2601 N Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Getting to Know Catholic Charities Adoptions Services
Why should we choose Catholic Charities?
Our experience, excellence, and reputation! Catholic Charities has a staff of caring professionals, including some who are adoptive parents, with over 100 combined years of adoption experience. We have placed approximately 3900 children born in the U.S. since our services began in 1943, and since 1979 we have placed 3000 children born in other countries. We were one of the first agencies to receive Hague Accreditation in 2008. Hague Accreditation attests that Catholic Charities is in compliance with the Hague Convention, an international treaty created to ensure that intercountry adoptions are in the best interests of children. We are well known for our excellent adoptive parent preparation and our ongoing support throughout the process.
Who are the children?
Catholic Charities provides international adoption placement services for toddlers, older children, and biological sibling groups. These children include healthy children and those with special needs who are identified by cooperating agencies overseas. The children are primarily from the Philippines, China, Colombia, India, and Ethiopia who have become legally free for adoption because their birth parents are unable to care for them. In most cases, childless applicants may not specify the gender of their prospective adopted child. The exception is China, where it is possible to request the placement of a girl. If adoptive applicants have a child of one gender, they may specify the opposite gender for adoption for some countries. If they have both a boy and a girl, they may not specify a girl for adoption.
How long does it take to adopt?
Placements are currently made within two to three years from the completion of the home study, depending on the country.
Do we have to be Catholic?
Catholic Charities has no religious requirements. However, some international sources do have religious requirements.
Do I have to be married?
There are some international programs which accept single applicants. We usually require that couples be married for a minimum of two years at the time of the application, although some countries have more restrictive requirements. Other countries may have more flexibility in their marriage requirements, and if you have been married for less than two years, we will consider your application on a case-by-case basis.
What are the age requirements?
Catholic Charities’ minimum age for adoptive parents is 25. For international adoption, the agency prefers that clients be under 50 years old for most children. International sources may have more restrictive requirements and older parents might only be considered for an older child.
Can we pursue infertility treatment as well as adoption?
We know that many families begin to learn about adoption while still involved in infertility treatment. However, we believe that couples need to discontinue infertility treatment before proceeding with the adoption process. Our goal is to ensure total commitment to adoption and full acceptance of the adopted child. The emotional strain of infertility treatments may interfere with the couple’s ability to commit to the adoption process.
Can we adopt if we have had a serious illness or mental health concern?
Applicants must be in good physical and mental health with normal life expectancies. Catholic Charities requires additional documentation for applicants with significant medical conditions, psychiatric treatment, individual, and/or marital counseling, past or present. If drug/alcohol or other addictions/dependencies have been a problem, at least three consecutive years of recovery must be demonstrated in addition to participation in either a specialized addictions treatment program and/or a Twelve Step program. Depending on the circumstances, Catholic Charities may also request an additional evaluation by appropriate specialists. The information provided from these sources will assist the agency in making a complete assessment. Some countries are more restrictive in their medical requirements for adoptive parents.
Can I adopt if I have a previous arrest?
Some criminal histories will prevent applicants from adopting. These include serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping, and crimes against children. Other offenses will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and our decision will take into consideration when the offense occurred, mitigating circumstances, and current functioning. All offences, including arrests that were not prosecuted, juvenile records, and expunged records, must be disclosed, even if they have been expunged.
Can we pursue more than one type of adoption at a time?
Upon beginning the adoption process with Catholic Charities, clients are required to work exclusively with our agency and withdraw their applications from other adoption agencies. Through the international adoption services, clients usually work with only one international source at a time. The home study in all adoptions is prepared for the specific type of adoption and is country specific in content. However, approved parents may decide to move between agency programs after a period of time or under certain circumstances.
How much parental leave is expected after placement?
Our policy on parental leave has evolved through the years of witnessing the successful bonding and attachment in families when parents invest extended time and attention to the needs of their newly adopted child. Therefore, if you are adopting a child who is not yet school aged (5 years and under) we require that one parent take at least a three month maternity/paternity leave following placement. This may be shared by both parents in monthly or six week increments, and includes travel time when required. Families who are adopting school-aged children (6 and over) should plan on at least one-month leave, to help your child adjust before enrolling in school. Your individual parental leave plan will be discussed with your social worker.
Discipline and Corporal Punishment: Catholic Charities adheres to the policy on physical punishment mandated by the Maryland Department of Human Resources, the agency which licenses private child placing agencies. DHR has articulated a clear policy against the use of corporal punishment of foster and adopted children (available on request). Please be aware that as adoptive parents, you must make a sincere and genuine commitment to developing a disciplinary policy which does not involve corporal punishment.
How do I/we get started?
Attend one of our Pre-Adoption Information Meetings (AIM). This information-packed session provides you with an in depth review of the adoption process, and of the adoption options that are available to you.