Domestic Adoption FAQs

Families often have many questions as they are beginning an adoption process. These FAQs will help you decide if adopting through Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program is the right path for you to grow your family.

1.  Who are the children in need of adoption?
The children in need of adoption through our Domestic Adoption Program are newborns to approximately 8 weeks old. The babies reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the NYC Metro Area; most children are of Black or Latino backgrounds. Families adopting through this program need to be open to parenting a child of either gender.

2.  Who can adopt through this program?
We are often asked who can adopt. We are happy to share that all types of parents adopt: married couples, unmarried couples, LGBTQIA+ parents, single women and single men can adopt. Families who are already parenting adopt, as do families who are transitioning out of fertility treatments.  Families of all ages, income levels, ethnicities, and religions adopt. Truly, the one thing that all adoptive families have in common is that they want to be parents – and from there they are as diverse as the kids themselves.

3.  What is open adoption?
What if I want a closed adoption? How is open adoption negotiated? Open adoption is when adoptive and birth families meet and are able to have ongoing contact with each other at their own discretion. Frequency and type of communication can range from the exchange of letters and emails, phone calls, shared pictures, and visits. Open adoption is not co-parenting. It is an opportunity for birth and adoptive families to develop a relationship that will benefit the adopted child. Research shows that open adoption is beneficial to all members of the adoption triad: the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the adopted person. Having access to their birth parent can help an adopted person develop a better sense of self with access to information about his or her background. Families who are the best candidates for Spence-Chapin’s Domestic Adoption Program are open to periodic exchange of emails, photos, and visits with the birth family. Adoptive parents and birth parents each have their own social worker at Spence-Chapin. Your social worker will help you establish an open adoption plan that is comfortable to both you and your child’s birth parent(s). Both adoptive families and birth parents will get support from their social worker throughout this process.

4.  What are the common medical risks?
Many infants in need of adoption have some risks or unknowns in their medical backgrounds.Some of the infants come from backgrounds where they may have been exposed to cigarette smoke, recreational drugs, and/or social drinking during pregnancy. Good candidates for the Domestic Adoption Program are open to some risks and unknowns in the child’s medical history. This is something you will discuss with your social worker throughout your adoption process.

5.  Who are the birth parents?
Any woman of childbearing age could find herself in the position of an unplanned pregnancy. All birth parents have a great deal of love for their baby. They want to make a plan to give the baby a stable life that they are unable to provide at time of birth. Spence-Chapin’s experienced social workers provide intensive unbiased options counseling to biological parents in the NYC metro area to help them make the decision that is right for them and for their baby.

6.  What is the matching process and how does it work?
Birth parents select an adoptive family by reviewing adoptive family profiles with their social worker. Once they have narrowed their choice down to one family, a match meeting is held between the birth family and the adoptive family. Both the adoptive family’s social worker and the birth parent’s social worker are present for this meeting to provide guidance and support. Adoptive families wait an average of 1-2 years to be matched after completing their home study.

7.  What is interim care?
We understand that women and their partners need time and space to make a decision about the future of their family, especially after a recent birth of a child. Spence-Chapin’s Interim Care Program allows babies to be cared for in a loving home by a nurturing caregiver so that biological parents have additional time to plan for their child. Biological parents retain parental rights while their baby is in Interim Care and are free to visit their child. Our interim care givers are families who are trained and screened to care for the newborns on a temporary basis. Interim care allows the birth parents to feel confident in their plan before making the decision to place the infant for adoption.

8.  What are the next steps if I want to apply?
Join the next Domestic Adoption webinar!
Register at: www.spence-chapin.org/events.

Still have questions? Schedule a pre-adoption consultation or phone call with one of our adoption experts! Call: 212-400-8150 or Email: info@spence-chapin.org

Mentorship Program FAQs

Who are the Mentees?
Mentees are adopted middle or high school students in the tri-state who are open to receiving support and guidance from adopted adults and are able to be in a group setting and participate in structured activities. Our families join us from NYC, New Jersey, and Connecticut!

Who are the Mentors?
Our mentors are volunteers who are adopted, live in the tri-state area, and are in their twenties, thirties, and forties. All of our mentors are screened and trained by our licensed social work staff. Mentors serve as role models who can share their adoption story and experiences while encouraging mentees to ask questions, feel comfortable with their identities, and develop healthy self-esteem.

