Adoption Unplanned Pregancy

The Truth about Safe Haven Baby Adoptions in Kansas City

While looking for adoption options for your newborn baby, you might have come across something called “safe haven” laws. But what exactly are they?

Safe haven adoption laws in Kansas and Missouri allow for a mother to relinquish custody of her healthy newborn baby to pre-approved safe locations and professionals without legal repercussions. Created as a response to tragedies stemming from the unsafe abandonment of newborns, safe haven laws allow a mother to safely give up custody of her child if she feels she cannot be a suitable parent.

“Baby drop off boxes” for safe haven laws rarely exist anymore; the law requires you to leave your unharmed child with any employee on duty at certain fire stations, city or county health departments or medical care facilities. From there, the employee will notify an adoption agency to proceed with a safe haven baby adoption in Kansas City. A mother will not be legally prosecuted for leaving her child at a safe haven location, and the safe haven laws will also protect her anonymity in doing so.

Some overwhelmed mothers are attracted to the idea of a baby safe haven adoption because it seems like an easy and risk-free solution, but choosing to relinquish custody of your child in this way may not your best option. Instead, you should know that it’s never too late to choose adoption — and working with Michael Belfonte will make that process as smooth as possible for you.

Even if you’ve already given birth to your baby, you can contact Michael at 816-842-3580 for free at any time to start the adoption process for your child.

So, why should you choose to make an adoption plan in Kansas and Missouri?

  • You know that your child is safely and quickly placed with a loving family, rather than leaving them at a safe haven location, where they may end up in foster care until they are adopted.
  • With adoption, you can place your child months after they’re born. Safe haven laws are only applicable to infants 45 days old or younger in Kansas and 1 year or younger in Missouri.
  • Like safe haven laws, choosing to place your child for adoption has no child abandonment legal repercussions for you.
  • If you so choose, you can also remain anonymous in adoption. Your information will always be kept confidential by your adoption professional unless you wish to share it with your baby’s adoptive family and, if you wish to have the same amount of privacy provided by safe haven laws, you can choose a closed adoption.
  • Adoption is completely free for you, and you can even receive financial support through the adoption process. You will also be entitled to counseling to explore all of your options and determine if adoption really is the best choice for your situation.

Remember, while safe haven baby adoptions in Kansas City may seem like the best solution, a better solution may be to place your baby for adoption with a qualified adoption attorney and adoption agency. To get started with your adoption, you can call Mike Belfonte at 816-842-3580 or contact him online here.


Does ICWA Apply to Your Adoption?

Happy family sitting on grass in yard with multi-ethnic child and dog

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 is a federal law designed to protect Native American families after what became a consistent pattern of removing American Indian children from their homes and placing them into foster care with non-Native families.

Michael Belfonte is well-versed in ICWA as an adoption attorney for Kansas and Missouri, and he can help guide you through ICWA guidelines if you are adopting an American Indian child into your family.

Here’s how ICWA may affect your adoption:

The Purpose of ICWA

The purpose of ICWA is to keep Native American children with their families or within their tribe when possible, in an effort to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.”

This allows American Indian families to stay together whenever possible to prevent further fracturing of their families and culture within the tribe.

If You Enter Into an Adoption Opportunity with a Prospective American Indian Birth Mother

The ICWA process will only affect adoptions that involve birth families who are members (or whose children would be eligible to be members) of federally recognized tribes.

Consent will work a little differently under ICWA guidelines than with other voluntary adoptions. To sign her adoption consent, the birth mother must give that consent:

  • After the child is at least 10 days old
  • In writing before a judge (in state or tribal court, or both)

Michael and the judge will verify that the birth mother was provided with a detailed explanation of the full meaning of her consent and that she confirmed she understood her choices before issuing her consent.

The preferences of where to place the child will go in the following order:

  1. With any extended biological family members
  2. Non-biological families within the tribe
  3. Other Indian families
  4. Families with some verified Native ancestry (if approved by the tribal court)
  5. Non-tribal, non-Native families (if approved by the tribal court)

As your adoption attorney, Michael will help to:

  • Communicate with the tribe’s social service program
  • Communicate with tribal courts
  • Ensure that the adoption meets all ICWA requirements before proceeding

Michael will make every attempt to contact the tribal court to notify them of the petition to adopt. If they fail to respond within a reasonable amount of time, then the adoption will still proceed. Most of the time, the tribe will approve the adoption as long as the birth mother has approved of the adoptive family and she is voluntarily placing her child for adoption.

If you are adopting a Native American child across state lines, you must also meet ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) requirements. To learn more the processes of adopting a child with Native heritage, contact Michael Belfonte today.

Adoption Unplanned Pregancy

3 Questions You Have About Transracial Adoption in Kansas City

Caucasian mom and smiling black daughter read in bed, close-up

As you’re considering all the options available to you in adopting a child, you may wonder about transracial adoption in Kansas City — and whether it’s right for you.

Transracial adoption is any adoption where the race or ethnicity of the adopted child is different from that of their adopted parents. An interracial adoption comes with all of the challenges of any same-race adoption but also adds some unique difficulties.

