Placing a child for adoption isn’t something people dream of doing. It isn’t something you just decide one to do on a whim one day, and you don’t just place a child because you can. There are always circumstances behind the decision to place that make it a good option as opposed to parenting. Placing your child for adoption is a huge deal and a big decision that will take an immense amount of soul searching, contemplation, and preparation.

Just like making a huge purchase or moving to a new state or country, you look at all your options and research as much as you can to make the right decision. Placing a child for adoption is very similar. You should research all options you are considering such as the pros and cons of parenting versus placing. Either choice is binding. Parenting will obviously lead to a natural emotional attachment that will make it very difficult to place the child later if circumstances worsen or become unsafe. On the other hand, adoption is legally binding when placement papers are sign and recognized by the court system, so there is no way to “take your child back.”

Should you decide to place, you then need to decide which agency you will go through to guide you through and facilitate the adoption. Simply placing a child with another family is technically possible, but can lead to serious problems and legal issues that no one will want to be a part of. Personally, I highly discourage it and recommend looking into getting a social worker to assist you in the process to make sure things are done right. The paperwork is dense and confusing, requiring a trained mind to make sure you know what you’re doing and to make sense of the legal jargon. The emotional toll can be unexpected, so some professional coaching can help you feel more at ease. Not to mention, the process of finding a family (let alone the right family) can be daunting and overwhelming, making a social worker even more valuable.

Once you have a plan as to how your child will be taken care of, you need to make sure you’re taken care of.

Speaking of finding the right family for your child, you should probably know what kind of people you want raising your child. My personal experience would lead me to advise that you first look inward to see why you are placing. If you are placing because you can’t afford a child, consider choosing a family that is well off financially. If you and the birth father aren’t on good terms and you want a steady father figure for your child, perhaps you look for a family where the parents have been married a long time. Maybe you feel you aren’t educated enough to help a child with the basics in school. Consider looking for a family that consists of parents that have both earned degrees. After that, you can consider more surface level criteria like hobbies.

There are many other things you should consider when preparing to place, but the last and most important (in my opinion) that I’ll mention is to decide what you are going to do with yourself after thinking of all these other things. Notice, every other thing mentioned is to do what is right for your child. Placing a child for adoption is a very selfless thing to do, so it can be hard to think of yourself in such circumstance. However, once you have a plan as to how your child will be taken care of, you need to make sure you’re taken care of. Postpartum depression is a real thing for those who don’t place; imagine what it can escalate to if you’re placing your child. I can tell you from personal experience that your own thoughts can be a very dangerous place if you don’t consider how to get yourself taken care of.

Talk with people that can make sure you’re not alone for a few weeks. Consider planning a trip or starting a project to keep your mind occupied. Maybe even take a class or two at your local community college to make sure you get back into the swing of things and make sure you’re not allowing yourself to wallow.

You’ve made sure your child will be taken care of, you’ve made a plan to make sure you’re well taken care of, so now what? Well, now you can do some of the little things. Get to know your child’s family a bit better before your child is here. Have a maternity photo shoot. Go pick out an outfit for your child to wear in the hospital when you let your child meet mom and dad for the first time. There are tons of ways to make sure you are making the best of a hard situation. Just know that the more prepared you are, the smoother things will go and the easier things will be.