Placing Your Baby for Adoption While in Prison

Are you or someone you know pregnant in jail or prison? You may be wondering what options are available for someone who is pregnant in jail or prison and does not want to have an abortion. No matter how complicated it may seem, make sure to explore all options.

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“Going through a process where you’re not really sure what to expect to have someone there on your side to guide you and basically feel loved by my Advisor and that made the situation just unbelievable” – ANLC Birth Mother

Can I Choose Adoption in Prison or Jail?

If you’re pregnant in prison or facing jail time your options include: making an adoption plan with an adoption agency, lawyer, consultant or facilitator to place your baby with a family you choose; temporarily or permanently placing your baby with a member of your family or friends; or seeing if your prison has a program available that would allow you to keep your baby with you in prison for a certain amount of time. If no other options are available to you, the baby will be placed in foster care. It is a difficult decision to make, so read below for more information on what you can do.

If you are an Expectant Mother and know you will be pregnant in prison or jail, you can try to talk to your prison official or caseworker about these options before your intake. If you are preparing to enter jail and have time before being processed and are considering adoption, you should contact an adoption professional to better understand your options and how you can create an adoption plan for your baby. Depending on your state, prison or jail facility, and facility policies, the processes to achieve any of these options may or may not be difficult. So it is important to remember that you are your best advocate in pursuing any of these options.

Giving Up My Baby for Adoption In Prison

Many women will ask “Can I give up my baby for adoption in prison?” While this is a valid question, we must address the misused term “giving up” your baby or child for adoption. This term is used to describe placing a baby or child for adoption and is often unknowingly used even though it is perceived as a hurtful term. Placing a baby for adoption is not ‘giving up’, but rather, finding the right home to provide for and nurture a baby.

Expectant Mothers can create an adoption plan even while in jail. But you should note that jails and prisons have their own policies and processes and differ in varying ways. As an Expectant Mother, you are your best advocate and will either need to work with designated prison officials, your attorney and/or an assigned caseworker who can help connect you with the right resources. Another option is a family member or friend who can help you research your options and act as a liaison between you and an adoption professional while you are in prison or jail.

By making an adoption plan, you can find a family for your baby that has been carefully screened. There are many adoption professionals that are prepared and ready to help you legally create an adoption plan and support you through the emotional process.

Your adoption professional will work with you to make a custom adoption plan best suited for your circumstance. If you have not yet been processed for intake, you may be able to start working with an adoption professional on making an adoption plan. Once you are in jail or prison, you will need to ask who you should speak to about getting connected with an adoption professional. In some cases, your best point of contact will be a designated prison official, an assigned caseworker, or even your criminal attorney. If you are having trouble getting connected to any useful resources on adoption, you should try to get the help of a family member or a friend who can do some research on the web or contact an adoption professional for you. One of these resources will become the mediator between you and your adoption professional. The amount of contact you have with your adoption professional will depend largely on the jail or prison policies.

Although circumstances and adoption plans vary from case to case, these are some of the general steps in how to place your baby for adoption while in jail or prison:

1. Find an Adoptive Family For Your Baby

Although you may not be able to communicate with an Adoptive Family before birth, you will be able to choose them based on your preferences. Your adoption professional will be in close communication with them throughout the process and your mediator (designated prison official, caseworker, attorney, or family/friend) should be able to answer your questions. Once you determine what your preferences are for an Adoptive Family, your adoption professional can send you Adoptive Family profiles. These profiles will describe the family and include photos so that you can learn about them.

2. Receiving Financial Support

The prison administration should make certain you receive the vital, state-paid prenatal and medical care for your baby, while you’re pregnant.

If you are incarcerated, you may not be entitled to financial support for living expenses like rent, food and medical bills, as these should be covered by the prison. However, it is likely you could receive some financial support to make commissary purchases during your pregnancy. For instance, you may be given minimal financial assistance to purchase food for pregnancy cravings or to purchase stamps for letters to the Adoptive Parents.

It is important to note that if you choose adoption, adoption services are completely free of cost to you, and you will not have to pay any expenses for legal or adoption professionals, so you don’t need to worry about any legal or adoption professional expenses when you choose adoption.

