Positive outcomes are always welcome, but they are especially needed and desirable during the challenging adoption journey. Planning that journey is the key to its success. An expectant parent’s task is far from complete once a decision has been made to pursue an adoptive placement. Specific plans must be made about how that goal will be achieved. There are benefits of making an adoption plan early. By taking the time to map out an adoption plan the expectant parents can have a better idea of what they want regarding the adoption. They can also know where to start, feel a sense of control, experience reduced stress, develop healthy thought processes, and have peace of mind.

Starting Point

A Chinese proverb states that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Although this proverb was not directed at adoption, its reasoning is applicable because adoption is a journey. An adoption entails much more than simply making the decision to place a child for adoption; it extends to how that decision will be implemented and even what occurs post-placement.

Moving forward with an intended adoptive placement is likely to seem daunting to an expectant parent. So many questions must be answered and details determined. But the process has to begin somewhere and making an adoption plan is the starting point. An expectant parent should understand that an adoption plan is merely a guide about what she wants to have happen during the pregnancy, at the hospital, and following placement. It is not an official set in stone document. There is no one-size-fits-all adoption plan because the facts will vary from case to case. Additionally, each situation is different since an expectant mother is a unique individual with her own goals, desires, and needs. As circumstances change, so must the adoption plan. There has to be a plan A, but plan B, C, and D may evolve as the situation unfolds. Compiling an adoption plan is beneficial because it at least gives the expectant parent a starting point with which to work.

Knowledge

An adoption plan allows an expectant mother to outline her strategy for effecting the placement of her child. But in order to make a plan, options must be considered. To achieve a well-thought-out adoption plan, the expectant mother has to obtain information on her options. Devising a plan involves her gathering information and clarifying her decisions. Working with an adoption professional on an adoption plan the expectant mother will gain an understanding of what the steps in the adoption process are, what legal proceedings are involved, what the time frames are, and what decisions are within her control. Taking in this information is a crucial step to formulating a plan that best meets her desires and needs. Increasing her knowledge of how her situation can be handled and what lies ahead is an important benefit of making an adoption plan.

Control

Facing an unexpected pregnancy or a situation where your parenting is not the best option for a child is a difficult place to be. Many things are out of an expectant parent’s control. For the expectant mother, her body may feel like it has taken on a life of its own with hormones randomly pinging. She cannot control the reactions of the expectant father, her family, her friends, her employer, or potential employers to the news of her pregnancy. She cannot mandate the process for applying for pregnancy Medicaid or how quickly the application is processed. She cannot dictate when the OB is available for appointments. In fact, all she can control is what she does. Controlling what is within her ability to control will give her a sense of empowerment when everything else in her life may feel out of her control. 

So what can the expectant mother control? Sometimes all people can control is themselves, their attitude, their reactions, and their efforts. An adoption plan for her child is an effort that is 100% within an expectant mother’s control. It is more effective to put her energy into things she can control than worrying about or stewing over those things that she cannot control.

What things may an expectant mother control if she devises an adoption plan? She may be surprised at the length of the list. First, she decides with whom she wants to work on the adoptive placement. Will she seek assistance from an adoption agency or an adoption attorney?  She may also set specific requirements for the selection of an adoptive couple. Does she have a religious preference? Will she consider couples with a child already in the home? She can determine how the adoptive couple is to be chosen. Will she review resumes or profile books to choose or will she allow the adoption professional to make the selection for her? 

The expectant mother can identify what type of contact she wants with the adoptive couple. Will this be an open, closed, or semi-open adoption? She can also indicate whether she wants to meet the adoptive parents or not and how she wants things to be handled at the hospital. Does she want the adoptive parents at the hospital for the birth? Does she want to see or spend time with the baby? Determining the answers to these many questions will undeniably give the birth mother more of a sense of control of her situation.

Without an adoption plan, an expectant parent actually has less control of her already seemingly out of control situation. Someone must determine what the adoption plan will be. If the expectant parent fails to make a plan for that journey, then she is effectively defaulting to allowing someone else to make key decisions for what will happen in her life. They will choose what family adopts her child. As Alan Lakein noted, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

Devising an adoption plan allows an expectant parent to increase both her actual and perceived control over the situation. Actual control is gained because the birth mother has identified her concern, i.e., what do I do about my child’s future? She has determined what she can do about that concern, i.e., I can devise an adoption plan to address how my child will be provided for. And then, most importantly, she has taken action to develop a concrete plan as to how her goal of providing for her child’s future can be attained. Having a tangible plan to refer to will also increase the expectant mother’s perceived control of the situation.

