FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
ABOUT PLACING THROUGH ABRAZO
This page answers questions we’ve received from expectant mothers and prospective birthparents who are considering placing children for adoption. (For those interested in adopting children through Abrazo, our Adopting Parent FAQ is also available.)
1. What is open adoption and why should it matter to me?
At Abrazo, we advocate for full-disclosure open adoptions, meaning the adopting parents and the prospective birthfamilies exchange identifying information including last names and addresses, engage in direct communication (phone calls, correspondence) and continue contact (including visits) throughout each child’s life span. Our parents who place are expected to provide any child they place through Abrazo with honest, age-appropriate information about themselves and their family’s history, from the day they launch their adoption plan onwards. While some expectant parents fear that openness might be harder to live with, afterwards, the birthparents who place through Abrazo tell us it’s only because they know where their child is and how he or she is doing that they are at peace with the decision that they made.
2. How long does it usually take to get my child adopted through Abrazo?
The placing parents with whom Abrazo works can contact us at any point they feel ready to begin adoption planning. For those who are pregnant, we usually encourage you to wait until at least the fourth or fifth month before becoming matching with an adoptive couple and receiving maternity support, to be sure that you’ve had time to explore all your options and ensure that adoption feels right for you and your baby. But Abrazo gladly provides options counseling at any point, and the final adoption paperwork can be signed anytime after the baby is 48 hours old.
3. What if I want my child to be adopted by someone of my own race?
We welcome expectant parents of all racial backgrounds, and respect your right to make your own best decisions for your child/ren’s future. If you want your child to grow up in a same-race home, just let us know and we’ll do our best to help you find an adoptive family of your own race.
4. How old does a mom have to be, to give up a baby?
In Texas, there is no “age of consent” so Abrazo honors Texas state laws that allow a parent of any age to make an adoption plan for their baby without their parent’s knowledge and/or approval. That said, however, we do recognize the importance of family support, and we encourage the expectant parents with whom we work to not exclude their families from their adoption plans, if involving them would be a positive choice.
5. Does it cost to give a baby up for adoption through Abrazo?
All of Abrazo’s services are free to expectant parents planning for placement; the adopting families with whom we work provide the funding that is used to meet the needs of the birthparents with whom we work.
6. Do you work with moms who have used drugs during pregnancy?
Absolutely. We recognize that every baby deserves the best, and if your child is born with drug exposure, be forewarned that the hospital may notify Child Protective Services (in accordance with the law); however, if you let the workers know you have plans to place with Abrazo, then usually your adoption plan with us can proceed without further state intervention.
7. What kind of financial help does your agency offer?
According to state law, Abrazo can assist with what’s called “maternity related expenses” during the pregnancy and up to eight (8) weeks afterwards. These vary depending on your needs and resources, but generally include such things as medical care, housing, transportation to/from appointments, clothing, food, childcare during labor & delivery, etc. These costs are paid by the agency and covered by the adopting family, so please be reasonably sure of your intentions before requesting financial help. While there’s nothing that has to be paid back if a prospective birthparent decides not to place, seeking maternity support if you know you won’t end up placing OR accepting financial assistance from more than one agency at a time may constitute fraud, a felony offense that is punishable by law.
8. Does Abrazo work with people from outside of Texas?
Abrazo is able to work with placing parents from all states, generally; call us to find out whether your state will allow us to come to you, or if your state laws require you to travel to Texas in order to have your child adopted through our agency.
9. How long do I have to change my mind about giving up parental rights?
Expectant parents who are considering adoption have every right to make other plans up any any time up until the adoption consents are signed. (These consents, sometimes known as “relinquishment documents,” cannot legally be signed until a newborn is at least 48 hours old.) However, once the consents have been signed, in Texas the documents are irrevocable, meaning there’s no “reclaiming” the child or taking back your decision. This is why it is so important for anyone who is making adoption plans to be absolutely certain of their decision before they relinquish parental rights in Texas, so they won’t have any regrets later.
