Haven Adoptions – Pennsylvania

Haven Adoptions – Pennsylvania

We spoke with Sarah at Haven Adoption to learn about their services to pregnant women considering adoption.

 

Thank you so much for taking out the time to speak with us today about “ Haven
Adoptions.”

Let’s start by finding out how “Haven Adoptions” began and who the main creators behind the vision are?
“Haven was founded by Sarah Magarity and Kelly Weidner in 2014 after working in the adoption field for about 10 years for another Pennsylvania agency. There were so many things that Kelly and Sarah loved about adoption that allowed them to have a clear vision for how private adoption in the United States should be. They saw frequent situations where birth parents were not heard and not properly supported or advocated for. By starting their own agency, they have been able to raise the standard of adoption and ensure that biological parents and adoptive parents are supported and cared for.”

I love how a real need created a vision that they brought to life! <3

What’s unique about Haven’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
agency?

Haven (noun):a place of safety or refuge, a place offering favorable opportunities or conditions.”

“Our services are mission based and centered around the needs of each expectant
mother or father. Each expectant parent works with a knowledgeable and experienced case manager who becomes their biggest supporter, advocate and friend. An expectant parent’s adoption plan is created based on their needs and then, when ready, expectant parents are able to view profile books of potential adoptive families and choose the family that they feel the strongest connection with.

Also, we provide expectant mothers with the opportunity to use a peer to peer program and speak with other women who have chosen adoption. Expectant mothers choose the level of openness that they are looking for, and every adoptive family that we work with has an overall high level of openness about adoption.

All adoptive families in Haven’s adoption program are open to adopting a child of either gender, any race, a child who may have been exposed to substances in utero and open to a fully open adoption that includes visits and an ongoing relationship with birth parents post adoption. As many women aren’t sure what type of adoption they would like before birth, expectant mothers with Haven have up to a month post adoption to decide what type of openness they would like, including visits.”

Two things I really love- Your peer to peer program- YES!! … and then the fact that Haven gives the expectant mom up to a month post adoption to decide what type of openness they would like, including visits. 

Does an expectant mom have to be certain that she is choosing adoption to meet with you?
“No, not at all. We are ready to meet in person as soon as she is, no matter what the
expectant parent’s level of certainty or commitment level to adoption is. We find this to be a layer of comfort for the expectant parents to meet face to face and get to know us before starting the adoption process. We want expectant parents to feel safe and comfortable and to know that we are here to educate and support them through their decision.”

Do you discuss the other options available to her?

“Absolutely, yes. Many expectant parents are choosing between ending the pregnancy, parenting, family custody or adoption. We have learned that an expectant parent’s list of options can fluctuate throughout their pregnancy and are often times based on their stage of pregnancy. We have worked with expectant parents in every stage of their pregnancy and will work hand in hand to create a plan that is best for them and their baby. If adoption is not the best plan for them, we will provide them with resources that will help them in deciding what the best option is for their future.”

Do you provide parenting resources for her?
“Yes, we have deep roots in our community and find local resources to be instrumental in working with expectant parents. A large part of Haven’s mission is being active within the local community and growing our resources for us to refer woman who choose to parent their child.”

What are some of the resources that she might be offered?
“Post pregnancy, in home care is always encouraged for mom and baby. Depending on the expectant parent’s location, there are many organizations that help with food,
diapers, clothing, support groups, play groups, counseling, etc. We have a list of about 40 organizations in surrounding counties that we can provide new moms for support.”

Do you help with her medical needs?
“Yes. In Pennsylvania, all medically related insurance copays and deductibles are
reimbursable. If an expectant mother reaches out to Haven and does not have medical insurance coverage, we will help her apply and secure Medicaid immediately. If the expectant mother does not have a current obstetrician then Haven will work with her to get medical care during her pregnancy.”

Housing?
“Haven would be able to help an expectant mother find suitable housing for herself but due to Pennsylvania adoption laws, would not be able to provide any financial support for housing. We would use community resources to secure safe and suitable housing for her.”

Transportation?
“Haven is able to help all expectant mothers with transportation to and from medical
appointments.”

