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Despite rocky road, Durham woman celebrates first Mother’s Day


— A Durham woman, whose road to motherhood was paved with speed bumps at every turn, celebrated her first Mother’s Day Sunday.2

Exactly one month ago, Rhiannon and her husband brought home a precious baby girl. Rhiannon said a meeting at church is what opened her up to the idea of adoption.

The couple started the adoptions process but two years in, they hit a major bump. The agency they were with abruptly closed, putting the couple back at square one.

“The day I got that email it was like someone punched in my the stomach. I couldn’t breathe,” Rhiannon said.

But thanks in part to Facebook, and some other families who were facing similar circumstances, Rhiannon was able to connect with Parker Herring at A Child’s Hope.

“It was very abrupt and the families were very distraught, so we reached out and we offered for the families to come out and talk about it,” Herring said.

Read more on wral.com

Birthmothers Can Show Love to Their Child Placed for Adoption

Parker Herring, is a Board-Certified Family Law Attorney and Director of the NC-based adoption agency, A Child’s Hope. In this blog, she discusses the most frequent asked question she gets from birthmothers. Plus, shares many of her firsthand experiences as she’s adopted two children of her own.

parker-herring-raleigh-adoption-lawyer-attorneyOne of the questions I often hear from birthmothers is:

“How can I let my child know how much I love him/her?”

I explain that although she will not be there physically to do the daily tasks that let a child know he/she is loved, there is a lot that can be done before and after the placement to help the child understand the difficult act of choosing adoption. Remember, a child can never have too many people loving him/her. These eight ideas are written as suggestions for birthmothers, but of course, birthfathers can follow the same protocol.

Letters — Write a letter to your child for the adoptive parents to read later. What is most important is that this letter be in your own words and from your heart. Explain why you made this decision, how much you love him/her and how he/she will always be in your heart. My middle son’s birthmother wrote a nicely worded letter on lined paper with a pen. It’s simple and beautiful.

Lifebooks — Consider doing a photo book. Known as a lifebook, these scrapbooks can include photographs of you, your family, and even the birthfather. Over time the child can get to know you. For some ideas on photo books, Amazon has a nice selection.  

Make Something for the Child — Making a blanket or giving a stuffed animal to the adoptive family to give to the child is special. The child can keep it, it’s tangible and something you have gifted. If you are okay with parting with a stuffed animal or toy that you had as a child, this can make the gift even more meaningful.

Books About Adoption — Purchase a children’s book about adoption and inscribe inside a message from your heart. Maybe something like: “Never forget how much I love you!” For a list of children’s books, visit amazon and your local library.

Send Clothes and Toys.  Ask the adoptive parents to let you know about sizes for clothes and favorite toys to send to your child. Even something small, but sent on a regular basis honoring an important day or event, will let the child know that they continued to be loved.

Naming the Child — If you are in contact with the adoptive parents, ask them to work with you on choosing a name for the child that either has part of your name, or a name you chose for the baby. Ask the adoptive parents to share with the child how he/she got their name. Names are a sensitive subject. If you are uncomfortable bringing up the suggestion of being involved in the name process, consider asking a counselor for help. If you don’t have a counselor, email or ask the question in a note to the adoptive parents. My oldest son’s birthmother chose a name for him, but never told us. I didn’t know until after the mother’s birth certificate arrived. I’ve told him the name she chose, and he cherishes it. If I’d known of her choice, I would have honored it by using at least one of the names.

Stay in touch. Both with open and semi-open adoptions (hot link to web pages), you can send letters and pictures over the years. Birthday cards, Valentine’s cards, all holidays. Send in advance so the child receives on his/her holiday celebration. Your pictures can show the child how you are doing. I saw one birthmother hold up a sign in a photograph with the lettering “Forever in my Heart”. You can also set up SnapFish, Shutterfly or Flickr accounts to share pictures.

Visits – It is important to always follow through with plans to stay in touch. If you had agreed on visits, follow through. At the visit remember that your emotions may be difficult for the child to understand, so do your best to put the child’s needs first. It’s always good to give a small gift – whether it be a card, coloring book or some other small token. Physically demonstrate your affection for the child at the visit, but take cues from the child. You do not want to make the child feel uncomfortable. If there has been a long time between visits, it may take your child awhile to warm up. Don’t insist that the child call you “mom” – use your first name.

