What is the advantage of using A Loving Alternative together with the services of an Attorney or Agency?

A Loving Alternative focuses on locating potential birth parents for adoptive families. We work with very limited number of active clients; consequently, our average wait to be matched by a birth mother is 9 months for couples without children.

Adoption attorneys and agencies do not generally have an extensive search program. Their primary focus is to assist you on the emotional and legal aspects of the adoption process. By adding the services of A Loving Alternative you may be reducing your wait to be selected by a birth mother from years to months.

Why use A Loving Alternative vs. running your own ads?

You will be part of one of the largest nationwide advertising programs in the United States. You will benefit from our ads until you have a baby.

It is not uncommon for couples to spend thousands of dollars on their own advertising without getting results. In 1994 when we were a couple starting our own search, we personally spent $3,500 on 18 newspaper ads that ran for only two weekends. At the end of those two weeks we did not have a birth mother. We felt that there needed to be a better more reliable method for couples to find birth mothers considering adoption. This experience is what prompted us to start A Loving Alternative. You will get maximum exposure for your advertising dollars and better results.

Running your own ads means you will be talking to unscreened birth mothers. You should answer calls 24 hours a day in order not to miss an opportunity. This is very stressful and risky since you have so much emotion invested. You may not be able to detach enough to properly evaluate the risks, problems, etc. A Loving Alternative answers the birth mother hot line 7 days a week 24 hours a day. We do not use answering services or voice mail. Birth mother calls are pre-screened for you. Before you have your first contact with the birth mother, you will already have some basic information about her. The birth mother has also already seen and read your “Birth Mother Letter.” We will coach you on how to handle your initial call to the birth mother.

What happens after the initial birth mother call?

A Loving Alternative obtains preliminary information about potential birth mothers prior to presenting them to our clients. After the initial conversation with a birth mother, we advise our clients to keep their emotions in check until the following steps have been taken to substantiate the information.

• Obtain proof of pregnancy
• Photos
• Medical records
• Health history
• Co ordinate a face to face assessment with an adoption councilor to assess risks

These screening steps are designed to protect our clients and eliminate unnecessary risk.

Will I need to hire an adoption attorney or agency to handle all the legal aspects of the adoption?

Yes – you will need to use a reputable agency or attorney for all the legal aspects of the adoption. A Loving Alternative does not provide legal services. We strongly recommend using only licensed agencies or attorneys whose practices are limited to adoption. We provide referrals to agencies and attornies.

When working with an out of state birth mother, you may also need to retain a second attorney or agency to insure that the laws of both states are abided by. We have referrals in all of the states and we will guide you to professionals you can trust.

What is an adoption “Home study?

Prior to finalizing an adoption, all adopting parent(s) must complete an extensive “Home study” in their state. This “Home study” usually involves several interviews as well as medical, criminal & financial background checks. Upon successful completion, this “Home study” will certify that the adopting parent(s) are qualified to adopt. This process typically takes 30 to 60 days to complete. We can provide you with names home study agencies in your state.

How are adoption facilitators regulated?

In 2006, legislation was passed to protect birth parents and adoptive parents in their dealings with Adoption Facilitators. California Family Code Section 8632.5 requires that all Adoption Facilitators providing facilitation services independently from an adoption agency or adoption attorney in California must be registered with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). The CDSS, through the Adoptions Support Unit, provides administrative oversight of the Adoption Facilitator Registry.

Adoption Facilitators must meet requirements established by the department of CDSS. Some of these requirements include meeting specific educational and experience requirements, posting a surety bond and undergoing criminal background check.

Will I be required to pay living expenses for a birth mother?

Many states allow birth mothers to receive assistance with pregnancy related expenses. Laws do vary from state to state; however, you should anticipate living expenses of $3,000 to $5,000 (on average). We recommend adopting couples defer all expense-related issues to their attorney or agency. It is never a good idea to get into conversations about money with a birth mother. If a birth mother asks you a question about money you should say, “I understand your need and I will have my attorney/agency contact you to see if this expense is allowable.”

