Expectant mothers who are considering adoption in NC have options.

If you are an expectant mother considering adoption in NC (North Carolina), you may find yourself scouring the internet for information on where to begin. The adoption process can be confusing, but it is not impossible to navigate. An unplanned pregnancy may have caused a hiccup in your life, but it doesn’t have to be a detriment. Start laying the groundwork for what your adoption journey could look like, what the next nine months have in store, and what you can do today to prepare for it all. 

Answer Five Questions.

Is Adoption Right for You?

Before you can begin the adoption process, you must find peace in your decision. If you haven’t already, you can speak with an options counselor at your local adoption agency who can help you learn more about your options–adoption, parenting, or abortion. This process is often available confidentially. Find unbiased sources of help and guidance as you make this decision. There is no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to adoption, so it is important to learn whether or not adoption is right for you and your child before pursuing the journey. 

Take the opportunity to approach this turning point in your life with confidence rather than fear. The goal here is to find your foundation for your journey. Learn why you are choosing adoption and what guided that decision. When times get hard throughout the process, you may return back to this conversation you have with yourself for that reminder. 

How Will You Approach Placement?

There are two primary ways to approach placement in North Carolina–private adoption and an adoption agency. If you are considering placing a child for adoption in NC, you do not have to go through an agency to do so. The difference between these two approaches is that in a private adoption, expectant mothers and hopeful adoptive parents work directly with an adoption attorney to complete the legalities of the adoption. An adoption agency, on the other hand, can be a resource to both expectant mothers considering adoption and hopeful adoptive parents for alternative support. Often if a match between a future birth mother and the potential adoptive parent has not been made yet, an agency can bridge that gap. Adoption agencies will require fees to be paid by the hopeful adoptive parents, but the extent of those expenses may only include pregnancy-related expenses, counseling services for the birth mother, living expenses for the birth mother, and adoption-related legal services. Adoption agencies can be a great resource to expectant mothers for support through the adoption process that goes beyond that of legal assistance. 

Who Do You Picture Placing Your Child with?

Deciding to place a child for adoption is your first major milestone in the process. The next big decision you will make will be deciding who your child will go home with. This choice should feel less rushed than your decision to place in the first place, but that doesn’t take away from the gravity of your decision. Let that gravity sink in as you contemplate the future you picture for your child. There is a reason you chose not to parent and rather pursue the adoption route. Consider this reason and how that can be fulfilled by the parent(s) who could be adopting your child. Think about the kind of person you want your child to look up to, embrace, and rely on throughout his or her life. What kind of person or couple will provide the mental, emotional, and physical stability to your child to thrive? Think about these things as you begin searching for an adoptive match. 

What Type of Contact Will You Maintain Post-Placement?

Deciding between an open, semi-open, and closed adoption is something that an expectant mother can do before she has even met the hopeful adoptive parents who she is considering placing her child with. 

Open adoption is a relationship between birth mother, adoptee, and adoptive family post-placement. Open adoptions will look different for every family, but typically in an open adoption, semi-frequent contact is maintained in some fairly liberal form after placement. In a semi-open adoption, contact is maintained between birth mother and adoptive family, but in a much more contained way. While a birth mother’s name and location may be available to the adoptive family and adoptee, the biological and adoptive parties may not frequently associate with one another. Alternatively, a closed adoption (which has become less and less common in the last 20 years) defines an anonymous relationship between birth and adoptive parents. While an expectant mother will still be able to choose the adoptive family, she will not meet the couple, and the adoptive family will not receive any identifying information about her or the birth father. 

You make the calls for what type of future you will maintain with your placed child. It is your responsibility to make your needs for contact beyond placement clear beforehand and not be influenced by circumstances that can deter you from staying true to your plans. 

Who Will Be on Your Team?

One of the more urgent questions to answer early on in the process is who your support through the adoption process can be. Many expectant mothers learn about an unplanned pregnancy and immediately turn inward. She may become protective in her vulnerability and hide rather than embrace the support available to her. Do all that you can early on to overcome the fear of judgment in the process. There is more help and hope out there than expectant mothers often give credit to. Seek out those you can trust and confide in professionals and trusted individuals. Find an agency or support group to help you through the process. Use that expertise available to you as you make your journey. You will face hard times, hard decisions, and a loss that you have never (and probably will never) experience again in your lifetime. Choose to face those obstacles with loved ones and experienced professionals in your court. 

Make Two Plans.

What Is an Adoption Plan?

Once you’ve made the big decisions regarding the outline of your adoption plan, you are ready to fill in the blanks. You’ve just answered if adoption is right for you, how you will approach the process, what kind of family you are searching for, what type of adoption you’d prefer in terms of openness, and who will support you through the process. With your village behind you and your next steps ahead, it is time to make an adoption plan. 

