The following questions are often directed to our office by birth mothers and adoptive couples, especially during the early stages of an adoption.
Please take a few minutes to read through these questions, as they will provide you with some more general information about the adoption process. As always, please feel free to contact our office to have your specific adoption-related questions answered.
Why should I place my child for adoption?
We understand that the decision to place your child for adoption can be very difficult for you. The thought of choosing adoption for your child probably fills you with all different kinds of thoughts and fears.
However, to Ray's office, adoption is one of the most loving choices a mother can make for her child. Adoption not only provides an answer to a crisis pregnancy but also gives a child a life and experiences he or she might never have known. Adoption also provides loving, caring couples and families with a precious child that they might have never known.
As a birth mother working with Ray, you will have the opportunity to voice your opinions about the type of family you would like to place your child with. Ray and his staff will search for couples that match your description and you will be able to choose which adoptive couple will care for your child. In many cases, birth mothers maintain contact with the adoptive couple, often receiving pictures and general updates about their child many years after the adoption is finalized.
How do I start the adoption process?
If you are considering placing your child for adoption, please contact our office to speak with our attorney, Raymond W. Godwin. During your initial visit, Ray will provide you with information and counsel on how best to approach your particular situation. He will help you decide which avenue is best to take at this point in your life.
After your meeting with Ray, if you decide you would like to pursue adoption through our office, we will begin searching for a loving adoptive couple who can provide your baby with the stable, caring home you are looking for.
What can I, as the birth mother, expect during the adoption process?
As a birth mother working with our office, you can expect understanding, our availability to answer your questions, financial assistance and general information about how our office assists in adoptions.
After your initial consultation with Ray, we will begin searching for adoptive couples. Once we find an adoptive couple or couples that we think would be a good match for you, we will show you their portfolios - photo albums that describe what life in their family would be like. From there, you will choose which couple you believe represents your ideal for your child's life. While many of our birth mothers choose to meet with their adoptive couple face-to-face in a casual setting, some prefer to write letters or talk on the phone to share concerns or questions relating to the adoption.
Throughout the entire adoption process, our staff will stay in contact with you as much as you would like. Our office keeps regular day hours and, if necessary, evening hours to answer your questions, help you run errands, or take you to appointments. While Ray cannot be the lawyer for you and the adoptive couple, he and his staff are available to answer your questions relating to your adoption plan. Our office will also refer you to trusted attorneys or other state-certified legal representation to assist you during the adoption process.
How do I choose an adoptive couple?
Choosing an adoptive couple can be an intimidating thought, but at Ray's office, we help you choose who you want to raise your baby. After talking with you, we search for caring couples who can provide your child with a stable, loving environment.
Once we come in contact with those couples, we will show you their portfolios - photo albums that describe what life in their family would be like. From there, you will choose which couple you believe represents your ideal for your child's life. After choosing their couple, many birth mothers even meet them face-to-face in a casual setting to introduce themselves and exchange questions related to the adoption. Telephone contact between you and the adoptive couple is common, if that is what you desire.
What rights does the birth father have?
In the state of South Carolina, the birth father has the same rights to the child as a birth mother; however, he only retains those rights if he is actively involved in the birth mother's pregnancy and assertively makes his desire to be a father known.
Although the situation varies from case to case, a court will generally evaluate whether a birth father has abandoned his rights because he has not revealed himself, offered financial support for the baby before or after birth, or has shown no inclination to be responsible to the child. Because each case is unique, please contact our office if you have any concerns about the birth father and his rights.
How long does the adoption process take?
No matter how smoothly it may run, adoption is a long process. The State of South Carolina (like many states) requires a waiting period after placement before an adoption can be officially finalized in court. In South Carolina, an adoptive couple must wait at least three months from when the baby is born before the case can be considered for finalization.
During those three months before the finalization, many birth mothers fear that they will be completely forgotten about once the baby is delivered and the adoption is finalized. However, even after your baby is placed, our office still provides you with counsel and assistance to help you get settled.
Can I get help financially?
In the state of South Carolina, adoptive couples are permitted to pay for reasonable expenses for their birth mothers. These expenses include living expenses, certain medical expenses and legal fees.
Our office works with you and the adoptive couple to compose a reasonable budget that will meet the needs of you and your baby.
Will I be judged for my situation?
Despite your fears regarding your pregnancy, rest assured that you will not be blamed, disrespected, or looked down upon for your decision to place your child in the care of an adoptive couple.
At Ray's office, we take adoption very seriously, and want not only to make the adoption process easier for you, but also to make sure that your needs as an individual are met. That is why we make ourselves available to you and maintain the utmost confidentiality of all our clients, birth mothers and adoptive couples alike.
What services can the office of Raymond W. Godwin offer me?
Our office is composed of compassionate individuals who are willing to counsel you on the benefits and wisdom of adoption.
In addition, we collaborate with an attorney or an adoption agency who counsel you in your decision to place your child with an adoptive couple. This attorney will represent and protect your best interests during your adoption plan.
Depending on your particular situation, we initiate or terminate the birth father or legal father's parental rights. If you have more questions regarding the rights of a birth father, see "What rights does the birth father have" above or contact our office.
If you need help with some of your expenses, Ray and your adoptive couple will work with you to help pay for medical bills, and reasonable living expenses. Our financial assistant will disperse funds directly to you to help you pay for such things as groceries and maternity clothes.
Who can apply with Raymond W. Godwin, Attorney at Law, to adopt?
