and you get your baby at the time that you hit the the list. And that's not how it works anymore. expectant families are looking through profiles and choosing the family of their choice, then that happens, like Carly said, sometimes very quickly, and sometimes it takes two years.

Dawn Davenport  14:01  
Yeah. And somebody who applied three months ago may be chosen ahead of you. So right here are not fair. Aaron, what type of expectant moms consider adoption for their child. Now I know that that's a silly question. Because obviously each person is different. Their reasons are different, whatever. But if you can make generalities. It used to be as Carly said in the past that we thought of it as being the high school cheerleader who got carried away one night and ended up pregnant. Now what is the more typical scenario that you see?

Speaker 2  14:34  
So we do a lot of data and analytics on our platform. We track a lot of different characteristics of information that people give us. And so we have a lot of data on this. And just to echo what Carla had said, I think the average age that we see of expectant moms is 24 to 36. So not as young as a lot of people assume. And the common denominator amongst the excepted moms that we see on pear tree is they already have at least one child, we see the sign so they can't romanticize the idea of parenting they know the day to day of how hard it is, and they know they don't have the resources to do it.

Dawn Davenport  15:11  
I think also, a motivating factor is that adding another child to the mix, they feel like would take away from the child, they already have their as you said, their resources, but their emotional resources are stretched, and a commitment to the child that they're already parenting is a motivating factor. I think oftentimes, okay, go ahead. Sorry, I interrupted.

Speaker 2  15:32  
Oh, that's okay. I was just gonna say also, I think typically 50% below the poverty line, at least Yeah, is the other characteristic that we see.

Dawn Davenport  15:39  
Excellent. As I love data, so that's your you're speaking my language.

Speaker 2  15:45  
That's worth saying, too. I think we also track, we asked every expectant mom that registers on pear tree, why she's choosing to explore adoption. And the two greatest fears that we hear from expectant moms are one that they will be cut out of their child's life to, and these are almost exactly equal, in terms of the greatest fear is is that the child will feel unwanted or unloved?

Dawn Davenport  16:09  
Yeah. Or be angry at them, or be disappointed in them for having made this decision. Yeah, that tracks spot on with what we see as well, Courtney, how many, and again, you're working with a lot of agencies, how many profiles are typically shown adoptive parent profiles are typically shown to an expectant parent, expected mom and sometimes expected couple.

Speaker 4  16:35  
It really depends on the expectant mom and the agency, some agencies limit the number that they show and only show 10 to 12 at a time, some only show three at a time, then you have agencies that are larger that will show 50 at a time, mom can handle that. So I really think it depends on the mom and what she's able to handle, and what she wants and desires. If she knows that she can only look at a couple and then they'll put only a couple in front of her. Whereas if she knows that she can handle seeing, I want to see every couple that said yes to my profile. And then they'll put them in front of her. So I think it really just depends on the expectant mom,

Dawn Davenport  17:13  
is it typical, then that agencies see if the parents will consider this adoption situation first, and then only show the brothers those profiles to the expectant mom. Yes. Okay.

Speaker 4  17:26  
They present them with information on the expected parents expected mom expected parents, and they are able to decide whether or not they are presented to that expected family.

Dawn Davenport  17:37  
All right, so that $64 million question that every prospective adoptive parent asks is, what is it that expectant moms or couples are looking for when choosing adoptive parents? Carly, I'll start with you. Yeah, this

Speaker 3  17:54  
is a question we get asked all the time. And I've always answer. And it's one of those answers or it's so dependent, like we see everything we see expectant parents wanting like specifically like a same sex couple orders or to mom and dad family. Or maybe location is important. Sometimes like they want someone a family with a kid already, or they want a family that doesn't have kids or they want a family that has experienced infertility. I always tell families that you're not marketing yourself to the masses, right? Like you only need to find one person that you connect with. And so make your materials as specific as possible. Like, maybe you have Harry Potter on your profile, the expected parent might see Harry Potter and love that and connect with you. There's really nothing specific. I do think that there are times when expectant parents see a family and really resonates or feels like Oh, like that reminds me of my family. Or if I were in a place where I could parent like I would do that too. And that kind of draws them in as well. So maybe that's like one consistent thing that we see. But it still is just kind of all over the board.

