From an outside perspective, making an adoption plan for your baby seems simple – find a family, sign some papers, and you’re done. From the perspective of someone who has been there, it’s a little different. Placing your baby for adoption is a process that should be done carefully. It’s important to educate yourself on what adoption entails and how you can make it the most positive experience possible.

Here are 8 things every expectant mother should know before placing her baby.

1. Choose your agency carefully.

If you choose to place through an agency, choose wisely. Not all agencies are created equal when it comes to post-placement care. Many agencies claim to provide a birth mother with lifelong counseling and don’t follow through. A good way to decide if an agency is a good fit for you is to talk with other birth parents who have placed through the same agency. If they had a good experience, you likely will too.

2. Choose an adoptive family carefully.

There are so many hopeful adoptive parents out there, and it’s so hard to choose. Remember that they are not just going to be your child’s parents, but in the case of an open adoption, a part of your life too. Choose a family you can get along with, who has similar values as you do. If you can, meet with them in person beforehand. For more information on questions you should ask your agency and potential adoptive family, click here.

3. Placing your child for adoption is permanent.

If you choose to place your baby, you need to be absolutely sure of your decision. After you sign termination of parental rights, you no longer have the option to parent. In some states, there is a short window of time after signing that you can revoke those papers and parent, and that is within your right. However, this is likely to be traumatic for the family you placed with, and potentially for the child if they have bonded with their adoptive parents. If you are not sure that adoption is right for you, in most cases it is better to parent from the get-go than to place and change your mind.

4. Adoptive parents are scared too.

Hopeful adoptive parents are just as human and vulnerable as you are. Many of them have faced infertility, child loss, and failed adoption placements. They may be afraid of disappointing you, or not being good parents to your baby. Having a good relationship with them will help you both to be more comfortable and excited about the upcoming placement.

5. Not everyone will understand your choice.

There are some adoption haters out there. People who will call you irresponsible and tell you how terrible adoption is. Don’t listen to them. They weren’t in your shoes and they don’t know your story. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, because only their opinions matter. You did what was best for your child, and it’s no one’s place to tell you otherwise.

6. You have rights.

Before you sign the termination of your rights, you are 100% your baby’s guardian. You make the choices during your labor and delivery, from medical decisions to who is allowed in the room. After you have your baby, you can hold them as much or as little as you want. If you decide you want to parent, you have every right to do so. If you’re not comfortable with the agency or family you have chosen, you can choose someone else. You are the parent until you sign your parental rights over to the adoptive parents.

7. It’s okay to be sad.

Just because placing your baby for adoption is the best thing for their future doesn’t mean it’s not okay to be sad about it. You love your baby, and to not be their everyday mommy is hard. You will go through periods of depression, anger, bargaining, and every other phase of grief. Eventually, you will reach longer and longer periods of acceptance and peace between the mourning. The grief does not end, but it will change. It won’t always hurt the way it does now, and the way it will feel shortly after placement. It’s okay to be sad, but know you won’t feel that way forever.

8. Adoption is beautiful.

Watching the adoptive couple hold their new baby is beautiful. Continuing an open relationship with them, growing closer both to them and your birth child is beautiful. Nothing makes me happier than to see my birth daughter play with her big brother who loves her dearly. Had I not placed my baby for adoption, I wouldn’t be the strong, independent, driven person that I am today. Adoption is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. It can be that way for you, too.

Learn as much as you can about adoption and the type of adoption that you want now. Being educated is the best way you can feel comfortable and happy about your adoption plan. Placing your baby isn’t simple or easy, but giving your baby the best life you can is worth it.

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.