If I were Queen of the United States, instead of just Queen of Robyn’s Adoption Land, everyone would have free health care. The minimum wage would rise with inflation. Food servers would have to be paid minimum wage, and tips wouldn’t count towards that. Schools would be better funded than prisons. Women would have the right to choose what they do with their reproductive systems.
But I am not Queen of the United States, even in my imagination. In my imagination, I am just Queen of Robyn’s Adoption Land. So, we’re going to assume the status quo: Politicians paying lip service to family values, while the rich get richer and 15% of Americans live in poverty.
Due to this inequity, birthmother expenses are still sometimes necessary in Robyn’s Adoption Land. However, birthmother expenses are far more regulated here than they are in this virtually lawless hot mess of a country today.
Right off the bat, in Robyn’s Adoption Land, “birthmother expenses” are called “expectant mother expenses.” Let’s get the terminology right, OK? There’s no need for someone to feel entitled to someone else’s baby because money has changed hands.
What Is Allowed As “Expectant Mother Expenses”?
In my first post, I listed what is allowed as “birthmother expenses” in various states today. In Robyn’s Adoption Land, far less is allowed.
- Medical expenses not covered by insurance. And there’s no flying expectant moms to different states so they’re not covered by that state’s Medicaid program. I believe this makes sense. Everyone wants the baby to be healthy, so they want to ensure access to health care. Medical expenses are clearly pregnancy-related.
- Counseling. Counseling is required in Robyn’s Adoption Land, for prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents. I know that’s controversial, and I will explain it in another post.
- Very limited living expenses, including rent, phone, food, and utilities. Living expenses may only be paid from the 6th month of pregnancy until 2 months after pregnancy. The “reasonable and customary” rule applies: What type of shelter is reasonable for this person/these people? How much does SNAP (aka “food stamps”) cover, and how much is needed at the end of the month?
Aside from counseling, these expenses are based on actual need. Just because these expenses can be paid doesn’t mean that they are paid in all circumstances.
There are also strict caps. Now, the caps will have to vary from state to state. Rent in Iowa is a lot cheaper than rent in California. Again, the reasonable and customary rule applies in setting the caps.
How Are Necessary Expectant Mother Expenses Determined?
You may recall that most people work with agencies in Robyn’s Adoption Land. Facilitators do not exist. When working with an agency, the agency does the intake for expectant mothers. The agency provides options counseling, at no expense to the expectant mother. If the e-mom feels that she needs financial assistance, the agency assesses her financial situation and helps her apply for aid (WIC, SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8, etc.). If possible, the agency helps the e-mom find resources in her community (domestic violence shelters, food pantries, charities that have the means to help pregnant women). If the e-mom is unemployed, they try to hook her up with some networking for job possibilities. Only after all of this do expectant mother expenses come into play.
Edited to add: To be clear, the first steps (options counseling, help with community resources) are available to all e-moms. However, money from the Expectant Mother Expenses Fund is only available to e-moms who make an adoption plan.
How Are Expectant Mother Expenses Paid?
When they sign with an agency, PAPs pay a certain amount of money to the agency’s Expectant Mother Fund. This is a flat amount, which is the same at all agencies. It’s an average of the reasonable and customary allowed expectant mother expenses. It allows agencies to operate not just as adoption factories, but as places where women experiencing unplanned pregnancies can go to get relatively unbiased information and help. Why should PAPs fund this? To put it bluntly, because they want somebody else’s kid. PAPs should want all e-moms to have access to counseling and services to ensure that adoption really is the best option for the child and birthmother.
When all PAPs pay the same amount, there isn’t a bundle of money tied to one e-mom. They don’t lose any money. This fee is payable once – agencies can’t charge it on a yearly basis, even if PAPs have been waiting for more than one year. Also, the flat fee counts as a charitable donation for tax purposes.
In some cases, PAPs can work with attorneys. When working with an attorney, PAPs cannot be charged more than an agency would charge for expectant mother expenses. Of course, they may be charged less.
What About Special Circumstances?
There are situations in which e-moms may need more than the usual amount of expenses. I’m speaking specifically of domestic violence, in which a woman is fleeing an abusive partner, and pregnancy complications that require bed rest. In an agency adoption, generally, the Expectant Mother Fund would cover this, because some e-moms wouldn’t need as much as others, so there’s a balance. In an attorney adoption, however, more money may be required.
This is where it gets tricky. It’s not black and white. We don’t want to take advantage of PAPs, but we also want e-moms and children to be safe. We don’t want anyone abusing this exception to get more money.
Who Gets the Money?
All money is given directly to the service provider. For example, the agency sends a check to the landlord or the electric company. When food is involved, money is provided in the form of a gift card to a local supermarket. There’s no PAP sending a moneygram via Western Union to an e-mom. No way, no how.
Can Agencies Provide Housing?
Currently, some agencies – and even some facilitators – provide housing for e-moms. Some agencies actually require that e-moms live in their housing, while others simply have it available as an option.
In Robyn’s Adoption Land, agencies may provide housing if the e-mom is fleeing a domestic violence situation. They may also provide temporary housing, for up to one month, if absolutely necessary, in limited cases: the e-mom gets out of prison and needs a place to stay, the e-mom is a teen who has been kicked out of her home, the e-mom has been evicted. The agency must help the e-mom find resources to obtain permanent housing.
Living in agency housing can be incredibly coercive. There are agencies that tell new moms, “If you choose to keep your baby, you will be kicked out of our apartment.” It can be like living in a bubble. It may be necessary in some cases, but it’s not ideal, and should not be the norm.
Agencies cannot charge more than the area’s average rent for the same type of dwelling.
In Robyn’s Adoption Land, expectant mother expenses are paid only if absolutely necessary. Pregnant women are helped to find resources so they are not reliant on PAPs to pay their way. This discourages scams and removes some of the coercive nature found in today’s birthmother expense “system.” PAPs aren’t losing thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars in multiple failed matches, which may or may not have been legitimate to begin with. PAPs aren’t re-creating the social welfare net. Agencies are doing more to ensure women have the resources they need, to provide actual options.
What did I miss? Who disagrees? What do you think?