Placing Babies for Adoption

Placing babies for adoption or making an adoption planWhich one is correct? 

You have discovered you are pregnant and have chosen to continue your pregnancy and work on placing your baby for adoption. You may be Googling more about placing babies for adoption or going onto social media sites for more information. The first thing you might notice is that some articles, websites, and people use certain language when speaking about adoption while others might use words or phrases that you might find offensive or harsh.

Some phrases you might have heard are “putting babies up for adoption” or “giving up your baby.” Some more appropriate and positive terms used by adoption professionals and families today include “making an adoption plan for your child” or “choosing adoption.” When people use the words “putting up” or “giving up” it can indicate that they are doing something careless or giving something away without thinking. When we think about placing a baby for adoption or choosing adoption, it reminds those you are talking to that you have thought about your plan and are making the choice on your own. We will talk about what an adoption plan means and how to take the first steps later, but it is important that all those involved in the adoption triad use language that others will understand and accept. 

What do I call myself in the adoption triad? More importantly, what is an adoption triad? 

While doing research you will often see the term “adoption triad” and may be unsure of what it is. If you think of a triangle, it involves three sides, much like the three groups involved in the adoption plan: the birth parent or parents, the adoptive family or parent, and the child. When you imagine a standard triangle, all sides are equal. No side is less important than another side, and the triangle would collapse if the sides were not equal. The same is true in an adoption triad. Without the love of a selfless birth mother placing her child for adoption, an adoptive family could not be blessed with a child. If one side of the triangle is not there, the strength is gone. In the same manner, if all sides of the adoption triad are not on the same page, the triangle is not equal and does not stand on its own even with all members. 

When a pregnant woman is placing a baby for adoption or making an adoption plan, she is called an expectant mother or expectant mom until she has the baby, after which she is typically called a birth mother or birth mom. When thinking of what you might call yourself as the birth mother— which is the traditional term—you may have heard some incorrect phrases referring to the expectant mother. Often people incorrectly refer to a birth mother or even an adoptive mother as the “real mom.” This incorrect term leads one to believe that one mother is more important than another, which is simply not true. Often, in the adoption world, you will hear birth mother, birth father, birth mom, or birth dad. More recently, the terms tummy mom or first mom have been used. Often, when a birth mother begins a relationship with an adoptive family, she might choose a name she would like to call herself that makes her feel comfortable in her role in the child’s life. 

Why are expectant mothers placing their babies for adoption? Is there something wrong with me? 

There are various reasons a woman decides to place her baby for adoption. In some instances, her age may cause her to feel that she is not ready to be a parent. She may still be in school and does not feel that she is mature or emotionally able to take care of a child. Other times, a woman may not be in a safe situation for a child. She may be in a homeless situation or simply not have a stable place to live and may not feel that it is fair to bring a child into that environment. The conception of the child may also be a reason that a woman decides that placing her child for adoption is her best option. If the child was conceived through rape or an abusive relationship, it may be too difficult for the woman to raise this child as her own. A woman who becomes pregnant may have several children she is raising on her own, or even with a partner, and believes that adding another child will negatively affect this child or her other children due to stress or lack of finances needed to raise several children at once. Other times, a woman is simply not ready to parent a child or may have never had a desire to raise children, so she may choose to go forward with an adoption plan and place her child. 

As you look at all the situations mentioned above, this does not mean that all women in those circumstances should choose an adoption plan. Each woman must look at her life and her situation and do what is best for her and her baby. In looking at the reasons a woman might be placing her baby for adoption or making an adoption plan for her child, it is important that an expectant mother not feel judged for choosing not to parent a child, as she must be admired for continuing her pregnancy and wanting to make the best decision for herself and her baby. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if you think that you are not ready to be a mom at the current time. Only you know what you can handle at this point in your life, and those who do not support your decision may one day come to understand that you thought through your plan and made the best choice for you and your baby. 

What types of families adopt and why are they adopting?

Just like in biological families, there are all types of adoptive families. Various agencies have requirements concerning what types of families they work with and, as you are researching agencies, this might be important information to you. In many cases of individuals or families who are pursuing adoption, individuals might be unable to have a child of their own as a result of infertility. Singles or couples may try to become pregnant and may have suffered a miscarriage or have been unable to get pregnant on their own or through help from a specialist. Once families have taken the time to grieve the fact that they may not be able to have a biological child, they may decide to pursue adoption to start a family. Some families can have one child biologically and cannot have another child, others have had biological children and have a calling or desire to adopt a child. All families who are pursuing adoption want to start their family or expand their family and adopt for that reason.

