There are many different ways in which you can create a family, adoption being one of them. If you are considering adoption, we would like to share with you what Full Circle Adoptions can offer you. Full Circle Adoptions has been helping prospective adoptive couples adopt since 1996 and we would love the opportunity to help you become an adoptive parent. We know that aspects of adoption can be confusing, so we’ve created this page as a way for you to learn more about the process. Just click on the links below to learn about our services and the adoption process in general.
If you’re in the preliminary stages of exploring adoption as an option for building your family, feel free to contact us. We would love the opportunity to sit down and meet with you for an orientation where we can help you learn more about the adoption process.learn more
Full Circle specializes in domestic adoptions. We can work with prospective adoptive couples/singles anywhere in the United States as well as place children born in any state. We offer individual services, as needed, or complete domestic adoption services.learn more
Have you already decided that adoption is right for you? Or are you considering adoption and want to learn what goes into the process? We offer comprehensive information about what a home study is and what goes into the home study process.learn more
The road to a successful adoption may be challenging at times. We offer counseling to expectant/biological parents to help talk through these challenges and the complicated feelings that can come up regarding adoption and the adoption process.learn more
Are you curious about the child placement and adoption finalization? Learn what happens during and after the birth of the baby, finalization and legalization process, the agency's practice for interrupted adoption, and other topics.learn more
Wouldn’t trust anyone other than Full Circle to assist with a domestic interstate adoption, and I am continually reminded when I hear other people’s adoption stories about how thorough and respectful Full Circle was. Not just respectful of our time and needs, but deeply committed to giving birth parents the most choices and best experience they can have in what is otherwise a challenging time for them.
Full Circle helped us to really appreciate adoption. When we first started the process, we were more focused on what we wanted and ourselves. Over time we really came to appreciate the issues and tough decisions facing birthmothers and birthfathers.
Our experience with Full Circle Adoptions was exceptional in every way and especially when it came to starting our relationship with Callum’s birth mother... The Full Circle Adoptions' staff were so supportive and answered all of our questions and concerns as we took those first awkward, nerve-wracking steps.
Full Circle Adoptions is a fully licensed non-profit adoption agency that specializes in domestic adoption, and can provide home studies and post-placement supervision for Maine and Massachusetts residents pursuing international adoption. We help adoptive families who live across the United States and internationally, and also provide services to birth parents who live throughout the country.
The agency offers comprehensive adoption services. Agency social workers provide adoptive families with a home study. You write the text for your “Dear Birthmother letter” (or “profile”) and are provided assistance with editing and creating the layout of your profile book. You also have the option of working with our agency’s professional photographer, who will take pictures of you and your home. The finished profiles are posted on our website and shared with birthparents who reach out to the agency.
The team at Full Circle Adoptions assists you with pre-placement advising and coordination of legal, medical, and clinical aspects of in-state and inter-state adoption plans. The agency completes placements in Maine and Massachusetts and prepares the Interstate Compact packet so that you can receive official authorization to return with the baby to your home state. For families who receive a placement in another state, Full Circle Adoptions will help to find excellent and experienced adoption professionals in that state. We complete adoption finalizations for families finalizing (as non-residents or as residents) in Massachusetts. The agency offers post-placement consultations as well.
We are comfortable working with families who are working with more than one adoption professional at a given time so long as the adoptive family is not matching with more than one birthmother at the same point in time.
The agency’s birthparent services include assistance with housing, assistance with pregnancy-related living expenses, and a birthparent buddy program. We offer counseling before, during, and after a pregnancy/delivery.
Our social workers have MSW (Masters of Social Work) degrees, extensive general clinical experience, and experience in the field of adoption. Our clinicians are available for counseling and consultation with birth and adoptive families.
Full Circle Adoptions offers free online orientations to share information about the agency and to answer your questions. You may sign up for an orientation on the events calendar on our website.
Adoption may be a new subject for you. It’s important to ask a lot of questions. The most frequently asked questions about adoption are: How long does it take? How much does adoption cost? How long do the birthparents have to change their minds? Can the birthparents ask for the child back? Do we need a separate attorney? What can protect us from fraudulent “birthmothers”?
In addition, your personal questions may include these: Are we too old? Are there newborns of Caucasian, African American heritage, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American heritage to adopt? Can we adopt if we are single, lesbian/gay, have disabilities or a background with certain medical, legal or fiscal difficulties? Will we have a harder time being chosen if we already have one or more children? Will we be chosen if we are of a particular religious faith (Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Agnostic etc.)? Full Circle offers free orientations so that you may discuss your questions with us.
