Domestic Adoption FAQs

Families often have many questions as they are beginning an adoption process. These FAQs will help you decide if adopting through Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program is the right path for you to grow your family.

1. Who are the children in need of adoption?

The children in need of adoption through our Domestic Adoption Program are newborns to approximately 8 weeks old. The babies reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the NYC Metro Area; most children are of Black or Latino backgrounds. Families adopting through this program need to be open to parenting a child of either gender.

2. Who can adopt through this program?

We are often asked who can adopt. We are happy to share that all types of parents adopt: married couples, unmarried couples, LGBTQIA+ parents, single women and single men can adopt. Families who are already parenting adopt, as do families who are transitioning out of fertility treatments. Families of all ages, income levels, ethnicities, and religions adopt. Truly, the one thing that all adoptive families have in common is that they want to be parents – and from there they are as diverse as the kids themselves.

3. What is open adoption?

What if I want a closed adoption? How is open adoption negotiated? Open adoption is when adoptive and birth families meet and are able to have ongoing contact with each other at their own discretion. Frequency and type of communication can range from the exchange of letters and emails, phone calls, shared pictures, and visits. Open adoption is not co-parenting. It is an opportunity for birth and adoptive families to develop a relationship that will benefit the adopted child. Research shows that open adoption is beneficial to all members of the adoption triad: the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the adopted person. Having access to their birth parent can help an adopted person develop a better sense of self with access to information about his or her background. Families who are the best candidates for Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program are open to periodic exchange of emails, photos, and visits with the birth family. Adoptive parents and birth parents each have their own social worker at Spence-Chapin. Your social worker will help you establish an open adoption plan that is comfortable to both you and your child’s birth parent(s). Both adoptive families and birth parents will get support from their social worker throughout this process.

4. What are the common medical risks?

Many infants in need of adoption have some risks or unknowns in their medical backgrounds.Some of the infants come from backgrounds where they may have been exposed to cigarette smoke, recreational drugs, and/or social drinking during pregnancy. Good candidates for the Domestic Adoption Program are open to some risks and unknowns in the child’s medical history. This is something you will discuss with your social worker throughout your adoption process.

5. Who are the birth parents?

Any woman of childbearing age could find herself in the position of an unplanned pregnancy. All birth parents have a great deal of love for their baby. They want to make a plan to give the baby a stable life that they are unable to provide at time of birth. Spence-Chapin’s experienced social workers provide intensive unbiased options counseling to biological parents in the NYC metro area to help them make the decision that is right for them and for their baby.

6. What is the matching process and how does it work?

Birth parents select an adoptive family by reviewing adoptive family profiles with their social worker. Once they have narrowed their choice down to one family, a match meeting is held between the birth family and the adoptive family. Both the adoptive family’s social worker and the birth parent’s social worker are present for this meeting to provide guidance and support. Adoptive families wait an average of 1-2 years to be matched after completing their home study.

7. What is interim care?

We understand that women and their partners need time and space to make a decision about the future of their family, especially after a recent birth of a child. Spence-Chapin’s Interim Care Program allows babies to be cared for in a loving home by a nurturing caregiver so that biological parents have additional time to plan for their child. Biological parents retain parental rights while their baby is in Interim Care and are free to visit their child. Our interim care givers are families who are trained and screened to care for the newborns on a temporary basis. Interim care allows the birth parents to feel confident in their plan before making the decision to place the infant for adoption.

8. What are the next steps if I want to apply?

Join our next Domestic Adoption webinar!

Still have questions? Schedule a pre-adoption consultation or phone call with one of our adoption experts! Call: 212-400-8150 or Email: info@spence-chapin.org.

Mentorship Program FAQs

Who are the Mentees?

Mentees are adopted middle or high school students in the tri-state who are open to receiving support and guidance from adopted adults and are able to be in a group setting and participate in structured activities. Our families join us from NYC, New Jersey, and Connecticut!

Who are the Mentors?

Our mentors are volunteers who are adopted, live in the tri-state area, and are in their twenties, thirties, and forties. All of our mentors are screened and trained by our licensed social work staff. Mentors serve as role models who can share their adoption story and experiences while encouraging mentees to ask questions, feel comfortable with their identities, and develop healthy self-esteem. Some of our mentors were mentees themselves as children.

Why would my child be interested in a Mentorship Program?

For many young adoptees, finding older adoptee role models can be challenging. While they may be surrounded by peers who were also adopted, interacting with an older adoptee might not be possible. Mentors can really provide insight and support for younger adoptees around issues of identity, navigating different types of conversations that might come up in high school or college, or just being a teenager in general. They are able to speak and listen to mentees from a place of understanding.

Are mentors assigned to a child one-to-one? Do they meet individually?

Mentors and Mentees interact at scheduled events and go on community outings as a group. Whereas in some years we designate Mentors to individual Mentees, we have also interacted in group settings without a one-on-one assignment. The program structure varies each year depending on enrollment.

What if my child doesn’t want to participate?

It’s OK for Mentees to feel a bit hesitant about participating at first. Many of our mentees who are unsure about joining the program at first end up really enjoying the experience after just a few outings. However, the children who are most successful in the program are enthusiastic and want to participate. They are ready to engage in these adoption conversations. We make sure that conversations take place in a number of ways so that each Mentee can feel comfortable.

How often does the Mentorship Program meet?

