Adoptions Together – Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia
Thank you so much for taking out the time to speak with us today about Adoptions Together.
What’s unique about your agency’s approach and what do you feel are some of the real benefits that an expectant mom might experience if she was to place through your firm/agency? Adoptions Together believes that women facing complicated pregnancy decisions deserve support as they decide what to do next. Whether she chooses adoption, or chooses to parent, we believe that working with one of our counselors will help her to work through some of the barriers she’s facing that are making things hard. We work with a network of community healthcare providers, mental healthcare facilities and other support services that can become part of a support system for women considering adoption- both before and after her baby is born. At Adoptions Together, we also deeply value our commitment to open adoption, which means if a mom decides she would like to maintain a relationship with the family she chooses to adopt her baby throughout her child’s life, we ensure that happens. Our commitment to birthparents is ongoing- it doesn’t end once an adoption is finalized.
Does an expectant mom have to be certain that she is choosing adoption to meet with you? Absolutely not. Adoption is one of several options that pregnant women have when they start the conversation with us. We encourage pregnant women to truly consider all of their options before committing to adoption planning. Our pregnancy counselors help all women to make the best decision for their family so that they can feel safe and fully in control of the process.
Do you discuss the other options available to her? Yes. Adoptions Together supports all options counseling. This means our counselors will discuss adoption, parenting and abortion if it is appropriate in a client’s situation.
Do you provide parenting resources for her? Yes, parenting is an important option that our counselors discuss with pregnant clients. Typically, pregnancy counselors discuss barriers a client might be facing that prevent her from parenting her child. These barriers might include housing instability, financial hardship, relationship challenges, a desire to remain in school, mental health challenges, and other barriers that a client needs to address to parent successfully. In many cases, our counselors can help a client to connect with community resources to help address these barriers before the baby is born in order to parent her child.
What are some of the resources that she might be offered? See above.
Do you help with her medical needs? Yes.
Housing? Yes, in accordance with state laws.
Transportation? We can provide transportation to medical appointments related to her pregnancy and to our office, or we can meet her somewhere where she doesn’t have to travel.
Legal fees? Yes.
What if she needs some basics like maternity clothes? Yes.
Can the expectant woman’s boyfriend or spouse and or family be involved in the process too? Absolutely. We encourage all of our clients to involve the baby’s father or her partner in the adoption planning process. If she has supportive family that she would like to involve in the adoption planning process, we encourage that as well. Additionally, if a client is having a hard time discussing adoption planning with less supportive friends or family members, our counselors can help her to cross that bridge with people in her life.
Can she choose a family for her child or do you select for her? She is welcome to choose from many diverse, fully-qualified, prepared adoptive families if that is her preference.
Does she have her own free legal representation? Yes.
Can she create her own hospital plan? Absolutely. We encourage women to create their own hospital plan, and our counselor can help her to do this.
Walk me through the process. If I was an expectant mom who came into the agency what would it look like for me working with you?
Typically, a woman contacts us one of four ways: she can chat with us confidentially through out website, send us a text, email us or call us anytime (365 days/24 hours per day). After getting in touch with a counselor, we typically like to set up an in-person meeting, either in our office or in a neutral public place like a restaurant or park to discuss options available to her. If she decides she would like to continue to meet to consider her option or move forward with adoption planning, we typically meet up again to complete some paperwork. If she knows who the baby’s father is, we like to get his contact information, or to meet him at this time. The paperwork we ask her to complete at this time involves some information about her social and medical history, as well as the baby’s father’s social and medical history. Her counselor may also ask her to begin looking at some profiles of adoptive families who are waiting for a baby. She may choose a family, or she may wait and consider several families. She can also ask to meet a family before she makes her decision.
Once she has chosen a family, her counselor will begin helping her to make a hospital plan. Her hospital plan is totally up to her- she can have anyone join her in the room, or no one. She can plan to hold the baby, feed the baby, or not. After the baby is born, she will be asked to sign a consent to allow the adoption to take place. Depending on the state the adoption is taking place, this consent is usually revocable for 7-30 days. In Maryland, the consent is revocable for 30 days. If the baby’s father is also part of the planning process, he will sign the consent as well. Typically, the baby will go home with his or her adoptive parents when he or she leaves the hospital. If an adoptive family has not been identified then the baby can come into interim care or cradle care, where pre-qualified families will care for the baby while birth mother is making her decision about if and with whom to place her child with. When mom is discharged from the hospital, her counselor will check in to see how she is feeling a few times in the first couple of weeks and make sure that she knows how to reach out to us for support as she processes the adoption placement. We will also ensure that our post placement contact agreement, which helps navigate the open adoption, is in place and the family is sending regular updates on baby.