There are many ways show the child that you love and care for him/her as they grow. Determining which will be best for you, the child and the adoptive family is a partnership and should be planned for, as much as possible, before the adoption. Holding open and honest conversations with the adoption agency counselor and the adoptive parents will go a long way in providing you comfort that the child knows how loved they are, as well as providing the child the knowledge of who the birthparents are, where they come from and, most importantly, that they are loved dearly.

A mother of three children, E. Parker Herring has a deep respect and understanding of family law and the adoption process (for which she’s adopted two children of her own). She is the founder and director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency located in Raleigh that focuses on helping birthmothers and families looking to adopt. A Child’s Hope has placed 332 children since 2000, and is the only North Carolina domestic adoption agency directed by an attorney. Herring is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist who has practiced family law for nearly 30 years in the Raleigh area. She’s a member of the NC Bar Association, the Wake County Bar Association, and the NC Collaborative Lawyers.

Three Sisters, Three Different Birthmothers, One Happy Family

Over the years, Beth and husband Steve have stayed in touch with A Child’s Hope through Christmas parties, picnics and other functions. Not a day goes by that Beth doesn’t think of A Child’s Hope in some way as she and Steve raise their family, thanking God for the gift of their three girls.

Beth and Steve’s first daughter came in a whirlwind. In March of 2000, a birthmother called the agency and asked: “Can Beth and Steve come to the hospital and pick up the baby?”

You see, this young woman had not met with an agency counselor. She had not contacted the agency. She had plans to do so, but never did. However, she had gone to the website, read the Waiting Families section with profiles of those looking to adopt. Like so much in life, the unexpected happened, the baby came early.

There were legal matters to be resolved, but the director of A Child’s Hope, E. Parker Herring, located Beth and Steve and asked if they would be interested in taking home a baby that day.

“We were very nervous as it was our first child, and we had only waited a few months,” says Beth.

After Beth and Steve met at the hospital with the birthmother and A Child’s Hope counselor they agreed to become the newborn’s family. Her name was Alexis. She was one of the first adoption placements by A Child’s Hope. “It was so reassuring to know that A Child’s Hope was working on the birthmother’s behalf, as well as ours,” says Steve. “We were so impressed with the people there; the social workers, Parker, Bobby, everyone.”

About two years later, Beth and Steve signed with A Child’s Hope to adopt a second child. This time the adoption was a little more typical. Beth and Steve were matched with a birthmother during pregnancy and Meghan (again named by Beth and Steve) was placed with them a year later.

“By the time we adopted our second daughter we felt a little more confident in what we were doing,” says Beth. “The three of us went to the office and picked her up with big sister, Alexis, leading the way. It was so nice to see our oldest so happy to have a little sister.”

In 2005, this young and vibrant family was ready to welcome home a third child. Thirteen months later they became a family of five. Savannah came home in October of 2006.

“When A Child’s Hope called about our third little girl, we knew our family was complete,” says Steve. “We were driving home from the children’s museum when the social worker called to tell us we had been selected by the birthmother. For the second time, we a went as a family to A Child’s Hope and our daughters met their new little sister.”

“We will always be eternally grateful to the three birthmothers who so unselfishly placed their children for adoption,” says Beth. “These girls have no biology connecting them, but they are sisters in every sense of the word.”

So today, through adoption the Gracey family includes a 17, 15 and 11-year-old, and they wouldn’t change a thing. Beth and Steve still remember each time they learned that a birthmother selected them, and the joy they felt in building a family. Beth explains, “The reason we were able to be the family we are is due to the caring, genuine and knowledgeable team at A Child’s Hope, and the birthmothers they so compassionately work with.”
A mother of three children, E. Parker Herring has a deep respect and understanding of family law and the adoption process (for which she’s adopted two children of her own). She is the founder and director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency located in Raleigh that focuses on helping birthmothers and families looking to adopt. A Child’s Hope has placed 332 children since 2000, and is the only North Carolina domestic adoption agency directed by an attorney. Herring is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist who has practiced family law for nearly 30 years in the Raleigh area. She’s a member of the N.C. Bar Association, the Wake County Bar Association, and the NC Collaborative Lawyers.

Placement Day

Two little boys were in our office this week for adoption legal work reminded me of the drama series This Is Us that premiered on NBC last fall. If you haven’t caught it, it’s about the family connections of several people who share the same birthday and the ways in which they are similar and different. Two baby boys wearing matching clothing

These brothers – Jacob and Jackson – are exactly three months apart and now share a nursery as brothers. Jackson was born to Andrea and Stephen in November 2016. They had been waiting to be matched with a birthmother when Andrea became pregnant, yet these parents remained committed to building their family through adoption.

