I shared nine months ago about how our agency adoption works. I wanted to help explain the process a bit more. The steps are nearly the same, even though we are now on a private adoption path, with only weeks until our daughter’s birth.
Still, I hadn’t realized how fuzzy all of this is to those not involved, so here is some more to fill in any gaps of understanding.
We are past the home study phase (aka: approved to adopt).
We are “matched” and waiting (aka: waiting for the baby to be born).
The major difference in our story is that we are friends with the birth mom (aka: My Hero, MH) and she is living with us. This unique situation means I take MH to every doctor appointment, lab, screening, agency meeting, etc. It means we are talking a lot. It means we have had the hard talks and our plan is much more concrete than other plans feel at this stage. But it doesn’t change the legal steps.
Yes, MH is 100% solid in her decision to place Baby Girl with us.
Yes, I believe this baby is ours.
Yes, it’s still nerve wracking and will be a surreal experience.
Here are the legal steps to adoption after Baby Girl is born:
- 1st: Baby Girl is placed with us. We have the placement order from the judge, which means we have the right to care for her. Our lawyer submitted our homestudy and information and we “passed”. In an agency adoption, the agency has placement orders, not the specific couple. I have another post this week about this phase, please be sure to not miss it.
- 2nd: MH must go to family court and sign relinquishment papers. Yes, she has to go to do this. Please pray for her… even though she has peace in the decision, it will be painful to do this. She must wait three days (New Mexico doesn’t allow this step until after 72 hours after birth). Of course, how soon she can go do this is dependent on what type of delivery she gets to have and how her recovery goes. Her lawyer, a representative from the agency and a friend goes with her.
- 3rd: The birth father is notified. The lawyers attempt to personally contact him to have him sign relinquishment papers. Since he has ignored all contact so far, the lawyers will probably have to post public notices in attempt to have him sign. After twenty days, if he has refused to step forward, his rights will be terminated.
- 4th: After that, Baby Girl is mostly ours. This will be the stage where I exhale and the we wait for the formality of the adoption. Yes, I am as confident as I can be that this is our daughter, but any wiggle room in the legal area gives me pause.
It does mean, though, that it would take a fight to change the adoption plan after #4 above (aka: MH changing her mind and/or the birth father coming to NM to prove he can parent Baby Girl and/or the State changing its mind on our ability to parent her). None of this is remotely likely, but it can happen, of course. I just don’t see it happening.
- 5th We finalize the adoption. After a couple of home visits to check on Baby Girl and how we are parenting, we get a court date to finalize the adoption. This means that the birth certificate changes and Baby Girl is legally, 100% our daughter.
Please join us in prayer that these steps go smoothly, since it would benefit all of us to have as little drama as possible. Also, of course, please keep praying for Baby Girls health. We are asking the Lord for her to have little to no complications. He has already answered a big prayer request:
Baby Girl has no heart defects! Wahoo!! There can still be issues post birth, but any big complications should not be heart related. This is fantastic since many babies with Down syndrome must have open heart surgery soon after birth.
Oh, and a side note: I mentioned in the first post announcing MH that she would have a month to stay with us after delivery. I think the lengthy post combined with all the excitement caused that detail to get lost. So, since so many have asked:
Yes, she will stay at our home after she leaves the hospital.
Yes, that will be weird, and hard, and wonderful. It will be the hardest phase of our adoption, my guess.
Yes, she will go back to her home when she is physically and emotionally ready to care for herself. The timeline for this depends on her recovery, but she would like to be in her own home again soon.
We do have two back up plans if either of us need them:
- A dear friend will come care for MH if we need her to do this. We believe we can live together and care for MH post partum, but if Baby Girl is not well physically and needs to stay in the NICU for awhile, or if MH isn’t emotionally able to have us do this, or if I am not emotionally able, we have a post birth doula on call. Her name is Jan and I adore her.
- A friend from church has offered her guest house to me and Baby Girl. If MH has too difficult of a time having me and baby in the house while she gains the strength to travel home, then I will take Baby Girl on a mini B&B trip. It doesn’t make sense to send MH to the guest house, since she will be recovering from child birth and I will not. Even if she wasn’t physically handicapped, it would be silly to send the woman who just delivered a baby to go be alone.
So…. as we near the finish line, does this help you understand the steps and our plan?