When deciding that you are ready to look for an adoptive family, it is important to know what type of family you can see your child living with and what qualities in an adoptive parent or adoptive parents are important to you. 

How do families find babies to adopt, or how do expectant mothers place their baby with a family? 

You know that you want to place your baby for adoption and make an adoption plan. How do you go about finding a family and when is the best time to do this? Often, an expectant mother will want to immediately find a family for her child. One thing to think about before you decide to find a family for your child is your commitment to the adoption plan. It is important to remember that once you select and commit to an adoptive family for your child, this family is expecting as well. They are planning a nursery, possibly telling family and friends about the baby, and might even have a baby shower. If you are having any doubts about the adoption itself, it might not be the time to involve a family. Often when working with an agency, financial assistance is discussed. More than likely, an agency can help with these pregnancy-related expenses before you are connected with a family; however, when working with an attorney on an adoption plan, they may require you to select a family before receiving funds of any kind. Make sure that you do not feel pressured to take a step before you are ready because involving a family in the adoption process is one of the biggest steps of commitment for an expectant mother. 

You might be asking yourself where these families come from. If you are working on your plan with an adoption agency, they typically have a list of families with whom they are working. Profiles include information about the family, pictures of the family members, as well as their home and other important events and people in their lives. The families that agencies work with have been through training, home studies, and background checks, and they meet all the requirements it takes for them to adopt through an agency. More recently, expectant mothers are connecting with adoptive families on Facebook pages and other forms of social media, almost like a matching site for a dating app. As an expectant mother, make sure that the families you are speaking with or messaging have been through the same training and background checks that they would go through if they were working with a private agency. 

What happens after placing my baby for adoption or after the baby is born? 

Before your child is born, you need to begin thinking about what type of relationship you want to have with an adoptive family and what type of connection will help you through the grief and loss process of adoption. You may have heard of closed and open adoptions (or semi-open, which is commonly used). These words are used to describe the type of relationship an adoptive family will have with a birth mother after the child is born. Some women may believe for their life circumstances and healing that closed adoption is better, which does not allow for contact between the family and the birth mother after the baby is born. More common in adoptions today is the semi-open or more open relationship which involves the family keeping in touch with the birth mother through an adoption agency or with her directly. 

Deciding what type of contact you want with a family in the future is one of the first things you should discuss with a prospective adoptive family so that you can make sure everyone is on the same page. There are various ways that families can stay in touch with their birth mother, especially in the high-tech world we are living in. Exchanging phone calls, text messages, emails, or communicating through facetime and video chats are ways to keep up with one another throughout the years. In cases where a birth mother may not be completely sure that she will want to continue regular contact, a family can write letters and updates that can be sent to or held by an agency until she is ready to see them. Another idea is a picture-sharing site in which pictures and videos may be uploaded and viewed when a birth mother is emotionally ready to see them. These memories may include special moments and holidays that a family believes may be important for a birth mother to see. 

In placing your child for adoption, remember that there may be times that you may not want to see pictures or have updates about your child; that is perfectly natural. You might be in the healing process and unable to handle seeing a picture or you may feel that doing so would reopen wounds. If you have an adoptive family with whom you have a relationship, they will understand; however, you need to communicate those needs and feelings with them so that you are not bombarded with pictures or updates at a time when you are not ready. 

Will I regret my decision to place my baby for adoption?

After placing a baby for adoption or making an adoption plan, your life will have its ups and downs and you may be in a different place than you were when your baby was born. You may have moments that you look at your current life and think that you could handle being a parent right then. What you must always remember is that you came to the decision to make an adoption plan and, although things might be better, you thought that it was best at the time to place your child for adoption. 

If you believe you need counseling or help with emotions regarding your adoption, whether it is weeks, months, or even years later, you must reach out to someone for help. It is normal to have times of sadness around birthdays or holidays, and you must decide what works best for you to get through those times. You may take the day your child was born to reflect by looking at pictures or even having a phone call or video chat with the adoptive family, or you may choose to do something special for yourself on that day. Whatever you choose, always know that you are making the decision based on what your emotions can handle at the time. 

All in all, no matter what brought you to decide to place your child for adoption, always remember that you are giving or have given someone the greatest gift imaginable—the gift of family. 

Marcy Pederson
Marcy Pederson