10. My family says it is selfish to give up a baby for adoption. They tell me I made my bed so I should lie in it. Is this true?
To put your baby’s future before your own by making a loving adoption plan doesn’t seem selfish at all; it’s anything but, in our opinion! The parents who place their children for adoption at Abrazo want the very best for their little ones and they don’t want their children to suffer or go without the things they need in life. We think that’s a mature, unselfish choice and we appreciate their courage. They don’t make adoption plans to make their own lives easier, but rather, to make their child’s life better. Adoptive parents can’t ever “replace” a child’s birthparents, but they can add stability and security to the life of a child who is already much-loved by both of them.
11. Do you have an information packet that you can send me about how adoption works?
Absolutely! Just complete the Information Request that’s here on our website and we’ll promptly send you a packet of info (in an envelope that says nothing about adoption on the outside–just in case you’re very private or your mailman is very nosy.)
12. What are Abrazo’s adoptive families like?
The agency’s full-service program is reserved for adoptive families with documented infertility, who can’t get pregnancy and have no other means of building a family except by adoption. Most are eagerly waiting to become parents for the first time, while some have adopted before or previously had a biological pregnancy but can never again conceive another child. All are carefully investigated, right down to the FBI criminal and child abuse checks, to be sure that they are good people who are ready to provide a safe and nurturing home and to embrace you and your child with open arms.
13. I am just curious to know what makes Abrazo the best agency choice for me?
Abrazo is an agency that advocates for openness because we know that children who are adopted need both roots and wings. The birthparents we work with are no where in life that we ourselves could not be; for this reason, our staff tends to be highly protective of the expectant parents with whom we work. We want all of Abrazo’s birthparents to feel at peace with the adoptions they do with us; free of judgement and fully informed, before, during and after placement.
14. What emotional support do you provide parents who are planning to place?
Abrazo’s birthparents find the emotional support they need before and after placement through individual counseling, our Birthparent Support Group that meets weekly, our online Forum, toll-free calls to/from their caseworker, Abrazo’s private First Moms Facebook group, and the agency’s annual Camp Abrazo reunion weekend.
15. If I placed a baby for adoption before and I find myself pregnant again, do I have to give my baby to the same family who adopted with me before?
This is entirely up to you, and Abrazo will respect your choice. While it can be beneficial to keep siblings together, we recognize that some birthparents have their own reasons to want to make different plans and we’ll gladly work with you to make whatever decisions you feel are best for the child/ren you are placing.
16. I became pregnant as a result of rape and I’m not sure I can handle an open adoption, because I’m afraid contact would just make everything harder to get over.
Abrazo’s staff is compassionate and easy to talk to, and will respect your wishes with regards to contact; however, let us help you understand why knowing about you will be very important to any child you place, and let’s work together to make plans that you will be comfortable with and that will best meet the future needs of your child and his/her family, as well.
17. Does my baby’s father have to sign papers giving consent for an adoption to occur?
Under the laws of Texas at the current time, an attorney would probably tell you that the only time a father’s signed consent is needed is if you are married at the time of placement or if the baby’s father has already gone to court to prove paternity of the child being placed. Call us and let’s get Abrazo’s attorney to explain, if you’re worried about the father’s rights, but the short answer is that mothers who feel adoption is best can usually make this choice without the father’s involvement (except in very specific circumstances.)
18. Is Abrazo a Christian adoption agency?
Abrazo was founded by a Protestant minister’s daughter, and is staffed by women of faith, however, the agency is not affiliated with any specific church denomination and welcomes people of all faiths.
19. I started plans for adoption when I was pregnant, but when my baby was born everyone in my family showed up at the hospital and promised to help, so I didn’t do it. Now, though, everyone who was helping is gone and I’m just as in over my head as I was afraid I’d be. Is it too late to do an adoption now that my baby is no longer a newborn?
