If you are pregnant and considering adoption, the ins and outs of the adoption process can be overwhelming. As an expectant parent, you are likely filled with many questions as you begin to navigate your potential journey toward adoption. While the adoption process can be overwhelming, there are numerous resources available for you. The circumstances surrounding adoption vary widely, so it is important to really think about whether adoption is the right choice for you and your family. Despite whether or not your pregnancy was planned, you are here researching adoption, and making an informed decision is to be commended.
Searching the Internet and gathering various opinions from your community of peers will likely send your head spinning. Society often paints a misinformed portrait of adoption, and when it is painted with a positive light—which isn’t very often—it can sometimes not include the hard parts. Not to mention expectant parents may have friends and family who are quick to have their own opinion. More common than not, friends and family do not have a thorough understanding of the adoption process which can make for feelings of loneliness. No one enjoys difficult things, but within the adoption process, the hard things can become easier with the right understanding and mindset. As an expectant parent, you hold the key to the adoption process. The adoption triad, as it is often called, refers to you the expectant parent, the adoptive parent(s), and the child. Within that triad is a great deal of emotional complexities. However, if you travel through your adoption journey with the lens of what is best for your child, you will remain successful in your decision-making process concerning your child. This article will seek to organize the adoption process into a meaningful overview, which will hopefully help you. While not every detail of the adoption process will be discussed here, the overall points of the adoption process will be.
What Is Adoption?
Adoption is a “legal process in which parental rights to a child (whose biological parents’ parental rights have been severed) are bestowed on adopting parents, creating a parent–child relationship where one did not previously exist. The adopted child has all the same legal rights and responsibilities as a biological child, including rights of inheritance” (Adoption.com Wiki).
While the term “severed” may seem harsh, it is important to understand that as an expectant parent, you are the centerpiece of the adoption triad, and nothing happens without your continual consent and initiation. In order to be able to decide if adoption is the right decision for you and the circumstances surrounding your pregnancy, you first have to truly understand what adoption means. To further your knowledge of adoption, let me also explain that it is a matching process as well. As the expectant parent, you will be given a say in which prospective adoptive parents you would like your child to be placed with. So, while the legal jargon will exist, you will have your personal touch on the parent-matching process.
What Do You Want in Adoptive Parents?
You will need to decide what type of family you want for your child. This will include everything from their occupations, their family structure, what they do in their spare time, and everything in between. Think of this as the “best-case scenario” for your child. Do you want your child to be in a culturally diverse family or part of a certain religion? Remember that there will be a matching of sorts taking place with the prospective adoptive parents, so you will need to be sure of what you are looking for in a family.
In adoption, the process of selecting an adoptive family for your child is often called the “matching process.” This process typically involves you reviewing several profile books of adoptive families that meet your predetermined criteria. For example, if you have expressed that you want a culturally diverse family, the adoption agency that you are working with will only show you the profile books of the families that met that specific criterion. Profile books are made available in digital format as well as hard copies. Meeting adoptive parents in person can be an option based on your request. While the matching process can be intimidating, and perhaps uncomfortable, the purpose is to serve as a time for you to get some insight into prospective adoptive parents. No family will be absolutely perfect, so you will need to keep “what is best for my child” at the forefront of your mind. For further information on selecting adoptive parents, click here.
What Type of Adoption Do I Want?
As you learn more about the adoption process, you will find that there are different types of adoptions available to you. These include open, closed, and semi-open adoptions. Kinship adoptions also exist, but these are adoptions that occur within biological families. For example, an aunt and uncle legally adopt their biological niece. Open adoption means that the relationship between the biological family and adoptive family is open, which would likely mean in-person visits. The levels of openness can vary and change over time, but—in general—an open adoption involves both parties being as open as possible. Some examples of open adoption may include the biological family attending the birthday party of the child or maintaining social media contact including video chats and similar media outlets. A closed adoption means that there is no ongoing contact between either party. Lastly, a semi-open adoption means that there is contact between both parties periodically. This contact does not likely include in-person visits but instead may include letters and pictures throughout each year. You will be able to decide what level of openness, if any at all, you’d like in the adoption plan you create for your child. Additionally, these types of adoptions will be discussed with the adoption agency you partner with during your adoption process so you will know what the adoptive family is comfortable with as well upon matching with them.