How soon will I be expected to assist with birth parent living expenses?

This will vary from case to case based on the needs of the birth mother. Some women will not need help for a couple of months while others may have very immediate needs, (i.e., shelter, food, etc.). It is not recommended that you give any financial assistance prior to receiving a proof of pregnancy. Once the proof of pregnancy is received you should rely on your attorney or agency for direction. Occasionally you may be asked to provide some assistance on an emergency bases while you are still deciding if this situation is one you are going to pursue. This “emergency” assistance should be limited in time and amount, again consult your attorney or agency for guidance in these situations.

Do I have to pay medical expenses?

Most birth mothers that contact A Loving Alternative either have medical coverage or will qualify for medical coverage. We always encourage a woman to get state aid for her own protection in case of a medical emergency where costs can go sky high. Most birth mothers are willing to apply for coverage if they don’t already have it. If a birth mother has private insurance you will be asked to cover any co-pays or deductibles. All states allow for reimbursements to a birth mother for out of pocket medical expenses.

Can we specify the sex of the baby?

A Loving Alternative does not normally work with couples that are gender specific. Many of the birth parents that contact us do not know the sex of the child and most are too young to require an amniocentesis. Ultra sounds are not 100% accurate. It has happened many times that an ultrasound boy is born a girl or visa versa. Birth mothers connect emotionally to the couple they select and they are devastated when a couple decides not to adopt her child because of the sex.

How open do we need to be during and after the adoption process?

The degree of openness you have with birth parents depends on your comfort level. Most birth parents want to talk to you by phone and meet you once before the birth. Often times a birth mother wants to be able to talk to you to share her pregnancy with you. Prior to the birth you may find that some birth mothers rely on you emotionally. Often you may be the only person who is excited about her pregnancy. During the pregnancy these women’s lives are somewhat on hold and therefore they are more emotionally needy than they will be after the birth. If you are able to be a friend during this time and open yourself to her it can be the gel that holds your adoption together. At the time of birth when a birth mother is flooded with emotion she will think of who you are and it can reassure her of her decision.

Typically birth mothers want pictures and updates after the birth. Many times they don’t know if they will want the information sent on a regular basis or only upon request. Post placement contact should be well defined prior to the birth so that there is no confusion after the birth. We often talk to birth mothers about this on our initial intake; however a councilor or social worker should spend time later in the process defining what a woman wants for post placement contact, since her needs may change during the pregnancy. A small percent of birth mothers want visitation after the birth and a small percent of adopting couples are comfortable with that degree of openness. You will not be presented to birth parents that want visitation after birth; unless you have specified that you are open to that type of contact. The degree of openness is up to you.

How often does a birth mother change her mind?

The goal is to determine a woman’s commitment prior to the birth of a baby. It is strongly recommended that birth mothers receive counseling prior to the birth by a counselor who specializes in adoption related issues. This counseling can help a woman prepare for the flood of emotions she may feel at birth. It should also help uncover any ambivalence she may have about adoption. When a birth mother is properly counseled and assessed by a good adoption attorney or agency throughout the process the chances of her changing her mind at birth are greatly diminished – to about one out of twenty.

How long does it typically take to be chosen by a birth mother?

Although we cannot give you a guarantee, our average is typically 9 months. Couples with kids sometimes have to wait longer – typically 12 to 15 months. Openness to race or special circumstances can shorten your wait.

Our goal is to introduce you to a birth mother in the shortest amount of time possible, however we cannot give a time guarantee since birth mothers must ultimately select adoptive parents. We will present your “Dear Birth Mother Letters” to birth parents; however we cannot influence a birth mother in her selection of adoptive parents.

What rights do birth fathers have?

If a woman is legally married her husband is the presumed father and his rights are equal to hers, he must also agree to the adoption. If the identified birth father is not married to the birth mother he is called an assumed father and his rights will vary from state to state. Birth fathers that are supportive of the adoption will meet with an adoption attorney or agency in their state that will advise him of the laws and obtain his consent to the adoption. Time frames for the consent will vary from state to state.

