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Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #46 – What Can Make Adoption Difficult, Part 1

For women who are pregnant and need help and are trying to decide what to do, what choice to make, what road to travel, remember that an adoption is an option. As an agency, we are still here to support you in your adoption choice and Arizona adoption plan. We believe in your right to choose a family for your baby, in your right to choose what type of adoption is best for you, and we also believe in support after you place your baby for adoption through our aftercare program: The Donna K. Evans Foundation.

Pregnant and Need Help? Our Adoption Agency is Available 24/7 by Call or Text at 623.695.4112

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption, a licensed adoption agency is your best option for creating an Arizona adoption plan you are satisfied with. Our local licensed adoption agency can meet with you face to face, hold your hand when needed, and can remain with you throughout your pregnancy and adoption plan in Arizona. In addition, you can visit your case worker after placement.  Building Arizona Families is a licensed adoption agency that can walk with you every step of the way.  If you are pregnant and need help, we would love to hear from you to find out how we can help.  You can call or text us 24/7 at: 623.695.4112.

Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #46 – What Can Make Adoption Difficult, Part 1

Visit us HERE to listen to Episode #46 of our podcast Birth Mother Matters. Read the transcript to our Podcast Episode #46 below-

Ron:
Welcome, and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself, because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:
And I know that my daughter would be taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scary. I’m the executive director, president and co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, who’s an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly:
This is the beginning of our two-part series. We are going to do a two-part series on what makes adoption difficult from two different vantage points. We’re going to look at the vantage point of the birth mother and the vantage point of the adoptive family.

Ron:
And so this episode, we’ll be talking about the birth mother’s vantage point.

Kelly:
Yes, we are going to be talking about the birth mother. From the birth mother’s vantage point, what is it that may or may not make adoption difficult? I think that adoption can be perceived by others as challenging or difficult. There are a lot of stigmas around adoption, a lot of misconceptions, a lot of misnomers, a lot of myths themselves. And I really want to use this opportunity to clarify some of those and dispel them and really dig down deep as to why the perception exists.

Ron:
For instance, if I were a birth mother, which to clarify, I’m not … I’m just asking for a friend … but if I were a birth mother-

Kelly:
We actually get those calls quite a bit.

Ron:
Do you?

Kelly:
We do. Yeah.

Ron:
I’m sure you do. If I was to call in an agency, does that mean I’m completely committed to the adoption?

Kelly:
No, you have the right to call an adoption agency and just find out more information about adoption. Just because you pick up that phone and you’re looking into adoption just means that you’re doing your research. I think it would be negligent on anybody’s part to make such a big decision in their life without doing research.

Ron:
Right, so you wouldn’t expect that just a phone call-

Kelly:
A phone call does not commit you to anything.

Ron:
Certainly.

Pregnant and Need Help

Kelly:
You have every right to call an agency and find more information to see if that agency specifically is a good match for you. And you can go from there. Just because you call the first agency doesn’t mean you have to go with that agency. Again, you’re looking for a good match. You’re looking for an agency that meets what you’re looking for, if you want an in-state agency that you can work with face-to-face, if you want an agency where when you call a person picks up the phone rather than an automated service that says, “Press one for this and two for this.”

Ron:
And leave a message. Right. Right. Okay. What kind of fees would a birth mother have to pay in this circumstance?

Kelly:
When you’re a birth mother and you’re placing a baby for adoption, there are no fees. Everything is provided to you and paid for by the adoptive family. All of our adoption services are free to pregnant women considering adoption. Again, these fees are paid by the adoptive family. A lot of times birth mothers will come into our program and be concerned about what this is going to cost them. Not only does it not cost them anything, but we can actually help them with their living expenses.

Ron:
Okay. What if she has other children?

Kelly:
That’s a big one. That’s a question that we get quite often. You absolutely can choose to place the baby that you’re pregnant with for adoption and it has no bearing or weight on the other children in your home, meaning that just because you place this one baby for adoption does not mean that you are considering placing the other children for adoption.

Ron:
Right. Okay.

Kelly:
Sometimes a woman will come into our agency and she’ll bring her other children with her while we’re doing paperwork. And I’ve had women say, “I’m not placing these for adoption. These are my children.” And we just reassure them that, “Of course they are.” It doesn’t mean that because you’re doing an adoption now, all of your children are going up for adoption.

Ron:
Yeah. It’s not a group thing.

Kelly:
No. It’s not a one for all or all for one. No.

