An Open Door facilitates infant adoptions in the state of Georgia and adoptions of older children internationally in Poland, Serbia, Mexico, Peru, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, China, and Bulgaria. The agency has placed over 2,100 children since it began operating in 1987, placing close to 200 children in 2015.
They recently began a program to place Georgia’s foster children into permanent homes with little to no cost to adoptive families.
The degree of openness of an adoption (open, semi-open, or closed) is determined by the birth mother and all types are facilitated here. The majority are semi-open, where the birth mother and adoptive parents communicate regularly through the agency.
The wait time for couples to adopt in Georgia is usually between 6-12 months.
International wait times are more variable and often involve extensive planning and a trip or multiple trips to the country of choice. The agency has pursued several different routes to placement internationally. Some families see a specific child on a waiting list. Others decide to adopt after hosting an older international child in their home. A referral might be offered to an agency from a particular country, and a family can pursue or keep looking elsewhere.
For foster care adoption, families can look on the website for waiting children, discuss with the program coordinator, and apply to the program once they’ve decided to pursue a match. At that point, they complete Georgia’s IMPACT training for foster care adoption and a home study process as well.
The mandatory training program for domestic adoptions is a full day, in-person preparation session. For international adoptions, the adoptive parents must complete 10 hours of couple training, either in a group setting or online. Both of these trainings teach how to help a child cope with the change, anticipating other needs, and accessing resources needed in the future.
Dealing with Revocation
In the state of Georgia, the birth mother must wait 24 hours to sign the legal papers to place her child with an adoptive family. After that, she has ten days to change her mind. This revocation period can understandably be stressful for all parties involved and revocation occurs in about 25% of situations. If agency workers think revocation is likely in a certain case, they may recommend placing the child temporarily with one of their Caring Homes until the ten days are up, which can help soften the emotional blow to adoptive families in some cases. After that, adoptive parents can proceed with the adoption after further home visitations, reports, and a court appearance.
Post-adoption counseling and therapy are not included in the placement fee, but the agency is happy to provide recommendations. Some international adoption support groups are available to interested families.
Long after adoption takes place, birth parents who place with An Open Door are provided with regular updates about their child through the agency. The agency facilitates communication and sharing on behalf of the adopted child and the birth mother. After an infant is placed with an adopted family, the family signs a mandatory correspondence agreement. Every month for the first six months of the baby’s life, the family completes “sharing sheets” and sends photographs to the agency’s headquarters, where they are forwarded to the birth mother or kept on file for later reference (if she elects not to receive them). After that, sharing sheets and photographs are to be shared at least every birthday until the child is 21. Of course, if the birth mother and adoptive family decide on a more open adoption, they can communicate directly throughout the child’s life.
The agency provides information about the Georgia reunion registry, which allows for adult adopted children to find birth parents and siblings if those family members, too, consent to be on the registry.
Fees and Financial Aid
The agency’s application fee is $300. Beyond that, the company isn’t as transparent as some other agencies about what to expect beforehand. The estimated total of fees and timing of payment can be determined after a consultation over the phone or in one of their eleven locations in Georgia state: Albany, Atlanta (4 locations), Columbus, Macon, Rome, Savannah, Thomasville, or Valdosta.
With the agency operating in nine different countries, the cost from one placement situation to another can vary drastically. Travel to a child’s country can range from one to three trips over the adoption process, so families can expect to pay a pretty penny when adopting internationally.
An Open Door’s eligibility guidelines are a little more narrow as they are targeting a Christian demographic. They state that adoptive couples must be between 24-45 years of age, married at least three years, and belong to the Christian faith. The application gives each prospective parent the opportunity to explain his or her faith through a series of questions, starting with, “What is the significance of Jesus Christ in your life?” The exception to the marriage requirement is that single women can adopt through Bulgaria, Latvia, China, or Peru.
Each country has its own set of additional adoption guidelines, and agencies within those countries may have further requirements. For example, adoptive parents must meet China’s relatively stringent standards for income and BMI (body mass index).