Hello, residents of Montana! I am here to guide you through the adoption process for the state of Montana. Just like any other state, Montana has similarities and differences in the way adoptions are conducted. There are many reasons why birth parents place their babies for adoption. In this article, I will go over some of those reasons as well as give an overview of the steps that are followed by the birth parents when making such a heart-wrenching decision. 

What is Adoption?

Although many people have heard the word, adoption, it can still be confusing to understand its meaning. As stated in the dictionary, adoption refers to, “The action or fact of legally taking another person’s child and bringing it up as one’s own.” This means that a birth mother and father must sign over their parental rights in order to allow someone, possibly more equipped than they are (depending on the circumstances), to raise a child and give them a better chance in life. 

Reasons for placing your baby

There are many reasons birth parents may consider adoption. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Being too young
  • The timing isn’t right. Maybe they want to finish school, get married, or kick start their career before entertaining the thought of raising children
  • One birth parent or the other is not ready for that responsibility 
  • The birth parent may not have the finances or proper support system to raise a child. 

Steps for Placing Your Baby for Adoption in Montana

As explained at the beginning of the article, Montana has a few quirks, but most of the adoption process will be similar to other states in the United States. Below are five of the most important steps. 

1. Making the Decision to Place Your Baby

This will most likely be the most loving, selfless choice you will ever have to make. As the birth parent or parents, this is not a choice you should take lightly. There may be a lot of people in your life telling you that this is your best choice but, in the end, you are the one that has to make the difficult decision and be content with it.

2. Finding an Adoption Agency

You may be asking yourself, “What is an adoption agency?” An adoption agency is a place that will assist you in all aspects of finding a home for your baby as well as counseling, financial support, medical support,  housing, and anything else that may come up. You want to choose an agency that has both you and your baby’s best interests at heart because you will be dealing with them throughout your pregnancy, and sometimes even years after. An agency that is not based in Montana but assists in adoptions, both with the birth parents and the prospective adoptive parents is The Gladney Center for Adoption. Even if the caseworkers at Gladney are not able to help you, they can assist you in finding an agency that will be a better fit for your situation. 

An alternative to an agency is an adoption attorney. In most cases, adoption attorneys specialize solely on adoption. They are there to aid you, and the prospective adoptive parents in the legal aspects of adoption. Having one in your corner can ensure that placing your baby with a family is done correctly. 

3. Finding a Counselor or Therapist

The agency you choose can provide you with a counselor or give you referrals to others that work specifically with birth parents. There are times when the birth father stays in the picture when it comes to adoption. He may also need to speak with a counselor regarding his feelings as well.

4. Creating an Adoption Plan

When it comes to creating an adoption plan, there are several things you need to be aware of in Montana. First, there are different types of adoptions.

 One of these is domestic adoption. This happens when the adoptive parents, birth parents, and the child live within the United States. The entire adoption process, including initial placement, background checks, consent, and finalization, is regulated by state law and policy.” This is the most common as many couples who want to adopt a baby find it easier.

International adoption is more expensive and there is a considerable amount of paperwork involved. Often, you may hear it referred to as “intercountry” adoption. It occurs when the prospective adoptive parents seek to adopt a child from another country. Keep in mind that not all countries allow for international adoption.

A private adoption is also an option but these are not common. This type of adoption would take place through an adoption attorney. One scenario could be that the birth mother wants a family member to adopt the baby. This happens sometimes when there are infertile couples in an extended family.

Foster adoption occurs when a birth mother gives her baby over to the state when they cannot find an adoptive parent for them. 

When we talk about adoption and creating an adoption plan and hospital plan in Montana, there are different forms of adoption you might want to consider.

  • Closed adoption: Not too long ago, this was the only way for adoptions to take place. This version of adoption occurs when the birth parents cannot have anything to do with the baby after the child is handed over to the agency and or prospective adoptive parents. Most of the time, these adoptions remain sealed, making it difficult for the adopted child to find their birth parents.
  • Open adoption: Open adoptions used to be a taboo subject but they are becoming more popular as people realize that children benefit from knowing where they come from. This type of adoption allows for the birth parents to come up with suitable contact between themselves and the child. Contact can occur through letters, pictures, social media, phone calls, and sometimes visitation. The visitation portion is decided by a judge when the finalization takes place. This is a healthy way to place your baby for adoption because they will get to know their birth parents. 
  • Partially Open: This is the newest form of adoption and it allows for both aspects of open, and closed adoptions. This means that there is some information that the birth parents are and are not aware of, but there will still be some communication between them and the child as per the prospective adoptive parents.

5. Creating a Hospital Plan

A hospital plan can come in handy as it allows you to decide who is in the delivery room with you. Some birth mothers prefer having members of their support system there, such as a mom, best friend, or birth father. Having the birth father there gives you precious moments with you and your baby to hold or cuddle with them, letting them know, in your own way how much they are loved. Where some birth mothers prefer their support system, others want to involve the prospective adoptive parents in as much of the pregnancy and birth as possible. In this case, the birth mom might allow the adoptive parents to be present in the delivery room.

Knowing which type of adoption and what hospital plan you prefer makes it a little easier when the final decision comes.

6. Choosing a Family

Making the decision on who is going to raise your baby can be daunting. Luckily, nowadays, instead of having to go through mounds of paperwork to find the right fit, there is something called photo listing which are online profiles, making everything you need to know a click away. 

Once you have chosen a family, the next step is to meet them. This can be scary, and exciting all at once, so be prepared with some questions is a great way to open the conversation. Try these: 

  • How did you meet?
  • How long have you been together?
  • What are your favorite colors?
  • Do you have a favorite vacation spot? 
  • If there is anywhere you want to visit, where would that be? 
  • What hobbies are you interested in?

These are only a few questions you could lead with. Breaking the ice is a great way to get to know the family you want to raise your baby. 

7. Signing Over Your Rights

Once your baby is born, the adoption finalization begins. In Montana, this state will require you to attend a hearing where you will sign over your rights so that the prospective adoptive parents can have their names applied as the parent of the baby. The birth father has to agree to give his rights up unless he has not been in the picture. If the birth father has not been present, there is a chance that the judge may just remove his rights. 

7. Deciding What Your New Normal Looks Like 

After placing your baby with a new family, your life will not be the same. You will more than likely want to continue with therapy as there will be new ideas, memories, or just plain emotions that crop up. You may find yourself at a loss as to whether to return to school, work, or whatever you were doing before. You might want to talk with your therapist about this and possibly explore activities or avenues you have yet to look into.

As a birth parent, there is a lot to explore, research, and discuss before making the decision to place your baby for adoption. There are many resources available at your disposal when you are ready to look into your options. When considering adoption, there are many places that can offer you the help you need. Technological advances alone make researching the benefits and costs to you and your baby much easier to navigate than it used to be. Remember, placing your baby does not mean you are giving them up, but instead, loving them enough to give them their best shot in life.

DISCLAIMER: Although this is a guide to assist expectant mothers in their choice and journey through adoption, it, in no way takes the place of finding an adoption agency and/or an adoption attorney to walk you through the process.

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.