In most states, the payment of expenses to a birth mother making an adoption plan is a common practice.
We began to hear of more and more local birth moms who chose to be matched out of state because of the possibilities of paid expenses. These moms would sometimes not be able to have a counselor, or appropriate representation in the case and we wanted Maryland to be on the same level as other states so that moms are pushed away from local adoptive parents!
More and more agencies and states are paying for the housing, food, clothing, etc. of birth mothers in the midst of an adoption plan. Well in Maryland, this was illegal up until very recently. Maryland is one of
only three states that restrict payment of adoption-related expenses for birth parents to only
medical and legal costs.
We were so happy to discover that the bill had been approved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Maryland General Assembly and now we're awaiting the Governor's signature!
I was very fortunate to be able to testify about my opinions and experiences on this bill in front of the judicial committee of the Maryland House of Delegates. House Bill 563 was a collaboration of Delegate DuMais and adoption agencies, birth parents, and adoptive parents.
Here is a video of our testimony starting at 5:35 (Maryland House Judicial Committee Testimony Video)
Here is my written testimony submitted to the Maryland House and Senate Judicial Committees!
When posed with the question of whether receiving financial assistance would be helpful to the expecting mothers I serve, the answer is undoubtedly, yes. Every expecting birth parent that crosses my path struggles in some way. Most of my clients are either unemployed or working only part-time and in positions that cause them to struggle even while employed. Many clients are living with family or with extended family, or renting rooms in a household. Some are living in homeless shelters and recently, within the cold winter months, even the shelter programs are full with many month long waiting lists. Finding housing and food assistance for my clients has always been a struggle with the limited resources in the area. They often feel the stress of burdening a family member they are living with or living in an uncomfortable environment while pregnant. Some mothers are only allowed to live with family because they are pregnant but have to leave soon after delivery and feel the anxiety of the approaching deadline daily. Many have come to know that finding a job while visibly pregnant is almost impossible in this area. There are also those who are employed, but must hide the fact that they are pregnant, if possible, to avoid termination. These women and their families have a clear and basic need for financial assistance.
To some, purchasing maternity clothing may not be a necessity, and a mother may even agree when faced with the decision to purchase food and pay rent, but to any woman who has been pregnant, the need becomes clear. Many clients could benefit from properly fitting maternity clothing as pregnant women expand in clothing size and shoe size. I’ve come across clients who wear the same ill fitting clothing, coats that no longer close and shirts and pants that are uncomfortable to wear because as stated earlier, sheltering and feeding herself and her family comes first.
In addition to the women who struggle the most visibly there are expectant moms that cross my path who could benefit from the assistance that a little extra income could provide. Clients who are able to maintain employment often still need all the help they can get. Many are struggling to pay rent and all the other necessities of life and would welcome assistance with open arms. Regarding the mothers who are currently working, some do not take one day off from work during their pregnancy for fear of losing their jobs. Other mothers leave the hospital and return to work the day after delivery, against the medical advice of the physician, because they simply cannot miss a day of work and risk unemployment. If pregnant women are instructed to stop working by a physician, this bill would allow for those moms to stop working and tend to their physical needs, something that is often not possible for them. For the moms that do stop working, they are in great need of help paying bills. If these women were able to receive even just a small amount of financial assistance to assist in paying rent or obtaining food or purchasing maternity items, they would possibly be able to relax and gain a bit more peace of mind during the pregnancy. As stressful as it is to carry an unplanned pregnancy and be in the process of making an adoption plan, any relief of that stress would be greatly beneficial.
We would love to hear about your story and whether adoption expenses were helpful or would have been helpful during your adoption planning time.
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