Adoptions from the Heart (AFTH), headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, facilitates domestic adoptions. They serve families all over the United States but can only provide home studies in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Connecticut, and New York. They also provide home studies and other services for families using another agency, an attorney, or doing a private or identified adoption.
The agency works with the desires of the birthmother, whether she desires an open, semi-open, or closed adoption. The birthmother decides on the terms of openness, whether that involves meeting the family, ongoing contact throughout the baby's life, or both. So even though not all women want an open adoption, all families need to make the following minimum commitment: an exchange of first names, letters, and photos through the agency, and at least 1 visit per year (which can be at one of the agency's annual picnics) as the child grows up.
Adoption costs can range from $29,000-40,000 depending on the adoptive family's state of residence and the medical fees not covered by the birthmother's insurance, among other factors. Standard fees include:
The program fee-which covers birthmother support and health expenses, profile advertising, and other services related to the adoption process-is due prior to attending the profile meeting. The placement fee is collected at the time of the match. In the event of a disruption, the family will be credited for the amount of the placement fee earned to carry over into a new placement situation. All other fees, once paid, are non-refundable, regardless of the outcome resulting from the service. For example, once a home study has been paid for and performed, there will be no refunds even if the family is not approved for the placement of a child.
Each prospective parent must be between the ages of 25 and 52 and the time of application. The agency accepts single applicants, married couples, unmarried partners adopting jointly, and families with or without children. This includes LGBT families and singles. As for the infants placed, the agency does not allow gender specification. The vast majority of their placements are infants; rarely do they place children over one year old. Birthmothers typically choose the adoptive family for their infant by looking through family profiles though agency staff can assist or make a match per the birthmother's request. Each family in the adoption program has a YouTube profile video made through a video company (this cost is not included in the program fee) which helps birthmothers make their decision.
Families adopting through AFTH must attend a full-day educational course. Those adopting through the agency a subsequent time attend a half-day course covering issues of siblings and place in family, preparing your child for another placement, and other pertinent topics. To educate prospective adoptive families about the agency program, adoption myths and facts, and financial assistance, the agency hosts local information meetings monthly. They also provide monthly webinars where a social worker provides information on domestic adoption. Various educational courses are available throughout the service area on topics such as "Advertising and Social Media," "Helping Your Child Handle Classmate Bullying and Invasive Questions about Their Adoption," and "Talking to Birthmothers."
AFTH offers standalone services such as a home study, counseling, legal assistance, inter-state compact preparation, and post-placement visits and reports. Thus, families facilitating a private adoption-where an adoptive family and birth parents have matched on their own-can pay only for the adoption services they need.
Prospective adoptive parents complete adoption education, are cleared for adoption through a home study, create written and video profiles, and wait for a match. Wait times vary. Families adopting African-American children generally have shorter wait times. Once a birthmother selects a family for her child, there is usually a pre-placement meeting between the birthmother and the prospective adoptive parents. After birth, the baby is usually placed in the new family's home directly from the hospital.
AFTH is available for continuing counseling services after adoption finalization whenever it is needed. They can also provide other services or referrals for any other resources. Classes about post-adoption processes are available, covering topics such as helping a child cope with his or her perception of adoption. Events are held at the local offices to provide support, such as a birthparent support groups.
Between 2011-2014, AFTH placed an average of 160 children per year. From January-June of 2015, the agency placed 48 Caucasian infants, 20 African-American infants, and 12 bi-racial infants.
Adoptions from the Heart has been doing adoptions since 1985, giving them over 30 years of experience in the industry.
The agency provides information about the federal tax credit which can save families over $13,000, as well as grants, loans, and creative financing options. Children with special needs may qualify for an adoption subsidy, as do military families. However, the agency itself does not seem to offer any scholarships or programs specific to families adopting through them.
Sue Irwin, PA
5 years ago