Dawn Davenport  19:00  
Aaron by any chance does pear tree track this data?

Speaker 2  19:04  
We do? Yeah, we track so we have 10 different filter criteria on our website that expectant moms can follow through because to Carly's point, you just never know like, what is the most important thing to an expectant mom, maybe it's religion, maybe it's family structure. Maybe it's race, education location. And so we track to see what filters are clicked on first and without fail. The number one most clicked on characteristic is personality type. And then it goes from, you know, a whole series of the things that I had mentioned, but personality is the filter that is the most clicked on in terms of an expectant moms when she's registering and doing stuff. So what's important,

Dawn Davenport  19:44  
what personality types do you break down into?

Speaker 2  19:47  
So we use the personality types that are based on Carl Jung's archetype, if anybody remembers like psychology 101 from college, but they're all good personality types are just very different. So it's everything from an X more personality type of like this family prizes. Traveling and seeing the world over education, it doesn't mean that they don't also prize education. It just means in terms of what's most important to this family, they choose exploration over the stage, which prizes education over anything else. And so if we've had expectant moms that are like, I want to make sure I've never been on a plane, and I want to make sure that my kiddo is able to like, see the world and try new things. And okay, well, here's all the Explorer families. And now what is important to you, family structure, race education. So we kind of walk through this help them walk through a curated process all on our platform, that they decide what is most important to them. And they also do can decide kind of from a pretty big series of filters, what they want to select in order to see particular family profiles. And that's like, to Courtney's point, it kind of helps, you know, so that they're not seeing 50 profiles, they see as many as they want to see, they get to determine what that process looks like, and then only see the ones that map to what is

Dawn Davenport  21:00  
closest to them. fortnight Is it harder for single women to be selected. By expectant moms.

Speaker 4  21:08  
We haven't found that to be the case within our organization. We match single moms very frequently, and have a large community of single moms within fac, and many of them have adopted very quickly. So that has not been something that we have seen. Aaron, what

Dawn Davenport  21:26  
have you seen? Same? Yeah, we've

Speaker 2  21:28  
had again, so which attracts a family structure is one of the filters that we can see. And we have just as many expectant moms click on stay at home parent as we do single parent, family, LGBTQ family. So it's it's not any less

Dawn Davenport  21:42  
interesting. Carly, does that track with what you're saying? Oh,

Speaker 3  21:46  
I'm so interested to hear that. I feel like within Minnesota at least I do feel like we some of our single applicants do wait a little bit longer, which is just really interesting to hear.

Dawn Davenport  21:56  
Yeah, that's what we have seen as well. Is that single applicants? Well, now let's turn to LGBTQ plus families, or into singles or couples. Carly, what do you see as far as willingness for same sex couples or singles to be chosen? By expected parents?

Speaker 3  22:14  
Yeah, for LGBTQ, I would say that I don't have any data. I wish I did. I wish it was on Aaron's level. Just gonna

Dawn Davenport  22:20  
say, Aaron will be next.

Speaker 3  22:24  
No, but I would say the expected parent comes. I feel like that's pretty quickly one that people feel like they are open to that or they're not. It's usually pretty quickly something that is like a determination when selecting and trying to narrow down those families. But I wouldn't say necessarily, more or less, I think it's just depends.

Dawn Davenport  22:42  
Okay, Aaron, what do you all say?

Speaker 2  22:44  
Yeah, it's the same. I think the two in terms of family structure that we see clicked on more and or less are with children or without children, versus the actual, like LGBTQ family versus single parent family versus, you know, what the industry calls a traditional family. So we're not seeing any less clicked on. I think our platform has about 20% of the family profiles that are on pear tree are identify as LGBTQ, or at least one person does. And so there's less families that I think are available, but they're not less clicked on.

