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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

Betsy & Tommy’s Double Adoption Story

FamilyAdoptedTwoChildrenFrom adoptive parents Tommy & Betsy…

April is a special month for our family! My husband proposed to me in April 1994, we were married in April 1995 and built our home in April 1996! We signed up with A Child’s Hope adoption agency in Raleigh, NC in Sept 2003 and told them we would bring home a child in April. And on April 28 our son, Freddy was born! We brought him home on May 7 the Friday before Mother’s Day, how appropriate!

We knew the Lord had other plans for us! I was working for SAS in the Research Triangle Park at the time and attended an Adoption Fair where we met adoption attorney Parker Herring! What a Blessing! We were happy! We knew Freddy needed a brother! So in 2009, we signed up again! We brought Christian home on July 5, 2011! Our boys have been best brothers and friends ever since! The staff at A Child’s Hope is so friendly and put our minds at ease!

image / flickr

Shannon’s Adoption Story

shannon birth mother adoption story raleigh ncOur waiting time was two years, from the time we signed with A Child’s Hope, until our precious baby boy was placed in our arms from his loving birth mother!

We knew from the beginning that we would have a longer waiting time since we already had a child at home. All the praying and wondering when we would get that phone call that a birth mother had chosen us came on my birthday! We met her two days later for lunch with our adoption counselor, and immediately hit it off. I remember being so nervous and wondering if she would even like me. Here she was meeting the family that was going to raise her son. What if we weren’t what she wanted? How devastating that would be to me. As we were getting to know one another she asked us if we had picked out a name, the very same name that we picked out was the name she had chosen for him earlier on in her pregnancy! We felt that it was meant to be.

Two weeks later from that very first phone call, our son was born. On Valentine’s Day, we were on our way to visit with “L” and meet our little boy. I will never forget the moment when she took us to meet him. A beautiful 6lbs 8oz, blonde hair, blue eyed, precious baby boy. I remember the tears streaming down my face and the joy that I felt, she was making my heart whole. I knew what she was facing and she was entrusting us to take care of him, love him, and to give Jaxon the best life possible.

Jaxon’s birth mother and I now have a bond that’s unbreakable, and I have so much love for her. We have an open adoption with Jaxon’s birth family, he has two families that love and adore him. We see them on a regular basis, and it’s important to me that he gets to have that bond with them as well. We love them, they are our family too!

We did hit some roadblocks during Jaxon’s adoption, and I will tell you that as fearful as I was, I knew that A Child’s Hope in Raleigh was going to do everything to ease my mind. Jaxon’s birth father came into the picture much later during the process. I can remember the fear and the heartbreak that I was feeling wondering what was going to happen next.

The staff at A Child’s Hope eased my fears and told me they would be there with us every step of the way. It was the reason we went with ACH to begin with, they were always in contact with us letting us know what was going on. Our adoption counselor and the staff at A Child’s Hope made the process for us worth it. So yes, the wait was worth it all! I tell people all the time that I would have waited forever for my sweet Jaxon, he was worth every second that we waited. He brings so much joy to our lives! I will forever be thankful to A Child’s Hope because not only were we able to grow our family through adoption, but I feel like we also gained family, from Jaxon’s birth family, and from the staff at A Child’s Hope.

– Adoptive Mother, Shannon

Samantha’s Adoption Story

By Samantha Anderson…

It’s 3 o’clock in the morning on October 20th. We jumped in the car as fast as we could after missing calls from both our birthmother and our adoption counselor. I’m aggressively asking Danny (my husband) why he can’t drive any faster and how he can be so sleepy. I’m also questioning why we agreed to match with a birthmom who lived 3.5 hours away, because at this point I’m irrational … but in my defense, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning.

All along the way, we’re getting updates on the progress of her labor, the labor that was progressing extremely fast. She was trying, as much as any woman in labor can, to wait for us to be there. Something that to this day makes me want to cry.

But somehow, we made it … just in time.

Despite any of my doubts and irrational thoughts along the way, this was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives. Not just the delivery, but the whole journey.

I always describe it as a roller coaster because there were some real highs and some real lows. But Hezekiah was always meant to be our son. We knew it the second we saw him- the second we held him.

I’m speaking from experience because we have been through this journey also without the help of an agency, and the experience was the complete opposite. Everyone from A Child’s Hope was there with us every step of the way, and no one ever made us feel like an inconvenience. We texted, called and emailed — they were always willing and happy to answer our questions.

