Domestic Adoption Home Studies at Spence-Chapin

Spence-Chapin supports adoptive parents pursuing a domestic independent or attorney adoption. We offer Home Study, pre-adoption training, consultations, and more. We provide adoptive families with expertise, professionalism, and the support of an entire adoption team. With over 100 years of experience in adoption, we know how to support adoptive families, birth families, and adoptees! If requested, Spence-Chapin can provide recommendations for reputable adoption attorneys in the NYC area. Overall, Spence-Chapin recommends working with an experienced adoption attorney, preferably a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

Home Study Services

A home study is a document required for all adoptive parents and is the first step to any adoption process. Spence-Chapin has provided home studies for thousands of families adopting domestically. We have the expertise to work with you and your adoption attorney or out-of-state agency. Families can begin the home study process while they are identifying their agency or attorney. If you’re ready to get started on the adoption process, visit our website to download the home study application online: www.spence-chapin.org/homestudy.

Pre-Adoption Support

Throughout the adoption process, Spence-Chapin social workers and staff are available for support and information. Families can schedule one-on-one meetings to talk about their questions or concerns, such as how to manage the wait to be matched with a child, how to speak with a birth parent once connected, what to do if spouses aren’t on the same page about the adoption, navigating open adoption, and much more!

Post-Adopt Support

Regardless of how you choose to build your family, our ongoing family support is available! We offer robust post-adoption support through consultations, counseling, parent coaching, and events for parents and kids. Our post-adoption services are available to all families after your child joins your family! We offer a monthly playgroup for adoptive families with kids 0-5, an annual Halloween party, Global Family Day Picnic in Central Park, and ongoing workshops for kids and parents. We invite you to join us for these community events!

Get started with a domestic adoption today by starting the home study process! Visit our website to learn more about Spence-Chapin’s home study services or contact us at (212) 400-8150 or info@spence-chapin.org.  

Too Old to Adopt?

Excerpt from Huffington Post

A recent study of Americans’ attitudes toward aging contained this little gem: Respondents thought people should stop having children by age 41, on average. While nature — at least for women — may concur with the results, that hasn’t stopped older couples from adopting when they are well into their 50s and even 60s, bucking the idea that they are too old to be parents.

Adam Pertman from the National Center on Adoption and Permanency (NCAP) and author of “Adoption Nation,” called boomers’ embrace of adoption “a trend that’s clearly happening,” although he doesn’t know of any group tracking the ages of adoptive parents. But, “without question, more of them are doing it,” he said.

“The world has changed, but our biology hasn’t,” Pertman said. “Adoption fills that gap. People marry later, women are involved in the workplace — it makes even more sense to adopt. Women live well into their 80s. They can have a child when they are 50 and still live to see their grandkids. Older parents are very often happy — actually seek out — the adoption of an older child. This serves all parties and society.”

You’re never too old to adopt or love a child, say adoptive parents who were midlifers when they welcomed new family additions. In some cases, the parents had already raised children; for others, it was jumping on the parenting train for the first time before it left the station for good.

Karen Bradley, a 50-year-old single mom in the Phoenix area, had three biological children and then adopted another three. At the time of her last adoption, she was a week shy of her 46th birthday. “From a very early age, I always knew I wanted to adopt,” she said. “I fostered kids for nine years, and after seeing children returned to homes that were less than ideal, I decided to pursue international adoption.” Her first adoption was at age 40 — Kevin, a 4-1/2-year-old boy from China. She then adopted two more times: Bryndan, a 2-1/2-year-old girl from China when she was 43 and a seven-month-old baby girl, Macyn, from Ethiopia when she was 45.

“In some ways, being an older parent is easier,” Bradley said, “because I feel like I am more patient and have realistic expectations. I understood, and accepted the fact that adopting at such a late stage in my life would mean pushing retirement out until [Macyn] graduates college,” Bradley said, adding, “[it’s a] small price to pay for the absolute joy she brings to our lives.”

Single adoptive mom Judy Wolf says that from day one, she’s told her daughter that “our story is a love story between you, me and God.” She describes herself as someone “born to be a mom.”

“I never met Mr. Right and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to be a mom and change a child’s life. So after several years of consideration, at the ripe old age of 44, I made the decision to adopt my daughter,” she said.

Her family, friends and the social worker who made the pre-placement visits questioned her choice. She heard things like “Children need both a mother and a father”; “Can you afford this?”; and “Most people your age are thinking about becoming a grandparent, how will you respond to your peers?”

“The questions were crazy and endless,” Judy said. “Although unprepared for all these questions, I handled them beautifully, because God was leading me.  Nothing dissuaded me; I was eager to finally be a mom and provide love to my wonderful daughter.”