Ron:
Okay. Who picks the adoptive family?

Kelly:
Another really good question. The adoptive family is always chosen by the birth mother.

Ron:
And as an agency, you give them many options according to what they want in an adoptive family, correct?

Kelly:
Yes. What happens is a birth mother will go through and give us a list of preferences of what she’s looking for in an adoptive family. That could be anything from she wants a two-parent family with a stay-at-home mom. She may want a family that has a dog or she may want a family that is very open to lots of communication. And the adoptive families do the same thing. They fill out a preference sheet. Then what we do is we have a match coordinator that goes through and pulls the birth mother’s preferences and the adoptive family’s preferences and then we present profiles to a birth mother.

Ron:
That kind of match up.

Kelly:
Correct. In our agency, we normally present between three and five to a birth mother. We find that if we present more than that, it can become overwhelming. We’ll start with three to five. And then if for some reason, none of the families in the three to five profiles that we have chosen are what she’s looking for, then we-

Ron:
Go through another three to five.

Kelly:
Absolutely.

Ron:
Okay. That makes sense. Now, do they do background checks on all adoptive families?

Kelly:
Good question. Absolutely, 100%. All adoptive families registered with our agency have completed an adoption home study. In the adoption home study, they have undergone fingerprints, which include all the background checks, the child protective service clearances. They have to prove their financial status. They have to be emotionally, physically stable as well. They also have to provide references and have had a social group go to their home on two separate occasions to make sure that the home is safe and meets the state requirements that they’re living in for being an adoptive home.

Ron:
Those requirements, the background checks, they vary from state to state, but there’s always-

Kelly:
They don’t vary from state to state. The home study requirements actually vary from state to state. In some states, like in the state of Arizona, you have to be home study certified. What that means is that we take it an extra step. Not only does a social group go out to the home, gather all of the information, the family has to go through all of the background checks and provide all of the documentation, but then the adoption agency writes the adoption home study and then submits it to the court system. The judge actually reviews and signs off and issues in accreditation. Only a few states actually take the adoption home study to this level. Now, families that are adopting through us out of state have to meet their state requirements.

Ron:
Okay, so not Arizona’s.

Kelly:
No, not Arizona’s. That doesn’t mean that their state’s requirements are going to be any less stringent than ours. They just may differ. They may or may not have to go through the court system, but there is a common denominator, if you will, for adoption home studies. The home studies do have to be cleared by the Interstate Compact Placement Agreement, and so they have to meet a minimum criterion. But across the board, social workers are trained in adoption home studies. We know what we’re looking for. And a good question that I get on that is, “Do you ever turn families away?” And the answer is yes.

Ron:
What kind of reasons would you turn a family away for?

Kelly:
We have turned families away for reasons such as they were dishonest in their home study. They may or may not have disclosed a criminal background that would be of concern. Another reason is if they were falsifying, like I said, information, if they had a history with previous incidents that we weren’t comfortable with. In the state of Arizona, if you have a pool, you have to have a fence. And if they choose to not have a fence … We’ve had that before. We’ve had a family that didn’t want to put-

Ron:
Really?

Kelly:
No, they didn’t want it to ruin the view of their pool, and so we would not work with them.

Ron:
Okay. Well, that makes sense. Now, when will the birth mother sign the final paperwork?

Kelly:
The birth mother actually signs paperwork throughout the adoption process from the time she comes in until after the baby’s born, but she doesn’t sign the adoption consents, which are … That’s the big one. That’s the one where the birth mother signs the final document stating that she is officially placing the child for adoption. Those are done at 72 hours after the baby’s born. Now, if that’s in the middle of the night, could it go a little further? Sure. Never before 72 hours.

Kelly:
And another interesting fact is that if she is under the influence of pain medication or there are some issues, if she’s in the hospital ICU or she can’t sign for some reason, you can go longer than the 72 hours, but never before.

Ron:
Okay. Now, do other states have that same 72-hour time period?

Kelly:
No, they don’t. It varies from state to state and that is actually a state law, not a federal law.

Ron:
Okay.

Kelly:
And they vary widely, which is why some families choose to adopt out of Arizona because we do have really friendly adoption laws.

Ron:
Okay. What do you do if a birth mother has already placed another child for adoption previously?

Kelly:
With our agency, and again, I want to clarify that the answers that we’re giving today are specialized for our adoption agency and within the state of Arizona. Now, that doesn’t mean that another adoption agency may be able to give these same answers. But again, I can’t speak generally for other adoption agencies or other states.