Earlier this week, Jacob’s biological mother joined the new parents to share in the joy of celebrating this baby, along with her two older children, and her mother. Newborn Jacob was so laid back, he slept through the legal work. Both boys were sporting matching outfits with shirts that said “Little Brother” and “Big Brother.”

Adoption counselor Kelly Dunbar spent many hours counseling the birth mother and the adoptive parents through this placement. She was also present to see the boys come together as brothers – a truly special day.

Love does not know what color it is. That’s our real life This is Us.

What Happens When An Adoption Agency Closes?

Independent Adoption Center (IAC) abruptly closed its doors on January 31, 2017 and notified adoptive families via email. IAC had been helping families adopt for 34 years and their closing was a shock to the adoption community.

The Agency was licensed in eight states – North Carolina, New York, Texas, Connecticut, Florida, California, Georgia and Indiana; and adoptive families were reeling from the abrupt announcement this week. The good news for these families is that they already have a head start on the adoption process! Each family that was waiting with IAC has a homestudy, profile, website and have been educated on the process.

Our hope is that these families will regroup quickly and reach out to other agencies and utilize resources to complete their adoption journey. The adoption tax credit should help those whose incomes are not over $201,920 recoup some of their losses.

A Child’s Hope of North Carolina, LLC’s Adoption Attorney and Director E. Parker Herring is offering a free consultation with any families that were waiting with IAC in North Carolina. The Agency is actively recruiting adoptive families at this time. In addition, IAC families that would like to with A Child’s Hope will receive credit for their completed homestudy, profile and website. We can use their existing profile/website to activate them in a relatively short period of time to begin receiving opportunities.

“The adoption journey often has setbacks, but I encourage North Carolina IAC families to give our Agency a call to discuss their options.” – E. Parker Herring

US Military offers Federal Adoption Tax Credit for Military Families looking to Adopt

This article was originally published by Herring & Mills PLLC on www.herringandmillslawfirm.com

By taking advantage of the federal adoption tax credit, US Military benefits and employer advantages, thousands of American families are eligible and receive financial benefits each year for the cost associated with an adoption. Here’s a quick breakdown of those three methods:

Federal Adoption Tax Credit

The federal adoption tax credit (FATC) allows a monetary boost for adopting families whose gross annual income is not over $200,000. For those families which qualify, the federal tax credit provides up to $13,460.00. You can find more information on the FATC here. We’ve written about the federal adoption tax credit on this blog before.

“My wife Priscila and I have adopted twice through A Child’s Hope. Our two boys – one adopted in 2008 and the other in 2013 –  are priceless to us, but the Federal adoption tax credit helped make the fees and expenses affordable for us. We both work in research; I am a medical writer and my wife is a research scientist.”

— Bill Siesser

Employer / employee adoption benefits

Many employers across the country also provide the benefit of financial assistance once a child is placed in the adoptive home of its new parents. Check with your Human Resource department at your company to see what benefits or advantages there might be (if any) which your company provides.

This financial assistance from employers can take the form of a lump sum, or payment of certain fees related to an adoption or partial reimbursement to employees for expenses. Each company that offers financial assistance varies in what the payment is, but the nationwide average is around $4,000, with a range generally from $3,000 to $5000. The application process with businesses and employers tends to be relatively simple and easy.

Why do companies do it? Businesses justify these benefits as an investment in retaining their employees, and that the payment towards adoption increases worker loyalty to the business. They see it as a win-win, since training new employees is almost always more expensive than retaining current staff.

Some companies are now also offering family leave for adoption, which is a benefit that can lower the cost of your adoption if the leave is paid. (Here’s a list of America’s top adoption-friendly workplaces.)

US Military adoption benefits

The United States Military Service is an employer too, and servicemen and women in the armed forces are eligible in many cases to take advantage of adoption credits while serving. The military can be quite adoption friendly.

“The military provided us with $3,000 as financial assistance for our son Joe Joe’s adoption.Overall, the military has been extremely supportive of our adoptions.”

