If you live in the Great Lakes State, as it’s known, here is a great Michigan adoption guide to begin that journey, whether you are an expectant parent or a hopeful adoptive parent. To begin, here’s a scenario. Let’s say you are 16 years old and still in high school when you discover that you are expecting a child. Your boyfriend of a year is graduating this year and has been accepted to the college he has talked about for months. You both know that you are not ready to be a parent. The expectation and dreams of your parents up to this point are that you would complete your education and start your adult life free of encumbrances. Now, being in an unexpected pregnancy, what are you going to do? What options do you have? The decision to place your child for adoption is a difficult one. Fortunately, in the case of these two, the parents are supportive of the decision to place the child for adoption. Now, the question becomes where and how you do begin this adoption process. Many individuals can be in this situation described, but there are so many resources available to help each person involved.
In Michigan, there are many wonderful adoption agencies to choose from. These agencies will walk you through the entire process and provide answers to all your questions. There is no judgment, only compassion, and most offer options for counseling if needed. You will be given booklets with a profile describing potential adoptive parents. You choose the parents you both feel would be the best parents for your unborn child. You will have the option to meet the family. You will have the option to have the couple present during your doctor visits, ultrasounds, and even there for the birth of your baby.
You can also go the direct route through a private attorney. There could be a family member who would love to parent your unborn child, otherwise known as kinship adoption. There could be an infertile couple your family knows of that would be a perfect fit. All it takes is a phone call to start the process of moving to make a dream come true for a couple wanting to start or grow a family.
Either of these options will walk you through the entire process with the help of a social worker. These social workers will explain your options for medical care, housing if needed, and other expenses related to you and your unborn child. You may feel nervous about appearing in court, signing documents, and just the whole process in general. Rest assured that either through an agency or through a private attorney, you will be supported throughout the entire process.
You and the adoptive parents will decide what will be expected in the future regarding visitation, communication, photos, updates. If you are wanting visitation, you would look for potential adoptive parents who are open to this as well. If you would rather not have visited, but just occasional updates and photos, that is okay, too.
Michigan law is set up to protect you and the prospective adoptive parents. If you consent to adoption outside of the court system, you are given five working days to revoke your consent. Whether in court or out of court consent is given to place your child for adoption, once your parental rights are terminated, you have 21 days to appeal. However, when working with an agency or an attorney, the agency or attorney will make sure you are comfortable with your decision far in advance of reaching this point. It’s usually rare to have a change of mind once the child has been physically placed in the arms of the parents you have selected, but you can continue to make choices.
Hopeful Adoptive Parents
For hopeful adoptive parents, here’s another scenario. Let’s say you and your spouse have waited 11 years for a child. The heartache of multiple miscarriages and the finality of a hysterectomy weighs heavy on your minds. You wonder what to do and where to go. You look for the right place for your family, interviewing several adoption agencies. There are many to choose from in Michigan. You find the one that fits your expectations. There aren’t too many restrictions or obligations, and the fees are explained up front. The chosen agency has many resources that are appreciated by you as the adoptive couple. The agency provides courses to be taken to navigate different cultures when adopting. These can be taken while waiting for your profile to be chosen. This is especially helpful because you do not know who will pick your profile. It is nice to have this advance preparation if needed. This is just one of the many scenarios that hopeful adoptive parents could be led to start the adoption process as well.
You, as a prospective adoptive parent, can navigate the home study, which involves a visit by a social worker to tour your home. The social worker is looking to make sure your home is safe and has adequate room to add a baby. This home visit results in complete approval and no recommendations to change or add anything. You then can complete your profile book that gives the birth mothers a look and idea into who you are as individuals and as a couple. You can explain your expectations for how open an adoption you want and your willingness to have visitations. At this point, it’s when you wait. And wait some more. You could find a match quickly. You might wait for a year or more and wonder why you have not been selected. Sometimes, you might feel that you are ready to give up, pull your name out of the running, and just resign yourself to a childfree life. But don’t give up. You could get the phone call. On the other line, it could be the young couple from earlier in the article, a 16-year-old mother and her college-bound boyfriend, who has picked you. This couple read your profile separately and both agreed, you were the ones they wanted to parent this child.
The birth mother you connect with could be five months along and still have months to go before the birth. She could be open to having you come with her to doctor appointments and ultrasounds. She might be open to you being present during the birth process. You get to join in her journey of pregnancy and birth, a journey you have not been able to do for yourself.
The birth father can relinquish his rights before the baby is born and could head off to college, in this case. You, as the adoptive couple, are present for the birth of the daughter and get to hold her for the first time in the delivery room. The birth mother, in different situations, might allow the adoptive parents to name the little baby girl. She might want to hold the baby or opt-out, knowing that she is giving this child to the couple, and is happy with her decision. A month after the birth, the birth mother will head to the Court and her parental rights will be terminated. Six months after that, the Court will finalize the adoption, and all parties to the wonderful event can breathe a sigh of relief and contentment. Now eight years later, this couple has a beautiful daughter ready to enter 2nd grade in the fall.