One Saturday a month, our Mentors and Mentees enjoy community, educational and social outings. We provide an inclusive and safe space to discuss birth families, identity, relationships, and more. There are two semesters for the Mentorship Program: Fall (September – January) and Spring (February – June). Families enrolled in the Mentorship Program will receive a schedule of events in advance of the semester. The time frame of events varies depending on the activity, but generally ranges from 2-4 hours, usually beginning around noon.

What types of programs/activities do participants of the Mentorship Program engage in?

Past outings have included trips to the zoo, bowling, classes on pasta making, fencing, painting, and more. Some events take place at Spence-Chapin’s office in Manhattan while others take place off-site throughout New York City. Two of each semester’s monthly meetings will be Adoption Days, where the agenda will be adoption-focused and encourage relevant discussion and reflection. Adoption Days also include programming for parents related to parenting adopted teens.

Hear from our current mentors to learn more:

 

Questions?
Email mentorship@spence-chapin.org or call 646-539-2167 to learn more!

Spence-Chapin Services

Spence-Chapin provides free options counseling for pregnant women & biological parents.If you are unsure about parenting, you have choices in creating the best plan for your baby or child. This is your decision and we are here to help.

WE PROVIDE:

  • FREE, confidential, and unbiased pregnancy options counseling.
  • We will visit you anywhere in the New York City metro area! (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut)
  • We cover pregnancy related expenses.
  • We can connect you to quality prenatal care.
  • FREE interpreters and our staff speaks English, Spanish, and Chinese.
  • Considering adoption? Click to read FAQs online.

www.spence-chapin.org/options-counseling Call: 800-321-LOVE (5683) Email: helpline@spence-chapin.org


RESOURCES

Not sure if you are pregnant or seeking medical help? Here are resources to explore:

Medical and Prenatal Care These providers offer medical and prenatal care and answer questions related to pregnancy:

Text and Online chat with Planned Parenthood: Text “PPNOW” to 774636 (PPINFO) · www.plannedparenthood.org/all-access/chat

Choices Women Medical Center Women’s Health Services: 147-32 Jamaica Ave, Jamaica, NY 11435 (718) 534-3800 · www.choicesmedical.com

Gouverneur Health Health services in Manhattan: 227 Madison St, New York, NY 10002 (212) 238-7000 · www.gothamhealth.org/centers/gouverneur.html

MIC Women’s Health Centers in Brooklyn serve the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island     (718) 522-1144 · healthsolutions.org/mic

Planned Parenthood        National: 800-230-PLAN (7526) - for routing to local resources

New York City: (212) 965-7000 26 Bleecker St · (Manhattan) 21-41 45th Rd · (Queens) 44 Court Street, 6th Floor · (Brooklyn) 2nd Floor, 349 E 149th Street · (Bronx) 23 Hyatt Street · (Staten Island)

New Jersey: Ironbound Health Center: 70 Adams St #13, Newark, NJ 07105 (973) 465-7707

Chubb Health Center: 240 Mulberry St, Newark, NJ 07105 (973) 622-3900

East Orange Health Center: 560 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd #100, East Orange, NJ 07018 (973) 674-4343

Montclair Health Center: 29 N Fullerton Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042 (973) 746-7116

Elizabeth Health Center: 1150 Dickinson St, Elizabeth, NJ 07201 (908) 351-5384

Englewood Health Center: 46 N Van Brunt St, Englewood, NJ 07631 (201) 894-0966

North of NYC: Yonkers Health Center: 20 S Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701 (914) 965-1912

White Plains Health Center: 175 Tarrytown Rd, White Plains, NY 10607 (914) 761-6566

Long Island: Hempstead Health Center: 540 Fulton Ave, Hempstead, NY 11550 (516) 750-2500

Glen Cove Health Center: 110 School St, Glen Cove, NY 11542 (516) 750-2500

West Islip Health Center: 180 Sunrise Hwy, West Islip, NY 11795 (631) 893-0150

Smithtown Health Center: 70 Maple Ave, Smithtown, NY 11787 (631) 361-7526

Connecticut: Stamford Health Center: 35 6th St, Stamford, CT 06905 (203) 327-2722


MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

  • Lifenet: 1-800-LIFENET (1-800-543-3638) is a free, confidential help line for New York City residents available 24/7. The hotline's staff of trained mental health professionals help callers find mental health and substance abuse services.
  • Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or website: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
  • NYC Well: 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) 24/7 Suicide prevention and crisis counseling, Peer support and short-term counseling via telephone, text and web, Assistance scheduling appointments or accessing other mental health services, Follow-up to check that you have connected to care
  • NJ Family Help Line: 1-800-THE KIDS (1-800-843-5437) If you're feeling stressed out, call the Family Helpline and work through your frustrations before a crisis occurs.

ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY RESOURCES

  • Health Hotlines for Moms: partners.text4baby.org/index.php/health-info-for-moms
  • NYC Sexual Health Clinics: Health Department Sexual Health Clinics provide low- to no-cost services www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/services/sexual-health-clinics.page
  • Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP): Medicaid and WIC for low-income pregnant and newly parenting women in New York State, 1-800-522-5006
  • NYC Women’s Health Services: Comprehensive prenatal and family planning services, 866-642-5589
  • NJ Family Care: Insurance for low-income, pregnant and newly-parenting women and their families 1-800-701-0710 www.njfamilycare.org
  • NJWIC State Office: 609-292-9560 www.state.nj.us
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • NYC Parent Helpline: 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373)
  • South Hampton Women Infants and Children (WIC) Program: 631-268-1020
  • Suffolk County Perinatal Coalition: 631-475-5400
  • Nassau County WIC Program: 516-571-1WIC (1942)

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, are in danger, or are feeling suicidal, call 911 immediately.

