Our use of the terms “putting up” or “giving up” does not reflect how we feel about adoptive placement. These terms remain the most widely used search terms for those who are considering adoption for their baby, and we wish to reach all who seek this important information.
When facing an unplanned pregnancy, there are many questions that immediately come to mind. When considering adoption for a baby, there is an additional layer of questions to be addressed. Some questions are obvious from the beginning, but others may not form until you are well into the process. Below are several frequently asked questions that can be helpful to review when thinking about adoption for your baby,
Should I choose an open or a closed adoption?
This is a good place to start, because the type of adoption that you select will have an impact on other aspects of the adoption plan. Many people are not aware that adoptions can take different forms, and that this affects how everyone interacts with each other. These different forms of adoption are as follows:
- Open: You select your baby’s Adoptive Family and together you form an agreement about the contact you have with them and with your child. This may include time spent together prior to birth so that you may become acquainted with them or may be to receive updates and pictures throughout the years, or anywhere in between (“Semi-open”), and
- Closed: Even if you make the selection of the Adoptive Family, you choose to not have contact with them or the child once the adoption has been officially closed after the child’s birth. Some women who choose closed adoption do not even wish to select the family, but instead provide their Adoption Advisor with what they wish for a family for their baby, and the family is chosen using that guidance.
Open adoptions are becoming increasingly common. In fact, most Birth Mothers currently choose open adoptions instead of closed ones. If you opt for a more open adoption, then you will also need to think about what kind of contact you would like, both before birth and after placement. Some things to consider are:
- Time permitting, would you like to meet in person prior to the baby’s birth?
- Would you prefer to become better acquainted through phone calls or texts?
- How often would you want to receive photos and updates of your child?
- Do you want to have the opportunity to someday see your child in person?
Who should I tell about my adoption decision?
For reasons of their own, some women prefer to keep their adoption plan private from others. There are also some women who are able to not only be open about their adoption plan, but also publically participate in social media about their experience during and/or after placement. Each woman considering adoption has her own individual circumstances, so her need for privacy, care and support will be specific to those circumstances. While it would be ideal to have the acceptance and backing of those around you, if you do not feel that your family or close friends would be supportive at this time, it is understandable for you to want to keep the adoption plan between you, the adoption professionals, and the Adoptive Family. However, because of the connectivity that exists with current and developing technologies, it is possible to find support while preserving privacy.
Can I choose the adoptive family?
Even if you do not wish for openness or contact, you may have strong feelings about want you want for your baby’s future and the home that provides it. By choosing to learn about hopeful Adoptive Parents who are suitable to parent your baby, you can provide yourself with important reassurance that your child is provided with what you envisioned for them. If reviewing the profiles available to you from your Adoption Advisor or online is not something that you feel you can do, then it may be helpful to start by thinking of things in general terms, and working from there. For example, do you want for your baby to be the “first” and oldest child, or would you prefer that there already be a big brother or sister? City family or country family? Traditional, two-parent household or someone single but still stable and successful? As you think about these things, your realizations about what is important to you can assist you with decisions.
How will I know that my baby is with a good family?
You will know that your baby is with a good Adopting Family because you choose them, meet them and get to know them. Even if you prefer not to have much contact, your baby’s Adoptive Family is thoroughly evaluated in an adoption home study process done by the state they live in. This includes assessments of their marital stability, financial situation, lifestyle, and medical history. Fingerprints are taken to verify there is no record of criminal activity or child abuse. The home is inspected by a social worker to ensure it is a safe environment for a child.
When you choose an open adoption you have the opportunity to spend time with and get to know the family that you’ve selected. If they live in another state, you may exchange emails, texts or have phone calls. When possible, Birth Parents and hopeful Adoptive Families meet for dinner or go to doctor visits together. All of these interactions are opportunities to learn more about the family and confirm that you are comfortable with your choice to place with them.
In circumstances where an adoption is truly closed, and it is not the Birth Parent who actively selects the baby’s Adoptive Family, the prospective homes that are evaluated for placement are still pre-approved through the home study process, or are required to undergo a post-placement investigation that includes the same criteria as does a preplacement home study.
What type of adoption professional should I work with?
There are different types of adoption professionals to work with when you consider adoption for your baby. These types of adoption professionals include:
- Agency: most women voluntarily creating an adoption plan for their child will initially think to contact a local private adoption agency. When doing so, the relationship between you and the Adoptive Family will be established and managed by the agency. When you choose to work with a private agency near to you, they will provide you with profiles of hopeful Adoptive Families, most of whom will also live locally. This is something to keep in mind if you think that you would prefer for the Adoptive Family to be members of a different community.
