Frequently Asked Adoption Questions – FAQs

Frequently Asked QuestionsClick on the title of the section you wish to learn more about to jump to that section.

GENERAL FAQs
BIRTHPARENT FAQs
HOME STUDY FAQs
DOMESTIC ADOPTION FAQs
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION FAQs
EMBRYO/SNOWFLAKES ADOPTION FAQs


General FAQs

Click on the question to read the answer. 

Is Nightlight a non-profit agency?

Yes, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency. Fees paid by adoptive parents as well as any fundraising efforts throughout the year cover agency expenses.

What is your licensure information?

Nightlight Christian Adoptions has been licensed by the California State Department of Social Services since 1959. Nightlight’s Home study services are available to families California, Colorado and South Carolina.

What is Nightlight’s Statement of Faith?

We believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. We believe He died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures and arose bodily from the dead, and that He ascended into heaven, where at the right hand of God He is now our Lord and Savior. We believe that the Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired Word of God and the final authority for all Christian faith and life.

What if we are not Christians; will you still work with us?

The “Christian” in our name explains who we are.  We work with families from various backgrounds. Many of the birth mothers who seek our services are interested in placing their child with a Christian family. Because we want our families to be successful, we can let you know if we believe the wait for a birth mother to match may be longer based on your background (which may include a variety of factors that birth mothers may deem important, such as age, religion, income, number of marriages, number of children, etc).

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Christians are utterly convinced of the unwavering love and goodness of God. We believe that God is for us, and that His love endures forever. God’s love is self-evident in the fact that He created the universe, gave us life and continues to bless us with all good things.

Christians have come to grips with our own wretchedness.  We recognize our thoughts are sometimes evil, our intentions can be selfish and our actions are often hurtful. We neither deny our corrupt nature, nor do we try to overcome it with self-improvement. Instead, we embrace or wretchedness and admit with resignation that there is nothing we can do on our own to escape it.

The Bible teaches that because God is perfectly just, He cannot overlook wrong-doing. God’s justice demands punishment or payment for sin. Christians accept the fact that even our own death could not right all of the wrongs we have committed. We affirm every new day is a gift from God which exceeds the grace we deserve.

God knew the sinfulness of humankind was of such a great degree that He could never expect people to pay the price on their own. And God’s love is so great that he could not expect all his people to endure the consequences. But His justice is so great that he could not overlook our sin.  So God took drastic measures. Sin demanded a sacrifice, for without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins. The sacrifice had to be human, in order to serve in our place. And the sacrifice had to be of infinite value, in order to pay the price for an infinite number of people who have sinned countless times. The only solution, therefore, was for God to pay the price himself, in human form. God became a man, in the form of Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the price for the sins of all people: past, present, and future.

Christians have asked Jesus to forgive their sin. They ask God to change their hearts and help them to sin no more.  But this is not just a form of self-determination or self-improvement. Christians recognize that the only hope of true repentance is for our “old self” to die, just as Jesus died on the cross. And a “new self” must come to life, just as Jesus did at the resurrection. This death of the old self, and life of the new self, is symbolized in baptism. That is why the Bible says “we have been crucified with Christ.”

If you want to become a Christian, think and pray about this verse, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10.9 NIV).


Birthparent FAQs

Click on the question to read the answer.

What are the ages of children that you place through Nightlight?

We typically place newborns in our domestic program. It is rare for an older child to be placed through private adoption.

What kind of criteria should I consider when selecting a family for my child?

A few of the concerns you might have when selecting an adoptive family who will love and parent your child are:

  • marital status and length of marriage
  • any previous marriages
  • age of parents
  • any other children in home
  • employment status of parents
  • financial stability
  • religion
  • compatible personalities and arrangement for ongoing contact

If you would like to look at the profiles of couples who have already completed a home study and are ready to provide a loving home to a child, view our Adopting Parent Profiles.

What if I’m matched with an adoptive family through another source?

Notify our office and your social worker immediately. Depending upon the situation, you may be eligible for counseling services as a modified adoption.

When does California, Colorado and South Carolina law say the relinquishment can be signed?

California- A birthmother can sign the relinquishment anytime after she has been medically discharged from the hospital. Colorado-A birthmother can sign the relinquishment anytime after the baby has been born. South Carolina- A birthmother can sign the relinquishment 24 hours after the baby has been born.

How long do birthparents have to change their mind?

This varies from state to state. Contact us for more information.

What is Special Baby Care?

When a baby has been born and the mother has not yet decided if she will parent or place the child for adoption, we have certified families who will temporarily care for the child.

What rights does the child’s father have under California, Colorado and South Carolina law?

In most states, the child’s father will generally fall into one of two categories: presumed or alleged. A presumed father is a man who is married to the mother or who has actively exercised his parental rights though the pregnancy. His rights are the same as the mother.

An alleged father has fewer rights, but must be notified of the adoption plan. It is important to discuss the rights of a birthfather with the agency or your attorney.

This varies from state to state. Please contact us for more details.

Why choose open adoption?

We believe it is the healthiest situation for all members of the adoption triad. The purpose of open adoption is to comfort and encourage you with the knowledge of your child’s well-being, to provide answers for the child and to empower the adoptive parents in raising their child.

What is the adoption triad?

The adoption triad is a term used to describe the three-sided relationship that exists in an adoption between birth parents, adoptive parents and the adopted child.

What varying degrees of contact are available in open adoption?

Open adoption encompasses a broad spectrum of contact between the birth and adoptive family. It can be as little as exchanging pictures and letters through the agency a few times a year to ongoing direct contact and visitation.

Home Study FAQs

Click on the question to read the answer.

What is an adoption home study?

The mandatory adoption home study is an evaluation and education tool to help us, as an agency, and you, as adopting parents, to determine your preparedness to parent through adoption. It is not a psychological analysis; our intent is to prepare you for the special needs of an adoptee and to help you build important parenting skills. The home study is different for each adoption as everyone has different histories and experiences that they bring into the process. It consists of paperwork, education, and interviews. If you live in California, Colorado, or South Carolina, Nightlight Christian Adoptions will perform your home study.

How can we find a local agency to do our home study?

If you live in California, Colorado, or South Carolina, Nightlight Christian Adoptions will perform your home study. If you are not in these areas and are unfamiliar with agencies in your area, you may contact our office and we will provide you with a list of agencies in your state (if available) that other families have worked with. You may have difficulty finding an agency to do a home study for embryo adoption, as some agencies are unaware of it or do not yet feel comfortable educating parents about adopting embryos. For purposes of the Snowflakes Program, we require the same home study you would have for a traditional, domestic adoption, including an open adoption and adoptive parenting education component. Most state agencies/social services departments do not complete pre-placement home studies, and the ones who do most often will not provide a copy to an outside agency. For these reasons we ask you to work with a private, licensed adoption agency. If an agency you are working with would like more information on the program, please contact your adoption worker and we will be happy to provide them with information.

Is there anything specific the home study needs to include in order to fulfill your requirements?

Yes! It is imperative that the adoption agency with whom you are working provide a formal educational component regarding raising adopted children. Generally speaking, if you are working with a licensed agency, they will usually have some type of educational component incorporated into their home study process (i.e. adoption classes, required reading, etc.). You should check with your social worker prior to beginning your home study to ensure that he or she is familiar with the guidelines listed below. Regardless of with whom you are working, the educational component should address those lifelong issues involved with raising adopted children, the level of desired communication between genetic and adoptive parents, and how to explain to your child the complex nature of his or her conception in age-appropriate terms. You should also ask your social worker to help you explore how embryo adoption may be different from a traditional domestic adoption. Nightlight can provide you with an Embryo Adoption Education outline of issues for you to discuss with your social worker.

Your social worker should make note of the embryo adoption education discussion in your home study, in addition to the formal general adoption education classes that are also required. If your social worker has any questions, have them contact Nightlight for further clarification. Once your home study is complete please have your social worker forward an original signed copy to our office.

We have a completed home study; can we ask our home study agency to forward you a copy?

Yes. You should be free to call your agency and ask them to send an original signed copy of your current valid home study to our office. We have not had problems with private adoption agencies sending your home study. State Social Services usually will not send an original copy to another agency.

Will our home study need to be updated?

If you have a completed an international home study you will need to update it for a domestic adoption. If your domestic home study is over one year old and/or you have had a child placed in your home since its completion, you will need to update your home study.