Top 10 Medical Needs in South Africa

There are thousands of children waiting for adoption in South Africa. Many of the children have special needs and need an adoptive family ready and excited to help them thrive! Families considering adopting a child with special needs have many questions, including what are the most common diagnoses? Here are the most common medical needs as seen by Spence-Chapin, one of two American agencies accredited to provide adoption services in South Africa.

 
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  1. HIV

  2. Prematurity

  3. Developmental delays

  4. Cerebral Palsy

  5. Auditory impairments

  6. Visual impairments

  7. Cognitive limitations

  8. Brain abnormalities

  9. Macrocephaly

  10. Microcephaly

 

By partnering with Johannesburg Child Welfare, Spence-Chapin’s focus is simple: the kids who are the most vulnerable and are in need of adoption. We are their advocates. The children are 18 months - 8 years old with an identified medical diagnosis. The children are living in JCW’s care are cared for in nurseries with caring staff. JCW partners with a Thusanani Children’s Foundation to provide safe and modern medical care to ensure each child receives the medical care they need – HIV testing and treatment, occupational therapy, physical therapy, antibiotics, surgery, well-baby visits, etc.

South Africa is signatory to the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoption so adoptive families have the benefits of the Hague Treaty, which is designed to ensure that international adoption is a transparent, ethical process with an established infrastructure to protect and support children and families.

It’s recommend that families considering adopting a child with medical needs consult with a pediatrician about diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of specific conditions to consider if your family has the ability to provide the care a child will need. There are many experienced international adoption medical specialty clinics throughout the United States that are a resource for prospective adoptive families.

There are millions of children around the world living with HIV who are waiting for a family. Years ago, immigration laws prohibited HIV+ children from being adopted into American families. After advocacy efforts, legislation was passed allowing for the intercountry adoption of these children. There are many families open to adopting a child who is HIV+ and have the resources to provide the medical care and love an adoptive family can provide!

Are you considering adopting a child with special needs? Children in South Africa are waiting for you! It takes a special type of parent to adopt a child with medical needs. We’re here for you before, during, and after your adoption to provide information and support to your family!

NYC Pride March: Save the Date

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Last year Spence-Chapin staff and community participated in the NYC Pride March for the first time and had a memorable experience! We’re thrilled to be walking in the March alongside LGBTQ parents, their families, and their allies again on June 25th and we invite you to join us! We learned a lot last year. Here are 5 key takeaways.

1. There are multiple exit points throughout the march. Come walk with us for a few blocks or the entire route!

2. Marching contingents are given check-in and step-off times. We will wait in the formation area near Grand Central Station for about 2 hours before our group officially enters the march. If you join us, we encourage you to bring food, water, sunscreen, and other necessities. There are portable relief facilities and water filling stations at several points within the formation area.

3. Since we will have young children in our group, we will likely be placed at the front of the march meaning less wait time in the formation area.

4. The march typically takes 60-90 minutes to travel from formation to dispersal area (near Stonewall Inn).

5. We had fun and rewarding day in the sun! It was amazing to hear from spectators along the route about how they were connected to the adoption community.

All are invited to join us as we celebrate the LGBTQ community so bring your closest friends and family members. Email info@spence-chapin.org to learn more and sign up!

Bulgaria and Roma Adoption

Bulgaria as one of Eastern Europe’s treasures but underneath the rich sights and sounds, there is an imbalance and a need to find loving homes for many Roma children.

Special Needs Adoption FAQs

Since 1995, Spence-Chapin has found adoptive families for 520+ children with special needs. Spence-Chapin is currently accepting applications from families who are open to adopting a child with significant medical needs. To be considered as a prospective adoptive family please complete our free pre-application send us a copy of your current home study (completed within the past 12 months), conducted by a licensed adoption agency. In order to reduce barriers to special needs adoption there are no professional service fees for special needs adoptions. Read more: www.spence-chapin.org/asap Emailasap@spence-chapin.org Fax: (888)-742-6126 Mail: Special Needs at Spence-Chapin, 410 East 92nd Street, 3rd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10128

Frequently Asked Questions:

I would like to be considered as an adoptive parent. What’s my first step? Please share a copy of your current home study and complete the Spence-Chapin online pre-application. Please email your home study and/or family profile to asap@spence-chapin.org.

Unfortunately, families without a current home study are unable to be considered.

Since the children are ready to be adopted immediately we need families that are ready to adopt.

Complete the free online pre-application here: www.spence-chapin.org/asap

I’ve emailed my home study and submitted the pre-application. What’s next? All families who have completed the online pre-application and emailed their current home study are considered active prospective adoptive families. We will contact you if your family is a potential match for a current or future waiting child. We will provide status updates regarding the adoption process on our website within the child’s profile. All available information about a child is on our website. Spence-Chapin will keep a home study on file for as long as it is current and keep the family in mind for any future situations.

When will I hear from the social workers? We will provide status updates on our website within the child’s profile. Due to the volume of emails, we are unable to respond to every email about a waiting child. Please stay in touch with Spence-Chapin through our newsletters, facebook, and twitter. Keep up with waiting babies through our website.

