See Tim, Rhiannon and Annaiise’s visit to the courthouse for the presentation of the final adoption decree.
See Tim, Rhiannon and Annaiise’s visit to the courthouse for the presentation of the final adoption decree.
By Parker Herring, Director
It’s not unusual for A Child’s Hope to field a call from a woman who is ready to adopt a child, but she states that her husband is “not quite there yet.” Furthermore, during many of the adoption consultations I have conducted, I have noticed that it’s commonplace for the wife to be way ahead of the husband on the adoption learning curve. This is of little surprise. As with most things in marriage, both partners are not always on the same page at the same time. The topic of adoption is no different.
FIRST, COMMUNICATE. In the adopt-a-child conversation, don’t force your husband to give you an immediate yes or no. It may take a while for him to understand the adoption process and overcome any reservations.
Begin by listening to his concerns. Don’t argue — listen and try to understand. He may be trying to process the loss of a dream to have a son that looks like him. Other common concerns expressed have been 1) a fear that you will not find a child and 2) a fear that he may not love an adopted child the same way that he would love a biological child.
Articulate back what you hear without judgment. For example, you may wish to frame a response in the form of a question, “To make sure I am hearing what you are trying to share, do you feel that if we adopt a child …?”
Don’t push for an immediate change of position or a move forward plan. Express appreciation for what he has shared and let the conversation sit. Your husband may never have put his thought and feelings about adoption into words. Now that he has, he can chew on them a little.
SECOND, EDUCATE. Work hard to show your spouse the positive outcomes when you adopt a child. Try to address concerns by recommending reading resources and inviting him to attend information sessions that agencies offer. Here are some resources to consider:
E-zine – Adoptive Families
Articles from Adoption.com:
Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae. This guide draws on the experiences of over 100 contributors to offer advice to all different types of families, ranging from those who have just adopted to those who have been raising adopted children for years.
Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents by Deborah D. Gray. Attaching in Adoption is a bestselling, comprehensive guide for prospective and actual adoptive parents on how to understand and care for their adopted child and promote healthy attachment.
Show him pictures or videos that others share on social media sites of their adopted children. You may even offer to help him make a list of his concerns, and aid in bringing them up visiting with friends and family members who have adopted.
THIRD, MAN TALK. Some men get quiet in formal settings, such as an agency consultation, especially if they are the only man in the room. It may be easier for your husband to discuss his concerns in a social setting with another man.
Use your network of friends and family to see if any fathers in your circle would be willing to make themselves available to talk to your husband about their experiences when choosing to adopt a child. The agency may also be able to assist by arranging a meeting with some adoptive parents, as couples or just the guys.
FINALLY, TIME. Choosing to adopt a child is a big decision. Everyone involved needs to be comfortable with the process and be on board. It may take a while. Adopting is a decision that will affect every aspect of your life, for the rest of your life. Taking time is okay.
As I mentioned earlier, many of the couples I have worked with were not always in harmony on the decision to adopt a child at first. However, when they come to the office with their child to sign the adoption documents, I have noticed that the men are as extremely proud, and equally excited as the spouse. It makes me smile sometimes thinking back to how unsure some of the fathers were at that first consultation.
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.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month was first declared by President Ronald Reagan on October 25, 1988.
On that day he said:
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep – nowilaymedowntosleep.org
NILMDTS offers the gift of healing, hope and honor to parents experiencing the death of a baby through the overwhelming power of remembrance portraits.
These priceless images serve as an important step in the healing recovery for bereaved families. NILMDTS remembrance photography validates the existence and presence of these precious babies by honoring their legacy.
Through further engagement in the organization, such as the NILMDTS Remembrance Walk and online support, families become a part of a compassionate and supportive community. Parents gain a sense of inclusiveness, alleviating the alienation and perception of being alone in their pregnancy or infant loss journey.
Additional Bereavement Resources
Starting Your Adoption Journey
If you, or someone you know, is considering adoption and would like to learn more, call A Child’s Hope at 919-839-8800, or Text PREGNANT TO 919-971-4396. You can also watch our placement day videos to hear recent adoptive parents share their stories adoption stories.
Pregnant? Not sure if you are able at this time to parent? If you are a birth mother and are looking to place your child in a loving home, contact our Birth Mother hotline to speak with an adoption counselor today at 877-890-4673 or Text PREGNANT TO 919-971-4396. To see placement day videos of A Child’s Hope families, click here. To see websites of our waiting families, click here.
For more information on the legal issues involved with adoption in North Carolina, visit parkerherringlawgroup.com.
