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Archive for Adoption preparation

How to Rock Your Home Study

Married couple with adoption consultantMany hopeful adoptive parents find the home study to be the most time-consuming and nerve-wracking part of the adoption process. They wonder things like, “Will they find our home to be acceptable? What about our parenting approach?”
 
Today, Lifetime Adoption Agency will share what to expect with a home study and how to prepare, as well as shed light on common home study myths!
 

What’s the adoption home study?

It’s an evaluation that a licensed social worker completes on a prospective adoptive family. Per state and federal regulations, you must have an approved home study to adopt. That’s because your home study will be used by your attorney to file adoption paperwork with the court. Before he or she approves and finalizes your adoption, a judge will review your home study.
 
It’s the perfect time to learn more about the adoption process and how to parent an adopted child. So make sure to ask your home study provider your questions as they come up!
 

Information in a Home Study:

  • Your background (childhood, parents and siblings, and life events)
  • Important people in your lives
  • Marriage and family relationships
  • Reason for adopting
  • Expectations for your child and the adoption
  • Outlook about infertility issues (if relevant)
  • Parenting approach and childcare plans
  • Family environment
  • Your health history
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Finances (including your insurance coverage)
  • References
  • Criminal background clearances

What to Expect in a Home Study

The home study process typically happens in 3 stages:
 
1st Stage: Complete required paperwork
 
2nd Stage: A social worker will make at least one visit to your home, and conduct individual interviews of both of you.
 
3rd Stage: The social worker writes an evaluation of your family and their recommendation for adoption.
 
The home study process will take from two to four months, depending on how quickly you complete your paperwork and how busy the home study worker is at the time.
 
Completing adoption paperwork

Common Myths About Home Studies

“Our house must be perfect.”
A social worker is expecting to walk into a home that looks lived in, not one that’s been perfectly staged. The social worker won’t arrive in a little white outfit for a white glove test, we promise!
 
“We have to be rich.”
Even though adoption can get expensive, you don’t need to be wealthy to get your home study approved. The social worker is looking to see if you’re financially stable; that you stay out of debt and pay your bills on time. So, what’s more important than how well-off you are is your budget, debt, and how you spend.
 
“We have to own our home.”
Couples who rent a condo, apartment, or house can also get their home study approved.
 
“My past has to be clean.”
The social worker understands that you’re only human. With that said, you’ll have to answer questions about your criminal background, social environment, and medical history. Shares Linda Rotz, Lifetime’s Director of Adoption Services, “The adoptive couple needs to share if they’ve been directly or indirectly exposed to circumstances such as alcohol/drug abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, jail, counseling or financial issues. The truth is, most couples have had some sort of exposure,”
 
The social worker completing your home study will evaluate the issues and address them. Sometimes, a hopeful adoptive couple needs to show growth and change in a specific area, or take additional training. While there are felonies that would disqualify a couple from adopting, each state has its own laws. So it’s best to evaluate them with the social worker.
 
Social worker tours a couple's home

How to Get Ready for Your Home Study

Be prepared to answer questions about very personal topics such as your marriage, childhood, and any issues you might carry around. The home study provider might ask about your mental health, how you were disciplined as a child, marriage conflict, infertility issues, and financial struggles.
 
By asking questions like this, the social worker is seeking to determine how you manage stress and difficulty. How have you worked through tough issues in the past? Do you have a strong support system? Are you willing to ask for help when it’s needed? By being straightforward about how you’ve moved through difficult events, the social worker can get a clear picture.
 

Home Study Tips

Expect to spend quite a bit of time completing paperwork and gathering the needed documents. Here’s a list of items that most home study professionals require:

  • Tax records
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificate
  • Background checks
  • Bank statements
  • Employment verification
  • Proof of insurance
  • Physicals

We recommend reserving a few weeknights or a weekend to work through the process. Put on your favorite music, grab some snacks, put on some music, and get to work!
 
It’s important to be yourself during the home visit and interview. Since the home study professional is trying to get to know you and your family, it’s beneficial for you to be honest and straightforward.
 
The adoption home study might involve a lot of work, but once you bring your baby home you’ll see that it’s completely worth it!
 

Home Study Resources

Adoption webinars about the home study, which are free to access!