Are mentors assigned to a child one-to-one? Do they meet individually?
Mentors and Mentees interact at scheduled events and go on community outings as a group. Whereas in some years we designate Mentors to individual Mentees, we have also interacted in group settings without a one-on-one assignment. The program structure varies and we will be developing the 2017-2018 program in the coming months.

How often does the Mentorship Program meet?
One Saturday a month, our Mentors and Mentees enjoy community, educational and social outings. We provide an inclusive and safe space to discuss birth families, identity, relationships, and more. There are two semesters for the Mentorship Program: Fall (September – January) and Spring (February – June). Families enrolled in the Mentorship Program will receive a schedule of events in advance of the semester. The time frame of events varies depending on the activity, but generally ranges from 2-4 hours, usually beginning around noon.

What types of programs/activities do participants of the Mentorship Program engage in?
Past outings have included going to the zoo, bowling, and a pasta making class. Some events take place at Spence-Chapin’s Modern Family Center office in Manhattan while others take place off-site throughout New York City. Two of each semester’s monthly meetings will be Adoption Days, where the agenda will be adoption-focused and encourage relevant discussion and reflection. Adoption Days also include programming for parents related to parenting adopted teens.

Hear from our current mentors to learn more:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KleTAaeSYR4&feature=youtu.be

Learn more about the Mentorship Program.

Questions?
Email Katie Rogala, LSW at krogala@spence-chapin.org to learn more!

Spence-Chapin Services

Spence-Chapin provides free options counseling for pregnant women & biological parents.
If you are unsure about parenting, you have choices in creating the best plan for your baby or child. This is your decision and we are here to help.

WE PROVIDE:

  • FREE, confidential, and unbiased pregnancy options counseling.
  • We will visit you anywhere in the New York City metro area! (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut)
  • We cover pregnancy related expenses.
  • We can connect you to quality prenatal care.
  • FREE interpreters and our staff speaks English, Spanish, and Chinese.
  • Considering adoption? Click to read FAQs online.

www.spence-chapin.org/options-counseling
Call: 800-321-LOVE (5683)
Email: helpline@spence-chapin.org


RESOURCES

Not sure if you are pregnant or seeking medical help? Here are resources to explore:

Medical and Prenatal Care
These providers offer medical and prenatal care and answer questions related to pregnancy:

Text and Online chat with Planned Parenthood:
Text “PPNOW” to 774636 (PPINFO) · www.plannedparenthood.org/all-access/chat

Choices Women Medical Center
Women’s Health Services:
147-32 Jamaica Ave, Jamaica, NY 11435
(718) 534-3800 · www.choicesmedical.com

Gouverneur Health
Health services in Manhattan:
227 Madison St, New York, NY 10002
(212) 238-7000 · www.gothamhealth.org/centers/gouverneur.html

MIC Women’s Health
Centers in Brooklyn serve the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island     (718) 522-1144 · healthsolutions.org/mic

Planned Parenthood
       National: 800-230-PLAN (7526) – for routing to local resources

New York City: (212) 965-7000
26 Bleecker St · (Manhattan)
21-41 45th Rd · (Queens)
44 Court Street, 6th Floor · (Brooklyn)
2nd Floor, 349 E 149th Street · (Bronx)
23 Hyatt Street · (Staten Island)

New Jersey:
Ironbound Health Center:
70 Adams St #13, Newark, NJ 07105
(973) 465-7707

Chubb Health Center:
240 Mulberry St, Newark, NJ 07105
(973) 622-3900

East Orange Health Center:
560 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd #100, East Orange, NJ 07018
(973) 674-4343

Montclair Health Center:
29 N Fullerton Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042
(973) 746-7116

Elizabeth Health Center:
1150 Dickinson St, Elizabeth, NJ 07201
(908) 351-5384

Englewood Health Center:
46 N Van Brunt St, Englewood, NJ 07631
(201) 894-0966

North of NYC:
Yonkers Health Center:
20 S Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701
(914) 965-1912

White Plains Health Center:
175 Tarrytown Rd, White Plains, NY 10607
(914) 761-6566

Long Island:
Hempstead Health Center:
540 Fulton Ave, Hempstead, NY 11550
(516) 750-2500

