Adoption is one option for women who are pregnant and not ready and/or unable to care for a child once it is born. There are several reasons why a young woman may decide to give custody of her child to someone else, such as a relative or someone she does not know.
Some of these reasons might be that she:
- Is still in high school or college
- Has few financial resources
- Isn’t emotionally ready to be a parent right now
- Isn’t comfortable terminating the pregnancy (having an abortion)
How does adoption work?
There are different ways in which an adoption plan can be made, and this varies greatly from state-to-state. Your health care provider can help with providing information about adoption agencies (private and public) or the name of a lawyer who specializes in adoption. Sometimes private adoptions (for example: having a relative take care of the child) are facilitated by clergy or people in the community, or it can be done formally with a lawyer. Potential parents are carefully screened to make sure that a baby is placed in a loving and safe home. In some instances, the birth mother (the woman giving birth) meets with the soon-to-be (adoptive) parents beforehand; in some situations, the birth mother has on-going contact with the child and family (open adoption). In other instances, the birth mother knows some information about the family who is adopting her child but chooses not to meet them.
How do I know adoption is the right choice for me and the baby?
It is important to know and feel that you are making the best decision you can. Take your time and explore your resources and options. You should feel comfortable with the process and with the information about the adoptive parents, both before the baby is born and afterwards.
Here are some questions to think about:
- What kind of parents do I want to raise my baby?
- Is religion, ethnicity, or race important?
- Do I want to meet the adoptive parents?
- Are the adoptive parents able to provide an emotionally and financially stable environment?
- How much contact do I want with the baby and adoptive parents afterwards?
- Does the agency I have chosen help with my health care, transportation and other expenses while I am pregnant?
- Will I have any time with my baby after it is born? For how long?
I’ve decided to make an adoption plan. How do I explain to people who are curious or disagree with my decision?
You do not owe anyone an explanation for your decision. Being a parent is a life-long commitment and if you are not able to make it at this time, placing your child for adoption is a responsible and loving decision.
What if I change my mind and decide that I want to raise the baby?
Just as committing to an adoption plan was a serious decision, so is changing your mind. If after very careful thought, a consultation with trusted adults in your life you feel you have made a mistake, you may be able to stop the adoption process. The laws from state-to-state are all different, but all states require a waiting period between the time a child is transferred to another family and when the adoption becomes legal. Check with the agency or lawyer that originally helped with the adoption process.
What is an open adoption?
An open adoption is one in which the birth mother (and father if involved) have regular contact with the child and his/her adoptive parents. Your adoption agency can tell you more about the pros and cons of having an open adoption. This is a personal decision and there is no right or wrong way to do this.
What if I want to hear about the child as he/she grows up?
In many instances birth mothers and adoptive parents (who are not in an open adoption situation) have contact over the years on a schedule suggested by the adoption agency. For instance, pictures of the child may be sent to you every year around the child’s birthday or on a holiday. You can also ask for the birth parent to write a note each year about the child’s milestones, successes, likes, and dislikes. As part of the adoption process you will decide upon the type and amount of contact you would like to maintain with the child and the adoptive family.
What if I want to write a letter to the child after he/she is adopted?
Birth mothers (and fathers if they are involved) are encouraged to write a letter to the child who is adopted.
These letters can include:
- Your reasons for choosing adoption
- Some details about yourself (likes/dislikes, hobbies, talents)
- Some details about your family
- Your wishes and hopes for the child as he/she grows up
Typically this letter is sealed, given to the adoptive parents or agency but not given to the child until he or she is a teenager or young adult. Other than this, communication with the child as they are growing up is part of the adoption process. You will talk about this and work this out with the adoption agency before the baby is born.