Ron:
You can’t answer for them.

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Kelly:
If another woman has placed a baby for adoption, especially with us, we always ask if she is interested in placing with the same family that she placed with previously. Not all birth mothers say yes, but we always give the option first. We very much like to keep siblings together if at all possible.

Ron:
Okay. That makes a lot of sense.

Kelly:
Yes.

Ron:
Does the birth mother, is she allowed to choose the type of adoption it’s going to be, for instance, open, semi-open, closed?

Kelly:
Of course. That’s absolutely her right. One of the things that we do as well is we really want to empower the birth mother and make her feel good about her choice, because if you are working with a birth mother who has an adoption plan and she feels confident in her choice and in her decision, the chances of the adoption being successful are greater because if somebody is uncomfortable with their choice and they’re not feeling comfortable with where this is going and they don’t feel like they’re in control, the chances of the adoption going through are not as high. And so in order to have a successful adoption and have a happy birth mother and an happy adoptive family, by empowering the birth mother and letting her choose what she is comfortable with, we have found to have great success.

Ron:
Okay. And you recommend a little more open generally?

Kelly:
We do. There are certain circumstances where open may or may not work. I know there are times where if there is a case where there has been rape or maybe the birth father has some issues that are of concern, then to safeguard the child, I’ve had a birth mother before request the adoption to be closed so that there’s no chance of any contact. And we will always, always honor that. Yes, we love open adoptions. We always encourage them when appropriate.

Ron:
Right. When there is an open or semi-open adoption and say the birth mother falls off track for a little bit, you don’t know where she is or whatever, how do you handle a situation like that? Do you keep that-

Kelly:
Great question.

Ron:
… post-adoption communication agreement?

Kelly:
Great question. Yes. What happens is we use a program called Child Connect. And through Child Connect, the adoptive family submits letters and pictures into this internet portal service. The birth mother can log on from a cell phone, a computer, pretty much from any media site, and she can log on and see pictures of the baby and read the letters and communicate via this program. If a birth mother decides to ghost for a while and she just needs a break and doesn’t want to think about the adoption after she’s had the baby and in two years or three years, she resurfaces, all she has to do is log back in. The family is still responsible according to their post-adoption communication agreement for keeping up those letters and pictures, so she will just find years worth of letters and pictures.

Ron:
It will just be inundated…

Kelly:
Yeah, absolutely.

Ron:
Here’s your child’s growth so far, right? Yeah.

Kelly:
It’s amazing. And, and prior to that, before we used Child Connect, we would get the letters and pictures sent to the agency. We would just keep them in a file.

Ron:
Wow.

Kelly:
And if she resurfaced, then that would be for her to have.

Ron:
Wow. Child Connect must be just amazing because I can’t imagine how overwhelmed you guys must have been with pictures and letters and things like that.

Kelly:
It became a lot. Yes.

Ron:
I bet. I bet.

Kelly:
Yes. It became a lot.

Ron:
What about the birth father? Now, can he be involved in the adoption and to what extent?

Kelly:
Yes, he can. In order for a birth father to be able to receive his own login, his own post-adoption communication agreement, meaning the family is equally as responsible for providing him with letters and pictures and updates as the birth mother, then he would need to sign adoption consent just like the birth mother.

Kelly:
He would have to take it a step further. Let’s say he’s served; his time runs out during the pregnancy and at that point he doesn’t have…. Right. He hasn’t established paternity and so he cannot basically hinder the adoption at that point. He can decide, “I too want to sign consents,” and when the birth mother signs consents, he then signs as well. And he can absolutely have his own login independent of whether or not he’s with the birth mother and have his own adoption plan.

Ron:
Wow. That’s great, actually. Is there financial assistance available for birth mothers?

Kelly:
Absolutely. As long as they qualify for assistance, we go off of the state regulations. Yes, we go off of the state regulations. We can help birth mothers with housing, food, medical bills, a cell phone, clothing, transportation to and from pregnancy-related appointments. And what is really neat is this is not difficult in terms of getting the process going. Emotionally, it can be difficult and it can be hard and it can be a while before you can find peace in your decision because it’s a big choice, but the adoption process doesn’t have to be hard and the support that you can receive from an agency can really help with these things.

Ron:
Right. And that’s pretty much anything that’s related to the pregnancy itself.

Kelly:
Yes.

Ron:
Okay.