Glen Cove Health Center:
110 School St, Glen Cove, NY 11542
(516) 750-2500

West Islip Health Center:
180 Sunrise Hwy, West Islip, NY 11795
(631) 893-0150

Smithtown Health Center:
70 Maple Ave, Smithtown, NY 11787
(631) 361-7526

Connecticut:
Stamford Health Center:
35 6th St, Stamford, CT 06905
(203) 327-2722


MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

  • Lifenet: 1-800-LIFENET (1-800-543-3638) is a free, confidential help line for New York City residents available 24/7. The hotline’s staff of trained mental health professionals help callers find mental health and substance abuse services.
  • Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or website: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
  • NYC Well: 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) 24/7 Suicide prevention and crisis counseling, Peer support and short-term counseling via telephone, text and web, Assistance scheduling appointments or accessing other mental health services, Follow-up to check that you have connected to care
  • NJ Family Help Line: 1-800-THE KIDS (1-800-843-5437) If you’re feeling stressed out, call the Family Helpline and work through your frustrations before a crisis occurs.

ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY RESOURCES

  • Health Hotlines for Moms: partners.text4baby.org/index.php/health-info-for-moms
  • NYC Sexual Health Clinics: Health Department Sexual Health Clinics provide low- to no-cost services www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/services/sexual-health-clinics.page
  • Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP): Medicaid and WIC for low-income pregnant and newly parenting women in New York State, 1-800-522-5006
  • NYC Women’s Health Services: Comprehensive prenatal and family planning services, 866-642-5589
  • NJ Family Care: Insurance for low-income, pregnant and newly-parenting women and their families 1-800-701-0710 www.njfamilycare.org
  • NJWIC State Office: 609-292-9560 www.state.nj.us
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • NYC Parent Helpline: 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373)
  • South Hampton Women Infants and Children (WIC) Program: 631-268-1020
  • Suffolk County Perinatal Coalition: 631-475-5400
  • Nassau County WIC Program: 516-571-1WIC (1942)

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, are in danger, or are feeling suicidal, call 911 immediately.

Top 10 Medical Needs in South Africa

There are thousands of children waiting for adoption in South Africa. Many of the children have special needs and need an adoptive family ready and excited to help them thrive! Families considering adopting a child with special needs have many questions, including what are the most common diagnoses? Here are the most common medical needs as seen by Spence-Chapin, one of two American agencies accredited to provide adoption services in South Africa.

1.     HIV
2.     Prematurity
3.     Developmental delays
4.     Cerebral Palsy
5.     Auditory impairments
6.     Visual impairments
7.     Cognitive limitations
8.     Brain abnormalities
9.     Macrocephaly
10.   Microcephaly

By partnering with Johannesburg Child Welfare, Spence-Chapin’s focus is simple: the kids who are the most vulnerable and are in need of adoption. We are their advocates. The children are 18 months – 8 years old with an identified medical diagnosis. The children are living in JCW’s care are cared for in nurseries with caring staff. JCW partners with a Thusanani Children’s Foundation to provide safe and modern medical care to ensure each child receives the medical care they need – HIV testing and treatment, occupational therapy, physical therapy, antibiotics, surgery, well-baby visits, etc.

South Africa is signatory to the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoption so adoptive families have the benefits of the Hague Treaty, which is designed to ensure that international adoption is a transparent, ethical process with an established infrastructure to protect and support children and families.

It’s recommend that families considering adopting a child with medical needs consult with a pediatrician about diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of specific conditions to consider if your family has the ability to provide the care a child will need. There are many experienced international adoption medical specialty clinics throughout the United States that are a resource for prospective adoptive families.

There are millions of children around the world living with HIV who are waiting for a family. Years ago, immigration laws prohibited HIV+ children from being adopted into American families. After advocacy efforts, legislation was passed allowing for the intercountry adoption of these children. There are many families open to adopting a child who is HIV+ and have the resources to provide the medical care and love an adoptive family can provide!

Are you considering adopting a child with special needs? Children in South Africa are waiting for you! It takes a special type of parent to adopt a child with medical needs. We’re here for you before, during, and after your adoption to provide information and support to your family!

NYC Pride March: Save the Date

Last year Spence-Chapin staff and community participated in the NYC Pride March for the first time and had a memorable experience! We’re thrilled to be walking in the March alongside LGBTQ parents, their families, and their allies again on June 25th and we invite you to join us! 

