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Archive for Adoption services

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:



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.

6 Proven Tips on How to Get Your Home Study Done in a Flash

Adoptive couple chatting in the kitchenAs one of the first steps in your adoption, the home study may bring up many different emotions, from excitement to intimidation. The adoption home study usually includes a complete background check, paperwork and documentation, interviews with members of your household, and a visit to your home.

While this might seem like a lot, we’ve seen people get through the home study process smoothly and quickly by following these 6 proven tips:

1. Obtain a list of needed documents

Ask your home study provider for a list of all the documents you need to provide. Some of these required documents may take you additional time to get, so it’s smart to start working on those first.

As an example, you’ll probably have to provide copies of your marriage license, driver’s license, and birth certificates. If you don’t have these documents, it might take some time to request copies. Also, there are some documents that you’ll need a notary for, such as a notarized financial statement.

2. Schedule doctor appointments

Most home studies require a signed physician’s statement regarding your health. You’ll also need to visit an authorized authority to get fingerprinted. If you have pets, make vet appointments so that they’re fully up-to-date with all vaccinations. Make sure to schedule these appointments right away so that they don’t get in the way of your ability to finish your home study.

3. Request that your references submit letters quickly

Home study applications usually require reference letters from family and friends, attesting to your character. We recommend choosing your references early on in this process since it’ll take time to get the reference letters back. There is a way to expedite the process, though.

Once you’ve chosen your references, you can give them a heads-up that they’ll get a reference request soon. Also, kindly request that they submit their letter as quickly as possible. We often find that missing reference letters are one of hold-ups of completing a home study.

4. Reserve time in your schedule to work on this

We recommend that you set aside some time to dedicate yourself to the home study application and needed documents. While the questions are pretty straightforward, it’s just a matter of making time to finish it. You might try setting aside two hours each day to power through your needed items.

5. Read a checklist

Once you’re done with the paperwork part of your home study, the next step is to schedule the home visit and interviews with a social worker. Before the social worker visits, we suggest reviewing a general home study checklist. This will allow you to see whether your home meets the recommended safety standards. Ask your social worker to provide you with a more state-specific list.

6. Check your home’s safety before the home visit

Even though your social worker will give you an opportunity to fix any potential safety hazards before finishing their report, taking care of all safety hazards before their initial visit will expedite the overall process.

Lifetime Adoption Agency provides affordable home study services in Florida. Learn more by calling us at 727-493-0933 or visiting our Adoption Home Study page.

“Are We Too Old to Adopt?”

Discover your options of adopting after 40 at our adoption agency in Florida!There are various reasons that couples decide to adopt when they’re in their 40s (and later). They may have been establishing financial security first or hoping to create a family after a second marriage. If this is the case for you, the question “Are we too old to adopt?” may have crossed your mind. Keep reading to learn your options with infant adoption at our adoption agency in Florida!

In the past, there existed a “40-year rule” in adoption, meaning that adoptive parents could be no more than 40 years older than the baby or child they adopted.

At our adoption agency in Florida, we’re seeing that this rule is gradually fading away. In fact, we’ve worked with many birth mothers who are seeking an established, mature couple. The bottom is that when it comes to adoptive parents, what matters most to birth mothers is your ability to provide a nurturing, loving, and safe home.

If you’re hoping to adopt after 40, you may have encountered adoption professionals who have age restrictions and “cut-offs” for their clients. This is not so at our adoption agency in Florida. While we do have a minimum age of 21, we don’t have a maximum age cut-off that would restrict you from adopting after a set age. We believe that what’s more important than your age is to show birth parents that you’re healthy, active, and eager to become parents. So, it’s not so much about the age of the adoptive parents. Instead, what you can offer her child is paramount to birth mothers.

Here at Lifetime’s adoption agency in Florida, we’ve assisted many older couples to adopt a baby. We’ve noticed that older adoptive couples have much to offer a birth parent. They’re financially secure and are established in stable careers and marriages. With more people delaying the start of their family until their forties, age is truly just a number. What’s more important is the love and commitment you can provide to a child!

Discover how Lifetime’s adoption agency in Florida can help you adopt!

Starting your journey with Lifetime is simple! Just complete our free online application.

Join Adoption Agency Florida on Facebook!

LIKE Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida on FacebooK!Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida is excited to share that we’ve just reached 1,000 fans on Facebook! To celebrate, we’re offering a FREE download of an info-packed tip sheet, Ten Tips of a Safe and Healthy Open Adoption. Download this special report for free here!
 
On our Facebook page, Lifetime Adoption Florida, we share free adoption tips, link to adoption webinars, give important reminders, and share updates from clients who’ve adopted a baby through Lifetime! From time to time, we also post about ways that you can help women who have lovingly chosen adoption, through a donation to the Lifetime Foundation.

We also list inspiring quotes, upload adoption videos, share adoptive family websites, and link to helpful adoption articles we’ve written. You can direct message Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida on Facebook too, with any questions or concerns you might have. One of the most popular (and educational!) features are the conversations we are having with both birth mothers and adoptive parents.

