Hello Bay Staters and welcome to this adoption guide for Massachusetts. Massachusetts, one of the original 13 colonies and the sixth state of the U.S., is home to Fenway Park, Cape Cod beaches, and Dunkin Donuts coffee. Everything about this state is full of history, pride, and tradition. With a population of 6.7 million with 19.4 million visitors per year, families from all different walks of life call this place home. If you are considering adopting a child in MA or placing a child for adoption, here is a guide that will walk you through these steps.
Expectant Parents: 10 things to know about placing a child for adoption in Massachusetts
If you are an expectant parent looking to place your child for adoption in Massachusetts, here are 10 steps that you can take to walk you through the process. Making this decision is not easy and this article is here for you to understand each step that much easier.
First, make an adoption plan. An adoption plan is a personalized plan that describes how you would like to carry out the adoption before and after your child is born. Some things to consider in this plan is the adoption agency, the type of family you want for your child, and the amount of communication you would like to have after your child is born. This is an elaborate plan that involves lots of time and consideration. Throughout this process, remember that no plan is the same and every decision depends on what is best for you and your child.
2. Find a Professional
Get in touch with an adoption specialist. Once you have made your plan, you can then find the licensed professional you would like to work with. By Massachusetts law, it is required that any child being placed for adoption go through an adoption agency, attorney, or social worker. Just like the adoption plan, this also takes time and deserves lots of research. The most important part is that you find the best option that works for you. If you are unsure of which adoption agency to choose or how to go about this process, please click here for more information selecting an adoption agency.
Start thinking about the bigger questions for your child. Once you have found the right adoption specialist, you will be asked to think about important questions that will impact your child. Some of these include, “What kind of family you would like your child to be placed in?” “What type of hospital stay would you like to have once your child is born?” and “How much communication would you like to have with your child?” When choosing what kind of family, some factors you might consider are the size of the family, the location of the adoptive family, and if the adoptive family already has children of their own. This process can be a lot at once and it is up to you to determine how much or how little you would like to be involved in any of these decisions. If you are having trouble deciding, please click here for more information on how to choose an adoptive family.
4. Communicate With a Caseworker
Tell your adoption specialist about your preferences. Once you have made all your choices, let your adoption specialist know that you are ready to move onto the next step. From there, you can start meeting potential families that would be interested in adopting your child.
5. Choose a Family
Choose your family. This is, without a doubt, the hardest step and will be emotional for both you and the adoptive family. This choice is life-changing and you are on the verge of creating a new life for you, the adoptive family, and the child. Choosing the right adoptive parent is crucial and if you feel overwhelmed, feel free to click here for more guidance on how to choose adoptive parents. However, it should be addressed that not every expectant parent wants to choose their family. Some prefer an adoption specialist to make that arrangement.
6. Make a Birth Plan
Plan out your hospital stay. Now that most of the adoption process is taken care of, let’s shift gears and focus on you. The hospital stay is an important part of this experience as well. It may seem minor but it will ultimately determine what will happen the day your child is born. When thinking about how you want your hospital stay, some things to consider are how much time you would like to spend with your baby, which family members or friends will you want to be there when the child is born, if you want photos with the baby and/or the adoptive family, and whether you want to leave the hospital with the adoptive family or alone. All of these questions will impact your experience and determine how you would like to introduce your baby to his or her new family.
7. Make an Adoption Plan
Decide what kind of adoption you would like for you and your child. Once you have planned out your hospital stay, its time to take a deeper look and ask how much or how little communication you would like to have with your child. At this point, you will need to decide if you want an open adoption or closed adoption. Open adoption is an arrangement where the birth parent stays in contact with his or her child through emails, phone calls, letters, and personal visits. A closed adoption is a situation in which the birth parent decides to have no contact with the adoptive family or her child. In Massachusetts, 90% of adoptions are open because most birth parents want to stay in contact with their child throughout his or her life. But that does not mean that this common decision is the best one for you. Every expectant parent has different feelings about this decision and no choice is right or wrong.
8. Find Help
Enroll in counseling. Once the adoption has been finalized, it is important to keep taking care of yourself. Having support throughout this process—before and after—is key to making a proper transition back into the rhythm of your own life. No, your life will never be the same, but it doesn’t have to be as different as you think. Surround yourself with family, friends, and licensed professionals that can help you throughout this hard time. Your mental health matters and it is good to know that people are here when you need it most.
9. Get Involved
Find resources to stay connected within the adoption community. Blogs and social media accounts can go a long way in the healing process of placing your child for adoption. By sharing your experience with others, it may help you heal in a way you never thought you would.
10. Be Patient
Be kind to yourself. Last but not least, give yourself time to grieve with this new life event. The adoption process is a journey for you too. It may take a while, but that doesn’t mean you will never feel okay again. Embrace each moment as an opportunity to learn something new and know that you did the best you could at every single step.
Adoptive Parents: 10 things to know about adopting a child in MA
Now that you have read how to place a child for adoption, let’s look at adoption from the other perspective. If you are an adoptive parent looking to adopt, there are many steps involved to making sure that you have a successful process. It is important to learn all you can about how to adopt a child before the process begins.