Domestic Adoption FAQs

Click on the question to read the answer.

Is Nightlight Christian Adoptions a non-profit agency?

Yes, Nightlight is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency. Fees are paid by adoptive parents as well as any fundraising efforts throughout the year cover agency expenses.

Is Nightlight Hague Accredited? State Licensed?

Yes and yes! We are fully Hague accredited by COA.
Nightlight provides Post-Adoption and Birthparent counseling services, as well as Adoption Home Studies in Colorado, South Carolina and California.

Does Nightlight assist with out-of-state adoptions?

We can assist you with an interstate adoption either originating or finalizing in California, Colorado or South Carolina. You may also engage Nightlight’s services for birthmother screening and matching. Please contact our office to discuss the specific details of your situation. Nightlight can also assist out-of-state families in completing an Embryo Adoption or International Adoption.

What is domestic adoption?

Domestic adoption is the permanent, legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities for control and custody of a child from the birthparents to the adoptive parents within the United States.

Approximately how long does it usually take to adopt domestically?

You can be matched with a birthparent anywhere between a few months to a few years after the completion of your home study. It depends on the criteria an adoptive family has established for a birth family, as well as the criteria the birthparents we are currently working with have established for an adoptive family. On average, most families will wait 1-2 years.

Will Nightlight allow us to pursue a domestic and international adoption simultaneously?

We recognize that sometimes it is difficult to decide what type of adoption you are being called to pursue in building your family. If you feel that you are open to a domestic adoption while pursuing an international adoption, please let us know.
While you are in the initial phase of an international adoption, you could be presented to a birthmother. If you are considering this option, you will complete an international adoption home study as well as a domestic home study. It is a relatively simple process to convert an international home study into a domestic home study.

What is the adoption process?

Domestic adoption consists of five parts:
Adoption Home study: The home study is an evaluation and education process required by the State to determine your preparedness to parent through adoption. A home study consists of three components: paperwork, education and interviews with a social worker.
Match/Identification of birthparent: Once your home study is complete and you have been approved to adopt, your profile will be shown to birthparents. Our social worker will work with both the birthparents and the adopting parents to find the best possible match for everyone involved.
Relinquishment and Placement: Details are specific to the state in which your child is born. Refer to the Domestic Adoption Information Packet for South Carolina, Colorado or California for details specific to those states.
Post Placement: Details are specific to the state where you choose to finalize the adoption.
Finalization: Details are specific to the state where you choose to finalize the adoption.

Can we be undergoing fertility treatments while in the adoption process?

No. To be healthy adoptive parents, you need to have completed all your infertility treatments and given yourself the time necessary to grieve for the biological children you have dreamed of.
Only after this important step can are you ready to begin the adoption process. Please talk to your social worker if you have any concerns about this requirement.

What if we become pregnant during the adoption process?

If you become pregnant, please let us know immediately. We can put your file on hold if you will be adopting in the next year or so. If you already are matched with a child and have been emotionally connected to that child, we are not going to stop the adoption. Our goal is that every child be in a fully functional family in which the family has the resources to care for each child.

If you do become pregnant and you do not have a referral of a child, please contact us after the birth of your child and we can discuss your adoption plans. We believe it is best if each child enters the family at least one year after the other.

What if we are not Christians?

The Christian in our name explains who we are. We work with families from all religious backgrounds. We need all types of families to meet the various criteria of our birthparents.
If you have any additional questions that were not addressed, please send us a message using our contact form or give us a call.

Open Adoption

What varying degrees of contact are available in open adoption?

Open Adoption encompasses a broad spectrum of contact between the birth and adoptive family. The Child Welfare Information Gateway, http://www.childwelfare.gov/, has articles on open adoption that we suggest you read as you begin praying about what level of openness you are comfortable with. You may also want to look into adoption support groups in your area or go online to talk to families who have open adoptions, as most couples are apprehensive in the beginning when considering open adoption and become more comfortable as they become educated about what it means to your child, your family and your birthparents.

What is your agency’s philosophy about open and closed adoptions?

Our agency recommends open adoptions as we believe it is the healthiest situation for all members of the adoption triad (i.e., birthparents, adoptee, and adoptive parents). We are open to creating a dialog and educating families who are apprehensive about open adoption. We rarely have a birthmother who is considering closed adoption.  If after discussing the possibility of open adoption, you strongly feel that you would like to have a closed adoption, you may want to work with another agency.

Why choose open adoption?

The purpose of open adoption is to comfort and encourage the birthparent with the knowledge of her child’s well-being. It provides answers for your child, minimizing their loss of relationships by maintaining and celebrating the child’s connections with all the important people in his or her life. Open adoption also empowers you in raising your child, by providing knowledge about your child’s birth family and their family medical history. During the home study, you will learn of the many positive aspects of open adoption and your social worker will discuss with you the contact arrangement you are most comfortable with. It is very important that you be honest and open with your social worker about the type of relationship you envision with your child’s birthparents before birth, after you bring your child home and throughout your child’s life.

The Matching Process for Domestic Adoption

When does Nightlight begin matching us with a birthparent?

Once all your paperwork has been received, your Social Worker has completed all your visits and approved your home study, and we have received your “Dear birthparent” letters and photo albums we can begin showing your profile to birthparents.

What criteria is a birthparent considering when selecting a family for her child?

When selecting an adoptive family who will love and parent her child a birthparent considers: ethnicity, religion, marital status and length of marriage, any previous marriages, age of parents, any other children in home, employment status of parents, financial stability, compatible personalities, and openness to ongoing contact with the birth family before and after the child’s birth.

What parameters may an adoptive couple set before their profile is shown to a birthparent?

During the home study your social worker will ask you what factors you are willing to accept in a child’s history. These factors include: ethnicity, exposure to drugs/alcohol/tobacco, disabilities, gender, birthparent expenses, birthfather participation, and requests for ongoing contact with the birthparent throughout the child’s life.

Do you allow adoptive couples to specify the sex of the infant they wish to adopt?

Yes, depending upon your other criteria we may allow you to specify the sex of the child. However please be advised that by doing so you limit the opportunities we have to present your profile, and your wait to be matched with a birthparent will likely increase.

Will you notify us when you are showing our profile?

Generally we do not notify you when we are showing your profile as the wait to be matched is often a roller coaster of emotions and we do not want to cause further distress in the event that you are not chosen. If we have a question as to whether you would like us to show your profile to a birthparent with a unique situation we will notify you so you can determine if you would like to be presented.
We will do our best to help a birthparent get to know you through e-mail or phone calls; however you will need to be prepared to travel to her state of residence if she would like to meet you before the baby is born.

What happens when a birthparent chooses to meet us?

Her social worker will contact you to schedule a meeting that will typically be held in our office and allows both parties to have an opportunity to meet and get to know a little bit about each other. We will request that you bring a small gift (i.e. flowers, scented lotion/bath products, etc.) for the birthparent. If a meeting in person is not possible, a conference call may be scheduled instead. The morning after the meeting, the social worker will check in with both parties to see how they felt the meeting went and it will then be determined if it is a match.

What if we are matched with a birthparent through another source?

Notify our office and your Social Worker immediately. Depending upon the specific situation, you may qualify for a modified adoption in which we can provide your birthparent counseling services. If the situation is one in which our agency will no longer be involved in your adoption, we will place your file on hold until we receive notification that your adoption is finalized. Once the child has been in your home one year, contact our office to discuss your future adoption plans.

Questions about the Birthparents

How do birthparents come to Nightlight?

Most of our birthparents are referred to us by Pregnancy Resource Centers, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Maternity Homes, Hospital Social Workers, Attorneys and Churches with whom we have established relationships. Other birthparents may find us through referrals from friends, the internet or phone book.

What age are the children placed for adoption?

We typically place newborns in our domestic program. It is rare for an older child to be placed through private adoption.

Does the birthparent have a counselor that she works with?

Yes. She will have a social worker as long as she is involved in an agency adoption whether it is an agency, modified or interstate adoption.

How much counseling does the birthparent receive prior to and following the child’s birth?

It depends upon the stage of pregnancy she is in when she comes to work with our agency and what her needs are. The earlier in her pregnancy, the more opportunity her social worker will have to provide counseling. These visits may occur weekly, bi-monthly or monthly depending upon her needs.

