Where to Place a Child in Adoption
Hawai‘i Pro-Choice Adoption Agencies
Child and Family Service
Hawai‘i International Child
Myths About Adoption
Many people have misconceptions about adoption and health care providers. Here are some of the common myths about adoption and the real facts.
MYTH: I will never see my baby again or know if he or she is okay.
FACT: You can choose to have an open adoption in which you and the adoptive family can arrange to remain in contact as the child grows. People who choose this option may exchange letters, pictures, emails, phone calls, and visits. Some families choose to have structured visits at set times, while others maintain a less structured relationship over the years. Although there is no set private adoption law that enforces these arrangements in Hawai‘i, if one party is not satisfied, it is possible to take legal action.
MYTH: People will think I didn’t care about my baby.
FACT: Just the opposite is true. It takes a tremendous amount of love to make arrangements for your child to have the best possible opportunities in life.
MYTH: An adoption plan means making up my mind to give my baby up.
FACT: An adoption plan starts well before you make a final decision about adoption (whether you place your baby in adoption or choose to parent). An adoption plan means working with a reputable agency to receive unbiased counseling about the best choice for you, selecting an adoptive family, and taking care of yourself while you are pregnant.
MYTH: I can’t change my mind about adoption.
FACT: You have the right to change your mind before the baby is born and after the baby is born. Once the baby is born, you should take the time you need to be certain of your plan before you sign surrender documents. Before you sign documents, you have the right to see the baby in the hospital and fill out the birth certificate form to name the baby, even if you verbally indicated that you are thinking of choosing adoption. Although laws vary from state to state, Hawai‘i allows a 30 to 45-day grace period in which you can request to revoke the Surrender (that is, request the return of the baby). However, this depends on the type of Surrender you sign and may require going to court, so make sure to ask ahead of time.
MYTH: I can put the baby in foster care until I am ready to parent.
FACT: Becoming involved in the foster care system may compromise your right to parent your children. If you have other children, you will be placed under the scrutiny of the State Child Welfare system. Should you choose adoption through the public system, you may not be able to choose the adoptive family or have post-placement contact. If your child is in foster care, he or she may have several placements before a permanent plan is made, affecting the baby’s ability to feel secure in his or her permanent family.
MYTH: My child could go to a family I don’t approve of.
FACT: If you use a reputable adoption agency, you should be allowed to select an adoptive family that you feel comfortable with. A good agency will allow you to see pictures and descriptions of prospective families and meet with the ones that you think may be a good fit.
Bill of Rights for Birth Parent and Answers to Questions about Adoption
If any of the rights described below are not absolutely granted by the adoption resource with which you are working, or if you have any questions or concerns, please see your hospital social worker or call Spence-Chapin at 1-800-321-5683 for advice on how to receive these rights.
You have the right to be free from pressure. This is an important decision and you need time to make it. Your adoption resource should assist you in planning for your child’s future, not insist that you make up your mind before the baby’s birth, or even immediately afterward.
You have the right to total confidentiality. Even if you are a minor, placing a child in adoption is your decision alone and it should be respected.
You have the right to get help with medical and other pregnancy-related expenses. If you do not have health insurance or are not eligible for Medicaid, your medical fees, including those of private doctors, should be paid for by either your adoption resource or by the adoptive family. Adoption agencies such as Spence-Chapin may be able to help you find temporary housing during your pregnancy, if you need it.
You have the right to be put in touch with other women who have placed their babies in adoptive homes. Before making a decision, or afterwards, you may wish to speak with someone else who has had the same experience and understands your feelings.
You have the right to counseling. A trained and impartial social worker familiar with adoption should be available to help you review all the options and make the best plan for you and your baby. You should be able to come back for counseling or to supply updated information at any time. An established agency understands adoption is a life-long process and not a spur of the moment decision.
You have the right to choose your baby’s adoptive parents. If you are working with an adoption resource like Spence-Chapin, you should be presented with several families so that you can choose the family you would want for your child. If you are responding to an advertisement, you should talk with the family. You should consider meeting the family and this should be an option.
You have the right to a safe, legal and efficient process. You should be able to review and familiarize yourself with all related documents and papers ahead of time, and you have the right to keep copies of anything you sign.
You have the right to peace of mind. Every prospective adoptive family should be pre-screened to be sure they will provide your baby with an excellent and loving home. A licensed agency like Spence-Chapin prepares a thorough home study report detailing the family’s work history, physical and emotional health, financial situation, and personal history.
You have the right to choose ongoing communication with the adoptive family including the exchange of pictures and letters.
You have the right to choose an open adoption. You and the adoptive family can choose to be in contact with each other through phone calls, letters, e-mail, and personal visits.
You have the right to take as much time as you need to make an adoption plan. Verbal promises or written agreements signed before the birth of the baby are NOT binding in any way. You should not sign or relinquish documents until you are absolutely sure that adoption is the right choice for you and your baby.
You have the right to an adoption resource that will stand by a child with health problems. You should expect your adoption resource to locate adoptive families for any child regardless of health issues.
You have the right to send the agency updated medical information. An established adoption resource will still be there for you if any medical condition develops which should be known to your child and the adoptive family. Your adoption resource should be able to maintain medical records and provide this necessary service.
You have the right to be told about adoption “Reunion and Information Registries.” In the years ahead, you or your child can contact the Registries in an effort to learn more about each other and possibly meet. An agency can facilitate this.
Reprinted with the permission of Spence-Chapin Services
Hawaii Pro-Choice Adoption Resources
Another way of handling an unplanned pregnancy is to choose adoption. There are two types of adoption: open adoption and closed adoption. In an open adoption, you and the adoptive family can maintain contact as the child grows, through picture, letters, email, phone calls and visits. In a closed or traditional adoption, the records will be sealed and you will not have contact with your child or the adoptive family. You can, however, enroll with a “Reunion and Information Registry” so that your child can find you when he or she turns 18.
If you think you might want to choose adoption, you should begin planning and working with a reputable adoption agency while you are pregnant. Many women do not realize that it is important to begin planning with an adoption resource before the birth. Women who have left their infants in the hospital are considered to have abandoned their babies. Unfortunately, when this happens, the newborn is often placed into foster care and it can take years to be adopted into a good family.
It is possible to plan an adoption after the baby is born by informing the hospital social worker that you are considering adoption. You can also find an adoption agency to handle all the arrangements of placing the newborn with a family and making you feel comfortable and respected. The agency may also assist you throughout your pregnancy, including arranging for prenatal care and even helping with housing and transportation. In the following section is a list of common misconceptions about adoption and the “Birth Parent Bill of Rights,” which was prepared as a public service by Spence-Chapin, a nonprofit, licensed child placement agency.
For more information about the adoption process in Hawai‘i, go to www.childandfamilyservice.org or www.h-i-c.org.
If you are considering adoption, you may be concerned about the medical expenses involved with continuing your pregnancy. You should know that the adoption agency you choose to work with can help by arranging financial assistance to cover this essential medical care. You may also be eligible for coverage under Medicaid’s Quest program.