Who Can Help?
If you have decided that adoption is right for you and you are ready to proceed with placing your child for adoption, you will need to select an adoption agency to help you complete the process. You have options with this. You can partner with an adoption agency or an attorney. This article offers a great comparison between partnering with an adoption agency and an attorney.
If you happen to have someone that is willing to adopt your child that is not part of an adoption agency, you will still need an attorney to assist with the legal portions of the process. This would be considered a private adoption because it took place separate from an adoption agency. Adoption laws and procedures vary state by state, so you will need to become familiar with what the law of adoption is in your state. Adoption professionals will be able to assist you with the adoption laws within your state. Adoption professionals will also be able to provide you with resources and support before, during, and after placement.
Adoption Is Right for Me, Now What?
Now that you have decided that placing your child for adoption is right for you and your family, you will begin to work closely with the agency or attorney you have selected. These adoption professionals will begin to guide you through each step. Some of these steps will include paperwork and other legal discussions that can potentially be overwhelming, but it should be the goal of your adoption professionals to keep your well-being as their top priority. During this time, you will ideally be provided with services like preplacement counseling to begin to help you understand and process what placing a child for adoption will look and feel like.
During your adoption journey, it is critically important that you get all of the counseling that you need. Such services can continue and should continue after placement. Your adoption professional will partner closely with you through the initial stages and into the matching stage with an adoptive family, placement, and finalization. Each of these stages of the adoption process brings its own challenges. As the expectant parent, you need to continue to communicate openly and honestly.
Adoption: From Start to Finish
Hopefully, at this point, you have a general overview of the adoption process. While this article does not discuss the adoption process in complete detail, it does provide a general understanding. As an expectant parent, you will quickly discover that within the adoption process you will have to muster up every ounce of strength, courage, and selflessness that you can. No part of the adoption process is easy. The emotional challenges are monumental. And unfortunately, the decisions that must be made in all of their difficulties hardly wait for your emotions to catch up. The adoption process should not be portrayed as an easy thing because it is far from easy. This is not meant to scare you as an expectant parent, but it is meant to keep you knowledgeable of the process ahead. With all that being said, however, there are resources across our country that make the adoption process manageable and a blessing for all involved. As with anything else, there can be less than desirable aspects to adoption, especially when you partner with agencies or other entities that function in unethical ways or those entities that approach adoption as a business. Adoption is a sacred and tender process, and it should be treated as such—especially when it comes to you: the expectant parent.
As a reminder, as you begin the adoption process, remember what is most important to you in terms of your child. Search your heart in light of your circumstances. Then, seek trusted counsel as you strive to make the most informed decision as possible regarding your pregnancy. Make an intentional effort to remember that if you do choose adoption and you walk through the adoption process from beginning to end, that you will need post-placement care. It will be easy to have the mindset of, “It’s done, so now I can move on.” However, that outlook can potentially lead to emotional trauma for you down the road. To avoid that and to maintain an emotionally healthy life after placement, you will need to be disciplined in your post-placement care. You may find yourself having to advocate for yourself as you obtain counseling. If the adoption professionals you partnered with do not offer sufficient post-placement care, it is critical that you continue to seek it. If post-placement communication with your child is important to you, your adoption professional will be able to guide you through working with your adoptive family to facilitate that in the future.
Regardless of whether or not you actually complete the adoption process, your wisdom in evaluating all of your options as an expectant parent is to be complimented. Your desire to do what is best for you and your family speaks volumes to the love you are already showing for your child. Parenting comes in many different forms, and adoption is just one of those forms. If adoption ends up being part of your story, please know there are strong and thriving adoption communities that will not only love you through it, but will also support you as an expectant parent.
As an adoptive parent myself, I can attest to the strength my son’s birth mother showed. We are continuing to navigate our adoption both separately and together as we seek to do what is best for our son. Regardless of your decision to place, know that the love you have for your child is already being displayed. If you have additional questions concerning the adoption process or want to learn more about what it is like to be an expectant parent, please visit this link.
Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit PregnancyHotline.org or call 1-800-GLADNEY and speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.