Domestic International Foster Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Adoption Home Studies Hague Accredited

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1 ...because every child deserves a loving family Domestic International Foster Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Adoption Home Studies Hague Accredited Dear Prospective Adoptive Parents: Thank you for your inquiry and your interest in the domestic home study services of Nightlight Christian Adoptions. We hope that the information included in this booklet is helpful and answers many of your questions. Included in this booklet is information about what is involved in a home study, our eligibility requirements, frequently asked questions (and answers), a checklist for getting started, our agreement for services, and our complaint policy. We realize that your search for the right agency will include examining many web sites, reading brochures, reading documentation regarding the terms, conditions and costs of an adoption, speaking to agency staff and speaking to references. This may be only the beginning for you or you may be nearing a decision. Wherever you are in the process, we invite your questions by or telephone. Our commitment is to provide caring and professional services to each client, recognizing their unique needs and backgrounds, while advocating for the children who need the love and stability of a family to realize their full potential. As each adoption is finalized, we do not view our job as completed, but recognize that our family has just grown again. Nightlight is proud of having achieved accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA) and Hague Accreditation for inter-country adoptions, in addition to being a member of NCAF (National Christian Adoption Fellowship) and NCFA (National Council for Adoption). If you are Christians, we look forward to sharing our common commitment to Christ as we take this emotional journey. If you do not share our faith, we hope that we will reflect God s love in such a way to cause you to consider His plan for your life. Sincerely, Daniel Nehrbass Chief Executive Officer California 4430 E. Miraloma Avenue, Suite B, Anaheim Hills, CA (714) 693-KIDS (5437) Lic Colorado 150 E. 29 th Street, Suite 255, Loveland, CO (970) Lic Florida Coming Soon Georgia 2350 Prince Ave, Suite 15, Athens, GA (706) Lic CPA11049 Kentucky 767 Lane Allen Rd, Lexington, KY (859) Lic Oklahoma 5110 S. Yale Ave #525, Tulsa OK (918) Lic K South Carolina 1527 Wade Hampton Boulevard, Greenville, SC (864) Lic SR CPA

2 WHAT IS A HOME STUDY? The home study is a mandatory requirement in the adoption of a child. It is an evaluation and an education tool to help Nightlight as an agency, and prospective adoptive parents, determine the readiness of the prospective parents to parent a child through adoption. It is Nightlights intent to prepare prospective adoptive families for the special needs of an adoptee and assess their ability to be safe and effective parents; it is not a psychological analysis. Each home study is unique because prospective adoptive parents are individuals with different histories and experiences that they bring into the process. Typically, the home study takes 2 to 6 months to complete depending on the prospective parents availability to provide the documentation required and the completion of the educational requirements. If the home study is not complete within one year of the completion of the initial application, Nightlight will assume that adoption is not something the prospective adoptive parents are serious about pursing, and Nightlight will close the file. The prospective adoptive parents will then need to re-apply in order to complete a home study in the future. The home study consists of paperwork, interviews, and education: I. Paperwork The paperwork part of the home study includes completion of an application, personal profiles for each parent, fingerprints, references and more. Prospective families may begin this process as soon as Nightlight receives a signed Agreement for Services. II. III. Education The most important component of the home study is the educational portion. Prospective adoptive parents will need to attend classes and read several very valuable books. Prospective parents will also be educated throughout the interview process by the social worker as attitudes, plans and feelings are explored. Social work meetings Scheduled Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm The intake interview This initial interview is typically held at the Nightlight office, and will be attended by both applicants. This meeting is held after the required paperwork has been received and serves as Nightlights first chance to get to know the couple in person. This meeting will take about two hours. The individual interviews In these interviews Nightlight will explore the applicants thoughts on kids, parenting and their own childhood. These interviews will be about 1 ½ hours for each applicant. The Home visit This interview will be in the home, and will be attended by both applicants. This interview will include a home inspection and will take about one to two hours. If the family has children already in the home, the social worker will spend about 15 minutes interviewing them individually.

