POSTED ON NOVEMBER 16, 2011:
Moms-to-be and prospective adoptive parents have many choices
When most people hear the word "adoption," they generally have little idea of what that really means, and how it really works.
Adoptions can take many forms, and runs the gamut from open to closed adoptions, from public to private adoptions and international or close-to-home adoptions.
Jessica Hutton, a 25-year-old Tulsan who arranged an open adoption during her pregnancy, sat down with UTW recently to talk about how she made one of the most difficult decisions imaginable.
In a coffee shop, sipping chai tea from an oversized yellow mug, Hutton answered our toughest question like a pro.
So, why adoption?
Hutton said, "I knew I wouldn't be able to support myself and a child. I also knew if I were to have an abortion, it would haunt me for the rest of my life."
Instead, Hutton contacted the Catholic Charities in Tulsa, and set about planning an open adoption with Kristy and Patrick Yager.
"Don't get me wrong, I am pro-choice," Hutton explained. "But I also knew I am healthy, that my parents would support my through my pregnancy and that I could be giving the ultimate gift to a family out there who is unable to have children of their own. That's why I did it."
Here's a quick glossary rundown on some of the kinds of adoptions out there to serve families.
Open Placement: This form of open adoption allows birth parents and adoptive parents some limited interaction with one another, which usually ends after the first year of the child's placement with the adoptive family.
Semi-Open: Usually, information, pictures and letters are exchanged between birth parents and adoptive parents in this form of adoption. Limited ongoing communication may also be possible.
Open: In an open adoption, the child is able to enjoy an ongoing relationship with their birth family. Another great aspect about an open adoption is freeing the adoptive family from guilt or pain over keeping adoption a secret from the child.
An open adoption also gives the child a sense of who their parents are and where their biological roots lie.
Public: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) offers Swift Adoption Services. This program provides foster care and adoption for children already in DHS custody.
When a kid is removed from their own home (due to health or safety concerns), the state of Oklahoma attempts to reunite the child with his or her family.
If this is not possible, DHS provides the child with a "resource family," better known as foster parents. This family must undergo extensive training and background checks, and also must agree to become a permanent placement for the child if further attempts to reunite the child with family are unsuccessful.
According to DHS, in more than half of the cases where the court has terminated parental rights or the family has relinquished custody, the "resource parents" eventually adopt the child. During the fiscal year 2010, DHS finalized more than 1,500 adoptions.
Private: Tulsa has several private adoption agencies -- like Catholic Charities, Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, Adoption Affiliates and Heritage Family Services -- that offer a variety of adoptions to prospective and birth parents.
Catholic Charities offers a slew of free services for mothers-to-be, including medical care, birthing classes, maternity clothes, attorneys, counseling and support. Call 918.949.HOPE for more information or check out their site at catholiccharities.org/Tulsa.
Crisis Pregnancy Outreach specializes in helping women with an unplanned pregnancy. The agency offers affordable adoptions for prospective parents, as well as free services to moms-to-be.
Whether the pregnant moms choose adoption or not, the non-profit outreach offers supportive parenting classes, childcare equipment, a home with a Christian family during pregnancy, childbirth support and a transition home after pregnancy. Call 918.296.3377.
Adoption Affiliates, also known as Connecting Hearts, is a local agency that doesn't charge birth mothers for its services either. For prospective birth moms, call 800.253.6307 for more info on open adoptions.
Heritage Family Services, a licensed Christian adoption agency, offers some free services to mothers-to-be who choose their program. These services include evening and weekend counseling, support, help in selecting an adoptive family, adoption planning and legal counseling or services. Call 918.491.6767 for more info.
International: Each country has its own requirements, rules and particulars to adopt a child from within its borders. Tulsa-based agency, Dillon International, focuses solely on cutting through the red tape in these overseas adoptions.
Since 1972, Dillon has connected orphaned children overseas to local parents. They offer international adoptions from China, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Korea and a new pilot program in Ghana. Additionally, the agency (through its affiliation with Buckner Adoption & Maternity Services) has some opportunities to adopt children from Ethiopia, Russia and Honduras.
Check out dillonadopt.com for more info on international adoption opportunities.
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