FAQs For Adoptive Parents

Who can apply with Raymond W. Godwin to adopt?

Any loving, caring family who is willing and able to provide a nurturing environment for a child can adopt through our office. As a private adoption attorney, 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 hold your hand and provide not just legal advice but practical advice about all aspects of your adoption plan.

We will draft, file, process and finalize all the necessary legal documents involved in adoption and either refer you to 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 except for most step-parent, grandparent, and family adoptions.. 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 the 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.

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. You may also qualify for a grant.

Certain nonprofit organizations, churches and adoption assistance programs such as Child of the King offer financial support for adoptive couples.