Birth Parents FAQ
Call Us At: (805) 962-0988
Toll-Free Birth Mother Hotline:
800-350-5683

child sm1. What is the adoptive family allowed to know about me?
As much information as possible. If they are to raise the child, they will need to have a complete health history, so that they can obtain the best possible medical care for the child. Also, the more they know about you, the better they can anticipate the needs and interests of the child. For example, both of my daughters are adopted, and my youngest daughter's birth parents were quite accomplished musicians. Knowing that the child would likely be musically gifted, we started her on piano lessons when she was four years old. She has grown into a very gifted pianist and singer, and is currently studying the violin as well. If we had not known of her birth parents' background as musicians, we would never have known to start her music lessons at an early age.

2. How much does the adoptive family usually want to know about me?
Again, as much information as possible.

3. Do you ever deal with couples who are from out of the State of California, or do you only work with couples in California? 
About 90% of our couples are California residents, roughly 10% are residents of other states, and we handle interstate adoptions all over the United States.

4. May I select what religion I wish the couple to be?
Absolutely! Our goal is for your peace of mind, and we want you to be picky about the couple you select, so that you can feel the peace of mind that can only come from knowing that you personally selected the best possible home for your child.

5. Can I be assured that my child will be brought up in that religion?
Yes, that is something that is discussed and agreed upon between the birth mother and the adopting family.

6. Am I permitted to know how long the couple has been waiting for a child, and why the wait?
Yes, in fact, we want you to have as much information about the family as possible, and we encourage the most complete exchange of information possible. Again, our goal is for your peace of mind, and we recognize that peace of mind does not arise in a vacuum --you will only have peace with the adoption process if you have complete information about the adopting family, and are permitted to have ALL of your questions answered.

7. Will the child be able to get information about me if he/she desires?
Yes, California law, and the laws of many other states, already provide for that. For example, in a California adoption, one of the consent papers you will be asked to sign at the time of the placement, asks you whether you authorize the State of California to provide the child with your name, last known address, and last known telephone number, should the child request that information upon attaining the age of majority. You can answer in the affirmative or the negative. Therefore, if you want your child to be able to find you in the future, the State will assist the child in finding you. If you do not want the child to be able to find you in the future, the State will not assist the child, and the State will respect your right to privacy. It is your choice. Also, you can change your mind about that choice later, and you can write to the State Department of Social Services, specifying your wishes on this issue.

8. What information, if any, is needed from the birth father?
We want to obtain as much information as is available, but, unfortunately, rarely is complete information about the birth father provided, or available. Although we prefer to get as much information as possible, the adoption can go forward even without that information.

9. How soon after the baby is born can he/she be placed in his/her new home?
As soon as the pediatrician discharges the baby from the hospital, and as soon as you say it is okay. We think it is important that you have an opportunity to say your good-byes to the baby, and that is why your time with the baby is always respected.

10. In the years to come, if my child searches for me, will you contact me before my child does?
If the child seeks you through this office, yes. If the child seeks you through the State Department of Social Services, it will depend on whether you have authorized the State to provide the child with identifying information about you. If you have authorized the State to release identifying information, then the State will release that information to the child, and may or may not notify you that it is doing so.

11. May I write the adoptive parents a letter explaining to them the reasons for placing my child for adoption, and will I have the assurance they will receive and read it?
Absolutely, in fact, we go a step further. We encourage you to write a letter to the child, explaining why you made an adoption plan. We recognize that this is not an easy letter to write, so we have sample letters and can assist you in preparing that letter. We emphasize to our adopting couples that it is absolutely critical that the child know at an early age that he or she is adopted, and that the child needs to know that the placement for adoption was the ultimate act of sacrificial love, NOT an act of rejection. These letters help the child to understand and accept this reality, and that is why adopting parents are grateful to have a letter of this kind, to share with the child when the child starts to ask questions about his or her birth parents.

