Parenting is not an option for everyone.
If you’re reading this, you probably feel like the whole world is crashing down right now. To say that an unplanned pregnancy or baby is difficult is the total understatement of the century. Baby is perfect, but your situation is anything but. The brutal truth is that parenting is not always a viable option for everybody. Whether you are already struggling to parent other children and the new baby is putting things over the edge or this is your first child, it may be that parenting is no longer the best option for you and this child. That said, the decision to place a baby or child up for adoption after birth is honestly the biggest decision a human being can make and it should never be made hurriedly or without serious counsel.
Run, don’t walk, away from any adoption agency or individual that attempts to pressure you into a hasty decision.
When you consider adoption, contacting a social worker or an adoption agency should give you access to experienced adoption counselors and adoption professionals who can help guide your decision- making process without pressure. This article talks about your right to choose adoption at any time, some things to consider, the basic adoption process, and types of adoption. However, AdoptMatch strongly encourages you to talk with a neutral counselor who can provide you with answers for any adoption questions you have, your adoption options, and resources and support should you choose to parent. Contact us for help connecting with resources in your area.
In most cases, you have the freedom to choose adoption at any time, even after the birth of your baby.
If Child Protective Services has gotten involved in your child’s life, though, your time for choosing adoption may be shortened. It’s vital that you get counsel from an attorney in your area to help you make an adoption plan if that’s what you choose. If CPS isn’t involved, you can even make an adoption plan after you’ve brought the baby home from the hospital (or, in the case of an older child, at any time since adoption at any age is possible), provided you have the birth father’s consent or his rights can be handled another way.
Placing your baby up for adoption after birth is very similar to what would happen if you had made a final plan earlier.
There are waiting adoptive families looking to adopt for whom a call to come and meet a newborn would be a dream come true, even if there may be some issues involved. If you already have a family in mind, you will need to contact them through their attorney or adoption agency and let them know you are considering them for parenting your child. It’s important that you be represented by your own attorney in this process, to handle things like the post adoption contact agreement and to make sure that you are totally comfortable when you choose an adoptive family. Their agency or attorney should set you up with your own attorney. If they don’t, ask that they do. You can reach out to your own attorney as well. AdoptMatch maintains a list of attorneys who specialize in representing birth parents and expectant parents. If you don’t have a family in mind or if they aren’t already working with an adoption professional, AdoptMatch is a great place to start looking at family profiles for waiting families who are adoption home study ready and working with an ethical adoption professional. If you see someone you like, you can send a Request for More Information and their agency or attorney will contact you shortly. You can also reach out directly to an agency or attorney in your area.
Don’t rush into choosing a family you’re not comfortable with!
One thing you really need to be careful about is rushing into something because the baby is already here. Don’t settle for a family you aren’t comfortable with. Never be pushed into choosing a family that is not right for you and your child. Most adoption attorneys can arrange respite care for the child if you don’t want to bring a baby home while you are finding the right family. Don’t feel like you have to commit to the first family you think you might be interested in. You may want to speak on the phone with them and then meet them in person. AdoptMatch highly recommends that you meet a family in-person before signing any documents relinquishing the baby to them. You may want to read Questions to Ask Adoptive Families to help cover some of the topics you will want to make sure you discuss. Just make sure that if you are considering multiple families, you let everyone involved know that so they can keep their hopes in check and so you won’t be accused of misleading anyone. Adoptive families will, of course, have questions for you as well. They will want to view your medical records and the baby’s records and of course see the baby. Even if there is information that you are afraid will scare them away, go ahead and share it anyway. In adoption, as in just about everything, honesty really is best and leads to happier results in the long run.
Consider post adoption contact and “open” adoption.
One discussion you will need to have very early on with a potential adoptive family is how much post-adoption contact you will have with the child. Most adoptive families are well educated on the benefits of open adoption and are very open to not only sending pictures and letters regularly, but to annual or twice annual visits between them, the child, and you. Don’t be afraid to express what you want and to request a written agreement formalizing what you all agree to. Your own attorney will help you formalize this agreement and understand whether or not it is legally enforceable in your state.
Make sure you receive the support you need throughout the adoption process.
You can also request that you receive counseling as you go through both the decision-making process and the difficult process of actually releasing your child to his or her new family. Especially if you’ve already spent time with the baby or if the baby is older, you will definitely want to have someone who can help counsel you through the hard feelings of grief and loss that are sure to come. If the child is old enough to understand what is happening, it’s also absolutely vital that a therapist trained in transitions be involved to help ease the trauma that a change of custody introduces to an adopted child. If you have just delivered the baby, the adoptive family should be able to cover the medical expenses surrounding the birth and, depending on the state, and help provide you with some basic financial assistance to get you back on your feet immediately following the birth. Of course, the adoptive family will handle the cost to adopt the baby and pay for all of the counseling, legal, agency, and any other adoption costs associated with the adoption process.
Don’t fear the reactions of family, friends, or the birth father.
It’s likely that your decision to place your baby after birth may be met with concern and even anger by some of your friends and family and possibly the baby’s father causing adoption disruptions. Hopefully, their concern comes from real care for you as the birth mother. If that’s the case, then your adoption professional should be able to educate them about adoption and help them understand that you have carefully considered your choices and are doing what you feel is best. Sometimes including them in the open adoption plan can be a big step towards helping them become comfortable with your decision. The birth father issue can be a thorny one and it’s incredibly important that you rely on the judgment of your attorney and the adoptive parent’s attorney regarding how to communicate your adoption decision with him. Usually, unless he’s been supportive of the pregnancy and has held himself out to be the child’s father, or you are married to him, his rights are pretty limited and his cooperation is not necessary for the adoption process to proceed. In determining that, though, make sure that you are completely honest with your adoption attorney and counselor so they can navigate that issue wisely.
Ultimately, it is never too late to choose adoption for your baby after birth. Don’t let fear of judgment cause you not to do what you believe is truly best for your baby. On the other hand, never let anyone pressure you into adoption if you believe that parenting is the best option for you and your child. There are resources to support you in whatever decision you make. AdoptMatch is here to help do just that.