As I write this article, I cannot fathom the feelings and emotions that an expectant mother goes through when she finds out she is pregnant and it was not expected. The thoughts that must run through your head. . . What am I going to do? How will the birth father react? How will my parents react? Do I abort the baby? Do I keep it? These, and many more questions are on your mind as a result of this new adventure you must come to terms with. One question you or someone you know may have is, “Should I put my baby up for adoption?” If you are seriously considering this option, another question you may have is, “How do I put my baby up for adoption?”
Reasons an Expectant Mother Looks into Adoption
Many young women who are still in high school–as well as increasingly in junior high and middle school–find themselves pregnant unexpectedly. Some young women, and even young men, think, “We only had sex once. It can’t happen after only one time.” The truth of the matter is that it only takes one time. Because you find yourself in this situation, you may immediately think of abortion, even if you have been against it in the past. Being afraid has a way of making you think about doing something you would not normally do.
There are young women who are in college, whether just beginning as a freshman or as far advanced as a senior, who know that it takes more than love to raise a baby. College is not cheap, and most college students, along with classwork, homework and studying must hold down a job to make ends meet. Raising a baby takes time and finances that, as a college student, you may not have.
Being fresh out of college, or even on a career path, you may want to get that career off the ground before considering raising a baby. You may also not be in a stable place financially to have kids. Babies are expensive and become even more so the older they get.
Adoption…What Does it Mean?
Even though you are considering placing your baby for adoption, you may find that you don’t know much about it. As per Dictionary.com, adoption means, “Someone or a couple that takes a child that is not biologically theirs and raises him/her as if he/she was.” Should you choose to place your baby for adoption, there are many areas of adoption you may want to research so that you have a better idea of what to expect throughout the process. To name a few, you may want to research types of adoption, how to choose an adoption agency that is suited to your needs, what an adoption attorney is and why you need one, and how to go about placing your baby for adoption.
Steps to Placing Your Baby for Adoption
There are several steps you must take when putting your baby up for adoption. You want to make certain you understand each step as you go along.
Make the Decision
This is quite possibly the hardest decision you will ever make. But, on the other hand, it can be the most selfless and rewarding, knowing you are helping a couple or individual reach a milestone they might have lost hope for. Do not be pushed into making any choice by anyone, however, because you do not want to regret it later. Trust yourself, your feelings, your instincts, your gut. Those will aid you in making the best decision for yourself and the baby you carry.
You may find yourself going through the grieving process even before you make your choice, but you will more than likely go through it afterward. There is no set schedule on which area of grief you are in at any given time, and you may find that it comes and goes. The stages of grief are:
- Denial: Denial is where you want to hide from the fact that, 1) you are even pregnant, and 2) that you have to decide what you want to do about the situation. Some young women hide their pregnancy as long as they possibly can, not wanting their parents or friends to know.
- Anger: Anger is one stage that you will experience multiple times throughout your adoption journey. You may feel angry at yourself, the birth father, or even the world because you might think that it is unfair that you have to go through this at all. Anger is an emotion that covers up hurt, which might be closer to the truth as you make choices you never thought you would have to make.
- Bargaining: Bargaining is where you make assurance with the universe or a higher power that you would do something . . . anything for things to go back to how they were.
- Depression/Isolation: You might feel alone because you could well be the only one your age you know that is pregnant, so you find yourself falling into bouts of depression where you do not find joy in hobbies you have. You may find that you would rather be alone anyway, hence the isolation rather than being around people.
- Acceptance: This is the most difficult stage to reach and a lot of people do not get here. If you do, it is through a lot of work and soul-searching.
Finding an Adoption Agency and Adoption Attorney
When you have made the decision that you want to put your baby up for adoption, the next thing you want to do is find an adoption agency to work with. An agency that is located in Texas but aids birth mothers/parents worldwide is The Gladney Center for Adoption. They are the best choice of agency to work with but if they are not suited to your adoption journey, they will help you find an agency that is. It is very important that you find an agency that works well with you because your caseworker will be a part of your adoption journey even after the adoption is finalized. Most, if not all communication between you and the adoptive parents will be through your caseworkers.
What is an adoption attorney? These are attorneys that specialize in adoption. There are attorneys who specialize in other areas such as personal injury and family law. You could hire any type of attorney and they would know enough about adoption to get you through the process; however, you would be better off with an attorney that specializes in adoption, especially when it comes to the finances associated with adoption cases. He/she makes certain that, in regards to the legal part of the adoption, you are covered and everything is handled correctly. The adoption agency and the adoption attorney work closely with each other to make the transition as painless as they possibly can.
