Domestic Adoption

Domestic Special Needs Adoption at Spence-Chapin: Who Chooses the Adoptive Family?

Families often have questions about what the matching process is like in our Domestic Special Needs Adoption Program. Similar to Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Infant Adoption Program, the matching process in our Domestic Special Needs Program is driven by birth family whenever possible.

Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Special Needs Adoption Program (formerly called ASAP – A Special Adoption Program) was created when parents struggling with an unexpected diagnosis for their child came to us needing support. Since creating this unique program in 1995, we have found over 500 loving adoptive families for children with special medical needs, and we continue to work hard at expanding the benefits of adoption to more medically-fragile children and the prospective adoptive parents who want to love them.

The Spence-Chapin Way

For both our Special Needs and Domestic Adoption Programs, our counselors provide free, confidential, unbiased and culturally-sensitive options counseling for parents in crisis. Our goal is to support these families in understanding all their options and rights as well as the resources available, so they can be empowered to make informed decisions and plans for their child. This includes connecting families to early intervention services, Social Security Income (SSI), and finding additional resources to parent a child who is medically fragile.

For birth parents choosing adoption, we are uniquely qualified to support and guide them through the adoption planning process. Our Special Needs Adoption Program is one of the only places in NY and NJ that has expertise to support birth families and find loving adoptive families for medically-fragile infants. Sometimes we know prenatally that a baby will have a special need, other times we are contacted after the birth of the baby. We know that all birth parents have a great deal of love for their baby and want to make a plan that they feel is best for their child. When a child is born with a special needs, we look for adoptive families registered in our Special Needs Adoption Program.

Birth Parent Perspective: Watch Melissa tell her story about how Spence-Chapin helped her through a difficult time.

Ideally, birth parents can review profiles from multiple adoptive families. Some children have very severe medical conditions and it may be challenging to find multiple families for every child. When looking for prospective adoptive families, we network with other special needs organizations and advocates around the country to find supportive and loving families for children with diverse medical needs.

Additionally, some families have requests about the adoptive family, such as one or two-parent household, religious, racial, or ethnic preferences. In some cases, a birth parent may be looking for families that reflect their own heritage or cultural background. This means that not all families who are open to adopting a child may be profiled with birth parents. If a preference is known, we will often write it in the child’s online profile. Since the children are ready to be adopted immediately, birth parents are only presented with profiles of families that meet their preferences and have a current home study written by a social worker at an accredited agency in the family’s state.

Sometimes we already have adoptive families who have pre-registered with SC who can be considered. Other times we need more options for the birth family and are looking for more prospective adoptive families. Not all waiting children are photo listed on our website. It is the birth parent’s choice if their child’s photo and/or background information is shared online and each parent makes a choice that feels comfortable for them.

Because the children have special medical needs, it is important to know how and why a prospective adoptive family feels prepared to parent a child with significant medical needs. Eligibility is very flexible; we see all types of families: people who are not yet parents as well as parents of 8 or 10 children, families who live in urban, suburban, and rural areas throughout the U.S., families of different races and ethnicities, and parents of different ages. Families living in any state are eligible to apply to adopt. Overall, we are looking for loving families who are prepared and excited to adopt a child with special medical needs! Spence-Chapin supports open adoption and is seeking adoptive parents who are open to ongoing contact with their child’s birth parents, often in the form of phone calls, video chat, letters, emails, visits, and texts.

Ultimately, birth parents select an adoptive family by reviewing adoptive family profiles with their social workers. Once they have narrowed their choice to one family they would like to meet, a match meeting is held between the birth and adoptive parents with their social workers.

Birth Parent Perspective: Hear Zeke’s birth parents speak about their experience working with Spence-Chapin to make an adoption plan for their son. Zeke’s story was featured at the Spence-Chapin Gala in 2017. Learn more about his story here.

Birth Parent Perspective: Watch Scott talk about the unknowns he faced when his third child was diagnosed with Down syndrome prenatally and how he and his partner explored adoption and ultimately chose to parent their daughter.

To learn more about becoming a prospective adoptive parent through our Special Needs Adoption Program, read our Special Needs FAQ on our blog! You can also contact us at 212-400-8150 or asap@spence-chapin.org.

If you are a birth parent considering making an adoption plan, you can contact us 24/7 for free, confidential and unbiased options counseling: Call 1-800-321-LOVE or Text: 646-306-2586.

Joie Visits Spence-Chapin and Meets Her Adoption Social Worker

Linda Alexandre, Executive Vice President of Adoption Programs, recently met with a family who stopped by for a visit. Joie, age 9, shares her recollection of that visit in this blog post.

Support for Adoptees

Spence-Chapin offers various programs, events and services that support adoptees to build community, navigate adoption-related issues such as identity and get resources to thrive in their lives.

