I’m not sure where to start.
The good news is you have already taken the first step by asking for information about adoption. It’s important for you to learn about all of your options so that you can make the best possible decisions for you and your baby. An adoption counselor can provide you with support, counseling and more information about the process. Reaching out and working with a counselor does not commit you in any way to placing your child for adoption.
Is there still time to choose adoption?
It’s never too late. Adoption is always an option no matter where you are in your pregnancy or even after your child is born and you are currently parenting. Close to 50% of placements are from women who choose adoption while they are in the hospital for their baby’s birth. Women who contact an agency sooner have more time to work through their decision. We encourage you to call when you begin to think that adoption may be an option.
What does open adoption mean?
Open adoption means there is some level of ongoing contact between birth parents, adoptive parents and the child. Often, open adoption relationships include sharing of photos and letters as well as in-person visits. This allows birth parents the opportunity to stay in touch as their child grows. Every open adoption relationship is different and develops over time. You can choose what feels best for you even if that means limited contact.
Can I pick the adoptive family for my baby?
Open adoption means you get to choose the level of involvement you want throughout the adoption process. If you would like to choose the adoptive family for your baby, you absolutely can. Counselors will provide you with information about all the families who match your situation and preferences.
If you prefer not to choose the adoptive family, you do not have to. Your counselor will ask about your preferences and select a family based on your requests. You can still see their profile and choose to have ongoing contact – or not. It’s up to you.
How do I know the family will keep their promises?
This is one of the most common fears for women considering adoption. Families receive education about the benefits of open adoption and the importance of keeping
any promises they make. When you review profiles, your adoption counselor should only show you families committed to the same level of openness that you seek.
Many states allow for a legally enforceable future contact agreement between adoptive parents and birth parents. This agreement will be entered into a court order as a part of the adoption process and will provide additional protection for birth parents. Each state is different so you will have to ask your counselor if your state allows this. If it does and you it will give you peace of mind don’t let anyone bias, you against it. This agreement gives you legal protection.
How will I know my baby will be safe with the adoptive family?
All adoptive families enter a lengthy screening process before they are approved to adopt. They obtain criminal and child abuse clearances and medical exams, and a report on their finances and family history. References are provided from people who have seen them with children and a visit is made to their home to ensure that it is safe for a child. Counselors review everything to determine if a family is approved to adopt.
After the baby goes home with the family, their counselor continues to monitor them for a period of 6-8 months to ensure that the baby is safe and well-cared for in the family’s home. Reports about these visits are provided to the court for the adoption finalization.
What about the baby’s father?
Most states require that the baby’s father be involved in adoption planning or at the very least be notified if he is known and available. If you have concerns about the situation with your baby’s father, your counselor can discuss the details and help you come up with a plan that feels comfortable to you.
Can I change my mind?
You can always change your mind about the adoption plan before the baby is born or immediately afterwards. This is a difficult decision, and many women find they need to wait until their baby is born to be sure. If you choose to move forward with adoption, each state has a certain amount of time in which you can legally change your mind, talk to your counselor for more details about the time period you are allowed.
What if I have been using drugs while I’m pregnant?
We know this can be a hard thing to talk about. Whether it was a couple drinks before you knew you were pregnant or heavy drug use throughout your pregnancy, it’s important to be upfront and honest with your counselor who is there to help you. They are not here to judge or report you; they are here to work with you. Most agencies have approved adoptive families for all different types of situations and want to help you find a family who is open to your situation.
It’s important to be aware if you or the baby test positive for drugs after delivery, the hospital staff is required to report to the state or county. As a result, there may be an investigation to determine if you can take the baby home with you or if he/she will go into foster care. As an alternative, if you decide adoption might be a better option for your baby, you or the hospital staff can give you a list of adoption counselors to meet with you.
Adoption is your choice, no one should coerce you into signing away your parental rights or sway you in your decision. Be aware that some doctors and nurses may work with attorneys and try to sway you to place your baby with them. You need to do what is right for you and speaking to an adoption counselor from an adoption agency can help. They will provide you with all of your options, give you a variety of families to choose from and counsel you on your rights. They will also help you after the child has been placed for adoption. Most attorneys do not provide this service.