California law permits adopting parents to pay pregnancy related medical costs for a birth mother and her reasonable living costs during her time of confinement.
If birth mother lacks insurance or medical aid, then adopting parents can be expected to pay pregnancy-related medical and hospital bills. When a birth mother has insurance, then adopting parents will pay whatever the plan does not cover. If a birth mother has private medical insurance, the adopting parents can pay her premiums for her. Even if the birth mother has state medical aid, the adopting parents may be able to pay a private obstetrician for her care so that she doesn't have to go to a clinic.
Recently the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers, of which I am a founder and director, issued guidelines for support. These guidelines have been adopted by many adoption judges throughout the state in considering the Accounting Report filed at the final adoption hearing.
In general, "confinement" means the last four months before the birth, and a recuperative period of six weeks following a vaginal delivery or eight weeks following a Caesarean section.
During this time a couple may properly pay food and incidentals of about $150 per week, plus actual rent and utility charges, transportation costs and maternity clothes.
It is not proper, customary, appropriate or legal to repay "lost wages", a full nine months of support, "compensation", purchase a car, pay tuition or give money to put a mother "back on her feet.”
Only maternity-connected and necessary expenses are permitted and every payment must be reported to the court.
Paying the Birth Mother's Bills
With few exceptions, all adoption expenses are paid through my trust account and not directly by the adopting parent.
There are problems where adopting parents write the checks themselves for birth mother support, medical items, rent, etc., instead of depositing the funds in the lawyer's trust account and allowing him (or her) to make the disbursements. Not only does the law require each disbursement to be accounted for in detail to the court, but the attorney is a critical buffer between adoptive and birth parents.
Once a birth mother becomes accustomed to asking a couple for money, it can become embarrassing and oppressive for everyone: worse, a couple can never say "no" to anything without fear that she will reject them and find someone else to adopt the baby.
Lawyers do not have that problem: if requests are excessive, improper or unwelcome, the attorney can reject them dispassionately and professionally without resentment or disappointment being aimed at the adopting couple. That's one important reason we have lawyers: they can say things to others - and ask personal questions - that might be offensive or embarrassing if said or asked by the clients personally.