Being young and finding yourself unexpectedly pregnant can set your life into a tailspin. What is the first thing you do when you find out? Some young women are excited to raise the baby themselves, not realizing all that children need. Some are lonely and feel like a baby will love them even if no one else does. More than likely, though, the first thing you will do is freak out, especially if your pregnancy was unplanned. So, what options do you have if you decide that you cannot raise your baby and do not believe in abortion? Have you thought, “How do I put my baby up for adoption?”
Where Do I Research Adoption?
The idea of placing your baby for adoption may have crossed your mind, but where do you begin? What is the process that you must take? First, you want to research the topic. It is amazing how much people do not know about adoption. The internet is a marvelous tool when it comes to exploring the idea of adoption. There are several websites, one specific one being Gladney Center for Adoption. They can help make the right decision for you and aid you every step of the way. Gladney is located in Texas but works with expectant mothers and parents worldwide.
What does adoption mean? The dictionary defines it as, “When a couple or individual raises a child that is not biologically theirs.” There are different types of adoption that you might be interested in researching as you think about this decision. These include:
- Private adoption: This typically means that an adoption agency and even an adoption attorney, who makes certain all the laws and documentation is completed correctly, are involved. It means the birth mother chooses a family on her own. This might be someone you know who has been trying to have children but has not had any luck. It might be a couple that has a child or children but is unable to have anymore. It could also be an individual you know who wants to be a parent but does not want to get married or cannot get pregnant. You, the birth mother or parents, might not know the couple or individual but hear it through “the grapevine,” so to speak. A friend or family member may know of someone looking for private adoption. But you may personally know of a couple or individual who is wanting to adopt. This seems like the most preferred way to adopt, but it is also the most expensive for prospective adoptive parents.
- Special needs adoption: When you are researching adoption, you want to research all kinds, even ones you might not think will pertain to you, such as special needs adoption. Many children are born with ailments such as Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Down’s Syndrome, and many others. The reason you want to look into this one is that no one knows, when they conceive, whether there will be issues with their baby or not. Some tests can be done during pregnancy that can allude to these, but it is not a science. Many couples and individuals thrive on adopting children with special needs.
- Interracial adoption: This customarily means that the baby is of mixed race, also known as bi-racial. Suppose you and your significant other are of different ethnicities. In that case, you may want to explore transracial adoption as the United States and other countries have historically had issues and prejudices when race is involved. Being educated on this one will assist you when you begin looking for your baby’s adoptive parents.
Steps to Adoption
1. Deciding to place your baby for adoption. The choice to place your child should not be made lightly or without extended research on the subject. This will be the most important decision you will make in your entire life, so you want to make certain this is best for you and the baby you carry. It will not be an easy decision as you grapple with, “Well, maybe I can do this myself,” or, “I cannot give my baby away, not to a stranger.”
There are many reasons that birth parents conclude they cannot raise a baby. Some of these are:
- The birth mother or parents are still in high school, are too young, and are not equipped to handle the complexity of raising a baby.
- The birth mother or parents believe that they are not physically, mentally, or financially ready to care for the needs of a child.
- The birth mother or parents might be in college juggling school work, homework, and a job and unable to give the baby the attention or financial support they need.
- She or they might be just out of college and want to get their careers off the ground before starting a family.
- She or they might be together but feel they are too young to financially support a baby.
These are only a few reasons you, the birth mother or parents, may want to choose adoption for your baby. In the end, though, it has to be your decision because you do not want to make a choice you will later regret. You want to make sure you are certain this is what is in your baby’s best interest.
2. Finding an adoption agency/adoption attorney: As stated earlier, The Gladney Center for Adoption is a great choice when looking for an adoption agency to work with you. They’re there from the beginning of your adoption to after your baby is placed with their forever family. You want to choose an agency that is best suited for your situation. If the Gladney Center for Adoption is not the right fit for you, they will help you find one better fitted for your adoption journey. You want to choose an agency that will work with you in ways that you need them to so that not only your needs are met but the needs of your baby as well. Adoption agencies are equipped to aid you in areas such as therapy, housing–if needed–finances, and help you search for the family who will adopt your baby.