Adoption professionals, generally, encourage you to ask yourself some questions as well: What preparation (reading, workshops, talking with other adoptive parents etc.) have you undertaken to learn more about adoption? How clear are you about your adoption goals (e.g. what age child are you hoping to adopt, what ethnicities are you open to, with which medical histories are you comfortable and with which medical histories are you not comfortable? What degree of legal risk (e.g. single “surrender” placement) are you comfortable with? How willing are you to be active in your own adoption process? What are the most effective ways you’ve found to manage stress in a process so deeply personal to you?
Here are some answers. There is always more to say on these subjects, but we begin this discussion with you below.
Full Circle provides adoption related services for birth and adoptive parents. If you are a prospective adoptive parent, it may be comforting to know that we gladly work with singles and couples, both heterosexual and gay/lesbian. A married or committed couple can have a marriage/relationship of any length; there is no minimum number of years required. We don’t discriminate on the basis of age, religion, race/national origin, sexual orientation or family form.
If you have suffered infertility, we ask about this as part of our usual review of medical history, but there is no requirement that an adoptive family have demonstrated infertility nor any requirement that you have submitted to any degree of infertility treatment. Families without a child as well as families who already have children are welcome to request our services. In general, we see our role as that of serving families and feel strongly about making these services available to everyone who can reasonably benefit from these services.
A homestudy is the first step in the adoption process. After all documentation has been received from you, it generally takes 1-2 months to complete depending, in large part, upon when you and the social worker schedule your meetings. Full Circle has home study social workers throughout Massachusetts who will come to your home for meetings. We also work with families who have homestudies through other agencies licensed in this state and other states. We describe the homestudy process later in this outline.
Toward the end of the homestudy process, families prepare a “dear birthmother letter,” also referred to as a profile. A photographer comes to your home and helps with the family photographs as well as a photo of your home. If you live very far away, you’ll make arrangements with a photographer close to you. You will work with an online company to create your profile. The profile takes about a month to complete and may overlap with the last part of the homestudy process.
The final “Dear Birthmother Letter” or “profile” includes color photographs interwoven with text and the agency receives hard copies. The profile is also added to our website.
Birthparents review the profiles and may select one or two families to talk to by phone or to meet in person, or they may feel strongly about one family. If the birthparent would like to have a phone conversation with the adoptive family, we will arrange a pre-arranged time to call them. In this way, the first connections are made.
Full Circle measures the “waiting period” as that period between the day your “Dear Birthmother Letter” is ready to be shared with birthparents and the time when the family is selected by a birthmother. It is prudent to estimate a wide range of time, even when it may often take a shorter time, because no agency can see perfectly into the future. We’d rather be conservative in our estimates and hopefully have you feel pleased later. The agency estimates that families without children achieve a match with a birthmother between 6-18 months after the profile is ready to share and we estimate 9-18 months for families with one or more children. Often the matches occur sooner, but it is better to be cautious in estimates.
Why does the presence of a child or children make a difference? Many birthparents wish to place their child with a family who does not yet have a child because they want to give a chance to families who have not had the experience of parenting. On the other hand, families with children have been chosen easily. Some birthmothers have stated, for example, that they grew up with sisters and brothers. The best way they can make sure their child will also have sisters and brothers is to choose a family who already has a child or more than one child. While generally we predict that families who already have a child or children may take a little longer to match, families with a child or children have been easily matched with good timing and can feel confident pursuing domestic adoption.
Most adoptive families worry about whether they will be chosen. Some also feel uncomfortable about having their plans to be parents dependent on the choices of someone they don’t know. We understand these feelings. At the same time, it can be useful to realize that birthparents have similar worries about whether adoptive parents will like them. Just as adoptive parents may worry about being chosen, the birthmother and birthfather, too, are often worried about rejection. The birthmother may worry that you may think less of her because of her situation. Usually when a personal connection is made between birth and adoptive parents, adoptive parents and birthparents find that there are many feelings that are shared. A sense of a mutual planning develops and these concerns are often replaced by genuine respect and compassion for the path that you have each taken to the point of meeting.
Many families are concerned about their ages. Birthparents are generally interested in a family’s “vitality” rather than just chronological age. They want to know whether you will be able to provide the child with love and to play with them.