  • Devon Donahue, wife of a U.S. Army Officer

Lakeisha’s Adoptive Mother Story: “Meeting our son”

Something was different about this time, however the previous heartbreak caused us to keep our guard up. We met for our match meeting less than a week before our birth mother was scheduled for delivery. The excitement and anticipation was so high. We chose not to share the news with our family, especially our 6 year old son. He had been praying nightly for God to send him a sister (little did he know God was preparing him a brother)! Adoptive mother Lakeisha

Our birth mother was wonderful! She kept us informed and included us on what was going on from the time she went to the hospital, after delivery and even after leaving the hospital. I remember talking to her the day our son was born. The adoption counselor called and gave us to information about the baby and assured us he was healthy. The next voice I heard was that of our birth mother. She was eager to share the news with us personally and it was a relief to know that she still wanted us to be his Forever Family! 

Placement Day FINALLY came! My husband and I we able to spend some time with birth mother, getting to know each other and discovering commonalities. I still look at pictures and will treasure the moment when she handed me this precious little boy. A moment when he was held and loved by the two women that love him so much! 

– Adoptive Mother, Lakeisha (child placed in 2015)

image credit via flickr

A Child’s Hope Q&A Adoption Facts and Figures

a childs hope adoption families

Q: How Much Does Adopting Cost?

A: It Depends

There are three types of adoption – domestic newborn, domestic foster, and international adoption. Each adoption type has a different average cost. Domestic newborn adoption, when a child is adopted directly at birth, without entering foster care, costs an average of $38,063. Domestic foster adoption costs significantly less, averaging $2,811. International adoption averages $42,281 (source: Adoptive Families).

Adoptive Families provides a graphic that breaks down the costs of newborn adoptions via adoption agency, as seen below.

U.S. Newborn (Agency) – Average Cost Breakdown

Home study fee $2,345
Document preparation & authentication $802
Adoption agency application & program fees $16,920
Adoption consultant fees $2,853
Attorney fees $4,129
Advertising/networking $2,271
Birth family counseling $783
Birth mother expenses $4,353
Foster care $325
Travel expenses $1,940
Post-placement expenses $1,911
All other expenses $2,900
AVERAGE TOTAL* $41,532

The next graphic breaks down the costs newborn adoption through an attorney.

U.S. Newborn (Attorney) – Average Cost Breakdown

Home study fee $1,732
Document preparation & authentication $929
Adoption agency application & program fees $5,780
Adoption consultant fees $1,014
Attorney fees $13,342
Advertising/networking $1,616
Birth family counseling $621
Birth mother expenses $4,748
Foster care $105
Travel expenses $2,758
Post-placement expenses $781
All other expenses $1,168
AVERAGE TOTAL* $34,594

As can be seen, the average cost through an attorney is much lower than going through an adoption agency.

Q: How Long Will My Family Have To Wait To Adopt?

A: Usually A Range Between 12-24 Months

Though, fortunately for families and children alike, most adoptions take place within the first year. Only approximately 14.5% of adoptive families have to wait longer than two years for adoption.

63% of Agency adoptions take place within 2 years, while 68% of attorney sponsored adoptions took place within a 2-year window.

Q: What is A Child’s Hope?

A: A Child’s Hope Is . . .

. . . An adoption agency operated by a former defense attorney who is, herself, an adoptive parent. A Child’s Hope was founded with the intent of helping adoptive families save time and money throughout the adoption process, bringing families together with less stress and less financial strain.

A Child’s Hope focuses on helping North Carolina families adopt within the state. This helps limit fees and travel time and helps avoid complications between state governments.

Q: What Do A Child’s Hope’s Numbers Look Like?

A: 13 Families Helped in 2015, 12 of those 13 placed within 12 months.

The average cost of adoption paid by the 13 families aided in 2015 is $35,000. This falls right on the line of the national average of attorney sponsored adoptions. With lower travel expenses and proximity allowing families to have a better understanding of the needs of the birth mother, there is much less stress or guesswork involved in the services provided by A Child’s Hope.

Since 2000, 316 families have already grown, thanks to A Child’s Hope. If you or your family is considering adopting, or if you just have questions about the adoption process, please feel free to contact A Child’s Hope here on our website/contact page or by phone at (877) 890-4673. 

Why would a Shark Divorce Attorney Start an adoption agency?

This article was originally published on our sister website, Herring & Mills Family Law Firm in Raleigh

parker herring attorney raleigh family lawPeople often ask me why I – once an aggressive divorce attorney – founded an adoption agency. I was Board certified in Family law and could fight it out with the best of them. The simple answer is that A Child’s Hope was born because I got mad, got scared and fell in love with a little boy born in New Mexico. My personal experience of the difficulties in bringing a family together through adoption shook my value system and gave me the courage to act as an advocate for other children and parents who want to adopt.