Lifetime’s Adoption Expert Q&A: The Adoption Home Study, and more…
Behind the Scenes of Your Adoption Home Study
Adoption Q & A – All About the Home Study
 
Here are some useful articles on the adoption home study:
 
Home Study 101: All You Need to Know
6 Proven Tips on How to Get Your Home Study Done in a Flash
How to Get Ready for Your Home Study in Florida
Surviving the Adoption Home Study

Adoption Home Study #adoptionhomestudy #homestudy #adoption #hopingtoadopt
Adoption Home Study #adoptionhomestudy #homestudy #adoption #hopingtoadopt
Adoption Home Study #adoptionhomestudy #homestudy #adoption #hopingtoadopt

Home Study 101: All You Need to Know

Adoptive couple being interviewed for their home studyAre you wondering what a home study is? Today, Lifetime Adoption Agency is giving you answers to the most frequently asked home study questions, so you can be fully prepared for it!
 

What exactly is a home study?

An adoption home study is a document that states you can become an adoptive parent. In it is a story of your current life: your family and marriage history, financial state, and health. The home study also includes personal references, your criminal record, a description of your home and neighborhood, and addresses any health concerns. It describes your family relationships, your thoughts on adoption, parenting beliefs, and addresses infertility issues if relevant. It concludes with the social worker’s recommendation that you’re approved to adopt. Sometimes it also designates how many children you may adopt, and of what ages.
 

Are we required to get a home study?

You’re legally required to complete a home study before you can adopt. This is true no matter if you’re adopting through an agency, facilitator, private lawyer, or seeking an international adoption. Prospective adoptive parents must get a home study regardless of their state.
 
If the idea of opening up your life to a social worker sounds nerve-wracking, know that you’re not alone. Many couples worry that they’ll be deemed ineligible to adopt. In our experience, though, it’s pretty rare for a home study to conclude with a negative recommendation.
 

How can I help my spouse get through the home study?

The home study can be a long and tiresome process, with all the documents to collect and return, and visits to schedule, and classes to take. Many adoptive parents say things like “This seems unfair because pregnant couples don’t have to go through all this” at some point during their home study process.
 
If you or your spouse is reluctant and feel like having their lives examined is too much to shoulder, try to shift your thought process around. Work on your home study in pieces, so that you don’t become too overwhelmed. And instead of seeing the home study as a burden, think of it as an opportunity to ask an expert everything you want to know about adoption. You’ll find your Social Worker will be a great asset for you before, during, and after you adopt.
 

Who will perform the home study?

Your home study needs to be written by a social worker licensed your state. Some states require that the social worker is attached to a licensed adoption agency. If you live in Florida, you have the opportunity to have a social worker connected to the Lifetime Adoption Agency complete your home study. You can learn more about Lifetime’s home study services here.
 
If your adoption agency is located in another state, we’ll provide home study recommendations in your state of residence. Lifetime Adoption Agency will only recommend reputable home study agencies with a solid background of experience.
 
Adoptive couple chatting in the kitchen

How much does the home study cost?

The cost depends on your state, the type of adoption you’re pursuing, and your agency. For example, if you’re seeking an international adoption, the home study may cost more. And sometimes there are additional costs when updating your home study at the one year mark, and when there are changes that need to be made. For example, if you move to a new home or if another person moves in with you, your home study would need to be updated.
 
Lifetime Adoption Agency provides home study services at a flat rate with no hidden costs. To get information about our full fee schedule, give us a call at
1-877-383-6847.
 

How long will it take?

Typically, the entire home study process takes around four to six weeks. How long it will take depends on how much time it takes for your background checks to get in, how quickly you submit the required paperwork and your availability for interviews and home visits. It’s Lifetime’s goal to complete your home study within 30 days of acquiring all of the required documents.
 

What is the social worker looking for?

A home study is intended to explore the kind of life you can offer a child. The social worker isn’t visiting to intimidate you; it’s fine if your home doesn’t pass a “white glove test.” They’re not assessing your housekeeping standards and will understand if there’s some clutter. In fact, people living in an Instagram-worthy house might have a hard time adjusting to the chaos of raising a child!
 
You don’t need to have a fully-decorated nursery, baby supplies, or toys yet or even have your home completely baby-proofed. The social worker is simply looking for signs that you’ll be practical, loving, and safe parents.
 

What about after we adopt?

After your child’s birth parents have signed paperwork consenting to the adoption and it becomes irrevocable, you will then apply for finalization. You’ll appear in court before a judge who will formally recognize you as a family. The judge will issue a new birth certificate which lists the two of you as the child’s parents. This court appearance is a simple and joyful ceremony.
 
Before they’ll approve the finalization, judges typically require a social worker to visit you at least once after the child is in your home. Some courts will accept an agency or independent social worker for this post-placement visit, but a few courts require the use of their own social worker. But the post-placement visit isn’t something to worry about; it’s more of a formality and not a test of your parenting skills.

