When considering adoption, the whole process can seem pretty daunting and, well, exhausting. I remember collapsing (quite dramatically) on the couch and begging my mom and stepdad to just make a decision for me, and choose a family. I felt it was too much, and that my heart simply couldn’t take it.

Thank goodness they (lovingly) forced me to make my own decision. I firmly believe that the best way to minimize the chances of regret are to make decisions completely on your own.

So, what tips should you remember when initiating the adoption process? Here are my top five.

Find an agency or attorney that will have your best interest at heart. If you feel uncomfortable, leave.

Before you sign ANYTHING, make sure that you have read all of the fine print. All. Of. It. Request copies for yourself. Even have a third party (who will advocate for you) look it over.

Begin counseling or therapy immediately. Pre- and post-placement counseling are so good for you. It is amazing how much you can learn about yourself by talking to someone else. Also, be sure that you WILL receive post-placement counseling, either through the agency or provided through your attorney. Though not common, agencies and attorneys may still provide amazing support until the adoption cannot be reversed, and then will neglect to provide any support for the expectant mother afterward.

Take time for yourself to recharge and relax. If you need to take a step back, do it. Sometimes it is easy to become so consumed by an idea or process that it can cloud your judgement. Suddenly you are making a placement plan, and you aren’t even 100% sure that you want to place. That is OK! Reevaluate as many times as you need to.

Find a support group, not just one-on-one counseling. Connect with other women who have lived or are currently living it. Share your joys, fears, concerns, and ask questions. I suggest joining an online support group, and finding a live meeting from there.My favorite support group on Facebook is Positive Experiences and Adoption Perspectives, or PEAPs. It is a secret group, so nobody will even know you are a member. I encourage you to friend me on Facebook (I am easy to find, just search “Sterling Bo Lloyd”), shoot me a message, and I will add you to the group, and then unfriend you if you want.

The group is an incredible resource for both hopeful adoptive couples and expectant mothers alike, and is very good at open communication among all sides of the adoption triad, without the pressure to ONLY choose adoption. Some women do choose adoption, some don’t, but a support group is crucial to making an informed decision. You will see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Resources to find live meetings are also available through these online support groups.

Have you been through the adoption process? What tips do you have for an expectant mother initiating the adoption process? Let me know below!