I Got Mad

. . . about how expensive, difficult and stressful the adoption process was when I travelled to New Mexico 18  years ago in order to adopt my son.  Now, I am no saint, and anyone who has borne the brunt of my temper knows the aftermath is not always pleasant. But in this case, thankfully, my anger was driven by compassion, and I was able to use that energy constructively. I believe that can be seen in A Child’s Hope’s ability to match 316 children to families over the last 16 years in North Carolina. With few exceptions, our families are matched with North Carolina birth mothers and the adoptions are in state. And when the birth father is identified, as much as possible the birth father issues are sorted out ahead of the baby’s birth.

I Got Scared

I remember feeling very scared once we started caring for my son-to-be in a hotel in New Mexico.  I was scared that the situation wasn’t going to work out – there were complex paternity issues,  and he had health issues because he was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. The doctors wanted us to leave him there in Albuquerque for treatment and he was losing weight really fast. We had to go to the pediatrician daily to weigh him and we had to  wait two weeks in a hotel to get approval to bring him back to North Carolina. I was scared I would lose a son I never had, and I was scared for his sake, for all that he was going through and for all that he would have to go through.

I Fell In Love

parker herring adoption agency open. . . with this sweet little baby boy with brownish-blonde hair and slate colored eyes  swaddled and lying on his side in a Catholic hospital in Albuquerque.

He was struggling to breathe and the nurses wouldn’t let me pick him up because he had been crying since he was born, the night before. When I tell my son this story he laughs and says, “I guess I was crying, someone must have showed me a mirror.” Another reason I love my son? His sense of humor. You see, my son knows that when he was born there was a gaping hole where his nose should be and a large bulbous growth sticking out. I won’t tell you that his dad and I weren’t scared for him but when we saw him that night, we saw  a little boy who had found his home with us and we fell in love with him.

Home Sweet HomeEPH Photo 1 - parker - resized

Once we got back home to North Carolina I again became angry, because our family had to deal with more complications within the adoption process. I was shocked to learn when we added it up that the legal, agency and medical costs as well as our costs for travelling and staying in New Mexico   totaled $35,000 in 1998 (or about $51,000 today). One of my goals has been to help families adopting to keep the costs lo and stress down by adopting within the state. Families adopting through  A Child’s Hope now spend an average of $35,000 18 years later from when I adopted my son — huge savings for any family.

Worthwhile, If Not Easy

Adoption for our family was complicated, stressful and very expensive.  I still wake up several times a year from the nightmares and my jaw aching from the clenching of teeth over the stress. It took us three years to pay off the adoption costs and quite some time to sort out the birth father and American Indian issues.  

So why did an aggressive divorce attorney create an adoption agency? Because adopting my son changed my life. As a family we sometimes get angry at each other, sometimes don’t talk and sometimes don’t see each other, but the love is always there. And I want other sons and daughters and their parents to have the opportunity that we did, and I want to make it easier for them than it was for us.

Choosing Adoption: Patrice’s Birth Mother Story of Open Adoption

I was single, expecting twins, and my due date was near. I chose adoption because I wanted my babies to have both a mother and a father. I chose to make the adoption open because I want my babies to always know how much I love them and I always wanted to be able to see how they are doing.

birth mother adoption story raleigh agency

Birth Mother Patrice with twins and adoptive parents Heather & John.

I called A Child’s Hope and the staff person who answered the phone was very friendly. She sent an adoption counselor named Kelly to come out and meet me locally at my home. Kelly was wonderful to work with. She showed me profiles of families that would be interested in adopting and my children. I always say I fell in love with my family from the pictures in the profile! When you know, you know!

After meeting the adopting family, I knew that I had picked the right one. The mom was very nurturing and just fun to be around. They both made me feel equally comfortable with my decision. They were by my side every step of the way. They took me to doctor’s appointments and were with me when I had the ultrasound. They were even with me in the delivery room when I pushed two beautiful babies into this world in May, 2015.

I know in my heart that I have made a bond with the adoptive parents that will last forever. I know I made the right decision. Thank you A Child’s Hope for bringing together a great adoptive family for the twins!

– Birth Mother, Patrice

Birthmother Hotline: (877) 890-4673

Envia Un Texto: (919) 218-6270

Text: Pregnant to (919) 971-4396