Other families are concerned that other factors might affect the timing of their adoption – e.g. being a single parent, being gay or lesbian parents, and being parents with an on-going medical concern or serious medical or other history. Please feel free to raise these questions in a conversation or at the time of the orientation. Often there are other factors that are very attractive to birthparents, such as greater comfort with post placement openness, a stay at home full time parent, a particularly interesting life-style or home setting, etc. that may counter-balance a factor that may, in the general view, be seen as lengthening the time it would customarily take to achieve a connection with birthparents. We will share our views about what factors, in our opinion, might affect the timing for your family and we will discuss various options and perspectives with regard to your family’s plans.
It bears mentioning that almost every prospective adoptive family harbors a fear that they’ll be the “one family” who isn’t chosen. In fact, both birth and adoptive parents share an almost reciprocal fear of being rejected at some point in the process. We encourage both adoptive and birthparents to be kind to themselves and each other. There is a lot of warmth and good connection to be experienced in domestic adoption. However, it’s hard to imagine until that sense of connection is your personal experience.
At times the disappointments involved in infertility have fostered a nagging worry that “maybe nothing will go right”. It’s good to do what you can to reduce stress, bolster confidence and encourage patience with the process. We, at Full Circle, are here to accompany you on the path and we understand that many different feelings arise during the journey.
Full Circle Adoptions is a fully licensed, non-profit social service agency. We have a regular domestic adoption fee schedule. The fee schedules offer a menu-style listing of services. We have found that, if we can have a conversation with you about what services your family needs, we can give you the most accurate projection of the likely costs for your adoption process. Domestic adoption is expensive and, for this reason, we also like to discuss the range of options that families have considered for affording the professional services, including resources for loans and employer reimbursement benefits.
From time to time, we add a service to the fee schedule and, since it can take some time to change documents on a web site (and we always want to be accurate with you), we prefer to provide the fee schedule to you, at no charge, with a current request. Feel free to email or call us to request a free Welcoming Packet, including a fee schedule, and we will be happy to provide this to you. You may also call us (413) 587-0007.
Adoptive parents often speak of a fear that the birthparents will return and wish to reclaim the child in years to come.
It’s important to achieve a realistic understanding of birthparent motivations and feelings:
Some of this is projection. You may already feel love for a child who you can’t even see. You presume that the birthparents must feel even greater attachment if they are bearing the child. You project your own intense longings onto others and think that birthparents must have your same feelings or feel them more intensely.
In fact, as birthparents contemplate an adoption plan, many speak of separating emotionally as they prepare for a plan they feel is best for their child and for their own lives. Some spontaneously report feeling as though they are bearing the child for the adoptive family or talk about their planned adoption in other phrases that suggest that, for them, the adoption plan feels “meant to be”. Birthparents love their children, but they may be in a different place in their lives than the adoptive parents are. Rather than wishing to reclaim the child, most birthparents are hoping that the bonding between their child and the adoptive parents will be strong.
Birthparents often spontaneously talk about not wanting to interfere with the connection between the adoptive family and child. They want to promote the healthful development and growth of their child. They usually have an interest in knowing that their child is doing well over the years. Adoptive families provide photos and letters for the birthparents at a frequency agreed upon between the birth and adoptive parents. Birthparents feel love for their child, but this is not the same thing as having a wish to reclaim.
There is a lot for birthparents to do in making a voluntary adoption plan. Birthparents who make a voluntary, well thought-out plan are in a different emotional state than birthparents whose children may have been removed involuntarily by the state.
We have observed over 60% of the birthmothers who’ve made adoption plans with Full Circle families are already mothers. They are very loving and appropriate mothers. They know about bonding and often want to send the adoptive family ultrasound pictures so that they can share the excitement of the impending birth. It is hard to imagine the courageous process whereby a woman and man separate emotionally from a child for the sake of what they feel is best for the child, for themselves and perhaps for their other children. They may feel overwhelmed with their other responsibilities and grateful to you for caring for and loving their child. The birthparents love the child but this love for the child’s well-being means that they want the child to do well with the adoptive family.
There is often a legal risk period, but honesty and good counseling are the best protections against disappointments during this period.
Most prospective adoptive families have heard a story from a friend or through the media suggesting that domestic infant adoption is unsafe. It is frustrating for those of us who practice domestic adoption because, from our perspective, the media has given very disproportionate attention to a few national cases that have been, arguably, handled improperly. If domestic adoption was as unsafe as the media has suggested in some of these stories, we adoption professionals would not find our work as satisfying nor feel drawn to spend our lives helping families grow through domestic adoption.
