When I was pregnant and considering adoption, I had never met someone who had placed their baby for adoption before. I had known plenty who adopted, through agencies or foster care, and while I valued their stories and experiences, it didn’t help me in being able to understand the decision I was making or what to expect when it came to feelings or what would take place.  Now, I am almost 3 years post-placement and want to offer my experience and insight to better help someone understand.

Here are 5 things I want you to know about placing your baby for adoption:

1. You may feel alone, but you aren’t.

When you’re making an adoption decision, it can be so scary and lonely.  A lot of the time, it’s one of those things you don’t think about or know too much about until you are staring it in the face. But there are whole networks of people who have been where you are.  I found mine through a Facebook birth mother group and ended up meeting them in real life. The person who helped me the most, who added me to the group and invited me to a retreat, has become a dear friend. I’m going to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. While we are connected by our adoption decision, we are also connected by that feeling we once had of loneliness and loss so that we hopefully never have to feel that way again.

2. It is okay to have doubts.

If I told you I didn’t have doubts along the way, both in my pregnancy and post-placement, I would be lying to you. Placing a child for adoption isn’t a snap decision one makes, and it’s completely normal and natural to feel unsure along the way. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty for having doubts in one direction or the other. You are making a huge, permanent, lifelong decision, and the gravity of that decision merits wavering and worrying and wondering. It is okay to doubt.

3.You are allowed to be in control.

When you are trying to make an adoption plan, you may have the feeling that you have to go along with what an adoption professional, hopeful adoptive parent, your parent or family member, whoever it may be, wants you to do. But the truth of the matter is, in a time when you may feel so helpless and your life is a swirl of things you don’t have control over, you are allowed to be in the driver’s seat. This is the time to ask the questions so you can make the most informed decision. Take charge and make sure the plan is what you want and how you feel most comfortable because you and your child deserve to be comfortable and cared for as you see best fit.

4. Take time with your baby in the hospital.

This one I cannot stress enough. While you may think that not seeing or holding or loving your baby will make this decision easier, for me it wouldn’t have. While the hospital plan I had in mind did not carry out (an emergency C-section and NICU stay were not what I had in mind), I cherish the time I was able to sit and get to know that perfect little boy earth-side. Being that this was my first child, I didn’t have an idea of what it would be like to meet the person you knew in a way no one else did. Thinking back, I can still feel my heart swell at rubbing my hand over his soft skin and hair, of having his eyes look up at me like he knew me. I can’t speak for every person on this point, but I wouldn’t change spending the time I did with him for the world.

5. You are the only person who can know what the right choice is.

This is heavy, and I apologize for that. But the truth of the matter is, you are the only person who can know whether placing or parenting is the right choice for you and your child. No matter what people are telling you, only you are responsible for what direction that child goes in life at this time. You are the only one who knows if you can have enough to feed, clothe, and shelter this child. You are the only who knows if you have the mental and emotional capacity at this point for giving your all to this tiny baby. It’s a lot to shoulder, but it all comes down to you.

No two adoption experiences are the same, so I can only offer up the wisdom and insight I have developed since placing my son. All that I can hope is that my words will help someone in their time of need and let them know they are not alone. While I could come up with many more things a person should know, these are 5 of the most important things I think someone should know about placing their baby for adoption.

Pregnant and considering adoption? You don’t need to do it alone. Click here to connect with a caring, compassionate adoption professional who can help you figure out what’s best for you and your baby. All consultations and counseling are absolutely free.