3 Eligibility Requirements for Domestic Home Study Applicants Nightlight Christian Adoptions is licensed by the state of California to approve suitable families for children in need of adoption. Adoptive applicants need to meet state and agency requirements. RESIDENCE: HEALTH: AGE: MARRIAGE: FINANCES: PREGNANCY: ADOPTION OF SUBSEQUENT CHILDREN: Nightlight can perform Home Studies for families living in California. Applicants needing a home study who live outside of Southern California will be asked to pay the travel costs associated with visiting their home to complete the home study. Adoptive applicants must give evidence of good health, both physical and mental, which will be verified during the application process by medical examinations and psychological evaluations. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. Married applicants need to have been married for at least two years prior to submitting an application. Married applicants must have a satisfying and secure marriage. Adoptive applicants must be able to provide a financially stable home, demonstrated by a solid credit history and ability to live within their means. Before beginning the adoption process, all infertility treatments need to be completed so that the applicants are ready to be the best parent for their child. If an applicant becomes pregnant while in the adoption process, notify Nightlight immediately. The adoption process will be placed on hold. The applicants may come back to the adoption process once their child is older than one year. In order to have adequate time for attachment and bonding, it is important to have a minimum of one year with the child/ren in the home before beginning another adoption.

4 Frequently Asked Questions about Domestic & Home Study Services GENERAL QUESTIONS What services does Nightlight (NCA) offer? Nightlight is licensed to provide the following services: Domestic and International Adoption Home studies and Post-Placement/Adoption Supervision and Reports Domestic Adoptions: Agency Adoptions or Independent (Modified) Adoptions (more information below) International Adoptions: Direct programs in Bulgaria, China, Haiti, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Nicaragua, Panama, Romania, Taiwan, Uganda, Ukraine, and United Kingdom. Snowflakes Embryo Adoptions Birthparent counseling Is Nightlight a non-profit agency? Yes, Nightlight is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit agency. Fees paid by adoptive parents, as well as fundraising efforts throughout the year, cover all agency expenses. What is your licensure information? Nightlight has been licensed by the California State Department of Social Services since 1959 and is also licensed in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina. We are also Hague accredited. What if we are not Christians? Nightlight is a Christian agency; however, we work with families from all religious backgrounds. 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 birth parents to the adoptive parents within the United States. What are the different types of domestic adoption? There are basically two different types of domestic adoption: Agency Nightlight matches a family with a birth mother, provides counseling to the birth parents and case management to the adoptive family, assists with the relinquishments of parental rights for the birth parents, places the child in the home, provides post-placement supervision, and prepares the court report. Independent(Modified) In an independent adoption, the same services as an Agency adoption are provided with the exception being that an adoptive family is matched with a birth mother from a source outside of the agency, such as an attorney, church members, or friends. What is the difference between an agency and independent adoption plan? In an agency adoption, Nightlight is working to match you with a birth mother, while in an independent adoption you are matched outside of the agency. Nightlight Christian Adoptions Pregnancy Advocate also provides support to the birth parents as needed throughout the pregnancy and the adoption process. HOME STUDY QUESTIONS How long does a home study take to complete? A home study typically takes 2 to 6 months to complete, depending on how quickly a family submits their paperwork and education and on the timing of their visits with the social worker. What is an expedited home study? If you need your home study completed quicker than 2 months, we are able to expedite your home study for an additional fee. This is generally needed when a family comes to our office matched with an expectant mother who is due within the next couple of months. We will ask for your cooperation in completing the paperwork in a rapid manner and for your

5 flexibility when it comes time for the social worker to schedule your appointments, in order to complete your home study within the timeframe specified. Due to obtaining criminal background checks and child abuse clearances, it is not possible to complete an expedited home study in less than 8 weeks. Additionally, if there are issues with the clearances, we cannot guarantee that the home study will be completed in less than 8 weeks. How long is a home study valid? In California, a home study is valid for 2 years as long as all of your information remains current. *However, when adopting out of state, your home study must be valid according to the child s birth state. Therefore, it is advisable to update your home study annually even if you live in a state where your home study may be valid longer. How do we get started? Getting Started Checklist 1. Complete an Application o Fill out the Application on-line 2. Read and Sign the Agreement for Domestic Home Study Services o Read and Sign the Complaint Policy *Please Note: Keep the Complaint form for your records; you may want to make a copy of the Policy & Procedure form to also keep for your records. 3. Begin the home study Once we receive your application, agreement and phase 1 fee, we will send you an with detailed instructions on how to complete our home study paperwork through our online system. You will be assigned a social worker once your documents are complete. Please read the enclosed information and FAQs in their entirety before you submit your application. If you have any questions, please contact Nightlight directly at