North Carolina, as is the nation, is experiencing an opioid addiction epidemic. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) one infant every 25 minutes was born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in 2012, and the numbers are continuing to rise. NAS occurs when newborn babies experience withdrawal after being exposed to drugs in the womb.
Every new parent wants a child that is happy and healthy, but opioid addiction and other drug use by a birth mother during pregnancy is something that makes many adoptive parents wary, and with good reason. However, the fact is many birth mothers choose adoption because their life situation makes parenting a child impossible or difficult. Often, the life situation can be traced back to drugs and alcohol. In the case of opioids, sometimes the usage starts innocently enough with a doctor’s prescription for medications like Vicodin, Percocet, Hydrocodone, tramadol, and Zanax, and progresses to buying these drugs on the street and using harder drugs such as Heroin.
Regardless of the circumstance leading to opioid addiction, there is currently an increase in the number of unborn babies that have exposure to drugs or alcohol. Adoption by a caring family can make all of the difference in this precious child’s life and help them to thrive as they grow.
It’s a sign of the times that hospitals statewide have developed a drug-tittering protocol for weaning babies. In the case of a child that is going to be adopted, adoptive parents are encouraged to be in the hospital during the withdrawal period. Often a prescribed opiate such as Morphine is used to help the baby cope, with the amount prescribed being reduced over time. Adoption counselors with A Child’s Hope may also coordinate birth mother visits during the 7-day revocation period to help the baby by holding him or her.
Fortunately, the effects of opioid withdrawal pass within a matter of weeks and the babies seldom need long-term medication. At A Child’s Hope, we have had babies born testing positive for opioids who spend as little as four days in the hospital. The longest hospital stay with one of our babies has been 10 days.
Statistics indicate that it will take a total of six to eight weeks for all of the symptoms to disappear if a birth mother is on methadone for as little as one month before the delivery. Therefore, intervention as early as possible is essential to help the birth mother transition to medically prescribed opiod such as methadone, suboxone or naloxone. Then when the baby is born withdrawal will be easier and shorter.
To help identify potential drug use issues, our adoption counselors work closely with each birth mother. They ask about alcohol, drug and cigarette use in a nonjudgmental way that expresses our mutual interest in the health of her and the unborn child. In addition, criminal checks, Accurint checks and obtaining medical records can help reveal information that the birth mother may be too afraid or embarrassed to share. In short, we do a great deal to try to discover what, if any, substances a birth mother may be using during pregnancy. Then we try to help her and her baby in getting treatment.
Our policy is to do the best we can to get the birth mother into a substance abuse program. When appropriate, a regulated opioid, such as methadone, suboxone or naloxone, will be prescribed so that her cravings are controlled and the baby’s withdrawals will be more comfortable.
We connect waiting families who have concerns about adopting a NAS baby with some of our past placed parents who adopted babies who went through opioid withdrawal.
Three-year-old Jaxon is one NAS baby that is thriving now after being born testing positive for opiods. His mom, Shannon, talks about Jaxon’s care after birth:
“It’s hard to believe that its almost three years since Jaxon was born! Jaxon spent ten days in NICU, and I spent every waking minute with him. It was important for me to bond with him and for him to feel that love.
From day one, Jaxon was a happy, healthy baby boy who just loves life. I was never fearful of his drug exposure because I knew he had me in his corner fighting for him. I would get him any help that he needed. Jaxon was on morphine and then was switched to methadone. He spent nine months on methadone. So far we haven’t seen any long-term effects, there have been no developmental delays.
Jaxon is now 3 and so full of life; he always has a smile on his face. Anyone that is thinking of adopting a child with NAS, I beg you to take the risk. The joy that our son Jaxon brings to our life far outweighs the risks.”
A Child’s Hope encourages waiting families to do their research about the effects of opioids on the unborn, speak to your adoption counselor and a healthcare professional.
Two years was our adoption journey wait, from the time we signed with our adoption agency until our precious baby boy was placed in our arms. We knew from the beginning that we should prepare ourselves for a long wait because we already had a child in the home. So we set out for a wait, we knew that the right child at the right time would come to our family, the one that was meant to be.
We had some disappointments, and at times we were discouraged, but we always kept the faith that God knew exactly what He was doing. God was writing our adoption journey story, and that story included our sweet Jaxon. All the praying and wondering when we would get the phone call with the news that an amazing birth mother had chosen us was answered on my birthday.
We met her, “L,” two days later for lunch with our adoption counselor, and hit it off from the start. I remember being very nervous and wondering if she would 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. I imagine these same very thoughts run through every adoptive momma’s mind at one point or another. 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.