Are birthparents drug/alcohol tested before they are matched with prospective adoptive parents?

No. This is something that the birthparent generally discusses with her social worker. If you are not open to a birthparent with a history of substance abuse you would not be matched with a birthparent who had used drugs/alcohol during the pregnancy.

Are we given the birthparent’s medical/general background information? If so, when do we receive it?

Birthparents are given an information form to fill out that includes social and medical history information. They will also sign an authorization to allow the agency to share medical information with you.

Will we be at the hospital when the baby is born?

Your birthparent will create a Hospital Plan with her social worker which indicates her wishes for her time in the hospital. She will decide if she wants you at the hospital when the baby is born and/or, depending on the relationship you develop, whether she would like either of you in the delivery room.

What is expected of us at the hospital?

You must remember that the hospital stay is your birthparent’s time with the baby. It serves as her time to confirm she is making the right decision to place the baby for adoption and gives her, the birthfather and their family an opportunity to say good-bye. You need to be respectful of the emotions she is going through and her wishes for her time in the hospital. Her social worker will help guide you through this.

Do we bring our birthparent a gift?

Yes. birthparents give the greatest gift a person can give and there is nothing you can give your birthparent that can compare to the gift she is giving you. Generally, we encourage you to give her something that signifies the relationship that has been established between all members of the triad. You will learn more about what this means from your social worker and during the Domestic Adoption Decisions class.

At what point can we bring the baby home?

Once the baby has been medically discharged and the birthparent has signed the discharge paperwork.

If we are completing an Interstate Adoption how long will we need to stay in the receiving state?

In general, you will need to stay about a week to 10 days until the Interstate Compact paperwork has been approved by both states. In rare cases, the paperwork process can take longer so you will need to be prepared to stay up to 2 weeks.

Expenses and Financing

What would you estimate the cost for the adoption to be?

In general, the cost of an agency adoption through Nightlight will be approximately $18,000. You will also need to hire an attorney for the finalization of the adoption. In general, depending upon the individual characteristics of your adoption and the cost of obtaining an attorney in your state, your total cost may be approximately $20,000 – $25,000. See the “Agreement for Domestic Adoption Services” (part of the Domestic Adoption Information Packets for California and South Carolina) for more details.

What birthparent expenses might we expect?

Many families worry that they will pay program fees, birth mother expenses, and other fees, and then the birth parent will change her mind. Naturally, families worry that this loss of money could limit them from being able to complete an adoption. Nightlight offsets these fears by allowing families to transfer program fees to another match if their adoption disrupts. Also, Nightlight requires a donation of $5,000 from each adoptive family toward our Birth Mother Fund, which will be used for any birth mother the agency works with regardless of whether she chooses adoption or not and regardless of which clients she may choose as adoptive parents. A receipt for the tax deductible donation will be provided to each family. This will allow you to worry less about birth mother expenses being lost, as you will not be asked to make this donation again regardless of whether your birth parent match disrupts. (The only exception would be if the birth mother incurs expenses beyond $5,000, such as medical expenses. If such rare expenses were to be incurred, these exceptions will be discussed with you.)

If the birthparent decides to parent her child, are we reimbursed any monies we have paid on her behalf?

No. Anything you have provided to the birthparent is considered a gift. However, your tax deductible donation to the birth mother fund is not specific to a particular birth mother. Therefore, except for extraordinary circumstances, you will not be asked to pay additional birth mother expenses for a rematch.

Is there financial assistance available?

Tax Credit: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) provides a refundable tax credit (not a deduction) of up to $13,170 per adopted child and applies to both domestic and international adoptions. Adopting families with combined incomes of $182,520 or less can qualify for the full credit. Families earning a combined income of $222,520 or more do not qualify for the credit.

Additional information on the tax benefit is available from CCAI, In Focus: The Adoption Tax Credit. If you have questions as to what fees and expenses can be applied towards the tax benefit, please contact your tax preparer or the IRS directly.

Employee Benefits: Many companies are beginning to offer Adoption Benefits to their employees. The company may reimburse some of the adoption expenses paid by the employee, or they may offer paid adoption leave. Check with your Human Resources department to see if your company provides adoption benefits.

There are also other organizations that offer a similar program such as:

The National Council for Adoption has created an Adoption Loan Program to help families with the financing of their adoption.

Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries’ Adoption Fundraising Program Child Adoption Funds

Other: There are also many links to adoption assistance available on the internet.

Brittany’s Hope links to several sources of financial assistance for adoption.

National Adoption Foundation provides direct grants, loans and a National Adoption Foundation Credit Card.


International Adoption FAQs

What are the basic steps in the international adoption process?

  • Adoption Home study: The home study is an evaluation and education process required by the State to determine your preparedness to parent through adoption. A home study consists of three components: paperwork, education and interviews with a social worker.  Nightlight requires that any family adopting through one of our international programs have their home study completed by a Hague accredited agency, even if the adoption is from a non-Hague country. If there is no Hague accredited agency in your area, please contact Nightlight to discuss your options.
  • Dossier: The documents required by the foreign government to allow you to adopt a child from the country. These documents typically must be notarized and finalized with an apostille.
  • Referral: Based on the information you submit in your dossier, the foreign government will issue you an official referral of a child(ren) for adoption. Depending upon the country you are adopting from, you will either travel to the country to receive the referral and meet the child or you will receive information on the child including pictures and medicals prior to travel.
  • Post-Adoption: You will register your child’s passport with the embassy and provide Post-Adoption reports completed by your social worker along with pictures of your child for a period of time after your adoption, as specified by each individual country.

How much does it cost to adopt?

Each country program has its own fee schedule, and this is all outlined in our International Adoption Programs Booklet. Nightlight has established a special scholarship program for those seeking to adopt a child with special needs or an older child. Please contact us to find out more about financial resources and how we can help reduce the cost of your adoption.

What other services does Nightlight provide for families adopting internationally?

We provide pre-adoption education and post-adoption services. In the event of a disruption or dissolution of an adoption, we will help you in making the best choice for your family and the child. The policy regarding this situation is in our International Adoption Programs Booklet. (Contact Us to request a copy)

What if we have not decided which country we will adopt from?

Many families who truly seek to make a difference in the life of an orphan find it challenging to decide on a country program. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself are the following:

  • From what programs are we qualified to adopt?
  • Age of child desired?
  • Race/ethnicity of child considered?
  • Other factors we are considering? (e.g., special needs, orphan status of child)
  • Financing an adoption: What can we afford?
  • Timeframe to adopt?
  • Support systems and resources we have?

Please talk to us and download the educational resources we provide to get more information to make the best decision.

If you are seeking a very young child and want to adopt within the next year or so, then you will want to consider China special needs, Kazakhstan, or Russia. If you are looking to adopt a child over two years old, you want to consider Taiwan or Ukraine. Older children are available from all of our country programs.

How long does it usually take to adopt internationally?

It depends on the country you choose to adopt from as well as the time it takes you to complete your home study and dossier. Typically an international adoption will take 8-24 months from the start of the home study to finalization. Please refer to the country descriptions for more detailed information.

Will Nightlight allow us to pursue a domestic and international adoption simultaneously?

We recognize that sometimes it is difficult to decide what type of adoption you are being called to pursue in building your family. If you feel that you are open to a domestic adoption while pursuing an international adoption, please let us know.While you are in the initial phase of an international adoption, you could be presented to a birthmother. If you are considering this option, you will complete an international adoption home study as well as a domestic home study. It is a relatively simple process to convert an international home study into a domestic home study.

This option is usually for those who may be waiting a longer time for a referral of a child. Such a situation may include a family who is gathering their paperwork for Ukraine while having their portfolio shown to birthmothers.

The further along you are in the international adoption process, the less practical and more emotionally and financially difficult it is to be matched with a birthmother. Once you receive a referral of your child from overseas, we cannot allow you to be matched with a birthmother, as we want you to have plenty of time to bond with the child you are adopting.

If you are client in one of our international programs, for a fee of $2,000, we can assist to have your current international home study formatted to a domestic home study, provide you with domestic adoption education, guide you in completing a portfolio to show to a birthmother, and place your profile on our domestic website.

We cannot guarantee that you will be matched with a birthmother, but you can know that while you are working on the paperwork and awaiting a referral of a child, you could possibly be matched with a birthmother. If you are matched with a birthmother, your file in the other country will need to be put on hold.

