Although facing an unplanned pregnancy is not an uncommon experience, it is sometimes an incredibly stressful one. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, perhaps you are considering placing your child for adoption. Yet, you may have several concerns based on what you have heard others say about birth mothers and adoption. Unfortunately, there are still numerous myths out there about placing your child for adoption.
We’ll be looking at and debunking those myths in this article. But before we do that, I want to talk to you about the importance of the language we use regarding adoption. Phrases like, “putting a baby up for adoption” or, “giving a baby up for adoption” send the wrong message. “Putting a baby up for adoption,” for instance, makes it sound as if a birth parent is abandoning their child, which is far from the truth. Additionally, the phrase, “putting a baby up for adoption” sounds cold. Loved ones might use phrases like these to distance themselves emotionally, but we understand that placing your baby for adoption is a very difficult and loving thing to do. The phrase, “putting a baby up for adoption” doesn’t recognize the tremendous sacrifice a birth mother makes when she does what’s best for her child by placing them for adoption.
Instead of using phrases such as, “putting a baby up for adoption” or, “giving a baby up for adoption,” we will say, “placing your baby for adoption” in this article because it paints a more accurate picture of the situation. Placing your baby for adoption with a loving family is one of the most difficult and loving things birth parents can do for a baby.
Now that we’ve examined the importance of positive adoption language, let’s take a look at some of the most common myths about adoption when it comes to birth parents.
Myth: If You Place Your Child for Adoption, You Are a Bad Person
It is sad to think that a birth mother might be afraid that others will think she is a bad person for placing her baby for adoption because nothing could be further from the truth. There are numerous reasons a birth mother might choose to place her child for adoption. Some of these reasons include: not being able to provide for her child financially, not being able to provide a safe, stable home, she isn’t ready to be a parent, she doesn’t want to be a parent, she’s done adding to her family, she has goals she wants to reach before she begins or adds to her family, she’s facing challenges that would impact her ability to parent, her child has needs she cannot meet, or her pregnancy is the result of a sexual assault.
No matter your reason for placing your baby for adoption, you are doing the most loving thing you possibly can for your child. You want your baby to have the life and opportunities you are not able to give them. Doing what’s best for yourself and your baby does not make you a bad or selfish person.
Myth: The Adoptive Parents Will Not Stay in Touch with You in the Future
In a semi-open adoption, adoptive parents and birth parents have limited contact with one another through a third party, such as the adoption agency. Semi-open adoptions allow birth parents to get updates about their child, which can help ease grief and guilt. Semi-open adoptions also allow adoptive parents to ask questions of the birth parents when needed. This can be especially important if the birth family’s medical history is needed, for instance.
An open adoption allows you to have a direct relationship with the adoptive parents and your child after the adoption is finalized. What types of contact you have with the adoptive parents and your child and how often is something you will talk about and agree upon with the adoptive parents during the adoption process. It’s important for all of you to be comfortable with how much and what types of contact you will have.
You may agree to receive email updates and photos of your child. You can also decide to talk with the adoptive parents regularly on the phone. If the adoptive parents approve, you can even visit your child occasionally. Both semi-open adoptions and open adoptions may help you with feelings of grief and guilt after the adoption process is complete.
Myth: An Adopted Child Will Feel Unwanted and Rejected
I cannot promise you that your child won’t feel some sense of rejection when they find out about their adoption. However, the truth of the matter is that when you choose adoption, you are choosing to do what is best for your baby. Remember that placing your child for adoption is a tremendous sacrifice and an incredible act of love.
Open adoption and honest communication can certainly help with feelings of rejection and unanswered questions. An open adoption allows you and your child to communicate directly throughout their life. This can be tremendously helpful when they begin to have questions about why you placed them for adoption. You will be able to tell your child why you felt it was best to place them for adoption through honest communication from both you and the adoptive parents. You and the adoptive parents will be able to tell your child just how loving this decision was.
When you and the adoptive parents are honest about the adoption from the beginning, your child will be more likely to understand what a loving sacrifice you made for them. They are also more likely to feel loved and wanted.
Myth: You Cannot Trust Strangers to Raise Your Child
This is a perfectly understandable concern for you to have. The truth is that people who sign up to become adoptive parents must go through a screening process; they cannot just sign up and choose a baby.