We’re so sorry you had to go through this, because a lot of the moms Abrazo works with are birthmoms who are already raising kids they didn’t feel ready to parent. It’s alot harder than it looks! and all those promises of help don’t always last all that long. We do know families who are waiting to adopt older babies and toddlers or preschoolers, so if you feel in your heart that an adoptive home could better provide for your child, call us and let’s talk about your adoption options now.
20. How is your agency funded?
Abrazo is private, nonprofit 501c3 organization so the agency is privately-funded, solely through tax-deductible contributions and fees paid for services by adopting parents who cannot have children any other way and are carefully approved for open adoptions of children of all backgrounds.
21. Where do most of your adoptive families live? Do you accept adopters from outside the U.S.A.
Abrazo works with adoptive families from all across America (except New York, where the laws would require us to have an office there.) The majority of Abrazo’s adoptive families live in Texas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Georgia, Louisiana, Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri. Recent changes in American homeland security now prohibit Abrazo from placing with adoptive families outside the US. That’s not really a problem for us, though, because we don’t believe that it is realistic to think that adoptions could really be open if the adoptive family and birthfamily live an ocean apart– and openness matters, to us!
22. What is the level of experience your staff has? What degrees are necessary to work at your agency?
Abrazo’s staff hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology, Sociology and Business as well as Family Studies, Social Work, Public Administration and Journalism.
23. I am currently filling out the first introductory paperwork to get started on placing a child through Abrazo. What if I can’t find a notary public?
Not to worry; just call our office and let us know, and we’ll make sure we send a staff member who’s a notary out to see you so it’s not a hassle for you.
24. What if my baby is born premature or has medical problems after it’s born?
Abrazo has loving adoptive families awaiting all types of children, so please don’t be afraid, because we’ll work with you to find a wonderful home for your child– no matter what complications your child may have.
25. Does Abrazo place with gay couples?
At present all of Abrazo’s children are adopted by single adoptive parents or legally-married heterosexual couples, in accordance with Texas laws.
26. What’s the difference between private adoptions and agency adoptions?
In Texas, placing parents whose adoption plans are handled through licensed Texas agencies can receive needed financial support for such needs as housing, groceries, clothing, etc., while placing parents whose adoptions are being handled privately through an attorney can only receive financial assistance with medical bills and legal bills. Agency adoptions are generally considered safer, because the agency looks out for the needs of everyone in the adoption plan, while attorneys can only legally advise the client who is paying them. If you do opt for a private adoption, be sure the adoptive family is paying for you to have a separate attorney all your own, since their adoption lawyer cannot ethically represent both you and them due to potential “conflict of interest” standards.
27. Who is in charge of the agency and how long have they been there?
Abrazo’s founder and director is Elizabeth Vanderwerf Jurenovich, who is a Licensed Child Placing Agency Administrator with more than 25 years experience in adoption in and beyond Texas.
28. What if I change my mind about wanting openness?
Abrazo educates it adoptive families to understand that a birthparent’s needs may change over time and we urge our adoptive families to work to balance the birthparent’s needs with those of the adoptee.
29. How does Abrazo ensure that its clients live up to their promises about openness?
Texas law does not currently allow for legally-enforceable post-placement contact agreements, to our regret, so we take every precaution to advise the birthparents with whom we work to only consider entrusting their precious children to those whom they have every reason to believe they can trust. We want our families to exchange “identifying information” (ie., last name, permanent address, home telephone, etc.) and keep in touch directly across their child’s lifespan. Openness is the gift that all parents (birthparents and adoptive parents) join together in giving their children, so the kids adopted through Abrazo grow up with full knowledge of and access to both families throughout their lifetime.
30. Tell me about the Abrazo/Mitchard Birthmother Scholarship Fund?
This is a very special scholarship program that was initially made possible through the generosity of bestselling novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard, who adopted twice with Abrazo’s help. Birthmoms who have already placed a child through Abrazo (who have an already-finalized adoption), who have been accepted to a college or trade school and who need help with tuition can apply through the San Antonio Foundation, the independent organization that administers the program on Abrazo’s behalf.