What do you recommend we do to help prepare ourselves for an international adoption?

Learn your child’s language (or at least a few basic words and phrases) to make your child’s transition into your family easier and help you communicate with your child during the first few months as he/she is learning English. Learn about your child’s country and culture so that you can ensure they do not lose their rich cultural heritage. Attend support groups and events through the agency or in your area and talk with other families who have adopted children internationally.

You may want to begin your child’s Lifebook; please refer to our Seminars & Events page for information on upcoming classes.

What type of information on number of placements and children waiting is available to us?

Nightlight Christian Adoptions makes available the following information, upon request by clients or prospective clients:

  • The number of international adoptive placements by Nightlight Christian Adoptions, listed by country for each of the prior three calendar years; and the number of those adoptions which have been disrupted or dissolved.
  • The number of families who applied to adopt internationally through Nightlight Christian Adoptions for each of the three prior calendar years.
  • The number of children eligible for adoption and awaiting an adoptive placement referral through Nightlight Christian Adoptions.

In accordance with Hague Standard 96.36 (a), Nightlight Christian Adoptions confirms that it prohibits its employees and agency from giving money or other consideration, directly or indirectly to a child’s parent(s), other individual(s) or an entity as payment for the child or as an inducement to release the child.

If permitted or required by the child’s country of origin, an agency may remit reasonable payments for activities related to the adoption proceedings, pre-birth and birth medical costs, the care of the child, the care of the birthmother while pregnant and immediately following birth of the child, or the provision of child welfare and child protection services generally. Permitted or required contributions shall not be remitted as payment for the child or as an inducement to release the child.

Is Nightlight Christian Adoptions a non-profit agency?

Yes, Nightlight is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency. Fees paid by adoptive parents as well as any fundraising efforts throughout the year cover agency expenses.

Is Nightlight Hague Accredited? State Licensed?

Yes and yes! We are fully Hague accredited by COA. Additionally, Nightlight Christian Adoptions has been licensed by the California State Department of Social Services since 1959 and is also licensed by the state of Colorado and South Carolina. Nightlight provides Post-Adoption and Birthparent counseling services, as well as Adoption Home Studies in Colorado, South Carolina and California.

Does Nightlight assist with out-of-state adoptions?

Yes, we can assist you in completing an International, Embryo or an Interstate domestic adoption either to or from California or South Carolina. You would just need to work with an agency licensed in your state to provide Home study and Post-Adoption Services. If you are adopting internationally, your adoption homestudy agency must have a Supervised Provider Contract on file with our office and must be in the process of obtaining their Hague accreditation.

What if we are not Christians?

The “Christian” in our name explains who we are. We work with families from all religious backgrounds.

What are the different countries you work with?

Please visit our International adoption section for a complete list of countries Nightlight is able to assist you with adoption services.

Can we be undergoing fertility treatments while in the adoption process?

No. To be healthy adoptive parents, you need to have completed all your infertility treatments and given yourself the time necessary to grieve for the biological children you have dreamed of. Only after this important step can you be truly ready to begin the adoption process. Please talk to your social worker if you have any concerns about this requirement.

What if we become pregnant during the adoption process?

If you become pregnant, please let us know immediately. We can put your file on hold if you will be adopting in the next year or so. Of course, if you already are matched with a child and have been emotionally connected to that child, we are not going to stop the adoption. Our goal is that every child be in a fully functional family in which the family has the resources to care for each child. If you do become pregnant and you do not have a referral of a child, please contact us after the birth of your child and we can discuss your adoption plans. We believe it is best if each child enters the family at least one year after the other.

What do you recommend we do to help prepare ourselves for an international adoption?

Learn your child’s language (or at least a few basic words and phrases) to make your child’s transition into your family easier and help you communicate with your child during the first few months after your adoption as he/she is learning English. Learn about your child’s country and culture so that you can ensure they do not lose their rich cultural heritage. Attend support groups and events either through the agency or in your area and talk with other families who have adopted children internationally. You may also want to begin your child’s Lifebook; please refer to our Seminars & Events page for information on upcoming classes.

What type of information on number of placements and children waiting is available to us?

Nightlight Christian Adoptions makes available the following information, upon request by clients or prospective clients:

  • Adoptions, listed by country for each of the prior three calendar years; and the number of those adoptions which have been disrupted or dissolved.
  • The number of families who applied to adopt internationally through Nightlight Christian Adoptions for each of the three prior calendar years.
  • The number of children eligible for adoption and awaiting an adoptive placement referral through Nightlight Christian Adoptions.

International Adoption Expenses

What would you estimate the cost for international adoption to be?

Depending on the country you are adopting from, and the number of required trips, your total estimated costs for an adoption can range from $25,000 – $43,000.

Is any portion of my fees tax deductible?

Yes. A $3,000 orphanage donation is also included in the program fees (Kazakhstan and Taiwan). This donation is used for humanitarian aid and to improve the conditions of the orphanages.

What is the cost to adopt a second child?

Biological siblings may be adopted from Kazakhstan,  Ukraine, and possibly may be available in Taiwan. Please refer to the Sibling Fee Structure which is located in the Agreement for International Adoption Services. In addition, you will have additional out of pocket expenses for the child’s airfare, visas, etc.

Are we required to take large sums of American currency with us or does Nightlight wire the money?

Clients are only asked to carry the cash that is necessary for their expenses while in the country.  Whenever possible, fees are wired in advance of your travel.

Do companies offer Employee Benefits?

Many companies are beginning to offer Adoption Benefits to their employees. The company may reimburse some of the adoption expenses paid by the employee, or they may offer paid adoption leave. Check with your Human Resources department to see if your company provides adoption benefits.

What is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(2010)?

This Act provides a refundable tax credit (not a deduction) of up to $13,170 per adopted child and applies to both domestic and international adoptions. Adopting families with combined incomes of $182,520 or less can qualify for the full credit. Families earning a combined income of $222,520 or more do not qualify for the credit. Additional information on the tax benefit is available from CCAI, In Focus: The Adoption Tax Credit. If you have questions as to what fees and expenses can be applied towards the tax benefit, please contact your tax preparer or the IRS directly.

Are my only other expenses my travel, accommodations, home study, CIS, Embassy fees?

Those would be the majority of your other expenses. Also included in your out of pocket expenses would be your apostilles, gifts to the orphanage staff and children and driver/translator fee.

Embryo Adoption FAQs

Why Choose the Snowflakes® Program?

Snowflakes Embryo Adoption is uniquely child-centered.Open Adoption Encouraged

We are a child-centered adoption agency and we believe in open adoption when placing kids for adoption. One important lesson our society has learned over the last century is that open adoption is healthier for the children. Adoption professionals agree that children for adoption should know the identity of their biological parents, and should have information regarding their heritage. Nightlight extends this invaluable lesson to our Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program, and provides a safe environment for both the donor and adopting families. Some embryo donation/adoption programs require anonymity, or charge additional fees for services enabling open adoption. Because Nightlight believes strongly in advocating and facilitating open adoption, there is no additional fee.

Donated Embryos are not Disbursed Among Multiple Families

We are child-centered and we do our best to keep siblings together. Adoption professionals agree that keeping siblings together is a paramount value. Whether children are adopted from another country, through foster care, or domestic placement, we always work diligently to place all siblings into one adopting family. Nightlight extends this family value to embryo child adoption. Our Snowflakes team provides matching services that take into consideration the preferences of both the donor and the adopting families and then places all of the donor’s embryos into that adoptive family’s care.

Since our program encourages open adoption, communication between matched families will be mutually agreed upon between them. Clearly, limiting the number of families in which full genetic siblings exist is a benefit to all. The more families involved, the more difficult it becomes to establish and maintain relationships. It should be noted that some programs charge additional fees to keep the sibling set of embryos together or even charge individual fees for each embryo received. Nightlight values keeping a single donor’s embryos together and charges no additional fees.

Fertility Clinics – the Choice is Yours

You choose the clinic. Some embryo donation/adoption programs require you to use their clinic for the Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). Nightlight allows you to use any clinic you choose for the procedure. We will arrange the shipping to the clinic of your choice, and prepare the doctor in advance to expect the embryos. This convenience may provide you a significant savings in travel expenses. If you choose a clinic near your home, your reproductive endocrinologist (RE) may be able to provide you with medical care levels not available from a distant RE. In other words, you can reschedule your FET if your doctor believes it is necessary, and you can have the optimal number of embryos transferred each time, without incurring additional travel expenses.

