Adoption affects and changes the lives of three different people: the biological mom, the adoptive mom, and the child.  This is sometimes called the adoption triad.  No adoption can be complete without all three people being affected.  This article focuses on the first two because they are the ones that must work in partnership for the best interest of the third: the child.

What are my adoption options if I have an unexpected pregnancy?

Being pregnant when you weren’t expecting to be can be a frightening thing.  The circumstances surrounding your pregnancy may be less than optimal.  Perhaps you feel you are not ready to have a baby, or perhaps you don’t love the father and don’t want to be connected to him.  One or all of those things may be true.  My heart goes out to you.  But that which is growing inside of you deserves life.  You may be considering abortion as an option.  But consider this: abortion does not change the situation you are in; it just compounds it.

You don’t look forward to the questions and the judgmental stares.  You don’t look forward to the morning sickness or to the discomfort.  You don’t look forward to the labor and delivery.  But don’t make a permanent choice to a temporary situation.  

1. Keep calm and consider yourself blessed.  Congratulations!  You are a mom!  I know what you are thinking: I haven’t given birth yet.  That may be true, however, you are a mother all the same.  By the time you find out you are pregnant, your baby probably already has brain waves and a heartbeat.  She will be able to recognize your voice.  She will feel your pain and your joys. She will suck her thumb.  What you ingest, she will ingest.  And the opposite is true, as well.  You will feel her movements as she “kicks” your belly!  And in time, you and your child will see each other, face-to-face.

You are blessed.  What seems painful and uncomfortable right now could bring you joy for years to come.  And if you don’t think you can raise the baby, consider this: what you may think is a disaster right now may bring someone else joy for many years to come.  Children are a blessing, not a burden.

2. Seek out your local pregnancy resource center.  Pregnancy resource centers, formerly known as crisis pregnancy centers, are a place that pregnant moms can go for help in times of distress.  They provide things such as clothing, diapers, baby wipes, and other essentials needed to raise a baby.  Some centers may also provide prenatal care, STI (sexually transmitted infections) screening, information regarding pregnancy and child-rearing, and information about adoption.  Some centers may also have counseling for pregnant moms and also counseling for young fathers.  Some centers may also have maternity homes where young moms can stay if they face homelessness.  These centers are confidential, loving and nonjudgmental.  Some centers even have post-abortion counseling.  Seek one out in your neighborhood.   

3. Seek counsel.  “There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.”  You may be afraid that you don’t know what to do or who to turn to.  Don’t be scared.  If you are a teen, speak to your parents; they may surprise you and be very supportive.  But if you can’t speak with your parents, find another trusted adult who will truly help you with this situation: a teacher, a neighbor, or a youth pastor.  Next, please consider speaking with the father’s parents, if possible.  And, of course, seek professional counseling if you think you need it.  Counselors may be a source of strength you didn’t know was there before.  The last thing you want to do is shut everyone out.  Yes, it’s your baby, but getting other people’s perspective is vital.  

Don’t let anyone tell you that you only have one option for you and your child.  You have many options.  Depending on your life situation, your support circle, and the area you live in, there are a myriad of choices for you and your baby.  The adoption community has been more creative in recent years, has been more transparent, and has opened up a world of choices that weren’t there before.  Here are a few different options.

– What are my adoption options in foster care adoption?  If you are a pregnant mom who is struggling with substance abuse or domestic violence or mental illness, it is vital that you get the help you and your baby need now so that Child Protective Services does not have to get involved.  If CPS does become involved and does take your child into custody, don’t lose hope.  The judge will give you time to get your life together so you can be reunited with your child.  However, if you don’t think you are able to raise the child, the judge will give you the opportunity to voluntarily relinquish your rights so that an appropriate family can then adopt your child. 

– What are my adoption options in a closed adoption?  If you are young and pregnant and scared, you may have the option of a closed adoption.  A closed adoption is where you voluntarily request the courts to seal your file.  This way the adoptive parents will not have access to your identity, and you can be assured of a certain amount of privacy and confidentiality.  On the other hand, having a closed adoption also means no contact with your child until possibly adulthood.  This may be painful, but necessary, in some cases.  Closed adoptions vary from state to state, so you should check with an attorney before you choose this option.

– What are my adoption options in an open adoption?  This adoption option is trending in the adoption community.  An open adoption is when biological parents are allowed to have a certain level of contact with their child even after adoption.  This can vary and can be anywhere from a photo every year to chart the progress of your child to regular monthly, face-to-face visits in public.  The level of openness can vary, but it is always done in the best interest of the child.  Both biological and adoptive parents negotiate and may sign a post-adoption communication agreement.  This legal document is drafted by attorneys and approved by the courts.  This agreement may be enforceable in many states.  Check your state’s laws.

