Answers To Big Questions

At Herrin & Leach we will take the time to sit down with you, listen to your concerns and answers all of your questions in a confidential and compassionate setting. Many people have general questions and this list of FAQ for birth mothers and others may help to demystify the terminology.

What Is An Open Adoption?

An "open" adoption means the process is not confidential and there is contact between the birth parents, adoptive parents and the child. The birth mom knows the full names and address of the adopting parents and communicates with them directly in the future for letters, pictures and/or visits.

What Are The Benefits Of Open Adoption?

Open adoptions allow a greater degree of transparency and control. Some birth parents and prospective parents wonder if an open adoption will confuse the child. They have concerns that an open adoption may be awkward. But this is rarely, if ever, the case. Children of open adoptions are aware that they were adopted and are therefore more readily able to voice any concerns or questions about their birth parents.

How Common Is Open Adoption?

The great majority of the adoptions we handle are open and future communications, photos, letters and visits are contemplated. However, in Indiana, an adoptive parent cannot enter into a contract for visits in exchange for signing a consent for adoption for children under two (2) years old as it would potentially invalidate the consent. As such, the adoptive parents' obligation to adhere to their promises to the birth mother in these situations is more of a "moral" obligation than a "legal" obligation. If the birth mother does not trust that the adoptive parents will honor their commitment, then we work to find a family that meets her expectations.

What Is A Closed Adoption?

It means there is no anticipated future contact between the birth parent the adoptive parents and the child and the parties do not share identifying information. We respect the rights of a birth mother who believes that a closed adoption is best for her and the baby. We make sure that a birth mother who desires a closed adoption is matched with adoptive parents who share her desire.

What Are The Benefits Of A Closed Adoption?

Depending upon the circumstances, a closed adoption can offer a sense of closure, clear boundaries, privacy and freedom.

What Is A Mediated Adoption?

Mediated adoption allows for "non-identifying contact" to be made through a third party — such as an adoption attorney. The third party has information such as physical descriptors and health backgrounds about the birth parents. Parents can deliver/send cards, letters, and pictures to the birth parents. A mediated adoption requires an adoption attorney or agency or both.

What Financial Help May I Receive?

Under Indiana law, a mother who is considering an adoption plan for her child is able to receive reimbursement for medical expenses and certain amounts to assist with her living expenses while pregnant and for up to six weeks after birth. These living expenses can include rent, utilities, transportation, lost wages, phone, and maternity clothes. A birth mother is also allowed to be reimbursed for reasonable counseling costs expenses, if she desires.

What is the termination of parents' rights?

This is the legal act, either voluntary or involuntary, which ends the legal rights and responsibilities of the parent to the child. This means that the parent is no longer responsible for that child's education, health care, welfare or well-being. This must happen for the child to be considered legally free for adoption. In most private adoption cases, these rights are voluntarily terminated. Birth parents who terminate their rights can still have a voice as to the placement of the child and can express their desires for the child to brought up with certain stipulations, such as religious exposure or educational opportunities.

Why Do I Need To "Consent" To An Adoption?

Indiana law has very specific requirements so that a consent to adoption conforms to the law. The written consent must be signed and notarized. The consent confirms the birth parents' intention to place the child for adoption. In Indiana if a child is 14 or older and being adopted, for example by a stepparent, or by a second parent adoption, the child will also have to give his or her consent before the adoption decree is issued by the court. A putative father can sign a consent prior to the birth of a child, but a birth mother may not.

Do I Have To Identify The Father Of The Child?

Birth mother's may choose not to identify the father of their child for many very personal reasons. We respect the birth mother's right not have to identify the putative father of the child. However, each case is unique. You should contact an adoption-only firm discuss your specific situation and to determine whether or not the father of your child has to be involved in your decision.

Is Adoption For People Who Don't Want To Be Parents?

No. The reasons for adoption vary, but most women choose adoption because the current circumstances are not the best for raising a child.

When Should I Sign A Consent Form?

The consent form can only be signed after the baby is born. A putative father may sign a consent prior to the adoption and waive any further notice of the adoption proceedings.

How Long Does An Adoption Take?

This varies. In Indiana, most adoptions can be finalized in as little as a few months.

Will I Need A Criminal Background Check?

No. Any background forms are used only to gather information for the adoptive parents so that they have more information about the birth mother. If you have criminal history or any other private matters, the attorneys at Herrin & Leach will respect your privacy and decisions.

Does The Adoption Process Cost For The Birth Mother?

No. In fact, the birth mother may receive financial assistance during her pregnancy and for six weeks after birth. For more details on these questions as well as answers to other questions, please call Herrin & Leach at our Indianapolis office and speak directly with a lawyer at 317-566-2174. Or simply fill out our online contact form to contact us.