Legal fees?
“All legal fees would be covered throughout the adoption process. Haven will coordinate and connect expectant parents with legal counsel.”

What if she needs some basics like maternity clothes?
“Yes, Haven Adoptions receives donations for expectant moms and would provide
maternity clothes as needed.”

Can the expectant woman’s boyfriend or spouse and or family be involved in the process too?
“Yes, we encourage expectant women to use their support system through this process. Our services are extended to anyone who is supporting the expectant woman during the adoption process.”

Can she choose a family for her child or do you select for her?

“With Haven, the expectant parents choose the adoptive family they feel the strongest connection to. We have home study approved adoptive families all of whom created a profile booklet that shares all about their families, support networks, hobbies, traditions, home, community, other children, hopes, and dreams of building their family through adoption. Expectant parents view these profiles of families and get to learn about them through the many pictures and details within the profile. When an expectant parent chooses the family she feels most connected with, if she would like, Haven then sets up a phone call and/or face to face meeting with the adoptive parents to get to know them a bit better.”

Does she have her OWN free legal representation?
“Yes, she will have her own legal representation.”

Can she create her own hospital plan?
“Yes. This is a very individualized and personal part of the adoption process. Expectant parents will meet with their case manager and discuss all options that are offered in creating a hospital plan. We always remind expectant parents that this is also called a “plan.” If this plan changes at any point, we will communicate any changes to the adoptive family and they will be flexible and respectable of the expectant parents wishes in the hospital.”

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?
“The first step with Haven is for the expectant mom to get to know her caseworker. It is important for us to educate her about her options, hear about her current knowledge of adoption and make sure we can honor the requests that she has. We truly believe that adoption is one of the hardest processes for someone to go through and we keep that in the forefront of our minds every step of the way. Working with us may be more unique than with a different agency or a larger scale agency because we treat each case as if we were personally going through the process. We aren’t going to take short cuts or rush through any step of the process. An expectant mother who is working with Haven Adoptions will have a personalized experience. The process is not the same for any two people and we attribute that to our ability to individually tailor to each woman’s needs. We go at the expectant mother’s pace and do not rush her in any stage.”

I see that you have an amazing team of caring workers all invested in helping those on
the adoption journey. Others can read about them and their specific roles at Haven
here:
http://haven-adoptions.com/our-story/adoption-meet-our-staff/
“Thank you! We feel really proud of each member of our staff and their commitment level
to fulfilling the needs of expectant parents and adoptive parents.
Kelly Weidner – Co-Founder, Executive Director
Sarah Magarity – Co-Founder, Director of Family Services
Kayla Mazzotta – Biological Parent Case Manager
Tori Sonetto – Adoptive Parent Case Manager
Meghann Chiappa – Foster Care Case Manager
Robyn Flores – Executive Assistant
Jamie McCarney – Family Support Worker
Brie McMullin – LPC, Biological Parent Counselor

Let’s talk next about the type of education that you provide the adopting couple with.
“When an adoptive family contacts Haven, they either email or call. If they email, we
send them an informational response thanking them for reaching out and include many
educational documents, and then they will receive a follow up phone call. If they call,
Sarah will speak with them and explain the adoption process to them over the phone. If
the family is a good fit for Haven and we are a good fit for them, we then plan a face to
face meeting.
The educational experience continues through the entire adoption process. Adoptive
parents complete an application, participate in parenting classes, receive articles that
Haven provides throughout the adoption process that is relative to their needs, and
meet with an adoptive parent case manager to talk about any and all adoption related
topics. Their case manager stays on top of sharing articles and educational materials to
grow their understanding of adoption.
Haven sends all adoptive families a quarterly newsletter called “Haven Happenings.”
The newsletter includes agency updates, changes, spotlights, birthday announcements,
educational and training offerings. This allows our adoptive families to stay connected
and be informed.”