3. Contacting the Adoptive Parents

Your options to share contact with your chosen Adoptive Parents may be limited, but even if you’re an Expectant or Birth Mother in jail, you still have the right. Generally, your best way of sharing contact with the Adoptive Parents is through writing letters or sending postcards (depending on the prison or jail policy). You may, in some cases, be able to talk on the phone with the Adoptive Family. Your mediator (designated prison official, caseworker, attorney, or family/friend) can help best determine the means of contact in your situation and may be the liaison between you and the Adoptive Family throughout your adoption process.

Once your baby is placed with the Adoptive Family, if you have time left to serve, your mediator will remain your point of contact for receiving letters and pictures from the Adoptive Family. Once you are released from jail or prison, work with your adoption professional to determine the best way to receive your letters and photos from the Adoptive Family.

4. Giving Birth in Jail

If you’re expected to deliver your baby while in prison, you will most likely be transferred to a local hospital, with supervision of prison officials. At the hospital, you may or may not be allowed to interact with the Adoptive Parents, depending on your situation. Your caseworker will arrange the details with the hospital to make sure you and the hospital staff know what to expect. After you give birth, you may have the chance to spend the next 48 hours recovering in the hospital, but this will depend on the state and prison or jail policies.

5. Signing Adoption Consent

While in the hospital, you may sign your adoption consent paperwork. Sometimes, a Birth Mother has to be discharged from the hospital before signing and sometimes she has to go before a judge to sign the paperwork. This also depends on the state laws and prison or jail policies. Your adoption lawyer will prepare and present the paperwork to you and will explain them along with your legal rights to you before you make your final decision. When exactly you sign the adoption consent depends on your state laws.

Already in Jail or Know an Expectant Mother Who Is

What are the unplanned pregnancy options for women already in prison? You may be concerned for yourself or someone you know who is currently facing or going to face jail time. It is important to become your own advocate. Even though prison officials, your designated caseworker and/or attorney may have resources or adoption professionals they think you should reach out to, you always have the right to select an adoption professional of your choosing. If you are an Expectant Mother in prison wanting to know more about adoption you can:

  1. Ask prison officials or a designated caseworker if you can do your own investigation into adoption professional options.
  2. Ask a family member or friend to investigate the right adoption professional for you, based on what you want.
  3. Ask if it is possible to talk to your chosen adoption professional on the phone or via jail visitation.
  4. Ask if you can write a letter to your chosen adoption professional to inquire more information about your option of adoption.

While the ease of acquiring information and learning more about your options may depend on your state, jail or prison facility and facility policies, the adoption professional you choose will be a vital part in your adoption process. Here are some adoption professionals you can choose:

Other Options for a Pregnancy in Jail or Prison

Giving up or placing your baby for adoption is a difficult consideration, so make sure you research all your options and be your best advocate in finding out more. You have rights as an Expectant Mother to make the best decision for your baby.


You may consider placing your baby in a temporary guardianship or even permanent guardianship with a family member or a friend. If you know that your jail sentence is short and believe you can support your child when you get out, temporarily placing your child with a trusted person may be an option you want to learn more about. Your child could be in a loving home while you finish your jail sentence, and once you get out can be placed back with you.

Permanently placing your baby with a friend or family member through adoption is an option as well. If you know that your jail or prison sentence is long or you have decided that it is the best option, you may consider giving your child to a trusted family member or friend, who will support and nurture your baby. You will need to consider if this person can fully support your baby growing up, as this is a permanent placement.

Foster System

If you do not or are not able to create an adoption plan before or after the birth of your baby, they may temporarily be placed into the state foster system. While in some cases you may be able to get custody of your child after you are released from jail, it largely depends on your situation and circumstances. Your prison officials, designated case worker/social worker, and/or attorney may be able to give you more information on if this is possible. Again, you are your best advocate in this situation, and you should ask questions and find out who you can talk to and get in contact with to figure out your options.

Having a Child in Prison

Some prisons have programs or options that allow Birth Mothers in prison to raise their babies while incarcerated. Of course, this depends on the state laws, prison policies and other circumstances. The prison may have a nursery section or family unit for Expectant Mothers or Birth Mothers. This is not always the case, so be sure to ask your prison officials, designated caseworker or attorney how you can find out more information.

How to Decide What’s Best For You

Remember, you are your best advocate in this situation. While prison officials, case workers/social workers, attorneys and others should help connect you to the right resources and help you make the best decision, that may not always be the case. If you have time before you are incarcerated to research your options and possibly contact an adoption professional for more information, you should do so. If you are already in jail or prison, try your best to work with a prison official, designated caseworker, attorney, and/or family member or friend to help you research your options.

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