The laws impacting how a searching family locates a birth parent vary from State to State. Some jurisdictions do not allow private adoptions, others restrict living expenses, have longer revocation periods, prohibit advertising and have other legal restrictions. Jennifer has worked with numerous families in the past 12 years helping them navigate their adoption journey. Many families contact Jennifer before they begin the home study process and months before the hire her so that they fully understand the process and what to expect. Others hire her as they begin their search privately. Since many families locate expectant parents wanting to make an adoption plan through the Internet or in other States, it is important to have your own attorney to ensure the legal requirements are met so that you may proceed with an adoption plan and finalize your adoption.
There are certain emotional and financial risks associated with independent adoption. When birth parents initially agree to place a child for adoption but later change their minds, the adoptive parents undoubtedly suffer emotionally. Even if the child is not yet born when the birth parents change their minds, the adoptive parents have formed emotional ties with the birth mother and the expected child. If the child has already come into the physical custody of the adoptive parents, the emotional trauma will be even greater.
In addition, the adoptive parents may have already paid attorney fees and medical expenses when the birth parents change their minds. In this event, the adoptive parents will most likely not be reimbursed by the birth parents.
Maryland and D.C. prohibit facilitation ("matching") so Jennifer will not locate a birth family for you, however, she can assist you in advertising and networking strategies, refer you to ethical attorneys in other States to assist you, help you analyze situations you find on your own and represent you in any ICPC procedures or a finalization in your home state.
Many searching adoptive parents in Maryland utilize Jennifer to assist them with leveraging their profile to attract birth parents interested in making an adoption plan. Techniques include online and print advertising, verbal and written networking, marketing and working with other adoption professionals. It is important that adoptive parents not reveal identifying information in their initial outreach efforts requiring them to have an email address dedicated to the adoption process and/or an 800 number for phone calls that come from potential birth parents. Jennifer continuously reviews and monitors her clients marketing materials to ensure they are current, accurate and maintain the clients confidentiality.
When a birth parent contacts adoptive parents for the first time, the call can be awkward at times. The best thing to do is listen to the birth parent and if they don't offer then ask the birth parent questions about their decision and reasoning, why they selected you, how they found you and what are their hopes for their child. Similarly, be prepared to answer questions the birth parent might have. During the first conversation the topic of financial support should not be discussed. Most birth parents will want to make sure you are the "right" family for their child before asking for financial support which will likely come up in future conversations. Birth parents should also be willing to provide a proof of pregnancy from a medical clinic or doctor prior to expecting you to take steps beyond speaking or emailing with them. The vast majority of birth parents are making an adoption plan for the right reasons and want nothing more than a secure and loving family for their child.
Some red flags which are not individually definitive but are to be considered on a case by case basis include a birth mother who requests financial support the first or second conversation or is otherwise focused on how much support you can provide, who does not want the birth father involved or to know about the pregnancy (there are some exceptions in some states), does not want anyone else to know about the pregnancy, tells you that you are the "perfect parents" or the "answer to her dreams" without having a lot of information about you, is transient (says she lived in one state, is in another and plans to move again before giving birth), does not follow through with prenatal care or appointments and/or does not want to speak with an attorney or adoption professional at your request.