Domestic Adoption Overview
The America World domestic program is currently closed to all applicants.
The choices involved in domestic adoption can be overwhelming to adoptive parents. You feel called to grow your family through adoption but may not know where to start. Our experienced staff can help you figure out the best route to adoption for your family. We work in counseling with pregnant women who are considering an adoption plan for their child. We offer a full-service program for parents to adopt newborn infants. We also offer home study, post-placement supervisory services, and other legally mandated services for domestic adoption through agencies in other states or through private adoption. The staff at America World is here to partner with you on your journey to God’s gift of a child by adoption.
Domestic Adoption at America World
The domestic program is a growing program at America World. We maintain a pool of approved adoptive families with whom we commit to working towards placement of an infant. As placements proceed, intake periodically opens to replenish the pool. Please keep checking the website to stay updated on the status of intake for new families for placement of an infant through America World. Initially, this program is centered in our Virginia office but may expand to other states as it grows. You are welcome to submit a free pre-application if you would like to know if we can work with you in your state at this time through our full-service program.
America World is committed to ministering to women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy who are not ready to be parents or who are unable to parent at this time in their lives and are considering making an adoption plan for their child. We offer the pregnant woman free counseling, assistance in accessing prenatal care, and case management services to help with other areas of stress in her life, such as housing and transportation. Christian families who desire to grow their family through adoption are an important partner in this ministry.
Openness in Adoption: What is an Open Adoption?
An important aspect of domestic adoption today centers around the issue of birth parent requests for greater openness in adoption. Understandably, this concept is often intimidating to adoptive parents and may seem on the surface to serve birth parent interests over those of adoptive parents and the child. As you learn more about the spirit of open adoption and the benefits to the adopted child, you will hopefully grow in your comfort level.
Many adoptive parents grew up at a time when adoptions were confidential with no contact between birthparents and adoptive parents. Little or no counseling was offered to birth parents nor was there much education provided for the adoptive parents about the unique issues involved in raising a child through adoption. There was not much understanding about the benefit to the child for extensive medical and social history from the birth parents. Adoptive parents and birth parents alike were advised to move on with their lives as if the adoption never occurred, denying the importance of the birth family connection in the life of the adopted child.
Since the early 80’s, there has been a gradual change in adoption practice. With greater acceptance in society of single parenting and greater availability of birth control and abortion services, fewer women chose adoption as a plan for their child. At the same time, a greater understanding evolved of the impact of the adoption decision upon the lives of the child, birth parents, and adoptive parents. The inclusion of the birth parents in the adoption process has been a positive change – the selection of an adoptive family, meeting the family and having the option of ongoing contact with the adoptive family to receive updates about the child’s growth and development. It is respectful of the birth parents’ choice to give birth to their child and make the decision they feel is in the child’s best interest. The child and adoptive parents benefit by having the ability to gain important medical and social background history, including important updates to the information, and validating the child’s connection to his or her birth family.
Our experience has shown that birth parents who select the adoptive families and meet with them prior to the baby’s birth are more at peace with their decision and less anxious as the delivery date approaches. They are able to visualize their child being cared for by an adoptive family that they enjoy and trust. Some birth mothers have talked about how much comfort they derive from reading the profile book of the adoptive parents they have chosen before they go to sleep at night, envisioning their child in the family photos, enjoying the activities with the family.
Decisions about an open adoption fall upon a continuum of choices that include any combination of a choice of families through non-identifying profiles, one or more meetings of the birthparents and adoptive parents, phone calls, involvement by the adoptive family in prenatal care, visits at the hospital, visits after placement, exchange of letters and pictures through the years with or without the agency as an intermediary, and full sharing of identifying information. As an agency, we have some minimum requirements of adoptive parents for openness that we believe ministers to the needs of birthparents, children, and adoptive parents. You can read about these requirements here. However, every placement is as unique as the individuals involved. Some birth parents are initially comfortable with less openness and that may or may not change over time. Adoptive parents have the choice to request more openness than America World requires or not to work with America World due to a lack of comfort with our requirements for openness.
The mandatory agency education process for adoptive parents includes further education about openness in adoption. If you would like additional information about open adoption to help you decide, we recommend these resources:
Online training course through Adoption Learning Partners: Open Adoption 101
Openness in Adoption, from the Child Welfare Information Gateway
Legal Risk: Birthparents Changing Their Mind
Legal risk in adoption placements refers to the time period in which a birth parent may change their mind about their adoption decision after they have signed permanent relinquishment papers. This time period varies greatly based upon state laws. Most birth parents do not want their child to enter temporary foster care, preferring that the baby go directly to the adoptive home upon discharge from the hospital. America World is conservative about legal risk and will consider such placements only when the risk appears to be minimal.
Domestic Adoption Process
Prospective adoptive parents complete an application and receive approval through the intake process to proceed to the home study phase. The home study has an educational component that includes attendance by both adoptive parents at an orientation meeting where issues such as preparation of a family profile, the matching process, openness in adoption, and direct hospital placements are discussed. Following orientation, the family is assigned a social worker to complete their home study. Once the family has an approved home study, they are guided in making a non-identifying family profile book and formally enter the approved pool of families to be considered for placement. Families have the option of composing a short, non-identifying profile to be placed on our website under Waiting Families for review by prospective birth parents.
When a pregnant woman decides upon an adoption plan for the child she is expecting, she is offered a choice of adoptive families from the approved pool. Most women ask to meet the adoptive family prior to the baby’s birth. The meeting is held at a neutral location with the social worker from America World present and no identifying information is exchanged. At that meeting, mutual decisions are made regarding further contact prior to birth.
Once the baby is born and the birth mother signs a permanent entrustment or relinquishment, the baby is discharged from the hospital to the care of America World. America World then places the child with the adoptive parents on a foster to adopt basis. Once parental rights are fully terminated, the adoptive parents sign an adoption placement agreement with America World and enter into the post-placement supervision phase. The length of time of the foster to adopt period varies greatly by state. In some states, there is no foster to adopt time period because the parental rights are terminated before the child is discharged from the hospital. In other states, the foster to adopt period could be one month or longer depending upon the parental rights termination laws. The post-placement supervision period is three visits to the adoptive home in a prescribed period of time, varying by state. After the supervision period, the adoptive family proceeds with the finalization of the adoption. Once the adoption is finalized, a revised birth certificate listing the adoptive parents’ names is established in the state's vital records. This completes the adoption process.
America World works closely with birth parents to assist them in accessing funding resources in the community for prenatal care and hospital delivery. Despite America World’s best efforts, occasionally a birth mother is not eligible for these resources and needs help to pay for her medical expenses. These expenses are passed on to the adoptive family. Families should prepare for this possibility when budgeting for their adoption expenses. Every effort will be made to inform you prior to having your profile shown to a birthmother where medical expenses are involved.
Be sure to visit our Financing Adoption page to learn how to reduce or eliminate your adoption expenses!