Domestic Adoption Procedures

Overview
The Adoption Services of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO), is a non-profit adoption agency licensed by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.  CCANO has provided adoption services since the early 1900s and continues in its commitment to serving families created through adoption as well as other maternity and adoption related services. The agency provides services to families of all faiths. The basic criteria for application is that applicants be between 27-45 years of age. If married, it is requested that the applicant be married for at least 3 years. The family income should be adequate to provide for the needs of a child.

Questionnaire:
Requests for questionnaires are typically accepted each November and December. However, this timeframe is re-evaluated year to year. Questionnaires are provided to interested applicants and due back in the office by a pre-determined date. The questionnaire is not an application, but is a means of obtaining identifying information to determine the eligibility of applicants. When the questionnaire is returned to the adoption agency by the applicant, the agency requires a picture of the family including all household members, copy of the birth certificate for all household members, a copy of the marriage license, a copy of a divorce decree or death certificate in the case of a previous marriage, and a copy of discharge papers from the military (where applicable).

Individual Information Meeting:
Applicants who complete the questionnaire and return it with all requested attachments by the specified due date are then contacted to schedule an individual informational interview.

The individual informational interview serves as a time for the adoption program staff to learn about the applicants’ adoption interest and readiness. This is also a time for the adoption program staff to address the applicants’ individual questions and concerns. Based on the information received in the meeting, applicants are asked to indicate their desire to continue in the selection process.

Upon completion of the individual informational interviews with all interested applicants, the adoption program staff will make a selection of applicants to offer a formal application to adopt through the Adoption Services of Catholic Charities for that specific calendar year.

Since the expectant mothers in the program choose the adoptive family for their child, the program needs a “mix” of potential adoptive families with varying (educational, religious, employment, etc.) backgrounds.

The Adoption Services of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans is not seeking the “perfect” applicant or a pre-determined number of potential adoptive families. The number of applicants offered a formal application is based on the adoption program’s placement rate for the previous year and additional factors as trends are presented to adoption program staff.

Unfortunately, due to the limited number of adoption placements, Adoption Services of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans is typically not able to offer all applicants a formal application to adopt. The adoption program welcome questions from applicants not offered a formal application to adopt for that specific calendar year. The adoption program staff is also available to offer counseling / referrals to those applicants who are not offered a formal application to adopt.

Application:
Applicants offered/accepting a formal application to adopt through the Adoption Services of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans are required to submit a non-refundable application fee when the application is returned.

Outreach Fees:
Applicants offered a formal application to adopt through the program will be assessed a one-time, non-refundable fee for program outreach efforts. Outreach fees are due at the time the formal application is submitted.

Home Study:
A home study for the purpose of adoption is completed by the Adoption Program Director. The home study is a time to gather and prepare information required by Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services and Catholic Charities as well as prepare the prospective family for adoption. The home study is a time to further investigate the family’s readiness to adopt, infertility issues and the ability to provide for a child’s physical and emotional development. Although rare, in some cases a prospective family’s home study may not be approved. An approved home study may be provided to other adoption placement resources by completing the agency’s release of information.

What is the Home Study?
The home study usually takes place over three meetings (2 in the adoption program office and 1 in family home). This is an informal time to for discussion and education related to the goal of adoption placement.

The 3 meetings include the following:

Office Meetings – these 2 meetings include discussions with families as a couple and as individuals. The individual meetings   are relaxed discussions about the information provided in the autobiography guide as well as plans for the family.

Home Meeting – this meeting is a tour of the family home including number of bedrooms, bathrooms, general living areas, as well as a home safety assessment.

As part of the adoption home study, additional paperwork is required and forms will be provided for completion.

Home Study Packet:
Copies of birth certificates, marriage / divorce certificates, and driver’s licenses are provided to the agency.

Autobiography Guide
The autobiography guide will assist in writing your life-story. We ask that this information be typewritten.

Medical Forms
A medical form will be provided for your physician to complete for each family member.

