Our blog covers topics on adoption, assisted reproduction, and surrogacy. You can read articles, personal stories, and commentaries written by our staff and our clients. A complete listing of all blog postings appear in chronological order below. To sort entries based on your interests, select one of the categories to the right under “categories.”
Please call us or send a confidential email if you have any questions, comments or would like to to contribute to our blog. We look forward to hearing from you!
(925) 945 1880 or (800) 877-1880.
Prenatal care is important for birth mother and child.
Some birth mothers will have health insurance of their own, either through private insurance or Medicaid. Depending on where they live, others will be enrolled in free clinics. But what if a birth mother doesn’t have insurance or medical aid of any kind?
Depending on individual state laws, adopting parents may be allowed to step up and cover OB, labor and delivery costs of their prospective birth mother. In California, state law allows adopting parents to pay for birth mother medical expenses during pregnancy.
Affordable Health Care Act
Since the passage of President Obama’s affordable care act, health insurance is more obtainable for all. If the birth mother does not have coverage already, she may still be eligible for an affordable plan, especially if she is pregnant. Review the policies available to pregnant women in her state of residence and, along with an attorney, secure the right plan for her.
Alternatively, many women who were not eligible for Medicaid before pregnancy may become eligible with a pregnancy. Don’t overlook this very viable possibility, as it can offer significant savings for all involved. Research the Medicaid eligibility requirements in her state to find out what the options are.
Birth mothers with no or low incomes will also be eligible for their state’s Women Infants and Children (WIC) plan, which includes nutrition guidance, food, breastfeeding support and other benefits.
Explore all coverage options for the birth mother.
If the birth mother is still young, she may be eligible under her parents’ health insurance plan. If her parents know she is pregnant, the situation should be fairly straightforward. If they do not, she may still be eligible for coverage, but she may want to secure an alternate mailing address so that pregnancy-related medical bills do not land in a family member’s hands.
Deductibles, Co-Pays and Premiums
Even if she has private insurance, most policies only cover 80 percent, so adoptive parents may need to cover the other 20 percent, and whatever she contributes to premiums.
The period of medical coverage usually begins during pregnancy and extends until six weeks after vaginal delivery or eight weeks post c-section. A period of confinement, from four months before birth until 6-8 weeks after birth, is considered a medical resting period, during which adoptive parents may pay for food and incidentals of $150 each week or so, along with actual rent and utility bills, transportation and maternity clothing.
Pre-natal care is important. Work with the birth mother early on to make sure she and the baby are getting all the care they need for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
At Family Formation, we have been there, we understand. Contact us today with any questions you may have about medical care for birth mothers or any other aspect of the adoption process.
When choosing an adoption firm, make sure you find just the right fit.
Whether you are unexpectedly pregnant and need adoptions services, or you are a family seeking to adopt a child into your home, you will want to find the very best adoption law firm to match your needs.
First and foremost, make sure the firm you choose specializes only in adoption and related issues, and that it has many years of experience under its collective belt. Ask for references.
Make sure the adoption firm not only supports full-service, open adoption, but also embraces and celebrates it. Although this is a law firm, adoption is one of the most emotional circumstances there is and the law firm’s philosophies will be critical.
~ “Our son is absolutely the apple of our eye and we also had the added bonus of adding the birthmother to our family too!,” Mark and Aimee told Family Formation. “Megan navigated…my wife and I and the birthmother through this emotional time and we were so impressed with how our open adoption came together and how she treated both parties with such openness, caring, and respect.”
Look for an adoption law firm that feels like a savvy legal team, but has the aura of a child protective council. Are they looking for the best home for a child, or are they chasing unfortunate pregnant women trying to make a deal? The differences in attitude and perspective are something you will sense when you speak with them.
Good adoption law firms are dedicated to educating and counseling adoptive parents on every step of the process and on parenting in general. There is no law making them do so, but those who care do it anyway.
And baby makes three.
