Beacon House encourages semi-open adoptions, though they facilitate closed and open as well according to the needs and desires of the birth mother and adoptive parents. According to Beacon House, the advantages of semi-open adoptions for the child include a greater sense of identity, a connection with cultural heritage, and prevention of feeling abandoned. With closed adoptions, birth parents can avoid unwanted attention and better move forward with their lives. The agency presents the pro’s and con’s of each degree of openness, giving birth mothers and adoptive families a balanced perspective so they can make the best choice for their needs.
Process and Training
Beacon House has extremely flexible criteria for adoption eligibility. In general, they simply work within each state’s parameters. The steps to the agency’s process from start to finish are:
- Submitting an inquiry form. This gives prospective parents access to a more complete information packet and puts them in communication with the agency.
- Registering for and attending a webinar to confirm interest in Beacon House
- Completing an application
- Signing a personalized contract
- Completing a home study and pre-adoption education
- Setting up a profile for the Baton Rouge office
- Matching with a birth mother
- Completing post-match classes and following payment schedule
- Taking physical custody of the child post-delivery
- Finalizing the adoption after post-placement visit
Wait times range from 3-18 months, but most families successfully adopt within 1-2 years of beginning the process. There is variability in this wait time depending on how long it takes to match and how far along the pregnancy is. After matching, birth parents and adoptive parents generally meet face to face under agency supervision and communicate after that through letters or cards sent to the agency.
Beacon House hosts several live webinars every month, helping families understand the process, requirements, paperwork, and financing details of adopting with the agency. There is also a specific webinar about home studies and another called Adoption 101. Parent in Progress classes are also available to those who have been matched with a birth mother.
Beacon House clients get free access to their Adoption Finance Coaching System, which includes on-demand webinar trainings, templates, and personalized coaching from an experienced financial planner. The agency will also set up an online cash gift registry specifically for the adoption, where family and friends can contribute to offset adoption costs.
Beacon House lets prospective parents know exactly what to expect as far as fees go – including where there is room for variability from case to case. The application fee is always $300 and placement costs $16,500. A home study is $2,000, home study update is $1,000, and a post placement assessment is $350. These are all fees that are paid to the agency itself. In addition, families are responsible for several expenses in behalf of the birth mother, including medical care, residential expenses, legal fees, counseling, foster care, travel, and supervision, which all vary depending on the birth mother’s needs. However, the agency gives a projected total of $29,075 of all fees if the birth mother needs 1 month of care and $33,075 if she needs 3 months. Though an adoptive family may pay more or less than this amount, it is helpful to have a breakdown of fees based on what families have paid in the past.
Payments are made as services are rendered. After an application is accepted, there is a contract fee of $2,500 that is non-refundable, but would roll over to another situation in the event that an adoption doesn’t go through. The first half of the agency placement fee is paid at the time of match, and this is at risk if the birth mother were to change her mind. The second half of the placement fee is paid once the adoption consent is signed and is never at risk for loss. The home study fee is paid when the home study is done, birth mother expenses are paid monthly after a match with a birth mother, etc. Families can use credit cards via PayPal for some fees to free up cash for payments that can’t be paid with credit.
If a birth mother decides to parent, the agency does their best to allow an adoptive family to stay as close as possible to their original budget. Such families become priority families, making them eligible for a “drop in.” A drop in is a situation in which a birth mother approaches agency workers at 8-9 months pregnant and possibly even in the hospital in labor. This significantly reduces expenses for the matched family.
Though the agency is very upfront about all fees and expenses from the outset, they do require a non-refundable contract fee of $2,500. Additionally, half of their placement fee, paid after matching with a birth mother, is at risk if the birth mother were to choose to parent. This is in addition to the birth mother expenses the family is paying month to month. These non-refundable fees really add up and can break a budget, especially if multiple adoptions fall through for a family.
They do not support limiting the sex of a child as a criterion of adoption, which is intended to decrease wait times but may deter parents with certain preferences.