Q&A About Adopting

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ADOPTING WITH ABRAZO

This page answers questions we’ve received from individuals interested in adopting children through Abrazo. For those considering placing children for adoption, our Birthparent FAQ is also available.

1. How is Abrazo funded?

Abrazo is private, nonprofit 501c3 organization so the agency is funded solely through tax-deductible contributions and fees paid for services by adopting parents

2. How “open” are open adoptions at Abrazo?

At Abrazo, we advocate for full-disclosure open adoptions, meaning our adopting parents and prospective birthfamilies voluntarily exchange identifying information (ie., last names and addresses), engage in direct communication (phone calls, correspondence) and continue contact (including visits) throughout the child’s life span. Abrazo only places children with adoptive parents who are committed to openness and prepared to enter into lifelong relationships with birthfamilies, to ensure that the children placed within this agency always have honest, age-appropriate information about their adoption and their families of origin, from Placement Day onwards.

3. What does it cost to adopt through Abrazo?

Adopting parents pay a pre-adoption fee upon admission, to cover the agency’s costs of providing preplacement casework services to prospective birthparents and adopting parents, and a post-adoption fee on Placement Day, to help offset the agency’s costs of agency supervisory services and post-adoption support after placement has occurred. Adopting parents also, by law, reimburse the agency’s expenses on behalf of any case with which they are matched, pay for the processing costs of the admissions process and the in-agency expenses of out-of-state homestudy audits and Interstate Compact services and finalization paperwork preparation. (See this link for additional detail.)

4. What is the level of experience your staff has? What degrees are necessary to work at your agency?

Abrazo’s current staff hold Master’s degrees in Counseling Psychology and Business/Public Administration, as well as Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Sociology, Public Administration, Criminal Justice and Journalism. Abrazo’s founder and director is Elizabeth Vanderwerf Jurenovich, who is a Licensed Child Placing Agency Administrator, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 29 years of experience in adoption, in and beyond Texas.

5. How long does it take to adopt a baby through Abrazo?

Childless couples at Abrazo generally wait 6-12 months or less for placement, while the average adoptive couples already parenting usually find the wait to be 12 months or more. The majority of birthparents with whom Abrazo works hope to place with couples who do not already have children, to ensure that the baby they place will be the family’s firstborn.

6. Does Abrazo work with people from outside of Texas?

Abrazo places with adopting families from all states except New York (existing NY laws don’t permit out-of-state agencies to place in their state without maintaining an in-state office). Couples from out-of-state need to budget for 3-4 trips to Texas, in the course of Abrazo’s adoptions (for orientation, meeting prospective birthparents upon matching, placement, and finalization). Additional costs include having a Texas-approved out-of-state homestudy and post-placement reports done by a licensed agency within your state, FBI clearances, and travel, of course.

7. Do you have an age limit on adoptive parents?

Abrazo requires that adopting parents be at least 25 years of age. While Abrazo doesn’t have an upper age limit, it is our prospective birthparents who choose their child’s adoptive family and few willingly consider couples over the age of 50 for infant placements.

8. Do you place with adoptive parents from outside the USA?

Changes in immigration law now prohibit Abrazo from placing with adoptive families outside the US. Abrazo’s families must reside permanently in the U.S. for the duration of the 6-18 month post-placement supervisory period between time of placement and date of finalization.

10. Do you ever offer day seminars for families who want to adopt?

Because of the extensive costs of putting on quality seminars, Abrazo’s orientation seminars are reserved for prospective clients who have already submitted completed inquiries and applications. Our Parents-of-Tomorrow weekends are held quarterly, by invitation only, in San Antonio and have become a nationally-renowned event for prospective adoptive couples who plan on building their families through Abrazo. All orientation attendees stay at the official host hotel during this event.

11. Does Abrazo place with people who don’t have infertility/can get pregnant but prefer not to?

Abrazo’s full-service program is available only to those with no biological means of growing a family and are medically unable to conceive, because Abrazo’s placing parents are specifically seeking to place with families who have no other means of becoming parents. However, those who do not have infertility can still pursue designated adoptions at Abrazo (in which they engage in networking or marketing to located expectant parents willing to consider those who may be capable of homegrown pregnancies) as well as special needs adoptions.

12. Do you have an information packet that you can send for us to review your adoption process?

All of our information for prospective adopters can be found on our website. The only information packets we mail out are print-outs of the form(s) found online.

13. We are interested in adopting a Latino baby and thought based on your name that it may be a possibility.

Half (or more) of the children placed through Abrazo are of partial or full Hispanic heritage; those interested in adopting such children should be equally committed to embracing Hispanic culture so that Abrazo’s Hispanic children grow up to be familiar with and proud of their cultural roots.