6 ...because every child deserves a loving family Domestic International Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Adoption Homestudies Hague Accredited AGREEMENT FOR DOMESTIC HOME STUDY SERVICES CALIFORNIA This Agreement is entered into between Nightlight Christian Adoptions (Nightlight) and (Prospective Adoptive Parents) in connection with Home Study services provided by Nightlight to prospective adoptive parents. Nightlight is a licensed adoption agency that provides services in a variety of areas of the adoption process, including family assessments (Home Studies), expectant parent counseling, expectant parent selection of prospective adoptive parents, birthparent relinquishments, adoptive placements, post-placement supervision, court reports and international adoptions. Good communication is essential in a successful adoption. Nightlight encourages prospective adoptive parents and birthparents to ask questions to assure that they fully understand the adoption process, the services which Nightlight will provide and the fees and costs involved. Determining who will assist you in the adoption process is an important decision and prospective adoptive parents and birthparents are urged to fully investigate any adoption professional they use. DESCRIPTION OF ADOPTION SERVICES Pre-placement Home Study for Independent Adoptions This agreement is only for a pre-placement Home Study where prospective adoptive parents engage the services of Nightlight before the child has been born and/or placed into the adoptive home. Prospective adoptive parents come to Nightlight to have a pre-placement home study completed so that they are ready for placement through an Independent Adoption setting or through a different adoption agency. Nightlight will only be able to release a certified copy of the Home Study to the attorney and/or State agency assisting with the placement and post placement in an Independent adoption. It is the responsibility of the prospective adoptive parents to keep copies of all of their home study documents should they be requested to submit them following placement in an Independent adoption. Interstate Adoption (ICPC) Nightlight provides services for prospective adoptive parents who are adopting from a state other than their state of residence. This Agreement does not cover the terms and fees associated with an Interstate Adoption. Should the prospective adoptive parents need to engage Nightlight in ICPC services, a new agreement and fee schedule would need to be signed. The services provided in an ICPC situation will vary depending on whether the prospective adoptive parents or birthparents reside in California. In all cases, Nightlight cooperates with a licensed agency or attorney in the other involved state. Nightlight will define the scope of services involved in a particular adoption prior to commencing an interstate adoption. An interstate adoption does not include assisting the adopting parents with birthmother outreach, screening or matching unless otherwise agreed upon.

7 FEES AND COSTS The fees and costs for a Pre-placement Home Study are $2,500. A California home study is current for a period of two years from its approval date. A Home Study Update must occur when there have been significant changes to the family, including but not limited to the family or when the Home Study is within six months of expiration. Term of Agreement The basic term of this agreement shall be for a period of two years from the date of signing the Home Study Agreement. To extend the term in the event a home study is expiring, the Prospective Adoptive Parents must obtain a Home Study Update in accordance with the most current fee schedule. Legal Services and Fees Fees for legal services are not included in any of the fees quoted by Nightlight and are the responsibility of the Prospective Adoptive Parents. This includes legal fees incurred by Nightlight in connection with any contested adoption, whether it is necessary for the services of an attorney to be retained to represent Nightlight or the Prospective Adoptive Parents. Such legal fees and costs will be billed by the attorney directly to the Prospective Adoptive Parents. Please initial in the box below to indicate your understanding of this section. Other Terms and Conditions Initial here All home study fees are billed in phases which closely approximate the progress and work performed on your home study. Unless specified in advance, we do not bill for our services by the hour, nor do we keep track of the time spent on each client account. The fees paid by you are non-refundable when due and paid under the fee schedule. Specifically, no fees are contingent upon the successful completion of a home study. In the event of a denial of home study, Nightlight will not refund any fees incurred. Please initial in the box to indicate your understanding of this policy. Nightlight provides clients with monthly statements only if there has been activity on the case or if a balance is outstanding. All fees and costs are due and payable in accordance with the fee schedule or when billed. Fees not paid during the normal monthly billing cycle are subject to an interest charge of 10% per annum. Providing false information or failing to disclose required information is grounds for terminating your application without refund of any fees paid. Initial here The Home Study paperwork and visits with the social worker must be completed within 1 year of signing this agreement. If prospective adoptive parents are unable to complete the Home Study within 1 year the file will be closed. The prospective adoptive parents will need to complete a new application and any applicable fees for the Home Study. Initial here

