If you live in the beautiful state of Michigan and are considering placing your child, it is important to understand what is the process for adoption in Michigan? If you are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, you are likely to feel a roller coaster of emotions. You may be sad, or excited, or angry, or confused, or all of the above. When faced with an unplanned pregnancy you have four options ahead of you: parent the child with your partner, parent the child alone, terminate the pregnancy or place the child for adoption.
Adoption is the legal termination of the parental rights of the birth parents and the granting of those rights to either the state or the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents may be relatives, in the instance of kinship adoption, or adoptive parents you find through an adoption agency, an adoption facilitator, or even through a pastor, a doctor, or a friend. Once the adoption is completed, the child legally becomes the child of the adoptive family and assumes all the rights as if the child were a birth child of the adoptive parents.
To understand what is the process for adoption in Michigan, you must begin by considering if adoption is right for you? To place a child for adoption takes a lot of strength, courage, and a profound amount of love. There are many reasons you may not be ready to parent a child. You may not be in a place financially, emotionally, or even physically where you are able to provide everything a child may need. Choosing to place a child for adoption means that your love of self and your love for your child led you to a decision of what is best for both of you. That being said, when considering adoption, or even when you are in the adoption process, you should never feel pressured or coerced. Choosing adoption is a choice that only you can make. Others such as family and friends, attorneys, or doctors, may offer guidance and support, but these various friends or people may not legally interfere with your decision.
When considering an adoption plan, you will want to gather as much information as possible. A good place to start is by meeting with an adoption agency or an adoption facilitator and asking these representatives to help you understand what is the process for adoption in Michigan. In the state of Michigan, both adoption facilitators and adoption agencies are legally allowed to help you place a child, so choose the person or agency that feels best to you. There are pros and cons to working with an agency versus pursuing a direct placement, or independent adoption. Some expectant parents find that engaging in independent adoption results in the development of a stronger relationship between expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents, but agencies may offer more services. A good adoption agency will be able to support you throughout the adoption process with counseling, financial, legal, and even housing aid. Adoption agencies and adoption facilitators will make time and resources available to meet with you in whatever capacity you feel the most comfortable. You can choose to connect with an options counselor via phone, video chat, or even in person in an office, your home, or a local coffee shop.
If the expectant father is in the picture, these facilitators will recommend that you begin by having a conversation about your wish to pursue an adoption plan. It can be a difficult conversation to have, particularly if you disagree on the plans for your child. If the relationship with the expectant father is strained or at all unsafe, the adoption agency or adoption attorney may intervene on your behalf. If the expectant father is unknown, then the adoption agency or adoption attorney will consult the Michigan putative father registry. If the expectant father is found, he must be notified of his status as an expectant father and be informed of your wish to pursue an adoption plan. If the expectant father is either not found or does not respond to the notification, then his parental rights will be terminated by the court. Once his parental rights are terminated, there will be no need to notify him of further proceedings–whether you choose to parent or place.
When selecting an adoption agency or an adoption facilitator, be sure to ask any and all questions you may have. Consider how many expectant parents the agency has helped in the past year. Are there any birth parents with whom you can connect to hear other experiences working with the agency? How does the agency find prospective adoptive parents? What role can you play in the selection of a family? What type of support is the agency able to provide you? Does the agency offer support groups, counseling, legal aid, financial help, or medical aid? If you change your mind (which legally you have every right to do, even after the baby is born) what support or resources can the agency recommend? What type of support is available to you after the child is born? How long are you able to receive post-placement services from the organization?
Another question that often arises when expectant parents consider, what is the process for adoption in Michigan, is how to select prospective adoptive parents. Part of making an adoption plan for your child is to think about what kind of life you would like your child to have. Do you envision your child living in a single-parent household or with a married couple? Will your child grow up in the country or in the middle of a big city or somewhere in-between? Is religion important to you? What about the ethnicity of the adoptive parents? Are there any interests you hope that the family has? What about other children in the household, or pets? It can be overwhelming to think about, but a good counselor and support system will help you set your parameters for selecting an adoptive family for your child.