What kind of home study do I need? You will need a current home study written by a social worker at an accredited agency in your home state. We ask for an agency home study because it’s important for families to be connected to ongoing support and services. You can submit any home study you currently have and if you are chosen we may have additional questions and ask for it to be updated depending on the child’s situation.

The children needing adoptive families are born with a wide variety of medical needs and we are looking for adoptive families who are open to severe medical conditions. Please indicate in your home study and the pre-application the types of medical conditions your family is open to and share the resources which will allow a child thrive in your family.

I need more information- what else can you share? Everything that we are able to share at this time is available on our website. If information changes or more becomes available, we will update the website. If a diagnosis sounds unknown or you are unsure about prognosis we encourage you to speak with a pediatrician. It is not possible to visit with the child before being identified as the adoptive family.

How much will this cost? In order to reduce barriers to special needs adoption there are no professional service fees for this adoption program. There is no cost to submit the online pre-application and be matched with a child. Costs to consider include home study, travel to NYC for the placement, post-placement reports, and adoption finalization. If a two-parent household then both parents are required to travel to the Spence-Chapin offices for the placement and should expect to stay in NYC metro area for about 1 week.

Who picks the adoptive family? Am I eligible to adopt? Eligibility is very flexible; we see all types of families: people who are not yet parents as well as parents of large families, 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 states 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! Whenever possible the birth family chooses the adoptive family. 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. 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.

Where do the children come from? All of the children are born in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut Spence-Chapin offers free, unbiased options counseling to women and their partners in the NYC metro area. Sometimes birth parents know prenatally that a baby will have a special need, other times we are contacted after the birth of the baby.

You can watch two videos on our special needs adoption webpage from birth parents of children with special needs. You’ll hear Melissa talk about how when her daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome Melissa and her husband did not feel ready to provide her with the parenting she needed. They made an open adoption plan. You’ll also hear Scott talk about the unknowns of 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. The same diagnoses with different outcomes and our social workers are here to support all birth parents in exploring their options. www.spence-chapin.org/asap

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. Sometimes we already have adoptive families who have pre-registered with SC who are able to be considered. Other times we are in need of a more options for the birth family and looking for more prospective adoptive families.

If I’m chosen as the adoptive parent what are my next steps? The social worker will be in touch about gathering a current family profile from your family and to discuss the logistics of meeting the birth family in a match meeting, either in-person or through video chat. You’ll receive the any additional information that has become available and review medical history with your pediatrician. After the match meeting you’ll speak to your social worker about if you’re ready to move forward with the adoption and the same for the birth family. Our team will plan placement of the child to your family.

When will a child be placed with me? I wish this was simpler to answer! There are so many factors that go into an adoption placement that this is very difficult to predict and there is no guarantee that a child will be placed with your family through this adoption program. We encourage you to network with other agencies or advocacy groups once your home study is completed. Whenever possible biological parents chose the adoptive family. Some biological families have requests about the adoptive family, such as 1 or 2 parent household, religious, or racial preferences. This means that not all families who are open to adopting a child may be profiled with all biological parents. If a preference is known, we will often write it in the child’s online profile.

Who are the children? What are special needs? The children are infants and young children in the NYC metro area who have been diagnosed with a medical condition or are at significant risk for developing a severe medical condition. The children are born in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut and are from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The infants and children in need of adoption have a variety of special needs, from significant developmental issues to serious medical and congenital conditions.

The conditions usually require therapeutic and/or medical interventions during the child’s entire life. These non-correctable conditions can include:

  • Genetic Disorders
  • Brain Anomali
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Rare Syndromes
  • Cardiac and Pulmonary Disorders
  • Shortened Life Span
  • Excessive Drug and/or Alcohol Exposure
  • Significant Risk of Psychiatric Disorders

Many children are eligible for Early Intervention Services, Social Security Disability, Adoption Subsidy, and Medicaid.

When Doctors believe that a child’s prenatal environment will most likely lead to developmental delays or other medical needs then that child will be placed with adoptive parents ready for special needs. This includes significant prenatal drug or alcohol use, or extreme prematurity.

Where will I finalize the adoption? It is case-by-case. Some cases need to finalize in NY or NJ, others can be finalized in your home state. If you are called about a child, it would be an important question to ask about a specific situation.

Where is the child living? Infants may be living with our volunteer interim care families, receiving treatment in the NICU, or pediatric hospital, or living with biological family. When writing about a child’ situation on our website we try to indicate where the child is currently living.

Why Adopt from South Africa?

There is a Need for International Adoption

South Africa is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation” to describe the country’s multicultural diversity, especially in the wake of apartheid. It is a country of overwhelming beauty, awe inspiring scenery and rich history. However, it is a nation with its share of struggles, including a host of social and economic challenges and a long history of poverty and inequality.

We’ve known for many years that there are children in South Africa who need adoptive families, but it was not until 2012 that governmental permissions opened adoptions to American families. Since then, Spence-Chapin has been one of just two U.S. agencies approved by the South African Central Authority – and we have been actively finding families ever since!

All Types of Parents Can Adopt from South Africa

Spence-Chapin is an advocate for all types of parents to adopt – single men & women, married and unmarried couples, and LGBTQ parents. It’s exciting for us to partner with Johannesburg Child Welfare (JCW) who is also open to all types of parents! All types of parents can adopt from South Africa – married couples, unmarried couples, LGBTQ parents, single women, and single men. The South Africa government is committed to a practice of non-discrimination and we’ve seen this be true in our adoption program as married couples, LGBTQ parents, as well as single parents have adopted! It truly is about finding the right parent(s) for a child!