12. What "qualifications" must a couple meet before they are accepted as clients?
There are a number of attributes we are looking for as we screen prospective adopting parents. Those attributes are, in order of importance: 
   a. a stable and loving marriage 
   b. emotional maturity and readiness to parent 
   c. willingness and ability to fully accept an adopted child as a member of the family 
   d. financial stability and ability to provide the child with a proper home and upbringing 
   e. an infertility or other medical reason why the couple wishes to adopt 
   f. "likeability" of the couple, i.e., are they genuinely "nice" people?

13. How much will I know about the adopting parents?
The law says that you are required to know certain things about them to select them to adopt your child in an independent adoption. Specifically, the law says that you are required to know, at minimum, the following: "their full legal names, ages, religion, race or ethnicity, length of current marriage and number of previous marriages, employment, whether other children or adults reside in their home, whether there are other children who do not reside in their home and the child support obligation for these children and any failure to meet these obligations, any health conditions curtailing their normal daily activities or reducing their normal life expectancies, any convictions for crimes other than minor traffic violations, any removals of children from their care due to child abuse or neglect, and their general area of residence or, upon request, their address." (Family Code Section 8801).

In addition to these minimum things the law requires you to know about them, we provide you with as much information as you want, and we encourage you to ask anything and everything you want to know about the adopting parents. There is no question you cannot ask, or which is considered in bad taste, or off limits or out of bounds. Full disclosure is essential to a successful adoption, and there are no limits on what you can know about the family.

14. When, if at all, does the birth father have to be present?
In most circumstances, never, according to California law. The exceptions, where the father would have to be involved and where his consent would be required, are the following: 
   a. if you and the father are or have been married; 
   b. if the father has received the child into his home and has publicly acknowledged that the child is his child; 
   c. if the father and you have both, at the hospital, signed a California state form in which you both agree that he is the father of the child (this form is called a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity); or 
   d. if the father has done everything he could have done to take responsibility for the child, both emotionally and financially, during the pregnancy, starting within a short time after he knew or should have known of the pregnancy.

If the father has done one or more of these listed activities, then his consent to the adoption is necessary, and if he will not consent, he is said to have a "veto power" over the adoption. In all other circumstances, his consent is not required, and he does not have the legal power to veto the adoption. There are some exceptions and limitations to these rules, so be sure to discuss the specifics of your situation with us, so that we can make sure that you are properly advised.

Even if we do not need his consent, however, the law does require that he be notified about the adoption, if possible. He has the right to file a lawsuit to oppose the adoption if he wishes, but the law says that he loses the lawsuit unless the court finds, in essence, that he can provide a better home for the child than can the adopting parents. Of course, you are going to select an adopting family who is so extremely well-qualified, that there is not much risk of the court finding that the child is better off with the father rather than the adopting family. Feel free to ask us your questions regarding the birth father's rights, as this is often a major concern to birth mothers.

15. After the adoption is finalized, will I need to have any further contact with your office? If so, under what circumstances?
Once the adoption is final, you do not "need" to be in contact with us, but you are welcome to do so if you wish of if we can be of further assistance. For example, in some cases, the parties desire for us to forward pictures of the baby and other communication between the parties, and we are happy to act in that capacity if that is what is requested.

16. Can I request that the adoption files be sealed until my child is eighteen years old, or is that automatically the case?
That is already covered by California State law, which provides that adoption records are confidential and sealed, except as noted in response to Question number 10, above.

17. Who has access to my file in your office?
Our file is kept confidential. The law provides that our client is entitled to a copy of the file upon request, but no one else is entitled to access, review or receive a copy.

18. What exactly do your office's files contain?
Our file includes health history and other questionnaires completed by all parties, all court documents, copies of all correspondence, and receipts for all expenses paid or incurred.

19. Will my medical costs be covered by the adoptive parents?
California law specifically allows an adopting family to pay the birth mother's medical bills and counseling bills. It is customary for them to cover those expenses to the extent that the bills are not covered by health insurance, or Medi-Cal, or other similar programs.

20. If the adoptive parents help with my expenses, what would that include?
California law (Penal Code Section 273) specifies that in addition to the birth mother's medical and counseling expenses, the adopting parents are also allowed to pay the birth mother's pregnancy-related living expenses, for the period of time that she is unable to work because of the pregnancy. In practice, this generally means that they can pay her living expenses for the last 3 months of the pregnancy, and continuing until her doctor authorizes her to return to work, usually at 6 weeks following the delivery. There are some conditions and limitations on these expenses, so be sure to talk to us about the specifics of your situation so that we might give you the best possible advice.