All prospective adoptive parents are required to complete a home study, background check, and child abuse and neglect clearance. Know that any prospective adoptive parent you are considering has been thoroughly vetted by a state-licensed social worker and has reflected upon the motivations for adoption. Just as you are thinking of what life will look like for your child, so too are the hopeful adoptive parents considering the type of life the couple would want to provide for a child. Your search for a hopeful and prospective adoptive family is to see where those future wishes for your child align.
Once you set your parameters, you and your agency or adoption facilitator will begin your search. There are many hopeful adoptive parent profiles online and you can view posts, photos, and even videos of your matches. When you find a hopeful adoptive parent who seems to be a good fit, ask to connect with the couple. You may wish to communicate by phone, email, video chat, or even in-person. Listen to your gut. If you feel that the prospective adoptive parents may be a good fit, that’s wonderful. And if not, that is okay too, and you can move on to the next hopeful adoptive family that you find. You should never feel pressured into making a decision about which family to select, or even whether to place your baby at all. The choice is and remains yours.
Another element to consider when speaking with hopeful adoptive parents is the level of openness you would like to maintain after the child is born. There are essentially three types of adoption open, semi-open, and closed. In an open adoption, all members of the adoption triad (the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee) maintain some type of communication. This communication is typically ongoing and may involve phone calls, letters, emails, video chats, and in-person meetings. A semi-open adoption is similar to open adoption but the frequency of communication is less and in-person gatherings are rare. In a closed adoption, the adoption records are effectively sealed until the adoptee is 18 years old and legally an adult. In the United States, some form of open or semi-open adoption has increasingly become the norm, and many people believe it is most beneficial for all members of the adoption triad. But no two adoption triads are the same, and it is up to you to decide what level of contact you wish to maintain. In the state of Michigan, post-adoption contracts are not legally enforceable.
In the lead up to your delivery, you will likely maintain some kind of contact with the prospective adoptive parents–either directly, through the adoption agency, or even through your adoption attorney. It is important to establish rules for contact and you should make sure you feel comfortable with whatever level of contact is decided upon. In anticipation of your delivery, you will want to make a hospital plan. Your hospital plan should include someone from your support network to be there with you when you deliver. You can decide if you would like the adoptive parents in the room, who you would like to hold the baby, and what your plans will be for leaving the hospital. Take some time and discuss the plan for placement with your counselor. Though you may change your plan at any time–even the day of–having an idea of what your delivery day will look like will help you emotionally and physically prepare.
Expectant parents wondering what is the process for adoption in Michigan will want to know the process of placing a child once the child is born. Both birth parents must consent to the adoption unless the birth father’s rights have been revoked previously. If the birth mother is under the age of 18, then her parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must consent to the adoption of the child. In this instance, the birth mother will sign her consent to the adoption and her parent/guardian will co-sign. In Michigan, consent to an adoption may be given in court or out-of-court. If consent is given out-of-court, the birth parents must wait at least 72 hours after the child is born to give consent. During these 72 hours, the birth parents remain the legal guardians of the child and may make decisions the individuals view to be in the best interest of the child. If the birth parents wish to give consent in a court of law, then consent may be given whenever a judge has space in the court docket. This may be before the 72 hours after the birth of the child but typically takes longer.
Once consent is given, the birth parents may revoke the decision within five working days (excluding weekends and holidays). If the decision to place is not revoked during this time, then the adoption will be considered legally binding, and the birth parents’ parental rights to the child will be terminated. But just because your parental rights are terminated does not mean you cannot still play a role in your child’s life should you wish to do so. Though you will not be your child’s legal parent, adoption is a lifelong journey and your membership in the adoption triad is forever.
After placing your child, you will need to give yourself time to heal. You need time to heal physically and time to process the emotional toil of placing a child. Surround yourself with support, and be sure to take advantage of the post-placement counseling available to you. Support groups for birth parents can be a nurturing way to find your footing post-placement. Know you are not alone and know there are others who have walked the path of placing a child for adoption both in the state of Michigan and beyond. When you are ready, you may find that you are able to help another expectant parent in need of guidance. Give yourself time, be kind to yourself, and know that you made the most loving decision and sacrifice you could make for your child.
Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller, and arts educator. She holds an MFA (Playwriting) from NYU Tisch. She has written numerous plays including the internationally renowned, award-winning Appearance of Life. Her amazing transracial transcultural family was created through adoption from China and India. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and “is this really us?!” whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at www.letterstojack.com.