Are you pregnant and have questions about child adoption services? In this article, you’ll find aspects to look for and how to proceed with child adoption services.
It is the middle of the night. After several fruitless hours of tossing and turning, you are sitting up, laptop on your crossed legs. You stare at the glowing screen, rub your eyes, and try to think. This was not part of your plans. You are a good student, and college life is the best thing ever. How did this happen? You were sure you were careful. Not careful enough. You sigh. The time has come. You weren’t expecting this, you don’t know what to do, and you start searching the internet for answers. It works well enough for research papers; maybe it can help with this. “How do I make sure I’m really pregnant?” Delete. Delete. Delete. “Are pregnancy tests accurate?” No. You took 5. They all said positive. You know you’re pregnant. Delete. “I’m pregnant, and I don’t know what to do.” There.
The first answer has a link to an adoption agency. In fact, the first 5 are adoption agencies; after that, one is a crisis pregnancy center, and one is an abortion clinic. You think hard about the last one. You shake your head no. You don’t want to do that. But maybe? You pick up the phone and dial the number, but then you lose your nerve. You haven’t prayed in a while, but you figure if the big guy is up there, maybe he can tell you what to do, so you throw up a prayer. You click the first link and wait for the page to load. In the bottom right-hand corner, a little chat box pops up. “Hello, I’m Adrien from Happy Homes adoption agency. Are you pregnant and need help figuring out what to do? Let’s talk.” Your rational mind knows this is a chatbot. It is two in the morning, what else could it be? And yet. “I’m Megan. I’m…” you do some mental math, “I think 4 months pregnant. I’m 20 and in my second year of college. My boyfriend dumped me, and I don’t have any health insurance. I don’t know what to do. Please. Can you help me?” To your surprise, what appears to be a real person responds in an unexpected way. “Oh, Megan. I’m so glad you reached out to us. I’m Laine, and I would love to help you. Where are you now? Are you in (location undisclosed)?” “Actually, yes.” “Ok, I can meet you first thing tomorrow when the doors open, and we can talk in person. For now, though, do you need anything? Are you ok?” You pause for a moment, three little dots wiggling in the chat bar waiting for you to respond. “No. No, I’m ok. Yes, I’ll see you tomorrow. What’s the address?” She gives you the address, and you say goodbye. It feels as if a gigantic weight has been pulled off your chest, and you subconsciously rub your slightly rounded tummy. It looks like you had a big meal, is all. The thing that had tipped you off was the nausea. Well, that and your sudden aversion to certain foods. As you drift off to sleep, you find yourself wondering what will happen next, but for the first time in a few days, you feel hopeful instead of terrified. It’s going to be ok. Even if you don’t know what is going to happen, you feel that it will be ok.
The next day you wake up groggy, feeling like there is something you need to do. Remembering your chat with Laine last night, you decide to do some quick research before you go to meet her, “Child adoption services: what to expect?” you hit enter and are again assailed with lists and lists of websites. You decide you’ll look again when you have woken up more. Reaching for a Pop-Tart and some shoes, you get ready to go meet Laine and figure out what to do with the rest of your life. Or at least the next 5 or 6 months. You hope that she has some coffee. “Am I even allowed to drink coffee?” you wonder out loud. Shaking your head, you decide you don’t care. You need coffee.
Maybe this isn’t you. Maybe you’ve always known if you found yourself pregnant, you were placing the child for adoption. I’ve known of people who have thought that. Maybe the idea of placing a child for adoption that you gave birth to seems like the most absurd idea ever. I don’t know how you feel. I haven’t walked in your shoes. However, the vast majority of unplanned pregnancies are met with fear, anger, sadness, and uncertainty. Even a planned baby can feel like a burden if financial inadequacy becomes an issue. If you’re considering adoption, you are not alone. Thankfully there are trained professionals who can help walk you through the process. If you aren’t ready to take that step but want to know what is included in child adoption services, you’ve come to the right place. I can’t promise you all of the answers. I cannot guarantee it will all be ok. If I said I could, I would be a liar. I would be a fraud. I am neither of those things. Bad things can happen. People can let you down. I hope for your sake that you get the help you need.
Child adoption services vary from agency to agency. If it is a reputable agency, they will have the best interest of the expectant parents at heart. Many places work hard to separate their expectant mother homes and help from their adoption agency so that the mothers in no way feel pressured. You shouldn’t feel as if someone is waiting to take your baby and doesn’t care about you. Neither should you be encouraged to lie to prospective adoptive parents, so you get better treatment.
