Can I choose the parents for my baby?
In California, a birth parent may choose the adoptive parents for her baby. This is usually done in the private placement Independent Adoption process in which this office specializes. In these adoptions you decide which adopting parents you want to work with. You may meet them if you wish, and usually when the baby is ready to leave the hospital, the baby is taken home by the adoptive parents. Some birth mothers decide to place their babies with adoption agencies–but be careful because in some cases the baby may be put in foster care for a period of time, there may also be delays in placing the baby with an adoptive couple due to unfinished agency paperwork. In some cases, the birth mother who places her baby with an adoption agency may not ever know the identity of the adopting parents!
How much can I find out about the adoptive parents?
California law requires that certain basic information be provided to you about the people with whom you are thinking of placing your baby. That information includes but is not limited to: names, ages, religion, occupations, general health, prior marriages, other persons/children living in their home and the existence or absence of a criminal record. The adoptive parents will be honest with you so that you will have a truthful disclosure about their lives. They of course will expect you to be honest with them too!
I have living expenses and no medical insurance. Who will help me with my bills?
All states including California have specific laws which specify what birth mother expenses can and cannot be paid during an adoption. You will be able to get more information about the different laws when you consult with our office. There are limits imposed on the length of time you can be supported during your pregnancy and what can and cannot be paid. If you have health insurance, then the deductible portion of your medical bills and unpaid medical expenses can be paid by the adopting parents. If you qualify you may be asked to arrange to receive Medi-Cal or Medicaid. In either case you will be free to select the doctor and hospital you want.
What assurance do I have that the adoptive couple are suitable adoptive parents?
Every adoption involves investigation of the adoptive couple by either a state or a licensed agency. Couples are required to provide fingerprints, detailed financial, social, and employment histories, copies of tax returns, reports of medical examinations of both adopting parents, letters of reference and their home must be inspected. Criminal records and child abuse indices are checked before the home study may be approved. I have never had an adoptive couple from my practice receive anything other than a favorable recommendation on the report the investigating agency issues to the Court. Our office will not represent people who, based upon their background, are not likely to be approved.
Is the choice of adoptive couples really mine?
Our office believes that the birth mother is the best person to decide who should adopt her child. First you’ll be asked to tell me what kind of adoptive parents you are searching for and I will present you with resumes which match your expectations. If you don’t see what you have in mind, I have other resources available to me to put you in touch with whatever type of adoptive parents you seek.
Does the birth father have to be involved?
We would prefer to have the cooperation of the birth father in all adoptions handled by this office. Sometimes, as in the case of unknown assailants, that is impossible. But in cases where the birth father is known we prefer that the birth father (if he and you are not married) sign a waiver of his rights as soon as possible or let us know what his intentions are. As an adoptive parent I can assure you that it is best for the child if the birth father participates in a constructive manner in the adoption process and provides as much background information including his medical history as he can. If you simply cannot deal with the birth father we can discuss how to best handle the situation with you on a case by case basis. There are so many variables in this area that it is impossible to generalize.
Can I have contact with my baby after the adoption is completed?
Some birth mothers want no contact with the baby they place for adoption. They choose to close the chapter on that moment of their lives and move forward. Other birth mothers would like periodic pictures and perhaps a letter or two each year about the child’s progress. We are happy to work with you and help you match with adopting parents who are willing to provide the contact you desire. In our office we insist that if adoptive parents promise to send pictures and letters then they must keep the promises they make. We will encourage you to decide what contact you want and the frequency of that contact before you match with an adoptive couple.
I’ve selected a family in California but I live in another state. Can we do this?
Yes, you can. If you’d like to stay at home and have your family around for moral support we’ll work out the details with you and you can give birth in your home state. The adoptive parents will fly out to your state to pick the baby up from the hospital. If you wish they can even try to be there for delivery. If you prefer to come to California to have your baby the adopting parents will pay for your round trip airline ticket, rent, food, utilities and other legally permitted expenses so that you can deliver in California. We will assist you in connecting with the finest obstetricians and hospitals available so that you have top quality medical care throughout your pregnancy. If you live in a state which requires babies who are to be adopted to be put in foster care for a period of time you may choose to come to California to have your baby and your travel, rent, medical and utility expenses may also be covered.
Do I have to pay Mr. Baum for his services?