If you’re considering a transracial adoption in Kansas City, it’s important that you’re fully prepared for the realities of this kind of adoption. In this article, we’ll address some of the questions you may have to help you decide whether this is the right path for you. Because of our partnership with national adoption agency American Adoptions, we can also offer advice from trusted social workers who know a great deal about transracial adoption — so you can ask them your questions yourself.

Deciding whether or not transracial adoption is right for you is just another step that will take you closer to becoming parents. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about transracial adoption in Kansas City.

  1. How do I know if transracial adoption is right for me?

If you’re considering a transracial adoption, it’s a good sign that it’s a possibility for your family. There is an opportunity for an interracial adoption in almost every method of adoption — private domestic, international, foster care adoption, stepchild adoption and so on.

For many parents, choosing a transracial adoption is a way to speed up their adoption process. There are many minority children waiting in foster care, and many adoption agencies have created specific programs for the adoption of infants with certain racial backgrounds. Being open to adopting children of various races increases the number of potential adoption opportunities available to hopeful parents, leading to lower adoption wait times.

Most of all, however, it’s important that you are fully open to adding any child to your family, regardless of race or physical similarities. If you’re open to a multicultural household and are excited at the prospect of a diverse family makeup, an interracial adoption may be the perfect choice for you.

  1. Are there any differences in the adoption process for a transracial adoption?

As mentioned before, a transracial adoption may be much quicker than a same-race adoption placement.

Beyond that, your adoption process will likely proceed in the same way. You will need to be cleared by a social worker for a transracial adoption when they complete your home study, and you will need to take certain steps to prepare for your transracial adoption placement. If you adopt internationally, the country you adopt from may have specific requirements for an interracial adoption, so check with Michael or your international adoption agency.

The only additional legal process you may need to complete is adhering to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). If you are adopting a child of Native American descent who is eligible to be a tribe member, you will have to follow certain legal requirements. Most of the time, this will not hinder your ability to complete a transracial adoption in Kansas City.

  1. How do you prepare for a transracial adoption in KC?

In many ways, how you prepare for a transracial adoption is not incredibly different from any other adoption — you’ll need to know how to talk to your child about their adoption, how to preserve their birth story and identity as an adopted child, and more.

However, because a child adopted through a transracial adoption will not look like their parents, you may be more likely to encounter insensitive questions about the adoption process and your child’s history. As adoptive parents, you will be responsible for addressing many of these questions and comments and protecting your child’s identity. If you’re considering a transracial adoption in Kansas City, here are some things you’ll need to do:

  • Learn about your child’s culture and race and incorporate these aspects naturally into their life.
  • Learn about your child’s specific physical and health needs. For example, if you’re adopting an African American baby, understand how to properly care for their hair.
  • Address the issue of racism with your child and your entire family, giving them tips on how to answer certain questions and respond in certain situations.
  • Surround your family with as much diversity as possible — not just people of your child’s race but people of all races and abilities.

Above all else, you’ll need to make sure you create a sense of belonging from the very beginning. Just because your child looks different from you does not mean they aren’t an integral part of your family dynamic, so reassure them often that they are loved and are not alone.

Choosing to pursue a transracial adoption in Kansas City is a great way to build your family — but it’s important that you’re fully prepared for the unique challenges involved before embarking on this journey. It’s a good idea to look for transracial adoption blogs, as they can help you see the realities of a transracial adoption from someone currently experiencing the process.

Attorney Mike Belfonte can also help you learn more about the emotional and legal requirements for an interracial adoption. Contact him today at 816-842-3580 to ask him your questions about adopting in Kansas City.

Unplanned Pregancy

Keeping Adoption Secret

A young woman sits with a hot drink and her feet up, watching out of the window from the comfort of her own home. She is taking a break from her chores and busy day to day routine to gaze into her garden and wonder.

In an ideal situation, the people in your life would be supportive and helpful in your decision to place your child for adoption. But that’s not always the case.

Michael Belfonte and his partners at American Adoptions have experience working with pregnant women considering adoption who feel that keeping their adoption a secret is the only option available to them.

While Michael and American Adoptions encourage you to try to find a way to make adoption work without having to try to hide your pregnancy and/or adoption, sometimes a secret adoption is the best way to keep you safe throughout your pregnancy.

If you feel that you could be in real danger if someone in your life finds out about your pregnancy or adoption decision, you should call 1-800-ADOPTION immediately; an adoption specialist can help you find the resources you need to remove yourself from an abusive situation.

Some women choose adoption for their baby because they don’t want their child to grow up in an abusive environment, and the safety in a confidential adoption is the only way they can achieve that.

Closed or Confidential Adoption: Are They The Same Thing?

Generally, a “closed adoption” is a situation in which the adoptive family and adopted child have very little information about you until the child turns 18 and can access his or her original birth certificate with your name on it. Michael doesn’t usually recommend closed adoptions because they can be for everyone involved in the adoption — especially the adopted child.

Open adoptions are now the standard for adoption in the U.S. This allows you to keep an open line of communication with your child and the adoptive family and have whatever amount of contact you feel comfortable with.

A “confidential adoption” helps the birth mother keep her adoption a secret from certain people in her life, if necessary. It’s difficult to hide a pregnancy entirely, but an adoption specialist can advise you on how to have a secret adoption when appropriate for safety reasons.