Constructing Your Adoption Plan
What is an adoption plan, you ask? This is where you get the liberty of coming up with what you want your adoption journey to look like once your baby is born. There are three types of plans, and you will choose the arrangement that is satisfactory to both you and the prospective adoptive parents.
- Closed adoption: For some birth mothers, when they are first researching adoption, they will go directly to this type of adoption because, at that time, it seems the least painful. Closed adoptions were the only way a young woman could put her baby up for adoption before 1970. This class of adoption is formed so that the birth mother/parents do not have any contact, nor do they know what happens to their baby after he/she is placed with his/her adoptive parents. As mentioned earlier, this seems to be the easiest choice for some birth mothers because she may think that it would make it easier to move on with her life once she has given birth. The biggest issue, even today, is that when the child is old enough, usually 18, he/she will begin to search for his/her birth mother/parents. The records remain sealed unless a judge unseals them, and, even then, there could be parts of the adoption records that are redacted, making it difficult for the adoptee to find information about where he/she came from.
- Open adoption: Open adoption allows the birth mother/parents and the prospective adoptive parents to agree on what kind of interaction the birth mother/parents get to have with their baby after birth. Some of these include letters–some birth mothers write letters to their baby prior to giving birth as a way of letting their child know when he/she is old enough why he/she was placed for adoption–pictures, and visitation. Sometimes the birth mother/parents and the adoptive parents decide this on their own, but more times than not, a judge will make that decision and make certain it is in the adoption papers so both parties must stick to it.
- Semi-open adoption: This is a newer kind of adoption that has the best of both closed and open adoptions. The birth mother/parents are allowed certain information about their child, but other pieces of information are only privy to the adoptive parents. For example, the adoptive parents may decide there is no visitation but will send pictures more frequently in the first year or two and then yearly after that.
Choosing Your Baby’s Forever Family and Meeting Them
This is not an easy decision, to say the least. It might even be the second hardest decision of your life, choosing who your baby will be raised by when you know it cannot be you. Thankfully, you have the assistance of your caseworker to go through the files of the many families/individuals looking to adopt. So, how do you know when you have found a potential adoptive family? Again, you must follow your gut. You will know, especially after meeting them, if the decision is the correct one for your adoption journey.
The first meeting is usually over the phone in your caseworker’s office. But, a phone call will not tell you everything you need to know in order to make your decision. So, the second time you talk to them will be a meeting in person. This could be nerve-racking and make you anxious, but you know that you want to get to know them. Coming up with some fun questions to ask them can make both parties more comfortable, which will lead to the vital questions. Some questions you could ask:
- Did you party in high school or college? If so, what was your craziest story?
- Did either of you have crushes on any of your high school teachers?
- What is the worst pizza topping you have ever tried?
- What is the most boring book you have ever read?
- What is your favorite movie?
- Do the two of you have a “song?” One that you call yours?
- What is the worst/best joke you knew as a teenager?
- What were your favorite/least favorite subjects?
- How did the two of you meet, and was it love at first sight?
- What is your favorite genre of book or movie?
See how these questions are fun yet they do not get deep? There will come a time for deeper questions, but you want to get to know the prospective adoptive parents as people, not just strangers that are raising your baby, potentially.
Generating Your Hospital Plan
This gives you the liberty to decide who is involved in the delivery process besides you, the doctor, and the nurses. Some birth mothers choose to spend those few precious hours with their baby and the birth father, so the two of them can build memories. Some birth mothers opt to involve their own mothers so they have some moral support. That is what mothers are for–to be your support system even if she does not agree with the choices you have made. Then, there are birth mothers/parents who want to involve the adoptive parents in as much of the birthing experience as possible. She may also allow the adoptive mother time with the baby during her time; before she has to hand her baby over to the adoptive family.
What Does Your New Life Look Like?
If you started therapy during your pregnancy, stay in therapy. If you aren’t in therapy, now would be a great time to consider starting. Life after pregnancy is likely to get very emotional, not only because of the hormones raging through your body but also due to the fact that you gave a piece of yourself to someone else to make their lives complete. It could be potentially challenging to feel your way around your new normal on your own.
You might find new hobbies that you haven’t tried before, or get into something you did before you got pregnant but something you will come to understand is you will not be the same person you were prior to this experience. You have been forced to mature faster because of a wonderful thing called, “My Adoption Journey.”
DISCLAIMER: Although this is a guide to assist expectant mothers making the decision to place their baby for adoption, please contact an adoption agency or adoption attorney for assistance.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Do you want more choices with your adoption plan? Do you want to regain more control in your life? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98. We can help you put together an adoption plan that best meets your needs.