The first step in our adoption process is to complete and submit our Preliminary Application(pdf). If your Preliminary Application is approved, you will receive an invitation to an upcoming Information Meeting.
At the Information Meeting, members of New Life Family Services' adoption staff share detailed information about our agency, our services, and about our adoption process. Both husband and wife are required to attend the two hour meeting, which is held three to four times a year in the evening. Some of the items discussed during the meeting include the adoption study process, birth parent requests, openness, how birth parents come to a decision of choosing a family, placement, and finalization. Time is also allowed for questions you may have on the information being presented. Upon attending the Information Meeting, you will receive the formal application, educational literature and other useful tools to assist you in your decision-making process. The Information Meeting is for those families whose Preliminary Application has been submitted and approved, and have received an invitation to attend the meeting.
The adoption study is an assessment of the adoptive couple written by a licensed social worker. Topics covered include: personal history, the couples' relationship, their views on discipline and parenting, their readiness for adoptive parenting, the couples' financial situation and future goals, etc. The State of Minnesota requires that an adoption study be completed prior to the placement of a non-related child into the couples' home.
After you attend an Information Meeting and your formal application is received, it is reviewed by our Adoption Unit Supervisor. If, upon review, your formal application is approved, you will receive a letter indicating your application was approved, along with an Adoption Services Contract. Upon receipt of the signed contract and payment of the initial fee, your assigned social worker will contact you to schedule your first adoption study meeting.
New Life Family Services is a licensed adoption agency in the state of Minnesota only. Therefore, we are unable to complete adoption studies for families living outside of Minnesota. However, we are able to assist families who live in Minnesota and are looking to adopt a child from another state.
The waiting time between when the adoption study was approved to the time a placement was legally secure has averaged between 12 and 15 months for the last four years. (It is important to note that a child could be in your home for several months prior to the placement becoming legally secure.) Numerous variables can impact the amount of time a family waits for a placement. For example, the time a family waits may be less if they are open to an infant with special placement needs. Likewise, in a designated adoption (where birth parents and adoptive families approach New Life already having chosen one another), the adoptive family does not go into the waiting pool and thus does not experience a "wait time". Prospective birth parents make varied requests for the type of home in which they would like their child to be raised. Potential adoptive families also have the opportunity to state their preferences regarding the particular risks or case circumstances. Each set of birth parents is as unique as our adoptive families. Because of this uniqueness, it is impossible to predict exactly how long a family may wait before a match occurs. It is exciting to see how, in His perfect timing, God provides the right families to meet the needs of the children who are being placed through our agency.
During the adoption study process, you will prepare a three-part profile. This profile includes a 'Dear Birth Parent' letter in which you can express yourselves more personally to potential birth parents. It also includes a Home Summary which is a synopsis of your family including topics such as hobbies and interests, and views on discipline and education. The third piece of the profile is the picture pages. Families create a minimum of three or a maximum of ten back-to-back picture pages. These picture pages should represent you as a family, your interests and hobbies, your extended family and friends, pictures of your home, vacations or holiday traditions, etc. Your adoption social worker will be in close communication with you regarding the birth parents to which you are open to being shown. Based on the profiles they are shown, prospective birth parents choose a family for their child. Adoptive families are often given the opportunity to meet with the birth parents once they are chosen.
New Life Family Services is licensed by the State of Minnesota to facilitate domestic adoptions. Most of our adoption cases involve working with birth parents through the voluntary termination of parental rights process. This process involves New Life petitioning for the court date, facilitating the signing of pre-court adoption papers, and attending a Termination of Parental Rights hearing with the birth parents, if necessary.
It is important to note that birth parents certainly have the right to obtain their own attorney, although it is not a necessary component in order for New Life to facilitate an adoption. If birth parents have legal questions regarding Termination of Parental Rights, paternity, Contact Agreements, or adoption, we will refer them to legal services.
Likewise, adoptive parents may retain an attorney who is knowledgeable about adoption to represent them in court for the finalization hearing, although it is not necessary. Adoptive families may consider representing themselves in court as well. Any attorney fees, that are the result of the family seeking legal representation apart form New Life, are at the adoptive parents' expense.
New Life facilitates openness in adoption according to the requests of the birth parents and adoptive families. Both potential adoptive couples and birth parents are encouraged to become more educated on openness issues during the adoption preparation process. Your adoption social worker will offer opportunities for you to explore the possible dynamics of having a relationship with the birth family of your child. New Life recognizes that open adoption can provide advantages for an adoptee, as well as for the birth and adoptive families when these families commit to a relationship together. New Life is able to support all parties involved as their relationship evolves and we will listen to and help work through the fears, concerns and desires of the various parties. You will complete an Openness Checklist which will give you the chance to describe the degree of openness you desire. This Openness Checklist may evolve and change throughout the wait for a child. Our experience has shown us that the majority of birth parents desire, and thus request, some level of openness.
A designated adoption is one in which the adoptive parents and the birth parents meet each other outside of the agency. We are able to facilitate these types of placements, however, the adoptive family is still required to meet our criteria and is also required to have an valid adoption study. If a prospective adoptive family is in need of an adoption study for the purpose of a designated adoption, we are able to provide that service.
New Life primarily places infants who are born in the United States. Occasionally we will have birth parents interested in placing a toddler or sibling group.
A fos/adopt placement is when the prospective adoptive parents care for the child before the birth parents' rights are relinquished. The time frame for relinquishment can vary from a few weeks to three months depending on specific case circumstances. During the fos/adopt period, the birth parents are the legal parents to the child. Birth parents and prospective adoptive parents often request a fos/adopt placement to encourage bonding and attachment between the infant and family as soon as possible. In some cases, it may be recommended that the child be placed in interim care until the birth parents' rights are terminated.