A question was asked in an online forum today. A woman posted that, although she and her husband had “just started to pray about adoption” and didn’t even have a home study, agency, or lawyer, through her church, an expectant mom wanted to place her baby with them. The emom is in another state, and the baby is due in two days. She wanted to know “is this even possible?”
Most people are actually saying yes, or at least, maybe. There are only about two of us who are being at all realistic. Many of the responders adopted within their own states and were matched and placed without a home study at first. They had to get a home study after the baby was placed, of course, before finalization could occur. Some states do allow this, including California. If you don’t have a completed home study, you can take custody of a baby/child as long as you get one. Assuming that you pass, the adoption can then be finalized.
However, when you add another state, you also add the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, or ICPC. That means, you have to meet the requirements of both states. You see, adoption laws in the US are not federal; each state has its own laws. If you are going to adopt from another state, you pretty much have to have FBI clearance, a criminal background check, or, as it is more commonly known, a Live Scan. Live Scan takes 6 weeks. You cannot leave the baby’s state with the baby until you have a completed home study. A home study takes months. Even if you expedite it, you generally have education requirements, CPR and First Aid certification, letters of reference from multiple people, autobiographies, questionnaires, physicals, home visits, interviews, child abuse clearance (which is separate from the criminal background check) … it’s a crazy list of stuff. Can you get it all done in 2 days? NO.
Some people are suggesting that maybe the baby can go into cradle care or foster care while the not-quite-PAPs start and complete their home study.
At this point, I believe the question should stop being “Can this adoption happen?” and start being “Should this adoption happen?”
First, this couple hadn’t, apparently, even fully decided on adopting at all – they were still praying about it. What do they know about adoption? Maybe they’ve adopted before, but I don’t get that sense from the post. There’s a lot more to adoption than finding a baby and taking it home.
Second, there are probably thousands of home study ready PAPs in the US. People who have already made the commitment to adoption and have been waiting are ready to bring a baby home. My sense of fairness comes into play here. Why should a baby’s life be put on hold to go to parents who aren’t ready?
Because that ties into the third point: Why should the baby have to go to cradle care? I haven’t posted about cradle care before, although I always intend to do so. I’m against it. I think a baby needs to go home with his or her family, whether that’s the biological family while they take time to decide, or the adoptive family. I simply believe it’s better for the baby.
Fourth, at a practical level, all of this is going to come at great expense for the PAPs. Expediting a home study is not cheap. Cradle care is not cheap, and yes, the adoptive parents pay for it.
Fifth, there is a reason behind all of the paperwork involved in a home study. Although I do believe some of it is unnecessary, some of it is very useful. (I actually have a post in draft form titled “Everyone Should Have a Home Study.”) You talk about discipline, your attitudes toward adoption, and what you learned from your own parents (good and – in cases like mine – bad). You learn more about your community and what resources are available. I had to list how many parks, schools, cultural centers, museums, hospitals, and other important places were in and near Antioch. I don’t think a home study should be rushed through. I think it should be a time to discuss and learn.
While it is probably a great feeling to be matched before you’ve even started the process, people need to step back and think about what’s really best here, both for the adoptive parents and for the baby.
At least, that’s what I think.