During the adoption process, adoptive parents must have several home visits and inspections, go through interviews with a social worker, the adoption agency, and the birth mother, fill out in-depth application forms, and pay fees associated with the adoption process. Even when people are approved to become adoptive parents, it can take years before they are matched with a birth mother.
Remember that you get to choose the adoptive parents you will place your child with. You will have opportunities to interview the adoptive parents, and you can take all the time you need to make a decision.
Myth: Being a Birth Mother is Expensive
Many birth mothers assume the costs associated with pregnancy such as doctor’s appointments, maternity clothes, prenatal vitamins, and hospital bills will be their responsibility. However, nearly none of the costs associated with pregnancy will fall to the birth mother when she places her child for adoption.
Typically, most of a birth mother’s expenses are covered by the adoption agency they are working with or the adoptive parents. These expenses may include housing costs, food, medical bills, prenatal care, and maternity clothes. Every adoption is different, so it is important to discuss the finances with your adoption counselor.
Myth: Birth Mothers Who Place Their Children for Adoption are Teenagers
While some birth mothers who place their children for adoption are teens, not all of them are. The truth is, women in their 20s and 30s also place their children for adoption. As mentioned previously, a birth mother chooses adoption for a variety of reasons.
Myth: You Must Sign Adoption Papers Immediately After Your Baby is Born
You do not have to sign adoption papers immediately after your baby is born. Each state has its own laws, but in general, most states will not allow birth mothers to sign adoption papers for at least 24 to 72 hours after the birth of their baby. These laws are there to protect you from signing adoption paperwork immediately after delivery when you are most vulnerable. You can sign adoption paperwork anytime after the initial waiting period has passed. You can take as much time as you need when deciding to sign adoption paperwork.
Myth: Nobody Will Adopt Your Baby if You Used Alcohol or Drugs During Your Pregnancy
There are many adoptive parents who are willing to adopt a baby who was exposed to drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.
Be honest with your doctor, your adoption agency, and the adoptive parents about your drug and alcohol use during pregnancy. Having an honest discussion with the adoptive parents about your drug and alcohol use during pregnancy is essential. You’ll be able to ascertain their comfort level with raising a child who was exposed to drugs or alcohol during that conversation.
Myth: Open Adoption is Confusing for the Child
Initially, your child will be confused by adoption as a concept due to their age. They won’t be able to grasp how you gave them life but are being raised by their adoptive parents. However, as your child ages, they will begin to understand the concept of adoption. Eventually, your child will be able to grasp what open adoption is. As I discussed earlier, there are benefits of open adoption for both you as a birth mother and for your child.
Myth: Placing Your Baby for Adoption Will be Easy
Placing your child for adoption may be the best decision you can make for yourself and your child but that does not mean it will be an easy thing to do. Placing your child for adoption is a life-changing decision and one of the hardest things you will ever do.
You will experience a range of emotions during and after the adoption process, including relief, guilt, sadness, joy, and grief. These are common emotions to experience as a birth mother. Turn to your support system of family and friends when you need to. Talking to a therapist or joining a birth mother support group may also help you cope with these emotions.
Semi-open and open adoptions can help reduce feelings of grief by allowing you to continue to be part of your child’s life. Open adoption also allows you to see how your child is doing with their adoptive parents, which can bring you some comfort and relief.
No matter what type of adoption you choose, know that it won’t be easy. You will grieve, and that is okay. With time and work, you can heal.
Myth: Adoption is an Irresponsible Way to Handle an Unplanned Pregnancy
Unplanned pregnancies are not uncommon. Even if you use birth control, unplanned pregnancies can and do happen. You may think the only responsible thing to do is to parent your child. However, adoption is also a responsible thing to do. It takes a strong and responsible person to place their child for adoption. By doing this, you are giving them a chance at a life you cannot provide for them.
Myth: Nobody Will Love a Child the Way a Biological Parent Can
Adoptive parents love an adopted child as much as a biological one. Adoptive parents will love your child because they want to be parents, and they understand what a gift it is to have a child to raise. Adoptive parents love their children unconditionally, just as biological parents do.
If you are a birth parent considering adoption, I know you have numerous questions and concerns. I hope this article has helped put your mind at ease about some of the myths surrounding placing your child for adoption.