One of the most important things for a Birth Mother to remember going forward with adoption is that adoption is ultimately her decision, and that she wields a great deal of power in this process. Unfortunately, this idea is not always pursued, as sometimes Birth Mothers feel less in control and more like a piece in a game. However, if you go into the adoption process aware of your rights and understanding what to expect, it becomes that much easier to embrace the idea of adoption knowing that a majority of the decisions are in your jurisdiction.
Because adoption is not something that every person comes into contact with, many of the specifications can be a mystery. The more a Birth Mother understands her importance in the role of the adoption process, the easier and more well informed the decisions will be. After all, she is the provider of the ultimate blessing and gift of life.
Birth Mothers are granted certain rights in the adoption process that should not be violated under any condition. These rights are meant to empower her in the adoption process and to ensure the integrity of her decision and the well-being of her child.
Here are some legal facts that must be present within the adoption process:
1) You Possess the Ability of Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights.
This effectively means legal consent to the adoption. An essential part of this voluntary act means, of course, that this must be done without external pressure, threats, or coercion. If these conditions are present during this voluntary process, any paperwork filed during this time may be later appealed and rendered as invalid.
However, under the appropriate circumstances, where there does not exist any of the negative conditions listed above, the Birth Mother has every right to voluntarily sign the documents that legally allow her child to be under the adoptive care. If she feels, in anyway, pressured or unsure of this act, she does not need to sign. She is in control.
2) You Possess the Ability to Revoke Your Consent.
After her parental rights have been terminated, the Birth Mother does not have the ability to revoke, depending on the state’s laws. Once placement documents are executed, and depending on the laws of the state which govern said consent, a Birth Mother may still have the ability to revoke. states are more strict about this process than others, and it is a good idea to check what the specific laws of your state are. Some have different amounts of time allotted after termination where you can appeal, and in some states you can only appeal under certain circumstances.
This is important to remember, especially if you are still hesitant about the adoption process. It is not always the point of no return after you give your consent to terminate, and you are also protected in instances of fraud or coercion.
No matter what adoption plan you are creating for your child, whether it’s through an agency, a lawyer, or other adoption professional, there are certain things that should be in the power of the Birth Mother. While many of these things aren’t legalities, they still are essential courtesies to be mindful of.
Here are some things you, as the Birth Mother, have control of during the adoption process:
1) You Should be Treated Respectfully
This is a general courtesy that says you deserve to be treated fairly and with care in the adoption process, and it's ok to not commit to that organization if you feel poorly about the treatment you have been given. There are many other adoption professionals and many families looking to adopt, and if you don’t feel comfortable with them, then you certainly have the ability to leave that situation.
2) You Get to Choose Your Adoptive Family.
No matter how you’re pursuing adoption, you will be able to select the Adoptive Family to which your child will be placed. This is vital in order to provide the Birth Mother a sense of security about the future of her child.
3) You Get to Choose Whether You Want an Open or Closed Adoption.
In an open adoption you may be able to obtain ongoing contact with the Adoptive Family and your child, often through picture updates and letters, while in a closed adoption you would have no contact. The desires of the Birth Mother and the Adoptive Family go into consideration when it comes to the decision of an open or closed adoption, depending on the situation and wellbeing of the child. However, the Birth Mother should always voice her desires when it comes to her child, and they will be heavily weighed in the discussion.
4) Your Expenses Will be Paid for by the Adoptive Family.
Depending on the state you live in, the Adoptive Family may be able to pay for your pregnancy expenses, as if they were the ones having the child, and in some situations, they will cover even more of your living expenses, such as rent.
5) You Should Have Access to Free or Affordable Counseling and Support Before, During, and After the Adoption.
Most adoption professionals provide free counseling as adoption, though rewarding and often beneficial to the child, may still be a heartache for the Birth Mother. In order to cope with the many emotions she may experience, she should have access to adoption professionals and counselors to help her through this trying time. ANLC provides 24/7 support to Birth Mothers for FREE.
Empowerment vs. Pressure/Coercion
While we of course want to empower women to choose adoption if they feel it is best for them and their baby, there is a clear line between empowerment and coercion. While it is okay for your doctor, for instance, to talk about the risks and rewards of all of your different options when it comes to unplanned pregnancy, you should not be made to feel bad for your decisions.
Similarly, your agency or adoption professional should work with your interests and not against them. You should not have to do anything you are uncomfortable with or feel pressured into a plan you do not agree with. While you do have legal resources for this kind of circumstances, it is best to avoid these situations when possible. It’s much easier to avoid problems rather than fixing them.
Many organizations exist to give provide you with free personal and legal advocacy to make sure your rights and needs are being addressed. Some of these many organizations include:
- Families in Care: provides independent counseling and advocacy for Birth Parents.
- Three Strands: focuses on building local communities for Birth Mothers and providing other forms of assistance.
- Birth Moms Today: provides financial, medical, and emotional support, and help ensure that Birth Mothers are receiving all the support they should be.
- Birthright: provides support and referrals to legal services, financial resources, counseling, and more.
The Adoption Network also provides free 24/7 assistance, and can make sure that your advocacy and legal needs are taken care of, since we want you to feel empowered, informed, and supported in your adoption decision.