Any loving, caring family who is willing and able to provide a nurturing environment for a child can adopt through the our office. As a private adoption specialist, Ray has had experience in all types of adoptions, including infant adoptions, older child adoptions, special needs adoptions, and family adoptions. Although by law Ray cannot complete international adoptions, he has helped couples who have adopted internationally re-adopt children in the United States. He has also assisted couples who have taken placement of children from countries which do not allow finalization of adoption.
Ray also works with other professionals to finalize adoptions, particularly for couples who are working with the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
What services does Ray Godwin's office provide?
Our ability to get things done, our years of experience, and our willingness to walk you through every step of the adoption process sets our office apart from other adoption agencies or attorneys.
We will draft, file, process, and finalize all the necessary legal documents involved in adoption and either match you with a birth mother or locate a child for you to adopt. Since all adoptions require special home investigations, our office will help find a Certified Adoption Investigator to facilitate your home study.
In addition, we help you create letters of introduction to potential birth mothers and advise you in creating a personalized portfolio - pictures of your life to show birth mothers the life you are inviting her child to enjoy.
We know that the adoption process can be very confusing and emotionally draining, so we also make ourselves available to answer questions and keep you up-to-date regarding the status of your adoption.
Once the adoption is complete, we help you finalize the adoption through the Family Court of either your county of residence or of the child's birth, whichever is located in South Carolina. In addition, we help you obtain the amended birth certificate for your child once your adoption has been finalized.
What is a home study?
A home study is a comprehensive evaluation for you, the prospective adoptive parents. It is one of the first steps in the adoption process and is a requirement for any type of adoption. The home study must be administered and completed in your state of residence to be accepted for adoption procedures.
The home study provides you with a personal advocate, a Certified Adoption Investigator (CAI), who confirms your legal readiness to become adoptive parents and educates you on detailed issues regarding adoption. The CAI spends time with you not only to prepare you for the process, but also to ensure that you are able and ready to meet the physical and emotional needs of the adopted child.
Who should we contact for a home study?
Although the office of Raymond W. Godwin does not perform home studies, we work closely with several agencies and private Certified Adoption Investigators. If you live in South Carolina, please contact our office for home study provider recommendations. However, if you are an adoptive couple living outside of South Carolina, you must use a home study provider in your state of residence for the home study.
Is the adoption process usually faster if we choose to adopt a bi-racial or African American child?
The process of adopting bi-racially is usually faster. Typically, more minority children are available than families seeking to adopt them. Furthermore, birth mothers placing children of African-American and mixed-racial heritage are usually more flexible in their selection of a family.
Our office has found that, in some cases, bi-racial or African American birth mothers choose their adoption plans closer to their delivery date, thereby lowering living expenses and other fees generally paid by the adoptive couple. For this reason, the fees and expenses associated with bi-racial or African-American adoptions can often be lower than those involving Caucasian or Hispanic adoptions.
How does Raymond W. Godwin's office find birth mothers?
We reach out to churches, health care providers, and other professionals to advise them about our services and about the families who are available to adopt a child.
We also contact various adoption agencies and consultants which advertise for birth mothers. In addition, we network with professional service organizations that reach out to birth mothers.
Some birth mothers contact our office directly through referrals, our advertisements or reputation for excellent service.
How am I referred to a birth mother?
Our office is unique in the fact that we do not have a waiting list, per se. We try to refer birth mothers to couples based on common personality traits and background interests, in addition to criteria that the birth mother has set forth and you, the adoptive couple, are comfortable with. We have found that this method allows you to develop a better relationship with your birth mother and, in turn, greatly reduces the number of disrupted adoptions.
When a birth mother contacts our office, we interview her regarding her social background, medical history, birth father information, and what she is looking for in an adoptive family. Birth mothers generally choose adoptive couples who portray values and qualities that they believe make good parents. Most birth mothers are, above all, looking for loving families - not families who are young, rich, and beautiful. We encourage you as the adoptive couple to be flexible and willing to communicate and meet with a birth mother to increase the likelihood of being selected.
What is a portfolio?
A portfolio is basically a scrapbook of your life with a letter to the birth mother explaining to her your desire to adopt a child as well as letting her see a little bit about what life in your family would be like.
Once you have retained our services, you will be given more detailed information on what to put in your portfolio and birth mother letter.
What if the child has health problems?
In most adoption situations, babies are usually born healthy, but in the event your adoption situation is one of the few births with health problems, you, as an adoptive couple, need to discuss which disorders or serious health conditions you are prepared to handle.
If you want to continue with the adoption of a special needs child, your home study must approve you to adopt such a child. You will need to discuss your ability to care for such a child with your home study provider. If you are not prepared to adopt a child with special needs, then the child will be placed with another family. You should not feel pressured to do something you are not prepared to do.
What are the expenses associated with adoption?
One of the most common concerns of adoption is the financial means required. Every adoption plan is different and each situation varies greatly. Fees associated with adoption include attorney's fees, Guardian ad Litem fees, filing fees, background report fees, process server fees, publication fees, agency fees, living expenses for the birth mother, post-partum expenses, UPS charges, and medical expenses. The custom in South Carolina is to pay up to six weeks of post-partum living expenses for a normal delivery and up to eight weeks for a Cesarean delivery.
Not all of these fees apply to every situation; therefore expenses can range from as little as $15,000 or less to as much as $26,000 or more. However, these figures do not include your home study costs and travel costs.
Can we receive financial aid or tax credits?
Some adoptive couples qualify for certain financial tax breaks. The IRS offers a tax credit under Tax Topic 607 for each adopted child. Additionally, state employees can qualify for up to $5,000 in state reimbursement. Some employers grant adoption benefits, and some states offer " non-recurring costs" tax credits as well.
Certain non-profit organizations, churches, and adoption assistance programs such as Child of the King offer financial support for adoptive couples.