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Please Use this link for a printable version of: FAQ's for Birth Parents

Below are a series of Frequently Asked Questions that we receive from Birth Parent(s).

Hopefully the responses will provide answers to some of your questions and if you have questions that remain unanswered....

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  • What is the adoptive family allowed to know about me?


Every adoption is just as unique as the individuals involved. How much or how little the family knows about you is your decision. If you want them to only know what is necessary then they will be given only given information which includes: health and genetic family history, pregnancy and delivery information and hospital birth records.


Any information shared beyond that is up to you. Your birthparent counselor will help you create a customize plan that respects your wants. 

  • What does the adoptive family usually want to know about me?


Again, this varies from case to case and individual to individual. The adoptive family usually has as many questions about you as you do about them. However, you are our priority and the answers to their questions, beyond non-identifying health and genetic information, will only be given by you or with your permission.


Adoptive Parents are typically curious about you. Things like your age, if you have other children, if you have a support system, and other questions like that are on their mind.


Many birthparents, birth mothers in particular, worry that they adoptive family will judge them. We can assure you that is not the case and if you feel that way at any time we want you to let us know. All of our adoptive families are required to complete pre-adoptive education. Part of what we supply talks about breaking the stigma that has plagued women for far too long. You are strong and to be respected. Creating an adoption plan isn't easy and you deserve to be emotionally supported from both the agency and the adoptive parents you choose. 

  • How much can I be involved in choosing the adoptive family for my child? May I meet him/her/them?


The decision is yours. You can choose to be very active to requesting your counselor choose the family, and every level of involvement inbetween. 


When you choose a family or several families that you are interested in, you can also choose to meet them. Meeting potential adoptive parent(s) can, at times, feel scary and stressful. However, your birthparent counselor, and whoever else you want, will be there with you to help support you and make the meeting go smoothly.


Many birth parents may go out to dinner with the adoptive family, meet in our office, go to doctor visits together, talk on the telephone and/or write to each other. 


When the time comes you and your birthparent counselor can determine all of the details so that there won't be any surprises and the environment will be where you are most comfortable.

  • How much will I know about the adoptive parents?


If you have had a chance to look at our Parenting Plan there are several types of adoption relationships defined there. If you decide that an adoption plan is what's best for you and your baby, one of the things you will discuss with your birthparent counselor, before they even show you an adoptive family's profile book, is your wishes for post-adoption communication and visitation.


We actually have a form/worksheet specifically for this called a "Communication Plan" (click on the link to see what it looks like). All of our adoptive family's complete the same form. We do this so that when you are ready to look at adoptive families for your baby we can show you ones who have similar post-adoption communication wishes as you. Adoption is a lifelong commitment and we want to make sure that the relationship between birthparents and adoptive families starts off on a solid foundation of open communication and similar expectations/wishes. When everyone is on the same page no one is left behind.


There is no way to predict how you and the adoptive family will connect. So, if post-adoption communication is something you desire, after you have selected the adoptive family you can decide how much information to disclose to one another. You are free to exchange any information you want.

  • Does the agency ever deal with adoptive families who are out of this state, or must they live in the state where the agency is?


Yes, the agency does work with adoptive families and birthparent(s) that live out of state. Many times these individuals are matched and either the the birthparent or adoptive family live in Wisconsin. 


We provide either screening and licensing services for the adoptive family or birthparent counseling services for the birthparent(s). We do not match birthparents with adoptive parents outside of Wisconsin.

  • May I select what religion I wish the couple to be and be assured that the child will be raised in that religion?


Yes, it is your right as a birth parent to have a child raised in the religion that is important to you.

  • May I know how long a couple has been waiting for a child, and why the wait?


Yes, you may know how long a couple has been waiting for a child. That information is on the parent profiles you view when choosing a couple.


There are many factors which can play into how long the couple has been waiting, from failed plans, their level of openness, type of child desired, how much they are willing to pay in extra expenses for the birth parent as well as what they are willing to accept in the health history of the birth mother.

  • May I write the adoptive parents a letter explaining to them the reasons for placing my child for adoption, and will I have the assurance they will receive and read it?


You may write the adoptive parents a letter explaining to them the reasons for placing your child for adoption. This question is also asked in the social history form you fill out, if you feel the need to explain further, you can write a letter.


You have our assurance that they will receive it, and most adoptive families would be very pleased to share this letter with their child at the appropriate age.

  • What qualifications must a couple meet before they are accepted as clients in your agency?


We accept applicants who are single, married, part of the LGBTQ+ community, and of any race or creed. They are all  at least 21 years old and have an approved home study completed by a licensed agency are able to adopt.