21. If for some reason there is an accident and my child's adoptive parents are killed, will I be responsible for the child? Would I have that option if I so desired?
The answer depends on whether the accident occurred before or after the adoption was finalized by the court. If the adopting parents were killedbefore the adoption was finalized (typically the adoption is finalized when the baby is 7 or 8 months old) then the State Department of Social Services would contact the birth mother to advise her of the accident, and would give her 3 options: 
   a. She can resume custody of the child and can parent the child;  
   b. She can pick another family to adopt the child; or 
   c. She can ask the State Department of Social Services to select a family for the child.

If the adopting parents are killed in an accident afterthe adoption is final, then the custody of the child is determined by the Wills of the deceased adopting parents, which will specify who is to be the child's guardian. In some cases, if the birth mother wishes, we can have a clause added to the adopting parents' Wills, specifying that the birth mother is to be notified if the adopting parents are both killed while the child is still a minor.

22. Will my child be able to find me if she/he decided to search for me?
If you have authorized the State Department of Social Services to release identifying information to the child when the child becomes an adult, then the State will do so if the child requests that information. If you have not authorized the State to release that information, they will not do so. It is your choice.

23. Will I be able to find my child if I decided I wanted to search for him or her?
Yes, because you will have selected the adopting family yourself, you will know their full legal names, what they do for a living, etc. Further, as noted in the answer to Question number 13, above, you are required to know generally where they live at the time of the placement, and the law also specifies that if you request their residence address, it MUST be provided to you.

24. What are sealed records?
Sealed records are official records which are not accessible to the public. For example, although anyone can walk into any courthouse in California and review the court's files regarding lawsuits, divorces, etc., the public is not allowed access to adoption files, which are confidential ("sealed") records.

25. What is open adoption?
The term "open adoption" is the single most misused and misunderstood term in adoption today. Properly defined, an "open adoption" is an adoption in which the birth mother selects the adopting parents herself, and has a relationship with that adopting family. Contrary to public assumption, an "open adoption" does not necessarily mean that the birth mother will be visiting with the child after the adoption. If there is an agreement for her to have ongoing visitation, that kind of adoption is properly called a "cooperative adoption," and cooperative adoptions are quite controversial, as many question whether cooperative adoption is in the long-term best interest of the child.

26. Why do many babies go into foster care before they go to adoptive parents?
Actually, in California independent adoption, the baby NEVER goes into foster care. The birth mother gives birth, and then the adopting family typically takes the baby home directly from the hospital. Often, the birth mother will actually directly and physically hand the baby to them, sometimes in a ceremony at the hospital for that specific purpose. Foster care is always avoided, except in the couple of states, such as Missouri and Kentucky, which require short-term foster care. In California, agency adoptions sometimes require foster care, but this office has never seen a child go into foster care in a California  independent adoption.

27. If my child were to go into foster care, how long would he or she be there?
Your child will NOT go into foster care.

28. Do my parents have to sign papers in order for me to place my child for adoption?
No. California law specifically provides that even if you are a minor, if you are old enough and mature enough to give birth to a baby, you are old enough and mature enough to place your child for adoption. Even if you are a minor, your parents have no say in the matter, and their consent is not required.

29. How much can I be involved in choosing the couple for my child?
You are TOTALLY involved, in fact, you are in charge of the selection process. It is 100% your decision.

30. May I have a picture of my baby?
Of course! In fact, we typically not only have the adopting parents taking pictures at the hospital, in most cases the birth mother also receives pictures upon an agreed schedule for years to come. Recently, we have even begun arranging for adoptive parents to send videos of the child to the birth mother.

31. What may I send with my child, and will I have the assurance that my child will get these items?
Because it is YOU placing the child for adoption (and not some agency), you can set the adoption up any way you wish, and if you want to send gifts or letters or whatever, the adopting family can agree to provide them to the child.

