After waking up from a nap that almost never happens, I pick up my cell phone to see I have several missed texts and an email from my childhood best friend, Evee. Each one seems to escalate with a sense of panic. The main theme I notice across each is “adoption” and the email has “how to give a baby up for adoption” in the first line, and several subsequent lines.
Wow. Evee and a baby. These aren’t words I had considered together. I imagine the stack of pregnancy tests with two pink lines, and a few with the word “Pregnant” actually written on the test. She would want to be sure and then extra-sure before she reached out to anyone—especially me. I am a doer and a fixer, so if she reached out to me, it was because she knew I would be armed with action items.
After taking a really deep breath and feeling less than rested after my amazing nap, I consider Evee’s question, “How to give a baby up for adoption?” As an adoptive mom, Evee knows that I am passionate both about adoption and about helping expectant mommas keep their babies if that’s what they want (but feel like the world is telling them it isn’t an option). I’m both shocked and honored that she reached out to me knowing that Evee is also a fixer and a doer and doesn’t often ask for help. Let’s be honest– she doesn’t ever ask for help.
I pick up my cell phone to text her back and then decide I have a lot more to say than what would fit in a text. Knowing that she wouldn’t answer if I call her, I hit “Reply” on her email. Seeing “How to Give a Baby Up for Adoption” hurts me at my core, because I know that no matter which decision she makes, she is not giving up her baby. I leave it for now, and push down the need to say that to her because I know for now she needs practical answers and solutions, not my passion to make sure she knows that placing her baby with a loving family or moving the mountains keeping her from keeping her baby is not giving up her baby. We’ll talk about the wording later.
I start my email telling Evee how honored I am that she trusted me with this bombshell, and promising her that I will help her every step of the way. I remind her that although I’m sure she feels like she needs to have every i dotted and every t crossed, like yesterday, she actually has plenty of time to explore her options and make the best plan for her and for her baby. There are several avenues for women who are looking for more information about how to give up a baby for adoption. There are pros and cons to them all, and there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all decision.
The option people are probably most familiar with when they consider adoption is using an adoption agency. Many of these are faith-based; although, most are not specific to any one denomination. They are usually staffed with a multi-disciplinary team including caseworkers,
counselors, a legal team, and advocates dedicated to just the expectant momma. They have the staff available to help explore any and all options available to women like my friend Evee. They can help finetune your adoption plan (open/closed/somewhere in the middle?), explore profiles of potential adoptive parents that are available and ready to be a family now, and talk about how that process looks from now until delivery day. On their staff, many agencies have counselors that are available to speak with expectant parents now, throughout their pregnancy, and long after the adoption. This service is incredibly important when considering which route to take, as there are a lot of emotions (an emotional rollercoaster would be an accurate statement) during pregnancy, and during/after adoption. It can be super helpful to have someone not directly connected to your story available to talk to about all of these big feelings you may experience.
Sometimes all the pieces fall into place, and you may feel like you don’t need any help with the adoption process. However, adoption is a tricky, complex legal process that should always be navigated with the assistance of legal representation. Adoption attorneys can provide advice, direction, and connect expectant mommas with waiting families or agencies with waiting families. They can also provide reliable information about birth parent rights and laws specific to your state about adoption, which can vary greatly from state to state. They will file all of the appropriate paperwork to make sure that this process is done correctly. Many agencies such as The Gladney Center for Adoption have a legal team ready and available to you to answer these questions.
The Little Decisions that are Actually Really Big Decisions
I can almost imagine Evee’s eye roll as she thinks, “Yeah—I know THOSE things, but how do I actually give up a baby for adoption? How do I decide what I want my baby’s family to look like, and then how do I find them? How do I make a birth plan at the same time I’m making an adoption plan? Will I really be in control of these decisions?”
As an expectant momma, you have the ability to decide as little or as many dynamics of the family you choose for your little one, including
– Race (Do you want your child’s family to be the same race as you? Do you want a multi-racial family for your baby?)
– Religion (Is there a religious preference you need for your baby’s family to have? Is there one that you are not comfortable with your child growing up in?)