Children are Waiting for Families

Young children with medical and developmental needs as well as siblings who are considered medically healthy are waiting to be matched with families. Spence-Chapin finds families for the most vulnerable children – the children who are ready for adoption and need an international adoptive family. In South Africa, these are kids from 18 months – 8 years old with an identified medical diagnosis. It’s this medical diagnosis that’s been a barrier for South African domestic adoptive families and other international adoptive families.

While access to anti-retroviral treatment in South Africa has increased in recent years, HIV/AIDS remains a prominent health concern in the country. Children born with the HIV virus have the opportunity to lead long, full and healthy lives. However, the social stigma in South Africa concerning HIV has led to many children living in institutions. Other common medical conditions include auditory and visual impairments, extreme prematurity, developmental delays, and unpredictable cognitive challenges.

South Africa is a Leader among African Countries

South Africa is signatory to the Hague so adoptive families have the benefits of the Hague Treaty, which is designed to ensure that international adoption is a transparent, ethical process with an established infrastructure to protect and support children and families.

Moreover, South Africa is a leader in children’s issues among African countries. In 2005, Act 38 The Children’s Act became law through the country’s Department of Social Development. In recognition of how critical physical and emotional contact are during a child’s early stages of development, South Africa continues to make efforts to move from institutionalized care to a system that more closely resembles foster care. The Children’s Act created a strategic plan to direct the development of alternative care, foster care, adoption, prevention, and protection of children and to put community social workers in place.

Johannesburg Child Welfare

We are fortunate to partner with Johannesburg Child Welfare (JCW) which is a highly respected, 100+ year old NGO that provides services to over 4,000 children and families in Jo’burg annually.

Adoption (domestic and international) is only a small part of their work. They have four centers that house and provide for children of all ages, from infancy through the teenage years. One of their centers also provides short-term housing to pregnant women. In addition, they recruit and train foster families, plan and prepare for children to be reunited with their birth families and provide intensive treatment to survivors of sexual abuse. Children receive excellent medical treatment at JCW, through partnership with Thusanani Children’s Foundation.

All of this and more make JCW an agency that is highly respected among its peers in the field as well as with the governing bodies of South Africa. When the South African Ministry of Social Development’s Central Authority (the governing body that oversees adoption) was looking to expand their international adoptions, they received an overwhelming number of applications from agencies across the country. Jo’burg Child Welfare was one of only two agencies approved for adoption to the United States. It is a privilege to see the broad range of their work and to hear from the adoption team about the realities that inform our shared effort to find homes for children where no domestic adoptions exist.

March is Social Work Month and it is with immense gratitude that we celebrate the social workers who – both here and abroad – make adoptions from South Africa possible. The commitment of the staff to the children in their care at JCW, Spence-Chapin’s partner agency in South Africa, is undeniable. If you’re considering adoption from South Africa, social workers at Spence-Chapin and JCW are here for you before, during, and after your adoption to provide information and support to your family!

If you are interested in more information about adoption from South Africa, please visit us online, email us at info@spence-chapin.org, or call us at 212-400-8150.

Preschoolers and ADHD

ADHD is defined by impairing levels of inattention, disorganization, and/or hyperactivity. Children as young as age 4 can be diagnosed with ADHD. Children are meeting huge developmental milestones physically, cognitively, and emotionally at this age. They are constantly learning new skills and absorbing everything around them. At the same time, preschoolers can sometimes be defiant and unpredictable and many of them act out their emotions in aggressive ways. They are verbal and opinionated people so, how do we know if our child is exhibiting typical preschooler behavior or showing early signs of ADHD?

Does your child: • Have a hard time starting projects such as homework? • Fidget or squirm when seated? • Have a hard time following directions? • Interrupt or intrude on others? • Forget things or daily tasks? • Have difficulty keeping materials and belongings in order? • Become easily distracted • Have difficulty working or playing quietly? • Have frequent tantrums?

All of these behaviors can make life at home chaotic and disorganized and affect your child’s academic achievement and social development. Spence-Chapin’s licensed professionals can provide parents with behavioral management tips and techniques to improve your child’s self-esteem and ADHD symptoms as well as decrease parental stress. CALL TODAY TO SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION 646-539-2167 Link: http://www.modernfamilycenter.org/counseling/

4 Ways to Celebrate Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays for Chinese families and is also celebrated by other East Asian countries like Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan. This year is the 25th anniversary of Spence-Chapin’s China international adoption program and over 40 years of international adoption. Lunar New Year is a chance to wish family and friends a lucky and prosperous new year. Here are some ways you can celebrate the year of the Rooster: Enjoy Time with Family Holidays are a great way to get together with family. New Year’s Eve dinner is called “reunion dinner” and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Yum!

Decorate Red is the main color of Lunar New Year and is believed to be lucky. Bring your family good fortune by filling your home with red décor.

Attend a Cultural Event Festivals, parades, and fairs are arranged in many cities and towns both nationally and internationally. At these events, families can see traditional dragon dances and other performances. Organizers might even hand out traditional Chinese products and snacks. Check out what’s happening in NYC on Lunar New Year: http://betterchinatown.com/upcoming-events/

Eat Lucky Foods Certain foods bring symbolic meaning. The Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for surplus. It is believed that eating fish will bring a lucrative new year.

