The aim of the Florida Adoption Center is to provide services to Birth Mothers to enable them to give their child the best start in life. This means access to healthcare, access to healthy nutrition, education on making healthy choices for the benefit of the child, substance abuse education and treatment, and ways to reduce family stress. The ultimate aim is a healthy mother and in turn the birth of a healthy child.
Collection of Child’s Family and Medical History
Whenever Birth Parents chose an adoption plan, we believe it is important to provide each child with their complete health history. We compile a comprehensive package documenting baby’s health information, and that of their biological family. We gather the child’s information from various sources, hospital, Birth Parents etc. This health information and history is important as it will enable adoptive parents to make informed health care decisions for the child throughout their lives, and for the child to have the power to make good healthcare choices in adulthood.
Every adoption plan is personalized, and Birth Parents are given the opportunity to make decisions for the child. The biggest decision is the choice of Adoptive Family. In addition, we encourage birth parents to provide letters, and photographs to make up a “Memory Box” as their gift to their child. We educate the Adoptive Parents on the benefits of sharing with the child the contents of the Memory Box and any other information provided by the Birth Parents. In addition, we ask that Birth Parents consider carefully whether they want the child to be able to contact them once they reach adulthood.
Post Placement Supervision Visits
The goal for our babies is to facilitate a caring transition to their forever homes. We strive to place the child directly into the care of the Adoptive family wherever possible. We are committed to placing children in homes where they will be provided for, and have the opportunity to grow and thrive in a loving home. After the child is placed with the Adoptive Parents, agency staff must perform regular post placement supervision visits (two as required by Florida Law, and every 30 days until finalization). The visits are designed to ensure the Adoptive Parents are coping well, the family is adjusting to the addition of a new family member, and most importantly ensure the child is thriving.
Support For The Adoptive Parents & Birth Parents Who Choose to Parent
The Staff of the Florida Adoption Agency are available to all members of the Adoption Triad as they discuss and process through decisions, thoughts and feelings before and after the adoption. We are committed to providing support for Adoptive Parents as they adjust to their new parenting roles, and Birth Parent who chose to parent.
No one is born knowing how to be a great parent. It is something, if we are lucky, that we learn from our parents, family, and friends. If we are not lucky enough to have been brought up with great role models it is still possible to learn to be a good parent. We are committed to helping all parents be the best parents they can be. We believe parenting education is a great start. Here are a few examples:
How & When To Tell A Child They Are Adopted
We believe it is important to explore how and when to tell a child they are adopted, which is why we include this topic in our pre-adoption training classes. It is important that a child is told in an age appropriate way, and should grow up knowing the truth about themselves. There are many very good children’s books on the market which can help in the explaining process. “I wished for you: An adoption story,” by Marianne Richmond, and “Tell me again about the night I was born,” by Jamie Lee Curtis.
Coping with Baby’s Crying and Frustration
Babies cry. A Lot! Sometimes it is easy to see what is wrong, wet diaper, too hot, too cold, hungry etc. But, sometimes it is not easy to tell why. A baby’s cry is her survival mechanism. If baby’s crying was easy to ignore the survival mechanism wouldn’t be very effective. The cry is designed so to be impossible to ignore, but constant crying can be very distressing and sometime frustrating for the parent or caregiver. During times of frustration, parents should have coping skills ready to handle the situation. Parents feeling high levels of frustration could perhaps, put baby in gently in their crib, shut the bedroom door (checking on the baby every 5 or 10 minutes or so), and go and do something else in another room until they feel calmer. Sometimes calling a friend to come and watch the child so the parent can take a break is helpful. Putting baby in the stroller and taking a walk together can also work. Calling a friend to come and watch the child for an hour or two while the parent takes a break, are all helpful and healthy coping responses.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
Parenting can be frustrating at times, every parent can think of a time when their frustration level was high, and all parents can sympathize with that frustration. Parenting is especially difficult when there is little or no family support. We have all heard of cases when parents, or caregivers have acted out their frustration and have caused the child harm, or worse killed the child. Shaking a baby or young child is one example of this type of abuse.
What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Shaken baby syndrome, is a term used to describe what occurs when a baby or young child is shaken, usually in anger. In these cases the infant is shaken so violently that brain or spinal cord damage occurs. This damage may result in injuries so severe the child never fully recovers, or worse dies.
Why is Shaken Baby Syndrome so Dangerous?
