When you find yourself unexpectedly expecting, you will want to know about all your options. One of those options is adoption and so you will want to know what is the process of adoption. The experience of adoption is different for everyone, but the process is similar for each expectant parent or adoptive parent. As an expectant parent, you may be debating your options and wondering what goes into creating an adoption plan. You may have already decided on adoption and need to know what to do next. Doing your research is a great first step for this time in your life and the adoption journey.
1. What Is Adoption?
As an expectant parent, your first step in understanding what is the process of adoption is to know what adoption means. Adoption means a lot of things to different people, including each member of the adoption triad. The adoption triad is made up of the child who is adopted, the adoptive parents, and the expectant parent or parents. These members of the triad are truly connected forever regardless of the level of communication agreed upon in the adoption plan.
When most people think of adoption, they think of the legal term in which a non-birth parent becomes the parent to a child through a legal process called adoption. The adopting parent or parents are not only the legal guardian but also the legal parents to the child.
2. Creating an Adoption Plan for Your Baby
After understanding what adoption is, it is important to know what the term adoption plan means. You will hear this term a lot as an expectant parent. An adoption plan is a plan formed by the expectant parent or parents for what will happen to the child they wish to place for adoption. Some expectant parents create a very comprehensive and detailed plan with all of the details they wish to include. Other expectant parents create a very brief and simple plan with just the necessary information regarding the process of adoption for their baby. Either way, the plan will include information on the decision of the expectant parents to place their child for adoption.
It will include information on the adoptive parent if an individual is adopting the child, or adoptive family if it is a couple. The adoption plan will state the type of openness you wish to have with the adoptive family and your child. Open adoption is when the birth parent or parents have an open level of communication with the adoptive family and child. This may mean regular visits, visits on milestones or birthdays, or regular calls and emails. It also may be less open but include phone calls and emails or just photos and updates sent once a year. It is entirely up to you as the expectant parent what you wish for in terms of the level of openness with your child’s adoptive family. This will be decided by you and outlined in your adoption plan.
Some expectant parents wish to have a semi-open adoption or closed adoption. A closed adoption is rarely the option chosen by most expectant parents today. It was more commonly used a few decades ago when being an unwed mother was very taboo. A closed adoption means that there is no contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. If a closed adoption, also known as a confidential adoption, is important to you as an expectant parent, then that does not mean you can’t know anything about the adoptive family. As an expectant parent, you can work with the agency to choose an adoptive family for your baby. You will know their names and information about them, but the adoptive parents do not need to know anything about you.
During the adoption process, you can share your wishes for whether you are open to being contacted in the future by your child when they reach a certain age. Also, the adoption service provider may still ask for some information to share with the adoptive parents regarding family medical history. However, it is up to you whether you disclose that information. You are in control of the level of communication and anonymity you wish to have in this adoption relationship.
There are also some closed adoptions where the birth parents do not know any information about the adoptive parents. There is no contact during the adoption process or after it is finalized. The legal records are sealed until an adoptee turns 18. At that point, they can get the records unsealed through legal means and the birth family can reconnect if all the parties involved want to. It is important to note that depending on the courts in your respective state of residence the laws can change and the courts can overturn a closed sealed adoption record case. At that point, the court can share the information (some or all of the adoption case file) with the adoptee. This usually does not occur until the adoptee is 18, but each state has its own laws.
Although some expectant parents would like some privacy or anonymity, there are better ways to achieve this desired outcome without having a fully closed adoption. Many expectant parents have a semi-open adoption plan which is where the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child do not have regular communication with one another. The little communication they do have is sending a scrapbook or an update once a year through the adoption agency. Semi-open adoptions could also mean no annual communication but the adoptive parents have information on the birth parents to share with their child. This information could include medical records and history, photos, names, and other personal information.
Finally, your adoption plan can include information on the level of involvement from extended family members, expectant parents, and prospective adoptive parents before the child is born and after. The adoption plan could also include information on birth parent expenses.
3. What Are Birth Parent Expenses?
So you may be wondering what are birth parent expenses and what do they include. Birthparent expenses include daily living expenses, counseling expenses, delivery expenses, and adoption expenses. To ensure that the adoption of your child costs you nothing, many adoptive parents will help the expectant parent meet their financial obligations.
However, it is important to note that the regulations regarding birth parent expenses differ from state to state. Your adoption law firm or adoption agency will be able to share details on what can be included in birth parent expenses and what your child’s adoptive family is willing to pay for. Most adoptive parents are willing to pay the birth parent’s expenses to an extent.