The other related area of safety has to do with “changes of heart”. Each of the states has a different set of procedures by which birthparents may make an adoption plan. The general protocol is that some period of time after the child’s birth (e.g. in Massachusetts, this period is four calendar days), the birthparents can complete paperwork by which they make an adoption plan for the child. In some states, this paperwork is final and “irrevocable” upon signing (e.g. Massachusetts, Florida). In other states, there is a “revocation” period; for example, in several states, the surrenders can be signed approximately 72 hrs. after birth and then there is a ten day revocation period during which time the birthparents can change their mind.
Newborns are generally discharged from the hospital sooner than the time when birthparents may sign adoption paperwork. In almost all cases the adoptive parents care for the child from the moment of discharge from the hospital. Most birthparents are vigorous in their request that professionals avoid foster care, even when foster care is offered by a loving and well-established private family. As a result, most adoptive parents are asked by the birthmother to take a legal risk placement for those few days between the baby’s discharge from the hospital and the day when the signatures on the adoption papers are considered final and irrevocable.
In the vast majority of cases, this legal risk time period passes without event. Sometimes birth and adoptive families get together for a meal and to admire the baby. Sometimes each family is spending time alone adjusting to the birth and their feelings afterwards. There is the chance that birthparents will decide to parent during this time.
If a birthmother or father changes their mind, this can be sad and upsetting for the adoptive family. Sometimes, because the birth and adoptive families have come to know each other, the adoptive family, in those relatively rare instances where a “change of heart” occurs after birth, feels understanding and “at peace” with the birthparents’ change of heart because they know them. Most birthparents are already very good and loving parents. Most children placed in voluntary domestic placements will thrive whether in the arms of their birth or adoptive parents.
If there is a “change of heart” during the legal risk period, an adoptive family may understandably feel discouraged. That is one of the reasons it’s very important to work with a licensed agency that is comfortable helping birth and adoptive parents navigate both the procedural and emotional path of domestic adoption. The staff at Full Circle is always available to talk about the course of your adoption plan, whether things are going well, or whether there are bumps in the road or disappointments.
Are there disappointments short of a post-birth change of heart? How many “fall throughs” do families generally have before the match that results in a placement? It is not uncommon for a family to have several situations which seem promising in the moment, but which, on closer evaluation, are not right for them. The agency is very careful about evaluating potential adoptive matches, directly, and with the help of our allied colleagues in other states. We listen for important information regarding the mother/child’s health, presence/absence of drug/alcohol use, risk factors (social, medical, and legal) and other factors. As a result, you may decline one or more offered matches. You are not judged for this. We believe this is your life and you need to make choices that are right for you and your family. In the other direction, a birthmother may decide to parent shortly after reaching out to the agency. This can be disappointing but may not be overwhelming for the adoptive family since a short time is involved. While domestic adoption has “ups and downs”, the joy of the work is in witnessing the connections that result when adoptive and birth families persevere and have faith.
In the vast majority of cases, post-birth changes of heart do not occur. Birthparents are aware of adoptive families’ fears. They know you are worried until the procedural part is final. You are surprised to hear the birthmother taking care to reassure you of her steadfastness to the plan and how grateful she is to you for your loving her child. The hospital nursing staff refreshes you on aspects of newborn care and loads you up with formula as you leave the hospital for your hotel room. You and the birthmother stay in touch by phone and you reassure her about how the baby is doing. This is often a time when your heart has the difficult task of loving a child and holding back a little until the birthmother and birthfather’s paperwork is final. Usually while you’re diapering the baby, she’s on the phone talking about how she’s doing, sharing genuine reassurances that she’s firm about her plan and happy that the child is blessed with you as parents.
As you proceed in a domestic adoption match, our staff will share their expertise in evaluating the match with regard to a range of risk factors. The matches that seem to warrant the greatest confidence are those where there is a genuinely warm connection between the birth and adoptive families. There tends to be a shared sense of planning for the welfare of a child for whom everyone wants the best. Sometimes the conversation turns to names that everyone likes. The birthmother expresses her wishes as to whether she’d like you present in the delivery room. There is talk about when the first photos and letters might arrive. Our professionals can provide you with our best impression of how things are going. When they are going well, you often have a strong sense for yourself as well.
We see one of our primary functions as educating both birth and adoptive families about the range of options they have with regards to whether or not to have communication before and/or after placement and about some of the typical patterns.