Dawn Davenport  23:17  
That is certainly reflective of what we hear as well. In fact, if anything, I would say that sometimes that that is an advantage, perhaps not for a good reason. But that expectant moms would and this may be changing somewhat, but the mentality is somewhat of that from expectant mom thinking well, at least I'll still be the only mom. And that's if she's choosing a gay couple.

Speaker 2  23:37  
We actually had that happen last month, where an expectant mom chose a gay couple in California for that very reason. And she wanted to make sure that she was choosing a gay couple that didn't have children. So this would be their end that only wanted one child. So this would be their everything. And she would still be mom.

Dawn Davenport  23:54  
Yeah, doesn't always work out that way. So you know, that's can be a problem. Yeah, we call it the modern fan, the Modern Family effect, you know, after cam and Mitchell, Modern Family, everybody wants them to be the parent of their child. Hey, guys, are you enjoying today's podcasts? If so, would YOU do us a favor and tell a friend about what you've learned when you listen to this creating a podcast we depend on you know, word of mouth is the way to get more people to listen to this show. That helps our mission and our helps our organization. So please, share the Word. Also share the word about creating a fabulous interactive training and support group curriculum. It is a really terrific video based participatory interactive training. It can also be used for support groups. We love it. The library has 25 curriculum in it, each one on a specific topic. So check it out on our website, creating a hover over the word training and click on Support Group curriculum. All right, now let's talk about birth parent expenses. And as we say this this is varies greatly by what state you're in, Courtney, you work all over the US. Can you give us a feel for the variation in what is allowed by states as far as birth, parent expenses, and maybe explain what birth parent expenses are? Sir,

Speaker 4  25:29  
expected parents expenses are any expenses that go towards their care during their pregnancy, whether that be counseling, health care, utilities, phone bills, their living situation, things like that. But it kind of covers the gamut of caring for them during their pregnancy. And like you said, it is state by state and what is allowed and how much is allowed. You have states like Florida that have no cap. And it can go as high as 30,000 for expectant parent expenses, or more. And then you have states like Georgia who only allow for counseling and medical, and they don't allow for living expenses and things like that. So it just depends on the state. And it depends on what mom's needs are and that they need to be judge approved and things like that.

Dawn Davenport  26:21  
Yeah, it is. So a variable. That is something to think about, particularly if the adoption match fails, and we'll talk about that in just a bit. You might be out all of the money that you spent, it depends on who you are working with and how they handle that some agencies handle it such that all those costs come out of a pool, so that the each individual family is not out that money, others and perhaps even the majority, you lose everything if the matches absolutely do fail. And we'll talk about that in just a minute. All right, so how early in the pregnancy do adoption agencies and adoption attorneys match expectant moms with adoptive families. Aaron, what are you saying as far as how far along in her pregnancy is the expectant mom, some agencies won't match until at least the last trimester. And I see others that match much earlier.

Speaker 2  27:20  
Yeah, I mean, to be fair, we don't actually match. We're just the platform that family profiles, and then we make sure that they're working with their adoption professionals who will walk them through the process. But we see on pear tree we had with the expectant moms register very, very early, as early, you know, as they just found out, they're pregnant. And we see expectant moms registering at 39 weeks pregnant. It's across the board in terms of when they do I think when they're earlier on in the process, the advice that we will give people is, especially if they're talking to adopting families early on in the process, like the chance of her going forward with this adoption period. And staying with you is slimmer than if she's 39 Weeks Pregnant talking to you. And so we fixed that moms, and we kind of put them into a couple categories in terms of early on, we'd say that they're just exploring their options, versus if they're second trimester, third trimester.

Dawn Davenport  28:12  
Yeah. Because at that point, they really are at that point should be exploring their options and not making firm decisions. Courtney, what do you see?

Speaker 4  28:19  
We see the same to echo Erin, we see some they're matching in the first trimester 13 to 15 weeks pregnant, and then all the way to 39 weeks pregnant are babies already born? Just kind of depends on this expectant moms situation, the agency, we have some agencies that won't work with them until they're fully through their second trimester. And then we have agencies that will work with them from the very beginning, when they actually find out they're pregnant. So it just depends on the agency.

