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Seattle, WA 98103

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Frequently Asked Questions for Birth Parents in an Adoption


I haven’t decided whether I want to keep the baby or not. Do I have to make up my mind before calling a lawyer or adoption agency?

You do not have to make a final decision about whether to keep your baby before you call. In fact, adoption lawyers and agencies provide free resources to help you make your decision, and can also answer all your questions about how adoption would work if that is the choice you make. Even if you at first decide to place your baby for adoption, you have the right to change your mind until at least 48 hours after the baby is born, under Washington law.


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I’m not sure who is the father of my baby. What can I do?

If you are not married to the father, then he may not have any legal rights to the child unless you identify him. If you are not able to do this, this can be explained to a Judge by the attorney and the adoption can go ahead without the father’s consent.


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Can you help me if the father of my baby will not cooperate?

This can be a difficult situation and it definitely calls for legal help. An experienced adoption lawyer can sometimes get the father’s cooperation by explaining the legalities of adoption. But if that isn’t an option or does not work to get the father to cooperate, then an attorney can explain your choices to you and help you decide the best path forward for you and the child. Joyce Schwensen is very familiar with Washington laws regarding birth father’s rights and obligations and has helped many women who do not have the cooperation of their baby’s father for their adoption plans.


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My financial situation is very tight. Will the adoption cost me anything? Can I get any assistance with my bills?

All of the services provided to birth mothers by Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen is free of charge, even if you decide not to choose adoption. If you decide that you are ready to make an adoption plan, then a budget will be drawn up for the adopting parents which will include paying all the legal bills and any medical bills that are not covered by insurance or Medicaid. It may be possible for the adopting parents to provide you with some other financial assistance as well, as long as they get court approval first. Often adoptive families are allowed to reimburse birth mothers for lost wages, maternity clothes, transportation costs, and even pay past due rent. To find out whether financial help can be available to you, it would be best to schedule a consultation with Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen to explain to the attorney the details of your situation.


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Should I go through an attorney, or should I call adoption agency instead?

This choice is up to you as there are both very good adoption attorneys and very good adoption agencies available to help you. If you choose to call Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen you can be sure you will work directly with attorney Joyce Schwensen, who is very knowledgeable about the laws and requirements of adoption, and will help you find a wonderful family for your child should you decide that adoption is the best choice for you and your baby.


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How do I know the adoptive parents will take good care of my child?

Parents seeking to adopt must go through a very extensive series of interviews, background checks, references, and classes before they can be legally approved to adopt a child. This is called a “home study”, and it includes visits to the adoptive parents’ home by an adoption social worker, and a court’s review of the adoptive parents’ health, family history, financial situation, work, and childcare arrangements. The homestudy is designed to ensure that adoptive parents are fully prepared to raise a child, with a special emphasis on the importance of helping the child understand adoption and the reasons why in most cases the birth parents should be respected and honored for their decision.


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I want to make sure my child is raised in my religion. Can I make sure this happens?

In an independent adoption, the birth parents get to choose the adoptive parents. If your faith is something that is important to you, you may select parents who practice the same religion.


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It is important to me that my child have a connection with my heritage. How can I ensure the adoptive parents maintain that connection?

As with religion, in an independent adoption the birth parents can choose adoptive parents who share their heritage. Alternatively, the birth parents could choose adoptive parents who are committed to helping the child feel connected to his or her birth heritage through friendships, community events, church membership, or other resources. In fact, if a family is open to adopting a child of a different race or heritage than their own, as part of their home study the family must take classes and make a plan to help raise their adopted child with appropriate role models and cultural connections and awareness.


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I am sure I want to place my child for adoption, but am interested in maintaining some type of relationship or at least knowing how the child is doing. What can I do?

In an open adoption, the birth mother or birth parents maintain a relationship with the child, sometimes through pictures and letters, or emails, and sometimes through personal visits. The extent of contact between the birth mother or birth parents and the child is something that the birth parents and the adoptive parents agree upon at the time of the adoption. Joyce Schwensen can help you decide what type and amount of contact you think would be best for you and the child, and help you find an adoptive family that is comfortable with the same amount of contact that you want.

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