Yes. At first, you may feel you have more questions than answers. We can answer your questions. We don’t presume that you will ultimately choose adoption just because you ask questions and consider adoption information. We will listen, answer your questions and help you with the resources you need.
Full Circle is a full service, nonprofit, adoption agency able to provide everything from neutral information about parenting, pregnancy and adoption choices, options counseling, profiles of families to choose from (if you’re interested in adoption) and assistance with allowable living expenses. When considering an adoption plan, we focus on helping you figure out what matters most to you and what your most heartfelt concerns are for you and your child. We trust that you will make the best decision for you and your baby and do not presume to know what’s best for you.
Full Circle provides and arranges for adoption related services for birth parents throughout the country. It may be reassuring to know that we work with birthparents who are single or married, of any age, and welcome working with birthparents of all races, heritages and religions. We work carefully with the adoptive families to make sure that they are genuinely open to your child and, moreover, that the community and extended family are warm and welcoming so that the child’s experience is a positive one.
Adoptive families adopting transracially, for example, are expected to not only be genuinely enthusiastic about transracial adoption, but are also expected to have looked at whether the child’s experience in their extended family and community will be one that will nurture and develop a positive sense of identity. Full Circle doesn’t discriminate on the basis of age, religion, race/national origin, sexual orientation or family form. If you have any other questions about eligibility, please ask us, we’re happy to help.
One of the first steps is gathering information about each of your choices. A licensed agency can provide for all your needs – opportunities to choose an adoptive family, direct financial assistance, counseling/information, legal assistance as well as 24-hour availability.
An attorney can provide legal support and assist with the legal paperwork associated with adoption planning; they can refer you to a counselor with whom they may work closely, but can not provide clinical counseling services directly. A facilitator can only provide the matching with an adoptive family and must refer you to a licensed agency or attorney for assistance with counseling and legal advice.
Yes. If you choose to make an adoption plan, the agency can provide allowable living expenses which can include rent, food, utilities, transportation, uninsured medical costs, maternity clothing, some education costs and other expenses. Laws vary from state to state. We can inform you about which law would apply to your situation and the process for requesting help with living expenses.
Yes you do. This is your child and you make the decisions. You can choose the family in several different ways: You may review Dear Birthmother Letters (with photos) otherwise known as “profiles”. If you would like, we will provide you with a toll free number to use to speak with adoptive families who you want to consider.
If you’d like to meet them, in person, they can travel to your area or we can arrange transportation for you to meet the adoptive family closer to their area. We follow your comfort level. You can identify what matters to you most about an adoptive family. You can then choose who you feel is the right family for you and your child. If you want help coming up with questions that you might ask the family to see if they’re right for you, we’re happy to help you with this planning.
Full Circle screens all adoptive families carefully. All our adoptive families have a full assessment called a “homestudy evaluation” which is primarily an assessment of their lives and backgrounds. We get copies of their medical physicals, verification of their employment and stability, reference letters and a criminal records check. We check their home for safety as well. The homestudy evaluation includes a series of three to five meetings between a licensed social worker and the adoptive family, as well as any other children or adults living in the home. The family provides information concerning the stability of their relationship, their reasons for adopting (usually infertility), their child-rearing beliefs, and their financial stability among other subjects. Criminal records checks and a check of the “child abuse and neglect” registry are also a standard part of this assessment. Following placement of a child, the adoptive family has monthly contact for at least six months with a social worker to assure that adjustment is going well.
Families are required to attend seminars, conferences and other educational programs to further their understanding of adoption issues. We know that you want to place your child with a family who is loving, safe, stable and able to help your child grow up with a feeling of confidence and pride about being adopted. We do too.
Yes, if you want this. If you don’t want contact, we will respect your wishes. When you choose a family you feel is right for you, you can talk with them directly by phone or in person. You can also choose to meet them in your area or nearer to the adoptive family. We can help you to arrange these meetings or you can arrange this directly with the adoptive family. We would cover the costs of your transportation (and a minor child if needed). Regular correspondence through e-mail or regular mail is an additional option.
As with all aspects of adoption planning, we will follow your lead as to what you want. It’s important to mention that Massachusetts is one of the very few states where birthparents can ask for an enforceable court decree spelling out the agreement for post placement communication. You can have an extra measure of reassurance that any agreement reached with the adoptive parents about photos and letters or other communication will be honored.
Many adoptive parents want a less open adoption at the beginning. Over the months and years ahead, the adoptive family often longs for more information or for more connection than the birthparents are available for. The birthparents may have gone off in new directions in their lives. As a result, 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 be “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.
Full Circle works with birthparents and adoptive parents throughout the United States. We can connect you with adoption professionals who are ready to help you.
This can be a very uncomfortable situation for some birthmothers. We understand. During the adoption advising, we can help you to make an adoption plan that is safe and meets your needs.
At each step of the way, you have choices. Depending upon the policies of the hospital you’re delivering at, you can choose who will be with you before, during and after the birth of your child. You can say if you want others to be able to see the child and if so, when. If you’d prefer, you can choose to be on a different floor from the maternity unit or you can be on the maternity floor. You can ask that the nurses and hospital staff treat you with particular care and sensitivity.