– Marriage characteristics (married/single/same-sex marriage; do you prefer one over the other? Is there a dynamic that you are not ok with for your baby? )
– Other Children (Do you prefer a family who already has children? Will be first-time parents? Have other adopted children?)
– Location of potential parents (Do you want someone who will live close by or far away?)
– Age/occupation of potential parents (What type of role model do you want for your child? What does financial stability look like to you? Is life experience an important factor?))
These dynamics can be a simple guide for you as you review profiles of potential families, or can be set-in-stone must-haves that your caseworker will use to filter potential families to share with you. Your caseworker will then be able to share profiles of potential families with you (either through letters these families have written or in special books/webpages they have prepared to share their family with parents considering adoption placement). Then, depending on what you want, they can set up a meeting: a phone call, an email, a Zoom call, or an in-person meeting so you can further get to know this family.
Often, once you have connected with your baby’s potential adoptive family, you can share your birth plan with them. This plan covers what you want to happen from the time you go into labor until you are discharged from the hospital. The potential adoptive parents can be as involved in the actual delivery as you want; it ranges from being in the delivery room, staying in the waiting room during the actual delivery, or coming to the hospital at discharge with no interaction between you/your family and theirs. As with everything else, this is your decision and should be based on what is best for you and your baby. Your caseworker can help you with this plan and help you communicate it to your healthcare providers (OB-GYN and nurses) and your baby’s potential adoptive family. Although it is an exciting time for them as well, this is your birth plan and needs to focus on what helps you feel the most supported and comfortable during a huge event during your life–bringing a baby into the world.
According to GladneyAdoption.com, “adoption has evolved and expectant mothers have more control than ever before. Ultimately, adoption is a plan crafted by you. And the plans are as varied and unique as each expectant mother.” You should feel supported and empowered to make this journey feel right. If you feel pressure or guilt, re-evaluate your support team. This pregnancy and adoption journey is supposed to be about you making a plan that leaves you feeling confident in the choice you make and the plans you set in place for you and your baby. As an adoptive mom, I encourage you to find a potential adoptive family that will advocate for you and makes sure that your plans are viewed as important and well followed by everyone on your team.
One Question, or A Million Questions
You may start this journey to adoption with a stack of positive pregnancy tests and an email to a best friend asking “How to Give Up a Baby for Adoption?” but you actually have a million questions to consider. Thankfully, it’s a process, and one well-answered question will likely lead to several more. Overwhelming? Probably. Take a deep breath, drink lots of water, and know that these questions don’t all need answers today. And there really is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. Finding a few good people to be your sounding board (listen to all of your questions and possible answers) and support during this journey will be extremely helpful. Sometimes your family and friends are the best fit for this, and other times, they are too emotionally involved in the situation (because your answers to these questions affect them too). In cases where your usual go-to support is off-limits, adoption agencies, pregnancy centers, online forums, and other organizations in adoption advocacy can provide you with contact information for you to connect with. During my adoption journey, the person who was the most amazing at helping me see all the angles I didn’t always see was actually a birth mom and an adoptive mom at different phases of her life.
Your Story Doesn’t End Here
During hard or stressful times, it’s easy to feel like there is no good answer or all options have a bad outcome. Don’t minimize how important you are. Don’t make yourself the forever villain in
this story. You are writing a beautiful story for your baby, and for you. If you need help, ask for it. It is ok not to have all of the answers today. But find your team who is going to help you every step of this journey. Find ones that tell you that you are beautiful. Find ones that bring you the M&Ms and Dr. Pepper you are craving. Find the ones who encourage you to chase your dreams, whatever they are. These may have all been the things I said to my friend Evee as I finished my email to her, and then went to my car to drive to her house— because I knew she wouldn’t answer her phone and I needed to hear her voice … I needed to tell her that maybe today she is wondering how to give a baby up for adoption, but she is really wondering how to give her baby a life she creates for him or her—whether with her or the family she chooses for her baby. I needed to remind her that we don’t give up, especially not when something is as important as the little peanut growing in her tummy. I needed to remind her, just like I want to remind you, to take one step at a time. You are not alone in this journey.