Abrazo Adoption Associates, San Antonio, Texas

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. What fees do adoptive parents pay?

Adopting parents pay a pre-adoption fee to cover the agency's costs of providing preplacement casework services to prospective birthparents and adopting parents, and a post-adoption fee to help offset the agency's costs of continuing supervisory services, post-adoption counseling and relationship facilitation services 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.

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

Abrazo's staff hold Master's degrees in Psychology and Social Work as well as Bachelor's degrees in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Sociology, Social Work and/or Journalism.

4. Who is the director?

Abrazo's founder and director is Elizabeth Vanderwerf Jurenovich, who is a Licensed Child Placing Agency Administrator with more than 20 years experience in adoption in and beyond Texas.

5. My spouse and I have already spent a lot of money with another agency. For many reasons we are looking into other options. Can you please forward me any info on your agency to help us prayerfully consider our other options? Also, can you share with us your average waiting period for placement for domestic adoption?

Childless couples at Abrazo generally wait 6-12 months or less for placement, while the average adoptive couples already parenting find the wait to be 12 months or more. The majority of birthparents with whom Abrazo works are seeking 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 New York laws do not permit out-of-state agencies to place within that state without maintaining an instate office).

7. We are a happily married, childless couple in our mid-forties. Do you have an age limit on adoptions?

Abrazo requires that adopting parents be at least 25 years of age; while the agency does not have an upper age limit, we do allow the prospective birthparents with whom we work to choose their child's adoptive family, and few willingly consider couples of advanced age for infant placement.

8. Do you have an approximate idea of what an out-of-state adoption would cost?

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 extra costs would entail have 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.

9. We are a couple from the UK and would like to know if you accept people from outside the USA.

Recent changes in American homeland security now prohibit Abrazo from placing with adoptive families outside the US, as 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 seminars for families who want to adopt? We are interested in your agency and would like to know a little more about it.

No. Because of the extensive costs of putting on quality seminars, ours are reserved for the prospective clients whom have already qualified for admissions consideration. Our Parents-of-Tomorrow weekends are held every other month, 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.

11. Just reading your website and I'm a bit confused on the subject of infertility and adoption. I am currently pregnant but would like to adopt a child in the future. How slim does this make my chances being that I am not infertile?

Abrazo's full-service program is available only to those with no biological means of growing a family, however, the designated and special needs programs are open to those without documented infertility.

12. My wife and I are interested in adopting, and a lady who does home studies recommended you agency to us. 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 that which is found online.

13. We live in the Dallas area. Do you foresee any problems (other than traveling) with us being in Dallas?

Abrazo has worked successfully with adoptive parents from across the United States (except New York).

14. My husband and I are probably not infertile (we haven't tried yet...) but are interested in adopting. I'm not certain based on your website if you would work with us.

The birthparents with whom Abrazo most often works are specifically seeking to place with families who have no other means of becoming parents, so the agency's full-service program is reserved for those with documented infertility. Those who do not have infertility yet are motivated to pursue designated adoptions (in which they engage in networking or marketing to located expectant parents willing to consider those who may be capable of homegrown pregnancies) or those open to special needs adoptions may find options within those program offerings at Abrazo.

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

Roughly half 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.

16. I feel I have found my calling. How can I help? How can I become some part of helping troubled young women? I can not stand another baby found in a restroom or trashcan. I have my own four children and dont have a lot of money. I can't imagine harming them in anyway. How can I start a help number--they can call me I will pick the child up. Please tell me what I can do here.

Texas requires that those seeking to provide adoption and/or foster services be licensed through the State. If you want to help mothers in crisis, why not help spread the word about Abrazo and the services we offer parents in need?

17. I am currently filling out the first introductory paperwork to get started on adopting a child. Can you tell me how often your orientations are?

Abrazo's Parents-of-Tomorrow orientation weekends are held every other month; reservations are confirmed no more than a month in advance, and decided on the basis of agency placement resource needs.

18. What does your AA adoption fee schedule look like?

Abrazo's special needs program is called Promesa and the fees and costs average $10-12k (depending on birthparent medical coverage, foster care duration, etc.)

19. 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, but finds that the majority of birthparents with whom the agency works specifically request to match with couples of the Christian faith, which may extend the waiting time for those of other backgrounds.

20. Do you find that prospective families in their mid to late 40s with no children are at a disadvantage in the process?

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.

21. 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 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.

22. While respect for the birthmothers is most important in this process, what kind of support do you give to the couple hoping to adopt?

Abrazo offers adopting parents support through its Forum, through biweekly calls from their caseworker, through the Abrazo Institute, and the annual Camp Abrazo.

23. 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. Orientation attendance is mandatory for all adoptive parents in Abrazo's full-service program.

24. I am a single, forty-one-year-old, professional, heterosexual woman exploring adoption possibilities. Can I adopt through your agency?

Abrazo is able to occasionally place with single parents, 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.

