SH&A would like to congratulate another family on the finalization of their Arkansas adoption. We are proud this case was completed in less than two weeks.
Congratulations to another Arkansas family! Today we finalized another stepparent adoption. Today another man freely and willingly stepped forward to take the reigns of responsibility and the blessings of love for the sake of a child not biologically his – a step he certainly did not have to take. You might say a special prayer for this family and all the other families out there blessed by the willingness of people to parent when they did not have to parent a child.
Haven/Judge terminates biological parents’ rights
Hebert family, Joe, Nicole, 4 and Carol in the backyard of their Eau Claire home. Left: Nicole Hebert, 4, runs through her family’s backyard in Eau Claire as her parents, Joe and Carol, look on. Joe and Carol Hebert adopted Nicole after she was anonymously given up by her mother under Wisconsin’s Safe Haven law. Proponents of the law say it helps prevent parents from abandoning their young children. Above: Nicole rides a slide in the backyard with the help of her mother. Joe Hebert of Eau Claire grabs his daughter Nicole as she swings in their backyard.
Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012 10:00 pm
By Jon Swedien Leader-Telegram staff | 0 comments
On Christmas Day 2007, a woman left her infant girl with an employee at Luther Midelfort’s emergency room.
The next day Joe Hebert, a pilot from Eau Claire, was in Michigan when he received a call from an adoption agency.
“We have a baby here. Do you want her?” asked a social worker with Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
For several years Joe and his wife, Carol, had planned to adopt. The couple were the proud parents of a 7-year-old daughter, Paige, but they had struggled to conceive another child.
Their adoption paperwork was set to expire soon, and the Heberts had considered not renewing it. The wondering and the waiting had worn on them.
“We were almost ready to say just one child,” Joe said.
Joe called Carol after he spoke with the adoption agency. They decided to visit the child that night after he returned from Michigan.
Under Wisconsin’s Safe Haven law, passed in 2001, parents can leave a baby up to 3 days old with an employee at a hospital, law enforcement agency, fire station or emergency medical services provider.
All states have a form of the Safe Haven law. The legislation is designed to prevent babies being abandoned by parents who don’t believe they’re capable of – or aren’t willing to – parent a child.
Under the law, no questions will be asked and parents face no criminal prosecution for neglect or abandonment if they properly relinquish custody of their child, unless there is reasonable evidence the child has been abused.
The child then will be placed with a family looking to adopt.
In west-central and northwestern Wisconsin, the number of Safe Haven adoptions vary year to year, said Nikki Brooks, an adoption counselor with Lutheran Social Services working in the Eau Claire office.
Lutheran Social Services doesn’t keep local statistics, but Brooks said the number of babies dropped off in a year has ranged from zero to four.
Statewide since 2001, 125 children have been adopted under the Safe Haven law.
But there still have been incidents of parents abandoning their newborn children. Since 2001, at least 16 infants have been abandoned by their parents, according to the state Department of Health Services.
Earlier this year state lawmakers introduced a bill that would extend the Safe Haven deadline to 30 days. Wisconsin’s three-day window for the Safe Haven law is the shortest in the nation; many states have a 30-day window.
The baby dropped off on Christmas Day 2007 at Luther Midelfort – now Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire – was born the day before. She came with a pair of pink pajamas, a pacifier and a handwritten letter from her mother.
The letter explained why the mother chose to give up her child and offered a brief overview of the mother’s medical history: She didn’t use drugs or alcohol during the pregnancy, but she did smoke.
The Heberts were familiar with the Safe Haven law. They knew despite what the letter said, there was a chance the child could suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome or some other birth defect because of substance abuse.
Nothing in the law requires parents to leave medical information about themselves or the child they’re abandoning. In most instances, the parents don’t leave letters.
“We had our concerns because she had no (medical) history,” Joe said.
But the nurses told the Heberts they didn’t think anything was wrong with the infant. She didn’t appear sick or undernourished. And just the sight of the baby girl made the couple want to take her into their family.
“She was so darn cute,” Carol said. “She had her little pacifier, just sucking away.”
The next day the Heberts took the child home with them. They named her Nicole.
In other adoptions the biological parents transfer custody to the adoptive parents. No such arrangement occurs in a Safe Haven adoption.
That means a judge must involuntarily terminate the biological parents’ rights and bestow them on the adoptive parents. That process usually takes about a month, or sometimes up to eight weeks, Brooks said.
Parents rarely change their minds after giving up a child through the Safe Haven program, but that possibility weighed on the Heberts in the weeks after Nicole’s arrival. As the days passed, their worries eased.
“It got to be more and more that she’s staying with us,” Joe said, adding, “There’s always anxiety in adoption.”
The adoption became official in January 2007, when Judge Michael Schumacher granted the Heberts parental rights to Nicole.
Nicole Hebert is now 4 years old. She has blond hair and smiles often. She and her older sister, Paige, call each other “Sissy.” Nicole even resembles her parents.
“She looks like our other daughter: blond hair, blue eyes,” Joe said.
Carol added, “She came here and fit in well.”
Nicole loves gymnastics and says she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She starts 4-year-old kindergarten this fall.
Joe brags about how smart she is, saying, “She’s a very witty little girl.”
The Heberts share their story because they want others to know Safe Haven is an option for people not ready to be parents.
“I think (the law) protects the child,” Carol said. “If you don’t bring it up every once in a while, it gets pushed aside.”
Brooks agreed on the need to raise awareness of Safe Haven.
“It just seems there’s so many people who are not aware of it,” she said.
Joe also has been on the other end of adoption.
When Joe was 21, he and a girlfriend gave up a daughter through a traditional adoption.
Three years ago, shortly after the Heberts adopted Nicole, that daughter located Joe and the two were able to meet.
“She found me three years ago, and it’s been neat getting to know her,” Joe said.
The Heberts attended her wedding – and Joe became a grandpa when she gave birth to a girl.
First of all, thank you to everyone who prayed regarding our baby in Kansas we posted about recently. Thank you a million times over from me and from the new forever family.
Secondly, congratulations to baby Spencer! Welcome to your new forever family and welcome to Arkansas.
This adoption unfolded is so many mysterious ways, surely God’s hand was over this one.
Another forever family success story!
Shane A. Henry
Say a pray for a legal hearing happening in Kansas this morning. The results affect a local Arkansas couple and our efforts to adopt a baby boy from Kansas. A complex series of events has put us in a tight spot, but we know all things work together for good.
Shane A. Henry
Just Another Arkansas Adoption?
Today is just another typical day in the courts of Arkansas. However, it is a very special day for at least one family in particular who will become a forever family today upon the successful completion of their adoption hearing.
If you would like more information or help with an adoption please contact us today.
A Little Rock couple signed up with an adoption agency in Arkansas to pursue a domestic adoption. They paid a $4,500 deposit, paid for a $2,000 homestudy, and paid a few fees along the way.
After waiting and hoping through that system for over a year with no success, the couple found, through mutual friends, a child available through private adoption. The couple contacted Shane Henry & Associates to handle all the work on their private Arkansas adoption. Less than $2,800 for all fees, and less than two weeks later, the adoption was entirely completed.
When you need an Arkansas adoption attorney to assist you with birthparents, filing, homestudies, hearings, and tying up the final loose ends, please do not hesitate to call Shane Henry & Associates.