You are a young teen, and you find yourself in a situation you never thought you would see yourself in, or you are a college student who finds herself pregnant, or you are just a woman unexpectedly pregnant. These are scary situations, and you do not know what to do about them. What are your choices? Do you have options? You find yourself pondering an option you never thought you would; abortion. Some women believe it is their right to choose what to do with their bodies, while others believe that a baby is a person at conception and is against killing a fetus or embryo.
If you find yourself balking at abortion, there are two other choices you could look into. One is trying to parent the baby yourself. You know, however, that raising a baby is hard. There are things to think about, like how you will finish school; if the father is not in the picture, or even if he is, how will you physically, emotionally, and financially care for your baby? This would be especially difficult if you are in school and have to juggle all of that. And, what happens to your social life? Will your friends want to contend with the attention you must give to your baby? Sometimes, when young birth mothers become parents, they lose their social circle because their friends want to have fun as young people do, and if you choose to be a parent, you lose that option.
The second choice you have is to give your baby up for adoption. You may not know much about adoption except the negative idea that you are giving your baby away. There are things you can do to prepare should this be the decision you come to.
What Does Adoption Mean?
You might think you know what adoption is and, like many people, think of it as giving your baby up. That you do not want the responsibility, so you are putting it over on someone else. In reality, adoption is anything but that. According to dictionary.com, adoption is “the act or process of establishing a legal relationship between a child and a parent other than the child’s biological parent, thereby entrusting the designated adult with responsibility for raising the child.” This means a family or individual that you choose will raise your baby as their own. You are not giving your baby up for adoption but giving them something you cannot provide— a better chance at life. A way to express this meaning is through the language that you use. Instead of “giving your baby up for adoption,” a better phrase would be “place your baby for adoption” to negate negative connotations.
Reasons You Might Place Your Baby for Adoption
- You may be a teenager, still in high school, who knows that you do not have what it takes to be a parent at such a young age. To make matters worse, the birth father might not be around, leaving you to do it alone.
- Your parents don’t want you to have a baby at such a young age, knowing how hard being a parent is and not wanting you to experience that responsibility before you are old enough.
- You are in college and want to do all the fun things college kids do; however, you know you can’t do those things while parenting a baby.
- You are in college and understand that with your college load, homework, and studying, giving a baby the love and attention they need would be difficult. You also know that babies are expensive and get more and more expensive as they get older. This could force you to get a job on top of your course load to be able to financially care for the baby, which, in turn, takes more time away from them.
- You are a single mother who is raising children already, and you cannot see how you can feed another mouth with the meager wages you make. You know you cannot give the baby what they deserve.
- You could be a recovering alcoholic or drug addict and do not want a baby to grow up around that in case of a relapse.
Steps to Place Your Baby for Adoption
1. Research Adoption and the Different Types
The best thing you can do, at first, for yourself and your baby is to find out everything you can about adoption and the type you will use. This will help you in the next step to place your baby for adoption.
Typically, you would work with an adoption agency and an adoption attorney to scope prospective adoptive parents to find your baby’s forever family. The Gladney Center for Adoption is a well-known agency that mainly works with birth parents in Texas as that is where they are based; however, they do work with birth parents worldwide if needed. They assist you in areas you might need help with, such as housing, which is often a dorm-like space for you to stay in with other birth mothers, medical care, and therapy.
A therapist is vital during this time. Even if, while you are finding out everything you can about placing your baby for adoption, you are leaning more in one direction than another, they have the credentials to help you to discern how you feel, why your emotions are all over the place and answer questions you might have about how to overcome any guilt or shame. These are just a few areas that Gladney aids with, but if, for some reason, they are not the right fit for you, they will guide you to an agency that is better for your situation.
The internet has brought new meaning to the phrase “researching adoption,” as it allows you to plug in the word or phrases and gives you a plethora of places to look and people to call. Not that many years ago, the only way to investigate adoption was to go to the library and find books about it through the Dewey Decimal System. The internet and all of the information on it make it easier to find what you need.
2. Decide What Path You Want to Take
After you have researched and maybe asked around to see if there is anyone you know who knows about adoption, having experienced it in one way or another, you must make a choice. Do you try to be the parent your baby needs, doing whatever it takes, or do you set your feelings aside and think about what is best for your baby? This resolution will not be an easy road. It will be the most unconditionally loving choice you will ever make as you put your baby’s needs above your wants.
3. Finding an Adoption Agency and Adoption Attorney to Work With
You might be reading this and thinking, “What do I need an adoption attorney for?” An adoption attorney is important because they will handle all the court and legal aspects of your adoption to ensure everything is completed correctly.
As discussed earlier in the article, finding an adoption agency that fits your needs is essential because you will be together for a long time. The caseworker assigned to you will be the person to answer your questions even after the adoption is finalized.