- Attorney/Lawyer: Attorneys can assist both Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents with an adoption plan, so it is important to understand if, in your circumstances, you are represented by the attorney or not. Attorneys help to arrange for adoptive placement either directly, or through the use of an agency. Attorneys are the individuals who handle the legal process and interact with the court.
- Facilitator depending on your state, sometimes licensed, and sometimes unlicensed, facilitators act as third party mediators to assist to form an adoption plan between you and an Adoptive Family. Facilitators are not able to fulfill a role in an adoption plan in the way that an agency or attorney is. They can’t place a baby like an agency can, and they can’t practice law, as does an attorney.
Do I have to pay to initiate the adoption process?
Unsurprisingly, the answer to this question is almost always no. While the Adoptive Family often does have to pay a fee to initiate their part of the process, such as applying for an adoption home study, the Birth Mother pays nothing for services provided to her as part of an adoption plan.
Does the Birth Mother get compensated for putting her child up for adoption?
The answer to this question is also no, however some of the Birth Mother’s expenses may be covered by the agency, adoption professional, or Adoptive Family. A Birth Mother is not paid for placing her baby for adoption but, depending on the circumstances and legal parameters, she may be provided with financial assistance. This includes birth related expenses which may be provided by the Adoptive Family. For a period of time during the pregnancy and recovery afterward as determined by law, providing a Birth Mother with assistance with living expenses is often legally permitted.
What kind of assistance will I receive?
If, for example, the Birth Mother is unable to work while pregnant, but obviously still needs to provide for herself and those depending on her, then the adoption professional assisting her will work with the Adoptive Family to arrange for those needs to be met.
An adoption plan that takes a Birth Mother’s emotional well-being into consideration should offer free counseling during all stages of the adoption process. You will want to discuss with your Adoption Advisor how counseling is provided to you, by whom, at what point in the adoption process you can expect it to begin, and how you can access it post-placement. Some adoption professionals and agencies even offer scholarships and grants to Birth Mothers in an effort to continue to help women post-adoptively.
What if I need a place to live while pregnant?
When forming an adoption plan, a Birth Mother may ask that her Adoption Advisor assist with arranging for a safe and suitable place to stay during her pregnancy and the recovery afterward. These arrangements will be made in accordance with the laws governing the adoption plan.
What about my medical costs and other expenses?
If financial assistance is needed, the Adoptive Family may help with living expenses or other costs that are related to the pregnancy (as allowed by state law). The Adoption Advisor can assist a Birth Mother to apply for any public assistance or insurance benefits to which she is entitled during the pregnancy. Before the adoption is finalized, the adoption Judge will review what expenses were paid on behalf of the Birth Mother so careful records are kept in order comply with adoption laws.
When is my decision to place final?
Each state handles adoptive placement in accordance with the laws that are in place there. When making an adoption plan for your baby your Adoption Advisor will put you in touch with either an attorney or social worker who will be responsible for reviewing the process with you and answering all of your questions about placement and timing.
Should the Adoptive Parents be present for the birth?
Whether or not the prospective Adoptive Parents are present for the birth is something that you get to determine. If you do wish for this to happen, then it is important for you to form your adoption plan before you are ready to give birth. If the family lives in a different area, they will need time to travel to where you are, and depending on their circumstances, they may have arrangements to make so that they can do this. Creating your adoption plan before you are ready to give birth will also allow you to develop your hospital plan.
The hospital plan is provided to the hospital so that the personnel at the hospital who need to know about it are made aware that adoption is planned for your baby. The people at the hospital who assist you with your baby’s delivery will need to know who you want with you in the delivery room, and who you want to hold the baby first. Providing this information to the hospital in advance allows the hospital to arrange for space to be set up for the prospective Adoptive Parents to provide the baby’s care, if this is what you wish. It can also help to reduce the amount of questions that you’ll be asked to answer and decisions that you’ll need to make.
As the Birth Mother, you are able to decide how you would like the birth to go. Many expectant mothers find it helpful to think about how they want their hospital stays to go, and some even put these wishes into writing with the help of their agency or attorney. Some important decisions to consider include:
- Who do you want in the delivery room with you?
- Do you want to see the baby immediately after birth?
- Do you want to hold your baby?
- How would you like for your baby and Adoptive Parents to first meet?
- Will you allow visitors after the birth? If so, who?
- Who will be responsible for caring for the baby at the hospital?
- When may the Adoptive Parents be allowed to make medical decisions for the baby?
These are hard questions to answer, and it is important to accept that for some there isn’t always a right or wrong answer to any of them. Adoption can be difficult no matter what you do, so it is important to do what you feel is best for yourself and your child. While planning is an effective way to manage stressful feelings that you may experience as you approach your due date, it is also possible that you won’t solidify your decisions until the time comes.
How long should I stay at the hospital?
