Note: This month, our Hope’s Promise blogs will aim to help our readers “Understand the Issues” related to adoption. We are excited to share our stories and address the current issues in adoption.
By Rachel Bates
After serving at Hope’s Promise for ten years, first as an intern, then as a caseworker and now Director of Adoptions, I’ve learned invaluable information about the process of adoption. There is nothing that makes me more passionate than helping others to Understand the Issues surrounding adoption. These include:
- Adoption laws in Colorado,
- Rights of birth parents,
- Ethics for adoptive families, and
- Safety and permanency for children.
Adoption laws in Colorado
When considering adoption in the state of Colorado, it’s important for families to understand that Colorado is an Agency State. This means that to relinquish a child, or to adopt a child, a licensed child placement agency must be used by all parties, including birthparents and adoptive families. Because Hope’s Promise is licensed by the state of Colorado, we must adhere to state standards. We have a yearly licensing inspection by the Colorado Department of Human Services who visit our offices and fully inspect our policies, procedures, and client files. Over the years, I’ve been reminded time and time again about the importance of not only having licensing standards but also being accountable to those standards. Although not perfect, Colorado’s agency state adoption laws were put in place to protect all parties, including the birthparents, the adoptive parents, but most importantly, the child.
Rights of birth parents
It’s important to understand the rights of birthparents. Birthparents have the right to be heard and to have someone advocating for their best interest. They have the right to receive support and counseling around one of the most difficult and important decisions they will ever make. Birthparents also deserve to know that the home in which their child will be raised is safe, happy, and trustworthy.
In Colorado, one of the agency rules is to provide relinquishment counseling to each woman or man who chooses to legally relinquish a child regarding their legal rights and the adoption process. It is vital that birthparents understand, and have thoroughly discussed with a trained professional, their options related to their pregnancy. We give birth parents the opportunity to sit down and talk with a caring staff member about the grief related to their relinquishment decision, as well as positive and healthy ways to cope with their grief in the days, months, and years to come. It is of utmost importance that no birth parent feel alone through the adoption process. Every birth parent should understand their pregnancy options and legal rights so that they can feel confident in their decision.
Ethics for adoptive families
Many adoptive parents enter into the adoption process with little to no knowledge of what issues are involved in adopting and raising an adopted child. Adoptive parents deserve to be educated, supported, and to have their questions answered. Also, adoptive parents deserve to have peace of mind that the adoption process is final and legally binding. When given the privilege and responsibility of raising an adopted child, adoptive parents shouldn’t have to navigate the sometimes complicated waters of adoption alone.
In Colorado, agencies are required to provide 16 hours of training to adoptive parents before they finalize their adoption. This training helps them understand birth parent issues, open adoption, trans-racial adoption, attachment, and medical issues for adopted children, along with many other topics necessary to help them feel empowered and to succeed as adoptive parents.
Safety and permanency for children
The most important issue related to adoption is that the child should always be the primary client in any agency and with an adoption professional. After all, the child is the innocent and helpless party in adoption. Every child deserves permanency in a forever family that will be the best place for them to grow up, as well as legal stability, emotional stability, and physical stability. At Hope’s Promise, whenever staff members encounter a difficult decision or difficult case, they remind one another to make sure the “child is first.” To ensure a child’s needs come first, our staff members will work tirelessly to navigate any laws that might seem complicated or unnecessary at first glance, issues that aren’t simply black and white, or any decisions that could have negative ramifications. These all pale in comparison to what we cherish most – and that is the child’s best interest.
Working on behalf of every child
State and agency laws are not meant to make things difficult, costly, or frustrating, although it might sometimes seem that way. They are made to support and protect those involved in the adoption process. It is essential that all parties—birthparents and adoptive parents—choose an agency with good ethics, a clean state supervisory record, and caring staff members who will always put the child first in every decision and circumstance. After all, it is our primary job to help every child find permanency in a loving, forever family. We at Hope’s Promise work hard every day on behalf of every child and all parties in the adoption process – it is the hallmark of what we do!
If you would like more information, please see our website at www.hopespromise.com
Rachel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Colorado State University. She was a caseworker eight years before becoming Director of Adoptions. Her sister was adopted domestically through Hope’s Promise over 25 years ago, and she has been involved in the gift of adoption ever since! She lives in the Denver area with her husband.