Adoptive Parent Support
Yes, you need them to get the job done, but a good adoption firm should also be an emotional rock.
~ “We found them to be highly skilled professionals and also highly ethical. They supported us at every step of our journey…” said adoptive parents Gina and Jason.
~ “Megan and the entire team were incredibly professional and supportive throughout the entire process, and clearly communicated everything we should expect…They were always available and gracious in answering our questions as first time adoptive parents…They also continue to be available and supportive even 6 months post adoption,” said Matt and Faye.
Birth Parent Support
A good adoption law firm will be very sensitive to and supportive of birth parents through this very difficult time. No matter how right and logical the decision to use adoptive services for their baby, it is a tough process.
Unexpected snags can and do come up. Adoption law firms should be ready to advise and manage them through well-established crisis intervention methods.
Finding the right legal firm for your adoption service needs can be daunting. Make sure to ask for several references, and then, go with your gut.
At Family Formation, our team includes a birth mother, an adoptive mother, and a former surrogate. We’ve been there and we understand. Contact us today to explore your options.
It’s difficult to find an adoption agency with short wait times. The reason for this is that most adoption agencies work with many potential adoptive parents, sometimes over 200. Some adoption agencies can take as long as two to three years to match their clients with a birthmother. When a birth mother works with an agency, you can expect that she will be considering many families (25 or more in most circumstances).
We are different from an adoption agency
Our firm is different from an adoption agency, not only because we are attorneys, but because we work with only 10 to 15 adopting families at a time. This means that our wait times for a match are much shorter than with an agency. When a birth mother works with us, she is going to be presented with an average of only 4 to 5 adoptive families to choose from.
Fewer Failed Matches
Our adoptive families experience shorter wait times by avoiding failed matches. Failed matches are not common in our practice. The reason for this is that we don’t present any of our families to a birthmother until we have fully screened the birth mother’s situation first, have counseled her on her options, and have confirmed she is at least in her 5th month of pregnancy. By this point, she is much more confident in her choice to make an adoption plan. We have a clear handle on the birth father situation and whether the birth mother’s family and friends support her adoption plan. We only begin the matching process when we feel confident that the birth mother is solid in her plan and has support. This leads to a solid match.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you build your family through adoption, contact us today for a complementary consultation with one of our attorneys.
Integrity is more than just a word.
When you’re looking for an adoption agency, either as a pregnant woman considering adoption services, or as prospective parents, how do you know whether your adoption agency is ethical?
License and Registration, Please
Of course, the adoption agency needs to be licensed and regulated, which you can check on with your state’s licensing agency. You can also check with your state’s attorney general’s office, to make sure no legal action has been taken against the adoption agency. And always ask for at least three references.
But how do you assess beyond those basics?
New Territory? Join the Club
The tough thing about navigating adoption agencies is that adoption is such an insular world. It’s not something we typically explore before we need it in our own lives.
As children, few of us dreamed of getting pregnant, birthing a baby, then entrusting the baby to other parents to raise. In fact, childhood dreams rarely include thoughts about adopting a baby. This is simply a world that opens up to us because of circumstance.
But here you are, and it can be a scary world indeed, filled with complicated information, legal considerations and emotions. The last thing you need is to feel like your role in the process includes being a private eye. You need to be able to trust the adoption agency you choose to be nothing short of entirely ethical.
If it’s Legal is it Always Ethical?
It’s important to understand that legal and ethical are not always the same thing. An adoption agency may follow the letter of the law to the T, and still not be ethical.
Sometimes, an agency may not even realize they are being unethical, perhaps because the management and staff have never themselves actually been in the shoes of either adopter, adoptee or birth mother.
So how can well-meaning parents and prospective parents figure out which adoption agencies are ethical and trustworthy?
Watch that Wording
First, peruse the adoption agency’s web site. Regardless of whether you are a woman in crisis or a family looking to adopt, look for the section directed at pregnant women. Is it supportive of birth mothers? Does it have a variety of resources for her?