Criminal Clearances
There are several criminal clearances that are necessary to complete:

  • Child Abuse Clearance through the Department of Children and Family Services
  • Local Sheriff’s Department Criminal Clearances
  • Louisiana State Police – Bureau of Criminal Identification
  • FBI Fingerprint Criminal Clearances

Financial Background
A summary of the family’s financial summary as well as a copy of the most recent W-2 or a recent check stub to verify employment and income.

Personal References
A minimum of 5 personal references will be contacted to provide information regarding your family as it relates to adoption.

Additional Forms
There will be other forms to be completed as part of the home study process and these will be provided as required.

Adoption Profile / Dear Expectant Parent:
Adoption Profile / Dear Expectant Parent letters are presented to expectant parents as part of the selection process. The adoption profile consists of written information as well as photos of the adoptive family’s life. A guide and samples of the adoption profile and Dear Expectant Parent can be provided. The adoption profile photo album is provided to the birth parent following the adoption placement. If the birth parent is unable to accept the photo album, the album will be returned to the adoptive family. If you would like a copy of the photo album for your family, please make a duplicate album prior to submitting the photo album to the program for consideration by expectant parents.

Other Requirements:
Applicants offered a formal application to adopt through the program must attend mandatory educational/support meetings as scheduled. These are typically scheduled once a month on a Saturday over a couple months. Online adoption education courses will be required as well as adoption related reading materials. Additional reading material will also be provided throughout the program. Applicants are expected to assist and support outreach efforts to increase referrals to the program.

Waiting Period:
When the applicant is chosen by an expectant parent, they will be notified about a potential placement. The time frame for adoption depends on many factors including, but not limited to, desired race of child, level of openness, etc. Upon receipt of the approved home study and adoptive family profile, the average wait for a child is 6 months- 3 years.

Adoption Fees:
Payment of the adoption placement fee is due within 20 days of placement. When an applicant is accepted into the program, an Adoption Fee Agreement outlining all of the adoption fees will be reviewed, agreed to and signed by the applicants and adoption program staff.

The adoption fee allows the agency to provide various services to the adoptive parents and expecting/birth parents pre and post adoption placement.

Adoption Tax Credit/Refund:
Applicants may be able to take a tax credit/refund for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child (including a child with special needs). Qualifying expenses may include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses while away from home, etc. See www.irs.gov for additional information.

Placement of a Child and Post Placement Supervision:
All applicants must be present at the time a child is placed with them. Each adoptive parent must sign the Adoption Services Placement Agreement packet before accepting a child into their family and home.

Louisiana requires that the adoptive child be in the home a minimum of six months before the Adoption Services of Catholic Charities can give permission for filing the adoption petition. The six-month supervision period begins on the day of placement. After placement of a child, the Adoption Program Director or Maternity Case Manager will visit your home on a scheduled day / time to complete a minimum of three post placement visits over the six month post placement period.

Progress Reports
Monthly reports (12 months) and yearly letters (5 years) with pictures (minimum of 12 originals – double prints) are required as part of the adoption placement agreement. A form will be provided for the monthly reports and made non-identifying in preparation for providing the information to the birth parents. The yearly letters are more of a narrative format with a summary of the previous year and any additional information the family would like to share. All reports are provided directly to CCANO.

Finalization of Adoption:
The Adoption Services of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans retains legal custody of the child until the court grants the final decree of adoption. When the final decree is granted a new birth certificate is issued under the names of the adoptive parents. Attorney fees are paid directly to the attorney by the adoptive parent(s) and must be paid in full prior to finalization.

Other Services:
The Adoption Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans provides home study and post adoption service for other agency, private and international adoption placements. Please contact Danna P. Cousins, LMSW at 504-885-1141 or dcousins@ccano.org for more information regarding any of these services.

Anyone desiring further adoption information should contact:

Danna P. Cousins, LMSW
Program Director
Adoption Services
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
3019 N. Arnoult Road
Metairie, LA 70002

504-885-1141

Email:  dcousins@ccano.org