It is your decision whether you hold your child and how much care you provide to the child while in the hospital. Some birthmothers would like the adoptive family at the hospital and some would rather see them later. Whatever you want is the direction we would follow. If we know your preferences and if you feel it can be helpful, we can prepare the hospital staff ahead of time to be as sensitive as possible to your particular needs and requests while you are in the hospital.
Some birthparents have particular ideas about the name of the child. If you want, you can name the child on the birth certificate, regardless of whether or not you make an adoption plan. If you choose adoption, you may wish to select a name together with the adoptive family.
If you don’t decide together, the adoptive family may later change the legal name of the child when the child is formally adopted if they wish to. You don’t have to name the child if you would prefer not to. You may leave this to the adoptive family for a later time. As with many of these decisions, we encourage you to do what you want and your feelings may change during the course of your planning period. Feel free to talk about this with us and we will help you explore the issue.
Usually we help you with your adoption planning where you are living. Many of the women we help have other children who are in school. We try to help you where you are to minimize the disruption in your and your children’s lives. Some birthparents say they want to relocate for various personal reasons; we can help with this if this is what you are asking for. We can cover the costs of your transportation here and your accommodations here as well.
You are the one who decides. Usually, most birthmothers are eager for the child to go directly to the adoptive family and this is what happens. If you feel unsure about your decision and would like some neutral newborn baby care, this can be arranged. There are a few rare jurisdictions where some brief foster care is required (e.g. Wisconsin). You also have the right and option to have the child be cared for by you for any period of time. We want to know what your preference is and we help you create an adoption plan that matches your goals and interests.
Most mothers are eligible for health insurance. We are very experienced in determining what is available for you. We are very happy to help you obtain this. The agency can cover the costs of any health insurance premiums, deductibles or co-pays; if, for some reason, health insurance is not available, the agency can make arrangements to have the medical bills paid.
In general, legal rights as a parent are usually concluded according to the laws of the state where you reside. We can help you determine the laws and timing that would apply in your situation. There are exceptions though and we can answer the question best by talking with you about your particular situation. Timing can vary widely (e.g. 3 days to six months) depending upon the state laws that apply.
Yes, Full Circle encourages post-placement counseling. Your needs don’t end after you have placed a child for adoption. If you would like to have counseling after the placement, we will help you find someone who is right for you or you can continue to work with the social worker who helped you when you first started your adoption planning.
If you change your mind, you change your mind. Whether to continue a pregnancy, parent or place a child for adoption is a very personal decision. This is one of the reasons that most states have a period of time between the birth of the child and the time when your adoption planning (and the signing of adoption papers) is considered a legal commitment.
What will I feel afterwards? Will the child feel angry or disappointed with me? Many women have personal questions such as these. We encourage you to listen to your heart when considering these or other questions. Women feel a variety of feelings after a placement. Some feel “guilty” because they feel relief, relief from the sleep-deprived nights, the daily responsibilities of childcare and relief from financial strain. Others feel an aching sadness. Sometimes there are intense feelings immediately after placement which soften over time. Sometimes it takes months or years to put words to the feelings one has following the placement of a child. Some women find that it helps a LOT to be in touch with the adoptive family and to know how the child is doing. Photos, e-mail updates (with photos scanned in) and phone contact can be reassuring to you that the child is being well loved and will be raised to feel positively about adoption and about you. The short answer is that these are large questions that we will help you answer for yourself. While the outcomes may be similar (e.g. parenting or adoption), each woman’s path to their choice may have different reasoning and process. We can recommend readings that can help you learn more about what other women have experienced.
We caution you to note the publication year on what you read because women’s experiences in the “old” days of closed adoptions were possibly a lot more painful than now, where there is the opportunity to meet the adoptive family and stay in contact with them. We want you to feel that whatever decision you make is one you can live with and is a good decision for you and your child. We also want you to feel respected and well cared for before, during and after the adoption placement. If you would like to speak with a birthparent who is part of our birthparent “buddy” network (by phone, e-mail or in person), please let us know.
Yes, Full Circle has a birthparent buddy program by which you can be in touch with other birthparents by phone, e-mail, regular mail or in person. We know it can be helpful to talk with someone who either has been through adoption or who is currently going through the adoption process. We also have a monthly meeting time scheduled at The Birthparent Center for those birthparents who would like to be a part of a local discussion and support group. We can help with transportation and childcare to help you make these meetings. For those who do not live close by, we will gladly determine if there are support groups, buddy programs or similar opportunities in your immediate area.
There are a number of ways you can explore working with Full Circle on your adoption planning.
1. You can make a preliminary request for services
2. You can call us, toll free at 1-800-452-3678
3. You can write us by e-mail: Team@fullcircleadoptions.com
4. You can write us by regular mail: Full Circle Adoptions, 39 Main Street Northampton, MA 01060
We look forward to hearing from you!