If you’re dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, chances are you’re wondering what to do. You may not be in a place to raise a baby due to school, work, lack of family support, or various other reasons. Just know that you are not alone on this journey. Not only are there people out there who want to accommodate your needs, but there are also other women who have gone through exactly what you’re going through right at this moment. It may be a big step to even admit “I’m pregnant and thinking about adoption,” but there’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you can still be a part of your baby’s life if you choose to do so. There are many adoption options out there for you to consider.
Step 1: Find an Adoption Agency
Choosing to go through an adoption agency instead of your state’s foster care system will give you more control before, during, and after the adoption. Every state has different regulations and you probably won’t have a choice as to which family your baby ends up with. In addition to that, the adoption may be closed (where records are sealed and there’s no contact). This may go against your wishes of having a relationship with your baby after the adoption is completed. This is why going through an adoption agency is much more beneficial for you, your baby, and the adoptive family. When thinking about adoption, consider a personalized experience at an adoption agency.
In order to find an adoption agency that’s the right fit for you, you’ll have to do some research. Do you want an agency that’s closer to you in distance or does that not matter? Use a Christian or secular agency? Do you want an agency that will offer support and other resources? Will they support your wanting an open adoption? What kind of adoptive parents and families do they have? Are they willing to offer financial assistance? You can read other good questions to ask adoption agencies here.
Some agencies are available to you right from your own home. While thinking about adoption, consider The Gladney Center of Adoption. The Gladney Center of Adoption will be able to provide assistance even if you don’t live in Texas where most of their offices are. They have so many great resources for birth mothers such as helping with living expenses, covering costs for adoption attorneys, making goals for your future, how to reach those goals, counseling, and medical care. Other agencies may have less, more, or similar resources just for you. This would be something good to bring up when trying to find an adoption agency.
Gladney also has options counselors available 24/7 for any questions you may have about adoption. You can call or text them at 1-800-452-3639 or email them at [email protected]. Even if you’re still on the fence about adoption, this could be a great resource for you to be able to talk to a professional that can help guide you. They can definitely help you put your mind at ease with being pregnant and thinking about adoption. If you still have questions about any part of the adoption process, they will be able to answer those questions as well. Other agencies might have access to options counselors, but that would be something to ask them.
Step 2: Make Your Adoption Plan
You’ve been thinking about adoption and now that you’ve officially decided to place your baby with an adoptive family, you will be assigned a caseworker. He or she will help you in making your adoption plan come to life. Some things to consider are what kind of relationship you want with your baby and what kind of adoptive families you want to look at. There are a few different adoption options regarding how much communication occurs between the family triad (birth family, adoptee, and adoptive family):
Open adoptions have the most communication and, well, openness out of the three types of adoptions.
Most adoptive families are more than happy to have an open adoption. When you’ve officially chosen your forever family, you can start building the foundation of your relationship. After the baby is born, that relationship will continue to blossom. You can contact the family and your baby via social media, text messages, emails, letters, phone calls, and in-person visitations. No open adoption is the same and it really just depends on how comfortable the birth family is with contact.
Some family triads are extremely close, talk and visit frequently, and may even let the birth family have overnight visitations. Other birth families may only contact the adoptive family and adoptee occasionally and only visit a couple of times during the year. Again, it just depends as to what you’re more comfortable with. Your baby will also know who you are which can really make a difference as to how they feel about their identity. Some kids who were adopted don’t have the opportunity to know about their birth families but open adoption has made that possible.
The downsides to having an open adoption are few, but they can still make a difference in your decision-making:
Everything is out in the open. Whether it’s medical records, addresses, phone numbers, etc., there’s no privacy. That may not necessarily be a bad thing for some, but some birth families may not want to have their information so easily accessible. Adoptive parents are usually okay with having their information out in the open, especially since they’ll have access to any medical records for doctor’s appointments and emergencies. Another downside is that some birth and adoptive families butt heads when the child gets older and they have to make some changes in how the child is raised.
The most important thing to remember is that you both want what’s best for the baby, so there’s no reason to quarrel. You may need to make compromises with the adoptive parents and come to certain agreements, but that’s pretty typical as a child gets older. It may also feel like you’re “sharing” your baby even though that’s the furthest thing from the truth. It’s imperative to remember that yes, you are the baby’s parent through biology and the adoptive parents are related through adoption, but that doesn’t make a difference. Blood or not, you both have this amazing opportunity to raise a baby together. You’re not fighting for custody over this child.