8 Nightlight makes no representations as to the outcome of an application to adopt. No guarantee can be given, although a candid exchange of questions and views between the parties is always encouraged. This agreement was entered into this day of, 20 and shall be governed in accordance with the laws of the state of California. Prospective Adoptive Father Prospective Adoptive Mother Nightlight Christian Adoptions, by CA CALIFORNIA DOMESTIC HOME STUDY FEES Schedule of Payments Home Study Phase I $1,000 Application fee $500 Home Study paperwork $500 Home Study Phase II (Upon start of home study visits) $1,500 Total $2,500 Please note: Agency fees are subject to change with 90 days notice. Fees must be paid by check; credit card payments for fees will not be accepted CA Initial here Initial here

9 POLICY & PROCEDURE: PROCEDURES FOR RESPONDING TO COMPLAINTS AND IMPROVING SERVICE DELIVERY REGULATION #96.41 APPROVED: COMPLAINTS POLICY: Nightlight Christian Adoptions (NCA) provides services that are meant to be in the best interests of the children served through this agency. NCA aims to provide open, accountable and efficient service to our clients. While every effort is made, sometimes mistakes are made. We aspire to learn from any mistakes and the complaint procedure is seen as very important in this continuous program of improvement. All clients will be provided with a copy of our Complaint policy and procedure and the accompanying complaint form, as a part of their Information Notebook that is provided to each client with their service contract. PROCEDURE: Any complaints that are filed with NCA will be reviewed, investigated and responded to within 30 days according to the following procedures. Expedited review will occur with time sensitive concerns or those related to allegations of fraud. While NCA recognizes that some clients have more needs than others, it is the agency s goal to satisfy all clients possible. When a client files a complaint, it is assumed that it is because the client s problem was not adequately resolved at a lower organizational level. Complaints filed in good faith by a client will never result in any adverse consequences to the client. However, it is possible that the inability of the agency to resolve problems with a particular client may mean that the client would be better served with a different agency. NCA will always attempt to resolve client complaints and successfully complete the services for which the client engaged the agency. The National Complaint Registry through the US Department of State can be contacted regarding any problems through the following toll free number: or through this website: If you find that you are not able to submit your complain on the HCR form or if you have any questions related to filing out the HCR form, please feel free to contact the Department of State at It is expected that any complaints are first filed and the agency s procedures are followed before proceeding with filing a complaint with the DOS. The following steps will be taken for complaints: 1. Any birth parent, adoptive parent, prospective adoptive parent or adoptee may file a complaint with NCA regarding any services provided by NCA, it s staff, Board of Directors or its supervised providers related to an issue of compliance with the Hague Convention, IAA or regulations implementing the IAA, or any service provided by the agency. 2. Anyone filing a complaint is requested to complete a written complaint form. (See attached form). This form requests the information needed to investigate the stated problem. 3. The Executive Director or his designee will review all complaints. The complaint will be fully investigated and a written response given to the client within 30 days of NCA receiving the complaint or grievance.

10 4. The complaints and their outcome will be filed and available for review in the NCA office in Lexington, California. 5. On request by the Accrediting Entity COA or a State Department designee -- NCA will provide a summary of all complaints received by any birth, adoptive or prospective parent or adoptee about any of the services or activities of NCA that raise an issue with compliance with the Hague Convention, IAA or regulations related to either. 6. If the individual who has filed the complaint is not satisfied with the response by the executive director, they may then appeal in writing to the NCA Board of Directors for review of the complaint. 7. The Board of Directors will review the complaint at the next regularly scheduled Board Meeting following the submission of all required documentation from the individual. The Board of Directors will make a decision within thirty (30) days following the submission of all necessary documentation. A majority vote by the Board of Directors will determine the decision. 8. A written copy of the final decision will be placed in the client file. The final written determination will be released to the client, but not the reasoning behind it. All decisions are based on what is in the best interests of the child. have reviewed the Complaint Policy and Procedure for Nightlight Christian Adoptions. I/We agree to abide by the procedure listed above and ultimately the decision of NCA Board of Directors if they should be called upon to determine the outcome of a complaint. Adoptive Parent Date Adoptive Parent Date RJ3/07

11 NIGHTLIGHT CHRISTIAN ADOPTIONS COMPLAINT FORM Name: Address: Home Phone Number: Cell Phone Number: Business Phone Number: Nature of Complaint: (Please be specific, including names of involved staff members, time of incident, place of incident and issues related to the incident. Specifics help us to better investigate your concerns. Please include any supporting documents and attach additional sheets if necessary). Suggestions on how you wish this issue to be resolved or handled in the future: Investigated by: Date: Action Taken:

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