Finding out that you are pregnant unexpectedly leaves an expectant mother with overwhelming feelings. If you are searching for ways on how to put a baby up for adoption or “how to give up a baby for adoption,” you are probably feeling that choosing to parent right now may not be a good option for you. One thing to remember is that you are not “giving up a baby” when you decide on adoption. The phrases “giving up” or “how to put a baby up for adoption” are negative phrases. These phrases are negative because birth parents do not “give up” on their children, and the phrase “put a baby up for adoption” is believed to have originated from the mid-1800s to early 1900s humanitarian act to remove orphaned children from the city streets and to send them more westward in order to find them better lives. “When a train came to an advertised stop, the children got off the train. Sometimes they were taken from the depot to a local playhouse where they were put up on the stage for viewing by families who might want to adopt them. This practice is believed to be the origin of the phrase ‘up for adoption’” (“Orphan Trains,” Adoption.com).
When you place your baby for adoption, it is the beginning of a new life for you, your baby, and the adoptive family. It is a decision that is made with love and should not have a negative connotation. When talking about adoption, this article will strive to use positive adoption terms such as “place a baby for adoption” as opposed to the negative terms such as “giving up a baby for adoption.”
I Think I’m Pregnant
The first thing that you should do if you believe that you are pregnant is to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Even if you have positive at-home pregnancy tests, you should make an appointment as soon as possible with your family physician or an OB/GYN specialist near you. Before choosing an OB/GYN, look at the practice’s website to get a feel for who the doctor or practice is. Tufts Medical Center provides a list of 6 questions you should ask when trying to choose an OB/GYN. Check reviews online to see if the person that you choose is someone you would feel comfortable with. It is important that you find someone who will be supportive of your decision to “put your baby up” or rather the positive term place your baby for adoption.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Once you have a positive pregnancy confirmation, there are many questions you need to ask yourself in order to make an informed decision:
- Am I able to provide physically and emotionally for a baby at this time? If you say yes, really think about HOW you will be able to do this. Ask yourself, How will I generate income? If I’m working, who will watch the baby? How will I pay for childcare? If I don’t work, will I be able to afford housing, food, and medical insurance? What are my future goals? If I go back to school, how will I afford school expenses and childcare? How will I do school work while taking care of a baby?
- Think about your support system. Ask yourself, Is the birth father in the picture and does he support the decision I am making? Do I have people in my life who are willing to help me with my decisions? Where can I go for support while pregnant? Do I have someone to support me and help me after the birth of my child no matter what option I choose? Is there someone that can physically care for me after the birth if that is needed?
- If you decide to choose adoption, think about questions such as the following: Do I want an open, semi-open, or closed adoption? What support might I get during and after pregnancy? Do I know anyone who has been through this that I can talk to? How do I feel about adoption for my baby?
Oftentimes, writing a list of pros and cons for your choices may help clarify your feelings. The choice is hard no matter what you ultimately decide, but it is important for you to be able to have an opportunity to sit down and think clearly about what each choice would entail. It is also important to think about how you would feel about each decision because it is very easy to feel overwhelmed.
The Adoption Decision
You have done all of the above, and you have decided that placing your baby for adoption is the best option for you and your child. What will be your next steps?
The first thing that you need to decide is which type of adoption you want to have. Do you think that you would prefer an open adoption where you will be able to play some role in your child’s life, depending on what you and the adoptive family decide? Or do you want a closed adoption where you will not know information about your child after the adoption, and the child will not know information about you?
Once you make a decision on the type of adoption you want, you will need to decide the adoption route you want to take. Basically, there are three ways you can place your baby for adoption. The first way is through your county social services agency. Generally, you will meet with social workers and make an adoption plan. Your child would be placed, in most cases, in a foster home after birth, and then the agency will find an adoptive home for the baby. In most states, foster parents are given the first option to adopt so that the child does not have to leave the placement that she has been in since birth. Adoption through foster care will, most likely, be a closed adoption, although that is not always the case.
The second option is to place your baby privately with the assistance of a lawyer. Generally, this happens when you find an adoptive family on your own. Perhaps you have a family member that would like to adopt your baby, or you know a couple through your social circle that wants to adopt. This article gives an in-depth description of private adoption.