Of course, you may choose to travel to the fertility clinic where your embryos were created and are being stored. Snowflakes also has partner clinics to recommend to you. Flexibility and choice are yours through Snowflakes!

How is “embryo adoption” through Nightlight different from “embryo donation” that clinics offer?

“Embryo donation” is a program fertility clinics offer.  Although some programs may vary, embryo donation differs from adoption in that the receiving family does not have a home study prepared, the donor families are anonymous, and there is no contact between the families before or after birth, even through an intermediary. Snowflakes goes beyond the embryo donation provided by fertility clinics by offering the safeguards and education available in a traditional adoption. A home study is prepared on the adopting family that includes screening and education.  The placing family is able to select an adopting family (as opposed to the doctor in a clinic making the selection of a family), they will know if a child(ren) is born from the adopted embryos. The placing family may also delegate this responsibility to Nightlight, a licensed adoption agency. Our program recognizes the importance of counseling all parties involved.  Most importantly, at Nightlight we recognize the personhood of embryos and we treat them as precious pre-born children.

Who would want to participate in this program?

Snowflakes can help create families for couples whose infertility does not allow them to create their own genetic families, specifically couples considering egg or sperm donation, or couples who want to build their family through adoption and be able to experience pregnancy and control the pre-natal environment of their child.

Why would genetic parents choose embryo adoption instead of donation?

The genetic family wants to select who will adopt their embryos and know the outcome of the adoption and transfer.  They are reassured that Snowflakes provides the same safeguards that the traditional adoption process offers. The genetic family knows the adoptive family has been screened for a criminal history and child abuse record, and received education about how to parent an adopted child. They have the peace of mind of having handpicked a family for these children. They also have the opportunity to have contact with the adopting family to whatever extent both families are comfortable.

Why would we choose embryo adoption instead of donation?

You would have a chance to have a relationship with your child’s genetic family. Whether you exchange pictures and letters, have telephone conversations, or choose to meet the genetic family, you will know that you have access to information about your child’s history. Nightlight is available to facilitate communication between the families and is also available to educate and work with you about how to talk to your child(ren) about their unique conception and adoption-related issues. Why would we choose embryo adoption instead of traditional adoption of a newborn?The most obvious difference between an embryo adoption and a traditional domestic adoption is the pregnancy experience.

Adoptive moms are able to experience the joys (and challenges!) of pregnancy and labor.  You also have the peace of mind of knowing what your child was exposed to during pregnancy.

Although an embryo adoption allows more control in some ways, it provides less in other ways.  You cannot choose the gender of the child as you might in an international or older child adoption, and you cannot change your mind and choose not accept the baby for whatever reason after he or she is born.  In addition, because up to three embryos are transferred at once, you might have twins or triplets.  Embryo adoption can also be more difficult emotionally than traditional adoption, since there is no guarantee that in the end you will have a child.

How many embryo adoptions has Nightlight completed?

Since 1997, Nightlight has completed over 500 embryo adoptions.  Nightlight completes about 50-70 embryo adoptions each year and with ongoing frozen embryo transfer procedures there are always 15-25 babies due at any given time. At the close of 2011 Nightlight families had given birth to 293 children through our embryo adoption program.

Are there any other Agencies that offer Embryo Adoption?

As embryo adoption has become more well-known, other agencies have begun programs similar to Snowflakes. As these programs are relatively new, please visit the Alternative EA Programs page to get the latest information.

Does Nightlight encourage the creation and freezing of embryos?

No, we are trying to provide a loving option to the families of the over 600,000 (estimated) embryos frozen in clinics throughout the United States.  As people (and clinics) have become more aware of all their available options in regards to the disposition of their embryos following in-vitro fertilization and become more attentive to the possibility of having remaining embryos, we have noticed an increased effort to limit the number of embryos that are created and to have plans in place for the disposition of their embryos following IVF.  We would really prefer to work ourselves out of a job!

What countries do you work with?

The Snowflake program offers embryo donation and adoption to people worldwide, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

Program Criteria for Embryo Adoption

What are the basic requirements for an adopting family?

You must have a completed home study. This is the same home study used to evaluate and educate adopting parents in traditional domestic adoptions.  The adopting mother must also be able to carry a child to term. Your doctor will be asked to complete a form stating that there are no contraindications to pregnancy.  Additional requirements are listed on the enclosed “Eligibility Requirements” form.

Is there an age limit for the adopting mother?

The genetic family’s preferences will determine the allowable age of adopting parents.  Although the recommended upper age limit is 45, if you are over the age of 45 your fertility doctor performing your frozen embryo transfer must complete a form provided by Snowflakes.  In addition, we request that you speak with a member of the Snowflakes Team before submitting your application.  Older adoptive parents will likely have a longer waiting time to be matched and we want to give you an honest evaluation of what the process will look like for you if you are over age 45.

Can couples who do not have an infertility diagnosis adopt embryos?

Yes.  Some genetic families prefer to place their embryos with families who already have children so the children born from the embryos are sure to have siblings.  Other genetic families prefer to place with families who do not yet have children.

Does Snowflakes handle out-of-state embryo adoptions?

Yes.  We can work with adopting families living in any state.  You would just need to work with a local adoption agency to complete your home study.

Can you work with families living in another country?

This is handled on a case by case basis.  Please call our office and ask to speak with someone in the Snowflakes Program, or email us at info@nightlight.org, to discuss your specific situation.

Can single women adopt through Snowflakes?

Yes, however we feel it only fair to tell you that in our experience genetic families prefer placement with a married couple.  As a single woman, you will likely have to wait longer for embryos and perhaps will not be matched within the time period you hope to become pregnant.  Please contact our office if you are interested in adopting as a single mother to discuss your specific situation.

The Legality of Embryo Adoption

Is there legal precedence for the adoption of frozen embryos?

No. Currently there are no states with laws governing embryo adoption. Nightlight uses the same steps and similar forms to those used in domestic adoption. It is our hope that instead of creating a new set of laws, the current laws for adoption will simply be expanded to include embryos.

What are the legal issues with embryo adoption?

The adoption agreement and relinquishment forms are legal contracts between you and your genetic family. As there are no laws regarding adoption of embryos, we have created the contract to match the current position of the courts that the embryos are property. The contract covers the transfer of property and also includes additional adoption language.  These legal forms are signed and executed prior to the embryos being shipped to your clinic and before the embryos are transferred into the adoptive mother.

For how long is the placing family’s relinquishment valid?

When you sign the contract to adopt the embryos, you become their legal owners. When the embryos are received at your clinic, you can begin scheduling your transfer. The contract is irrevocable for a period of one year. After one year, if there are frozen embryos remaining, the genetic family has the option to revoke the contract as to remaining embryos. It is important to note that revoking the contract requires affirmative action on the part of the genetic family. Likewise, if for any reason you decide you do not want to do anymore transfers with the embryos, the ownership of the embryos will be returned to the original genetic family for placement with another adoptive family. Based on our previous experience, it is much more likely that an adoptive family will return remaining embryos to the genetic family than that a genetic family will request to have the embryos returned.

Isn’t this just surrogacy?

No. In surrogacy, an agreement is made for a woman to carry a pregnancy for the benefit of the intended parents. In our program the genetic parents relinquish all rights to the child prior to the frozen embryo transfer. The child that the adoptive mother carries is the child that the adoptive couple will parent.

Are there any states that place restrictions on the shipping of embryos?

Yes. New York does not allow embryos to be shipped into the state, due to their strict human tissue laws. If you live in New York, we are able to work with you to adopt embryos, however please contact our office for more information as to how this will affect your adoption.

The Embryo Adoption Process

What are the steps involved in adopting embryos?

Application Phase
1. Fill out the Adoptive Parent Application and sign the Agreement for Adoption Services. Mail them to our office along with a current family photo and the application fee. 2. Complete a Homestudy. 3. Contact your doctor to have him/her complete a Snowflakes form (must be on letterhead with an original signature) that confirms you have “no contraindications to pregnancy” and addresses other factors involved with matching. 4. Give your doctor the “Snowflakes Standards for Donor Couples” to review. 5. Create a family profile including pictures of your family, a ‘Dear Genetic Family’ letter, and a short autobiography.