So be sure to LIKE Lifetime Adoption Florida on Facebook and join the conversation. We want to connect with YOU!
 
Lifetime Adoption Florida has reached 1,000 fans on Facebook!

Surviving the Adoption Home Study

adoption home study visitWe recommend that you use your adoption home study as a way to learn even more about adoption. You’ll need to get a home study no matter where you live, or where you plan to adopt. An adoption home study is a document that shares the story of your life: your health, your family and marital history, and your finances. It also contains a description of your house and neighborhood, references, and info about any criminal record or health concerns.

For many hopeful adoptive couples, the idea of opening up their homes and lives to a stranger puts them on edge. A common worry about the home study is that it’ll find you ineligible to adopt. The truth is, it’s uncommon for a home study to end with a negative judgment. Even though you might feel that the process is invasive, remember its goal is to ensure children are placed into loving homes.

So what exactly is an adoption home study? It’s social worker’s written evaluation, based upon interviews they’ve had with you during at least one in-person visit to your home. Your home doesn’t have to be child-proofed, contain a finished nursery, or a separate bedroom for the baby before the social worker’s visit. They will want to know, however, how you plan to accommodate your precious arrival.

Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida provides home studies. Learn how we can help you with this aspect of your domestic adoption!

Just give us a call at 1-800-9-ADOPT-4 or learn more about our home study service here.

In the video below, our Founder and President Mardie Caldwell shares about the adoption home study service we provide to adopting families:

How to Choose an Adoption Agency – Step #3

Here’s the final step in the three-step process of choosing an adoption agency! Last week, we shared how you can effectively interview adoption agencies.
 
The third and final step is to make your final decision on which adoption agency you’ll contract with. At this point, you’ll probably have just two or three adoption agencies that you’re seriously considering. The agencies should not only meet your criteria but also feel like a company you’d be happy working with. However, you still have some more research to do.
 
The adoption agencies you’ve been in communication with should be able to provide you with a list of references. At Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida, we share a long list of references and their contact information with all prospective adopting parents. Our references are adoptive families who have adopted using our services, and so they can answer questions such as what to expect with a Lifetime adoption. We suggest that you contact as many of the references an agency provides you with, to gain a bigger picture. If the adoption agency you’re talking to doesn’t provide you with referrals, consider it a red flag!
 
It’s also smart to see if there have been complaints made against an adoption agency. Since there’s is no central website where complaints against adoption agencies are stored, you’ll have to check a few different places. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) records complaints against adoption agencies. Check the BBB website for all cities in which the agency operates. The BBB provides complaint information by phone and online.
 
An adoption agency’s standing within the adoption community is another factor to keep in mind. We suggest that you take online reviews with a grain of salt, since the anonymity of the Internet sometimes brings out the worst in people, especially with such an emotional topic as adoption.

How to Choose an Adoption Agency – Step #2

Last week, we shared step #1 in how to choose an adoption agency that’s right for you: early research. Today, we’re giving you step #2: interviewing potential adoption agencies.

Ensure that you’re picking an adoption agency you feel comfortable with; trust your intuition. The agency is going to direct you the sometimes puzzling path towards adoption. Selecting an adoption agency is a complex decision and depends on what you’re seeking in adoption.

Now that you’ve done some research and narrowed down your list of potential adoption agencies, it’s time to get more information and get a feel for the agency and its staff. We suggest contacting each agency from your list and scheduling a time to talk with them. This interview could take place in person or over the phone. Make sure you set aside enough time for the interview because you probably have lots of questions to ask. If you need help thinking of questions to ask them, check out this post: Discover What You Need to Know About Your Adoption Professional.

Don’t just email adoption agencies your list of questions. So that you can decide whether you see yourself trusting the agency to help you bring your child home, you need to actually talk with them. You’re looking for more than just their stats such as average wait time and the amount of successful adoptions per year. You’re also trying to measure if you trust them to help you build your family. Take thorough notes during the interview, not just about the information they provide, but also on their attitude and values.

After the interview, take some time and examine if you’d enjoy working with them. Consider their stance on subjects important to you, their overall manner, and how helpful they were.

Keep an eye on our blog next Monday, when we’ll share Step #3 in choosing the right adoption agency for your family!

How to Choose an Adoption Agency

The process of infant adoption can be confusing, so your adoption agency is there to act as your guide. It’s worth spending the time to research agencies until you find the right fit for you. Don’t be tempted to rush through your research and settle for the adoption agency that’s cheapest. It’s well worth your effort to spend the time needed to find the best agency for you and your family!
 
As with all big decisions, it may be tough to analyze all of the factors and then rank them. Is it important to you that the agency provides birth mothers with support and counseling? Would you like an agency located close to you? How big of an agency do you desire?
 