A home study includes: financial disclosures and reviews, physical and mental health exams, personal references, criminal background checks through their county of residence as well as state records (includes anywhere they have lived in the past 5 years). They are screened by a licensed social worker throughout at least 2 meetings (for couples, they meet together and individually) and a visit to their home by the social worker to ensure that the home meets licensing requirements.


Other documents needed for the home study include: proof of insurance, state and federal income tax records, birth certificates, marriage license, physical exams, letters of employment, five (5) non-relative references, a financial statement of their assets and income, and individual testing detailing their emotional well-being, life experiences and relationships with others from childhood to adulthood.


  • Do I Need the Birth Father's Permission?


Whether you are married to the birthfather or not, he has a role in the adoption. Under Wisconsin law, the mother of a child born while not married to the birth father has custody.


However, the father also has to agree to the adoption in order to make your child available for adoption. In fact, this cannot be done without his voluntary consent or a legal procedure to terminate his rights involuntarily.


In some cases, the birth father may be unknown. There is a specific legal process that addresses unknown birth fathers.

Adoption Services, Inc. offers free and confidential birth parent counseling. A quick meeting with an adoption professional can provide you with helpful information about the adoption process and can answer specific questions you may have regarding your case.


  • After the adoption is finalized, will I need to have any further contact with the adoption agency or adoptive family?


Post-adoption contact with the adoptive family is guided by the Communication Plan we discussed earlier. That "plan" is not enforceable by law and can be changed throughout the course of the relationship between birthparent and adoptive family. We hope that both parties will continue to communicate openly with each other. If at any time you need help with this, just give us a call and we will be happy to assist. 


Post-adoption communication with the agency is also dependent on what you need. We are here if you find you need someone to talk to, referrals for community assistance, anything. 

  • Will my child be able to get information about me if he/she desires?


If you have chosen to not have a post-adoption relationship with the adoptive family, your child will be able to search for you through the Wisconsin Adoption Records Search Program, but not before the age of 18.


When the child is 18 years old, they can request non-identifying social history and medical/genetic information about the birth parents. At age 21, the child may request a search for their birth parent’s identity and location as well as a copy of the original birth certificate, if the birth parents have signed an Affidavit of Consent.

  • What are sealed records?


Sealed records, as opposed to open records, refer to the practice of impounding the original birth certificate of an infant upon adoption. The original sealed birth certificate is replaced with a birth certificate declaring the adoptee to be the child of his/her adoptive parents. When a person who was adopted in Wisconsin turns 18, he/she may request a search for his/her birth parent and request a copy of the sealed birth certificate.

  • Can I request that the files be sealed until the child is 18 or is that automatically the case?


The files are automatically sealed until the child turns 18.

  • Who has access to my file with the adoption agency?


While all records are kept confidential, the State reviewer for agency licensing does have access to files when they perform site visits.


Anyone who has access to your file is held to the highest standard of confidentiality. Both their position and license is at risk should they violate that confidentiality. Viewing your file will only be done if it is needed for licensing, legal, or to fulfill a Search Program Request. 

  • What information do the adoption agency’s files contain?


The file contains complete medical/genetic history, pregnancy/delivery information, social history form, intake form, consents for disclosure of confidential information (hospital, doctor, adoptive family, etc.), hospital birth plan and consents to release information, voluntary consent for placement, birth certificate and Termination of Parental Rights paperwork.

  • In the years to come, if my child searches for me, would the agency contact me before my child does?


The answer to this question becomes more and more difficult as DNA technology and our online imprints become more and more sophisticated and accessible.


It use to entirely depend on if the birthparent had or had not signed an Affidavit of Consent. During the process of creating your adoption plan you birthparent counselor will go over this form with you and help you to determine what you wish to allow or not allow. If you sign the consent you would be contacted by the agency first to be given the chance to consent or refuse.


However, your child may utilize other resources (ie social media, DNA companies, private investigators, etc.) to find you one day and reach out first without the agency's knowledge or involvement.

  • Will I be able to find my child if I decide I want to search for him/her?


In Wisconsin, adoption law does not allow birth parents the ability to search for their birth children. However, birth parents can sign an affidavit that states their willingness to have contact with their birth child. This affidavit is then placed in their file at the adoption agency and with the State. Therefore, when an adoptee initiates a search they will know that their birth parent wants to be contacted.

  • May I have pictures of my baby?


Yes, you can take as many pictures as you want at the hospital. You can also make arrangements with the adoptive family to receive pictures from them as well.

  • What may I send to my child?


You may send a gift with your child and the agency will ensure that the child receives any gifts or letters that you want your child to receive.

  • Are my parents, friends, father of the baby etc. allowed to see the baby?


Before the Termination of Parental Rights, other family members, friends and birth father are allowed to see the baby with your permission. After the Termination of Parental Rights, visits can be arranged with the adoptive family if all parties are comfortable with that.

