When you are not ready to be a mother, there are several options. These include parenting, having an abortion, or placing your baby for adoption. The question remains: do you have to make sure your baby has a forever family before you give birth, or can you settle on adoption after birth?
Thoughts and Emotions Expectant Parents Face
There are many emotions and thoughts that expectant parents go through when they make this decision—even if the decision is not made until after the baby is born. Placing a child for adoption does not have a time limit. Many expectant parents decide to parent their baby only to find that it is a lot more difficult than they thought it would be. Some of the thoughts that the expectant parents deal with that can play a part in wanting to place their baby are:
There are five stages of grief that expectant mothers face as they grapple with the idea of placing their baby for adoption, even after birth and maybe even more so, as they come to realize how much work it is—especially teenage mothers who are still in high school and doing their best to graduate. There are also college students that fight this same battle if they become pregnant. The five stages of Grief do not always occur in order, but they generally look something like this:
Like many other pregnant women, you may be in this stage at this moment, thinking that raising a baby will not be that hard. Once the baby is born, however, and you may find yourself bogged down with being a parent and anything else that is time-consuming so you may not be able to raise the baby on your own, even if you have a great support system.
This emotion is very real, especially after you give birth and take your baby home. You may be angry at yourself or the birth father for putting you in this position to begin with. You may be angry with people in your life, for example, your parents because they do not support the fact that you chose to raise your baby. You may be angry at God for allowing you the agency to make your own decisions. You may even be angry at the baby. Even if you know you should not be, you may not be able to help it.
After bringing your baby home, you might make empty promises with yourself if some higher power makes your life easier. The problem with this is that you may end up disappointing yourself in many ways.
Finding out you were pregnant was probably difficult enough but what’s next to come maybe even more difficult. After getting up at all hours of the night and having to change and feed the baby, with lack of sleep, and all the activities you must accomplish, depression—especially postpartum depression, can occur. Symptoms that you may experience are severe mood swings, insomnia, excessive tiredness, loss of appetite, and difficulty concentrating.
This happens when you realize that you may not have the ability to care for a baby or child. The hardest decision you have to make is now upon you. Will you continue to do your best at parenting or will you think about the best interest of your child?
Fear of Being Judged
This could be a reason why you decide to try and parent your child on your own and then realizing that placing your baby with a family more equipped to cope with parenting is in your baby’s best interest. You may eventually recognize that giving your child the gift of a family you are not able to provide is more beneficial to them than going it alone.
How Will You Identify Yourself?
After giving birth, and you decide to keep your baby, you are the parent but what happens to that title when you make the decision that it is in the best interest of your baby to place them for adoption? Who do you become? Are you still the parent? No, because that title will fall to those who raise the baby. This uncertainty may be why some people look down on adoption. In some cases, especially in open adoption, the adoptive parents explain to the child that they are adopted; this is when you will become known to them as the birth parent. By doing this, you do not lose your identity as it pertains to the child. The child will, one day, understand why you made your choice.
This may be another reason that you wanted to parent your baby instead of placing them for adoption after birth. There are many expectant parents who know what adoption is but not everything about it. Some may not know that there is such a thing as open adoption so they think that they will never see or know what goes on with their child after placement. Adoption is very different than it used to be when closed adoption was the only option you had. There are so many more options available to birth mothers/parents now than there used to be. If you are looking to place your baby after birth, you will find it in your best interest to do your research before making a final decision.
Types of Adoption
Once you decide that placing your child for adoption with a family is more advantageous for not only them but for yourself as well, you may wonder whether you want a closed adoption, open adoption, or semi-open adoption.
This type of adoption involves not knowing anything in regards to what happens to your child after you place them. At first, choosing this option might seem to be what is best for you and your baby, but as the child gets older and wants to find out where they came from, it will be hard to do because most of the time, closed adoptions are sealed no matter the age the baby is when you place them.
Open adoption has gained some increased awareness since the 1990s when it was discovered that contact after adoption benefits both the child and the birth parent. A contract will usually be drawn up between both sets of parents and the adoption facilitator in which the level of contact is determined. This means that you receive contact through letters, photographs, and sometimes even visits, depending on what is chosen between all parties involved. This is good for the child because they will never have to question who they are or where they come from.
This is a newer concept as it involves the expectant parents only knowing some of the things that go on in their baby’s life; this will be only what the adoptive parents allow. It is a good thing to get everything in writing as sometimes when wants and needs are verbalized at the beginning of adoption proceedings, these important aspects can get lost in translation.
Steps to Placing Your Child
Making the decision to place your baby after you have given birth and find out how difficult it is to parent is not an easy one. Luckily, the steps are much the same as if you decided to place them while pregnant.
Deciding what is in the best interest of your child is a choice that should not be rushed into. You need to talk with your support system, whether it be a therapist, family, or friends, and let them know about what you want to do and why. They can help you weed out the good, the bad, and the ugly. If your child is old enough to understand the choice you make, you want to help them comprehend your decision as much as possible.
Choosing an agency and even an adoption attorney is your next step. The agency will assist you in finding the family that will take over raising your child. They can also help in areas such as counseling. Having someone to talk to about your wants, needs, and fears can aid in easing the stress and also making this known to those around you. An adoption attorney will help with the legal aspects from making sure documents are allocated correctly and that every part of your adoption process is followed to the letter.
Finding and meeting the people who will be your child’s forever family used to be extremely difficult as you had to go through file folder after file folder of prospective adoptive parents, reading through their profiles, and sifting through pictures. Nowadays, there is this awesome technology called photo listing where you can look at everything, including photographs on a computer, making the process much faster.
When it comes to meeting the family, however, this can be another hard step—the toughest part for some. The uncomplicated way to begin a conversation with these strangers is to ask some questions that do not get too deep.
- How did the two of you meet?
- What was your favorite subject in school?
- What are your favorite foods?
- Do either of you like to cook?
- What is your favorite color?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- Where is your favorite vacation spot?
- Do you go on a yearly vacation?
These types of questions open the line of communication but, at the same time, help you get to know things about this family that you might not have otherwise known. They make it comfortable enough to lead the way into deeper questions regarding the adoption process including, but not limited to, why you have chosen to place your child for adoption after birth and not starting the process while you were pregnant.
The last step after you have decided and written up a contract stating the visitation intentions, will be finalization. This is usually handled by a judge at a hearing where you and (possibly) the birth father sign your rights away so that the child can be officially adopted by the family you choose. It is at this time too, that if open adoption is specified that the judge will set visitation that works for both parties.
After all is said and done, you might find yourself going through the grieving process again even if you know that you did the most selfless and loving thing you could for your child. Knowing your own limitations is not an easy thing to realize but putting the needs of your baby above your own is what being a parent is all about.
This is also a time that you want to continue or begin therapy if you have stopped. Being able to talk through your emotions and what you are feeling with a third party can help you move past this and continue on with your life, becoming who you were meant to be. Working on your own goals and aspirations will make your child proud of you.
Although this is a guide to assist expectant mothers in their choice to place their baby after giving birth, please contact an adoption agency or adoption attorney for help when making your decision or with any questions.
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.