Lifetime Adoption Agency provides affordable home study services in Florida. Learn more by calling us at 1-877-383-6847 or by submitting this short form:



How to Find Out If You’re Both Ready to Adopt

Communicate openly with your spouse to find if you're both ready to adoptYour decision to adopt a baby probably didn’t happen overnight. Most couples take weeks, months, or years to move from fertility treatments to adoption. It’s important that you make sure you’re ready to adopt before you start the adoption process.

Today, Lifetime shares three basic requirements you should meet before signing on with an adoption professional:

1. You’ve Moved on from Infertility

So that your adoption can be successful, the decision must be fully embraced by both of you.

People handle stressful situations and grieve differently. So, it’s common for one spouse to be ready to adopt and the other to be uncertain.

Allow your spouse fully grieve failed fertility treatments, and the dream of having a child biologically, so that they can move through the grief and loss process at their own pace. If one of you isn’t fully ready to move to adoption, it might lead to complications during the adoption process down the road. Neither of you should feel pressured into adopting just because the other one is ready.

We encourage you to see an infertility counselor or a marriage and family counselor if you’re struggling to move on from infertility.

2. You Have Similar Adoption Plans

Just as each of you should be ready to adopt, you should also be on the same page as to how you’re going to adopt. Consider if you want to:

  • Adopt a newborn or an older child.
  • Adopt domestically, internationally or through foster care.
  • Adopt a baby of a specific gender.
  • Adopt a baby of a particular ethnicity
  • Be in contact with the birth parents, and if so, how much.

Speaking with an Adoption Coordinator at Lifetime will help both of you gain a better understanding of all the elements in adoption. Listening to webinars will help you gain more information about all aspects of adoption. Visit AdoptionWebinar.com to get started. Seek input from adoptive families for their experience with the type of adoption you’re interested in.

3. You’re Financially Ready for Adoption

There will be various adoption costs you need to prepare for. Examples include medical, legal and travel expenses.

Begin by carefully researching all of your options. Balance those costs with your budget to decide if you’re financially ready to pursue adoption. If finances are a concern, look into adoption fundraising, grants, and loans.

When you’re deciding whether or not you are ready to adopt, it’s essential to communicate openly with your spouse. Talk about all aspects of adoption, financial security, adoption goals, and your feelings surrounding infertility.

If you’re both ready to adopt or if you have questions about moving on from infertility, call Lifetime Adoption Agency at
1-800-923-6784.

Pick the Best Adoption Agency With These Simple Strategies

Adopt a baby with these tips on picking the best adoption agencyThe very first step in the adoption process is to choose the best adoption agency. This step is important and must be done after careful thought and deliberation. You’ll need to know the level of service they provide and if they are the right one for you.
 
Many families lose their peace of mind, money, and time by selecting an adoption agency who doesn’t meet their needs. With a bit of preparation, you can avoid such a situation on your adoption journey.
 
If you are looking at multiple adoption agencies and trying to pick the best adoption agency, this checklist will help you assess if they’ll be genuinely committed to making your adoption journey a success.
 
These 10 questions will help you measure your adoption agency’s level of commitment and engagement with the adoption process. Let’s take a look at the key questions you might consider:
 
1. Does the adoption agency have the right resources (licenses, experience, and so on) to perform their role well?

2. Does he/she take every opportunity to make the adoption successful?

3. Can the adoption agency produce testimonials, such as recognition or praise, for doing good work?

4. Do you think the adoption agency cares about you as a person and understands your needs and concerns?

5. Does the adoption professional encourage you on your adoption journey?

6. Does the agency have the legal expertise to deal with complexities that may arise during the adoption process?

7. Is the professional committed to doing quality work?

8. Does an external agency periodically review them?

9. Is the adoption agency transparent about the financial aspects of the adoption, his/her fees, and so on?

10. Does the agency have qualified staff to counsel adoptive parents?
 
The more information you gather about multiple agencies, the easier it will be to narrow them down to the one who will meet your specific needs and concerns. It is imperative to know the level of adoption services provided by each agency before you select them. With proper research and verification, you will be able to choose the best adoption agency, one who is committed to your adoption success.

How to Talk to Your Children About Their Adoption Story

talking with your children about adoptionThe experts at our adoption agency in Florida recommend that hopeful adoptive parents start thinking now about how they will talk about your family’s adoption story. When a child grows up hearing about their adoption, it makes life less confusing and mysterious.

You might be wondering, “How do I talk about my child’s adoption?” or “How can I help them understand their adoption story?” Lifetime’s latest adoption webinar talks about this exact topic, providing practical tips on how you talk with your child about their adoption story.

