The First Steps for Making an Adoption Plan
The first step in making an adoption plan is understanding what an adoption plan actually is. Every adoption plan is different. However, what most adoption plans have in common are they are usually written out by the expectant mother or expectant parents and worked through with their adoption agency or adoption attorney. An adoption plan will include various details of the pregnancy, adoption, and post-adoption plans after finalization. Adoption is a lifelong process and an adoption plan sets the foundation for the rest of your adoption journey if you choose to make an adoption plan for you and your baby.
An adoption plan is basically a description of the details defining what you want for your baby in terms of his or her adoptive family, future, and how you want to be involved (or not involved) in the adoptee’s life. It can feel overwhelming at this stage of your journey. You may be unexpectedly pregnant and not even sure what you want next for you and your baby. You may be feeling overwhelmed even thinking of the process of adoption or your pregnancy. You are not alone. These are very normal feelings. The idea of an adoption plan and the details it encompasses should not be more overwhelming, but rather, it is a way for you to let go of some of the emotional stress by putting your wants and desires on paper. A good adoption service provider will help you each step of the way.
How an Adoption Service Provider Can Assist you in Start Making an Adoption Plan
A great place to start when asking the question, how do I start making an adoption plan, is to have conversations with adoption service providers. An adoption service provider is someone who helps the expectant parents throughout the adoption process, as well as the prospective adoptive parents, and supports all members of the adoption triad: the adoptive parents, birth parents, and child. They can be there throughout the adoption process and beyond. They are licensed in the state in which the adoption will be finalized and are usually an adoption agency or adoption law firm or adoption attorney.
You do not need to know if you definitively will be making an adoption plan when you contact an adoption service provider. You also do not need to use any adoption agency or adoption attorney you contact. You can ask questions of as many adoption agencies or adoption attorneys as you wish with no obligation to use their services. This interview-like process is helpful in getting any questions you have at this stage of the process and better understand all of your options. Good adoption agencies and adoption attorneys will help you understand what your options are, what the steps of adoption are, and how they can support you each step of the way in start making an adoption plan. Thinking of and writing down your questions prior to contacting an adoption service provider is helpful. A great list of questions to ask an adoption agency is helpful, but so is listening to your heart and asking questions as they come to you when you contact the adoption agency or adoption attorney.
As you begin to understand the differences between adoption agencies and adoption attorneys and also the differences between the various adoption service providers you contact, you will begin to narrow down your list of potential adoption agencies or adoption attorneys to use to help you on your adoption journey. Even if you know exactly which adoption agency or adoption attorney you wish to use for your baby’s adoption, you can change your mind at any time in the process. This means you can change your mind on which adoption agency you are using and use another at any time. You also can change your mind about the adoption. This is an important thing to remember along this journey. If you make one decision, you can always change your mind and make another. A great adoption service provider will support you in whatever decision you decide – whether to parent your child or create an adoption plan. Making an adoption plan is a beautiful option for you and your baby and if it is the option you choose, a great adoption agency or adoption attorney will support you every step of the way and after the adoption is finalized. An example of a great adoption agency is The Gladney Center for Adoption. The Gladney Center for Adoption serves both the expectant parent and the hopeful adoptive parent. Their services are extensive and they support expectant parents through the entire process and after the adoption is finalized. They support your decision to make a parenting plan for your child or an adoption plan. When asking the question, how do I start making an adoption plan, an adoption agency such as The Gladney Center for Adoption will support you every step of the way making the process not feel overwhelming.
What Goes Into Making An Adoption Plan for Your Baby?
The purpose of the adoption plan is to go through all of your desires for you and your baby and help outline what you want so that it is easier to make decisions during each step of the adoption process. The adoption plan will include details regarding each step of the adoption process and beyond. It will help you plan for you and your baby and give an outline to your adoption service provider regarding what you want for yourself and your baby. The adoption plan is not a legal contract and is not “set in stone” so to speak. You can change it at any time and it is important to remember that things may not go exactly as you laid out or planned for in your adoption plan, but it will be a good map for you to answer important questions and make important decisions for you and your baby along the way. It is important to trust yourself and your intuition. Aspects of your adoption plan may change like your feelings. Things you felt strong about at one point in the process, you may not feel as strongly about at another point. Things you may have wanted for you and your baby may not be what you want as time goes on. Again, this is why it is important to use a good, ethical adoption service provider and trust your instincts and desires along the way.
So what goes into starting to make an adoption plan? Much of your adoption plan will include information on the level of communication and access you wish to have with your baby and their adoptive family during the pregnancy and thereafter. It is important to make a decision in your adoption plan for whether you wish to have an open adoption, closed adoption, or semi-open adoption.