Journey of Strength and Hope: A Birth and Adoptive Mom’s Story

Journey of Strength and Hope: A Birth and Adoptive Mom’s Story

Last month, Lucy Shaw, our Senior Manager of Birth Parent Outreach Department, had a wonderful opportunity to chat with Jacqui Hunt who just adopted a baby girl through Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program.

Building Families, Nurturing Communities: The Important Role of Social Workers in Adoption

Monica Baker, a social worker with Spence-Chapin for more than ten years, understands well the delicate balance of emotions involved in her work. She spends her days enabling connections between infants and the families who can provide forever homes for them.  

Reflections on Spence-Chapin History During Black History Month

This month as we celebrate Black History Month, I have found myself taking time to reflect on the history of African American adoption, the role that Spence-Chapin has played in that history, and the many encouraging changes I have witnessed in my 25+ career working in adoption.

Independent vs. Agency Adoption- What’s the difference?

Many individuals who are new to adoption are often confused about how an independent adoption and an agency adoption differ. When it comes to a domestic adoption, the first thing an adoptive family must decide on is whether to work on your own or work with an experienced adoption attorney or with an adoption organization. We often say that there are two different paths that end at the same point—becoming an adoptive family. In an independent adoption, prospective adoptive families are guided by an adoption attorney. Families decide where and how to locate a potential birth mother, usually by networking, advertising, or by creating an online profile of their family. Adoptive parents are responsible for appropriate expenses related to the birth mother’s pregnancy and birth of the child; these expenses are state-specific and may include travel to and from the doctor, prenatal care, and/or hospital bills. The type of ongoing relationship between birth and adoptive families (an open adoption) is often discussed prior to the birth of the child between the parents. Many adoptive parents share that they chose the path of independent adoption to network across the entire country in order to be chosen by a birth mother. A home study is a document required for all adoptive parents and even families working with an adoption attorney will need a home study document to finalize the adoption. Spence-Chapin provides many home studies for families pursuing an independent adoption. Families are encouraged to work with an attorney with adoption experience; Spence-Chapin recommends working with a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

In an agency adoption, prospective adoptive parents are guided by social workers. Families are encouraged to seek out an accredited or licensed adoption organization. An adoption agency provides options counseling to birth parents, and prepare families to become adoptive parents. The social workers provide the home study and all related adoption documents for the birth and adoptive families. The adoptive parents will create profiles of their family to be shown to birth parents who are making adoption plans. Depending on the agency, adoptive parents may or may not be responsible for supporting a birth parent throughout the pregnancy. At Spence-Chapin, adoptive parents are not individually responsible for financially supporting a birth parent throughout options counseling. Often, the ongoing open adoption relationship will be negotiated with the support of social workers. Adoptive parents share that they chose to work with an adoption agency for the ongoing support and guidance provided by the social work staff. Social workers are there to help each person though every step of the process as well as provide support.

Visit our website to learn more about Spence-Chapin’s domestic adoption program or contact us at (212) 400-8150 or info@spence-chapin.org.  

Open Adoption from an Adoptee's Perspective

We talk a lot about open adoption from the perspective of the adoptive parents and birth parents, but the real experts are the people at heart of the experience—the adoptees. Adoptees that have grown up in a fully open adoption are just now coming of age. The video, embedded at the bottom of this blog, is of teens and young adults raised in a fully open adoption. Here are some excerpts of what they said. Keep in mind that these young people were all adopted through the same agency, which is known for educating and supporting the open adoption process.

  • If I was in a closed adoption I think there would be times I would feel like I don’t belong. …I don’t have to go on this soul-searching journey to find out who my parents are and where I’m from. For me, it’s right there.
  • I’m incredible grateful, saying that I’m grateful doesn’t really begin to cover it. My life is amazing and I really owe it to [open adoption].
  • Open adoption is like a gate you can pass through when you want to or need to.
  • I know my birth mom will be there for me if I need her, and that’s such a comforting thought to know that she cares and why she gave me up and to know the reasoning behind it and to know that it was for me to have a better life.
  • Open adoption has made me more open to other types of families and family structures and the way people live.
  • I love my birthmom, she’s like a big sister to me. She’s very open with me and it’s comforting to know that not only can I talk to my mom, my adoptive mom, but also my birth mom.
  • My birthparents are part of my family and I love them. They are great role models for me and I respect what they’ve done.
  • I see my birthmother every few years and she is there for I know my birth mom will be there for me if I need her, and that’s such a comforting thought to know that she cares and why she gave me up and to know the reasoning behind it and to know that it was for me to have a better life.
  • Open adoption has made me more open to other types of families and family structures and the way people live.
  • I love my birthmom, she’s like a big sister to me. She’s very open with me and it’s comforting to know that not only can I talk to my mom, my adoptive mom, but also my birth mom.
  • My birthparents are part of my family and I love them. They are great role models for me and I respect what they’ve done.
  • I see my birthmother every few years and she is there for me. She’s caring and very much a role model for me. The few thousand miles between us makes the moments we have together even better.
  • It’s been very important to meet my birth parents rather than being pen-pals.
  • An in-person meeting is way better—WAY BETTER—than anything you can achieve online. Skype is close, but not as good. Being there in the flesh is meaningful and fun.
  • Seeing them in person is like having an old friend come to visit who you haven’t seen in a long time.
  • We visit during the year when we can and in the summer I usually fly out and visit my birth family. Sometime my parents come for some of the time and sometimes I spend time with them on my own.
  • I Skype my birth dad every couple of weeks, but seeing him in person is so much more impactful for me.
  • My parents are completely encouraging of me having as much contact with my birth parents…. We have tons of photos of my birth family all over the house. It’s really nice.
  • My mom and dad are always talking about positive things my birth parents do. My birth mom just had a big achievement in her life and my mom wouldn’t stop raving about it. It’s cool seeing how much they support them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxijc_jt0C0&feature=youtu.be