In this webinar, we heard from two Lifetime adoptive mothers. They shared about their struggles and successes of raising an adopted child. Watch the recording of our webinar, “Talking About Adoption With Your Child” to get their tips on talking with your child about adoption, from the very beginning. Each adoptive mom has their own unique adoption story, so you’ll benefit from hearing their years of experience so far.

Our Florida adoption agency knows that talking about adoption with your child doesn’t need to be complicated. Nor does it need to be a major life event. It’s highly recommended to talk to them about adoption from infancy. But how do you start? How do you talk about adoption in such a way that leaves it open for future discussion as your child gets older? How do you adjust your conversation as your child grows up and becomes more mature?

Head over to AdoptionWebinar.com to watch the recording of our webinar, “Talking About Adoption With Your Child.”

Please note that in order to gain access to the webinar, you will need to subscribe to AdoptionWebinar.com. It’s free to subscribe, and it’ll give you access to watch all of the webinars. Subscribe using this link: AdoptionWebinar.com/subscribe/

How Can Audible Help You Learn About Adoption?

Listen to Called to Adoption on AudibleSometimes, it’s overwhelming for hopeful adoptive parents to know where to start on their adoption journey. Lifetime fully believes education is key for anyone hoping to adopt! And a great way to start learning about Christian adoption is by reading Called to Adoption: A Christian’s Guide to Answering the Call. You can listen to this book on Audible at no cost!

Through the end of the year, Audible is running a great promotion. In it, they offer a three-month trial of Audible for only $4.95 per month. That’s a huge savings because their usual going rate is $14.95 a month! You’re able to use a credit each month towards any audiobook you’d like. The best part is, the book Called to Adoption is yours to keep, even if you cancel your Audible account! You’ll be able to continue learning about the many types of adoption, even if you end up deciding that Audible isn’t a good fit for you. Visit Audible.com to learn more about their promotion.

Called to Adoption is full of useful tips and heartwarming adoption stories! Read about adoptive couples’ journey to adopt their child, and what helped them along the way! It was co-written by adoption expert, adoptive mother, and Lifetime’s Founder, Mardie Caldwell. Any adoptive parent will find that Called to Adoption provides them with invaluable resources and tips. Get encouraged as you begin your adoption journey by listening to this book!

With Audible, you’re able to hear Called to Adoption from wherever you are. Learn about how modern, open adoption works during your work commute, at the gym, or while you’re making dinner!

Visit Audible.com to download your audio version of Called to Adoption today! Or, you can simply click on the book’s cover below:

Click to get Called to Adoption on Audible!

How Long Does It Take to Adopt Twins?

fraternal twin babiesQuestion: My husband and I have just started researching infant adoption, and we’re hoping to adopt twins. On average, how long does it take to adopt twins through Lifetime Adoption Agency?

Answer: Adoptions with twins happen from time to time at Lifetime; we might have two to three newborn, twin adoptions out of 100 adoptions in our agency each year. So, we suggest that you remain open with your adoption preferences. If you’re only open to adopting twin babies, it’ll increase your wait time. It might even stand in the way of successfully adopting! Most of our adoptive couples wait from six to 16 months to adopt, and those couples are open to both single baby and twin adoptions.

When thinking about the average time you’ll be waiting to be chosen by a birth mother for a match, there are many factors to keep in mind. So that we can learn more about you and your adoption hopes, you can take the first step today by completing our online application. It’s free to apply and doesn’t obligate you to anything. Once you tell us your specific adoption goals, we’ll be able to share with you if you’d be successful in joining Lifetime for your adoption. Then, we can give you information about what to expect and the average wait time.

Lifetime encourages all adoptive families to sit down and talk about what truly matters versus what you feel right now would be best. The process of adopting is unique because it joins two parties together to begin a new story. We don’t want you to feel pressured into taking a particular adoption opportunity, but we also wouldn’t want hopeful adoptive parents to miss out on what could be an amazing adoption! So take some time and write down any questions. We look forward to learning more about you when you apply!

start your journey

Are You Ready to Adopt? Ask Yourself These 10 Questions

are you ready to adopt? here are 10 questions to ask!Are you truly ready to adopt? Before you contact any adoption professionals, really think about what your deepest wishes are for your family and for the child you hope to adopt.

Honesty is important because it’s your adoption professional’s task to understand your motivations so that they can effectively help you from the start. Your professional will then narrow down the preferences and relevant adoption situations and help you plan your adoption.

How do you know if you’re really ready to adopt a baby?