An infant’s head is very large in comparison to its body, and its neck muscles are very weak. In addition, the baby’s brain has not yet filled all the space in the child’s skull. Add all these factors together and it is easy to see why vigorously shaking a baby will result in the brain moving within the skull, when the baby’s head flops backwards and forwards with the force of the shaking. When a baby is shaken in such a way it causes bruising of the brain, which can result in bleeding within the skull, swelling of the brain, brain damage and possible death. The baby’s delicate spinal cord can also suffer significant damage resulting in spinal cord injuries, paralysis and possible death.
How Often Does Shaken Baby Syndrome Occur?
It is difficult to accurately quantify the number of deaths which occur as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome, but estimates by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggest 1,500 infants are victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome every year, and of those babies 150 – 200 die as a result of their injuries.
There is always an alternative to shaking a baby, but in stressful times coping skills can be stretched to the limit. We can refer to community partners who provide parenting classes to help build parent’s skill sets and promote safe parenting.
Teaching Parents to Manage their Stress
Teaching our families how to manage their stress is all part of providing services which benefit the child. Families in crisis have high levels of stress which may impact their parenting abilities. Identifying stressors, and learning to cope with stress in healthy ways can improve parenting abilities. Learning positive coping skill, relaxation techniques, developing a social network of support are all ways to lessen parental stress.
Every state has version of a “Safe Haven” law, which is designed to save the lives of new born infants. The Law in Florida, allows a mother to relinquish her newborn, no questions asked, to the proper authority. The purpose of the Safe Haven Law is to prevent infanticide. Simply put, it is designed to give a mother an alternative to killing her infant. According to Florida Law a mother “can leave your baby, up to 7 days old, with an employee at any hospital, emergency medical services station or with a fire fighter at any fire station in Florida.” As long at the baby is unharmed staff of the hospital, emergency medical service station or fire fighter is prohibited from asking the mother any questions regarding her identify. The law only applies to babies who are or appear to be, according to the best judgment of a medical professional, no more than 7 days old.
Any time a New Born is relinquished under the Safe Haven Law a licensed Adoption Agency is contacted. The Agency will place the child with Adoptive Parents. The Florida Adoption Agency maintains a list of Adoptive Parents who will willingly, and happily provide a loving home to a Safe Haven baby.
Identifying Risk and Protective Factors
The Crisis Pregnancy program incorporates a focus on strategies which promotes family well-being and safety. Our program examines Parental Resilience, Social supports, Concrete Supports, Nurturing and Attachment, Family’s Knowledge of Child Development and Parenting Skills, and the Child’s Emotional and Social competence. Together, we identify a family’s risk and protective factors in order to identify any services which may be needed.
Bonding and Attachment
Attachment is the deep bond which occurs between child and caregiver (ideally parents). In ideal circumstances bonding begins before baby is born, and continues in earnest during baby’s first years of life. Bonding does not always come naturally, especially if parents did not experience a secure bonding relationship with their own parents. Bonding behaviors can be taught, and our counselors work with families to promote bonding and secure attachment.
Child Development and Milestones
It is important for parents to be educated on child development and what milestones to expect at each stage of a child’s life. We believe it is important for parents to be aware of a child’s developmental behaviors and needs, and the importance of knowing what to expect in the way of behaviors, physical development, social, emotional and cognitive development.
Safe Sleeping Practices and Cribs for Kids
We refer to one of our community partners who provide cribs, and safe sleeping education. The aim of the education is to promote safe sleeping practices, to reduce the incidences of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Safe Car Seats
Many of us remember driving with our parents in a car with no seat belts. Obviously, we all know this is no longer appropriate. Unfortunately, car seats can be very expensive, especially when funds are limited. We can refer to community partners who will not only provide the car seat, but also education on how to safely use and install it.
Medical Insurance Options for Kids
Parents with private insurance are able to add an adoptive child to their health insurance policies, just as they would a biological child. Birth Parents, who chose to parent, may not have the means to pay for private health insurance. However, if a Birth Mother is covered by Pregnancy Medicaid for the birth of her baby, she should register the child for Medicaid within 72 hours of baby’s birth, by “adding a family member” to her “Access” account. Baby will be covered under Medicaid for 1 year. Children may be continue to be covered under Medicaid through age 18.
Other healthcare options include, Florida KidCare insurance offered through the state of Florida. Florid KidCare covers children from birth through age 18. Children may be covered under Florida KidCare even if both parents are working. Qualification for Florida KidCare program is based on income. Premiums for Florida KidCare can be as low as $15-$20 a month.