The third option would be to use an adoption agency. The Gladney Center for Adoption is an agency that provides excellent support for birth mothers through compassionate and nonjudgmental staff, support groups, and counseling services, and they can help you create an adoption plan that works for you and your child. You can also Google search adoption agencies in your area to find other options. You should go to their websites and look to see what support they offer expectant mothers. Call and ask to talk to someone from the agencies you are interested in using. Remember that you are in charge of the decision-making, and you need to pick the agency you feel comfortable with, not one that makes many promises they can’t keep or uses high-pressure tactics to get you to use them.
Preparing for Adoption
You have decided to place your baby for adoption…now what? If you chose to go through social services in your county, your best option is to contact them to see what provisions they may be able to cover. You might qualify for medical, food, and monetary assistance—depending on your circumstances.
If you have chosen private adoption or an adoption agency, you may be wondering what rights you have as an expectant parent. It often varies from state to state so be sure to double-check with your lawyer or adoption agency for specific state details. The most important thing to remember is that you have the right to change your mind about placing your baby for adoption. If you decide that you want to parent your baby at any time during your pregnancy, you can change your mind.
If you have not already chosen an adoptive family, your next choice after deciding which adoption agency to work with is who you want to adopt your child. Agencies will have parent profiles of couples that you can look at that generally have photos and a letter to the birth mom. The profiles will also list basic information about the couple’s employment, age, residence, and hobbies. You can view a website of adoptive family profiles here so you can see the wide variety of adoptive families to choose from.
Additionally, you will want to know what pregnancy expenses you could be helped with such as transportation, housing, medical, food, etc. This varies from state to state so be sure to check with your adoption attorney or adoption agency for what expenses might be covered during and after your pregnancy. Generally, medical expenses, legal fees, and some living expenses can be given to the birth mother, with most states limiting the amount expectant parents can receive (again, this varies so be sure to check with your adoption professional).
This is the time to ask questions. As you go through your pregnancy and have more interactions with the adoptive family and agency, you will probably think of more questions you want answered. Do not be afraid to ask. You will want to feel confident about all aspects of the adoption and now is the time to get your answers.
During your pregnancy, you may want to find support groups for birth mothers like yourself. Your agency could help you find one that suits your needs. It is also helpful to take advantage of any counseling that is offered, and if none is offered, then ask your agency or adoption professional to help you find counseling services.
At this time, you will be going to your doctor appointments and preparing for birth as well as adoption. If you live near the adoptive family, you may want them to go to some or all of the appointments with you. You can tour the hospital and see what arrangements it has for laboring mothers. Birthing classes are highly recommended through the hospital, and you can choose who you would like to accompany you.
What Happens After the Birth
As part of your adoption and birthing plan, you can choose what happens immediately after birth. You have full rights after the birth of the baby until you sign the relinquishment forms. It varies from state to state (which is true for almost every area of adoption law), but generally, relinquishment forms cannot be signed before 48 hours have passed after birth. This allows you to have time to think about the adoption decision once you actually have the baby in your arms. Also, don’t sign any paperwork when you are medicated. If you have a support person, this is an excellent opportunity for him or her to help protect your rights as the birth mom. It is illegal for anyone to coerce you or force you to sign relinquishment papers by threatening that you will have to pay back any money that was used for your support.
Depending on the contract that was signed with the adoptive parents, what happens once you and the baby go home can vary. Usually, adoptive parents will leave with the baby after relinquishment forms have been signed. Once the papers are signed, there is a time period when you can change your mind, but after that, it is irrevocable. This time to change your mind also varies from state to state so be sure you know beforehand what rights you have. In Florida, for example, you have NO TIME to change your mind once you consent to the adoption. In New York, you have 30 days with an agency adoption or 45 days for a private adoption.
Life as a Birth Mom
After the adoption, life will go on, and it will be different than before. Depending on the agreement with the adoptive family, you may find that you have frequent contact with them and your child. In other cases, you may have a closed adoption and not have any contact. In either case, it is important to take care of yourself. Be aware of how you are feeling and be open to post-adoption counseling and support groups. There are many support groups for birth mothers across the country. In this article, there is a HUGE array of choices for birth mother support groups. The groups are online (especially relevant now due to COVID), penpals, or local face-to-face groups. You may think that you don’t want or need a support group, but after you try one (or more) out, you may be glad for the support and the friendship that groups offer.
Placing your baby for adoption is a huge decision. Hopefully, this article has made it a little simpler by answering some of your questions and pointing you to other sites where you can find more information.