Adoption FAQs

Welcome to Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County (CSSW). We primarily place infants through an open, cooperative system. Only on rare occasions do older infants or toddlers come into our care for adoptive placement; we do not provide international adoption services.

Who can adopt?

Persons of any age, over 18, or family size who live in one of the following Michigan Counties: Branch, Calhoun, Clinton, Genesee, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Saginaw, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Washtenaw, Wayne, may apply for our services.

It is a policy of the Agency that a three-month leave of absence from employment be taken upon placement to facilitate the adjustment of the infant with the new parent(s). The leave may be shared among two parents so that outside care not be provided on a regular basis during the three months.

What age children are available?

Primarily newborn infants.

How much does it cost to adopt through Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County?

Fees are available by contacting the Adoption Counselor.

Is an attorney necessary?

No. Birth parents and adoptive parents, who use attorneys must, however, be represented by separate counsel. Names of adoption attorneys may be obtained from the State Children’s Ombudsman’s Office: 517.373.3077.

Must a birth parent release to an agency?

No. Michigan law allows for a birth parent to physically transfer temporary custody directly to the adoptive family if they reside in Michigan and have an approved Preplacement Assessment by a licensed agency. The birth parent must be assisted by an attorney or Agency, however, to do this.

What adoption services does CSSW offer?

Preplacement assessments, counseling for birth parents, placement and post placement services are offered by Catholic Social Services. The Agency recognizes adoption as a lifelong process that significantly changes and impacts one’s life. To that end, we offer counseling, education and support to anyone in the community whose life has been touched by adoption at any point in their lives.

What is a home study?

More appropriately named a Preplacement Assessment, it is a mutual process of identifying one’s readiness to adopt by exploring strengths, weaknesses, resolution of loss issues, and the capacity to parent through adoption. The law also requires us to have criminal clearances and medical reports on family members. We do not perform home studies for out of state adoptions unless the family is working with us.

Would I ever be turned down?

Probably not, unless there is reason to suspect harm to a child. CSSW helps prospective parents stretch, grow and take risks in order to be fully informed about the challenges of adoptive parenting and to be the best adoptive parent(s) they can be to their child.

Based on years of experience of working with families in adoption, we may see that there are issues needing resolution before successfully entering adoptive parenthood. For example, difficulties with the capacity for a relationship with birth parents; unhealthy communication styles; unresolved issues of infertility; unstable financial conditions; or a psychologically unhealthy environment for a child. Medical conditions are not necessarily a reason to be rejected. Our concern is that one has a plan to be able to parent a child into young adulthood. It is not necessary to own a home nor are there income requirements. We look to see that prospective adoptive parents can live within their means, provide for a child and handle an emergency situation should one arise after placement. It would be rare for a family to be denied service without being given the opportunity to work on the issue in question.

What do you mean by 'open adoption'?

It is the process by which birth and adoptive families mutually design a plan for a lifelong relationship with each other. It is the process of relationship-building based on honesty, respect and trust. Birth parents choose the adoptive family for their child and all parties meet to explore their capacity to mutually form the foundation for an ongoing relationship. The Agency has been proudly facilitating open adoptions since 1985.

CSSW stresses the mutuality of relationships. Lifelong advantages of cooperative, open adoption gives adoptive parents full information of their child’s heritage and medical history in order to respond more fully and effectively to the unique needs of their child; birth parents are able to confront the reality of the adoption plan sooner and can have immediate information as to the growth, development and health of their child; and adoptees feel more rooted by having complete and accurate information. Access to birth parents ensures the honesty of the adoption story, thereby lessening the mystery, fantasy building and feelings of rejection.

Isn't it confusing to have four parents?

In adoption, a child does not have four parents. There is a tendency to use divorce as an analogy, but in divorce, both parents legally retain their parental rights. In adoption, birth parents release their parental rights in Court. Adoptive parents are the legal, nurturing and psychological parents while birth parents represent a portion of the child’s heritage and identity. When all adults are clear about their roles, children will not be confused. A portion of the counseling with birth parents is to help them redefine their role with the child and grieve the loss of the parental role.

Do we have to give identifying information to birthparents?

The Agency values and encourages the exchange of full identifying information as a component of developing a lifelong relationship. However, the final decision rests with the parties involved.