  • Will I be able to spend time with my baby in the hospital?


After your baby is born, you may have the baby stay with you in the hospital room, if that is what you would like. If you are having an open adoption, which is most common, you may want to consider including the adoptive parents in caring for the baby during your hospital stay. However, make sure that you take enough private time for you and your child. If you find that it is easier not to see the baby at all, that is fine. You must do what feels most comfortable for you, not what others may expect you to do. Inform your counselor of you choices in this matter.

  • Will I have to go to court?


In Wisconsin, the procedure for permanently ending the legal relationship between parents and their child is called a Termination of Parental Rights or TPR. The TPR takes place in court, in front of a Judge. The petition for the hearing is signed by the birth parent. The attorney involved will file the petition with the court. The petition is filed soon after the birth of the child and the court date is generally two to four weeks later. Your social worker will prepare you for the court hearing and she will be present at the hearing.

  • How soon after the baby is born can it be placed in its new home?


The baby may go home from the hospital with the adoptive family in what is known as a “Legal Risk” placement. In order for the child to go home with the adoptive family, they must have a current home study on file with our agency and pre-adoptive foster home license. The other option is for the baby to be placed in one of our agency’s licensed foster homes during the time between hospital discharge and the TPR court hearing.

  • Why do some babies go into foster care before they are placed with the adoptive parents?


After discharge from the hospital and before the TPR hearing, the baby can either be placed in the home of the adoptive family (who are licensed as foster parents) as a legal risk placement or in one of our licensed agency foster homes. This decision is made between the adoptive parents and the birth parents. Agency staff will often advise all parties in the decision making process.

  • How long will my baby be in foster care?


If it is decided that the baby will be placed in an agency foster home until the TPR hearing, he/she will usually be in foster care for three weeks. This can vary from 14 to 30 days, depending on how quickly the TPR hearing can be scheduled. Birth parents and adoptive parents may visit during this time.

  • Do my parents need to sign papers for me to place my child for adoption?


No.

  • Once I appear in court and the Judge signs the order termination my parental rights, can I change my mind about the adoption?


Under Wisconsin law, your decision does not become final until you terminate your parental rights (TPR). After the TPR petition is filed, you will have approximately 30 days before you go to court to terminate your parental rights. Once the TPR is finalized, you will no longer have any rights to your child and no right to change your mind.

  • Will I be able to have a visit with my baby before the TPR?


Yes, you are able to see the baby in the hospital, and if you decide you would like to see the child again before the TPR, a visit to the adoptive family’s home or the foster home will be arranged.

  • What information is needed about the birth father?


The birth mother is required by the court to provide as much information as possible about the identity of the birth father so that legal notice can be given to him prior to the Termination of Parental Rights court hearing.

  • When, if at all, does the birth father have to be present? Do I have to be there with him?


The birth father does not have to be present at any point. However, any identifying information must be disclosed so that he can be legally notified. If the birth father does not appear at the court hearing, and he has not declared paternal interest before the hearing, his rights will be terminated by default.

  • If there was an accident and the child’s adoptive parents were killed, would I then be responsible for the child?


No, you would not be responsible for the child. Your parental rights would have already been terminated. If this happens before the adoption is finalized, the agency would place the child with another adoptive family. If this would happen after the adoption is finalized, the child would go to the guardian that the adoptive family designated in their will.

  • Can I name the baby and will the adoptive parents keep the name I pick?


You can name the baby at the hospital. The child’s original birth certificate will have your name and the name you chose for your child. However, the adoptive families can chose to change the child’s name when they finalize the adoption. When they finalize the adoption, they will be issued a new birth certificate with their names as the parents and the name they chose for the child.

  • What happens if my baby is born with birth defects? Will the adoptive parents still want to adopt my baby?


Most of the time, the adoptive family continues to be involved in the adoption plan and continues to want to adopt the baby. They will take the child to medical specialists, as needed. If, in a rare case, the adoptive family did not want to continue with the adoption plan, the agency would work with you to make an alternative plan or to find another adoptive family.

  • Will my medical costs be covered by either the agency or the adoptive parents?


Usually medical costs are covered by your insurance. If that is not the case, adoptive parents may pay for your birthing expenses, depending on the amount of the medical bills and the amount of expenses they are willing to pay for.

  • If the adoption agency and/or the adoptive parents help with my expenses, what would that include?


Expenses paid on behalf of the birth mother and child by the adoptive parents can include: birth parent counseling, legal services, medical and hospital care, services provided by the agency in connection with the adoption, foster care for the child, transportation related to the pregnancy or adoption, living expenses (not to exceed $5,000), birthing classes and maternity clothes (not to exceed $300), or gifts to the birth mother (not to exceed $100).