Adoptions of Wisconsin (AOW) believes families come in many different forms. Whether you are a married couple or a single parent, we want to help you build your family. We are not affiliated with any religion and do not discriminate based on age, gender, gender identity income, sexual orientation, marital status or fertility status.
AOW is a full-service, licensed adoption agency that matches expectant birth parents and adoptive parents, provides, education, counseling, home studies, post-placement services and accepts legal guardianship of the child until the adoption is finalized.
AOW’s outreach program, also referred to as the active list, consists of 25 families and is focused on matching prospective adoptive parents with expectant parents residing in Wisconsin. The contract length for AOW’s active list is two years. It is very difficult to predict how long it will take for a match to take place. That being said most of our families match within the two year contract period.
There is a 10-family waiting list, also referred to as the inactive list, for families wanting to become part of AOW's agency outreach program. Time spent on the inactive list is typically six to nine months but sometimes can be as short as three-four months. While you are on the inactive list you will be busy completing your home study, pre-adoptive education, and adoptive parent profile.
The first step to joining AOW’s outreach program is to call (608)821-8220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a one-on-one information session with an AOW staff member. Information sessions typically run between 1 ½ - 2 hours and serve as an introduction to the overall adoption process. The sessions are tailored to fit your needs so please bring any questions you have about AOW's programs and services and the adoption process in general.
WHAT IS A HOME STUDY?
The goal of a home study is to help Adoptions of Wisconsin locate loving, caring homes, and facilitate positive match relationships between prospective adoptive parents and expectant birth parents. A home study is required by state law and covers subjects such as family history, health, employment history, background checks and placement considerations. During your home study your social worker will assist and support you in exploring the issues you need to consider regarding adoption.
All required paperwork and background checks must be complete and returned to Adoptions of Wisconsin prior to the commencement of the home study. Typically, a home study consists of a minimum of three visits with your social worker If you live within a two hour radius of Madison all three visits will be in your home. If you live two hours outside of Madison, at least two visits will be in your home and their third will be in our office. The social worker is not looking for perfection; she is looking to see that your home is a comfortable, safe and healthy environment for the child. If your social worker notices something of concern and feels the situation can be remedied, you will be made aware and given time to make the necessary changes or adjustments.
THE AGENCY OUTREACH PROGRAM ADOPTION PROCESS
Call Adoptions of Wisconsin at (608)821-8220 or email email@example.com to set up an information session
Call or email us to set up an information session. The sessions are one-on-one and last approximately 1 ½ -2 hours. The sessions are very informal. They are a great opportunity to ask all the questions you have related to adoption. You will also receive a packet of information regarding adoption, our agency and our fee agreements.
Join our inactive list and apply for your home study
After your information session you are eligible to join our inactive list. There are 10 families on this list at any one time. To find out if there is an opening you can call or email AOW. To be accepted to the inactive list you must send in your home study application and fee agreement, agency application and fee agreement and releases of information allowing AOW to conduct the required background checks, so that we can get your home study under way.
Begin your education
All first-time adoptive parents must receive pre-adoptive education. Each parent is required to complete 18 credit hours of pre-adoptive education. Your information session counts as two credit hours and you are responsible for the 16 remaining hours. You can obtain your education one of three ways:
- In person classes from a State of Wisconsin licensed child-placement (adoption) agency
- Online classes from www.adoptionlearningpartners.org
- Reading books and answering questions related to the competencies
Create your adoptive parent profile
An adoptive parent profile is a 8-12 page book of pictures and text used to introduce you to expectant birth parents. Here is your chance to connect with expectant parents on a personal level and to put into words the warmth and love you can offer to a child.
Many of AOW's prospective adoptive parents choose to work with Our Chosen Child, Adoption Design Services. Our Chosen Child is a Wisconsin based company that has achieved national recognition for their high quality designs and their caring, professional staff.
Join our active list
Once your home study is complete, and there is an opening in AOW's agency outreach program, you can join our active list by turning in the fee agreement and deposit.
Meeting expectant birth parents
Many expectant birth parents need more than the family profile to look at, and may wish to connect with adoptive parents in person before making their decision. We will coordinate the scheduling of these meetings and an AOW social worker will be present to help make sure both adoptive parents and expectant birth parents are comfortable and feel confident asking questions of each other.
Taking baby home
Adoptive families who have completed a home study and received a pre-adoptive foster care license are able to take the baby home from the hospital if the expectant birth parents feel comfortable with them doing so. AOW social workers will work with expectant birth parents to create a hospital plan that outlines an expectant birth parent's thoughts and decisions regarding her time at the hospital and her decisions regarding her baby's care. The hospital and the adoptive family are provided a copy of the hospital plan prior to the baby's birth. This is a very exciting time for adoptive families as well as a time of grief and great loss for birth parents. AOW social workers are available to provide counseling and support to both birth parents and adoptive parents during this time.