This is a true story. But it was not without fear, worry, and stress on both sides. The birth parents were worried about their decision. Was the right couple being picked? The adoptive parents worried too. Would the birth parents change their minds? Would a family member show up and decide that he or she would be a better fit to parent this child? Ultimately, as each member of the adoption triad got to know each other, these fears were alleviated. After the baby’s birth, the adoptive couple didn’t worry that there would be a change of mind by either birth parent. The agency and social workers did a great job of preparing all parties for this adoption.
These are all normal worries, and these worries, concerns, and questions need to be faced. You should rely on the adoption agency, the social workers, and any attorneys involved to help you get through this. This is the agency or the attorney’s job, and each does it well.
This story is not without some difficulties. Sometimes, the adoptive parents continually second guess themselves. What was it in the parent profile that was keeping the family from being selected? This couple even went so far as to look at other profiles of those who had been selected to see what was different. The hopeful adoptive parents kept asking if there should be a change in the profile. Did it need some tweaking? What do these other couples have that this couple did not have? In retrospect, this adoptive couple wished that there was no comparison. It just added to the stress levels, and truly the couple has no control over what the birth parents are looking for. In the end, the couple did get selected for who the family was and what the couple had to offer. The average wait time to be selected is around 15 to 36 months.
There is also the stress of family and friends constantly checking in to see if the couple has heard anything yet about a potential adoption. It is recommended that you set up boundaries with your family and friends. For this adoptive couple, It would have made a world of difference if the couple had told family and friends not to ask. When word came through, rest assured, family and friends would be the first to hear. The adoptive couple likened it to the stress people feel when a couple is trying to become pregnant and being constantly asked if it has happened yet.
Having an open adoption was not without its own challenges. It was difficult trying to explain to the daughter who the birth parents were in the beginning. The visits were infrequent and somewhat disruptive. For instance, it is easy to tell your child that you could not carry a baby in your tummy, and the woman we call your birth mother did it for us. It is another story when trying to tell your child what it means to be a birth father. That understanding will come eventually, but in the meantime, it does cause difficulties when this man comes to visit.
Eventually, all parties did come to an agreement that updates via texting with the birth father would be the best way to go for now. He has completed college, married, and has a family of his own. He is content with just knowing everything is going well with the child he placed for adoption. A problem did arise with the birth father’s parents as that couple wanted to continue to be involved in the child’s life. It had to be explained to these people that the daughter already has two sets of grandparents, and it was confusing to have another set of grandparents she rarely saw. Reunions later in life can happen, but it is up to the child and her needs as time goes on.
The birth mother was involved for a couple of years. She has also moved on with her life knowing she made the right decision and is confident the baby girl she placed for adoption is being well taken care of.
Although Michigan is an open adoption state, there is no legal requirement for visitation with the birth parents or the extended family. Decisions made early on can be changed with no legal ramifications. It is important for all parties involved to really think about what each envisions for his or her family before making promises. Adoptive parents should be careful that the couple does not make promises that cannot be kept to avoid hurt feelings down the road.
This adoptive couple was also instrumental in changes being made within the hospital where the daughter was born. It was agreed the couple would be present for the birth of the daughter and the couple would be doing the feeding, changing, and cuddling of the baby. The hospital tried to accommodate the adoptive family but placed the couple in a conference room that did not have any medical equipment or bed for the baby. She had to be returned to the nursery after every feeding. This hospital now has set up procedures to provide an actual hospital room for adoptive parents. Adoptive parents can now enjoy caring for the new infant without the heartbreak of returning the baby to a nursery to sleep.
For the most part, the hospital staff was incredibly supportive of the whole adoption process. However, it was a little difficult when it was time to leave with one nurse who did not really understand the whole process. It was agreed all members of the adoption triad would all leave together when the new daughter was released. The nurse placed the baby in the arms of the birth mother, and everyone went down to the hospital entrance to go separate ways. It was extremely awkward and difficult for the adoptive mother to take the baby from the birth mother and leave. The social workers from the agency thought everything was moving along as expected with no issues and these social workers had left the hospital. Again, had everyone had the opportunity to do it over, this nurse would have been taken aside with the social worker and explained what had already been agreed upon regarding leaving the hospital.
The takeaway from this story is that a wonderful couple who didn’t think a child would ever happen was blessed with a beautiful baby girl. A young woman and young man with whole lives ahead were able to choose who each wanted to raise this unexpected and loved baby. The process works, and it works well in Michigan.
Deborah Ann Rang, mother of a beautiful adopted daughter, Nyssa, age 28 and handsome adopted son, Dustin, age 25. A wife to John for 32 years and full-time domestic engineer since 2005. Mother-in-Law to Nyssa’s husband and Grandmother of one perfect 2-year-old girl with her sibling to arrive in December. Exciting life event for Dustin coming up with a wedding in October. Dog mom to 2 feisty Border Collies and one not so feisty older Shetland Sheep dog. Former employee of St. Paul Travelers Insurance company, Senior Liability Claim Representative working in Phoenix, AZ for 15 years. Passionate about books, writing and adoption. Currently a resident of Grand Rapids, MI and looking forward to retirement for John in 2022.