The whole process can take weeks, days or hours. The more preparation time the better but the team is prepared to meet with women with whom we do not start working with until the baby is born. We are prepared to work at the speed that the birth mother and father are comfortable with.
Who created this caring organization? Janice Goldwater, LCSW-C, is the Founder and Executive Director of Adoptions Together. and a professional in the adoption, trauma, and attachment field for over 25 years. Her vision: Every child will have lifelong connections to a caring, nurturing family.
I see that there is an amazing team of caring workers all invested in helping those on the adoption journey. Others can read about them and their specific roles here:
Lets talk next about the type of education that you provide the adopting couple with. All of our waiting families have gone through a rigorous home study process that includes several hours of in-person training in order to qualify for an adoption. These trainings include information on the history of adoption, open adoption, attachment and temperament, transracial adoption, meeting with birth parents, talking to your child about adoption, advocating for your child in school and in the community and much more. The home-study process also includes an FBI background check and a state police background check in order to complete.
Do you provide training and education for the families to learn about issues that might arise if they choose to adopt a child of a different ethnicity than them? Yes. Adoptions Together provides many different types of training for families completing transracial adoptions as well as runs a monthly in-person transracial adoption support group that is growing every year. We also have a Facebook Group for Transracial Adoptive Families that is very active and growing. This year, we held a large conference for adoptive families and professionals who serve adoptive families with a focus on Transracial adoption identity. The conference was attended by more than 300 people, and it was a huge success. We are fully committed to exploring and understanding transracial adoption indentiy.
Training on problems that can arise over the years for an adoptee? Yes. On our Domestic Infant Team we also have a staff person who is dedicated to helping maintain and support healthy lifelong relationships between adoptive and birth families. They partner with parents as their children hit important milestones and developmental markers, to help them talk about adoption and share their children’s stories with them in an age appropriate manner.
How about the different types of adoptions and why knowing the childs natural family would be more beneficial for the child? We believe that open adoption is the healthiest kind of adoption for adoptive parents, children and birth parents. Open adoption allows all members of the adoption triad to fully understand and process the complexities of adoption identity over time and we are committed to encouraging and facilitating open adoptions as a cornerstone of our work.
Do you do any closed adoptions? While we require all prospective adoptive families who enter our program to be prepared to enter an open adoption and to sign a post-placement contact agreement, we allow birth parents to make decisions regarding openness. Even in the case where a birth parent decides they do not want openness, we ask all families to send us at least one letter/picture update per year to keep in our files in case a birth parent decides at a later date that she would like updates about her child.
Does the care stop once the expectant mom places her baby with the adopting couple? Absolutely not. In fact, because of our commitment to open adoption, birth moms often continue contact with our agency for many years. We have a full-time staff member whose job is to facilitate post adoption contact between adoptive families and first families. She regularly spends time with birth moms whose adoption plans began with us years ago, and her work involves continuing to work with birth parents on the complexities of adoption as it evolves.
If not what kind of POST adoption care can she expect to receive working with your agency? See above
I think its crucial that when a woman gets help around her adoption experience that the help be adoption related. Do you have adoption specific counselors and specialist for her to work with? All of our staff are licensed clinical social workers with masters-level educations. They are all trained in adoption-competency and have spent years working in the adoption field. In fact, our post-adoption counselor is an adoptee herself!
I have found many times women have other challenges to work through in addition to the adoption experience. Do you find this to be true with the women you serve? Can your services help them overall with all the areas they might be struggling with? We agree. Often, there are complex additional issues that our clients are struggling with that they also need assistance to overcome. This is why we have a strong network of referral services to help clients deal with things like mental health challenges, legal issues, substance abuse challenges, and other problems. While we can’t solve every problem a client might be facing, we will do our best to help!
Where are you located and how might someone looking for help in your area be able to connect with you?
We serve women in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia. Women can contact us at 301-439-2900.
They can also text us through our website here: https://www.adoptionstogether.org/pregnant/text-us-now/
They can email us here: https://at.myadoptionportal.com/eform/view.php?id=64543
Or contact an adoption counselor here: https://www.adoptionstogether.org/pregnant/speak-to-a-counselor/