The internet is full of rumors (and unrealistic promises) about the kind of financial support available for a woman placing her baby for adoption. If you ever hear a woman say that she got $15,000 for her baby, that is not only gross, but frankly, it is illegal. Both accepting and giving out that kind of money to an expectant parent in an adoption is unlawful for all parties. While an expectant mother does have the right to financial support during her pregnancy, that support is regulated and is seen more as a gift and not as an exchange for the baby. That would be “baby buying,” which is not what adoption is about.
Read below to find out what providing financial support during pregnancy really means and looks like:
While state laws do differ on the specifics, it is allowable in most states for the adoptive parents to provide financial assistance with basic living expenses during the couple of months surrounding the birth of the baby. The idea behind the law is that pregnant women usually aren’t able to work all the way up until the birth of the baby (of course, there are some women who run marathons two weeks before their due date, but they are the outliers!). And it’s definitely not easy to start working again for about six weeks or so after the delivery. The point of providing financial support is to, you guessed it, support an expectant mother during this period of time when she will be unable to work or provide for herself financially due to her pregnancy. So, adoptive families can usually pay for things like rent, transportation to doctor’s appointments, phone bill and other utilities, child care for an expectant mother’s other children, and food for about three or four months. Rent and utilities can usually be paid directly to the landlord, utility companies, etc. to ensure that the financial support is utilized properly. And besides these basic living expenses, maternity clothes are also usually okay for adoptive parents to purchase for an expectant mother, because again, this is a pregnancy-related expense. The financial support is meant to bridge the gap in financial income and stability that a pregnancy can create for an expectant mother.
Now, some states do have specific limits on the total amount of living expenses that can be paid—for instance, it may be a $1,000 maximum, unless a court approves more in advance. In other states, living expenses just have to be “reasonable;” which essentially means that it is allowable for an adoptive family to provide basic living and pregnancy-related expenses (as was outlined above). This all can be a tricky subject though, so it’s super important that both expectant parents and adoptive parents consult with an attorney in their state before accepting or giving anything of value in connection with the adoption. The last thing that anybody wants is to be accused of fraud or “baby selling/buying.”
One more point to remember: just because an expectant mother accepts living expenses from a potential adoptive family doesn’t mean that she’s now obligated to place her baby with that family. She always still has the option to choose to parent her child or choose another adoptive family if her original match doesn’t feel right anymore. The adoption process can be quite emotional and an expectant mother has every right to change her mind in accordance to what she feels is best for her baby at any point. Additionally, she’s under no obligation to return any of the support given; it was a gift to help her during that time of her life, not a payment for goods.
A Note on Adoption Fraud:
Intent while accepting the financial support is the key to whether a woman is committing adoption fraud or not. As long as she really did intend to place the baby with the family that she accepted support from (at the time she accepted the support), she’s allowed to change her mind. Remember, there are no obligations with adoption and it’s important that the adoptive family knows this up front. On the other hand, if she was accepting support from more than one family at the same time, fraud is probably present. Or, if she had changed her decision to keep her child but was still accepting support from the adoptive family even after changing her, fraud may be an issue. The bottom line is that as soon as she changes her mind and placing with her prospective adoptive family, the expectant mother needs to let them know.
All of the agencies and attorneys working with AdoptMatch are highly ethical and committed to providing you with the support you need within the framework of their state’s laws. View the full list of AdoptMatch-Approved Adoption Attorneys here and Adoption Agencies here.