An adoption agency will often begin this process with you shortly after you commit to working with the agency. The agency you choose will help you answer and resolve the smaller questions such as where and how you’ll receive medical care throughout your pregnancy, how you’ll get to and from the adoption agency, where you will begin looking for your child’s adoptive parents, and how you’ll cope with the emotional rollercoaster ahead of you. An adoption plan will be your step-by-step plan for navigating the rest of your pregnancy. This plan will ensure that your physical, financial, and legal needs are met so that you will be prepared for the birth and finalization of the adoption.

What Is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan will more specifically address the day of your child’s birth. On the day of delivery, the last thing you are going to want to think about or address is questions like who will be in the room, who will be at the hospital, how the birth will be announced, how much time you will spend with your child and many other concerns that come with adoption. 

Your agency can be a great resource for making a birth plan. This is where experience with these very concerns will come in handy. Your agency knows what to expect, the professionals have stood on the sidelines cheering many women on through the process. Ask those people every question you can about what to expect on the day you give birth and what you can do to prepare beforehand. 

Find Five Resources.

Who Can Support You in Following Your Plan?

Once you’ve made an adoption plan and found a basic team of support, start connecting the pieces. Share your plan with those you trust and those who are prepared to help: your loved ones and your adoption agency.

The following are just a handful of the highly-rated adoption agencies in North Carolina:

-Gladney Center for Adoption – Greenville, North Carolina

-Bethany Christian Services – Charlotte, North Carolina

-Datz Foundation – Charlotte, North Carolina

-Omni Visions – Raleigh, North Carolina

-Triangle Adoption Services – Chapel Hill, North Carolina 

-Christian Adoption Services – Matthew, North Carolina

Who Can Offer Financial Support?

Facing an unplanned pregnancy is nothing like affording a planned pregnancy. You learn quickly after discovering you are pregnant that the bills just keep adding up. You cannot avoid the need for clothes that fit, food that is healthy for you and your child, prenatal care, and a safe environment to live. These become non-negotiable the further along you become. Luckily, most adoption agencies are equipped to offer aid for these needs. Whether it is resources to programs that will assist in the process, or direct support through the agency’s funds and fees, there is financial support out there. 

Who Can Offer Legal Assistance?

Something that should be at the forefront of your mind throughout the adoption process is the ethics surrounding your adoption. It is extremely important that you research your agency or attorney beforehand to learn of the organization’s experience, accreditation, and observance of legal activity throughout the adoption process. Each state has very specific laws regarding the adoption process as far as who can adopt, how adoptive parents are found and contacted, and monetary exchanges within the adoption process. Learn about these laws and practices as soon as you can. In addition to ensuring your adoption is ethical, you should also be actively searching for legal help yourself. Again, your adoption agency will probably be able to guide you in the right direction in this area. 

Who Can Offer Emotional Support?

Your adoption agency and immediate support system can be great forms of emotional support. But, if you are not already, you should consider looking for additional support outside of these resources. Begin now to look for a support group, post-placement counselor, or friend within the adoption community to help you navigate your emotional well being throughout your pregnancy and after placement. On one hand, relying on family and friends gives you access to support from people who know and love you already. On the other hand, finding other women who are or who have been in your shoes can help you feel understood in a different way. Some of the more common online support groups are BirthMom Buds, On Your Feet Foundation, and Brave Love.

Who Will Be There When It Is Over?

After an adoption is finalized, the legalities of the process may be complete, but an entirely new grieving process begins. After the delivery and finalization of your portion of the adoption, rather than carrying your child physically close to your heart, you’ll experience the unavoidable pains of separation. Your heart and body will be yearning to care for the child you’ve placed for adoption. The nature of adoption is beautiful and tragic at the same time. To navigate this tragedy, continue holding firm to your support group, whether that is your agency’s post-placement services, loved ones, or a physical support group of women like you. Communicate your anticipation for your needs post-placement with your friends and family. Like you, this is something others cannot imagine or begin to prepare for completely. Again, embrace the vulnerability and face the pains of the process knowing that you made the right decision for you and your baby. 

Now that you’ve begun to scratch the surface of the adoption process, you can feel confident in taking the next steps—even if those steps might feel scary now. Adoption in NC doesn’t have to be a daunting process. As you feel the weight of becoming a birth mother, look to your foundation in completing your adoption journey one day at a time. Preparing today for what you could face tomorrow will help you feel peace in your decisions along the way. 

Courtney Falk was adopted at 3 days old. Growing up in a home where adoption was discussed openly, she always had a passion for sharing her story. When she was 18, she reunited with both of her birth parents and continues to have a positive relationship with each of their families. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in professional writing. Since then, she’s had the opportunity to create and edit content in areas such as fitness, health and wellness, financing, and adoption. When she isn’t behind a book, you can find her dancing in the living room with her 11 nieces, attempting to cook, and tending to her extensive collection of house plants.