25. Can a gay couple from Michigan adopt from your agency?

Abrazo places children with legally-married heterosexual couples from every state except New York; however, we do not place with gay or lesbian couples, unfortunately.

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

Abrazo has no formal restrictions on adoptive family size but finds that most birthparents are reluctant to select large families for fear that the child they place will be less nurtured.

27. So you work with Canadian families?

Regrettably, we are unable to place with adoptive parents who are not U.S. citizens.

28. My husband and I are possibly relocating to the Ft Worth area. We are unsure what will happen if we move out of state during the adoption process?

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.

29. We have just sent in our preliminary application and wanted to know if you might provide a general breakdown of your fee schedule. I did talk to someone there and she provided me with most of this info but my husband wanted to know when to expect what fees. For example; what is the cost of the weekend orientation fee due? When would the agency fee be due? When would the birthmoms monies be due? When we are matched or before then.

The weekend orientation fee is due at the time the orientation registration request form is returned. The 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 conservatorship/supervisory fee and any remaining expenses due are paid at time of placement. Note: all fees paid are nonrefundable, and escrow monies paid for case expenses may be lost should a placement plan fail.

30. My husband and I are finishing the requirements for state adoption, but we are also interested in private adoptions, such as the ones your agency facilitates. Please let me know if there is any conflict of interest to pursue adoption from both directions simultaneously.

There is no conflict of interest in pursuing a variety of options simultaneously, however, it is not permissible to take placement of children from multiple sources simultaneously. Therefore, you would necessarily forfeit any fee/s paid to Abrazo, were you to match with and/or receive placement of a child from a source other than Abrazo.

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

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

32. We live in Louisiana and need to know if we would arrange the homestudy through a local provider or do we wait for you to arrange that? I was also wondering about the legal process and if we need a local attorney or do you provide that service? Since there are two states involved, I was unsure.

Abrazo provides adoptive parents in our program with referrals to recommended homestudy workers across the country; those who wish to locate their own workers are reminded that Texas law requires all homestudies be done by licensed MSWs with a minimum of three (3) years experience. Adopting parents may hire a qualifed Bexar County family law attorney of their choice to handle the finalization of their adoption 6-18 months after placement, when the agency has cleared the file for finalization; other than that, however, there is no need to hire an out-of-state attorney as the legal work is all handled in Texas.

33. My spouse and I registered with your agency years back and were at the stage of coming to the initial meeting for adoptive parents. During that time and just a few weeks before we were suppose to come down there, we were actually blessed with a beautiful baby boy here in our home town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. I was just wondering what it would take to get back in your system and go from there.

If you wish to apply for services at Abrazo again, you would need to resubmit the preapplication (the "AP Inquiry form) which can be downloaded off our website.

34. 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, as adopters may want to avoid incurring costs until they have been accepted into a program and know definitely which states' standards must be met.

35. My husband and I are looking into domestic adoption. My question has to do with the fees. If the birthparent chooses to parent the child is the money I have paid lost?

Any funds expended for specific case and/or maternity expenses would necessarily be lost, but the monies paid for the agency's fees need not be repaid.

36. 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 would need 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.

37. 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.

38. My wife and I are interested in adopting a child from the Philippines, my wife's native country. She has discussed this with her family in the Philippines and my wife's niece has agreed to allow one of her childen to be adopted. We are not sure of our first step to begin the adoption process. Can you please advise us and let us know if we can use your services?

Abrazo only handles domestic adoptions of American-born children.

39. 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.

40. Our heart is open to multiples such as twins since my husband has twin uncles in his birth history. We would like more information about this process?

The birthparents who are placing multiples through Abrazo choose their babies' new family out of all eligible couples in our Parents-in-Waiting program who indicate an interest in being considered for siblings. The placement of multiples sometimes entails increased case expenses as necessary for twin or triplet care, however, only one agency fee in incurred whenever siblings are placed simultaneously.

41. My husband and I have been prayerfully considering adoption for several months now after several years of infertility. We believe that God has led us to your agency and hope to turn in our application to you very soon. I have one question before applying. We live in California. I know we will have to have a home study completed if we want to adopt, but I don't know how this is handled since your agency is not in the same state as we are. Do you have a list of local companies that we could refer to for our home study, or will we be on our own to find out that information? I'm fine with not getting that list from you until we actually apply to Abrazo, but I was just wondering if such a list exists.

Anytime 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 quarterly post-placement supervisory visits. The costs of such services are negotiated and paid directly by the adopting parents to their chosen in-state agency; this expense is not included in the agency fees collected by Abrazo, whether or not the adopting family lives in Texas.

42. We have recently submitted a preapplication form and hope to find out dates of the upcoming Parents of Tomorrow Orientation weekends. We understand that we may or may not be accepted as an Abrazo family, but would like to leave calendar dates open in hopes that we will be attending.

Abrazo's Parents of Tomorrow orientation weekends are held every 8 weeks, as needed, and space is assigned in accordance with the types of placements Abrazo is making and the kinds of homes that are most needed. For this reason, reservations are not confirmed more than 2-4 weeks in advance of each event. Upcoming event dates can be found on the Calender located on Abrazo's Forum.