Keeping Adoption a Secret is Possible

While a confidential adoption isn’t ideal or recommended, sometimes it’s the only way for a pregnant woman to feel safe until her baby is adopted. If that’s the case, then Michael and American Adoptions can help.

Please contact Michael if you have questions about the legal requirements in a confidential adoption, or call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak to an American Adoptions specialist about your current situation and to learn if a secret adoption is possible for you.

Unplanned Pregancy

Questions to Ask Adoptive Parents

Portrait of positive beautiful pregnant woman in bed

If you’re ready to speak with a potential adoptive family about adopting your baby, you may not be sure what kind of questions to ask them or what you should look for in an adoptive couple.

Of course you want to make sure that they’ll be the best possible parents for your baby. You have complete control over who raises your child, so it’s important that you ask whatever you feel like you need to know in order to feel confident about committing to the adoption opportunity.

What to Ask Yourself When Looking for an Adoptive Family for Your Baby

Here are a few things that can be helpful to consider when you’re in the early stages of finding adoptive parents for your baby:

  • Where do I want my baby to grow up? A big city on the coast? A farm in a rural area?
  • What kind of parents do I envision for them? How often do I want them to be home? What are their personalities like?
  • Do I want my baby to have older siblings? How many? What ages?
  • Is it ok if the adoptive family has pets? Dogs? Cats?
  • What kind of activities do I envision my child doing with their adoptive family? Do I want my child to grow up with a family that participates in a lot of sports? That reads a lot? That travels?
  • Do I want my child raised in a religious household?
  • What kinds of educational opportunities do I want available to my child?
  • How much (if any) contact do I want to maintain with the family after the adoption?

These questions will help you to determine your ideal adoptive parents for your child. The adoption specialists that Michael Belfonte works with at American Adoptions can help match you with prospective adoptive parents based on your vision for the adoption.

Talking with Adoptive Parents for the First Time

Once an adoption specialist has found potential matches with adoptive families for you to consider, you’ll have the opportunity to talk with them in a conference call. Your adoption specialist will be on the line to help guide you all through that first conversation together.

Most of the conversation will be spent just getting to know each other. Hopefully, by the end of the phone call, you’ll feel more connected to your baby’s possible adoptive parents, and you’ll have a clearer sense of whether or not these are the right parents to raise your child.

Here are a few questions that you can start off with just to get to know them better:

  • What do you like to do on the weekends?
  • What’s your dream vacation?
  • What’s your favorite thing to do together?
  • What’s your favorite TV show to watch right now?
  • How did you two meet?

Good questions to ask adoptive parents can start off with the simplest things. General questions like these will help you get a picture of their personalities and what kind of parents they might be.

Some questions to ask an adoptive family to help understand what they might be like as parents could include:

  • Do you have any fun family traditions?
  • What do you do to celebrate holidays?
  • What’s the most valuable lesson that you would pass on to your children?
  • Is there any particular place you’d love to take your family?
  • What kind of activities would you want to enroll your children in?
  • What values would you prioritize in your family?

Questions that are more open-ended can help prospective parents open up more and help you to understand the kind of family dynamic they’d offer your child. Even silly stories about their family might be helpful to you.

The details of your adoption plan are best discussed directly with your adoption specialist, and any other questions that the two of you may have as interview questions to ask an adoptive parent can be brought up as they occur. Remember: if you think of important questions to ask the adoptive parents that you may have forgotten earlier, write them down!

Questions Not to Ask Adoptive Parents

There are a few questions that are inappropriate to ask prospective adoptive parents. Your adoption specialist can prepare you for any topics you should take care to avoid, but generally you should avoid these:

  1. Any questions or comments about infertility
  2. Direct questions about their identifying information
  3. Any questions or comments about money

Many prospective adoptive parents have struggled with infertility, and it’s a painful topic for them. Other prospective adoptive parents don’t have fertility problems; they simply prefer to create their family through adoption. It’s best to just avoid the subject altogether to prevent any accidental hurt feelings.

Very specific questions about details of their lives should be avoided until they feel comfortable offering that kind of information or when post-adoption contact is discussed, especially if you don’t plan on having a fully open adoption. Try to avoid questions that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with a stranger on the street asking you, like questions about your last name, where you work or your address.

Questions or comments about money shouldn’t be brought up in front of prospective adoptive parents. This is something that you can always discuss with Michael or your adoption specialist; questions or concerns about finances should be directed to them, and they can bring up any questions about money with the adoptive parents on your behalf.

Ask Whatever You Need To In Order to Feel Confident

When thinking of interview questions to ask an adoptive parent, remember that the goal is for you to feel more confident about your adoption decision. So, ask the prospective adoptive parents and your adoption specialist whatever you need to know in order to feel good about this decision.

For example, some women considering adoption feel better knowing that their child will be raised in household that volunteers their time to help the community. Others want their baby raised in a particular religion or part of the country. Ask questions when talking with adoptive parents that will put your worries to rest for you!

Talking with adoptive parents and asking the questions that you need answered can help you feel more comfortable moving forward with the adoption and reassure you that your baby will be raised by wonderful adoptive parents.

To start searching for an adoptive family now, you can call Michael Belfonte at 816-842-3580 with any questions that you may have, or contact him online without any obligation.


