Opioid Addiction and Adoption – What Waiting Parents Need to Know

The Opioid Addiction Crisis

Opioid Addiction babies

ACH counselor Kelly Dunbar with Jaxon

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.

Addressing the Opioid Addiction Issue

Jaxon on Placement Day

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.

Managing the Opioid Addiction Fear

Jaxon age 3

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.”

To read the full story of Shannon’s adoption Journey, click here. 

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.


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Weaning the Youngest Opioid Patients

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The Adoption Journey for Shannon and Jaxon

Adoption Journey of Shannon & Jaxon

Shannon & Jaxon

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.

Meeting the Birth Mother

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.

Meeting Jaxon

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 on Placement Day

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!

Overcoming Roadblocks

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.

The Best Gifts Ever

Jaxon age 3

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 Tax Credit – 2017 Taxes

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.

Adoption Tax Credit 2017 - A Child's HopeThe 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.

What Does the Adoption Tax Credit Cover?

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:

  • Reasonable and necessary adoption fees
  • Court costs and attorney fees
  • Traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging while away from home)
  • Other expenses that are directly related to and for the principal purpose of the legal adoption of an eligible child.

How Much is the Adoption Tax Credit?

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.

When Can the Adoption Tax Credit be Taken?

For domestic adoptions, (a child who is a citizen or resident of the U.S. or its possessions before the adoption effort begins):

  • Qualified adoption expenses paid before the year the adoption becomes final are allowable as a credit for the tax year following the year of payment (even if the adoption is never finalized, and even if an eligible child was never identified).
  • Qualified adoption expenses paid during or after the year the adoption becomes final are allowable as a credit for the year of payment.
  • Eligible tax credit amounts claimed, but not redeemable due to the taxpayer’s tax liability being less than the value of the tax credit, can roll over to the following year (up to 5 years).

What are Some of the Limitations of the Adoption Tax Credit?

The income limit on the adoption credit is based on the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

  • If your MAGI amount is below $203,540 for 2017, your credit will not be affected
  • If your MAGI amount for 2017 falls between $203,540 and $243,539 will be subject to a phase-out reduction
  • Taxpayers with income in excess of $243,539 are not eligible to receive any adoption tax credit from the federal government

The dollar limits for any single adoption effort is:

  • The maximum cumulative Adoption Tax Credit claimed for any single adoption effort cannot exceed the maximum value of the Adoption Tax Credit for the year the adoption becomes final. For example:
    • If an adoption became final in 2017;
    • And a $3,000 credit was claimed 2016 for qualified expensed incurred in 2015 in connection with the 2017 adoption;
    • Then the maximum credit that can be claimed in 2017 is $10,570
      (2017:$13,570 dollar limit, less $3,000 of qualified adoption expenses claimed previously)

Filing status limit – The filing status of Married Filing Separately is not eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit.

What if My Employer provides Adoption Assistance?

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.

What if I Was Previously Eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit and Did Not Claim it in the Year of Eligibility?

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

To file for the Adoption Tax Credit complete Form 8839.pdf, Qualified Adoption Expenses, using  Form 8839 Instructions. 

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.

Birth Mothers Talk About Placing Their Baby for Adoption

As we honor National Adoption Month, we take a moment to recognize birth mothers for the brave decisions they make. Hear the videos from Stephanie and Rebecca as they talk about placing their babies with families who are ready to adopt from A Child’s Hope.

We understand that women who are experiencing an unplanning pregnancy and considering adoption may feel uncertain and have questions to determine if this is the right decision for them and their unborn child. Having sufficient support and information during this time can be reassuring for anyone thinking about placing their baby for adoption.

To help birth mothers in their time of uncertainty, we have compiled some common questions and answers from birthmothers who have gone through the adoption process. If you are considering placing your baby for adoption, call our birthmother hotline and speak to one of our counselors today. Call (877) 890-4673.


Birth mothers 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 questions about adoption that she gets from birth mothers. Plus, shares many of her firsthand experiences as she’s adopted two children of her own.

Parker Herring Answers Questions About AdoptionOne of the questions about adoption I often hear from birth mothers 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 birth mothers, but of course, birth fathers 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 birth mother 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 birth father. 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 birth mother 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 birth mother 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 birth parents 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 birth mothers and families looking to adopt and answer questions about adoption. 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.

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

This article was originally published by Herring & Mills PLLC on

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

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

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

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.

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.

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