Here are 10 simple questions to ask yourself:

1. Why do you want to adopt?

2. How serious are you about adoption right now?

3. What is your ideal adoption situation?

4. Does your spouse want to adopt too?

5. Have you thought about how becoming a parent will change your life and are you willing to accept this responsibility?

6. Are you financially, socially and emotionally ready to adopt?

7. Will you love a child who comes into your family through adoption as much as you would a biological child?

8. If your child’s birth mother asked for photos, letters, and updates, would you honor her request?

9. Do you think you’d be a good parent, and why? If the answer is “no,” are you open to seeking assistance?

10. Do you and your spouse have the patience and time that’s needed to care for a child?

Don’t be offended when an adoption professional asks you investigative questions about your reasons for seeking adoption. They’re not trying to be nosey; they’re trying to help you find the best situation with as little time and stress as possible.

Plenty of preparation needs to be done for an adoption to be a success, and thoroughly understanding your needs is a large part of that. So, let your adoption professional help you, and you’ll be on your way to creating the family you have been dreaming of for a lifetime!

“How Much Did You Pay for Her?”

what to say if someone asks "how much did you pay for her?"When you’ve adopted, you may face rude questions from people. One of these is “how much did you pay for her/him?” Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re ever asked a similar question:

Adoptive parents don’t pay for a baby. They pay to have work done so that they can adopt a baby. Fees that are charged an adopting couple are used to support the work of the agency.

Adoption involves the time and efforts of numerous peo­ple who give service to biological parents, would-be adoptive parents, and babies. Each step of the proce­dure involves the work of highly trained professionals.

Also, agencies and attorneys must keep up to date on the laws and regulations con­cerning adoptions. They must pay rent or mortgage for their facility as well as costs involved with keeping up that facility.

The fee that adoptive parents pay when they receive a baby pays bills incurred by the agency as well as sala­ries of caseworkers, secretaries, the director, and oth­ers. Some states have individually set limits on the amount that an agency can charge for its services, thus keeping the possibility of adoption within the financial reach of most Americans.

In the case of a private adoption, the law in most states requires that the adopting parents pay only for the prenatal care, for the physician’s services, and for the hospital bill. This is meant to defray the medical costs incurred by the woman giving birth.

6 Smart Moves to Get Your Finances in Line for a Baby

get your money in line before you adopt!There’s no doubt that welcoming a baby into your home will affect your finances. There’s buying all the needed supplies, clothing, and bedding for a nursery, and then there’s the diapers, formula, toys, and child care. Add to that some costs that aren’t directly linked to the baby, but come into play such as increased life and disability insurance coverage.

Getting a hold of your finances right now, while you’re in the adoption wait, can help you enjoy your newborn without stressing out about money issues. Here are 6 smart moves to take before your baby arrives:

1. Check With Your Employer About Benefits

Ask your employer now which benefits are available to you, so you have an idea of how to budget. Parental leave is a necessary benefit, no matter if it’s paid or unpaid. There may be additional benefits you can take advantage of, like a health flexible spending account (FSA). Your employer may offer adoption-related benefits, so make sure to ask! Finally, you’ll want to research the life and disability insurance coverage your employer offers. Ask about the deadlines for buying increased coverage so you can plan ahead.

2. Pay Off Your Debt

Get out of any high-interest debt you’ve incurred, such as unpaid credit card balances. Once you start your family, finding money to dig yourselves out of debt might not be as easy as it was before.


3. Take a Look at Your Health Insurance

The costs for pregnancy and delivery vary a lot nationwide, depending on which doctor and hospital your birth mother will be seen at. Your insurance coverage will determine what your out-of-pocket medical costs for the birth mother’s pregnancy-related expenses will be. It’s smart to review the pregnancy and childbirth coverage included in your insurance now.

4. Start a “Rainy Day” Fund

Try to prepare now for the unexpected by routing 5% of your take-home pay into an emergency, “rainy day” fund. A good goal is to try and save the amount equal to three months’ of expenses into this fund. If you reach that target, continue to save 5% of your pay to cover unexpected costs like a car repair.

5. Consider Bonding Time

Per the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you’re able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the adoption. Both you and your spouse can take time off of work to bond with your baby. But you want to start thinking now about how you’ll afford living three months (or more) without a second paycheck.

6. Learn Child Care Costs

Child care costs may take up a large portion of your monthly budget. If both you and your spouse work outside the home, talk about how that may change. Maybe one parent will stay home. If you do need child care, your employer and the IRS may offer some assistance. Ask your employer if they offer a flexible spending account for child care. On your taxes, you might be able to claim your child and child care in a tax credit. And let’s not forget about the Adoption Tax Credit! Use these tax savings on big expenses such as formula and diapers.