The Process

Making the Decision
Intake Evaluation
Selecting an Adoptive Parents
Making the Adoption Plan
Surrender of Parental Rights
Post-Placement and Legal Finalization
Post-Placement Services for Birth Parents

Making the Decision
If you would like to explore whether adoption may be the right option for you and your child, Bright Futures is here to help. We provide non-directive counseling and support throughout the decision-making process, at no charge, regardless of the decision you make. We will ensure that you understand the different types of adoption and  the legal, emotional and logistical aspects involved in making an adoption plan, along with helping you consider all of your  options. If you decide to proceed with us, we will provide you with an Orientation Packet, which includes information about the different types of adoption, alternatives to adoption, your rights, what working with Bright Futures entails, and copies of forms designed to help you consider your feelings about adoption. top

Intake Evaluation
When thinking about making an adoption plan, a Bright Futures social worker will meet with you to discuss your specific needs, desires and concerns – and what type of adoption might be right for you if you choose to pursue adoption. The social worker will also help you assess your current situation and make a service plan that addresses your needs. This plan will address issues such as counseling, living needs, financial and legal assistance, and medical care for you and your baby.

Making an adoption plan includes thinking about what information your child might need or want in the future. So Bright Futures will provide to you a Medical Information Form and a Social and Family History Form, and will help you complete them as fully and accurately as possible. The information in these forms will be provided to the adoptive parents, if you choose adoption, so they can make it part of their family history and so it is available to share with the child as he or she grows older. top

Selecting the Adoptive Parents
Once we have a sense of what your needs are and what type of adoptive family you want for your child, we will provide you with pictures and letters from prospective parents who have been approved by Bright Futures and reflect your needs and desires (including expectations about racial, cultural or religious identity, level of contact, finances, etc.). You will then have the opportunity to select a family that you would like to get to know better. After you have had sufficient time to ask questions and speak and/or meet with the prospective parents, you will let us know if you would like to move forward with those parents to plan an adoption. If you are not comfortable with those parents, you will have the opportunity to review additional families until you find one that feels like an appropriate match. Bright Futures is legally required to make the final determination about any adoptive placement, to ensure that it’s in the best interests of the child. We rarely suggest a choice other than the one you make, and you are entitled to change your mind about the adoption if you don’t feel comfortable with it. top

Making an Adoption Plan
Once you have identified prospective parents, you can begin to build a relationship with them and assess whether you would feel comfortable having them raise your child. If you and those parents feel “right” to one another, Bright Futures will help you develop an adoption plan that is comfortable for all parties. This will include discussion of all the details relating to the adoption, including what degree of openness and contact you want, what will happen when the baby is born, who will name the baby, what your needs are and which expenses the prospective adoptive parents will be expected (and permitted) to pay. During this process, Bright Futures will always be available to provide counsel and to assist you in managing your relationship with the prospective adoptive parents. top

Surrender of Parental Rights
Once your baby is born, the legal process begins. In order to place your child with the adoptive parents you have selected, you will need to relinquish your right to parent your child. This means you will be asked to sign a “consent” or “surrender” form that says you voluntarily give custody of your child to Bright Futures for the purpose of adoption. Before signing such a form, you will meet with your social worker to confirm that you truly, voluntarily wish to proceed.

In Massachusetts, this form cannot be signed until at least the fourth day after your baby is born. Also, state law mandates that it say that the decision is final and cannot be revoked. This means that once you sign the relinquishment, you may not change your mind and decide to parent your baby, unless you discover that fraud was involved. The form is signed in front of witnesses and a notary public, who will verbally confirm that you are signing voluntarily and that no one has coerced you to do so.

If your baby is born in another state, the rules will differ about when a “consent” or “surrender” can be signed, what the form might say, where it must be signed (some states require oversight by a judge), and whether you have a right to change your mind after signing. Bright Futures will help ensure that you have a knowledgeable attorney in the state where your baby is born. top

Post-Placement and Legal Finalization
After you sign the relinquishment, your part in the legal process is complete, and your baby can be placed with the adoptive parents you selected. In certain situations, it is possible to make that placement prior to signing the form, as long as the adoptive parents understand your decision is not final – meaning you could still decide to parent your baby – until your signature is on that document.

Rules vary from state to state about how long a period then must pass before the adoption can be finalized in court. The law of the state where the adoptive parents live will usually control the post-placement period and legal finalization process. If they live in Massachusetts, the post-placement waiting period lasts for six months.

During that time, a Bright Futures social worker will visit with the adoptive family once a month to assess how the placement is going. Based on these visits, we will complete a monthly report explaining the baby’s developmental milestones, the family’s adjustment to the role of parent(s) and adoptive family, and the social worker’s conclusions about the appropriateness of the placement. At the conclusion of the six-month period, a Petition of Adoption can be filed with the Probate and Family Court Department of the Trial Court. At the hearing on the Petition of Adoption, the judge will confirm the commitment of the adoptive parent(s) to raising the child and, assuming all is well (which it usually is), then will sign a decree finalizing the adoption. top

Post-Placement Services for Birth Parents
Making a plan of adoption is a complex and difficult decision. Many say it is the hardest thing they’ve ever done. It is natural to experience grief and loss, and many other feelings, no matter how right you may believe the decision is for you and your child. Bright Futures is not only here to help you through the decision-making process, but also to provide support after placement. top