The short answer is that every agency is a little bit different. The longer answer is that you should not settle for the least amount of support legally required.
Here are 5 things you should not negotiate about when looking at child adoption services. By “not negotiate,” I mean if they are not there, you should walk away:
- Birth mother support throughout the pregnancy and after the birth of the child.
What this looks like: Counseling with a licensed counselor. This is important. You may not feel like you want or need this, but it will be important for your mental health in the long term. You should also have a caseworker who is working to ensure your needs are met. They should be able to help you make decisions when you can’t quite think straight. You will need someone in your corner to make sure you are able to get what you need.
- Financial aid for medical expenses, housing, food, and clothing.
What this looks like: It could be that you can get a check to help you pay for your expenses. You also may be invited to live in a maternity home. A maternity home is a safe place to live while you are considering placing your child for adoption. Food is included, as is a clothing allowance. Medical needs are addressed by a trusted doctor the staff will transport you to and from. You should not be expected to pay for medical needs related to the baby.
- Knowledgeable staff
What this looks like: If you ask about how the lawyer helps with the adoption process, you should not be met with blank stares. Anyone worth their weight in an agency should be able to either answer your questions or direct you to the person who can. Not only should they know their stuff, but they should not be condescending.
- Clear answers to any questions you have
What this looks like: “Where will I give birth?” “Can I do a home delivery?” “Can the adoptive parents be in the room?” If you are met with hedging, just walk away. This isn’t the right place. You need to be able to make informed decisions, and you cannot do that without people who know what they are talking about.
- The ability to change your mind without being guilt-tripped
What this looks like: This isn’t a service; this is just common decency. If you feel pressured to place your child for adoption, then you can feel free to leave that place and not look back. It is not the decision of anyone besides yourself and possibly the other birth parent to make. You should feel confident that you are making the right choice even if it feels difficult.
Those are the bare minimum. Looking around and doing your homework can yield other results. Some agencies only offer a few therapy sessions post-adoption. You will likely need therapy for years to come, so look for places that will provide more therapy than just a few counseling sessions.
You should be receiving free prenatal checkups. You should be the one updated on the health of yourself and your baby, not the agency or the adoptive family. You are free to give that information out as you see fit, but if you feel like you are simply a uterus with legs, you should walk out.
Ask to see the facilities. Some “maternity homes” are little more than apartments, while some are huge homes set on acreage and feel more like a retreat setting than a house. Maybe that isn’t something you need, but it is something to consider. While a maternity home may not be something you need right at this moment, it may be something you need towards the end of your pregnancy when it becomes more difficult to work.
You are worth taking the time to do your homework. Adoption is such a gift to adoptive families and adoptees, but it isn’t in anyone’s best interest for your needs to be put last on the list. You deserve to be taken care of and have your wants met as well as your needs.
You’re about to embark on an epic journey. You are probably feeling frightened and exhausted. Know you are being prayed for by a person you don’t know but who cares about you very much. I hope you find what you need and want. I hope when looking for child adoption services, you can expect good for yourself. I’ve met far too many mothers who put themselves last in line, and your baby won’t thrive if you do so. Let me be the first to congratulate you on the blessing that is causing anxiety and fear in you at the moment. Whether you choose adoption or to parent, you can be assured that while either choice is hard, both choices are good ones.
As an adoptive mom, I just want to say thank you for even considering adoption. You are an amazing person. Love isn’t ever wasted, and the love you feel welling up for that small person is going to help you get through this. Even if it feels overwhelming, exhausting, and hard, I can promise that if you choose adoption or to parent, that baby will know more love than it knows what to do with. I know because I don’t know how it would be possible to love my kids more, and I have not given birth to a single one of them. So, thank you.
Child adoption services are an important factor to consider when choosing an agency or deciding whether to place your child for adoption. You should expect professionalism, concern, care, gentleness, and knowledge. You should expect people who have your best interests at heart. You should expect decency, respect, and all of the help you need. You can get those things at any number of places, but doing your homework can help you find the place to best suit your needs.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.
Christina Gochnauer is a foster and adoptive mom of 5. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Letourneau University. She currently resides in Texas with her husband of 16 years, her children ages 3, 3.5, 4.5, 11, and 12, and her three dogs. She is passionate about using her voice to speak out for children from “hard places” in her church and community.