While an expectant mother cannot hit a “do-over” button and change her current situation, she can control the future environment in which her child will be placed. She can set out the details for what she envisions is the best nest for the baby and how she wants her child’s future to unfold. She can and should control what she can. And being in control of her child’s future is a great benefit to her.

Stress Reduction

A lack of a sense of control can leave an expectant parent feeling fearful, anxious, and worried. One of the key reasons for stress is because an individual does not feel in control. A greater feeling of control then leads to a reduction in stress. Having an adoption plan provides a sense of certainty during an uncertain time.

One of the biggest fears humans have is the fear of the unknown. In fact, some psychologists have characterized the fear of the unknown as one fear to rule them all. If there is no adoption plan in place, an expectant mother is faced with a myriad of unknowns. How will she get to the doctor? What will happen with the baby in the hospital? Who will be raising her child? Will she get to know how her child is doing after placement? All these unknowns are made certain when an adoption plan is put together. Less unknowns equals less stress.

Denial is a common coping method. Some expectant parents cling to this method and elect to not deal with the situation until they are forced to do so. This strategy might work in the short term, but how stressful will it be when the expectant mother goes into labor and has no idea how an adoption will be arranged and who will take placement of her baby? Stress is undeniably reduced when life-altering decisions are not made under the gun. Making an adoption plan during the pregnancy avoids the imposition of undue stress on the expectant parent at the last minute when labor and delivery concerns are front and center.

Part of any well-thought-out adoption plan will address the stress which the expectant parent is facing. How will it be managed? Will counseling be needed? What other steps would alleviate stress in the situation? Does the birth mother need a transportation issue resolved so that she can get to work, the doctor, and the grocery store? Having a stress-management strategy contained in an adoption plan will benefit the expectant mother by providing a means for stress reduction.

Affirmation

According to scientists, people have about 70,000 thoughts per day. If most of an expectant parent’s thoughts are negative, then her outlook will unsurprisingly be a gloomy one. How can she dispel negative thoughts though?

Healthy affirmations combat negative thinking. With an adoption plan in place, an expectant parent has a tangible weapon to fight back against swirling negative thoughts. In order to have devised that adoption plan, the expectant parent had to engage in problem-solving. Critical thinking was utilized to identify issues in the situation and how to resolve them thereby increasing the odds of a positive outcome in the end. She can commend herself for stepping up to the plate and meeting the situation head-on in a responsible way despite her circumstances.

Shifting the focus of thoughts can also help to combat negative thinking. For example, an expectant mother might say, “I’m a failure because I am not in a position to parent my child.” Having an adoption plan in hand will allow the expectant mother to shift that thought to instead be, “I’ve done my duty as a mother and have taken action to assure that my child has a stable and loving home where his or her need will be met.” A more positive mental attitude is yet another benefit of having an adoption plan.

A Healthier Pregnancy And Baby

Stress can harm an expectant mother’s health and can also have harmful and lasting effects on her baby. Pregnant women under stress can experience accelerated heart rates and increases in blood pressure which effects can contribute to the increased chance of premature delivery. According to medical experts, irritable and anxious babies may result if the mother is stressed during pregnancy. Having an adoption plan in place will reduce stress by providing the expectant mother a sense of control. A healthier mother and baby are definitely a benefit when an adoption plan has been devised.

Peace of Mind

“What if?” is a disturbing question. People tend to mentally torture themselves by asking this question. Once a placement is made, a birth parent will be tempted to go down that path and wonder “What if?”

The existence of an adoption plan sets the stage for future peace of mind. The birth parent will not have to ask: “What if I had taken a more active role in planning for my child’s future?;” “What if I had spoken up and expressed what I really wanted for my child?;” or “What if I had met the situation head-on instead of avoiding it?” The dreaded “what if” questions along those lines can be avoided if the expectant parents say, “Let’s make an adoption plan.” Planning provides the benefit of more peace of mind that the parent has done all within his or her control.

Benjamin Franklin voiced that failing to plan is planning to fail. An expectant parent fails to provide herself with the most beneficial way to proceed when making an adoptive placement if no adoption plan is devised. Having a plan offers her a number of benefits including a place to begin, additional knowledge of the process and its options, a feeling of control, a reduction in stress, affirmation about his or her actions, a healthier pregnancy and baby, and future peace of mind. Having an adoption plan promotes a positive outcome with several benefits beyond making sure a placement is made.