Pregnancy Support & Open Adoption Services
Becoming Adoptive Parents
Frequently Asked Questions
- We are interested in adopting, what can you tell us about the Catholic Charities adoption program?
Catholic Charities has been providing adoption services since 1902. We are committed to providing life-affirming options to pregnant women whether they choose to parent or entrust their child for adoption. We need adoptive parents who are ready to adopt a baby and willing to have a respectful, caring, life-long relationship with the birth mother and/or birth father. This not only honors birth parents for choosing life but also honors the child by respecting the important role that his/her birth parents have in providing additional information and love to the child.
- What is an open adoption?
We consider an open adoption a genuine, covenantal relationship based on trust, respect, and candor that truly honors the child's need for information about him/herself.
- What does an open adoption look like?
At Catholic Charities, the birthmother carefully chooses an adoptive family from albums that contain photographs and non-identifying information about each of our couples. We only show her albums of families who fit with the needs of the birthmother and baby. After choosing one or two couples that she believes may be the best match for her child, the birth mother (and perhaps the birth father) meets with them in an initial interview. The birthmother will decide which family she thinks is the best fit. The potential adoptive family is also given the opportunity to decide if they feel it is the best fit for them. Once the decision is made and both agree to the match they all begin to develop a trusting life-long relationship that often resembles extended family or close friends. This relationship is built through the quality time spent together while getting to know one another. The amount of contact between birth families and adoptive families is unique to each adoption plan but typically includes ongoing letters, pictures and six to twelve visits a year.
- Why does Catholic Charities require all prospective adoptive parents to have an open adoption?
Catholic Charities believes that an open adoption truly honors all the participants in adoption, especially the child. The current research supports this belief. Research and our own experiences have demonstrated to us that the birth parent's grief is better resolved by seeing with their own eyes that their child is being loved and doing well in their new family. The adoptive family receives the affirmation and sanction of the birth parents, which increases their sense of entitlement to the child. The child benefits by understanding the reasons for their adoption and having ongoing medical, social and genetic information about themselves. Most importantly, the child benefits by having their questions answered directly while receiving the affection and care of both the adoptive family and the birth family. Finally, openness helps eliminate the shame and secrecy of the closed adoption system.
- Do we have to be Catholic?
No. Catholic Charities welcomes and actively recruits families of any faith background. We desire diversity, including different educational levels, ethnic backgrounds, family size, personalities and interests, in our pool of waiting families to better meet the needs of our pregnant clients considering adoption.
- What are some of the other requirements of Catholic Charities for prospective adoptive parents?
Families must be committed to an open adoption, be residents of the State of Oregon, have a faith commitment, have completed fertility treatments (if they have chosen to pursue fertility treatments), be married a minimum of 2 years, and comply with the other minimum State of Oregon requirements which include good physical health, a history of financial stability and a safe residence.
- What is a Home Study and how long does the process take?
A Home Study is a comprehensive evaluation of you, your family, lifestyle, parenting beliefs, marital relationship and views on adoption. It is a requirement of the State of Oregon as the first step when you plan to adopt. Although it can feel intrusive at times, it is an opportunity to reflect on your life, marriage, parenting ideas and hopes for your future and can be an enjoyable process. An agency Home Study consists of 4 or more interviews, with one being in your home. The Home Study process usually takes 2 - 6 months depending on how quickly paperwork is completed and appointments are scheduled.
- Is there an age requirement for adoptive parents?
The minimum age for an adoptive parent is 21 years old. Catholic Charities does not place a maximum age for adoptive parents but birthmothers tend to choose parents who are younger than their mid to late 40's.
- How long does it take to be picked by a birth mother?
Because the birth mother chooses the couple from a pool of available prospective adoptive parents, there is an unpredictable range in the waiting time ranging from one week to two years. However, most of our couples are matched within a year after the completion of their home study.
- What is the age range of children Catholic Charities places in adoption?
Because our primary mission is to provide support to pregnant women to make good decisions regarding their unborn child, the majority of the children we place are infants. Due to the sometimes complicated needs of older children, we restrict ourselves to the placement of children under the age of three years old.
- What are the birth parents like?
The pregnant women that we meet are of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, religious faiths, educational levels, and various living situations. The one thing they share is that they are experiencing a pregnancy that they feel unprepared for. Approximately 85% to 90% of the pregnant women we work with chose to parent their child. The other 10% to 15% choose adoption.
- Can the birthmother change her mind?
The birth mother does have the right to change her mind at any time during her pregnancy. In Oregon she is not allowed to sign consents to the adoption until after her child is born. After the birth she may sign the consents if she is sure about her decision. We consistently remind her of her rights and want her to be as certain as possible before she makes a decision that she will have to live with for the rest of her life. However, in the state of Oregon, once the birthmother signs consents and the child is placed with the adoptive parents the birthmother cannot disrupt the adoption unless she can prove fraud or duress. Because Catholic Charities provides extensive counseling to birthmothers, the birthmothers we work with are sure of their decision when they sign the adoption consent.
- What is the cost for an adoption?
Catholic Charities charges through a fee for services schedule. Fees will be paid at the time of the service. We anticipate the average cost of an adoption to be around $20,500. This does not include attorney fees or your child's medical expenses. We do not pass on birthmother expenses to our adoptive parents. For those families with a low income and/or who are open to a child with risks, we offer a grant application to off set some of the costs of the adoption.
- How long does it take to finalize an adoption?
Although the finalization time can vary, adoptions are usually finalized within 6 months of placement.
- What if we become pregnant while waiting?
We ask that our parents complete any fertility treatments prior to joining our adoption pool but we understand that even "infertile" couples are occasionally surprised by an unexpected pregnancy. Naturally we would be excited and hopeful for a couple who became pregnant during the Home Study process or while waiting in our pool of families. However, we would not allow them to be considered by pregnant women interested in placing their child for adoption. We believe that each child, whether biological or adopted, deserves the undivided attention of his/her expectant parents. We would place the family on hold until the outcome of the pregnancy is determined.
- Is there support available for adoptive parents while they are in the process and waiting for a placement?
At Catholic Charities we understand how difficult the waiting can be for prospective adoptive parents who have often suffered the grief of infertility and/or miscarriage. We strive to provide our waiting and adoptive parents with as much support and encouragement as they need. We strongly recommend attendance at our "waiting family" gatherings, which provide on-going education, as well as emotional support. Many of our families have become friends after first meeting at these gatherings. We also encourage you to call your caseworker whenever you need reassurance or information.