Today, we’re sharing the first step in a three-step process to help you choose the right adoption agency for you:
 
Step #1 Early Research

There are thousands of adoption agencies in the US. Clearly, researching all of these agencies isn’t possible. So your goal in this first step is to narrow down the amount of possible adoption agencies without contacting each one. Narrow down your list to just the agencies that fulfill your basic conditions. Think about whether you’re hoping for a local adoption agency or a nationwide one. Which pre- and post-adoption services you want your adoption agency to offer?
 
Here are 5 factors to keep in mind as you narrow down the list of adoption agencies:
 
Experience: Adoption is an intricate process, particularly when you have two states’ laws to keep in mind. You need an adoption agency that knows the process inside and out. You can determine whether or not the adoption agency has the necessary experience to help you by checking how long they’ve been in operation. Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida has over 30 years of experience in the field of domestic adoption. We’re well-versed in interstate adoption laws and requirements.
 
Location: Adoption is governed by state law, and most states will allow you adopt through an agency licensed in another state. So, you have the option of using a national agency or a local one. When you contract with an adoption agency which works nationwide such as Lifetime, they often have better means of reaching pregnant women considering adoption. Also, national adoption agencies often have more adoption placements and more experience.
 
Support to Birth Parents: An indication of a great adoption agency is what sort of birth parent support they provide. Making an adoption plan for their child is one of the most painful decisions in a birth parent’s life. A great adoption agency knows this, and keeps the best interest of birth mothers and birth fathers in mind. Seek out an adoption agency that provides counseling to birth mothers before and after the adoption. Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida offers licensed third-party counseling to our birth mothers. That way, the counselor doesn’t have a vested interest in whether she chooses adoption. In addition, we provide peer counseling from women who made an adoption plan for their child. We know that it really helps potential birth mothers to have the ability to speak to a woman who’s been in their shoes.
 
Completed Adoptions: The amount of adoptions completed per year is also an important element to consider. Once you sit down and interview an adoption agency, you’ll be able to get more information about their expertise. But before that, make sure that they complete enough adoptions per year to be able to help you. Lifetime completes around 130 adoptions per year, and we make sure to balance the number of adoptive families we have with the number of potential birth mothers.
 
Adoption Training: An exceptional adoption agency will do more for you than giving you paperwork to complete and conducting your home study. Check to see whether the agency offers adoption education. Pre-adoption education is a sign they’re invested in your long-term wellbeing as a family formed through adoption. Lifetime Adoption Agency Florida provides our clients with adoption webinars a few times a month. At these webinars, our adoption experts share various aspects of the process. Also, our webinars feature successful adoptive families who share their stories and tips. Our President and Founder Mardie Caldwell knows the importance of pre-adoption education, and saw to the creation of a clients-only membership website. It’s packed with information, articles, tips on adoptive parenting, and more! We provide waiting adoptive families with personal, one-on-one consultation with adoption professional who are experienced with both birth mothers and adoptive families.
 
Stay tuned to our blog for Step #2 in choosing the right adoption agency for your family!

How to Simplify the Complicated World of Adoption

adoption myths

A baby boy who was adopted through Adoption Agency Florida

Adoption is a very rewarding option for couples who cannot conceive a child. But the journey to the baby meant for your family can be complex. Today, we share tips on how to streamline the adoption process.

1. Learn from Others Who’ve Adopted
Don’t take advice from those who haven’t experienced adoption for themselves. A great place to hear from successful adoptive families is by tuning into webinars on AdoptionWebinar.com. Often, people who haven’t adopted recently will give advice about the methods and laws of adoption that have since changed.

Many are just ignorant about adoption and learn what they know from the media instead of real life. Most adoptions go well and without problems. Since the media knows that drama sells, they only portray a small portion of the adoption experience.


2. Get the Help of a Professional

Along with the people who sincerely want to help you adopt, there are also many out there who want to scam you. A good rule of thumb is to avoid spending a penny until you sign on with your adoption agency. There are a lot of dishonest people who say they want to help you, but they just want your money. An example of an adoption scam is an advertiser who says they’ll help you find a birth mother. A reputable agency is there to identify scams for you; they field inquiries from women who call in saying they want to choose adoption for their baby.

Many times, higher priced, experienced adoption professionals with a record of success will give you much value than someone less expensive. Compare adoption companies and don’t rush yourself when you do your research. Just a few weeks of research can pay off tremendously. Check out the professional with the Better Business Bureau and ask for referrals of past clients.

3. Don’t Be a Perfectionist

With adoption, you just can’t wait for the perfect time to get started. Realize that you don’t have to learn everything all at once. Start by researching adoption terms. If you have questions, write them down, then research and ask others. Don’t obsess: take it one step (or topic) at a time. Consider devoting one hour a day to learning about adoption. You can do this by reading, speaking to others who have adopted, and seeking out adoption professionals.

4. Consider Open Adoption
In an open adoption, the birth mother chooses the adoptive family for her baby. They meet each other in person and have ongoing contact as the child grows up. There are many benefits to open adoption, including that you’ll have knowledge of your child’s medical history in the future if needed. And, your child will grow up knowing that they were adopted, so when they ask you where they came from you’ll be able to answer.