No you do not. The adoptive family with whom you match will be responsible for the payment of my fees. All services I provide to birth parents are at no charge to the birth parents. You will never be asked to pay me for my efforts on your behalf.
Why should I choose adoption?
Just as every person in the world is different so are the reasons why birth parents choose to make an adoption plan. Some birth parents want their baby to have two parents. Others may feel that they are not mature enough, financially able or emotionally prepared to raise a child. Sometimes birth parents may be in the middle of completing their educations or entering into a new career. In some instances people who already have children feel that they just can’t raise another child in their home without hurting the children they already are raising.
I’m having mixed feelings about my adoption plan. Is this a normal reaction?
Most birth parents experience different emotions during the adoption process–from great joy to a sense of sadness about their decision to place their baby in the arms of an adoptive family rather than raise the baby themselves. Obviously you’ll never forget your baby nor would you want to. While there maybe some sadness which may accompany your decision to make an adoption plan most birth mothers tell us that they feel better knowing that they are giving their baby the best possible start in life with the love and security offered by a wonderful adoptive family. Remember that in life most important decisions are often very difficult. When you consider what’s best for your baby and what’s best for you it is likely that you will find it easier to make the right decision.
What if my family and friends disagree with my adoption plan?
Every year in the United States thousands of babies are placed for adoption by birth parents who make this selfless decision to do what is best for their baby and place the baby’s welfare above and ahead of their own personal desires to raise their own flesh and blood. Should your friends or family find it difficult to accept your decisions you must remember that the decision is your decision to make and not theirs. Adoption is a loving choice-it may indeed be the best choice for you and for your baby. There are people who can’t get over the idea that they could never “give up their own flesh and blood” but quite often those people are not the ones making the adoption plan nor are they prepared to take on the responsibilities of parenting for you.
What will the adoptive family tell my child about me?
In the course of making your adoption plan you to fill out forms and provide background information. In addition to providing information about your background and that of your family, your medical history, interests and employment, you can also put together other things you’d like the baby to have either now or in the future. Loving birth parents have made scrapbooks and written personal letters with photos to be shared with their child later. As the child gets older you and the adoptive family may decide to stay in contact with one another by letters and photographs. We are here to assist you in defining the best arrangement for you, your baby and the adoptive family in terms of your post placement contact.
Unsealing Adoption Records and Original Birth Certificates
Occasionally for medical or other significant reasons, adoptees want to have access to their original birth certificate to locate their biological parent or parents or to unseal their adoption file to find out medical, familial or other important historical information concerning their biological parents. In California adoptions are confidential proceedings.
At the time the adoption is finalized the original birth record including the original birth certificate is sealed and a revised birth certificate is issued and mailed by the Bureau of Vital Records to the adoptive family. Because adoptions are confidential in this state, California law requires that a Court issue an order to unseal the birth record and the adoption file if access is to be given to inquiring parties.
Petitions to gain access to birth record information are brought under California Health and Safety Code section 102705. They are commenced by filing a Petition for Birth Record Information and often supported by competent written declarations showing “good and compelling cause” as required under the statute.
The Judge will review the petition and supporting declarations and then determine whether the request for permission to inspect the records and/or obtain copies of the records relating to the birth of the person seeking the records should be granted. The Court does not automatically grant all requests.
Good and compelling cause must be shown in the petition and accompanying affidavits before the Judge will grant the petition. If you do not demonstrate good and compelling grounds for unsealing the records, your petition will likely be denied. Mere curiosity about the applicant’s birth parentage is insufficient grounds under California law to unseal the records.
In addition to that petition, an additional petition for an order authorizing the individual seeking information to obtain additional information from their adoption file. The Court may order that the clerk provide a certified copy of the Order of Adoption, the Petition for Adoption or in some instances the entire adoption file including informational forms completed by the birth and adoptive parents during the adoption process for the State Department of Social Services or the local designated public or private adoption agency and reports submitted as a part of the adoption paperwork.
To obtain this information an application must be filed and certain basic information including the names of the adopting parents, the date of adoption or the adoptee’s birth date and the reason for the request must be provided.
The application is reviewed by the Court bearing in mind the provisions of Family Code section 9200 which prohibits the release of any adoption information from the sealed records in an adoption case except in “exceptional circumstances and for good cause approaching the necessitous.”
If your adoption was finalized in California, our office will assist you in seeking approval from the Court to obtain information concerning your adoption and in seeking approval of a petition to provide you with birth record information.