Adoption Associates Inc – Michigan
We spoke with at Adoption Associates to learn about their services to pregnant women considering adoption.
How did Adoption Associates begin?
“Adoption Associates was founded in 1990 by Dick VanDeelan. AAI is a Christian non profit agency with a strong emphasis on empowering women. Our approach to working with a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy can be summed up in one word – empowerment. We look at adoption as a plan, and should a woman make an adoption plan we want her to make the decisions about her plan. We work with her through the initial decision making process, helping her to reach her own conclusion on what is right for her and her baby. Should she decide to parent, we help her find parenting resources in the community.”
Where are you located?
“Adoption Associates has four offices throughout Michigan. An expectant mom is offered counseling outside the agency to help her with loss and relinquishment issues. In Michigan, the agency can provide pregnancy related expenses. Birth mother caseworkers assist the birth mother with Medicaid and transportation. The purchase of maternity clothes is an allowable expense. There are no fees to the birth mother. Adoption Associates takes care of all legal fees as well.”
Can the birth father and other famly members be involved?
“The ideal adoption plan involves the birth father, although this may not always be the case. We are happy to discuss and work with the birth mother to address any issues that may be of concern to her about the birth father. Extended family support and involvement is also highly encouraged. We want an expectant mother to be surrounded by those who care for her and will envelope her with love and support.”
What might the process look like for a pregnant women considering working with your agency?
“Expectant mothers will work closely with a caseworker to help understand the process of adoption as well as help find the ideal adoptive family and determine the amount of contact she would like both before and after delivery. Many of our expectant mothers decide on a fully open adoption. The range of openness depends on many factors, and tends to be very relationship driven. Each woman, along with her case worker will create a hospital plan so that her needs and wishes are adhered to at the hospital.”
Do you provide adoption education to the Adoptive family?
“Adoption Associates, Inc. believes the foundation for any family adopting a child of another race is cemented in education. Transracial adoption is an incredible and tremendous responsibility. Being a mindful, educated, and committed parent is not only helpful and healthy, but also a necessity. AAI requires our adoptive families to complete a minimum of 12 hours of pre-adoptive education, which is heavily weighted in transracial adoption for those considering transracial adoption. That education begins with a mandatory in-person three hour Domestic Adoption Awareness training at which time the Transracial Parenting in Foster Care and Adoption guidebook is distributed to help parents and children in transracial homes learn how to thrive in and celebrate their bicultural family; and for children to gain a strong sense of racial identity and cultural connections. In addition, articles on white privilege as well as online course(s) such as, Conspicuous Families, are required along with conversations with their agency caseworker in order to assess their level of commitment to parenting transracially. After completion of stated requirements, families then demonstrate their level of understanding of racial and cultural issues through formulating a Transracial/Transcultural Preparation Plan indicating how they will raise a child who is secure in their racial and cultural identity. “
What about post placement education?
“Adoptive families are educated throughout the adoption process as well as throughout post placement supervision. Education on grief and loss for their adopted child is heavily weighted. Adoptive families are responsible for understanding the Seven Core Issues in Adoption and completing Finding the Missing Pieces, a two hour online webinar which is intended to help adoptive parents recognize the signs of grief at different developmental stages, identify situations that may trigger grief and develop strategies to help children grieve. Parents are also encouraged to continue their education post finalization with involvement in support groups, for both parents and child, continued online learning, attendance at adoptive conferences and additional reading including, Real Parents, Real Children and Before You Were Mine, along with other recommended titles. A multitude of resources are given to each adoptive family during the adoption process for continued learning throughout their child’s life and development. “
Does Adoption Associates allow closed adoptions?
“Adoption Associates allows closed adoption only if this is the wish of an expectant mother. Some will elect a semi open adoption where she will meet the adoptive couple and get to know them, then exchange pictures and letters after delivery. More and more women are wanting a fully open adoption where there is continual contact and visits with the adoptive couple and the baby following delivery. The degree of the openness is dependent on each situation, but generally it looks like a few visits a year. Our adoptive couples determine the amount of openness they may want, and their profiles are only shown to women who would like a similar plan. We have found over time, wonderful relationships continue with the birth mother and adoptive couple. Quite often, the birth mother does not seek out as much contact through the years, but openness is very important to the child.”
What would you consider are the steps in adoption planning?
“Decision making – good decisions are made from an honest appraisal of choices and will empower her to make the best decision for her baby.
Contact an Agency – selecting an agency that is responsive to a woman’s needs, and will make her feel comfortable and provide support and information. The agency she contacts should help her develop her plan based on her needs and desires, always honoring her wishes.
Create an adoption plan – the adoption plan will include the selection of an adoptive family, determining the level of openness, creating a hospital plan, and more.
Identify the Adoptive family – An expectant mother will select a family from pre-approved agency profiles who will meet her expectations while offering her baby a wonderful, stable, loving and permanent home.
Complete the legal process – She will need to complete legal requirements so that the baby may be adopted.
Continue with post placement services – a casework should provide a birth mother with support that can include regular meetings, support groups, counseling and connecting with other birth parents.”
All Adoption Associates caseworkers are adoption caseworkers only. We are an adoption agency, and working with expectant mothers, and adoptive couples is all that we do. The role of a birth mother caseworker is to work with birth mothers. That is what she does!”
Do you assist women with any other challenges she might be facing?
“Many women have challenges beyond the pregnancy, and often the unplanned pregnancy is just one of many issues she is facing. Adoption Associates can of course help her put her adoption plan into place, but also helps align her with resources in the community.”
Why might an expectant mom consider working with you?
Our caseworkers are especially skilled at providing pregnancy services—working with birth mothers to help them formulate positive, solid adoption plans. We are available to birth moms 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and have a website created especially for birth parents and their families. Visit www.planadoption.com for more information.
We also provide opportunities to meet or talk with other birth moms whether in a group or individually. This is available as needed for those who are thinking about planning adoption, those who are in the midst of their adoption plan, or those who have already planned adoption for their child. If a group is not available through us, we can refer the birth mother to other support groups.
Where are you located and do you work with expectant women out of state as well?
“Adoption Associates has four locations in Michigan serving all of the state of Michigan. We can work with out of state birth mothers as well.
How can someone get in touch with you?
Our website www.adoptionassociates.net has all of the contact numbers should an expectant mother elect to contact us. Included are phone numbers, text number, chat site and email addresses. Feel free to call us – anytime! Your story is important to us, and together we can rise above the situation, discovering the best possible plan.”