An adoption attorney is an attorney who specializes in adoption and adoption alone. Some attorneys, such as family custody attorneys, may be able to assist you with adoption, but those who specialize in adoption are better equipped to help you with the legal aspects of it.
3. Developing your adoption plan: An adoption plan is a great thing to have once you have decided on your agency. This allows you, along with the prospective adoptive parents, to choose which kind of adoption fits best with your situation.
- Closed adoption used to be the only arrangement you could make. This changed during the 1970s, as they added more adoption plans; however, closed adoption was still the most common.
Closed adoptions are sealed by a judge and do not allow contact between the birth parents and the baby they placed. Once the child is 18, they can choose to go to a judge and have those records unsealed to find their birth parents. Getting the records unsealed is not an easy task and can take up a lot of time and energy.
- Open adoption is a way for you to have some contact regarding your baby once they are placed with the adoptive parents. There are many ways that contact is maintained. Some birth parents choose to write letters to their baby, telling the child about themselves and explaining why they placed them for adoption. Photographs, phone calls, and visits set by the adoptive and birth parents or by a judge are other ways to maintain communication.
- Semi-open adoption is a newer phenomenon. Birth parents are allowed to know only certain aspects of their child’s life as they grow, such as updates every three months during the first year and then yearly. However, the child usually knows they are adopted and about the birth parents.
4. Choosing and meeting the prospective adoptive parents is, for some birth parents, the more difficult decision. You know that you are choosing the family or individual who will raise your baby. There are some criteria that birth parents look for when going over photo listings, which are files on the computer rather than paper ones. These criteria may consist of things such as how long the couple has been married, whether there are other children in the house, whether they are financially stable, and whether they own their home, to name a few.
Once you have chosen the prospective adoptive parents, you may speak with them over the phone with your caseworker by your side. This initial conversation gives you more of an idea about who they are than what you get from a computer screen. If all goes well, then a face-to-face meeting is set up. This meeting will really tell you whether these are the people you want to raise your baby. Communication is essential between the birth parents, caseworker, and prospective adoptive parents. Coming up with some fun, not too serious, questions you might want to know about the couple will help break up the tension bound to be there. These questions could include:
- Did you meet in school, or do you have a fun story of how you met? What did you like about each other?
- Were you friends first, or was it “love at first sight”?
- What holiday traditions do you have that are fun and exciting?
- What is something you like to do together that some might find scary or weird?
- Are there certain things that you prioritize over others? What are they?
Sometimes, doing this can help lead you into the more complex questions that have to do with the adoption itself.
5. Creating a hospital plan allows you the opportunity to decide who you allow in the delivery room with you. There are a few ways to look at this. Some birth mothers want the birth father there with her when she gives birth. Which permits them to have what little time they have left to get to know the baby, memorizing everything they can about them. There are others who want their mother, best friend, or whoever has been her support system the entire time to be there. For some birth mothers, there may not be this support. Yet, others want to indulge the adoptive mother, giving her as much of the birthing experience as humanly possible. Sometimes, only the adoptive mother and the caseworker have supported the birth parents from the beginning. Again, just like making the decision, and choosing the family for your baby, trust your instincts and your gut. Those will never steer you wrong.
6. Life after adoption will not look like your life before becoming pregnant, no matter what your age. You will mature in ways that you never thought possible. One thing you want to keep doing is going to therapy. Your emotions will be all over the place due to the reality of placing your baby for adoption and your increased hormones which could cause postpartum depression. So, having a third party–someone who is not in the situation–to talk about how you’re feeling at any given moment will help you heal.
Placing your baby for adoption is not an easy choice, but there are times in life that a person must look past themselves, past their wants and needs, at what is best for everyone involved.
DISCLAIMER: Although this is a guide to assist expectant mothers making the decision to place their baby for adoption, please contact an adoption agency or adoption attorney for assistance if you are seriously looking into 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.