You certainly want an agency that supports birth mothers, makes sure they are confident with their decisions, and assure that those decisions are informed.
Honesty Before Profits
You want an agency that asks whether this is the right decision for this particular woman, and doesn’t try to strong arm her into it.
For the adoptive family, this is not only a sign of honesty and integrity, but a practice that helps prevent problems for everyone down the road. You don’t want an adoption plan to be terminated before it’s finalized.
The entire adoption agency staff should be fully committed to a code of ethics, evidenced in all they say and do.
Concern for All Involved
Look to see if the adoption agency’s site offers support to birth mothers after the adoption process is well on its way or has even been finalized.
Does the agency discuss issues such as open vs. closed adoption decisions, grief, postpartum depression and personal support?
Respect for the pregnant woman is a cornerstone of adoption agency ethics, and a major clue that other practices in the agency are also ethical.
Next, search the page to see if birth fathers are addressed. Are their feelings taken into consideration, or are they a non-entity? An agency that shows concern for the father of a prospective adoptee, is likely an agency with empathy and ethics.
The Whole Truth & Nothing But
Does the agency present any psychological studies and statistical facts on adoption agencies, the adoption process and long-term outcomes? If so, this is a sign that the staff is dedicated to providing information and sharing truth.
Does the adoption agency address the many challenges of raising a child, to make sure that prospective parents know how expensive and difficult it can be? Articles on the expense of raising a child, the needs for childcare and healthcare, the 24/7 care that is needed for many years, and the future emotional issues surrounding adoption are all a good start.
It’s not that an ethical agency should try to talk parents out of adopting, obviously, but they should be committed to fully-informed decisions on the part of everyone involved.
How Open Are They?
Does the agency explain and promote open adoption, and the legal guidelines, or lack of guidelines in each state? Do they offer contracts that have any legal standing? Do they explain the laws and their limitations?
Hold Your Ground
The number of mothers looking to relinquish parental rights has gone way down. This means that birth mothers are in high demand, and some adoption agencies have become quite predatory.
Look for an agency that won’t sell out, an agency that actually cares about the best outcome for all. Look for an agency that has staff who has been intimately involved in all sides of the adoption process.
Know what to look for and scrutinize your adoption agency’s ethics. They need you too. Don’t be afraid to expect ethical practices.
Management and staff at Family Formation includes a birth mother, an adoptive parent, a former surrogate, and the wife of an adoptee. Yes, we’ve been there, and we want to help. Contact us today. There is never any obligation.
Postpartum depression is an unfortunate reality for many. Being prepared can help.
The adoption process is different for every woman, man and child who enters into it. But one element that can affect all parties is that of post-partum depression.
Beyond Female Hormones
Believe it or not, even the happiest, most well-adjusted of birth mothers, surrogates and new adoptive parents can experience this condition, and it can impact everyone around them as well.
Post-partum depression comes in many shapes and sizes. It is also just one condition along a full spectrum of post-partum disorders, including post-partum OCD, post-partum anxiety, post-partum PTSD and even post-partum psychosis.
Women who give birth – whether they keep or relinquish the baby, whether they are the bio mother or a surrogate – are all subject to any of these conditions for up to 12 months after her baby is born. But post-partum depression is not limited to women who give birth. It isn’t even limited to women.
Pregnant women, adoptive mothers, women who have had a miscarriage or still birth, breastfeeding women and even new fathers can all experience their own form of post-partum depression.
It is important to remember that post-partum depression won’t last forever.
Post-adoption depression can be very confusing. After all, this new baby is a dream come true. Nevertheless, feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety and hopelessness can set in soon after baby arrives. There are many potential reasons for this.
Some adoptive parents have gone through months or years of failed fertility treatments and adoption is equated with finally giving up on that process. Others are facing the reality that their new baby does not look like them, or that they have not succeeded at breastfeeding (although this is often an option for adoptive moms!)