There are some basic logistical requirements for adopting a child in MA. In addition to being kind-hearted, warm, open, responsible, and confident, there are other requirements you must meet. To begin, you must be at least 18 years old or older to adopt. A hopeful adoptive parent or couple can be single, married, or unmarried to adopt. The hopeful adoptive person or couple must also have a very stable financial situation.
1. Find a Professional
Contact an adoption specialist. By law, it is required that you go through an adoption agency, attorney, or social worker. If you go through the adoption process with a social worker in Massachusetts, you will work with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF works in partnership with families and communities to provide foster care and permanent homes for children.
Adoption agencies are an intermediate party that help facilitate adoptions with birth parents and expectant parents. Adoption agencies can be private or state-owned. They are dedicated to helping both expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents in order to make this process run as smoothly as possible. For more information on how to pick the best adoption agency that is right for you, visit adoption.com.
Adoption agencies and attorneys work for infant domestic adoption, foster adoption, and international adoption.
Domestic Infant Adoption
Domestic infant adoption is the process of adoptive parents adopting a baby through a private agency or foster care system. Through a rigorous process, they become legal parents of the child. This adoption process is very similar to adopting any other child under 18 years of age in Massachusetts and follows the same protocol. To learn more about this type of adoption, click here for more information about domestic infant adoption in Massachusetts.
Foster Adoption is when adoptive parents adopt a child through a private agency that is licensed to provide foster care or through the Department of Children and Families (DCF). This process is very different from the domestic infant adoption process and rules and regulations vary depending on how old the child in foster care is. For more information on foster adoption and how to adopt, click here to learn about foster adoption in Massachusetts.
International adoption is when adoptive parents adopt a child outside of the U.S. and fulfill different requirements depending on the country. Most international adoptions are carried out through private adoption agencies and many adoptive parents rely on these agencies to steer them on this journey. Since are many additional steps to adopting a child out of the country, it will naturally take longer to adopt a child through international adoption rather than domestic or foster adoption. Learn if international adoption is right for your family.
2. Submit an Application
Submit the application and go through a background check. Once you choose the type of adoption you are looking for, apply to adopt. After your application is sent in, you will undergo an extensive background check where the adoptive parent(s) will be evaluated whether you are eligible to adopt.
3. Complete a Home Study
No matter which type of adoption you choose and what type of adoption specialist you go to, every adoptive parent must complete a home study. A home study is an evaluation of your home and lifestyle. During this assessment, adoption agents or social workers will determine your eligibility to adopt in two ways. The first portion of the home study is completed through documents such as financial statements, health statements, and background checks. The second part is a series of in-home visits where a caseworker will evaluate your home and conduct interviews to make sure you and your spouse are ready to adopt. This evaluation can occur more than once and is one of the most rigorous parts in determining whether or not you can move onto the next step. There are many resources for learning about home study requirements.
4. Complete Training
Complete the MAPP Course. In addition to a home study, you will also need to complete a 10-week Massachusetts Approaches to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) course 1 night per week. This course will enhance your parenting skills and prepare you for challenges that you may or may not anticipate in regards to adoption. Once this course and the home study is successfully completed, you will then move onto the next step.
5. Be Patient
Wait to hear back. Waiting can be the most agonizing part of this process but having patience will make this journey that much more worth it in the end. The wait time can be anywhere between 6 months at the earliest and 3+ years at the longest. Every adoption is different and there is no set timeline as every adoption process is unique.
6. Connect With the Biological Parents
Meet the birth family. For domestic adoptions, once you are matched with a potential birth family, you will then get to start meeting through emails, meetings, and in-person visits. After multiple exchanges, the birth parent(s) will then decide if he or she would like to move forward with welcoming the child into your family.
Finalize the adoption. If both the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) are happy with the arrangement, the last step will be to finalizing the adoption. However, this will not take place until after the child is born. Once you have successfully completed all of the post-placement requirements, you will be asked to attend an adoption finalization hearing. An adoption finalization hearing grants adoptive parents the right to become the legal parents and issues a decree of adoption. This occurs several months after placement and takes place at your local probate court. During this hearing, the judge will ask about your desire to adopt and how you will provide for the child. The judge will also ask questions to your adoption specialist if he or she thinks you and your child are a good match. If all goes well, the judge will sign the final adoption.
8. Complete the Paperwork
File for your child’s amended birth certificate and social security card. Once your adoption is officially completed, you can then take care of your child’s legal information.
9. Use Your Resources
Hold onto all of your collected adoption resources. Even though you have officially finalized your adoption, your adoption journey is just beginning. This time, it’s with your child. Going forward, make sure to stay connected to the adoption community for your child. Whether it’s social media, forums, adoption meetings, or social events, make sure your child has every chance to feel comfortable when learning about his or her own adoption. Every adoptee deserves a sense of security and a place to turn to in times of grief or confusion. You may not have the answers to every question, but as long as you give your child the best shot at finding them, you can rest easy knowing you are doing the best you can.
10. Stop to Smell the Roses
Cherish every moment. The long, arduous adoption process is over and you can finally be the parent you’ve always dreamed of being. Enjoy your new family and never forget where you both came from. As an adoptive parent, you will now be the guide to your child’s journey with adoption. Never leave him or her alone and always let your child know you can be someone to turn to for emotional support.
This page should not be used for any legal advice. Please refer to a licensed professional when making any decisions regarding adoption. This guide is subject to change at any time and is not responsible for any direct or indirect effect with this information.