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, Haven provides several training and educational opportunities for adoptive families.
First, we provide research based and personal experience articles to our families. Next,
we offer all new adoptive families a chance to speak with former adoptive families who
would be a good fit for them to connect with. This would include families who have
adopted trans-racially, families with a very open adoption, same sex couples and
families who have adopted while already having biological children of their own. Many
former adoptive families have connected with new families via phone, email and
meeting in person! This is a wonderful way for families to connect and share about their
experiences, ask questions and recommend resources within the community. Haven
has hosted educational forums for all of our adoptive families and expectant parents to
learn more from former birth parents, adoptive families and adoption experts on topics
such as: transracial adoption, a birth parent’s adoption experience, and substance
abuse in utero. Lastly, we encourage every family to talk with those closest with them
such as their family, friends, local schools, pediatricians, church or religious community
about their plans to adopt and all the ways their network can be a strong support for
them.”

Training on problems that can arise over the years for an adoptee?
“Most times, adoptive parents and Haven continue a wonderful, trusting relationship that
goes well beyond finalization. We stay connected and receive picture updates and
birthday announcements, help facilitate visitation in open adoptions, and continued
contact with birth parents who want to stay connected with their case manager/
counselor. If a problem arises post adoption, an adoptive family and/or birth parent can
always reach out to Haven. Haven has had many families reach out for questions and
support, and we will always help in any way we can. If we are unable to directly help
with a particular problem, we will connect the adoptive family or birth parent with the
best resources to do so. Haven encourages all families to never hesitate to reach out.”

How about the different types of adoptions and why knowing the child’s natural family
would be more beneficial for the child?
“Haven’s co-founders, Kelly and Sarah, along with the entire Haven team, believe in
open adoption and the benefits of children knowing their natural family. Our employees
are educated on the benefits of an open adoption and share that education with all of
our current adoptive families. We also educate expectant parents about their options
and explore the benefits of openness. All adoptive families who are active in our
adoption program are hopeful to have an open adoption with visits. Our program is
designed this way so that every expectant parent who comes to Haven will have that
choice, not just prior to birth but post adoption as well. During the education process for
adoptive parents, we discuss that it’s not about “being ok” with an open adoption that is
important but truly believing that open adoption is best for the child.”

Do you do any closed adoptions?
“Yes, if an expectant mother is expressing a desire to have a closed adoption, we will
continue to discuss and provide support in her decision. If an expectant mother wants a
closed adoption, we always encourage them to leave the door open to possibly a semiopen
or open adoption in case they decide later to have some type of contact. The
contact is never forced upon them but the door is always open.”

What does your agency consider to be a semi-open adoption?
“Haven Adoptions considers a semi-open adoption to include an initial meeting, either via
phone or face to face, facilitated by Haven. During the pregnancy, the expectant
parents are usually communicating with the adoptive family via phone, email, text
messages and sometimes visits. Post Adoption, the birth parents would receive pictures
and updates about the child by email, mail, a private social media account, or any other
form that works well for them. The amount of updates/pictures as well as the timing of
these updates vary.”

Do you encourage open adoptions and if so what does that look like for an expectant
mom over time?
“Haven supports open adoption but also encourages expectant parents to create an
adoption plan that fits their needs. We review all options with both expectant parents
and adoptive families, and educate them on the benefits of open adoption and the
positive impact it has for everyone involved. In order for an adoptive family to join
Haven’s adoption program, they must share the same beliefs in open adoption.
When a birth parent chooses an adoptive family and they become matched, we meet to
discuss and plan the type and amount of contact they are hoping for. A plan is made
and an open discussion happens between expectant parents and the adoptive parents
to ensure everyone’s understanding and expectations of the open adoption moving
forward.
In an open adoption that includes visits, we offer Haven’s office to be the first location
for the visit to take place. We want to create a sense of comfort for everyone involved.
From that point forward, we educate birth parents and adoptive families how to
communicate directly with each other and to develop their relationship.
Legally, birth parents have the option of creating a Post Adoption Contact Agreement
(PACA) to have the specific amount of visits and updates drafted within a legally binding
agreement. This serves as a layer of protection to ensure that the level of openness is
protected for birth parents and the adoptive family. Overall, the goal of any agreement
is that the best interests of the child are always number one.”