Adoptive parents often wonder whether there are unknown genetic issues, malnutrition or gestational drug abuse in their baby’s history. There may be ongoing legal or emotional issues with the birth mother, birth father, or extended birth family. Or adoptive parents may be worrying that they can never fill the birth parents’ shoes, or feel guilty that they took part in separating their baby from his or her birth family.
Even if none of these worries exist, the sheer emotional and financial commitment involved in caring for a new baby, not to mention sleep deprivation, can lead to depression.
Depression After Any Pregnancy
For those who have given birth, hormones can play a big role. Surrogate mothers are often surprised by their own post-partum depression, because they tend to view their surrogacy as an entirely positive experience. Still, pregnancy represents a very close biological connection. The pregnant woman and fetus are obviously inseparable for 9 months, and the sudden separation can be a physical and emotional shock, no matter how positive the situation.
Post-Partum Depression Specific to Birth Mothers
In addition to the hormonal and separation factors for birth mothers who relinquish their babies, depression can set in as the birth mother second guesses all her best-laid plans and mourns the loss of her child.
Fathers who escaped primary post-adoptive depression themselves can still (and often do) become depressed when their partners do. Yes, depression can be contagious.
It’s important that supportive friends and family members acknowledge this possibility instead of insisting that the father step up to the plate and take over as his partner grieves. It is easy for a mother and other relatives to feel annoyed by a father’s depression (after all, what has he had to do, in comparison to Mom?) But depression is a very real condition and not one that anyone chooses.
Equal Opportunity Depression
Anyone who is pregnant, was pregnant in the past year, or has a new baby at home, can suffer from post-partum or post-adoptive depression. Getting plenty of sleep, soliciting help of all kinds (childcare, shopping and errands, emotional support), getting exercise and fresh air, and practicing good nutrition (with special attention to fruits, vegetables, and especially omega 3 fatty acids), can all go a long way to alleviating symptoms.
Most importantly, knowing that post-partum depression is common and temporary can help get you through it.
At Family Formation, we have been there and we understand. Contact us today to discuss any concerns you may have, before, during or after the adoption process.
Just how much will that cute face cost you?
So you’d like to adopt a child, but you’re wondering whether you can actually afford to foot the bill for the next 18-21 years and beyond?
Keep in mind that if you added up your daily coffee (or soda or tea or bottled water) tab and multiplied it by 21 years, you’d shudder at the mere sight of a paper cup. Yes, looking at the numbers can be daunting, yet most parents do find a way to make ends meet.
Some level of planning is certainly an important aspect of responsible parenting.
What Will it Cost Long Term?
The costs of groceries, child care, diapers, shoes and clothing expenses, health care, travel and entertainment should all be considered when planning for a family.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a middle-income family will lay out an average of about $241,080 to raise a child over 18 years, before the cost of college. On the lower-income side of that scale, families will pay about $143,160, and at the higher end, $446,100.
Health care, education and child care will be the greatest expenses.
Full-time childcare can range from $100 to $400 per week, depending on the type of care and where you live. Options for child care range from a private babysitter in the sitter’s home or yours, to a commercial, licensed daycare facility.
Many states do offer assistance for childcare. You’d be surprised by the acceptable salary ranges that are eligible. Even if this is not an option, there are federal tax deductions for reportable childcare (but not if you hire a babysitter off the books).
For some families, it makes more sense for one parent to stay home. Not only does this save child care expenses, but your tax bracket goes down, so that you pay lower taxes on your remaining income. It’s always good to do the math.
Other parents work different shifts so that both can remain employed without the need for paid childcare. Another solution is shared childcare with other families, either where each family provides some of the care directly, or where each contributes to the cost of group care.
Little humans aren’t cheap, but parents can find creative ways to make ends meet.
Transportation and food costs are high in this day and age, but unless you are driving a long way from home and work just for childcare, gasoline expenses won’t go up much due to baby alone. Later, extracurricular and entertainment activities may increase driving and gasoline costs, unless these things replace driving you did as a childless couple.