ACH only has around 15 waiting families at one time. That’s one of the main reason we chose them. When I was doing my research in adoption agencies early on, one thing I really looked at was placement numbers and wait time. I had a nice little spreadsheet comparing them all. It didn’t turn out to mean anything. The large agencies have amazing numbers on paper but what I learned from friend’s experiences was that you can get lost in the shuffle and lose that care that you need as a waiting family.

The other big factor for us was A Child’s Hope practice with adoption counselors. It was so assuring to us to know that someone was taking care of our birthmother in a way that we wouldn’t be able to leading up to the birth of our son. Now, we have grown very close and participate in a very open adoption — that is the best choice for our family.

Without ACH and all the work that was done preparing for this placement for our family, we wouldn’t have Kai.

Modernization Comes to Interstate Adoptions & Interstate Compact

Modernization Comes to Interstate Adoptions & Interstate Compact in North Carolina

This article by Bobby D Mills was originally posted at our partner website, Herring & Mills Family Law Firm

Adoptive families used to dread the waiting associated with satisfying the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). 

As the Act states: “the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) was established in 1960 to provide a uniform legal framework for the placement of children across State lines in foster and adoptive homes;”

The ICPC applies to adoptions which involve a child to crossing state lines. If a child is born in State A (the Sending State) and is to be adopted by parents in State B (the Receiving State), then the ICPC applies to the adoption. In those cases in which the Compact applies, the laws of both states must be satisfied before the child can leave State A and travel into State B.  

Prospective adoptive parents often found themselves waiting in a hotel with an infant while administrative agencies in two states reviewed their paperwork before deciding whether to grant the family approval to travel back home. Unfortunately, the system has not been uniform and many states continued to process the paperwork much the same way that it was done in the 1960s.  

The National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE) was launched in August 2014 in Indiana, Nevada, Florida, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia “to improve the administrative process by which children are placed with families across State lines;”

On February 3, 2016, Representative Young of Indiana introduced the a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives which would “require States to adopt a centralized electronic system to help expedite the placement of children in foster care or guardianship, or for adoption, across State lines, and to provide grants to aid States in developing such a system, and for other purposes.”

The Act is called ‘‘Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act.’’ Beginning in 2017, it allocates $5,000,000 for grants to states to develop processes “to facilitate the development of a centralized electronic system for the exchange of data and documents to expedite the placements of children in foster, guardianship, or adoptive homes across State lines.”

Birth Certificates and Adoption

You have done a lot of work to be recognized as your child’s “legal parents”  — a homestudy, post placement visits, matching with a birthmother, placement and then filing an adoption petition etc. The last step before you can apply for a social security card for your child is to obtain a birth certificate with the child’s formal name and your names listed as the parents. Let’s look at the formal process for obtaining a birth certificate and why it’s important.

In domestic adoptions, once your decree of adoption is entered by the court, then the Department of Vital Records in the state where your child was or will be born is directed to create a new birth certificate. In adoptions, the original birth certificate given at the hospital — often referred to as the “mother’s copy of the birth certificate” will be sealed. The new birth certificate will list you as the parents and use the name you have chosen for the baby. Unless you have an open adoption, you will not receive the mother’s copy of the birth certificate.

If your baby was born in North Carolina, it will normally take four to six months  for a new birth certificate to be prepared. You will need to get the birth certificate from the Department of Vital Records. Their contact information is 919-733-3000, extension 5886. The address is: N.C. Vital Records, Special Registration Unit, 1903 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-1903. As of 2016, there is a $24 fee for the first copy of the birth certificate and then an additional $15 for each additional copy requested on the initial application. There is also a one time $15 processing fee.

We recommend that you request three certified copies of your child’s birth certificate and keep the certificates in different safe places. You can request additional copies over time, but it is easiest to get multiple copies when you originally request them. Since many adoptees want information about their birth parents, we suggest that you store the birthmother’s copy of the birth certificate in the same location as the new formal birth certificate. We also recommend that if you are going to actually pick up your birth certificate that you call and make an appointment.

If your child was born out of state, then the North Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) will prepare a package to send to the state where the child was born to prepare a new birth certificate, listing you as the child’s parents. We recommend waiting several months and then calling the Department of Vital Records in the state where the child was born and check to see if they have received the package from North Carolina. The cost for the out of state birth certificate will depend on that state.