Dawn Davenport  28:48  
Yeah, it's all over the board. And I've alluded to failed adoption matches. And that is something that I think catches people unaware. So I think it's important that we talk about it, there is no state that allows a mom to unequivocally sign away her parental rights while she is pregnant. It is entirely within the expectant moms are at this point, the moms, right to change her mind after birth. And it does happen. And you have to be thinking in terms financially and emotionally. How to be prepared for that. I don't think anybody knows a percentage of and so I won't even ask that. Because honestly, it somewhat depends on how early in the pregnancy, as Erin said, the likelihood of changing your mind when you're 13 weeks pregnant, you've got a long time to be pregnant and make decisions. So there's so many factors that play in. So Carly, how does your agency handle failed matches?

Speaker 3  29:52  
Ultimately, we try to support families with all the emotions that come with that. I think we try to prepare families for that and remind them that At, we do decision making counseling in the beginning, when we first start working with a client to, you know, make sure they've explored other options to and be honest with an adoptive family so that they know of just the circumstances, right. And I think reminding them that this expectant parent is in decision making, not like throughout their whole pregnancy and even after being eat carbs, right. And so even though they've started their family there, they feel confident right now that this is what they want to do. That decision making, they're in that phase until they sign those consents, the adoption and through the court process. We try to prepare families for that, but nothing can fully prepared for that. And I think the financial aspect is just an additional sting to that really already emotional piece. So I would say we just, we just tried to prepare families for that as best as we can and know that it's really difficult in the moment,

Dawn Davenport  30:50  
I will link to an article that we did with a lot of surveys on adoptive parents of the percentage of failed matches, I will link to that it was interesting, what we found out and how much money people ended up actually losing. Okay, now I want to talk about open adoptions, as both Carly and Courtney said at the beginning, one big difference now is that there is in the vast majority of adoption, some degree of openness. But openness is a looks very different. It is not a defined term. It has specific meanings. So Courtney, what are some of the differences you see? Or how do you see openness play out and adoption? Now?

Speaker 4  31:37  
Most moms are asking for visits now. I would say the majority of the moms that we see ask for visits at least an annual visit each year and expect that as a minimum, whereas that didn't used to happen. They used to be closed, or semi open,

Dawn Davenport  31:55  
or Yeah, semi were they used to be open would include pictures once a year that could be included. So you're right, right. I think for a long time, we said they aren't closed. But what goes by open was not what we expect and not not what we're seeing now.

Speaker 4  32:10  
Right. And I think there's a lot of an open line of communication now. Whereas there didn't used to be that there's texting, and there's emailing and there's phone calls. And there's facetimes. And I think that's a large part of the openness, quality that a lot of moms are looking for. And when we get requests from moms looking for specific families, a lot of times those things are included in their request, when we look at families that will offer them those things.

Dawn Davenport  32:38  
Right. It worries me a little to be honest, because I think sometimes prospective adoptive parents say yes, yes, yes. Because if I say no, no, no, I won't be considered, but they don't think through. And I worry that their commitment to open adoption is not as firm because adoption professionals tell them look, if you're gonna if if all you want to do is send pictures once a year, you're not going to be chosen. So Right. Yeah, we've got to educate them as to what that means so that they are more likely to honor their commitment post adoption. Data lady Aaron, what do you say? Woman after my own heart?