Thank you for including information about the PACA as I think knowing what type of contract agreements are legally binding is very important so that an expectant mom knows exactly what to expect in the years ahead.

Does the care stop once the expectant mom places her baby with the adopting couple?
“Absolutely not. A special uniqueness of Haven is that our care has no end date and
continues as long as the woman needs it. Haven is clear when educating expectant
parents that the option of counseling has an infinite timeline. Counseling will always be
available at any point before, during and/or post adoption. Kayla, our biological parent
case manager, continues to be in touch with several birth mothers whom she has
supported and advocated for over many years. Many women have reached out years
later for help with job searching, parenting support for current children, counseling, and
more.”

If not what kind of POST adoption care can she expect to receive working with your
agency?
“In many cases the majority of the work begins post placement. We encourage
counseling, developing a court enforced post adoption contact agreement, becoming
involved with a support group (online or otherwise), continuing education, and attending
visits with the child and adoptive parents. Also, as stated above, we provide support for
the next phase of her life, which can include helping them find a job, housing, going
back to school, parenting support, drug and alcohol treatment and more.”

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?
“Yes, we do have adoption specific counselors and specialists for birth mothers to work
with. We have a list of professionals that we can contact at any point and connect birth
mothers to.”

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?
“Yes, absolutely. There is a reason this woman has chosen adoption and she needs
support and help in those areas as well as adoption. We believe that in order to really
help that person we need to focus on the areas in which she is really struggling. Most of
the time we will refer the expectant mother to a specialist in that area of need, but that is
not to say that we don’t find ourselves delving into drug and alcohol support, domestic
violence support, general self esteem building, parenting support, and more. Our case
managers are educated and well trained to support women in many areas of need. We
have worked with expectant parents from all different demographics and that has only
benefitted each and every person we serve.”

Is there anything else that you think would be helpful for a woman to know who might be considering working with your agency?
“We really want to help expectant parents develop an adoption plan based on their
needs and what is important to them. We are a small agency and expectant parents will
work closely with their case manager to ensure their needs are met. This process can
be scary and confusing and we do not want any expectant parent to feel that way during
any step in the process.”

Where are you located and how might someone looking for help in your area be able to
connect with you?
“Haven Adoptions is a fully licensed, private adoption agency located in Ambler,
Pennsylvania. Haven is conveniently located, about 30 minutes from Center City
Philadelphia but also a quick drive to many other rural areas of Pennsylvania. We
travel to wherever the expectant parent is located to meet them and talk about their
options.”

How can a woman who might be interested in your services reach you?

There are several ways to reach out and connect with a Haven team member:

Website: www.havenadoptions.com Pure Chat option through our website

Call Toll Free (24 hours a day): 1.800.716.8220

Text: 484.213.7011

Email: info@havenadoptions.com

 

 

1 Comment

  1. […] One of the most amazing changes in the adoption industry today is the availability of options for a woman who is considering adoption for her child’s future.    Today, expectant moms choosing adoption, can do research online and compare each different adoption agency and adoption law firms and choose the one that has the best options for their needs.    Today, women are more aware of their rights and choose to have another birth mom representing her and working with her and the adoption agency.    Today, women get to choose which family she thinks is the best fit for her child as opposed to one the agency chooses for her from the couple that has been waiting the longest or who pays a fee to be advertised more.   Today, she knows the mistakes others have made and the things that she can do differently. She can research the type of post adoption care each agency will offer her and compare the best options for her.   This series will focus on different adoption agencies and the unique services that they offer so that an expectant family can make more informed choices when choosing the agency that is right for them.  Choosing the right agency is important as they will be the ones working with you and you will want to be sure they are best representing your needs and your baby’s needs both now and after the adoption finalizes.     If you have worked with an agency highlighted please feel free to comment below. That’s another incredible change in the adoption industry. The Internet and it’s ability to share our VOICES. A universal platform to voice our experiences so others can learn from it.      Posted in Blog Posts and tagged adoption, choosing an adoption agency, how to choose an adoption agency ← Meet Carrie Who Grew Up In An Open Adoption RelationshipHaven Adoptions – Pennsylvania → […]

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