California Adoption Facilitator Brings Joy To Local Family
by Luke Stronach, Staff Writer
The Montgomery Independent, November 19, 1998
The Lifetime Adoption Facilitation Center of Nevada City, California helped bring a Montgomery family the adopted child they sought. When Les and Susan Seibert of Montgomery heard about Lifetime, they immediately sought the agency. With their own eight-year-old daughter’s approval, the Seibert’s decided to expand their family through adoption. Once in contact with Lifetime’s owner and driving force, Mardie Caldwell, the Seibert’s requested an application.
The Seibert’s supplied Lifetime with a complete dossier on their family and created a marketing packet detailing their daily life and extended family. The marketing packet would be for birthmothers to view. After home studies by a private agency, medical and FBI background checks, the Seibert’s were informed Lifetime was seeking a child for them. Seven weeks later, the Seibert’s were introduced to their five-day-old son, Sloan. Sloan is now eight months old. Ninety-nine percent of the children that Lifetime places are newborns.
March 9, 1998 is a day that the Seibert’s will never forget. They spoke to Sloan’s birth mother for the first time that morning and by 4 p.m., Seibert was flying to meet Sloan. Caldwell helped Seibert check into her bed and breakfast and buy essentials for Sloan. Seibert feels that Caldwell went beyond her contractual duties and was instrumental in walking the Seibert’s through the adoption process. The Seibert’s are currently seeking a second child through Lifetime.
Caldwell is an Open Adoption Practitioner and Adoption Facilitator licensed by the National Federation of Open Adoption. She matches birth mothers and adoptive parents to find a permanent home for children. Lifetime charges a fee to the adoptive parent or parents once a child has been placed.
Lifetime places both American and international children although the majority of children are from the West Coast. This is for no reason other than the fact that Lifetime is located in California. For families in the South, choosing Lifetime creates a feeling of comfort for adoptive families and birth mothers. The distance forms an emotional buffer which lets birth mothers go on with their lives while the adoptive child can assimilate into a new family.
Before creating Lifetime, Caldwell and her husband had adopted a child. Eight months later the birth mother regretted her decision to choose adoption and a landmark California adoption case began. Eighteen months later, the Caldwell’s were granted all parental rights. In 1986, Lifetime was born from the pain and emotional turmoil that the trial created. Lifetime may place children quickly, but it enters into the adoption process with birth mothers and adoptive parents in a formal process. Mardie Caldwell has refined and implemented this process to shield all parties from any complications.
When looking at potential adoptive parents, Caldwell is most concerned with a “good, solid marriage” and a “safe and loving home”. While adoptive parents may be in their 30’s, some adoptive parents are much older. Caldwell recently placed a couple in their 50’s with a child. It is not uncommon, and age becomes a secondary concern if a family simply has a safe home and a good marriage.
Birth mothers are an integral part of the process not only in choosing adoption but in choosing adoptive parents. Birth mothers are allowed access to the personal information of potential adoptive parents such as their age, finances, ethnicity, and location within the country. Birth mothers give Lifetime the final nod to place their child with a particular family. Recently, a birth mother requested that her child only be placed with a family that lived on a farm. The child was subsequently adopted by a family that lives on a farm. This freedom allows the birth mothers to remain confident about their adoption choice.
Lifetime’s efforts have led to a 99 percent retention rate for adopted children. Birth mothers are looked at socially, medically, and psychologically. Stability in these three areas has proven to be a litmus test for birth mothers who are content with their decision after the adoption process has concluded. Caldwell gives all birthmothers her home phone number to lend support. When more is needed, Lifetime offers professional counseling to birth mothers.
When birth mothers have completed the adoption process, Lifetime offers them a permanent gift. For women without a post-secondary education, Lifetime offers college scholarships.
Once the adoption process has been completed, the birth mother may contact the adoptive family in any way previously determined by all parties. Some adoptive families feel it better that there is complete separation between the birth mother and her child. Other families feel it important that the child know its birth mother. There is a middle ground. The Seibert’s and Sloan’s birth mother agreed that she may contact the Seibert’s through their local attorney.
What is the expense of an adoption through Lifetime? Including travel, dual state lawyer fees, and other expenses, the Seibert’s incurred an expense of $12,000 total.
Lifetime’s fee and the attorney’s fee will vary as adoptive parents must retain their own lawyers. If a child is adopted from another state, two lawyers must be used.
Lifetime does not just help healthy children. Specially challenged and chemically dependent infants are also widely placed. Because of the extra financial needs and care requirements of these children, they are adopted by parents who pay a much lower fee to Lifetime. Lifetime’s fee for these children is sometimes as low as $500.
Other agencies may charge considerably more for a child, regardless of health or background. A Birmingham couple who adopted through Lifetime report “We were quoted $25,000 to $30,000 to adopt a baby through other agencies.”
Few agencies boast the quick placement, retention rate, birth mother support, fee and experience of the Lifetime Adoption Facilitation Center.
Lifetime Adoption, Inc.
is a Licensed Florida Child
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Lifetime Adoption is registered with the State of California under the provisions of the Registry of California Adoption Facilitators. (CA Family Code Section 8632.5)