The birth family chooses a semi-open adoption when they want to be involved at a distance.
Communication will usually go through a third party, such as the adoption agency or an adoption attorney. Most birth families are satisfied with getting updates and pictures every so often and maybe calling on the phone or visiting a few times a year. To reiterate, it’s based on what the birth family is more comfortable with. You may not want to have direct contact with your baby or the adoptive family and that’s perfectly fine. This could be a great method to be in your baby’s life but also a better way to move on. You will still be able to see them grow up and know about them without being immersed in the lives of your baby and the adoptive family.
Lastly, a closed adoption is when all the records are sealed and there is no contact between the birth family and the adoptee plus the adoptive family.
Closed adoptions are usually put in place when there was abuse found in the birth family. Most adoptions completed through the state are closed to help protect the adoptee and his or her adoptive family. That being said, some birth families would actually prefer a closed adoption as they feel that they can heal better. They look at it as a clean break to move on and try to get past the grief and shame that they feel. Since all the records will be sealed, you will have privacy.
It may be frustrating for the adoptive parents since they won’t be able to procure any information regarding the child’s medical history. However, if you change your mind and want to open it back up, it may be extremely difficult to do so. Your child won’t even be able to see the records until they turn 18 and until then they may be wondering who they really are, who their birth family is, and why they were placed with an adoptive family.
Obviously, the kind of adoption that you choose shouldn’t be taken lightly. Depending on your comfort level and what kind of relationship you want with your baby will really determine what you choose. If you’re still unsure, then talk with an options counselor or your caseworker to give you some guidance.
Step 3: Pick a Family
Now it’s time to find your forever family. Your adoption agency will have access to many parent profiles, so it may be hard to narrow down your options. Do you want a family with a certain religion, ethnicity, and/or other children? Do you want them to live closer to you in distance? Does it matter if they’re a married couple, a cohabitating couple, or even a single person? But while you’re thinking about adoption, remember that these are questions that your caseworker can help answer.
When you’ve narrowed down your options, you will have the opportunity to meet the families. This way you’ll be able to see the family dynamic and consider if your baby will thrive in that household. Here are some questions to consider asking the family when you’re making your adoption-plan:
Why did you decide to adopt?
How are you planning on raising the baby?
Are you open to frequent visits?
Would one parent stay home or would the baby be placed in daycare?
How are you going to explain who I am to the baby?
Step 4: Birth Plan
An essential step to your adoption plan is the birth plan. Where do you want to give birth? Do you want visitors during your hospital stay? Would you like anyone in the room with you such as your partner, your family, the adoptive mother, or no? How long do you want to spend with the baby until it’s time for you to terminate your rights? When will the adoptive parents be able to see the baby?
Every state is different, so you’ll need to figure out how much time you’ll get to spend with your baby. You can let the adoptive parents in the room during that time or you can keep it all to yourself. It’s completely your choice and yes, you may change your mind. Anything is possible. The adoptive family just wants to make sure that you’re comfortable and that your needs are being met. When thinking about adoption, also consider your birth plan.
Step 5: Post-Adoption Support
Going through the adoption process may bring up a lot of emotions after it’s over. You may be grieving from feeling that you “gave up” your baby. You may feel shame after making this decision. Please remember that you didn’t “give up” your baby and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. You literally gave your child life, and you gave him or her the opportunity to have a better one. It’s incredibly selfless to do that. That being said, you may need some assistance with healing and moving on.
Most adoption agencies offer support such as counseling, support groups, and talking to other birth mothers about your struggles. Every story is different but talking to a birth mother might help since she went through the same thing you’re going through. Therapy is beneficial for pretty much any situation and going through the adoption process shouldn’t be any different. You will need someone to talk to and help you through your emotions. It’s okay to be feeling this way but not to the point where it destroys your mental health.
If you’re pregnant and thinking about adoption, then just remember that you’re not alone in this. You will have so many people who want to help and support you every step of the way. You can even get help years from now if those emotions reach the surface again. Also, you don’t need to close the door to the relationship you have with the adoptive family and your baby. It depends on how comfortable you are but having a good group of people in your corner to guide you will help you make those tough decisions.