As you answer the question, “How do I start making an adoption plan?” you will begin by laying out a foundation for what type of adoption you wish to have? Do you want to have communication with your child and their adoptive family and for them to know who you are? If so, there are levels as to the access and communication you choose to have. It is up to you as the expectant parent to decide how much communication you wish to have and how often. You may want to receive letters and photos of your child and the adoptive family at various milestones, or very regularly. You may want to visit your adoptive family. This could be regularly scheduled visits or only at holidays or large events or big milestones in your child’s life. You may prefer to just get a scrapbook once a year or emails at milestones with photos and updates. It is fully up to you how much communication you wish to have with the adoptive family and your child. This can change over time but it is important to create an adoption plan that states your wishes now. This plan will be used to discuss your desires for the level of openness with your adoptive family and child when you begin to interview and eventually choose an adoptive family for your child.
It is important to note that some expectant parents choose to have a closed adoption or semi-open adoption. A semi-open adoption may mean that you know the adoptive family and they know your identifying information. You may choose to meet or just talk over the phone before your baby is born. You may not wish to have regular contact or communications but ask for letters or photos when they wish to send, but no communication— this is one example of how a semi-open adoption could work.
A closed adoption means that you do not disclose any identifying information about yourself to your adoptive family or your child. You do not wish to be contacted. Your adoption records, depending on the state in which the adoption is finalized may be sealed. However, it is important to understand that some states do not legally recognize closed adoptions and even if your adoption records are currently sealed in the state in which the adoption is finalized, adoption laws change. This means that, at some point, your identifying information could be shared with the adoptive family or your child should they petition the court for such information. Also, you may decide to have a closed adoption without any contact; however, you may decide to share family medical history information with your child so they know their history and can be aware of potential future medical issues due to heredity.
Choosing an Adoptive Family for Your Child
Once you choose an adoption service provider and decide the type of adoption you would like to have, you will next choose the adoptive family. For some expectant parents, this is the easiest part of the adoption process. For others, it can be long and arduous. Put your trust in an adoption agency or attorney you believe can help you navigate this part of the adoption process. Most adoption agencies and adoption attorneys already work with many prospective adoptive families who hope to build their families through adoption. They will have family profiles which usually consist of scrapbooks or other compiled information on the hopeful adoptive family. Based on your preference for communication during the pregnancy and after the adoption is finalized, the adoption agency or adoption attorney will choose profiles for you to view. You may have preferences when it comes to your child’s adoptive family. Their values and priorities may be of interest to you. You may want them to have other adopted children or biological children. You may want your child to be an only child. You may want the adoptive family to share the same faith as you. Certain careers or financial means may be important to you.
Your preferences may narrow as you search through parent profiles. You will see photos of the individual, couple, or family. You will see information on their home, their community, how they met (if they are a couple), and their values. You will get a sense of who they are and what they want in their future. You will get a sense of their values and how they choose to raise your child should you choose them.
Once you narrow down your list of profiles you may call or meet with the potential adoptive family to get a sense of who they are. You then make a decision on your child’s adoptive family and work through the level of openness you wish to have in your adoption relationship with them and your child.
Making an Adoption Plan For the Birth
The last stage of the written adoption plan is your birth plan. This section will cover what you hope will happen during birth. Will you be medicated? What interventions are you open to and who will be in the room with you during labor? You can specify in your adoption plan whether you wish to have both or one of the adoptive parents in the room for the birth (and labor if you wish). You may outline exactly when you are comfortable with the adoptive family being in the labor and delivery room. You may specify your preferences for pictures with the baby and the adoptive family before relinquishing your rights. You may decide how long you would like to be alone with your child and when you wish to place the baby in the adoptive parents’ arms. You can specify who you want to be your support present for the birth as well.
Life After the Adoption Is Finalized
Once your baby is born, there is a certain amount of time before you sign the adoption consent paperwork in your state. This time frame is different state by state. Once you sign the consent paperwork, the adoptive parents will continue the process through finalization. You now begin the process of communicating based on the preferences you laid out in the adoption plan.
This is also the time when it is important for you to seek support. You may want to continue to see the licensed counselor you frequented during your pregnancy. You may lean on your faith leaders like a pastor or rabbi. You will want to ensure that your support system is there for you: friends and family members especially during those first weeks after birth. You will feel a range of emotions during this time and it is all normal. Adoption is a lifelong journey and you are taking this first step by starting to make an adoption plan.Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.