14. What is the cost of the weekend orientation fee? When is the agency fee due? When would the monies for case expenses be due? When we are matched or before then?

The weekend orientation fee of $299 is due at the time the orientation registration request form is returned. The initial agency fee (pre-adoption education/training fee) and a $3k escrow deposit is due within 10 (ten) days of the close of orientation. Each family receives a cost estimate at the time a match is presented, and must make any necessary deposits to maintain the escrow account at a $3k balance each month of the match. The post-adoption agency fee and any remaining case expenses due are paid at time of placement. (Note: all fees paid are nonrefundable, and escrow monies used for case expenses may be lost should a placement plan fail.)

15. What does your African-American adoption fee schedule look like?

Abrazo’s fees are established on the basis of our services and not the race of the children we place.

16. Do you work with Jewish families hoping to adopt? If so, is the timing for finding a placement longer than for Christian families? Do the birthmothers you work with generally have a preference for religion?

Abrazo works with adoptive families of all faiths, as long as they are able to comply with agency policies and can ensure any child placed in their care will receive full access to quality healthcare. The majority of placing parents with whom the agency works do ask to match with couples of the Christian faith, which can extend the waiting time for those of other backgrounds.

17. Do you find that prospective families in their mid-to-late 40s are at a disadvantage in the process?

Childless adopting couples in their forties who are in good health and physically active generally do not find themselves at disadvantage in Abrazo’s program; however, those over 50 who are open only to infants are well-advised to expand their expectations.

18. What does the agency fee cover? If there is a fall-through, can a couple continue in your program without additional fees to the agency? How long will you work with a couple for the initial fee?

The agency fee covers the agency’s casework and in-office staff counseling for each expectant parent and adopting couple from the point of admission through file closure, however, case expenses are additional and vary depending on case needs and available resources. In the event of a failed adoption plan, the adopting couple may lose any expense money already spent but they do not pay another pre-adoption education/training fee; this is applicable until placement occurs or the couple withdraws or otherwise becomes ineligible for services.

19. While respect for the birthmothers is obviously important in this process, what kind of support do you give to the couples hoping to adopt?

Abrazo offers adopting parents support through its Forum, through followup calls from their caseworker, through a private Facebook group, and via Camp Abrazo (held annually).

20. If a couple has been working on adoption for more than a year with another agency and has attended other adoption seminars, are the program requirements any different?

Those working with other agencies must complete all the same admissions and/or program requirements as every family within Abrazo’s program. Attendance at Abrazo’s Parents of Tomorrow orientation weekend is a mandatory prerequisite for all participants in the full-service placement program and enables our staff to assure our birthparents that we personally know all the families to whom we entrust children.

21. Can single people adopt through your agency?

Abrazo is able to occasionally place with single parents with documented infertility and/or an interest in designated or special needs adoptions, but most birthparents in Abrazo’s program are specifically seeking childless couples, as their reason for not parenting themselves has to do with their desire to have their baby to grow up in a two-parent home.

22. Can a gay couple adopt from your agency?

Abrazo places children with legally-married infertile couples from every state except New York.

23. Do you have any restrictions on adoptive family size?

Abrazo has no formal restrictions on adoptive family size but finds most birthparents are reluctant to select large families, for fear that the child they place will get less attention than they would in a home with one child or less.

24. What happens if we start the process with your agency then have to move out of state?

Changes in an adoptive family’s primary residence in the course of the adoption process require costly homestudy revisions and additional criminal clearances but do not otherwise hamper the process.

25. Is there any conflict of interest to pursue adoption from two directions (state foster care and private agency or international and domestic) simultaneously?

There is no conflict of interest in pursuing a variety of options simultaneously. It is not permissible, however, to take placement of children from multiple sources simultaneously. Therefore, aplicants would necessarily forfeit further services and any fee/s paid to Abrazo, if they match and/or receive placement of a child via any source other than Abrazo.

26. How can we know if our homestudy meets all of your requirements?

Abrazo’s family services staff completes out-of-state homestudy audits and ICPC filings for couples who have been accepted into our program; the fee for such services is $550, payable upon submission of the out-of-state homestudy.

27. Do we need to hire an attorney of our own?

It’s not necessary, unless you choose to do so for your own purposes. Adopting parents hire a (Bexar County) family lawyer of their choice 6-18 months after placement, to handle the finalization of their adoption once the agency has cleared the file for finalization. Other than that, however, there is no need to hire a private or out-of-state attorney, as all the initial legal work is handled by the agency’s attorney.