Pre-Matching Interview with the Social Worker
Our social worker contacts you to discuss your matching requirements and your preference for contact with the genetic family.

Matching Phase
Your profile is sent to a genetic family. If they select you, you receive their Family Profile, medical health history, and embryo information for consideration. You decide to accept or decline the match.
Clinic Approval (and possible blood testing)
If you are having your embryos sent to your fertility clinic, we send the embryology reports and infectious disease test results from the genetic couple to your fertility doctor. Your doctor informs us if additional lab work is needed before the embryos can be accepted into their facility. If necessary, we will contact and provide your genetic family with a lab order to do additional blood testing. Snowflakes pays for FDA required testing for the genetic parents. You are responsible for the costs of any testing that exceeds FDA requirements. If you would like to travel to your embryos, we can help you look into that opportunity.
Contract Phase
You receive an Embryo Adoption Agreement to be signed and notarized designating the adoption of the embryos from the family you have selected.
Travel
Snowflakes schedules a travel date for your embryos and they will be sent to your fertility clinic. Alternatively, if you are traveling to your embryos, your travel arrangements can be made at this time.
Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
Arrange with your doctor when your transfer attempt will be scheduled and notify us of the date.  After the transfer, notify our office as to the number of embryos thawed, how many survived the thaw and were transferred, and the stage of the transferred embryo(s). We will notify genetic parents unless they decline notification.
Pregnancy Test Results
Typically about two weeks after your transfer, you return to your doctor for a pregnancy test and notify our office of the results.
Pregnancy
This is your time to experience the joy of being pregnant!
Birth
Congratulations! As soon as possible after your baby is born, notify our office so we can celebrate with you! We inform the genetic family on the joyous outcome unless they decline notification.
Post-Adoption
Complete one post adoption report with your social worker six weeks after your baby is born. At three, six, and nine months of age, you will send an update to Snowflakes.  Correspondence between you and your genetic family is separate.

May our home study be used for a domestic adoption if we determine that we are not going to become pregnant?

Yes, with the completed home study you are in the position to look at domestic adoption once you determine that you have completed the embryo adoption process. Set limits for yourself based on time, a pre-determined number of transfer attempts, money, or a combination of these factors and move on to another program if you reach those limits.  To adopt a child domestically or internationally you will likely need an additional educational component.  Discuss this option with your social worker while you are in the home study process.

The Matching Process

How are genetic and adopting families matched?

It is a mutual selection matching process. Both genetic and adopting families provide Nightlight with information about themselves and indicate what type of family they are looking for. The genetic family indicates their preferences for the following: adoptive family’s age, length of marriage, number of children, income, work/childcare plans, religion, prior marriages, and ethnicity as well as their desire for future contact. When we have an adopting family on file who matches those criteria, their Family Profile is sent to the genetic family for consideration/selection. If the adopting family is selected by the genetic family, the genetic family’s Family Profile and medical information are sent to the adopting family for consideration/selection.

What information do we receive on the genetic family?

Adoptive parents receive a Family Profile including some autobiographical information and generally a few pictures. You also receive three generations of medical health history on the genetic family, as well as information about the embryos. If an egg donor or sperm donor was used, you will receive any information the genetic parents received when they selected their donor.This may include autobiographical information, health information, and possibly pictures. While doctor’s may suggest you seek a certain grade/stage of embryo to adopt, we have seen embryos deemed “excellent” not achieve pregnancy, and embryos deemed “poor quality” born nine months later as healthy babies. The embryo grade and quality cannot guarantee or prevent a pregnancy. Your doctor and embryologist will receive the information about the embryos and their stage of development so they know how to adequately culture and care for them during your frozen embryo transfer.

Does this type of adoption have to be open adoption?

Open adoption encompasses a wide spectrum of contact. It does not mean that you meet, exchange last names or other identifying information, but does mean that generally families select each other through a letter, biographies, and photos. In most cases you will know each other’s first names and state of residence. This information is shared at a minimum to give you enough information to protect children from meeting and marrying. By virtue of having this information about the other family, all our adoptions are considered open. Whether you want more contact (via e-mail, phone, photos or letters, sent either directly or through the agency) or less contact, we will match you with a like-minded family. If a genetic family elects for Nightlight to choose the adoptive family for them and does not want any contact we will match them with an adoptive family who will be comfortable handling that type of situation. You may also want to look into adoption support groups in your area or go online to talk to families who are currently in an open adoption, as most couples are apprehensive when considering open adoption and become more comfortable as they become educated about what it means to your child, your family and your child’s genetic family. You may also choose to be connected with someone who has been through embryo adoption and is willing to talk with other families about their experiences. If you are interested in this option, please contact our office.

Why choose open adoption?

The purpose of open adoption is to provide security for your child as they grow and begin to ask questions about their heritage and genetic origins.  It provides answers for them, minimizing their loss of relationships by maintaining and celebrating their connections with all the important people in his or her life (especially in an embryo adoption where your child likely has full genetic siblings). It also serves to provide comfort and encourage the genetic family with the knowledge that they have chosen a family for their embryos and will know the outcome of the adoption, including the peace that comes with knowing the child is happy and thriving; enjoying the life they hoped and prayed for.

Open adoption also empowers you in raising your child, by providing knowledge about your child’s genetic family and their family medical history. During the home study, you will learn of the many positive aspects of open adoption and your social worker will discuss with you the contact arrangement you are most comfortable with. It is very important that you be honest and open with your social worker about the type of relationship you envision with your genetic family throughout the adoption and transfer process, after your child is born and throughout your child’s life.

May we be on a traditional adoption list AND work with embryo adoption?

No. While we understand your desire to bring home a baby as soon as possible, once you are ready to be matched with a genetic family, we require that you work with only one adoption program. At that point you need to be ready to commit to the genetic family (or birthparents) you are matched with.

How is embryo adoption different from traditional adoption concerning risk?

Genetic parents differ from a “typical” traditional birthparent in several ways.  A woman placing her born child for adoption may be unprepared for the emotions she will feel upon her child’s birth and therefore may choose to parent her baby.  In an embryo adoption the genetic parents are typically older, have a family, have been through the infertility process, understand the demands of parenting a child or children and fully understand that they cannot emotionally and/or financially add additional children to their family.  Most genetic families have had time to contemplate their options while their embryos are in storage before they contact us.

Is there any risk that the genetic parents might change their minds?

There is no more risk than with any other adoption.  In fact, our experience indicates that if they have doubts they will place their file on hold before ever being matched with an adoptive family. Once they are matched, the genetic family transfers their ownership rights by signing a relinquishment prior to the embryos being shipped to your clinic. The genetic family has three business days from the date they sign the relinquishment in which to change their minds and notify the agency.  In our years of placing embryos, this has never happened.

Approximately how long does it take to get matched and get to the travel stage?

  • Application package usually takes 2-3 months to complete and submit, depending on time required for your home study. Matching wait is usually 1-4 months.  The more open you are, the less time you will wait.
  • Legal document notarization and embryo travel coordination usually takes 1-3 months.
  • In total, it can be between 5-13 months before the embryos travel to your clinic. Each adoption is unique!  You will have a special story to share with your child or children!

How many embryos will we be matched with in total?

You will adopt all of the embryos that a genetic family has. You might be matched with a genetic family who has two or three embryos, or you might be matched with a family who has ten or twelve. Most frequently genetic families have two, three, or four embryos to place for adoption. These may sound like small numbers, but with increased technology for freezing and thawing, more embryos are surviving the thaw process to be transferred.  There is no maximum number of embryos a couple can adopt; you will adopt all the embryos a genetic family has to place.  When a baby is born, the adoption is complete. For example, if you are matched with a family with three embryos, become pregnant and deliver a baby (or two or three) your adoption would be complete and you would be able to adopt more embryos through a new adoption after your baby was home with you for nine months. (See Post Adoption section)  Re-matching for $2,000 is an option for couples who do not have a baby through their initial match.Please note: You must notify us that you want to be matched with your next genetic family within at least 12 months of your last frozen embryo transfer or your file will be closed due to inactivity.

Can the Adoptive Family specify an embryo gender to adopt?

No.  Each of the embryos in our program is equally important and therefore we do not require that they undergo the genetic testing necessary to determine the sex of the embryo.  Therefore just like in other pregnancies you will be “surprised” with the sex of the baby.