If a birth father is not willing to sign papers and is not in agreement with the adoption it is important that he be contacted immediately by your attorney or agency to determine if he wants to parent or if he is just being difficult. If a birth father will not willingly consent to the adoption, but he is not going to fight it, there may be steps that can be taken to terminate his rights altogether. Again, these steps vary from state-to-state and you will need to consult with your attorney or agency to determine how to proceed.

What is the profile of a typical birth mother?

Since beginning this business in 1994 we have encountered many types of situations. One thing that surprises most couples is the fact that most unwed teens do not place their children for adoption. The younger the woman the more likely she is to parent. Also, certain ethnic groups are less likely to place.

The average birth mother is in her 20s. About 50% of the women we work with have one or more children that they are parenting. These women know what it takes to raise a child and they feel they are not able to give another child the emotional or financial security he or she may need without taking away from the kid(s) she already has. Most women who make the decision to place a child for adoption do so because they cannot afford to raise a child. Lack of financial resources is the number one reason women consider adoption.

What are birth mothers looking for in an adoptive couple?

Most birth mothers are hoping to find a loving home for their child. You do not need to be the youngest, most attractive, richest couple to be selected. Birth mothers are attracted to couples who convey genuine warmth and honesty in their letters. You should not try to be something you are not in order to be selected. Put your heart on paper and it will attract a birth mother that is looking for the things you have to offer.

Some birth mothers have preferences about different things, which are usually uncovered during the initial phone call. These preferences usually involve religion, lifestyle, etc. Out of the thousands of birth mothers we have talked to over the years we have learned there is someone for everyone. The key is exposure and getting your letter out to as
many birth mothers as possible.

We already have children; will a birth mother choose us?

Although some birth mothers do say they prefer a couple without kids, at least 40% of our clients already have children and they are still able to successfully adopt a second or even a third child. If you have children the average wait is nine to twelve months, rather than nine months for couples without kids.

Can we specify that we only want birth mothers from a specific State?

Technically yes, however we would not recommend our services if that were your desire. A Loving Alternative provides multi-state advertising and if you limit your criteria to only one or two states you would only benefit from a small fraction of our ads.

How many couples does A Loving Alternative present to a birth mother?

While talking to a birth mother, we ask what she is hoping to find in an adoptive couple. We ask her questions such as:

• Does their religion matter?
• Do you want a stay at home mother
• Are you hoping to have any post placement contact? If so, how much
• Are you open to a couple that has one or more children?
• Are there any other traits or characteristics you hope to find?

Based on her answers to these questions, we send her birth mother letters that fit her requirements. Typically we send 5 to 10 letters per call. Because we only work with a limited number of clients, you do not have to compete with hundreds of other couples looking to adopt.

Are we too old to adopt?

Over the years we have found birth mothers are more interested in a couples lifestyle and attitude than their chronological age. If you have an active, youthful lifestyle chronological age may not be an issue. The average adoptive couple is in their early 40s. However, we have had many successful adoptions where a couple is in their late 40s and even early 50s. How you present yourself in the birth mother letter will have a large effect on the selection process.

Can we specify that we only want birth mothers from a specific State?

Technically yes, however we would not recommend our services if that were your desire. A Loving Alternative provides multi-state advertising and if you limit your criteria to only one or two states you would only benefit from a small fraction of our ads.

What percentage of the fees we pay to A Loving Alternative is directed toward advertising?

A Loving Alternative focuses all of our efforts on locating birth parents that are looking to place their infant’s for adoption. By design we are not the biggest, which allows us to keep our overhead expenses to a minimum. We are 100% owner operated and do not spend money on fancy offices, secretaries or other superficial expenses. By operating in this manner we are able to allocate approximately 90% of our operating expenses on advertising. This advertising is all geared toward locating potential birth mothers. To our knowledge — nobody in this industry spends this much (as a percentage) on advertising. Also, by limiting the number of our active clients, each client receives a maximum return on their investment (ROI).