The cost of baby formula and commercial baby food can run $150 per month. If you succeed at breastfeeding your baby, make your own baby food at home, and use cloth diapers, this cost drops to as little as $20-$40.
Some employers offer pre-tax savings, childcare and healthcare plans, which can help defray costs. Others offer subsidies. And then there are tax-free education savings and commercial incentives such as UPromise that parents can use for long-term college planning.
Of course, before college, education will be free, unless you decide to send your children to private school, which can run anywhere from $6,000 to $35,000 per year.
For the day to day, you may need to become a coupon-clipper, a bargain hunter, a Groupon user, a bulk shopper and a big fan of buying cooperatives and children’s thrift shops. There are many creative ways to make ends meet and the most important thing you can give your child, of course, is free.
To learn more about the adoption process and how Family Formation can help, contact us today.
When you make an open adoption plan, it’s almost always a good idea to meet the adopting parents before you deliver—no matter how nervous you are or how awkward you think it will be. There are several good reasons for this.
The first reason: awkwardness is a great way to start a wonderful, trusting relationship through open adoption. Start with awkward and build from there. By the time you meet the adopting parents, you will already know a lot about each other, so chances are that it won’t be awkward once you break the ice. Many birth mothers remember the awkwardness as a sweet moment and the first “issue” they worked though with the adopting parents, finding things to talk about and making the relationship work. Most birth mothers find the first meeting a huge relief, an affirmation that they chose the right family.
Another good reason to meet ahead of time: you won’t feel at your best during labor and delivery. Having a baby is a major event for your body, and if you’ve never had a baby before, you will likely be nervous. You will almost certainly be tired and feeling physically wonky. This is not always the best time to break the ice with the adopting parents or get to know them for the first time.
Finally, it’s easier to get to know someone in person. Once you have met and have had a chance to get to know the adopting parents, you’ll have a much better idea of how you want things to go at the hospital. Who will be in the delivery room? Who will hold the baby first? Do you want other family members or friends there to support you and to meet the adopting parents as well?
Meeting before delivery and getting to know the adopting parents can be really helpful in making an honest and real open adoption plan. We can help you through every step of this process, including planning for meeting the adopting parents and planning for the hospital. We are available 24/7.
Adoption can be confidential, semi-open or open. What’s best for you? What’s best for the child?
As you navigate adoption services, one of the most basic decisions you’ll want to make is whether your child’s adoption should be confidential, semi-open or open. It is extremely important for adopting parents to really consider the options and what will be best for your family.
First, let’s look at the options.
When an adoption is confidential, or closed, the adopter and birth parents never meet and have no identifying information about each other. All the legal paperwork and agreements are handled by the adoption agency or attorney.
If you are sure that you want a confidential arrangement, it is vitally important not to compromise your own wishes. Do not let yourself be talked into a situation you are not comfortable with. To do so will make it very hard to hold up your end of the arrangement later on, when it comes time to send pictures for instance. This would be unfair to the birth mother as well.
In a semi-open adoption, the birth parents and adopting parents do meet once or twice, but they remain on a first-name basis. If they agree to keep in touch, photographs, letters and updates might be exchanged a few times each year. Although this would typically take place through a liaison, that is not a requirement.
Both sets of parents know each other’s full names in semi-open adoptions. It is not an open adoption if only one side has identifying information about the other.
Semi-open adoptions have the potential to become open adoptions later in the game, should both parties agree to that situation.
Open adoption usually involves selection of the adopting parents by the birth mother, who screens pre-approved families through autobiographies, resumes, letters, appeals and photographs.
In many cases, there is full disclosure in open adoptions, including full knowledge of birth parent and adopting parent names and addresses, along with a close, ongoing relationship, with exchanges of letters and photographs. Some parties agree on regular visits.
If you choose semi-open or open adoptions, the terms of the agreement will need to be spelled out carefully in your contract, this ensures that everyone is on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings.
No matter which type of adoption you end up choosing, make sure you understand all your options.
Which Type of Adoption Makes People Happiest?