Speaker 2  33:19  
Yeah. So we asked this question, sorry, more data. So we asked families when they're registered on pear tree, what are you open to, and the three choices we give them are open, moderately open or closed. And obviously, that doesn't determine what the relationship is going to be. But we like to get some sense of what they're what they're interested in, so that we can serve up creating a family education to them. So 70%, check the box that they're open to open adoption, I think the thing that we see is that just to again, kind of mirror some of the things have been said here, we see a lot of adopting families that are just starting the process that are very fearful of open adoption, because they think someone's going to show up on their doorstep, or a lot of it is kind of like mainstream media in terms of what has been shown as gone wrong and open adoptions. And what I always tell families based on my own experience, as an adoptive mom is, the minute a baby is placed in your arms or that you become a child. All you are going to want for that child is their health and happiness. And in order to give them health and happiness, you need to be able to answer their questions openly and honestly. And the only way to do that is with an open adoption. Well, not the only way. But one of the best ways to do that is with an open adoption. And so I try to tell people that they'll go through a transition once they become a parent via adoption, where they will crave an open adoption. But again, it takes a lot of education to get them there.

Dawn Davenport  34:44  
You're spot on. I couldn't agree with you more. I think we do have to educate. I think that also, it's easy to not recognize and I think professionals that we all have a way of wanting to have rose colored glasses on and make it seem like okay, In adoptions are going to be just as easy as, as you know, they will become like an ant to the child or whatever. And yes, that can happen. But oftentimes, you're coming from different socio economic, different cultural, and different values. And it gets complicated, and it gets sticky. And we want parents to be committed enough that they're willing to work through some of the stickiness, because there is no relationship, no family relationship. That is perfect. All family relationships, well, maybe not all, but in my family, most of them can be challenging, some, some are challenging, but all of them are a little like, Oh, it's just, it's just Susie, that's how she acts, you know. So we just, we forgive them a bit, because they're family. And we're expecting we go in expecting a certain amount of messiness. And we're willing to move forward. I see with it sometimes with adoptive parents won't see adoption as final, a lack of willingness to work through some of the messiness. So, yeah, I definitely see that and worry about that. Because the truth is, after the adoption, is final, even if you have an open adoption agreement, the adoptive parents are in the driver's seat. And that's why I worry that parents who say, Oh, yes, yes, I'll do anything. Just let me get the baby. That's what worries me is that they're going to be the ones who say, I know I said, I agree to this. But honestly, you know, she annoys me are, you know, she does this our I don't really like the fact that she's got tattoos all over or whatever. I think it's a bad influence, or whatever. We've heard it all. So all right, Courtney, what type of special needs should prospective adoptive parents be? Considering that they may be faced with within a matches? What are the typical special needs that you're seeing now?

Speaker 4  36:52  
Well, I don't know that I would refer to the stuff on needs. But drug exposure is pretty great. Amongst expectant moms expectant couples that we see we see a lot of drug exposure. And so that can end in special needs, doesn't mean it will just because they were exposed to drugs doesn't mean they'll have special needs, but it can it can have special needs. And then we have cases where we actually have special needs adult it where we actually specialize in special needs specifically, with looking for specific situations that have children with Down syndrome, or with brittle bone disease or any type of special means that our parent might be interested in parenting adoptive parent might be interested in parenting. But I would say the biggest thing that we see right now is drug and alcohol exposure, which can render special needs.

Dawn Davenport  37:41  
Okay. Carly, what about you guys? What are you seeing as far as special needs?

Speaker 3  37:45  
Yeah, I agree with that. I think mental health is a big one that makes adoptive parents nervous. I think you just don't know if and how that will get passed along to a child and what that could look like. I think some of those medical complexities, too, is just when you have a newborn, right. Like you don't know how those things are gonna look in the future. And so I think that fear of the unknown is a common thing that we see on top of this substance use and alcohol use. Some prescription medications, I would say to that maybe are prescribed and maybe are being used appropriately, are the main things.

Dawn Davenport  38:19  
Aaron, what are the hardest, special needs for adoptive hardest situations for adoptive parents to decide about?

Speaker 2  38:29  
I think hard is probably a relative term, depending on the families, but I think, again, kind of the role of education in this process is making sure that you know, we tell families like it's okay to say no, that baby will be adopted. And so you have to know who you are and what you're willing to deal with. Just this last month, there was a child that was born and didn't have a pelvis will never walk, death. And that require that's gonna require a lifelong support that child and so finding a family that was open to that we had a few that was wonderful. But finding a family that's open to that is different than a family where mom was doing recreational drug use in our first trimester. And again, like this is one of the things that I think an agency does a really good job of, is working with families to make sure that they're prepared for that spectrum. And what that means and also preparing them for you know, there's guilt associated when you say no, yep, though, it's not easy on any level.