43. I have recently heard about Abrazo and am very interested in your services. Just looking at your web site, it seems that this is a Christian organization. Is this true? And, I would like to know what (if any) religious affiliation the organization has.

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.

44. If we are looking to adopt a 15 month old to 6 yr old, is there still an amount of money that has to be put in escrow (for the birthparent) after acceptance and orientation? We are trying to figure out finances and have heard that after orientation that 1/2 the fee for Abrazo is due and then we have to put money in escrow.

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.

45. My husband and I are very interested in adopting a Hispanic baby and were referred to your agency. I have downloaded your inquiry and plan to submit it soon. I am just curious to know approximately how many Hispanic children you typically place each year.

Abrazo places an average of 4-6 children per month. Approximately one quarter are of Anglo-Saxon descent, one half are Hispanic and/or Anglo-Hispanic, and the remaining quarter are part or full African-American. (Given the fact that the agency is based out of South Texas, Abrazo rarely, if ever, has occasion to place children of Asian descent.)

46. I am writing to thank you for showing adoption in such a positive light. Today (10/13) your agency was featured on Adoption Stories on Discovery Health. I watched, tenatively as usual, knowing full-well that the show often portrays open adoptions in a negative or darkened light and often uses negative adoption terminology (i.e. "give up," etc.) However, your agency gave the greatest quote I have ever heard on a media network regarding open adoption: "Open adoption is not what you do to get a child into your home. It's how you live your life once that child is there. It's a life long process..." Thank you. As a Birthmother in an open adoption, I can vouch that it is a life long process for all involved. Our families have become so uniquely intertwined that some people judge or misunderstand our "family unit." Much like the family featured on the show, the adoptive Mom and I have become the best of friends. To further make our story unique, we are both expecting children (my first with my Husband, her first with HER Husband) this November. We are a blessed family, through and through. Though we live far apart, we make every effort to include the "other side" in family happenings. 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 (ie., last name, permanent address, etc.) to believe they can trust. Openness is the gift that all parents (birthparents and adoptive parents) join together to give their children, so their kids grow up with knowledge of and access to both families throughout their lifetime.

47. My husband and I have recently been in the process of adopting from Guatemala but the courts there are wanting to change some laws. Can we adopt a child from Abrazo while we wait for our baby from Guatemala to come through?

Abrazo does not encourage these kinds of plans, as it is not permissible for families to actively pursue simultaneous placements from multiple sources.

48. My concern is that my husband is a Jehovah Witness and I didn't know if that would be a problem with your agency?

Abrazo welcomes clients 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.

49. What other costs can we expect other than agency fees if we were to adopt with your organization? We need a rough number so that we can find out what kind of loans or grants to apply for.

The average case costs in Abrazo's full-service program run approximately $18-24k (including the agency fee, assuming medical costs are covered by insurance or Medicaid.) The average case costs of Abrazo's designated cases typically fall between $15-21k (including agency fee, assuming Medicaid/insurance coverage.) Abrazo's special needs cases usually cost $7-12k, 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, costs borne by the adopting couple as of placement.

50. Would we have to come to the weekend training (we completed a series of adoptive classes several years ago and are very familiar with the process.)

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.

51. 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.

52. Does your "special needs" adoption option include bi-racial children or is that only children with physical special needs? We are open to many different bi-racial combinations.

Abrazo's special needs program applies to children of any age of full African-American ancestry, children of any race who are over the age of five, sibling groups of more than three being placed together, and children with noncorrectable disabilities known to the agency at time of placement.

53. I was wondering if we could contact any of your families just to see or to talk with them about their journey through Abrazo?

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

54. Are all of Abrazo's adoptions open?

Abrazo only places children with adoptive parents who are committed to openness and who are prepared to enter into lifelong relationships with birthfamilies, to ensure that the children placed within this agency always have information about and access to their families of origin.

55. It just seemed to me by looking at your website that you prefer to work with childless couples or people that are dealing with infertility that is medically documented. We are neither one of those things. Should we go forward with the application process?

Our agency would not be the best fit for you, unless you are interested in pursuing a designated adoption or a special needs case, as proof of infertility is required otherwise.

56. My husband and I are interested in adopting an infant of Native American descent. I am of NA descent and registered with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and enrolled with a California tribe. Does you agency work with many birth parents of native descent? Are you looking for adoptive parents of native descent in order to more easily comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act?

Abrazo occasionally has opportunity to place children of Native American descent, pending tribal approval, and does comply fully with the terms of the ICWA.

57. 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 already in state foster care.

58. We desire to complete our family with at least 1 more child whether a boy or girl, & we are white and willing to accept a Bi-Racial child because we like Hispanic culture.

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

59. How "open" are your open adoptions?

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 the child's life span. Our adoptive parents are expected to provide any child adopted through Abrazo with honest, age-appropriate information about their adoption and their birthparents from Placement Day onwards.

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