4. Searching for and Introducing Yourself to Prospective Adoptive Parents
Imagining what kind of courage it takes to place a piece of your heart in the hands of someone else who might be your baby’s forever family, I am in awe of birth parents who have been able to do this.
Searching for a family or couple to place your baby with, entrusting virtual strangers to raise them is scary. However, not having to sift through a mound of files tediously until you found one or two promising families like was done previously must be such a relief. Thanks to technology, you can use photo listing, a computer program that allows you to look at many prospective adoptive parents’ profiles in a shorter amount of time. Thankfully, you will also have your caseworker to help you through this process.
Next comes meeting the people you wish to take care of your baby, making sure they are loved even more than the unconditional love you give them by allowing this. The first contact when placing your baby for adoption is generally by phone. If that goes well, you will proceed with a face-to-face meeting with a couple of your choice. Communication is key to figuring out whether the couple or individual you chose is the correct one for your baby.
There are many ways you can communicate with prospective adoptive parents. Breaking the ice with non-intrusive or fun questions can ease the nervousness or panic you feel. Here are five fun questions you can ask and still get to know the family you are debating on.
- How long have you known each other?
- What was your first date like?
- Do you like to have date nights where you get to get out just the two of you?
- What kinds of things do you like to do for fun, together and as a family?
- Do you have designated family time?
5. Developing Your Adoption Plan
Once you have chosen a family, couple, or individual, you will work together with the adoptive parents and your caseworker to decide what kind of communication you want regarding your baby once the adoption finalizes.
- Closed adoption: Some birth mothers find this is the best choice for them because they feel like if they see or hear about their child once placed, it could open up old wounds and undo any work they have done on themselves through therapy. This kind does not allow the birth parents any contact or information with or about the baby. For the baby, though, when they come of age, it makes it difficult to find out about their birth parents because when the adoption is finalized, the records are sealed, and it takes a judge to unseal them.
- Open adoption: We have seen a rise in this type of adoption as people realize the bond a child has with both their adoptive parents and their birth parents is vital for their wellbeing. This allows the birth parents to have certain kinds of contact with the baby throughout their life, whether it be through letters, pictures, videos, or visits. In a way, they get to watch their baby grow up, but the adoptive parents choose when and how much contact there is.
- Semi-open adoption: This one is fairly new and allows for the best parts of both open and closed adoption. It means the birth parents are allowed to learn things about the baby, but it is up to the adoptive parents what they divulge. For example, they could be allowed yearly updates, and then, as the baby gets older, the updates become less and less.
Working together in the baby’s best interest and what will make their life better is why you want to discuss this with your caseworker and the adoptive parents.
6. Establishing Your Hospital Plan
Making this decision before going into labor allows you to decide who will be permitted in the delivery room when you are in labor. You might want to have the birth father in the room with you so the two of you can have last moments with your baby. You might want someone from your support system, whether it be your mother or best friend, in the room with you. You may also want to allow the adoptive mother in the room to be involved in the delivery process as much as she can be. In the end, this is your decision, and you are allowed to choose what is best for you.
7. Finalizing the Adoption and Living Your New Normal.
Although you might have signed your rights over to the adoptive parents prior to leaving the hospital, there is still a six-month waiting period when you can change your mind. After that, it is finalized at a hearing in front of the judge.
Your life is not going to be the same as it was before pregnancy. You are not the same person. You may find that hobbies you once had, you no longer enjoy. This is a time that you want to continue therapy or begin it if you haven’t. You will be dealing with a whole set of new emotions and may not know what to do with yourself, and a therapist can help you explore different avenues that will make your new normal less daunting. You may also find that you are in the grieving process as placing a baby can feel like a loss. Your therapist can help you work through the stages of grief after placing your child.
In the end, the decision to place your baby or parent is yours, but you are giving your baby a chance at a better life that you cannot provide.
DISCLAIMER: This is a glimpse into what placing your baby for adoption is, but it does not negate the wisdom of an adoption agency or adoption attorney. Please contact one in your area should you find yourself considering adoption.Are you considering adoption and want to give your child the best life possible? Let us help you find an adoptive family that you love. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.
Jenn Martin-Wright is a cowboy, jean-wearing, country music and rock-loving cowgirl who loves books and jewelry. She was born three months too early with a disability that should have taken any semblance of a normal life from her. Her mom made sure Jenn did everything she was capable of. Coming from a big family, it was either keep up or get left in the dust. Jenn graduated high school, then went on to getting married, having kids, and receiving a BS in Social Work. Jenn lives in Idaho with her kids and a Maltese named Oakley who has become her writing helper as she writes novels under an alias of different genres.