Shipment of the Embryos

Are the embryos stored at and shipped from your facility?

No!  We are not an embryo storage facility; we are an adoption agency.  The embryos never come to our office but are sent directly to your clinic from your genetic family’s clinic or storage facility.

When are the embryos shipped to our clinic?

Embryos are shipped to your clinic after you are matched, the adoption agreement and relinquishments are signed, and we have made sure that all the requirements of the clinic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and of the state into which they are being transferred have been met.

Can we travel to our embryos?

Most likely, yes!  The embryos may have a better chance at survival if they are thawed by the same clinic which initially froze them.  If you are interested in traveling to your embryos we can help you explore that option and coordinate with the clinic. Depending on the circumstances, your Snowflakes Program fees may be reduced by $1000-$2000 if you choose to travel to your embryos.

How are the embryos shipped?

The embryos will be shipped via Federal Express in a dry shipper.  A dry shipper is a tank cooled with liquid Nitrogen that keeps the embryos safe while traveling.

What if neither clinic has a dry shipper?

Nightlight will arrange for a rental shipper.

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)

How many embryos may be transferred per cycle?

We require that our families limit the number of embryos transferred to the number that they are willing to carry to term in the event that all the embryos attach.  Generally, we encourage families to transfer no more than three (3) embryos.

If we become pregnant with multiples, may we selectively reduce the pregnancy?

No.  We specifically require that our adopting families agree not to selectively reduce the number of fetuses that have begun developing. For this reason we recommend not transferring more than three embryos at a time.  If our prohibition against selective reduction at any stage, for any reason, makes you uncomfortable, Snowflakes may not be right for you.

What is the success rate for thawing and viability of embryos?

Through Snowflakes, 3,010 embryos have been thawed for transfer of which 56% (1689) were viable.  However, the success rate for frozen embryo transfer varies by each clinic. The national average overall thaw success rate is 51%. With better freezing and thawing techniques, this percentage is likely to increase.  Clinics have reported success rates as high as 80% with embryos thawed by the same clinic which initially froze them.

What is the likelihood of a multiple pregnancy with frozen embryo transfer?

Our understanding is that multiple births are much rarer with frozen embryo cycles than with “fresh” embryo transfers. But this is in no way a guarantee that you will not have multiples.  About 1/4 of the Snowflakes moms who have achieved a pregnancy have carried multiples.  Please consult ASRM and your fertility clinic for statistics.

What is the success rate of pregnancies among Snowflakes families who have had embryo transfers?

On average, each transfer has about a 39% chance of success.  To date, over 276 children have been born and there are usually 15-25 babies due at any time.  There are always families with recent transfers awaiting pregnancy test results and more families scheduling transfers.

Why do you need to know how many embryos are thawed, transferred and implanted?

We need to keep track of the number of embryos you still have to transfer and the time remaining on your genetic family’s relinquishment.  The relinquishment must be valid to complete the transfers.  When you let us know how many embryos you have thawed, how many were viable for transfer and how many you transferred, we are better able to keep track.  In addition, if you are not in direct contact with your genetic family we need to keep them informed as to the status of your transfers and remaining embryos.  Finally, like yourselves, most inquiring families want to know what our current statistics are and we are only able to provide accurate statistical information when we have this information.

What about ectopic pregnancy?

The risk of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus) is very small, especially since embryos are generally transferred into the uterus. Nightlight’s embryo adoption contract requires adoptive parents to agree not to terminate pregnancy for any reason. This contract does not apply in the case of a tubal ectopic pregnancy, since the baby is not viable and the treatment is vital for the mother’s survival.

Post Adoption

What if we become pregnant and we still have embryos remaining?

All embryos will be released to you in the relinquishment and you will initially have one year in which to thaw and transfer as many embryos as are needed.  After the first year, the embryos will remain at your clinic unless you or the genetic family elects to end the adoption agreement.  We hope your intentions will be to thaw and transfer all the embryos you adopt, over a reasonable period of time, to allow the genetic siblings to stay together if at all possible.  However, if unforeseen circumstances results in your inability to carry more children or undergo further transfers, the embryos can be replaced for adoption with a new family.

How can we adopt more embryos after we have our first baby?

After you have a baby (or babies) and you want to continue building your family through embryo adoption you can update your home study and your family profile to include your new child(ren) and send in a new application.  Please wait nine months after the birth of your child(ren) before updating your home study and profile.  This is to give adequate time for bonding and family adjustment before putting your energies into a new adoption.  A $500 discount will be given to returning clients.

What if we do not become pregnant?

If you have do not achieve a pregnancy and give birth to your child(ren) after thawing and/or transferring all of the embryos you adopted from your match you can choose to be matched with a new genetic family for $2,000. If none of your embryos survive after being thawed, Snowflakes will rematch you without additional fees. Alternatively, you may use/update your home study to pursue a domestic or international adoption.

How many post adoption reports are required after the birth of our child(ren)?

We require that your home study agency complete one post adoption report six weeks after your baby comes home.  In addition, we require that you provide us with pictures and updates of your child(ren) three additional times during the first year, and once a year thereafter.  This correspondence should be separate from the information you share with your genetic family and serves as our way of knowing your child is healthy and happy, and can help us identify and provide you with any additional services or referrals, as needed.

How do we tell our child(ren) of his/her unique conception, adoption and birth?

“We adopted you as an embryo, which is a teeny baby, and the doctor put you in mommy’s womb!” is a pretty good start. There are two great books available: Our Wish for A Baby by Janice Grimes and Hope and Will Have A Baby by Iréné Celcer.  Be sure to get the embryo donation/adoption versions!  Snowflakes also has two versions of an embryo adoption “lifebook” which you can customize to reflect your child’s unique story.  Additionally, one of our Snowflakes families has created a book and ordered through Pint Size Productions.  There are versions for one child or two children.  Let Snowflakes know if you are interested in ordering one! When your child is born we will send you information about how to talk with your children about how they came to be a part of your family.  Overall, honesty and openness with your children from the very beginning is the best approach, as it helps create trust and a positive, comfortable atmosphere around their adoption. It also allows you to begin open communication with your child so s/he will feel comfortable directly talking to you and asking you questions about anything in life, not only adoption. If at any time you have questions about your child’s genetic family, and you are not in direct contact with them, we are always here to be a liaison for you.

Program Fees

What would you estimate the entire cost for the adoption to be?

Snowflakes Program fee: $8,000, Home study agency fee: $1,000-3,000

Fertility clinic frozen embryo transfer fees: $3,000-5,000

TOTAL FEES: $12,000-16,000

A full accounting of the program expenses for Snowflakes will be provided each month there is activity.

What additional out-of-pocket expenses can we expect?

You may also have additional expenses involved in completing your homestudy (approx. $500, for fingerprinting, medicals, DMV records, CPR/First Aid classes, etc.) and clinic fees for any subsequent FETs.  Check with your home study agency and clinic for an estimate of these fees. If re-matching is requested, the fee is $2,000.

What does the program fee cover?

Genetic parent outreach and screening, providing counseling for all parties (and outside counseling referrals, if requested), matching services between genetic and adoptive parents, facilitating communication between genetic and adopting families, preparing contracts, relinquishments and other  legal paperwork, facilitating consent and release forms if required by clinics prior to releasing embryos, facilitating communication between clinics and doctors to ensure that requirements are met for the transfer of the embryos between states, obtaining necessary laboratory tests for the genetic family, coordinating travel of the embryos, shipping fees, maintaining files, providing post-adoption support and supervision and cooperation in the court finalization process (if required by your state).  Medical expenses involved in the FET are not included.

Does the program fee include any of our medical expenses?

No. You will need to pay the fertility clinic to thaw and transfer the embryos.  Since medical expenses vary by provider, we encourage you to research clinics in your area.  We have heard recent quotes from $2,000-5,000 for a frozen embryo transfer attempt.  This may or may not include any necessary medications needed to prepare the adoptive mother’s body for the embryo transfer and the costs of any subsequent transfers.

Is the frozen embryo transfer (FET) covered by medical insurance?

If your insurance covers infertility treatments, many of the expenses such as medications, hormone treatments and the transfer may be covered.  We strongly encourage you to contact your insurance provider and find out what specific expenses, if any, they may cover.

What are the costs to the genetic parents?