Two weeks after that very first phone call, our son was born. The next morning which happened to be Valentine’s day we are 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 — this 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 spent ten days in NICU to help him through opioid withdrawal. I spent every waking minute with him. It was important for me to bond with him and for him to feel that love. I was never fearful of his drug exposure because I knew he had me in his corner fighting for him. I would get him any help that he needed. Jaxon was on morphine and then was switched to methadone. He spent nine months on methadone. So far we haven’t seen any long-term effects, there have been no developmental delays.
“L” and I 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. We love them; they are our family too!
We hit some roadblocks during our adoption journey. I will share that as fearful as I was, I knew that A Child’s Hope would ease my mind. In addition to being a NAS baby, Jaxon’s birth father came unexpectedly late during the adoption process.
I can remember the fear and 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 every step of the way. It was the reason we went with ACH to begin with; they were always in contact with us on the status.
Jaxon’s birthmother gave me the best birthday present and Valentine’s Day gift! My husband tells people all the time that he could never top that! Jaxon’s birth father gave me the best Christmas gift that year as well – he gave his consent to the adoption.
What a gift Jaxon is to our family! So yes, the wait was worth it. I tell people all the time that I would have waited forever for my sweet Jaxon. He is 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 a family, from Jaxon’s birth family, and from the staff at A Child’s Hope.
To start your adoption journey, click here and complete the “Would You Like To Adopt?” form or call us at (919) 839-8800.
Adoption respite care is an important part of the adoption process in NC. Under North Carolina law, consent may be revoked by the birth mother within 7 days of signing. Revocation seldom happens, but when it does, it can be very difficult for adoptive parents. As a protection against the added emotional impact of having bonded with the baby during this revocation period, A Child’s Hope provides respite care for the child during this first week. In addition, some infants may have short-term health issues that require special attention. Respite caregivers are trained and experienced in dealing with these issues and are invaluable in providing the child and adoptive parents the best start to a new and happy family.
Two everyday heroes of adoption respite care are Judy and Alan. They recently cared for their 200th respite baby. Judy and Alan shared with us some of their experiences as adoption respite caregivers.
We started in 1980 in Erie, PA and cared for babies up to the time we moved to N.C. in 1995. Both our 100th and 200th placement were with A Child’s Hope. Of the 200 babies we have cared for, 83 have been with A Child’s Hope.
Our first placement was Matthew who was born Oct. 30, 2000.
We have always had a special love for babies, even as children, and then, Judy, as a Registered Nurse, worked in the hospital nursery. We feel this is our ministry.
Meeting the adoptive parents and sharing their joy on “Placement Day” is wonderful.
Each baby is unique and has his/her own special story!
Judy and I are the parents of three wonderful sons and grandparents of 6, five boys and one girl! We both have the love, time and availability to care for these babies. Also, Judy was an RN and worked with babies in the hospital.
Relax and enjoy each stage of your child’s life. The days are long but the years are short!
Typically, we talk to moms about their adoption experience. This Father’s Day, we sat down with Kyle for the dad’s perspective on adoption in North Carolina. Last year, Kyle and his wife Alyson were hoping to adopt an infant through A Child’s Hope. Instead of one child, they became the proud adoptive parents of precious TWINS! Ben and Julia turned one this June.
This is your second Father’s Day, tell me what you enjoy most about being a Dad?
I’ve only been alive 27 years, but in that time I have found nothing as rewarding or as uplifting as my kids smiling at me when I walk in the room. Every time they recognize me and burst out smiling it is like a punch to the heart. Being a child’s favorite person in the world has fundamentally changed me and inspires me to be the best version of myself. I would say that my absolute most favorite thing about being a father is how much better of a person I am because these children are in my life.
What was it like to suddenly become the father of twins right before Father’s Day last year?
When I first found out, I thought it would be somewhat overwhelming, but from the start, my heart was filled with love for these two little humans. I became the man and father they would need me to be simply because they needed me to be him. This past year has been crazy and I’ve grown a lot and I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way.
What do you want people to understand about adoption in North Carolina?
Remember the role you play in this birth mother’s life. These young women are making one of the hardest choices of their lives and sometimes they’re making that choice alone. As nervous and scared as you might feel in this situation they are probably even worse off. Be a stabilizing and positive force in this process. Remember that you and the birth mother are partners in finding a stable and loving home for the child. You are not enemies, you are allies.
How do you feel about open adoption in North Carolina?
I wholeheartedly support the movement towards a more open adoption process in North Carolina that creates partnerships between adoptive couples and birth mothers. I believe that assisting the birth mother, with both physical and mental health needs, is crucial for a successful adoption.