Dawn Davenport  39:34  
I'm really glad you brought that up, because you're absolutely right. Saying that I'm not the right one makes you feel like you're hardened or, yeah, it should not. This is a lifetime commitment. And it is fine to say no, in fact, please say no if you're not the right family. I know you guys have heard me say this before, but it's true. This show would not happen without the support of organizations and agencies that believe in our mission and believe in the show. For almost 40 years, adoptions from the heart has helped create over 7350 families through domestic infant adoption. adoptions from the heart can also provide home study only services. They work with people all across the US and are licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia, and Connecticut. So Carly, what factors influence cost? We've talked about the cost, and it's a huge range. So what factors influence how much you're going to spend for an adoption? Yeah, so families can

Speaker 3  40:39  
choose to stay in our profile service and utilize our services. And I think, since we're limited to just Minnesota, they're probably going to wait longer. And so that's why we do encourage families to use outside sources and kind of broaden their outreach. But of course, there are additional costs with that. And so I think that's the biggest thing, if families have those resources, and they're willing to put that into their process, they are more likely to get placement quicker. And not all families are able to do that, though. I think attorney involvement again, that depends on some state requirements, and different agencies require that it's not always required, but maybe a situation requires it. So I would say that's the biggest thing. I also would say, It depends how long you wait, right? Like, if you're doing a home city update every year for multiple years, that's gonna pile up on that cost. And of course, if you're in a different state, those travel costs are really big. I know, we talked about the birth parent expenses, too, obviously, that can really add up those expenses quickly.

Dawn Davenport  41:37  
Aaron, what factors influence how long do families wait for an adoption match?

Speaker 2  41:45  
Yeah, what we tell families, two things that we tell families, we tell families, spend as little as you can for as long as you can. And again, like it's all relative, but I think when we see families at pear tree, and they're like, we have x amount of dollars, and we want to adopt as fast as we possibly can, that journey might look differently than somebody that says we have very limited dollars. And we're that's it for us. And so like those two journeys look differently. And so like, we'll recommend consultants, like faithful, depending on how fast they want to go, and how wide they want to go with their outreach. But we say like when you're starting this process, spend as little as you can for as long as you can, because the longer you wait, the wider you're gonna want to go and wire Kaufman. So again, it's completely relative to each individual family.

Dawn Davenport  42:30  
And Courtney, what factors do you see influence how long families wait for an adoption match?

Speaker 4  42:37  
I think it varies widely. I think finances obviously, like everybody said, can be a big factor, what they're able to pay for the adoption can prohibit them from being able to be considered for specific cases. And so that can make it take longer if their budget isn't very high. Even their profile, sometimes when Family Self design, they don't hit the nail on the head very well. And they forget who their audiences sometimes, and they make a coffee table book rather than a book for an expected family. And so I think that can prohibit a family from being matched quickly to when they're not remembering who their audiences.

Dawn Davenport  43:17  
That makes excellent

Speaker 2  43:18  
since Carly had said this earlier, and Courtney just said it as well. But we tell families, you need to be more afraid of being the same than you are being different. And so again, like most families are like we want to, you know, cast the widest net possible. And in doing so they become kind of generic. And so we say like, let's think about what makes you you and let's amplify that, versus you trying to be very few things to all people you need to be everything to one and you're

Dawn Davenport  43:48  
more likely to find that one by being yourself. That makes great sense. I do see how it is hard though because you want to be as my father used to say I like to be vanilla. Everybody likes vanilla. So need to be a little more chocolate with some strawberry sprinkles on top or something. Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you so much. Harley Wagner Eric quick importantly lot for being on today to talk to us about domestic infant adoption, all things domestic infant, I truly appreciate your time and your expertise.

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