Kelly:
Yes.

Ron:
All right. I think that’s all the questions I have as a birth mother.

Kelly:
All right. Well, I would say if you or any of our listeners have any more questions, don’t worry, we’ve got lots more answers. You’re welcome to call and text us whenever you’re ready if you’re thinking about placing your unborn baby for adoption. The number to call us is 623-695-4112, or you can email us at info@buildingarizonafamilies.com.

Christina:
I’m Christina. I’m 32 years old, and I first came to Building Arizona Families for an adoption. It’s hard to go through the adoption, but I felt more content and I felt at peace when I came to the office and I seen the picture of Kelly’s birth mom.

Christina:
The adoption agency helped me out tremendously. Going through what I was going through, living here and there, bouncing back and forth, wasn’t really stable and knowing that I love children so much that it was hard at first, but Building Arizona Families, they helped me out tremendously. My case manager, Gloria, she’s amazing, and then Kelly, and most of the other females that are working at Building Arizona Families. Seeing you guys, it brings a smile to my face and a little bit more hope and stuff because going through this process, it has put me up and down in my lows and talking it over, it kind of sets in and makes you a little bit more at ease and at home.

Christina:
I was blessed to come into contact with Building Arizona Families so that way I could give my baby a better life than what I could give him right now, because I’m not saying that I’m not capable of it, but I am, but I’m just more … rather see him accomplish more things that I could not give him right now. He can get a better education, and helping out another family is amazing too.

Christina:
And it’s hard for certain women that don’t always have that hope to go and find a place or to look out or have the extra resources and knowing that someone else probably has gone through with what they’ve gone through. I’ve been there with the drugs or whatnot. I went, got help and then here I am pregnant, but I’m still drug-free, but it’s a battle. It’s up and down and it’s a rocky road. And I just know what it’s like, but it’s a process. And you just got to have the strength and the heart to just keep pushing forward.

Christina:
I was raped with this pregnancy, and I’m not saying that I would not keep him. I would, but being on the streets, bouncing from this motel to that motel and not having a stable place to live out there on Mesa on the east side, it was hard. And not having the family support thing there for me, because at the time I was going through a CPS case with my youngest, I didn’t want to jeopardize my child being placed with my aunt, so I stayed out on the street or met friends and tried to make sure that I didn’t get taken advantage of, which I did.

Christina:
I thought that I had some pretty good friends there for me, but didn’t because in the end, they still just gave me the foot out the door until I made the initiative. I read more about Building Arizona Families, and that’s when I felt more at peace and home, and walking through the door and having the secretary at the door and she greets us when we walk in. It’s really amazing.

Christina:
Going through with what I went through and coming here for that first visit with Amanda and signing my paperwork, that’s when I told Amanda and she worked me into it because I was kind of nervous and she knew it and she felt it and I was like, “I’m sorry, I just don’t know what to do,” and she’s like, “No, don’t apologize. It’s all good,” but it helped me out a lot too, because it’s not that it’s forcing. You guys are just right there to help us and guide us into a good, positive way to make us feel more at home and secure because the ones like me being out there on the streets, I mean, walking through the door at Building Arizona Families, it’s hard because we always get judgmental looks from everybody else, but you guys don’t. It’s welcoming and more of a home feeling.

Christina:
My aunt went back and forth with me and she pretty much said some hurtful things. But when she found out that I was going through the adoption agency, she’s like, “I know I said some of the meanest and cruelest things to you.” She goes, “But it’s a noble thing what you’re doing.” And she goes, “It’s very hard and I know it, but I’ll still be here in the end.” My son will be gone with his family, which is my adoptive parents that I picked and I’m amazed and I’m glad and I’m thankful. He’ll be perfectly fine and my dad and my step-mom can’t do nothing about it, thank God.

Kelly:
You’re welcome to call and text us whenever you’re ready if you’re thinking about placing your unborn baby for adoption or are pregnant and need help. The number to call us is 623-695-4112 or you can email us at info@buildingarizonafamilies.com.

Ron:
Pregnant and need help? We have a pregnancy crisis hotline available 24/7 by phone or text at 623-695-4112 or you can call our toll-free number, 1-800-340-9665. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get you to a safe place, provide food and clothing and started on creating an Arizona adoption plan or give you more information. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns. If you enjoy this podcast, rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts. And as always, thanks to Grapes for letting us use their song I Don’t know as our theme song. Join us next time for Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns, and we’ll see you then.

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