32. Will I have to go to court?
No, unless there is a serious problem, such as a lawsuit filed by the birth father to oppose your adoption plan. Also, if the child is an "Indian Child" a special federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act requires that the consent to adoption papers be signed in the presence of a judge. Lastly, a few states (not California) also require that you sign the adoption consent papers in the presence of a judge. Thus, if you place a child for adoption with a family in one of those few states, we would take you to court to see the judge for that purpose. In all other circumstances, you are not required to go to court.

33. If I have to go to court, how long after I sign my papers will this take place?
Except in the rare cases of Indian Children or adoption in some other states, you will not have to go to court to sign papers. Although a few states may require a court appearance, California and most other states do not require this. If your child is classified as an "Indian Child," you cannot go to court to sign papers until at least ten days after the child's birth.  If you are placing your child with a family in one of those states that requires that you sign in the presence of a judge, the waiting period before you sign will be controlled by the laws of the state where the placement is to occur.

34. Once I sign the adoption papers, can I change my mind?
Under California law, you can change your mind until either: 
   a. 30 days have elapsed, or 
   b. you have signed a document waiving your right to change your mind.

If you change your mind during the time allowed by law, California law states that the adopting parents must return the child to you.

If you wish to waive the 30 days that the law allows you to change your mind, and if you are in California, you are required to have your own attorney, and we can assist you in finding an attorney who will advise and represent you in connection with the waiver.  The law allows the adopting parents to pay for your legal representation, so this can be handled at no cost to you.  If you wish to sign the waiver and you are not located in California, then you are not required to have a lawyer, but you are still entitled to have one if you wish, also at no cost to you.

35. Will I be able to see my baby in the hospital?
Absolutely! In an independent adoption, you are the boss, and you will decide how much time you wish to spend with the baby in the hospital, if any, and how much time the adopting parents get to spend with the baby at the hospital, as well.

36. Will I be able to have a visit with my baby before I sign the adoption papers?
Yes, if that is your wish.

37. Are my parents, friends, birth father, etc., allowed to see the baby?
That is up to you. In an independent adoption, you are the boss, and you decide how you want matters handled.

38. Can I name my baby, and will the adopting parents keep the name I pick?
When you give birth, you will complete a birth certificate, giving the child the name that you will select. What happens afterwards is up to you and the adopting parents, and is sometimes negotiated. In some cases, the adopting parents agree to retain the name selected by the birth mother, and in other cases, the birth mother agrees that the adopting parents can give the child a different name. Once the adoption is finalized in court, the court will make an order specifying what the child's name is to be from that point forward.

39. What happens if my baby is born with birth defects? Will the adopting parents still want to adopt my baby?
That is up to the adopting parents, and largely depends upon what birth defects are involved. However, if you think about it, you would not want the adoption to go forward if the adopting family did not want it to, or if they had a serious problem with a particular birth defect affecting the child. Fortunately, there are families waiting to adopt "special needs" children. If there were a serious birth defect, and if the adopting family felt that they could not adopt a child with that particular birth defect, we would work with you to help you find a suitable family who would adopt a child with that birth defect.

40. When do I have to sign the adoption papers?
Typically, they are signed 3-4 days after delivery. California law says that they cannot be signed until your doctor has discharged you from the hospital. You sign the papers in front of a special kind of social worker, called an "Adoption Service Provider." The Adoption Service Provider usually contacts you, and schedules an appointment to meet with you in your home or another place convenient to you, two or three days after you go home from the hospital following the delivery.

If your child is classified as an "Indian Child" under Federal law, then you cannot sign for 10 days after the child's birth.  If you are placing the child with a family in another state, that state may have a different time period before you can sign.  For example, under Arizona law, you cannot sign for 72 hours after the child's birth.

41. What if I have other questions?
You can call us anytime, toll-free, at (800) 350-5683. We always try to answer prospective birth mothers' questions on a no-fee, no hassle, no obligation, basis. 

Office Location

Santa Barbara, California

1332 Santa Barbara Street, Suite 201
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Telephone: 805-962-0988
Fax: 805-966-2993
Toll-Free Birth Mother Hotline:
800-350-5683
Email: [email protected]