This article was originally posted at our sister website, Herring & Mills Family Law Firm.

Adopting & Raising a Child with Special Needs – Things to Know

There are many adoptive parents who have taken on the loving and demanding job of adopting and raising a child with special needs. In my mind, these parents are as special as the children they adopt.

What I hear frequently from adoptive parents who are offered the opportunity to adopt a child born with special needs is that if they had given birth to the child then they wouldn’t hesitate to jump right in, even though they know it’s going to be demanding. And even as adoptive parents, they think of the child as their own almost from the start and they become fierce advocates. For many, it’s a lifetime commitment.

One of my favorite memories as an adoption agency director is seeing a three year old named Matthew laughing at a local mall as he tried to run away from his parents, Jack and Peggy. His parents smiled broadly. They were so proud. He was a beautiful toddler, with black curls and a smile that was big and open. And he didn’t walk, he ran.

“And this is the child that we were told might never walk,” Peggy said. “And look at him now. We have to run to keep up.”

The family added another son by adoption, Michael, a few years later. Now the brothers are best friends. Michael was born with a life threatening physical condition called esophageal fistula. He was airlifted shortly after birth to a major medical center. Jack and Peggy were with him while he had seven operations, first to connect his esophagus to his stomach and then later to remove a finger that didn’t function and construct a thumb from his index finger. He still has challenges swallowing and has had four procedures in the last two years.

Jack and Peggy’s time and heart commitment has been enormous. But Michael is now thirteen years old and doing well!

“You have to take on what you feel you can handle,” Peggy said recently. “We feel blessed. “

Surrogacy Adoption and Twins

It’s always a very special holiday season for any family when there is a newborn in the house. But when there are two newborns as twins, and the twins were carried by a surrogate who is their aunt, well as you might expect there is even more magic and excitement in the air.

When 34-year-old Tiffany and her husband Will were not able to carry a second pregnancy to term, they consulted with the fertility specialists at Carolina Conceptions in Raleigh. Tiffany and Will have a six-year-old biological daughter, but they wanted a sibling for her and Tiffany was not able to conceive a second child. It was decided that the best way for Tiffany and Will to add to their family was through the surrogacy adoption process.

And what better surrogate than Tiffany’s own sister, Jennifer, who is 36 and lives only about one mile from Will and Tiffany. Jennifer volunteered to carry a child for her sister. The result was a twin pregnancy and a birth on November 18 of two healthy babies – a boy Liam and a girl Lee.

The pregnancy was high risk and Jennifer suffered through kidney stones, but all turned out well. The twins arrival was a bit more dramatic than hoped for when Jennifer had an emergency labor and had to go to a local emergency room due to some complications, but, the twins are healthy and Jennifer has recovered from the difficult pregnancy.

All has turned out well. It’s obvious when you see these two sisters together that there is a lot of love. Little Liam and Lee have a special aunt who helped her sister with the dream of having more children.

This article was originally posted at HerringandMillsLawfirm.com. E. Parker Herring is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist and has practiced family law for nearly 30 years.

Birthmothers and the Best Gift of All

A birthmother placing a newborn baby into the intended adoptive parents arms for the first time is an emotional moment any time of year. But when a newborn is placed for adoption at Christmas, emotions can easily run much higher.   

Last Sunday, I watched as a young woman with an unplanned pregnancy have her baby’s adoptive parents visit her in the hospital to meet the baby. She wanted them to share in the moment. She had delivered him three days before and she cuddled the baby on her chest and watched as she handed the baby over to the new adoptive mom to be. She said how much she loved him.

Everyone in the hospital room tried to hold their emotions in check. North Carolina law allows birth parents seven (7) days to revoke her consent. Even though the birth mother in this hospital room had signed relinquishments the day before, all were mindful that despite all her best intentions that she could change her mind and the baby they were holding would not be theirs to raise.

The birth mother admitted that she was feeling very emotional, but she knew that she was giving the Best Gift of All to a young couple who had struggled for years with infertility and waited with an adoption agency for a child to love and call their own. And she smiled when their eyes filled with tears as they held him.

Birthmother Hotline: (877) 890-4673

Envia Un Texto: (919) 218-6270

Text: Pregnant to (919) 971-4396