Every pregnancy and delivery experience is unique, and the amount of time you should stay in the hospital after giving birth will primarily be determined by the type of delivery. If this is your first child, even if you have not delivered by cesarean section (c-section) you may need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days to recover from the physical shock of delivery. Women who do have a c-section can expect a longer stay, and this is appropriate for someone who is post-surgical.
If you’ve already had children, it is possible that your body may have an easier time during labor and after delivery, and you could feel able to go home that same day or the next morning. However, is important to allow sufficient time afterward to evaluate if you are recovering appropriately and that there is no concern that a complication is developing. This is so important that there is a federal law in place to assure that you receive adequate health care and should you need it will be able to stay in the hospital up to 48 hours post-birth for a vaginal delivery and 96 hours post-birth if delivery is by cesarean section.
When adoption is planned for a baby, the time in the hospital may have some added factors. In addition to you and your baby being monitored as to medical status, there will be choices to be made about who will be able to have access to the baby and provide the baby’s care. This may be something that you choose to do yourself, or you may wish for the prospective Adoptive Parents to do it from the very beginning, which will allow you to rest and recover. If you are discharged before your baby is, it will be important for the hospital to discuss with you who will make the healthcare decisions for your baby once you leave.
When will Adoptive Parents take the baby home from the hospital?
The answer to this question is usually discussed in your adoption plan, and is mostly determined by how the baby is doing. Typically, once the baby is healthy enough to go home, the Adoptive Parents will take them from the hospital, and the hospital will need your permission for this to happen. You may be asked to sign a document to allow for this, and also to permit the Adoptive Parents to get medical care for the baby. They will need this permission for the baby’s follow-up pediatrician visits.
Some Birth Mothers do not want to interact with the baby after birth because of the attachment that forms between them. Others want to interact with their baby before they are placed with the Adoptive Parents. It really depends on the individual, and is a personal decision. Again, there is no right or wrong answer for how you want to do this.
The hospital stay can be a very emotional time of the adoption process, especially for the Birth Mother, and this is understandable. It is important to stay strong, remember the reasons why you formed your adoption plan for+ your baby, try to stick to your adoption plan as much as you can, know your rights, and most importantly, breathe.
How much contact should I have with the Adoption Family after the birth?
It is very important to make an adoption plan that is comfortable for both you and the Adoptive Parents. Many Birth Parents request to receive letters and photos from the Adoptive Parents on an ongoing basis, some prefer to receive the updates just periodically. Some Birth Parents have phone contact post-placement and a few actually visit one another. It is important to choose parents whose ideas about ongoing contact are similar to your own. Sometimes adopting couples are initially fearful about continued contact, and your Adoption Advisor can help them with this so that the adoption plan works well for everyone.
How does the placement process work? What is “Termination of Parental Rights?”
Because each state has its own set of laws, the way that a baby is placed for adoption can vary from state to state. Some states require that a licensed adoption agency be involved, while other states have additional laws that provide for direct placement, as well. One state may have a process that requires you to have one or more meetings with a social worker in order to assure that you are making an informed decision when you again meet post-birth when placement documents are signed, and another state may require that you appear before a Judge in court with an attorney by your side in order for your parental rights to be terminated. When making an adoption plan, because the laws are different from state to state, how the parental rights and responsibilities will be changed from the biological parents to the adoptive parents is usually determined once the Adoptive Parents are selected.
In addition to the various ways that states differ in how the transfer of parental rights is handled, there is always the difference of whether the termination is a voluntary termination of parental rights or an involuntary termination of parental rights. When a Birth Parent takes an active part in making an adoptive plan for their baby, in most instances the termination of parental rights is voluntary. Even if a court appearance is involved, if the Birth Parent is consenting in some way, the termination is voluntary in nature.
In circumstances where a Birth Parent is not taking an active part in the adoptive placement process, there will be need for some form of termination activity that is involuntary in nature, such as asking the court for an order terminating parental rights so that the baby’s adoption may be completed. Involuntary termination of parental rights actions become necessary when a Birth Parent cannot be located, or, if located, does not respond to notice. Parental rights may be involuntarily terminated when abandonment for a legally prescribed period of time can be proven. Finally, in cases where children are removed from homes due to neglect or abuse, most states have laws addressing involuntary termination of parental rights so that a permanent plan, which often includes adoption, may be made for the child.
What Rights Does The Father of the Baby Have?
Again, each state addresses parental rights under its own laws, and parental rights of Birth Fathers vary from state to state. In general, if the Birth Father is aware of the pregnancy and agrees with you that adoption for your baby may be best, his support and cooperation with the process are reassuring. When you make an adoption plan for your baby your Adoption Advisor will arrange for an adoption professional to discuss with you your particular circumstances and the appropriate way to address the birth father’s parental rights.