A young woman who feels supported and confident in and by the process is more likely to see it through and maintain a healthy relationship with the adoptive family and with the child.
If you are thinking about becoming a father for the first time or again, contact one of the counselors at A Child’s Hope to discuss whether adoption is the right choice for you and your family.
If you are a birth mother and are looking to place your child in a home with a hero dad like Kyle, contact our Birth Mother’s hotline to speak with an adoption counselor today at 877-890-4673. To see placement day videos of A Child’s Hope families, click here.
For more information on the legalities involved with adoption in North Carolina, visit parkerherringlawgroup.com.
Military families make excellent adoptive families. These families are accustomed to a structured lifestyle and are experienced in adjusting to new surroundings, building new connections and supporting each other. In addition, military installations have built-in support networks, including substantial health care and housing benefits, as well as “ready-made” communities.
For military families considering adoption, there are a variety of both support services and financial resources available before, during and after the adoption process:
Military families and their communities have many strengths including resilience, diversity, inclusiveness, social networks, and educational and health benefits which support them wherever they live.
If you, or someone you know, is in the military and is considering adoption call A Child’s Hope at 919-839-8800.
Adoption support from the financial side include:
How long will it take to adopt a child is one question prospective parents ask on a regular basis. The answer is a question:
How open are YOU to the issues in adoption?
How long you wait directly depends on the flexibility of your adoption plan. The simple answer: the more open you are on the following six issues, the shorter the wait.
The six main issues are:
These would not be issues to overcome if you have a child biologically. The race would be your own and you would have control over alcohol or other substances. Furthermore, the birth father would be known and there would not be any legal issues related to paternity. Most likely, you would be able to receive scheduled prenatal care and be fully aware of any possible hereditary issues — mental or physical.
Wait time will always be unpredictable and adoptive families must understand that the wait is dependant on the birth mother. The reason one family is chosen ahead of another is unique to each birth mother.
To learn more about the adoption process, as well as how to complete a home study and adoption profile, click here.
Parker Herring is a Board Certified family law specialist who has practiced in Wake County, N.C. for more than 32 years. She has three children through adoption and assisted reproduction, and in 2000 she started the adoption agency A Child’s Hope. The agency focuses on connecting North Carolina birth mothers with North Carolina newborns to North Carolina Adoptive Parents. The agency has placed more than 353 children since it’s opening. The multiple adoption journeys of her own family and her personal experiences with fertility treatments continue to be the driving force behind her work in the areas of adoption and assisted reproduction. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and received her law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law.
Adoptive parents get a substantial boost from the federal government in the form of a $13,570 adoption tax credit. If you adopted in 2017, before you file your 2017 taxes, make sure that you and your tax preparer understand the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. You may also be able to amend a previous year’s return if you had expenses related to adoption, but didn’t claim them.
The bottom line is that if your modified adjusted gross income is below $203,540 you are eligible to receive the full adoption tax credit, and the credit can be spread out over five years. With the average cost of a domestic adoption at $36,000, this tax credit covers more than a third of your costs.
There are “fine points” in the adoption tax credit. So, you are encouraged to consult with a tax preparer who is familiar with the provisions.
The tax credit is designated to offset real expenses associated with the adoption of a child, other than a spouse’s child. Eligible expenses include:
The credit is per child, the maximum that can be claimed depends on the number of children adopted. The credit adjusts for inflation every year. For 2017, the credit is $13,570 per child non-refundable*
*Nonrefundable means the tax credit is limited to the taxpayer’s tax liability for that year. However, any credit in excess of the tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years.
For domestic adoptions, (a child who is a citizen or resident of the U.S. or its possessions before the adoption effort begins):
The income limit on the adoption credit is based on the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).
The dollar limits for any single adoption effort is:
Filing status limit – The filing status of Married Filing Separately is not eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit.
The taxpayer may be able to claim both the tax credit and an income exclusion for qualified expenses. However, you must claim any allowable exclusion before claiming any allowable credit. Expenses used for the exclusion reduce the qualified adoption expenses available for the credit. As a result, you can’t claim both a credit and an exclusion for the same expenses.
A taxpayer may be eligible to file an amended return to claim the Adoption Tax Credit for previous years. Consult a qualified tax attorney, CPA or licensed tax professional to determine specific eligibility.
To learn more about the Adoption Tax Credit visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.
The information contained in this article is for general knowledge purposes only. Individuals interested in claiming any tax credit should consult a qualified tax professional to determine specific eligibility and amounts.
To learn more about the adoption laws in North Carolina, click here.