We hope that you and your family have a happy and healthy 2017 and we wish all of our families that celebrate Lunar New Year Gong Xi Fa Cai/Saehae Bok Mani Badeuseyo!

To learn more about our post-adoption services for adoptive families and adoptees, visit our website: www.modernfamilycenter.org/adoption-support.

Adoption Tax Credit 2017

[audio mp3="http://adoptionnews.spence-chapin.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Adoption-Tax-Credit-2016.mp3"][/audio] Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews: Josh Kroll, Adoption Subsidy Resource Center coordinator at NACAC; and Becky Wilmoth, an Adoption Tax Credit Specialist at Bills Tax Service. Click to listen to the free podcast!

 + Highlights of the show

  • When can you file for the Adoption Tax Credit: international, domestic (non-foster care), foster care.
  • If your adoption from foster care did not cost you anything, are you still eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit?
  • How to find out if the state considered my adopted child “special needs”?
  • Do I have to wait until all my expenses are totaled before claiming the Adoption Tax Credit on my taxes or if I spent a certain amount of money in one year, can I claim that the next year even if my adoption is not final?
  • Can I file my taxes as “head of household” if I became guardian of my child this year, but the adoption is not complete?
  • Are Embryo adoptions (embryo donations) allowed under the Adoption Tax Credit?
  • How are adoptions from foster care treated differently from other types of domestic adoptions under the Adoption Tax Credit?
  • How much is it the credit for 2017?
  • Can claim only once per adoption.
  • What is a “tax credit” and how best to use it?
  • Confusion over how much you owe in taxes vs. withholding and how much you have to pay or receive back if you had more withheld than you owe.
  • What is allowed to be included in the Adoption Tax Credit? What is considered a qualified adoption expense?
  • Are the fees paid for foster care when adopting from the Democratic Republic of Congo Adoptions while the child was waiting to leave the country able to be included as qualified adoption expenses funder the Adoption Tax Credit for the year(s) that the child was still in the DRC?
  • Are legally allowable birth mother expenses for domestic infant adoption allowed to be claimed as a qualified adoption expense under the Adoption Tax Credit?
  • Are travel expenses allowed to be claimed as a qualified adoption expense under the Adoption Tax Credit?
  • What are the income limits for the Adoption Tax Credit? How are bonuses handled?
  • What type of documentation do you need to have for the expenses you are claiming? Do you need to submit the documentation along with your taxes?
  • How long can your carry over the credit to best be able to make full utilization of it?
  • Can you claim expenses for a failed adoption?
  • If you do not have enough taxable income to take advantage of the Adoption Tax Credit, what can you do to show more taxable income and receive the carryover credits?
  • What happens with the Adoption Tax Credit if you complete two separate adoptions in one year? In two consecutive years?
  • Can you claim a child as a dependent on your taxes if the adoption has not been finalized?
  • Tips and tricks for claiming the Adoption Tax Credit.

This content was originally published by Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education nonprofit.

https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/adoption-tax-credit-2017/

The Children in Need of Adoption in South Africa

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We’ve known for many years that there are children in South Africa who need adoptive families, but it took many years for the governmental permissions to grant Spence-Chapin as an accredited adoption provider in South Africa. Adoptions opened to American families in 2013 and Spence-Chapin has been actively finding families ever since! South Africa is signatory to the Hague so adoptive families have the benefits of the Hague Treaty, which is designed to ensure that international adoption is a transparent, ethical process with an established infrastructure to protect and support children and families.

We made many visits to our partners in Johannesburg, Johannesburg Child Welfare, to visit with their social workers and the children. It became clear that the children in need of international adoption are toddlers and young children with medical needs. JCW shared their proud history of a robust domestic adoption program and finding families for healthy infants. Their social workers noted that even other international adoptive families were not open to adopting children with special needs – and this is where Spence-Chapin knew we could make a difference.

It’s a simple focus: the kids who are the most vulnerable and are in need of adoption. We are their advocates.

The children are living in JCW’s care in the Johannesburg metro region. They are cared for in nurseries with caring staff. JCW partners with a Thusanani Children's Foundation to provide safe and modern medical care to ensure each child receives the medical care they need – HIV testing and treatment, occupational therapy, physical therapy, antibiotics, surgery, well-baby visits, etc.

Spence-Chapin finds families for the most vulnerable children – the children who are ready for adoption and need an international adoptive family. These are kids from 18 months – 10 years old with an identified medical diagnosis. It’s this medical diagnosis that’s been a barrier for domestic adoptive families and other international adoptive families.

There are millions of children around the world living with HIV who are waiting for a family. Years ago, immigration laws prohibited HIV+ children from being adopted into American families. After advocacy, legislation was passed allowing for the intercountry adoption of these children. There are many families open to adopting a child who is HIV+ and have the resources to provide the medical care and love an adoptive family can provide!

Spence-Chapin is an advocate for all types of parents to adopt – single men & women, married and unmarried couples, and LGBTQ parents. It’s exciting for us to partner with JCW who is also open to all types of parents! All types of parents can adopt from South Africa - married couples, unmarried couples, LGBTQ parents, single women, and single men. The South Africa government is committed to a practice of non-discrimination and we’ve seen this be true in our adoption program as married couples, LGBTQ parents, as well as single parents have adopted! It truly is about finding the right parent(s) for a child!