The birth parent expenses normally covered are counseling services during the pregnancy, medical expenses during the pregnancy, the birth, and legal and adoption fees to either the adoption agency or adoption attorney. If you choose to take birthing classes they can be covered as well. Certain states allow for other expenses to be reimbursed or paid for, including living expenses, rent or mortgage, food, maternity, and baby clothes for the birth and other pregnancy needs. Your adoption service provider will help you understand what can be legally included in your state/ They will work out those details with you and the adoptive parents you choose for your child.
4. Choosing an Adoption Service Provider
Choosing an adoption service provider to help you understand what is the process of adoption is another critical step in your journey. However, you may not have heard of the term adoption service provider before reading this article. An adoption service provider is an individual who is licensed to complete and facilitate adoption in your respective state (usually a licensed social worker), an adoption agency or adoption law firm, or an adoption lawyer. Each of these respective adoption service providers is going to be licensed to complete adoptions in your state and will understand and offer all of the support services needed by an expectant parent.
You may be wondering how to find a good adoption agency near where you live. Ethical, transparent, and supportive adoption agencies are located all over the country. Excellent adoption agencies will support whatever choice you make and let you change your mind at any point in the process. A good adoption agency will support your parenting plan if you decide to parent your child no matter how far into the process you may be. This is important to know and remember. You can also change adoption agencies at any time if you feel uncomfortable or pressured to make a decision you do not want to make for you or your baby.
An example of an excellent adoption agency that supports both expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents is The Gladney Center for Adoption. The Gladney Center for Adoption is located in Texas but serves expectant mothers and fathers around the country, as well as hopeful adoptive parents. They understand what you are going through and all of the emotions you may be feeling as you are researching your options and learning more about adoption. Reaching out to The Gladney Center for Adoption is a great way to learn more about adoption and work with an understanding adoption agency.
5. Choosing an Adoptive Family for Your Baby
Sometimes expectant parents already know who they wish to adopt their child. It may be a family member or close family friend. It may be a hopeful adoptive couple they have met at church or their synagogue. You may have met the hopeful adoptive parents through an adoption forum. You may have met them online through social media.
However, you may not have met any adoptive parents for your baby and need help choosing an adoptive family for your baby from your adoption agency or adoption attorney. The next step in the process would be to meet with your adoption agency and go through books or links of profiles of hopeful adoptive parents. Most adoption agencies and adoption attorneys, offer support services for expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents. They can show you profiles of prospective adoptive families they work with who match your desires and wants for your baby’s future adoptive family. Once you narrow that list of hopeful adoptive families down to a few options or one option, you may meet with them in person, via video chat, or by phone based on your desires.
Once you feel comfortable with the family you select for your baby, then you need to work with your adoption provider to finalize your adoption plan and the adoption.
6. Finalizing the Adoption
Once you have chosen an adoptive family, adoption agency, or adoption attorney, and completed an adoption plan, the next step is to wait. Waiting until the birth of your baby can be difficult. Reaching out to your family, friends, and/or support system is important during the adoption journey. Meeting with a professional counselor is also important, and so is talking to your social worker about your needs and feelings. It is normal to feel the need for help and that need should be supported.
Once you are in labor and it is time for the baby to be born, you or your adoption agency will contact the hopeful adoptive parents you chose for your child. They may live in the same state as you or they may live in a different state. You will likely have worked out who will contact the adoptive parents when you go into labor as well as how and when they will be contacted. You may choose to have both or one of the adoptive parents in the room during your labor or delivery. You may choose to have just yourself and your partner, support person, family member, or parent with you or to be alone. Any of those choices are okay. The experience can and should be what you want it to be.
Previous to delivery, you will create a birthing plan to layout your desires during the labor and birth in terms of medical interventions, how long you choose to bond with your baby, who will be there, and when the adoptive parents first meet your child.
Remember that regardless of what was in your birth or adoption plan, it is up to you to make your own decisions. You can always change your mind and what you desire for yourself and your child. You are in control of your choices at every step. If you do choose to go through with your adoption plan, you will sign the adoption consent paperwork after the birth of your baby. The timing of this signing is different from the state by state. Once it is signed you will also have different regulations depending on your state as to whether the adoption can be revoked.
After the adoption consent paperwork is signed, you become a birth mother and begin the next part of your lifelong adoption journey.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.