In March of 2004, Wolf was shown a photo of a two-year-old in Belarus. She looked at the photo and knew instantly. “She was my daughter,” Judy said. “I didn’t care about her medical history, or anything else the adoption agency wanted to provide me. I just wanted to know when could I go get my daughter.” Camryn Dorothy Wolf was named after family members who played a significant role in her mom’s life. Her daughter is now 10 and Judy, 53.

How is it working out, being an older parent? “Gee, am I one?” she replied.

Read more from Ann Brenoff, HuffingtonPost

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December 2nd is Giving Tuesday, a global initiative to inspire people to give back to the charities and causes that they celebrate. At Spence-Chapin, we work to connect children with permanent homes, deep parental love, and a lifelong sense of security. We can help more children find homes by alleviating all financial barriers to families looking to adopt – but we cannot do this without you! Please participate in Giving Tuesday by making a contribution to the Spence-Chapin Annual Fund

“I Feel Like I’m Waiting to Love My Son”

I love the show “Parenthood”.  I love the characters, the family dynamics, the twists and turns of inter-weaving inter-generational lives playing out themes of marriage, raising kids, inter-racial families, and more recently, the adoption of a school-aged child.

Julia and Joel, after experiencing a heart wrenching loss when their domestic infant adoption falls through, decide to approach their local social services agency and open their home to any child that may need one.  Seemingly a day later, with no preparation, a social worker rings their doorbell in the dead of night and brings them Victor, a cute, quite, and mysterious 8 year old boy.

Two episodes into the season, we see Joel and Julia, with no visible assistance from any social worker, trying to integrate their new son into their lives.  Or, rather, walking on eggshells around him while trying to act like everything is normal.  Julia alludes to some reading that she’s doing (good) and that they have to establish trust and help him feel like part of the family (also good), but we also see Victor spending entire days lying on the couch, shooting whipped cream into his mouth straight from the can, and watching violent reality TV shows (not so good), all while ignoring the family activities going on around him.  Finally, after a series of upsetting events, Joel and Julia argue about how best to manage Victor, to which Julia, defeated, finally states “I feel like I’m waiting to love my son”.adotive parents, tv show, partenhood

FINALLY, a genuine moment in this story – for many adoptive parents, and certainly for those adopting school-aged children, this is such a common feeling.  However, the guilt and fear of judgment prevents many families from sharing these feelings with their social workers and support systems.  While it is understandable that this is a scary thing to approach (“If I don’t love him now, will I EVER love him?” is a common thought that families struggle with), it is essentially important, when bonding and attaching with a new child, to keep a few key things in mind:

  •  Love takes time.  Everyone needs time to get to know each other and build genuine emotional bonds that will last a lifetime.  If you don’t feel “in love” it does not mean that you or the child are doing something wrong.  In fact, this can be looked at as a good thing – if a child has had multiple placements and many disappointments, she has built healthy defenses by learning to distance herself until she feels secure.  Use that time to show her that you are trustworthy – providing consistent, kind, and thoughtful parenting with healthy limits, expecting nothing in return, is the clearest way to tell a child that you will be there forever, no matter what.
  • Affection takes time.  Those first days, weeks, or even months, it may not yet feel right to have a hug or a snuggle on the couch.  Instead, a quick pat on the head might do, or kicking around a soccer ball in the yard can be a shared physical activity without the intensity of physical contact.   Find that balance between smothering and distancing – maybe insist on holding hands to cross the street (appropriate for any child under 5), braid their hair, or play Twister. Be creative and don’t forget to have some fun – it’s hard for a child to want to snuggle with you if you look angry or tired!
  • Talk about it to the right people.  Find your right outlet – other adoptive parents, your social worker, a supportive therapist, your spouse, partner, or best friend.  Use good judgment; if an acquaintance has given you the message that she thinks the adoption of your child was a bad idea, that’s probably not the person to share your feelings with.

At the end of episode 2, Julia and Victor have a little breakthrough – he is emotionally vulnerable, she promises help, follows through on it, and is rewarded with a conversation and an awkward hug.  Not monumental when it comes to raising an 8 year old boy, but I was sitting on my couch, excited for these characters and all the adoptive families I have worked with, for that one moment, where even in its tiny doses, they can start to feel the love they’ve been waiting for.

Stella Gilgur-Cook, LCSW, Assistant Director of Outreach, Spence-Chapin Services to Families & Children

Is Parenting Different When You are Gay or Lesbian?

 

Workshop:

Like adoptive families headed by heterosexual parents, gay parents and their children have to have conversations about the validity of their family, and how to deal with prejudice and questions from people outside the family.  Our family workshop on April 24th 6:30pm-8:30pm will  focus on the particular issues LGBT adoptive parents have to navigate with their children.

Advance registration required.

 

Support Group:

Starting June 18th, Spence-Chapin will be hosting a Gay Adoptive Parent Support Group. Same-sex couples have the added complexity that cross-gender parenting can bring. This group will offer practical advice and support for gay parents raising adopted children. The group will meet the third Monday night of each month from 6:30 pm-8:00 pm. Register now.