Terminating birth parents’ rights
Once the baby is born, an attorney representing AOW or an attorney representing the birth parent(s) will petition the court for a termination of parental rights (TPR) hearing. When the petition is received by the court, a hearing will be scheduled to occur no later than 30 days after the petition has been filed. Up until the TPR court hearing, the birth parent retains all parental rights to the child.
Adoptive parents are not parties to the TPR case and are not required to be at the hearing. You may, however, attend the TPR hearing if you are invited by the birth parents.
Post placement visits
Wisconsin law requires, at minimum, a six month post-placement period before an adoption can be legally finalized. During this time, your social worker will visit you one a month; four visits will be in your home and two will be held at our office.
During this hearing you and your child will appear in court before a judge to finalize your adoption. At the conclusion of this hearing your adoption in finalized and you will have all legal rights to your child. A new birth certificate is issued and will be sent to you.
Adoption Tax Credit
You should consult with your accountant about the benefits of the Adoption Tax Credit.
Open Adoption is an ongoing relationship between the expectant birth parents and adoptive family. It is the most common type of adoption relationship because it best serves the needs of the child as she grows to understand adoption and how her family formed. It also offers variety and flexibility. In an open adoption, expectant birth parents and adoptive parents discuss with each other the frequency and method of communication (emails, texts, letters, phone calls, visits, etc.) they feel comfortable with. Many expectant birth parents and adoptive parents are not yet sure what level of openness will be best for them. The answer to this question will become clearer once they meet and are able to make a collaborative decision about what feels comfortable for all involved. It is normal for this type of relationship to change over time.
Semi-Open Adoption is used when expectant birth families and adoptive families want more distance. This option allows the adoptee to have information about his or her birth parents, and also allows the birth parents to have information about their child. What it does not allow is direct contact between the two families. Adoptions of Wisconsin will act as a go-between for communication. This model is used when expectant birth families and adoptive families want more distance.
Semi-Closed Adoption gives expectant birth parents the opportunity to look through a number of profiles of approved, waiting families and make a choice without having to meet the adoptive family in person. The expectant birth parents choose a couple to raise their child, but there is no contact, and no exchange of identifying information between the two parties.
Closed Adoption offers complete confidentiality. At no time is there any identifying information given to either the expectant birth parents or the adoptive couple about each other. The expectant birth parents allow Adoptions of Wisconsin to choose the adoptive parents from their approved, waiting families.
HOW DO I MATCH WITH AN EXPECTANT BIRTH PARENT?
As part of the application process Adoptions of Wisconsin asks each adoptive parent what expectant birth parent circumstances (race, mental health issues, drug and alcohol exposure) they are open to. This information is used to match expectant birth parents and adoptive parents.
When an expectant birth parent contacts Adoptions of Wisconsin a counseling session with a social worker is scheduled. The focus of this meeting is to get to know the expectant birth parent, her circumstances and to discuss her reasons for contacting Adoptions of Wisconsin.
Once an expectant birth parent feels ready, she is provided with profiles of families. Expectant birth parents review the profiles and discuss with their social worker which families they would like to meet. Some expectant birth parents choose to meet with only one family and some choose to meet with several. Meetings between expectant birth parents and adoptive parents take place at Adoptions of Wisconsin’s office and a social worker is always present. When an expectant birth parent feels confident with their choice of adoptive family a social worker will contact the adoptive family and ask them if they would like to match with the expectant birth parent. Just like the expectant birth parent is given a choice as to who they feel is the best fit for their situation, the adoptive family is also given a choice as to whether they feel the expectant birth parent is a good match for them. If everyone feels comfortable, the next the step is to formalize the match through Adoption of Wisconsin’s agency program.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE HOSPITAL?
If time permits, a hospital plan is created and sent to the hospital approximately one month before an expectant birth mother goes into labor. The hospital plan is a guide created by the expectant birth parent and oftentimes the adoptive parents. The plan outlines how involved the expectant birth parent wants to be with the child during the hospital stay, whether the adoptive parents will be involved and discharge plans. At discharge, one of the agency social workers will be at the hospital to help with discharge procedures. A social worker is always available for both expectant birth parents and adoptive parents during the hospital process.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE BABY IS BORN?
Typically the baby is placed directly into the adoptive parents’ home directly upon discharge from the hospital. The decision to do this is made by the expectant birth parent and adoptive parents. Occasionally, a baby is placed in a bridge care home—a home that is foster care licensed by Adoptions of Wisconsin to provide a safe and loving place for the baby to be cared for between hospital discharge and placement with the adoptive family.
WHAT COURT HEARINGS DO I NEED TO ATTEND?
The only court hearing adoptive parents are party to and therefore must attend is the finalization hearing which is approximately six months after placement. Birth parents may invite you to attend the termination of parental rights hearing for support, and if you wish you may go to that hearing as well.