Generally, we think it can be very helpful for children to know about their birthparents, and, where it is comfortable, for the children to have photos of them. Anything that helps reduce the mystery and that can help them have a firm sense of their full heritage and history usually contributes to developing a strong sense of self-esteem. We also honor that an adoption placement is a very emotional process. Birth and adoptive parents have a wide range of comfort levels with regard to meeting in-person and exchanging information. Some birthparents feel it may be too painful to meet with the family who will know the joys of raising their child. It may just fee too hard. We honor birth and adoptive family’s comfort levels and try to help you harmonize your needs with each other.
Birthparents vary in the degree to which they want to share information or meet. At the time of an adoption placement, they may feel less confident of themselves and feel awkward about what might be shared with a child. We respect birthparents’ wishes for privacy and also respond to their wishes for connection by finding families who feel responsive and open to the desired level of connection or wish for privacy.
The agency does not have a dogmatic “position” on openness. We see our role as one of educating birth and adoptive families about what is known about the various degrees of openness, and helping birth and adoptive families explore their own comfort level and wishes. The agency has cooperated with “closed” adoptions; these are usually closed at the request of the birthparents. Most birthparents, these days, wish to meet pre-placement and want to receive regular photo and letter updates to know how the child is doing or to have these saved at the agency in case they later wish to see them.
Many adoptions are “semi-open” – birth and adoptive families meet, know each other’s first names, but they may not exchange full names or addresses. In these cases, photos and letters and other communications generally flow through the agency following placement.
When adoption professionals speak of “open” adoptions, we think there are actually two types. There are adoptions that are “open in fact” and adoptions that are “open emotionally”. For example, birthparents in California and Nevada sign their adoption paperwork on a form that indicates clearly the names and addresses of the adoptive parents. Sometimes, regardless of the state of the birthparents’ residence, the birthparents express an interest in knowing the last name or address of the adoptive family and an interest in communicating directly following placement. The adoptive parents are informed of this ahead of time and certainly have the option to decline the match if this is not comfortable for them. In these cases, the birthparents have the reassurance of knowing where and with whom their child lives. This does not necessarily mean that the birth and adoptive families get together for Sunday brunch or have other in-person post-placement contact. We refer to these as adoptions that are “open in fact”, but which may not be open emotionally. We have noticed that birthparents who make a subsequent adoption plan speak proudly of the fact that their first child was placed with the first adoptive family who is described with their name. They may have only intermittent contact with the family but they feel proud to share that the first adoptive family trusted them enough to share their full names and address.
Some birth and adoptive families agree that they would like to create the possibility of an adoption plan that is more “open emotionally”. They may agree to spend some time together after the adoption is finalized. Most adoptive parents, at the beginning of their process, find this hard to imagine. And yet, often when they come to know the birthparents, they are grateful for the connection. I remember one adoptive mother commenting that, as her son sprouted his first tooth, she couldn’t wait to develop two sets of photos because she knew who else would be as excited as she was – the birthmother. When this feeling flows naturally and comfortably, it can be a wonderful part of the foundation for the child in years to come.
Yes. We follow the comfort level of birth and adoptive parents. In domestic adoption, we do find that birthmothers (and sometimes fathers as well) increasingly want to meet pre-birth. This is something to anticipate regardless of which agency or adoption professional with whom you choose to work.
Birth and adoptive families can agree to an adoption plan that meets their needs with respect to post-placement communication, if they wish this. All families are expected to share photo and letter updates, through the agency, post birth. Some birth and adoptive families agree to more than this or to communicate directly with each other. The agency’s role is to help the families achieve a plan that feels comfortable for them.
If you would like to pursue domestic adoption with Full Circle, what would your first steps be?
1. Schedule an orientation through our website calendar. After the orientation and all your questions are answered, you may make an application for services to the agency. You would review and sign acknowledgement of the agency’s policies. You can request our full adoption services or just the services you desire e.g. a homestudy.
2. Request a homestudy from Full Circle or another licensed agency. If you have a homestudy from another agency, you would sign a release so that we can receive a copy of this homestudy and copies of the supporting documents.
3. The agency will give you information on our suggested path to preparing a “Dear Birthmother” letter or profile. The profile will be in both electronic and hard copy formats. Your profile is posted on our website.
4. The agency then will share expectant parent referrals with you as they are available. The agency provides assistance with the clinical, medical, legal, fiscal and other aspects of a domestic adoption plan.
5. You will be matched with an expectant parent situation usually within 2 years, sometimes much sooner.
Group orientations are offered over Zoom, and families can register by finding an available date on our Events page.