How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child in Kansas City?

Couple reading papers together on sofa

There are many factors in the adoption process that can affect how long you’ll wait to have a child placed in your home — the most important of which is what adoption professional you work with.

Michael Belfonte works closely with American Adoptions to help hopeful adoptive parents find an adoption opportunity. The adoption wait time will be significantly less with American Adoptions than it would be with a small local agency.

Here’s how Michael and American Adoptions minimize the amount of time you’ll have to wait to adopt:

  • Advertising: They reach more potential birth mothers on a national level, so there are more available adoption opportunities.
  • 24/7 Availability: A professional is always ready on the 24-hour adoption hotline at American Adoptions, so potential birth mothers can be connected with adoption support around the clock.
  • Adoptive Family Profiles: American Adoptions works with a professional media team to help you put together a text, video and photo profile that will capture the attention of potential birth mothers looking for the right adoptive parents for their babies.

Because you’re working with the national agency that does more private domestic adoptions in the U.S. than any other agency, you’ll wait significantly less time to adopt a child.

How long it takes to adopt a child through Michael and American Adoptions also depends on how specific you are about the types of adoption opportunities you’re open to. For example, American Adoptions offers two different programs that will have different adoption wait times:

  • The Traditional Program involves the adoption of all non-African American healthy newborns. Races include, but are not limited to, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, etc. or any non-African American combination of races. The average wait to be matched with an adoption opportunity in this program is 1–9 months, while the wait until placement is 3–12 months, on average.
  • The Agency-Assisted Program involves the adoption of healthy newborns of full African-American heritage or any race combined with African-American heritage. The average wait to be matched in this program is 1–6 months, while the average wait until placement is 1–9 months.

You should know that 75 percent of adoptive families who work with Michael and American Adoptions adopt within those estimated wait times, so this is the closest answer to the question “how long does the adoption process take?”

To learn more about how to streamline your adoption process, contact Michael now.


17 Common Adoption Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Two women looking at a baby

Michael Belfonte is working to shed light on old myths about adoption and educate prospective adoptive families about what adoption really means. To speak to Michael about any questions you have or to begin the adoption process, you can contact him here.

Here are few common adoption myths, and the truth about modern adoption:

“I’m single/We’re not married/We’re gay — so I/we can’t adopt.”

Most adoption professionals welcome prospective adoptive parents of all types, and in general, very few adoption agencies will be concerned about your marital status.

If you’re adopting with a partner or spouse, the only thing that really matters to your chosen adoption professional is your commitment to the relationship and your ability to be a good role model for healthy and loving relationships for your adopted child.

“It’s faster and/or cheaper to adopt internationally than domestically.”

International adoptions require extensive traveling, which requires extensive funds and time. It is also important to verify the legitimacy of the international adoption organization you’re adopting from; in recent years, some overseas organizations have closed down suddenly without notice or refunds to prospective adoptive parents.

While many international adoption agencies work to fight these risks, adopting from overseas is not necessarily faster or cheaper than private domestic adoption in the U.S.

“I can’t afford adoption.”

It’s true — the adoption process can be financially draining. But each cost is important to the adoption process, and every dime matters.

For families who are struggling to finance their adoption, there are resources available to help. In addition to adoption loans and grants, there are also often employer-provided adoption benefits for employees. The adoption tax credit can ease the financial aftermath of adoption, and some state-run agencies will offer adoptive parents subsidies and stipends to help with foster care adoption expenses.

Many adoptive parents get creative in the financing of their adoption, turning to fundraisers and events to help front the cost.

“My criminal record will prevent me from adopting.”

Your home study will include criminal background checks as well as checks for child abuse or neglect. While some violent or sexual crimes could prevent you from becoming an adoptive parent, most minor offenses won’t disqualify you.

A judge will usually review your criminal record to ensure that none of your prior offenses could pose a threat to the safety of a child in your home, but again, most criminal offenses aren’t relevant to your ability to parent.

“I need to adopt a child who’s the same race as me or people will ask questions.”

Transracial adoptions do pose unique challenges, but fortunately, adoption is becoming more widely understood and accepted. Yes, people might make assumptions or ask ignorant questions occasionally. But this is an opportunity to educate them about adoption and about racial sensitivity.

Adoptive families that include multiple racial backgrounds have found fantastic ways of honoring the different racial and cultural heritages within their family and have worked to provide each other with positive role models of every race and background in their daily lives.

This may mean stepping out of your comfort zone, and it may mean being prepared to answer questions about adoption. But what matters is the ultimate goal of bringing a child into your family through adoption — not what their racial or cultural makeup is like.

“I have to adopt within the area.”

Many people considering adoption assume that most adoption agencies are state-run or local. But national adoption agencies like American Adoptions offer lower wait times, more personalized care and a wider range of services to both birth and adoptive families.

Adopting from a national pool of pregnant women considering adoption will shorten your wait time and ensure that you’re paired with a prospective birth mother who wants the same kind of adoption as you.

“Most adoptions are closed.”

Babies aren’t adopted anonymously these days. Now that the stigma of adoption is wearing away, birth families want to be involved with the adoption to some degree. In fact, 90 percent of birth mothers want some kind of open adoption with the adoptive family.