If you choose a life plan for your child, you are doing a loving thing.  You are not merely “giving up” your child for adoption; you are choosing to lovingly place a child in a loving, forever family who will be better able to provide for that child than you are able to right now.  You can search adoption profiles to find a family who shares your values and beliefs.  After the child is placed, you can share special occasions and not wonder if your child is safe; you will witness it with your own eyes.

What are my adoption options if I want to adopt?

On the other hand, you may be a parent who wants to choose the option of adoption.  The motivations may vary including infertility, the opportunity to give back to your community, or the opportunity to serve God.  

International Adoption.  There are adoption-friendly nations such as Mexico, Ukraine, India, and South Korea that all have children who need to be adopted.  These children may have been abandoned, rescued from human trafficking, lived in war-torn nations, may be orphans, or have been the victims of natural disasters.  They need someone special who will be patient with them and meet them where they are.  The costs are well into the tens of thousands.  Unfortunately, this adoption option has declined in recent years, but if you have the resources to adopt overseas, then—by all means—pursue it!

– Domestic Infant Adoption.  There are about 1 million people waiting to adopt in America.  Many of whom may desire to adopt infants.  The reason many people choose the adoption option of infant adoption is because they want to raise a child from birth, may not want to collaborate with the birth parents, or may want to build a family and desire to place that child in the most natural birth order as possible.  Whatever the case, many choose infants.

This private adoption option occurs when a young lady decides to voluntarily relinquish her parental rights.  The mom may know a couple who wants to adopt or may need to be matched with a couple.  Then the decision will need to be made about whether to have an open or closed adoption.  The advantage of having a closed adoption is to reduce any potential negative influence from the biological family—if it is deemed in the best interest of the child to not have contact with the biological family.  The advantage of having an open adoption is that the child will have access to a family member that may be able to answer questions or fill in the blanks.  That connection can be vital especially when dealing with medical issues; it is important to know family medical history.  Finally, private adoption can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Seek a reputable adoption agency and adoption attorney should you choose this adoption option.    

– Foster Care Adoption.  There are over 400,000 children in foster care.  About 125,000 of those are available for adoption. These children are in foster care through no fault of their own due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.  Most of them are reunited with their families, but 25% of those children in foster care become available for adoption and are waiting for a forever family.  To become “available for adoption” means that the biological parents’ rights have to be severed or voluntarily relinquished through the courts.  Once a child becomes available for adoption, she is then matched to a family that can meet her needs.

Some of the special needs a child may have are ADHD, PTSD, RAD or other issues.  Children may also have developmental disabilities such as autism, FAS, or Down syndrome.  Children who need to be adopted the most are older children, substance-exposed newborns, or children who are a part of a sibling group.  They are special needs also.  Whatever children’s special needs are, adoptive parents need to be prepared to meet those children where they are. 

Some people seeking this adoption option may be hesitant because they don’t want to assume the risk that foster care brings.  Some also may not want to care for a child with special needs, or they want to adopt an infant.  That is understandable.  But one of the positive things about adopting from foster care is that the costs to adopt are virtually zero!  And whatever expenses are used towards adoption is reimbursable.   

– Kinship Adoption.  This adoption option, also known as relative adoption, is trending in America.  It is when a family member chooses to adopt a member of his or her own family.  For example, grandparents may choose to adopt their grandchild because either their adult child has died or is unable to care for his or her own children.  This adoption option is becoming more popular because the child is already familiar with his grandparents, and so the trauma is mitigated by going to live with someone he already knows.  Grandma is not a stranger (hopefully), and the child is already familiar with her home, her cooking, and her rules.  A negative, however, is that sometimes the adoptive grandparents are advanced in age.  Another negative is that there is too much familiarity, and sometimes animosity occurs between the adoptive grandparents and their now-adopted grandchildren.  

As you can see, there are many adoption options whether you are an expectant mom or whether you are seeking to adopt a child.  Don’t let fear of the unknown prevent you from making a decision that is right.  It is never wrong to do what is in the best interest of the child.  Adoption blesses three people: the biological mom, the adoptive mom, and the child.

Are you considering adoption and want to give your child the best life possible? Let us help you find an adoptive family that you love. Visit PregnancyHotline.org or call 1-800-GLADNEY. 

 

Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journeys. He and his wife started their own adoption journey in 1993 and have 8 children, 6 of whom are adopted. His adopted children are all different ethnicities, including East Indian, Jamaican, and Native American. He loves traveling with his family and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption is a passion and calling for Derek and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.