Pushing Paper in Adoption

Tips for the Adoptive Parents’ Labor and Delivery Process

Alice H. Murray February 20, 2019
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One of the biggest shocks prospective adoptive parents face at the outset of the adoption process is the daunting stack of forms and paperwork they have to complete. While the adoptive mother will not physically carry the child to be adopted or birth him, she and her husband will experience labor and delivery by doing lots of paper pushing to end up with a baby. Yes, it is a pain to have to fill out umpteen different forms which all ask the same information, but think of the task this way—no pain, no gain.

Face it, completing forms and paperwork is an inevitable part of the adoption process. If you want to adopt a baby, then paperwork has to be done. Nevertheless, following a few simple tips can make the required task easier to survive.

First, trust your adoption professional. Those individuals who ask a prospective adoptive parent to complete paperwork, such as a home study provider or an adoption attorney, have a job to do. The forms which they request be completed have a purpose in accomplishing that job. While the prospective adoptive parent may not fully understand the reason for completing the form, trust that the adoption professional is not mindlessly asking that the form be filled out. Some forms, for example, are required by state law; thus, the adoption professional has no choice but to ask for their completion. Other forms may be internal office ones which streamline the process and help the adoption professional work more efficiently.

Second, if asked, answer. Taking shortcuts in filling out paperwork is tempting, but prospective adoptive parents must resist that urge. Answer the question asked and provide the information requested. If the form asks for specific information, do not write, “See information in my home study.” Write out that information again. The home study may not be submitted along with the particular form being completed, so the information in the home study is not available. If an intake asks for your full name, do not write “John Q. Public.” You may cringe that your middle name is Quiggly, but if that is your legal name, then the adoption professional needs to know it. When documentation is requested to be attached, attach it. Do not insert a note to the effect of “Can provide upon request.” The form is requesting it, so provide it.

Failure to complete paperwork correctly might be easier in the short term, but it will make the process harder in the long term. The process could grind to a screeching halt because what is required is missing. And typically, the time when it is needed is in a pinch when it is not convenient for the prospective adoptive parent to provide it. Moreover, incompletely filled out forms may increase the cost of the case because the attorney must take time to address and correct the omissions. The adoption process is stressful enough without adding more stress related to paperwork.

Third, why ask why? A general explanation is usually provided about any form a prospective adoptive parent is asked to complete. Continuous questioning as to why specific pieces of information are required serves no good purpose. It delays the process and makes the adoption professional feel that his expertise is being questioned. For example, while it may not seem to have anything to do with the adoption, a Florida adoption professional does need to know if the prospective adoptive parent lives inside the city limits; that information must be included on a required document used to obtain an amended birth certificate. Questioning a state required form is particularly unhelpful. If the legislature says the information must be obtained, then it must be obtained. The adoption professional did not promulgate the form, so complaining to her about the form is pointless.

Fourth, complete/submit paperwork in a timely fashion. Paperwork which prospective adoptive couples fill out is needed to accomplish various tasks to effect an adoption. The process is in a holding pattern until the requisite paperwork is in hand. Delaying completion of paperwork, particularly when it relates to a home study or ICPC processing, is tempting fate particularly as concerns infant placements. If a baby is born early and the prospective adoptive parents’ home study is not completed, then the adoption professional’s hands are tied if the placement cannot be made without a favorable preliminary home study. If a specific form or document is needed for the ICPC packet, the couple may be stranded in the sending state until that paperwork can be produced. Adoption professionals are not magicians; if prospective adoptive parents have not provided the paperwork needed, then the process cannot go forward.

Fifth, keep your eyes on the prize. While no one is enthralled about completing forms or doing paperwork, it is easy to be excited about the reason for doing so in an adoption. Keep the focus on why a form is being completed rather than how mundane or annoying it is to have to fill it out. It may take an hour or two to complete the form, but contrast that with the years of joy that will result from receiving a bundle of joy through adoption. The benefit is far greater than the cost. Think of completing adoption paperwork as a labor of love.

Labor is an inevitable part of having a baby whether it is a birth mother physically delivering a baby or prospective adoptive parents pushing paper to receive one. Completing paperwork is not enjoyable, but it is a necessary task for prospective adoptive parents. By trusting their adoption professional’s indication that the forms are needed, providing the information requested, avoiding the need to know why each bit of information is requested, completing/submitting paperwork in a timely fashion, and keeping in mind the ultimate reason why the paperwork is being done will make the paper pushing labor survivable.

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Alice H. Murray

Alice H. Murray is an adoption attorney by profession and a writer by passion. As a lawyer, she has handled non-relative infant domestic adoptions in Florida for over 25 years. Alice has been touched by adoption in her own family; she is the proud aunt of a nephew adopted domestically and of a niece adopted internationally. When she is not creating forever families, Alice is creating written pieces for her blog (www.aliceinwonderingland@wordpress.com), posting on Instagram (alice.h.murray), and tweeting (Alice H. Murray@dawgatty). Her articles have appeared in her local paper and in various digital and print magazines; Alice's work appears in the Short And Sweet book series as well. Being a writer for Adoption.com makes Alice's life even sweeter.


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