Gone are the days when adoptive parents never knew anything about their child’s birth mother, and gone are the days when a birth mother would never know what became of the child she placed for adoption. Most adoptions today are semi-open or open.

Semi-open adoptions allow for communication like letters and photos to be exchanged through the adoption agency. An open adoption allows for as much communication as both parties feel comfortable with. This could even include arranged visits. But, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be co-parenting with the birth family. It simply means that you’ll both have some kind of connection to each other’s lives.

“It takes years to adopt.”

With Michael Belfonte and his partners at American Adoptions, most hopeful adoptive parents have a child placed in their home within 1 to 12 months.

While certain parts of the adoption process can feel slow (the home study, for example, can take at least a month) the adoption process from start to finish is usually complete within a year.

“Most people don’t know they’re adopted.”

Because most adoptions are open, not only do adoptees know that they’re adopted, they’re also satisfied with the amount of contact they have with their birth parents.

For an adoptee to suddenly find out that they’re adopted can be traumatizing and instills a feeling of distrust toward their adoptive family. Adoptees consider their adoption story to be a normal part of their life and an important part of how they came to be part of the family.

“I should wait to tell them about their adoption when they’re older.”

It’s highly recommended that adoptive parents begin talking with their child about adoption from the first day that they bring them home. This way, an adoptee simply will always know that they were adopted, and there will never be any sense of secrecy or shame.

Don’t worry about whether they’ll “understand” or not. Your child will continue to experience new emotions regarding their adoption throughout adolescence and even to adulthood. This is normal. What matters is that they begin hearing their story from day one, and they know it’s a safe and normal topic for them to discuss.

You can begin with children’s books about adoption, telling them the story of their adoption, using adoption-positive language and keeping a photo of their birth family and explaining who they are.

“Most pregnant women who want to place their child for adoption are teenagers.”

Expectant mothers are of all backgrounds, ages, races and religions, as well as marital and socioeconomic status. While prospective birth mothers can be teenagers, most women who choose adoption for their unborn babies are actually about 25–35 years old and are currently raising older children. They’re often concerned that they can’t afford to take care of another child, they want the child to grow up in a two-parent home, or maybe they’re just not ready for this child at this particular point in their lives.

The one thing that all pregnant women considering adoption have in common: They’re choosing adoption because they feel that it’s the best thing that they can do for their baby.

“The birth family will want the baby back.”

Once the birth parents have signed their adoption consent forms after the state-mandated waiting period (12 hours after the birth in Kansas, 48 hours in Missouri), they’ve terminated their parental rights. After that, it would be very difficult for them to regain those rights in court because the judge would have to decide that reinstating their parental rights is what’s best for the child.

Once the final adoption decree has been issued in court (typically about six months after your adopted child has been in your home) you’re officially awarded parental rights. Even if the birth parents do have regrets about their adoption decision, they won’t be able to regain parental rights after this point.

However, most birth families understand that adoption is the best decision for their situation. They’ll feel grief and experience moments of doubt and worry about how their child is from day to day. But that doesn’t mean that they “want the baby back,” and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re going to try to barge into your life to “reclaim their baby.”

“If I have an open adoption, my adopted child will be confused as to who her real parents are.”

There’s no evidence to support that an adopted child would ever be confused about who their parents are. They know that their parents are the ones who tuck them in at night, who take care of them when they’re sick and who are the sources of love and comfort.

An adopted child’s relationship with their birth family in an open adoption is a unique one. But it feels more like that of a family friend or an aunt who comes to visit occasionally than a parent-child relationship.

The term “real parents” is as harmful as it is misleading. An adopted child has birth parents and they have parents. It’s not confusing to them. When they’re old enough, they can tell you so themselves.

“I might not love an adopted child as much as a biological child.”

Just as a child knows who their parents are, a parent knows who their child is. The love between adopted children and their parents is no different than that of a biological child.

Because you weren’t pregnant with your adopted child, it is normal if it takes a little longer for you start to really feel like their parents. Some people feel it instantly. Some people take a little longer. But there will be a moment when it suddenly all feels real and it’ll be as if you could never imagine your life without this child.

“Women place their babies for adoption because they get paid for it.”

Pregnant women considering adoption may receive assistance with basic living expenses such as rent, groceries, maternity clothes and utilities based on their individual level of need, which is assessed and approved by a judge. Some women will need more financial help than others (for example, a single mother with several other children will have greater financial need than a married woman with no other children).

However, it’s illegal to pay a pregnant woman directly for adoption. The financial assistance exists to help them through their pregnancy and to ease some of the burdens that come with being pregnant and not able to work as much.

Choosing adoption is one of the most difficult decisions a woman will ever have to make — and she does so because she feels it’s in the best interest of her baby.

“The only children available for adoption are sick or have special needs.”

It’s relatively rare to adopt a newborn who has any health conditions. Most babies are born healthy and happy.

If a child were to have any kind of special needs, you’d be made aware of that before the adoption proceeds. A child with any special needs be placed with an adoptive family that’s prepared for that situation.

“There are no babies available for adoption in the U.S.”

There are thousands of pregnant women looking for adoptive families across the U.S., and there are even more adoptable babies, toddlers and children waiting for homes. You don’t have to turn to international adoption if you have your heart set on adopting a baby from birth.

