Heart Of Adoptions – Florida
Thank you so much for taking out the time to speak with us today about Heart of Adoptions, Inc. (HOA)
Let’s start by finding out how HOA began and who are the main creators behind the vision? “Owned and operated by Jeanne T. Tate, P.A. a private board certified adoption attorney and member of the AAAA. She opened the agency in 2001 and she has been in practice since the early 80’s.”
What’s unique about your agency’s or firms 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? “Largest single state agency in Florida- multiple locations to meet her needs wherever she is located, 24/7 access to caseworkers, connected to a legal firm so we can assist with everything from beginning to end of her adoption plan- no need to have to find her own legal representation, etc. All fees are covered by the adoptive family- free to her and she can receive assistance with living expenses if needed.”
Does an expectant mom have to be certain that she is choosing adoption to meet with you? “Absolutely not. We hope to educate her on her option of adoption but also of other options such as parenting, foster care, abortion- we want to be sure she is prepared and has resources for whatever she feels is best for her and her child.”
Do you discuss the other options available to her? Yes.
Do you provide parenting resources for her? Yes we can.
What are some of the resources that she might be offered? “We can assist with living expenses including but not limited to housing, transportation, food, etc. We can also assist with linking her up to medical care- i.e. Medicaid, as well as food pantries, and various community resources such as parenting classes, Healthy Start & Healthy Families where she could get baby items, etc.”
Do you help with her medical needs? “Yes- we can assist with applying for Medicaid or if she has insurance we can assist with finding out about copays/deductibles/approved providers/etc.”
Housing? We can assist with paying rent, locating affordable housing.
Transportation? Yes- we can assist with rides whether through a caseworker, UBER, a bus pass, assistance with paying car payments or insurance payments, etc.
Legal fees? All legal fees are covered by an adoptive family so the birth mother has no legal fees. If she wants a separate attorney to represent her the adoptive family would be responsible for this as well. We cannot provide legal assistance to non-adoption related issues.
What if she needs some basics like maternity clothes? Yes we assist with this as well. Typically we will assist twice during the pregnancy to help with this.
Can the expectant woman’s boyfriend or spouse and or family be involved in the process too? Absolutely. We would [refer of the significant other and/or family is involved as we feel it is very important for the birth mother to have a support system no matter what she chooses regarding adoption or otherwise.
Can she choose a family for her child or do you select for her? Either option is available. If a birth mother doesn’t want to choose we can do so for her but we also have available family profiles she can look through and we will network with other agencies/attorneys if she doesn’t see a family she likes that we currently have on our waiting/available families.
Does she have her OWN free legal representation? We can ensure this is provided if she chooses.
Can she create her own hospital plan? Yes. And she is also advised that it is a ‘plan’ but not set in stone so if she changes her mind once she gets to the hospital she can absolutely do so as we want to be sure she has complete control during the process.
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? This can vary from case to case depending on the birth mother’s specific needs but generally it looks like this: Initial meeting with a caseworker to discuss what brought the birth mother to the agency, why she is thinking about adoption, discussing other options besides adoption, her support system, what she is looking for in an adoptive family and from an adoption plan in general, post placement communication is discussed. Complete a social/medical history so caseworker can get profiles for her to look at. Provide profiles to view, discuss what she likes/dislike in profiles. Once she selects a family we notify the family and depending on her desires we can either set up a phone call, in person meeting, skype meeting, or nothing at all if she chooses. Proceed with pregnancy and provide calls, in person meetings, etc. based on her needs and desires. Once delivery occurs- we follow her hospital plan and check in based on what she wants in regards to that. Once consents are signed we continue to provide support and encouragement any time the birth mother wants/needs it as well as in Florida we can assist financially for up to 6 weeks post placement.
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 here:
Lets talk next about the type of education that you provide the adopting couple with. This varies some on whether we do the home study or not. We provide all families with a Newborn Prep class as well as we can link them to many more resources through online educational outlets. We also discuss the realities of adoption in terms of what the process is like- waiting to be matched, birth mother’s reasons, expectations, background, etc. We strongly encourage families to speak to pediatricians about possible issues and to also build a support system of other adoptive families. We are also here long term to assist with educational needs, linking them to counseling resources, etc.
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- we require families to take a few courses regarding transracial adoption if they desire to do so.
Training on problems that can arise over the years for an adoptee? We have resources for this and also require any families we complete the home study for to take courses on this.
How about the different types of adoptions and why knowing the childs natural family would be more beneficial for the child? We require a minimum of semi-open but encourage open adoption as well. We explain the benefit for everyone involved- child’s well-being, adoptive family having access to medical and social information, and birth family having assurance regarding healthy and safety of child and helping her to feel at peace with her decision.
Do you do any closed adoptions? They only time we do this is if it is a “safe haven’ situation
What does your agency consider to be a semi-open adoption? Minimum of selecting a family and knowing first names and other general, non-identifying information prior to placement. Then getting picture/letter updates ongoing until the child is 18 years old. We also suggest text messaging, picture messaging through various apps such as WhatsApp or Google Voice, etc. that are non-identifying.
Do you encourage open adoptions and if so what does that look like for an expectant mom over time? Yes- though many birth mothers and adoptive families are still both unsure of this and navigate it on a case-by-case basis in the best interest of all involved. Typically this includes direct contact without any agency involvement and at a minimum of once per year visits but sometimes more.
Does the care stop once the expectant mom places her baby with the adopting couple? Only if she wants it to. Many times a birth mother wants to close the door on this chapter of her life- though we hope that doesn’t happen we comprehend why this is the path they select to handle their emotions. We are always here and can always link a birth parent to counseling services and hope a birth mother/parent will utilize this.
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? We link birth parents up with counselors that have adoption competency training as well as caseworkers who are in the field and have received training on the issues they may face.
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? Yes- often they are dealing with addiction issues, domestic violence, homelessness, etc.Can your services help them overall with all the areas they might be struggling with? Though not always directly by the agency we can assist them with accessing resources if we can’t, i.e. we do not have addiction counselors on staff but can assist with getting them transportation and or funding to receive this, etc.
Is there anything else that you think would be helpful for a woman to know who might be considering working with your agency? We want any woman reaching out to us to know she will be treated with dignity, confidentiality, and respect. We aim to educate on options and support the best decision for her and her child.
Where are you located and how might someone looking for help in your area be able to connect with you? We have 5 locations in Florida and can work with birth families anywhere and adoptive families in any state, excluding NY. They can contact our direct line at 1-800-GO-ADOPT, find us online at www.heartofadoptions.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org