This content was originally published by Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education nonprofit. https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/open-adoption-from-the-childs-perspective/

Father Of Ten Adopted Children With Special Needs: 'We've Had An Unbelievable Amount Of Support'

Father Of Ten Adopted Children With Special Needs: 'We've Had An Unbelievable Amount Of Support

Father Shares, and Looks Up to, Son’s Love of Hockey

Happy Father's Day: This adopted father reflects on the things not inherited when you adopt - genetic illness, lack of athleticism - and is inspired by his son success to develop his teenage yearning to play hockey.

Bubba Watson's Masters Miracle

Bubba & Caleb  

This year, a miracle happened at the Masters, both on and off the green. While self-taught superstar Bubba Watson made his game-clinching shot down in Augusta, his wife Angie and his newly adopted son Caleb watched from their house in Orlando. Just one week earlier, before Bubba donned his iconic green Masters jacket, they got the call that they had been waiting on for four years, they were finally going to be new parents. “It’ll probably be more emotional than this win, just to be there with my son and my wife.  I’ll get to raise an amazing kid.” Bubba remarks on going home to see his wife and 8-week old son.

The couple is elated to bring their newborn home, but it has been a long and storied road to Caleb’s arrival. After Angie and Bubba decided on a domestic adoption, they chose an agency, Chicks in Crisis, to help start the home study process while living in Florida. But, mid-way through, the couple made the decision to move to Arizona to be closer to family and their church. “When you move states it's a totally different process, our home study got wiped away so we had to start over.” says Watson.

After their move, their plan to adopt was met with number of setbacks. As for many other families, life kept moving swiftly, bringing with it a number of unexpected ups and downs. In 2008, Watson’s father was diagnosed with throat cancer, and two years later he passed away in 2010, right after Bubba won his first Major championship. Around this time, Angie was misdiagnosed, and the family was scared that she was suffering from a cancerous tumor. The couple stuck together through their emotional turmoil, never giving up on their plan of completing their family.

Finally, in 2012 the Watson’s had a year of breakthroughs, despite a few bumps in the road. “We had two babies, two moms turned us down that went with other families, and then the Wednesday night right before Bay Hill is when we got the word that Monday we'd pick [Caleb] up.” Even through the craziness of his sudden celebrity and a Masters victory, Bubba is most excited and thankful for his new-found fatherhood, planning the very best he can for Baby Caleb. “As a father, you just want him to excel at something, and whatever that is, whatever their passion is, you just want to support them, be there for them, and hopefully they can grow up and be better than you one day at whatever it is.”

Black History Month Celebrated with Javaka Steptoe

On a sunny afternoon in February 2011, dozens of Spence-Chapin families gathered to celebrate Black History Month with noted author/illustrator Javaka Steptoe.

Adoption Reunion on Latest Episode of TV Show Glee

On Tuesday, May 25th, millions of viewers tuned in to watch the latest episode of the hit Fox show, Glee. Perhaps of most interest to those of us in the adoption world was the reunion of Rachel with her birth mother, Shelby. While such mainstream portrayals can successfully illustrate the expectations, emotional intensity and anxiety that accompany a search and reunion, Glee dismissed the importance of working to forge a relationship after the reunion.

Adoption Tax Credit Extension

An extension through 2011 of the Adoption Tax Credit was passed as part of the health care reform bill which was signed into law by President Obama on Monday, March 22, 2010. It has been confirmed that it is not part of the current reconciliation and that it will be law until December 31, 2011. The extension raises the maximum credit to $13,170 for tax year 2010.