Michael and his associates at American Adoptions can help connect you with a potential birth mother looking to place her child for adoption into a loving home like yours, and he can ensure that your adoption process is a smooth one. Contact Michael now to begin the adoption process.


Common Adoption Terms You Should Know

Baby holding adult's finger

Whether you’re a pregnant woman considering adoption or a family hoping to grow through adoption, the process can be overwhelming at first. Chances are that this is your first direct encounter with adoption, and learning about the process is one of the first steps.

You’ll learn pretty quickly that adoption comes with its own jargon. And while Michael Belfonte is well-versed in adoption language and ready to help you understand it as well, it’s helpful to understand just exactly what you’re reading in your research.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a glossary of some of the terms you may come across. To get a better understanding of any of these phrases or to learn more about pursuing adoption in the Kansas City area, call Michael at 816-842-3580, or contact him online.


Adoption Agency: An organization that places children in homes under the jurisdiction of state laws.

Adoption Assistance: Subsidies provided by the federal or state governments to help make adoption possible for families, including those families who adopt children with special needs.

Adoption Attorney: A lawyer who arranges and specializes in adoption.

Adoption Petition: A legal document that prospective parents use to request the court’s permission to adopt a child.

Adoption Tax Credits: A non-refundable tax credit available to adoptive parents who claim adoption expenses reimbursements.


Birth certificate (amended): A legal document issued after an adoption is finalized that replaces an original birth certificate. The birth parents’ names are replaced by the adoptive parents’ names.

Birth certificate (original): A legal document issued when a child is born that includes his or her biological history as well as the identity of one or both biological parents.


CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates): People, usually volunteers, who ensure the needs and interests of kids in child protection judicial proceedings are fully protected.

Certification: The approval process that ensures adoptive or foster parents are suitable, dependable and responsible.

Child Protective Services: A social service agency that receives reports about child maltreatment, investigates and provides intervention and treatment.

Closed adoption: An adoption in which the confidentiality of the adoptive parents as well as the birth parents are protected by law, and all records are sealed.

Confidential Intermediary: An individual who has access to sealed adoption files to conduct a search. This person may be hired by the inquiring party to search for an adopted adult, birth parents or other relatives, to make contact, and to obtain either consent or denial for the release of that person’s information.

Confidentiality: Keeping identifying and other significant information a secret. Ethics require social workers and other adoption professionals to keep information about a client confidential unless the client gives consent for it to be shared.

Consent Form: A legal document that the biological mother and father sign to allow their child to be placed for adoption. The court can validate these consents without the biological parents’ signature if a biological parent is unavailable.

Custody: The protective care or guardianship of someone or something.


De Facto Adoption: A legal agreement that a family will go through the legal adoption process to adopt a child. This agreement allows individuals to circumvent adoption procedures for limited purposes and will become a de jure adoption when a petition for adoption is properly presented.

Decree of Adoption: The legal order that finalizes an adoption.

Dissolution: An adoption that fails after finalization, which results in the child’s legal custody going back to the agency or court that originally placed the child. The child will then go to foster care and/or other adoptive parents.

Dossier: In an international adoption, the collection of paperwork needed to complete the adoption.


Equitable Adoption: A legal process used to establish inheritance rights of a child when the prospective adoptive parents enter into an oral contract to adopt that child. If a parent dies after a child has been placed with the parent but before the adoption is finalized, the child may then still have inheritance rights.


Fictive Kin: Individuals who aren’t related to a child biologically or by marriage but still have an emotionally significant relationship.

Final Adoption Decree: The legal document issued by the court that legally completes an adoption.

Finalization: When a court grants legal custody to the adoptive parents.


Home Study: A study conducted on all prospective adoptive parents by authorized adoption professionals. Generally, a home study is completed before the placement of a child in the home and validates the suitability of that family to adopt. While negative home studies are rare, they usually mean an adoption will not be authorized.



ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children): The legal compact between states that allows for the placement of children for adoption across state lines.

ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978): A Federal Act that was designed to protect the interest of Native American children and tribes and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.

Independent Adoption: An adoption that’s arranged privately by a third party, like a lawyer, or between the birth family and adoptive parents.

International adoption: The adoption of a child born outside of the United States.


Legal custody: Legal responsibility for a person. A guardian with legal custody makes decisions for a child.

Legal father: In adoption terms, the legal husband of a mother who may or may not be the biological father of the baby. He may also be referred to as the presumed father.

Legal guardian: Any person with legal custody who makes decisions for a minor.

Legal risk adoption: When an adoption process is started even though the prospective adoptive family can’t be guaranteed that the child is eligible for adoption. This may be because the biological parents still desire to parent, or there is a pending legal action that contests the validity of a surrender or of the court order that involuntarily terminated parental rights. One instance where an adoption may be a legal risk adoption is if there is an unknown birth father.

Legal Risk Placement: When a child is placed with a prospective adoptive family even though the child is not yet legally free for adoption. In this instance, either the parental rights of the birth parents have not been terminated, or the termination is being contested.


Multi-Ethnic Placement Act: A federal law enacted in 1994 that forbids the delay or denial of any adoption due to race, color, or national origin of the child or of the adoptive parents.


