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

Spence-Chapin Partners with The Family Equality Council as an “Ally for Adoption”

Spence-Chapin is excited to partner with the Family Equality Council in their “Allies for Adoption” campaign, agreeing that every child in America deserves the chance to find a forever family. As an Ally for Adoption, we support the Family Equality Council’s efforts to eliminate barriers to adoption faced by LGBT people in every state.

We are also partnering with Parents, Family, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the Family Equality Council by joining their Every Child Deserves a Family Coalition to support a bill currently before the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate that eliminates any state laws, practices, or procedures that exclude LGBT foster and adoptive families.

Spence-Chapin also received the Human Rights Campaign’s “All Children-All Families” Seal of Recognition in October and we continue to be fully committed to equality in adoption as we build families with partnered same-sex and LGBT singles.

allies for adoption  ECDF

Spence-Chapin Earns HRC Foundation’s “All Children – All Families” Seal of Recognition

Every child deserves a family. It’s a notion that has always driven the very concept of adoption. Connecting children with permanent homes, deep parental love, and a lifelong sense of security — that’s why we do what we do.

Spence-Chapin has a proud history of building families with partnered same-sex couples and LGBT singles.  We are fully committed to equality in adoption and are proud of the many children we have placed in loving, stable, same-sex households. Working with the Human Rights Campaign was a honor. HRC lead our team through a comprehensive framework to meet specific benchmarks that help further develop our welcoming, supportive and affirmative atmosphere for LGBT foster and adoptive parents. LGBT, adoptionThe end result was meeting the required criteria for fully inclusive policies and practices in working with the LGBT community and earning the HRC All Children – All Families” Seal of Recognition.

The “All Children – All Families” initiative, launched in 2007, promotes policies and practices that welcome LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The program seeks to enhance LGBT cultural competence among child welfare professionals and educate LGBT people about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents to waiting children. To date, ACAF has over 60 participating agencies across the country, and has awarded 34 seals of recognition.

The LGBT Community and Adoption

When it comes to the civil rights of the LGBT community, there has been progress in some places and none in others.  For same-sex couples and gay singles who are hoping to become parents through adoption, one of the most frustrating areas of “no progress” has been in the realm of international adoption.

Many of the countries that have a need for international adoption don’t recognize the rights of gay individuals in their own society, and this is clearly reflected in their adoption policies.  Despite overwhelming numbers of children living in orphanages, birth countries have not opened their eligibility to gay couples and singles.  Some countries even go to extreme lengths to prevent gay individuals from adopting; one popular program requires every unmarried applicant to sign a notarized affidavit stating that they are not gay. TV shows like Modern Family that features Cam & Mitchell’s adoption from Vietnam is a lovely idea, but actually has no basis in reality and distorts the possibilities that gay families have in current international adoption practice.LGBT Domestic Adoption

As an agency that supports the rights of gay families to adopt, we struggle with the requirements imposed upon us, and are often challenged by prospective families to explain how we can support programs that discriminate against applicants in this way.  While we continuously explore potential programs that would be open to a more diverse pool of families, our mission is to find adoptive homes for children who need families, and we must respect each country’s right to set their own criteria, while clearly communicating those criteria to our community so they can make the best decisions for their family. We credit our long lasting relationships with many placing countries on our dedicated adherence to their eligibility requirements, even those we don’t agree with and in this way we have successfully found loving homes for more than 20,000 children.

We hope and work towards the goal that international adoption may one day be an option for same-sex couples and gay singles.  We have spent years and will continue to research program development opportunities where gay families may be able to adopt the children who need families.  In the meantime, we have always placed and continue to place children through domestic adoption with a broad range of families, including same-sex couples and gay singles.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss our domestic programs with gay families, which range from a traditional full-service agency program, to independent private adoptions, to foster care/adoption counseling and LGBT support groups.  We are here to support families in their quest to become parents as we seek loving, stable homes for all children who need families.

Obama’s for Same-Sex Marriage, but what’s next?

Almost two weeks ago, President Obama shared his firm position on Same-Sex Marriage in America. He’s for it.

A number of publications lauded his efforts to take a clear stance on the hot-button issue, but once his statement was made, many questions followed. How and when will the rest of country follow suit with the president’s perspective? What protections and rights will same-sex couples have as opposed to married couples?  Must we signify a difference between same-sex marriages and heterosexual ones?

Of course, at Spence-Chapin we’re wondering what this means for our LGBT couples who want to adopt children.

Less than a year ago, New York State passed the Marriage Equality Act to legalize same-sex marriages within the state. New Jersey has granted Civil Unions to same-sex couples since 2006, granting them the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples while still reserving title of “marriage.”  As the way of LGBT Marriage, the tolerance of LGBT adoption is also considered a State’s right, allowing any state in the union the power to ban LGBT couples from adopting.

Thankfully, New York and New Jersey are not among those states against LGBT adoption, and, in fact, both states make it explicitly legal in their constitutions. (States that ban LGBT adoption: Utah, Alabama, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio) However, there are still children around the nation, and the globe, who cannot be adopted by loving parents simply because of sexual orientation.

In 2007 the Williams Institute reported that only 65,000 children have been adopted by same-sex couples, yet an Urban Institute report claims that almost 2 million LGBT couples are interested in adopting. 2 million couples! Imagine all of the loving homes that could be provided for children in need.

Yet, that isn’t the reality, and prejudices that keep capable, loving couples from adopting still exist. But here’s the truth of the matter: after factoring in data on education, employment, home-ownership, and residential stability from the 2000 census, federal reporters concluded “same-sex couples present many of the positive qualities that would create a suitable home for children in need of being adopted. …review of past research finds no notable differences between children in heterosexual parent households and those in lesbian and gay parent households.” Clearly, many couples have the desire and the capability to properly care for children who need them; yet restrictive laws still remain for the sake of state’s rights and intolerance.

Over America’s 235-year history, we’ve battled different forms of discrimination many times in many different ways. However, one thing has remained the same; we’ve always come out the better for it. Americans ended slavery, gained women’s suffrage, protected laborers, legalized interracial marriages, and so much more. Why would we ever want to step backwards?

So what do you think? Do LGBT couples need federal protections? Was Obama’s statement effective? What’s next for LGBT families?