The Adoption Process
A pregnant woman who is unable or unwilling to parent her child, may choose to place her child for adoption (we no longer say “give up a child for adoption” – it’s not giving up!). This woman has a many options to consider such as the degree of openness she would like and whether she wants to work with an adoption attorney or an adoption agency. The father of the child must be involved in the relinquishment process, or if he doesn’t want to be involved or can’t be found, legal notice can be placed in newspapers. Relinquishment counseling is required in all 50 states.
When considering placing your child for adoption, it is important to do your research and take the time to make the decision that is right for you. Take stock of yourself emotionally and remember that pregnancy is overwhelming for many women, no matter the circumstances.
Decide if placing the child is necessary. Parenting your child is usually the best option, even if circumstances are not perfect, but there are many reasons why parenting may not be possible. Are you homeless or jobless? If so, are you actively seeking housing or employment? Can the father parent the child or otherwise provide for it? Do you have family members who would be willing to help you get on your feet? Can you get public assistance? Do not be ashamed to ask for help – it’s better to do this than feel that circumstances forced you to place a child.
Decide what kind of adoption you want. A closed adoption allows for little to no contact with the child after adoption whereas an open adoption has varying levels of contact and stipulations based on what the adopting family and you agree to.
Assess the involvement of the father. Is the father aware of your plans? Do you know the laws in your state and how they might affect the relinquishment process if the father is not involved?
Get a clear understanding of your rights before you contact an adoption agency. Adoptions laws vary from state to state. These are some of the things you will want to find out: when must you sign relinquishment papers; how long is the revocation period; what are the father’s rights; what expenses can you be reimbursed for.
Choose an adoption attorney or agency to facilitate the adoption process. Visit adoption attorneys in and around your community. Check with your state’s bar association to find out whether the attorneys you’re considering have had any complaints filed against them. Investigate different adoption agencies, including their records with the Better Business Bureau. Contact your state’s agency for licensing to determine whether the licenses for the agencies you’re considering are in good standing. Narrow down your options and choose your agency or attorney.
Fully participate in the counseling required by either the agency or attorney. Make sure that you have complete understanding of what it means to relinquish the legal rights to your child.
Choose a family, get to know them, and negotiate the terms of the adoption arrangement with the help of your agency or attorney and social workers.
After the child is born, you will have as much time as you need to sign the legal consent to the adoption. After you sign the consent, there will be a revocation period of a few days to a few months, depending upon your state. You should never feel rushed, pressured or coerced to relinquish your child – that is illegal – even if you change your mind after committing to an adoptive family. But once the revocation period is over, the adoption is final and irrevocable.
Work with a counselor post placement to help you cope with any feelings of grief you may have. Connect with other birthmothers for peer support. Understand that grieving is normal and that choosing adoption for your child does not make you a bad person, but somebody who was brave enough to choose what was best for their child, even if it was painful for you.
Still have questions about the adoption process? Check out our FAQ page.