Open adoption: An adoption in which birth parents and adoptive parents meet and possibly exchange identifying information, although the exact terms of an open adoption vary depending on those involved. Communication may continue indefinitely.


Petition: A written request to the court for legal custody, guardianship, and/or the adoption of a child.

Putative Father Registry: Also known as the Birth Father Registry. A Stage registry where alleged paternity can be listed. Birth fathers have the opportunity to protest the birth mother’s adoption plan. Around half of the states have a putative father registry, including Missouri. Kansas has a similar system that allows potential fathers to voluntarily claim paternity.


Re-Adoption: The process by which international adoptive parents adoption their children a second time in front of a judge from the United States.

Relinquishment: When birth parents consent to adoption and give up all rights to a child. This may also be referred to as consent or surrender.

Revoke: When the birth parents take back consent to an adoption. Depending on where the birth mother lives, some states have a time limit while revocation while others don’t allow it at all.


Search and Consent Procedures: A process that authorizes an agency to help locate another party to the adoption to determine if the second party is willing for identified information to be released or to meet with the requesting party. If the second party is willing, the court may then authorize the disclosure of information.

Semi-open adoption: An adoption in which the birth parents and adoptive family exchange non-identifying information. After the child is placed, the adoptive family’s contact with the birth family might involve communication sent through an agency or attorney who helped with the child’s placement.


Termination of parental rights (TPR): The legal process that voluntarily or involuntarily terminates a parent’s rights to a child.

Transracial adoption: The adoption of a child who is of a different race than the adoptive parents.

Transfer of Custody: The legal process of terminating one party’s parental rights and awarding them to another party.


Voluntary Adoption Registry: A reunion registry system that allows adoptees, biological siblings, and birth parents to find one another if they wish to.


Waiting Period: The time period which must occur between birth and the time when the birth mother can consent to the adoption. This period varies on a state-by-state basis; in Missouri, it’s 48 hours. In Kansas, it’s 12 hours.

Adoption Unplanned Pregancy

Is Open Adoption Legally Enforceable in Kansas City?

Woman sitting looking at a photo

The promise of post-adoption contact can be an exciting prospect for all involved in the adoption triad. However, you may worry that the other set of parents in the adoption may not keep up their end of the agreement, which can cause disappointment and concern over the effect on the central figure of the adoption — the adopted child.

Some parents may wonder if there’s any way an open adoption contact agreement can be enforced legally. Unfortunately, Kansas and Missouri currently do not allow for enforceable post-adoption contact agreements. If either a birth parent or an adoptive parent breaks their post-adoption contact promise, there are no legal consequences that could be addressed in court.

However, you should not let this deter you from choosing an open adoption. In the majority of cases, both birth mothers and adoptive parents will keep the contact promise they made — as it’s just as important to them as it is to the other party. In fact, for many birth mothers, the possibility of an open adoption is why they made their adoption choice in the first place. They will want to see their child grow up and, more likely than not, will do everything they can to continue their contact.

Likewise, once they are fully educated about open adoption, adoptive parents will understand the importance of open communication for their adopted child throughout the years — and will do all they can to honor the choice the birth mother made and support her through her healing process.

If you’re worried about a birth or adoptive parent continuing to stay in contact with you, there are some things you can do:

  • Choose a professional who will mediate post-adoption contact. When a parent begins to decrease the frequency of their contact, you may feel frustrated. Things can get complicated if you try to fix it by yourself, and you may end up doing more harm than good. If your contact is mediated by a professional, they will know the best way to speak to the other party about their lapse in communication and handle the situation going forward — without harming the relationship you already have.
  • Establish a solid relationship with the birth or adoptive parents. Open adoption can be more than just an agreement to send and receive pictures and letters every couple of months; before placement, it gives you the chance to get to know your adopted child’s birth parents or adoptive parents in a way that will be highly beneficial for the future. If you have the chance to build a strong friendship with the birth or adoptive parents before placement, it’s highly recommended. The more you understand, respect and trust each other, the less likely it will be that the other parents will break their agreement to keep in touch as the years go by.
  • Make your expectations known. While you cannot create a legally binding post-adoption contact agreement in Kansas or Missouri, you can certainly create a written agreement that outlines contact expectations throughout your adoption process. In fact, this kind of written document is encouraged in any open adoption. If you work with Michael Belfonte, he can help you with this written agreement, as well as provide you ongoing contact mediation services through his agency partner, American Adoptions.

Remember, just because an open adoption contact agreement is not legally binding in Kansas or Missouri doesn’t mean that you can’t have a successful open adoption relationship with your child’s birth or adoptive parents. More often than not, a prospective birth mother chooses adoption because she can watch her child grow up through open adoption — and has no intention of ever going back on her open adoption agreement. Similarly, adoptive parents understand how important open adoption communication can be and will likely do all they can to honor your contact agreement.

However, if a birth parent does break their post-adoption contact agreement, it’s important that adoptive parents continue to send the pictures, letters, emails, etc. that you agreed to. In many cases, if a birth parent decreases their contact frequency, it may be because they’re at a difficult point in their life — and fully intend to return to their previous contact frequency as soon as they can. It will mean a great deal to them that you continue to honor your agreement and give them updates on their adopted child during this time.