There are no agency or program fees for the genetic parents to place their embryos for adoption.

Is the genetic family reimbursed any of their infertility treatment costs?

No.  You do not pick up any costs prior to being matched with a genetic family.  As with a traditional domestic adoption, where only expenses directly related to the pregnancy may be covered, in embryo adoption only expenses related to the adoption and transport of the embryos may be covered.  You are only responsible for the cost of any blood work the genetic family must have performed which is necessary to ship the embryos to your clinic and shipping fees and these will be covered by your program fees.

Do we help pay for any of the storage fees owed by the genetic parents?

No.  Once a match is made, the embryos are shipped to your clinic and your adoption fees cover this expense.

Does Embryo Adoption qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit?

The Hope for Children Act provides a tax credit per adopted child for families with combined incomes less than a certain amount.  Since embryo adoption is not specifically included, we advise you to contact your tax preparer or the Internal Revenue Service directly to find out what expenses may qualify.  Please see funding  your adoption  for more information.

Is there any financial assistance available for Embryo Adoption?

We suggest you look into the following adoption assistance programs: Employee Benefits

Many companies are beginning to offer Adoption Benefits to their employees.  The company may reimburse some of the adoption expenses paid by the employee, or they may offer paid adoption leave.  Check with your Human Resources department to see if your company provides adoption benefits of Adoption Friendly Workplace, part of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides a free tool kit to help companies/employees establish an adoption friendly workplace.

Adoption Grants, Loans and other forms of financial assistance?

Various organizations offer financial assistance to adoptive families via adoption grants, loans or other assistance.  Please contact each organization to find out about their services and what their qualifications and requirements are.

GRANTS and LOANS

The ABBA Fund, www.abbafund.org, provides interest-free covenant loans to Christian couples who are called by God to expand their families through adoption.

The Cade Foundation, www.cadefoundation.org, provides up to $10,000 to needy infertile families to assist with the costs associated with infertility treatment or domestic adoption.

Gift of Adoption Fund, www.giftofadoption.org, awards grants based upon the needs of the waiting child and to pre-approved adopting parents who demonstrate an unusual degree of financial hardship.

God’s Grace Adoption Ministry, www.ggam.org, provides grants of $1,000-4,000 to Christian Couples with an annual income under $60,000.

Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries’ Adoption Fundraising Program, www.kingdomkidsadoption.org, helps families raise finances for adoption through our adoption fundraising/grant program.

Micah Fund, www.micahfund.org, promotes the adoption of American Black and Black Biracial infants and children who live in Minnesota and surrounding cities.

National Adoption Foundation, www.nafadopt.org, provides direct grants, loans and a National Adoption Foundation Credit Card.

Pay It Forward Fertility Foundation, www.payitforwardfertility.org, awards grants to couples for fertility treatments that are not covered by health insurance.

Show Hope, www.showhope.org, provides grants to Christian families adopting domestically or internationally and encourages involvement from your church family in your adoption.

OTHER RESOURCES

Questions Regarding Clinics

How do I find a clinic that will work within the parameters of Snowflakes?

Ask your current fertility clinic if they are willing to receive embryos from another clinic and perform a frozen embryo transfer (FET), or research clinics in your area that report to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).  Although we cannot recommend any specific clinic, if any Snowflakes families have worked with a clinic in your area we will provide you with the clinic’s contact information.  You would need to research and verify any clinic’s success and/or medical expertise.  Also if the clinic worked with a genetic family you will need to ask them if they are willing to work with an adopting family in the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program.

What should we ask when we are looking for a fertility clinic to help us with the medical portion of the program?

Ask the clinic how much it would cost for an “FET,” or frozen embryo transfer.  Also ask if they are willing to accept embryos from another clinic.  You may have to educate them about Snowflakes.  We would be happy to send a package of information on the program to any doctors you are talking to about providing the frozen embryo transfer. We have found a local clinic that has agreed to receive frozen embryos from other clinics.  However, they insist that the genetic family follow FDA guidelines regarding blood work.

Does Nightlight handle the coordination of FDA Regulations?

Yes. We will communicate with your fertility clinic to ensure FDA regulations for lab work and donor screening are met by the genetic parents.

What are the current requirements of the FDA for blood tests?

The current FDA required blood tests include:
1. HIV 1 and 2
2. HTLV I/II
3. Hepatitis B surface antigen
4. Hepatitis B Core Antibody (IgG/IgM)
5. Hepatitis C Antibody
6. RPR (Syphilis)
7. CMV IgG/IgM
8. Gonorrhea/Chlamydia culture
9. Blood typing
10. Rh factor

Is Nightlight Christian Adoptions a non-profit agency?

Yes, Nightlight is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency. Fees paid by adoptive parents as well as any fundraising efforts throughout the year cover agency expenses.

Why would we donate through an embryo adoption program instead of a clinic embryo donation program?

Snowflakes® provides the same safeguards that the traditional adoption process offers. You will know that the family you have chosen to parent your pre-born child(ren) has been screened for a criminal history and child abuse record, as well as received education about how to parent an adoptee. You have the peace of mind of having handpicked a family to raise your genetic child. You also have the opportunity to have contact with your adopting family to whatever extent you both are comfortable.

Does Nightlight encourage the creation and freezing of embryos?

No, we are trying to provide a loving option to the families of the over 600,000 (estimated) embryos frozen in clinics throughout the United States.

What are the legal issues with embryo adoption?

The adoption agreement and relinquishment forms are legal contracts between the two families. As there are no laws regarding adoption of embryos, we have created the contract to match the current position of the courts that the embryos are property. The contract covers the transfer of property and also includes additional adoption language. These legal forms are signed and executed prior to the embryos being shipped to the adoptive parents’ clinic and before the embryos are implanted in the adoptive mother.

Does the age of the embryos (date frozen) affect our ability to place them for adoption?

No, there have been no definitive studies proving how long embryos can stay frozen and remain viable. We have had successful pregnancies with embryos frozen for 10 years. We believe each embryo, no matter its age, is a precious life that should be given the opportunity to grow.

If we used Donor Egg or Sperm in the creation of our embryos can we place them through Snowflakes®?

Yes, we just need to obtain copies of your donor profile, egg donor consent and donor infectious disease screen results. We will provide a copy of the donor profile to the adopting family along with the family health history that you provide. We need a copy of the egg donor consent to verify that you have the legal authority to place the embryos for adoption with another couple and they are not specifically for your use only. The infectious disease results are part of the FDA requirements for the adopting family’s clinic to accept the embryos into their facility.

Isn’t this just surrogacy?

No. In surrogacy, an agreement is made for a woman to carry a pregnancy for the benefit of the intended parents. In our program the genetic parents relinquish all rights to the child prior to implantation. The child that the adoptive mother carries is the child that the adoptive couple will parent. The questions and answers above are just a few from our Fact Sheet for Genetic Parents (PDF). Download the entire booklet for more information about Embryo Adoption.

Questions for Medical Professionals

Does Snowflakes comply with FDA regulations?

Yes, once a genetic/donor family is matched with an adoptive family, we work directly with the genetic/donor family to ensure all FDA required testing and screening is completed.

Who pays for the genetic/donor family’s required testing and screening?

The Snowflakes Program pays for routine FDA required testing and screening after a genetic/donor family has been matched with an adoptive family.

Where are the embryos stored while the genetic/donor family is finding an adoptive couple? Who pays for that storage?

The embryos remain stored at their original IVF clinic or at a long term storage facility designated by the genetic/donor family during the adoption process. The genetic family pays for storage during this time.

Are the genetic/donor parents reimbursed after they place their embryos for adoption?

Genetic/donor parents are not reimbursed for the cost of their IVF treatment or the cost of the storage fees during their adoption.

Who handles the legal contracts between the families?

Snowflakes provides a legal contract for both families to sign. The genetic/donor family relinquishes the rights to the embryos and the adoptive family assumes ownership and rights to embryos. A copy of this contact can be provided to the fertility specialist at his or her request.

I’ve heard you only do open adoptions, what does that mean?

Almost all of Snowflakes’ adoptions are considered open because the genetic/donor family and the adoptive family both choose each other via pictures and letters sent through the mail. Any ongoing correspondence between the families after that is up to each individual family. We work hard to match families together according to their desire to remain in contact with one another. If a genetic/donor family wishes to remain anonymous, we will tailor or program to meet their needs.