Many birth mothers worry about life post-placement. It is important to work with a lawyer or agency who can fully explain your rights both during and after the adoption. If you are respected and heard by the agency and the adoptive family, you can be more comfortable entering into an open adoption. Forming a relationship with the adoptive family helps you trust that you will know how your child is doing.
You have full rights as a parent to your child until you sign relinquishment documents and the time period has passed in which you may change your mind. This time period varies from state to state. Sometimes it’s 48 hours; sometimes it’s a week. Once the time period is over and the relinquishment papers are signed, your parental rights are terminated, and it’s irrevocable. You will most likely have signed an agreement with the adoptive family prior to the birth about what level of contact the adoption will have.
This contact agreement is signed by adoptive parents and birth mother. You may agree on letters and pictures only, or you may agree upon in-person visits. There’s a wide variety of options, especially with social media available. It’s important to note that some states deem this agreement enforceable (in court), and some do not. If adoptive parents do not honor the agreement, depending on your state, you may challenge it, and at the very least, contact your agency. The agency can speak to the adoptive parents about what they signed to resolve the situation. It is sad when adoptive parents do not keep their word, but unfortunately, it can happen.
You also have a right to post-placement care. If your agency does not provide you with adequate, free counseling, please reach out to another agency or birth mother support network online. It can feel lonely if you don’t feel you are getting good help. Many birth mothers are telling their stories on Instagram and Facebook, and you can connect with them. Nothing online will compare to in-person counseling, however. A good organization to check out for post-placement care is Lifetime Healing, LLC.
A family that is excited to enter into an open adoption and forms a bond with you as an expectant mom will generally be inclined to keep your relationship open. Reasons adoptive parents sometimes cut contact involve circumstances that are hurtful to a child, like drug use. If both adoptive parents and birth mothers are in a good, healthy relationship, then there shouldn’t be much of a need to have problems with contact. It’s never a guarantee, but the stronger your bond and respect for each other, the better.
Kristin Anderson is an adoptive mother who lives with her son, husband, and two crazy dogs. She loves open adoption and is always looking for ways to help in the adoption community. You can find her blog at www.lookingforlittleone.wordpress.com.