On the other hand, if adoptive parents miss a scheduled contact with you as a birth parent, it’s important that you do not jump to conclusions about their intentions. Like anyone else, unforeseen situations can come up that may delay their contact with you. If you’re concerned about them holding up their end of the agreement, we recommend you reach to your adoption professional, who can approach them professionally and non-confrontationally about honoring their contact agreement.

To find out more about how Michael Belfonte can help you with your open adoption contact agreements in Kansas City, give him a call at 816-842-3580.


How to Make a Perfect Adoption Profile Book

Hispanic couple using laptop together

As a prospective adoptive family, you’re likely equally excited and nervous for the process of finding a prospective birth mother. After all, this is the moment when your adoption becomes a reality and you know that it’s only a matter of time until you become parents.

However, waiting to be chosen by an expectant mother can be stressful. So, how can you shorten your wait to be chosen?

One of the most useful factors is your adoptive family profile — a description of your family, your lifestyle and your commitment to adoption. Usually presented in a book or flier form, these profiles are shown to pregnant mothers considering adoption to help them choose the perfect family for their unborn child.

When you work with attorney Michael Belfonte, you will also have the assistance of American Adoptions, a national adoption agency that has perfected how to make an adoption profile book. You will be provided not only adoption profile book ideas and examples, but also the necessary tools to make the perfect adoptive family profile for you.

Here’s what you need to know about making an adoptive family profile in Kansas City:

  1. What does an adoptive family profile include?
    Many adoption professionals, including American Adoptions, encourage families to create a physical adoptive family profile, either in the form of a book or a paper flier, to help social workers match prospective adoptive families and birth mothers.If you work with Michael Belfonte and American Adoptions, your physical adoptive family profile will be designed by a media specialist into an attractive paper profile that resembles a brochure. This profile will include pictures of you and content written by you, which will describe:

    • Your family, including your love story and why you want to be adoptive parents
    • Your home (your community and house)
    • Your lifestyle (what you do for a living, what your hobbies and interests are)
    • How you will raise an adopted child
    • Your extended family and family traditions
    • And more

    To help you find an adoption opportunity even more quickly, American Adoptions offers an adoptive family video profile service. Prospective birth mothers can learn a lot more about prospective adoptive parents from a video, including what they sound like, how they interact with each other and family members and even what they’d be like as parents. All that you have to do is film footage with provided cameras and video kits, and the media specialists at American Adoptions will do the rest.

    Video profiles usually include footage of:

    • The prospective adoptive parents interacting with children
    • The prospective adoptive parents talking about their desire to be parents and to adopt a child
    • The prospective adoptive family going through their everyday routine
    • Friends and family of the prospective adoptive parents talking about what they’re like
    • And more
  1. How do we make an adoptive family profile?
    When you choose Michael Belfonte and his associates at American Adoptions, they’ll do most of the work for you. How to make an adoption profile book with us is a fairly simple process.First, you will fill out information for everything from your hobbies to your favorites to your reason for choosing adoption. You’ll also be required to submit photos of your family and write letters to prospective birth mothers about why you’re choosing adoption, how you will raise your adopted child and what her adoption choice will mean to you.

    Once this information is filled out, it will be given to a media specialist, who will complete your adoption profile design. Once the profile is completed, it will be sent back to for edits or your final approval — and then it will go live on American Adoptions’ website and social workers will begin showing your profile to prospective birth mothers.

  1. Where can we find examples of adoption profile books?
    When you work with an adoption professional, they will likely provide you adoption profile book examples to view while you’re working on yours. You can also view examples of profiles and videos completed by American Adoptions online.
  1. What are some tips for creating an adoptive family profile?
    Your media specialist will work closely with you to make sure your profile is optimized for presentation to a prospective birth mother, but there’s no way one way to make a “perfect” adoptive family profile. However, there is some common advice to keep in mind:

    • Be respectful. Adoption is a difficult choice to make, and some prospective birth mothers may still have reservations about adoption. Use language that indicates your gratitude for her considering adoption, but don’t write as if she has already made up her mind. Always refer to the unborn child as her
    • Be descriptive. Remember that this is the first chance a prospective birth mother has at visualizing her child’s life with you as their parents. Don’t feel like you have to write a novel, but include as many details as you can to help paint a picture of what you would be like as parents.
    • Be honest. There’s no need to be formal with your emotions here; the more that a prospective birth mother can sense your genuine desire to be parents, the more likely she will be to pick you. Don’t be afraid to mention how you came to the decision of adoption, whether it’s due to infertility or another reason. This same reasoning goes to photos and descriptions; try to represent your everyday life with natural clothes and candid photos.

Creating an adoptive family profile need not be stressful — instead, it should be a fun opportunity. Don’t overthink the process, and make sure your personality and passion to be parents stand out more than anything else. There’s no “perfect” way for how to write an adoption profile, so just as long as the profile accurately represents who you are, it’s perfect for you.

Remember, attorney Michael Belfonte and his associates at American Adoptions are here to help you as you create your adoptive family profile. To begin the process today or to learn more about how to adopt a baby in Kansas City, give Michael a call at 816-842-3580 or contact American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.