  1. There are multiple exit points throughout the march. Come walk with us for a few blocks or the entire route! We will be meeting at 11:30AM at 120 Park Avenue – NW corner of 41stSt.
  2. Marching contingents are given check-in and step-off times. We will wait in the formation area near Grand Central Station for about 2 hours before our group officially enters the march. Our estimated step-off time is 2:00PM. If you join us, we encourage you to bring food, water, sunscreen, and other necessities. There are portable relief facilities and water filling stations at several points within the formation area.
  3. We are located in the front of the middle section of the March. This means less time waiting in the formation area.
  4. The march typically takes 60-90 minutes to travel from formation to dispersal area (near Stonewall Inn).
  5. We are going to have a fun and rewarding day in the sun! It’s amazing to hear from spectators along the route about how they are connected to the adoption community.
  6. All are invited to join us as we celebrate the LGBTQ community so bring your closest friends and family members. Email jornstein@spence-chapin.org to learn more and sign up!

To contact us on the day of the event call: 917-885-1477

Bulgaria and Roma Adoption

Spence-Chapin’s Bulgaria adoption program has placed children with permanent, loving families since 1995. During this time, we’ve come to discover Bulgaria as one of Eastern Europe’s treasures; a country steeped in tradition, but with modern sensibilities.

BulgariaBulgaria’s history is vast and its culture rich. Bordered by Romania in the North, Serbia and Macedonia in the West, Greece and Turkey in the South and the Black Sea in the East, Bulgaria is centrally located on key land routes from Europe to the Middle East and Asia.The size of Tennessee, Bulgaria is the 14th largest nation in Europe and boasts wondrous landscapes ranging from lowlands and river valleys, to mountains of varying elevations.

The first Bulgarian state was formed in the late 7th century when The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled to assert its autonomy against the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Turks, eventually succumbing to the rule of both.

sofiaIn recent history, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People’s Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990 and a democratic constitution was instituted in 1997. Today, Bulgaria is a parliamentary democracy and is on the international stage as a member of the European Union, NATO, Council of Europe and a founding member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Bulgarians take great pride in their literature, arts, music, and architecture which is mainly of Thracian, Slavic, and Bulgar heritage, with Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Persian and Celtic influences.

Oilcape

Visitors and citizens alike enjoy the wild, wooded mountain ranges dotted with villages, vibrant cities, and long sandy beaches hugging the Black Sea Coast. Bulgaria is home to over 200 museums and architectural wonders such as Byzantine Medieval fortresses, Thracian sanctuaries and tombs, and a multitude of churches, monasteries and mosques. The landscape features mineral springs, picturesque beaches, and the highest point of the Balkan peninsula, Musala (9,596 ft.), lending itself to spa retreats, water sports and hiking.

romachildren

Image courtesy of Ron Corso © 2014 Ron Corso

But underneath the rich sights and sounds, there is an imbalance. Bulgarians are the main ethnic group and comprise 84.8% of the population, with Turkish and Roma (Gypsy) minorities comprising 8.8 and 4.9 percent. Oftentimes discriminated against, the Romani are descended from low-caste Indian migrants who immigrated to Bulgaria during the Middle Ages. The Romani practice nomadic lifestyles based around selling their wares and skills, and as such, must combat an entrenched social stigma. The Romani experience a high rate of child abandonment due to poverty and limited resources such as health care, public transportation and sanitation. Unfortunately, Roma children in need of homes are usually on the losing side of stereotypes and discrimination and are typically not adopted domestically by Bulgarian families.

Image courtesy of Ron Corso © 2014 Ron Corso

Image courtesy of Ron Corso © 2014 Ron Corso

Spence-Chapin partners with ANIDO, a Bulgarian non-governmental organization licensed by the Ministry of Justice, Bulgarian’s central authority for adoption. The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice maintains a waiting child registry of over 1,800 children that are primarily Roma. Bulgaria prioritizes finding families for these vulnerable children. Those available for adoption are school-age, sibling groups, and children with medical issues.

Call us to learn more about adopting from Bulgaria – 212-400-8150 or
info@spence-chapin.org
.

You can read one parent’s story about her Bulgaria adoption experience.