Spence-Chapin sponsors a “Granny Program” at JCW to help the children develop the important socioemotional bonds that needs to accompany childhood. This program brings local women from the community into the nursery everyday. Each granny volunteer is matched with a child and the granny visits everyday and plays with the child – like a surrogate grandparent! We see an incridble progress made by children who are matched with a granny. In South Africa the children call their grannies “gogo”!

Listen to the gogos sing a song!

Are you considering adopting a child with special needs? Children in South Africa are waiting for you! It takes a special type of parent to adopt a child with medical needs. We’re here for you before, during, and after your adoption to provide information and support to your family! Visit our South Africa Adoption page to learn more.

Share Your Story: Birth Parent Perspectives

Listen to Aline, Latoya, Mariah, Melissa, and Scott share their stories about making a plan for their child with the support of Spence-Chapin. Spence-Chapin provides free, confidential, and unbiased options counseling for pregnant women & biological parents.

Aline's Story: Birth Parent Perspectives - Watch Aline talk about the comfort she received from her Interim Care Provider.

https://youtu.be/7k_KfKsYing

 

Latoya's Story: Birth Parent Perspectives - Watch Latoya talk about finding post-adoption support from Spence-Chapin.

https://youtu.be/Aep_Ba1vSg4

 

Mariah's Story: Birth Parent Perspectives - Watch Mariah talk about why she chose open adoption.

https://youtu.be/_rCWzmbO0Ps

 

Melissa's Story: Birth Parent Perspectives - Watch Melissa tell her story about how Spence-Chapin helped her through a difficult time.

https://youtu.be/razlsWn8be8

 

Scott's Story - Watch Scott tell his family's story about how Spence-Chapin helped them find hope.

https://youtu.be/383NfwauWIw

Biological Parent

Call us 24/7 at 1-800-321-LOVE. Contact the writer Lucy Shaw at lshaw@spence-chapin.org.

Have You Been Called to Help Children on Orphan Sunday?

We are joining the Orphan Sunday movement to bring awareness to the many children waiting for their adoptive parents to find them.

7 Ways to Celebrate National Adoption Month

November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month. A Presidential Proclamation brings awareness to important adoption–related issues and the children waiting for adoptive families. Local news stations, community centers, and adoption organizations often have activities to celebrate adoption around the country. Associate Director of Outreach Katie Foley at Spence-Chapin says “those of us with personal connections to adoption can be powerful voices in promoting adoption, breaking down myths, and bringing attention to the children here and around the world waiting for permanent families.”  Here are Spence-Chapin’s ideas for how to celebrate National Adoption Month!

  1. Support a friend or family member who is adopting. Send a note to someone adopting to let them know you’re thinking of them and supporting their family.

  1. Attend an event to learn about adoption. Join an event in your community to learn about adoption and hear from birth parents, adoptive parents, and/or adoptees!

  1. Spread the word! Share information about adoption with your community on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter including how to adopt and the children waiting for adoption!

  1. Volunteer with a foster care or adoption organization. Many non-profit organizations couldn’t fulfill their mission without the help of dedicated and passionate volunteers!

  1. Fundraise for an adoptive family or adoption organization. Adoptive families are often responsible for many different adoption expenses and their non-profit adoption agencies want to keep adoption as affordable as possible. Donate today to your favorite child-welfare organization or a family who is adopting!

  1. Encourage your office to offer adoption benefits. Adoption benefits are not universally available to new adoptive parents. Encourage your company to be recognized as an Adoption-Friendly Workplace by the Dave Thomas Foundation.

  1. Write about your experience or connection to adoption. Bring attention to adoption by writing about your experience or connection to adoption on a blog or social media!! Spence-Chapin wants to you to share your story on their blog!

Latoya's Story

Latoya Sinclair is a birth parent who placed her son for adoption without the help of Spence-Chapin. Five years later, she found Spence-Chapin's support group and has become an advocate for other birth mothers. She wanted to share her story publicly and to help other women in her situation get the support and respect they deserve. In 2005, at 15 years old, Latoya became pregnant. “I was on the track team, just an average teen.” She remembers her cousin having dreams about fish, which in Caribbean culture means someone is pregnant. She didn’t think it could be her, but her cousin convinced her to stop at the hospital while they were on the way to the supermarket. When the doctor told her she was 2 weeks pregnant, “I kind of had a blank moment,” she describes. “I didn’t really have a reaction until the next day.”

Latoya recalls telling the biological father, “He was older than I was and had other relationships. So I thought it was something more than it was.” He wanted Latoya to have an abortion. At the time, it would have cost her 700 dollars. But when the time came to do it, he denied the baby was his and refused to help. “He just left me in the dark, by myself,” Latoya says.

Latoya lived with her aunt and uncle at the time and they did not want Latoya to raise a child in their house, with her being so young and the biological father being much older. Latoya’s aunt took her to see the family obstetrician and sought her advice. The doctor mentioned that she was seeing a couple who were unable to get pregnant and wanted to adopt. Latoya’s aunt arranged for a brief meeting with the couple. In the meeting, Latoya asked if she would be able to have an open adoption and see her child, and the couple said no. Latoya decided she did not want them to adopt her baby.

Latoya’s pregnancy was a very lonely time. None of the adults in her life understood what she was going through or how to help her. She began to withdraw at home and focus her attention and energy on being an excellent student. “I would go to the doctor by myself and see everyone with their boyfriends or husbands and get very sad,” recalls Latoya tearing up a little.