The most important factors in whether an adopted child adjusts well are the parental openness about the adoption in terms of communication with the child, and the security a child feels with the adopting family.
Many adoption professionals believe that open adoption is in everyone’s best interest, though challenges do exist.
Pros of Open Adoption
Cons of Open Adoption
All that said, one major peer-reviewed study of 323 sets of adoptive and birth prints, found that birth parents and adoptive parents alike were better adjusted and happier with semi-open or open adoption arrangements.
These decisions are always tough. We’ve been there and we understand. To talk to someone who can help, contact Family Formation today.
Making an open adoption plan can be emotionally difficult. Facing tough life choices and finding support from family and friends while pregnant and planning for delivery can feel overwhelming. It’s important to keep your heart and mind open to an open adoption during this potentially stressful time.
Some women think that a closed adoption will make the process easier. They feel that a closed adoption means they won’t have to think about the details or process the difficult emotions. It’s almost like they feel they can pretend it isn’t happening if they don’t “make it real.” While this might work for some women, it isn’t a healthy path for everyone. For some, this might even be denial.
It’s true that making an open adoption plan can make the adoption feel more real, or as birth mother Sarah recently said: “now it’s getting serious.” This is a good thing for two reasons. The first is that making the adoption real will help you decide if adoption is right for you. Making a plan doesn’t commit you to the adoption, so it’s important at some point to try really living with the idea, talk with adoption professionals, review the paperwork involved, maybe even speak with a potential adopting family. The sooner you know in your heart whether adoption is right for you, the better for everyone involved.
The second reason it’s good to make the adoption real is that once you get over this hurdle, the adoption will probably feel less scary. This is where you want your head to be as you think about openness—not frightened and overwhelmed, but empowered and in control of a plan.
You don’t have to decide all the specifics of what your open adoption will look like, but you can decide that you are at least open to it and recognize that you might be even more open to it later in life as you move past the difficult emotions, get your life settled and moving in the direction you’re hoping for.
If you aren’t sure about how open you want your adoption, make sure you choose a family who is really flexible on this point. In fact, if you want a closed adoption, it’s probably a good idea to still choose a flexible family so that if you change your mind later, that option will always be available to you.
At Family Formation we are available 24/7 to talk with you and answer your questions whether you have decided on open adoption or not. Feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!
If you live in or near the Bay Area, there are several reasons why you might want to become a surrogate with a program in Northern California, which is basically in your backyard! Getting to know your intended parents face to face, letting them share in local medical appointments, and shorter travel to the fertility center are just of few of these reasons.
Our program is located in Northern California, and our intended parents work with local fertility centers. The vast majority of these couples also live within just a few miles of our office. This is why our program attracts surrogates from the Bay Area—they know they will be working with local intended parents at a local fertility center.
Most women want to become a surrogate because they really want to help another couple have a child. This compassion for others, and desire to help, naturally lends itself to building a really personal and trusting relationship with the intended parents. It’s much easier to get to know people in person. Having face to face time with the intended parents, understanding where they’ve been on their journey to family, and understanding how much they appreciate your time and sacrifice as a surrogate are all part of building this important relationship. Having multiple opportunities to meet in person will help foster this.
Sharing in medical appointments with intended parents is part of what makes being a surrogate so rewarding. You get to share their joy at their first moments of parenthood and know that it was only possible because of you. You remember that you aren’t alone in the journey, that you are supported and appreciated. The intended parents also can get important information from your doctor, straight from the expert, rather than your being in the middle.
Traveling to fertility centers for medical clearance, to pick up medications, to learn to use those medications, and then ultimately to the transfer, may sound overwhelming if that fertility center is more than 100 miles away. When the fertility center closer to home, there’s far less of a disruption in your life. A last minute visit or a rescheduled appointment is less stressful on you and your family.
Family Formation is a small, local program for women in the Bay Area who would like to become a surrogate for a couple dreaming of family. Contact us today to learn more how to get started.