28. Should we get the homestudy started or done before attending orientation?

Abrazo generally advises adopting parents to wait until after orientation to begin the homestudy process, so adopters avoid incurring costs until they have been accepted into the program. Any time adoptive applicants from outside Texas join Abrazo’s program, they hire a licensed agency in their home locale to complete their homestudy and accept responsibility for all post-placement supervisory visits. The costs of such services are negotiated and paid directly by the adopting parents to their chosen homestudy agency; this expense is not included in the agency fees collected by Abrazo (regardless of whether the adopting family lives in Texas.)

29. Can you please fax me the references sent for our application, so we can read them and our homestudy worker can add their information into the study?

Sorry, no; your homestudy worker needs to personally contact references for your homestudy, and those who write references on your behalf would need to send you copies directly if you wish to review them.

30. We would like to adopt a little girl of minority status as we are no longer able to carry another child. Could you tell us if we you can help us?

Abrazo strongly discourages inflexible gender preferences, as the majority of birthparents with whom we work do not have gender confirmation prior to matching, and even when they do, sonograms are not always necessarily accurate.

31. I will be doing my physical tomorrow and I was wondering if I can get the sheet emailed to me what I need to have done.

Abrazo’s physical forms are provided to adopting parents upon completion of orientation weekend.

32. We want to adopt twins (or triplets)! Tell us how that works?

Parents placing multiples through Abrazo choose their babies’ new family out of all eligible couples in our Parents-in-Waiting program that have indicated an interest in being considered for siblings. The placement of multiples sometimes entails increased case expenses as necessary for twin or triplet care and 12 months post-placement case supervision, however, only one agency fee is incurred whenever siblings are placed simultaneously.

33. Just looking at your website, it seems that this is a Christian organization. Is this true? What (if any) religious affiliation does the organization have?

Abrazo was founded by the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, and is staffed by women of faith. However, the agency is not affiliated with any specific church denomination and welcomes people of all faiths.

34. If we are looking to adopt an older child, is there still an amount of money that has to be put in escrow (for case expenses) after acceptance and orientation?

All of Abrazo’s waiting adoptive families deposit a minimum of $3k in escrow to be used towards case expenses, regardless of the age of the child being sought. Expenses paid out of escrow include such line items as cradle care, staff travel, birthparent support, medical care for mother and/or child, birthparent transportation (ie., cabs), legal fees and court costs for termination of birthparents’ rights, overnight deliveries and courier costs, etc.

35. How does Abrazo ensure that its clients live up to their promises about openness?

Texas law does not currently recognize legally-enforceable post-placement contact agreements, to our regret, so we take every precaution to advise birthparents to consider entrusting their precious children only to those whom they have every reason (ie., last name, permanent address, etc.) to trust. Openness is the gift that all parents (birthparents and adoptive parents) join together to give their children, so adoptees grow up with knowledge of and access to both families throughout their lifetime.

36. What other costs can we expect other than agency fees if we were to adopt with your organization?

The average case costs in Abrazo’s full-service program run approximately $24-28k (including the agency fee, assuming medical costs are covered by insurance or Medicaid.) The average costs of Abrazo’s designated cases typically fall between $21-24k (including agency fee, assuming there is full Medicaid/insurance coverage.) Abrazo’s special needs cases usually cost $17-21k, on average, if full Medicaid/insurance coverage applies.) Warning: if Medicaid/insurance is unavailable or denied for any reason, the average hospital bills for a healthy (vaginal) delivery and 2 day stay for mom and baby run about $7-10k or more, costs borne by the adopting couple as of placement.

37. We need some help on how to get our profile online. What are the steps that we need to take?

The families pictured online on Abrazo’s website are all approved graduates of our Parents of Tomorrow orientation weekends, who have approved homestudies on file with our agency, have signed releases to have their profiles posted, and are ready for immediate placement.

37. Does your “special needs” adoption option include bi-racial children or is that only children with physical special needs?

Abrazo’s special needs program applies to single children of any age or any race who are over the age of five, sibling groups of more than three being placed together, and children with noncorrectible disabilities known to the agency at time of placement. Special needs cases are supervised for 12-18 months after placement.

38. Do you place older children for adoption?

At Abrazo, we place primarily newborns and infants, although we do occasionally handle placements of toddlers and school-age children upon birthparent request. All of the placements done at Abrazo are voluntary, and do not involve children under state foster care. Placements of children over 6 months of age do require extended post-placement case supervision (minimum 12 months.)

39. We desire to adopt a biracial child because we’re white and we like Hispanic culture.

Please be advised that Hispanics are of the Caucasian race and therefore, children of Anglo-Hispanic descent are not actually biracial. (Children of biracial ancestry would be Anglo/African-American or African-American/Hispanic, for example.)

40. I was wondering if we could contact any of your families just to talk with them about their experiences with Abrazo?

Certainly. You can find willing references anytime by posting a request on Abrazo’s Forum (see also the United States of Adoption thread to find alumni living in your locale.)