Adoption, whether placing a child or adopting one, is not a decision to take lightly. As you are reading this because you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.
Expectant parents consider relinquishment for a variety of reasons. While each parent or set of parents will have their own unique combination of reasons, there are some similar themes that run through the group of existing birth parents. Reasons can include financial hardship (including joblessness), homelessness, feeling ill prepared due to a young age, not wanting to or feeling capable of being a single parent and things like personal moral beliefs regarding the topic.
You should, of course, always make a decision regarding an unplanned pregnancy based on your own feelings and not on those of family or friends. They will likely all have an opinion on what you should be doing and they might even have what they think are your best intentions in heart and mind. However, this is your decision to make. Do not allow others to pressure you into doing something that you don't want to do, whether that is parent, place or terminate.
laws vary from state to state, you need to know a few basic things before beginning your research on adoption.
First and foremost, the topic of open adoption
is an important one for birth parents in today's world. Open adoption is the on-going contact between birth and adoptive families. While different levels of openness exist, there are some common forms of contact. A fully open adoption involves visits between the parties. Semi-open adoption arrangements usually just involve the exchange of letters and pictures without the actual one-on-one contact. Closed adoptions allow for no on-going contact between families. You should know that simply picking the parents who will adopt your child is not, by itself, part of an open adoption.
Laws concerning the process of matching and placement and openness vary widely from state to state. That is why it is so important for you to be informed on the laws of your state (link there). Some examples of the differences include how open adoptions aren't legally binding in all states. What does that mean? In states where open adoptions aren't legally binding, an adoptive family could promise openness and then close the adoption without warning or reason, leaving you with no recourse or ability to contact your child. Other important laws include whether or not the state in which you live allows for financial support from a potential adoptive parent during your pregnancy. Some states allow for potential adoptive families to pay for things like maternity clothes while other states only allow for help with medical
expenses. Other things that you might not even know to think about, like whether your state allows for private matching or facilitators, are important to know as you research and continue through this process.
An important thing to consider as you research adoption is the involvement of your child's father. If you are considering adoption, there might be a chance that you are not currently together (though that isn't always the case). It is important, however, to make sure that he is informed of the plans you are making. Legally, he has the same rights to your child as you do. If he does not sign the Termination of Parental Rights
, the adoption could be slowed down or fall through completely. Even if you aren't sure on the identity of your child's father, some states require that a notice be put in the local newspaper asking for all possible fathers to step forward in order to proceed with the adoption plan. It is neither easier or ethical to refuse to offer up the name of the biological father.
While it is important to make sure that adoption is your choice and not the result of pressure from friends or family members, involving those people in the process can be beneficial to you. Relinquishment is not an easy process. Having the emotional support of family can make all the difference in the world. While some birth parents chose to keep their pregnancies secret from their family members, it is often easier on the expectant mother to share that information. The added stress
of hiding a pregnancy on top of the emotional and physical aspects of that pregnancy can be very hard to handle. Confiding in someone and having their support can make the difference in having a positive or negative experience.
If you proceed with your plan to place your child for adoption, you will eventually be working with an adoption professional of some sort. Whether you are going the private adoption route and working solely with an attorney or going the agency route and working with various individuals at that agency, you will be working with people who work with adoption day in and day out. You should know that you have a right to your own legal representation. You do not have to rely on the attorney representing the best interest of a potential adoptive family. Furthermore, you are not stuck with any one agency or family. If you feel as if something isn't on the up-and-up, you have every right to walk away and find another match. Even more importantly, you have every right to decide to parent your child at any point up until you have signed the Termination of Parental Rights.
One last issue of importance is the counseling
that you need during the process of making this difficult decision. Whether or not you are working with an agency, you have the right to unbiased, third party counseling. A counselor or therapist not attached to an agency can help you make the difficult decision without any interest in the end result. While you may be leaning toward one option or another, a counselor can help you weigh the pros and cons of all options. You might be able to see, through their help, things that you would not have been able to think of on your own, especially if this is your first time facing such difficult decisions.
Questions to Ask Yourself
As you begin to consider placement as an option, you need to ask yourself an ongoing series of questions. You will need to return to some of these questions over the next few months and reevaluate how you feel about them or to check and see if circumstances have changed.
1. Is relinquishment necessary? Are you homeless or jobless? If so, are you actively seeking housing or employment? Furthermore, do you have family members who would be willing to help you get on your feet?
2. What state do you live in? Adoption law varies from state to state and therefore you need to be researching your state's laws to know how to proceed. As an example, open adoptions are not legally binding in all states and some forms of matching or financial support are illegal in other states.
3. Do you want an open adoption, semi-open adoption or closed adoption? What are the reasons that I lean toward one option or the other?
4. Is the biological father of the child involved? Why or why not? Do you know the laws in your state and how they might affect the relinquishment process if the father is not involved?
5. Have you researched any attorneys or agencies that you are considering working with to make sure that they are ethical? Do you know if they offer pre- and post-placement counseling? Will they help you retain your own legal counsel? Will they provide third party, unbiased counseling for you?