Due to the age difference with the biological father, Latoya had to testify in a trial against the biological father, for statutory rape. At the end of her pregnancy Latoya decided to go back to planning with the couple she met through her doctor because she felt that she had no other choice. She didn’t know she could turn to a licensed adoption agency to help her understand her rights and options in this critical time.

After a difficult 23-hour labor, Latoya delivered her son. She was disappointed that she wasn’t the first person to hold him and felt a range of emotions while in the hospital. She was happy to have bonded with her baby in hospital, and the adoptive parents would visit often.

The year after the placement was very difficult for Latoya. “People expect you to just go on with your life,” she said, “like you didn’t just have a human being inside you.” She started her Junior year of high school without the emotional support she needed. She was depressed but her family just kept telling her to “be strong”.

While the adoptive parents did not agree to on-going contact with Latoya, they did end up sending a photo and letter through the doctor a year after he was born. Receiving this photo increased Latoya’s desire to connect with the adoptive parents and remain in contact with her son. But this has been difficult for Latoya to do on her own, not knowing how to navigate and strengthen a relationship that was never clear to her when it started. Her son is now 9, and she has seen pictures and videos of him and exchanges a few text messages with his adoptive parents once or twice a year.

Latoya’s story is still unfolding. She has finished college and has a career in government helping others that she enjoys. She continues to strive for the relationship she deserves with her son and his adoptive family.

Endnote: As an adoption agency, we at Spence-Chapin are here to support women like Latoya and promote their voices as part of the adoption discourse. If Spence-Chapin had been involved when Latoya was pregnant, she would have received options counseling, been counseled on her rights to open adoption, and provided with an attorney at no cost. She would also have been able to choose families that wanted open adoption. Unfortunately, Latoya only found Spence-Chapin five years after she placed her son for adoption and did not have the support of an adoption professional when needed it most. But we are inspired by her strength and commitment to share her story and be a role model for others.

Read Latoya's interview with SC staff here or watch Latoya describe what would've been different if she made an adoption plan with Spence-Chapin, below.

If you have a friend, family member or client in need of options counseling, we can help. Please call us 24/7 at 1-800-321-LOVE. Contact the writer Lucy Shaw at lshaw@spence-chapin.org

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.  

Preparing Children for the Colombia Host-to-Adopt Program

Spence-Chapin partners with FANA for our Colombia host-to-adopt program.

NEWS from Our Outreach Team!

family-icon Dear reader, We just created a new FAQ for biological parents. Read it here first!

Why should I consider adoption?

This is a very personal choice and there are many reasons people have considered making an adoption plan for their child. Many say it’s because they aren’t ready or able to fully parent a child at this time, but want to choose a loving family and stay connected to their child. Others say they cannot provide the special care their child will need and want to find them a family who can. Others feel they will lose their parental rights, and would rather choose an adoptive family and maintain contact with their child.

What are the benefits of open adoption?

Open adoption is an ongoing relationship between the adoptive family and the birth family. You can decide what this relationship looks like – it may include visits, letters, emails, photos, and phone calls. Birth parents who have chosen open adoption say they couldn’t imagine it any other way. They say that being able to choose and meet the adoptive family and maintain contact is the main reason they chose adoption. They say that being able to see their child grow up in a happy, loving family is what gives them peace of mind. In addition, they say they are happy their child will understand and know their birth parents and their birth story.

How can Spence-Chapin help me with this decision?

You have the right to confidential counseling before making your decision. Every woman or couple we work with is offered FREE options counseling and is assigned their own social worker who is an experienced professional. They will advocate for you in making the decision that feels most right to you. The social worker will answer all your questions and connect you to resources, including health insurance, prenatal care, etc. We can help you fully consider all of your options and advise you on all aspects of making an adoption plan, including open adoption and your legal rights. We respect your decisions and you will never be pressured by us to make an adoption plan.

Why should I trust Spence-Chapin?

At Spence-Chapin, we take a lot of care in supporting and advocating for you. We are a non-profit organization with over 100 years of experience finding loving families for children who need them and we are here to support you throughout your journey. We believe in free, unbiased and confidential support for women and couples making this decision, which is why we have separate and robust processes for working with biological parents and adoptive parents. Our social workers are available for free, unbiased, confidential options counseling in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Those we work with say they appreciate our support and did not feel pressured. In fact, the majority of expectant and biological parents who meet with Spence-Chapin find the resources and support to parent.

What if I want to keep my decision confidential?

Spence-Chapin will respect your right to confidentiality in making this decision. We take your privacy and safety very seriously. If you choose closed adoption and do not want contact after an adoption, Spence-Chapin will respect your rights as well.

What types of people are looking to adopt?

Spence-Chapin has all types of prospective adoptive parents waiting to adopt. They vary in age, background, family structure, religion, race, etc. Some are big families, some are small. Some live in the city, some live in the suburbs. They all are eager to adopt and provide a loving family to a child. You will be able to meet and connect with the people you select. Adoptive parents registered with Spence-Chapin have been screened by our social workers and prepared for open adoption.

Can I hear from other people you’ve worked with?

Yes, hear biological parent perspectives on our youtube page.

Speak to an options counselor Call 24/7: 1-800-321-LOVE Text: 646-306-2586 Email: helpline@spence-chapin.org

Email the writer: lshaw@spence-chapin.org blog post authorBiological Parent