When you see the plus sign on the pregnancy test or hear the doctor say, “Congratulations! You’re pregnant,” a lot of emotions are brought to the surface if that pregnancy is an unexpected pregnancy. You may not be feeling that congratulations are in order, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s probable that you’re not in a place in your life where you feel that you can raise a baby (college, work, no support system, etc.). Maybe you’re a teenager and want to finish high school before becoming a parent. However, all of the feelings you are experiencing during this time are valid. It’s okay to feel scared. Now you’re probably wondering what in the world to do. One of the options is to go through the adoption process. Is it possible to go through the ups and downs of pregnancy for nine months, then place him or her with a new family? Can you still have a relationship with your baby after the adoption is over? Why is adoption good and why should you even bother going down that route?
You are Giving Your Child a Good Life
As a mother, one of the biggest concerns I have is making sure that I’m giving my children the best life possible. As an expectant mother, you probably never imagined that you would become pregnant at a time when you were not able or ready to raise a child. Yet, realizing that and placing your child through adoption means that you are making a wonderful, brave, and selfless decision. You are not “giving him or her up for adoption.” You are giving him or her a better life. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It takes a lot of courage and humility to admit, “You know what, I’m not in a place right now to raise my baby. But I want to give him or her a chance at a good life, even if I’m not the main parent.”
So why is adoption good? Because you are literally choosing life for your baby. A pregnancy isn’t a punishment or a bump in the road; unexpected absolutely doesn’t mean unwanted or unloved.
Going through an adoption agency where you will have counselors and social workers to help guide you is an option for finding a great family to raise your baby. Every couple they work with has gone through extensive training, home studies, background checks, and even mental health checks to ensure that they are ready to adopt a child. You will be able to choose a family that has the qualities and interests that you want for your child.
The Gladney Center of Adoption has parent profiles with a lot of details about each family and pictures of them as well. Most of the profiles even have a letter to you, the birth family, to let you know that you and your child are already so loved. This experience may be a little challenging. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as there are so many couples out there yearning to adopt a baby. At the same time, you can take a deep breath of relief as these families had to go through a lot to even get considered to be a part of the adoption agency. Not, it’s just about finding the family you click with and potentially even fall in love with. They will do everything in their power to love, nurture, and care for your baby.
You Can Still be Connected to Your Baby
There are three different types of adoptions: open, semi-open, and closed. What do they all mean and what are the pros and cons between them? Short answer: the name of each type specifies exactly how much communication goes on within the adoption triad (birth family, adoptee, and adopted family). Depending on what you’re comfortable with, that really determines on which adoption you choose. There are many different reasons why birth families pick certain types. Here are more detailed explanations and the pros and cons of every kind of adoption:
Open adoptions consist of the most communication between the family triad. You can begin the relationship with the adoptive family of your choosing as soon as you make the final decision that they will be the ones to raise your baby. Every open adoption is special and unique, so it’s ultimately up to the birth family as to how they want to communicate. Some options for communication are in-person visits, text messages, phone calls, emails, and social media.
Open adoptions in general are actually becoming more popular as it creates a unity between the family triad. Everything is out in the open including personal information, medical history, names, and addresses, you name it. Even though this is a great way to access something when needed, there is also no privacy for any members of the triad. This type of adoption helps the adoptee avoid having an identity crisis or wondering why they were adopted in the first place. They will know exactly who they are and where they came from. Your child can even ask you questions about the adoption when he or she is old enough to understand.
Lastly, the triad has to work together in order to raise this baby. How involved do you want to be? Do you want to help with parenting or watch from a distance? It’s up to you. Some adoptive families feel intimidated when the birth family is heavily involved since they feel like they’re “sharing” the child. Ultimately, the birth and adoptive families need to come together and raise the baby in harmony. Putting pride aside is essential in an open adoption.
Semi-open adoptions occur when the birth family wants to be somewhat involved and may not want direct communication with the adoptive family. These adoptions involve a third party, usually an adoption agency or an attorney. Typically semi-open adoption parties agree that the adoptive family will send updates and pictures to the birth family either directly or through the third party. In-person visitations aren’t usually part of this type of adoption. Again, every adoption looks different and it’s based on the comfort of the birth family. This may be a better option for you if you want to keep up to date with your baby, but you don’t want to be completely involved. Information won’t be as easily accessible, as well.
Closed adoptions mean that there is no communication between the family triad. This type of adoption was more common in the past but is becoming less and less popular. These adoptions are now used mainly if the child was abused or neglected to protect them. However, some birth families actually choose to have a closed adoption as a way to move forward and have a clean slate. That being said, this can make the adoptee feel alone as they don’t know any information about their birth family. Once they turn 18, they are legally able to find and contact the birth family. It may be a bit harder to track the family, but reunification is usually possible. This also means that all records are sealed and not easily accessible. It may be frustrating for the adoptive family since they won’t be able to know the child’s medical information or tell them details when they’re old enough and want to know more about the adoption.
Every one of these options is different and unique, and yes, there are ways that you can still be connected to your baby. Why is adoption good? You don’t need to close the door on this relationship with your baby or the adoptive family. Whatever relationship you are comfortable with and is beneficial for the family triad, that is the type of adoption you should choose. Regardless of what you decide, your baby was not abandoned. He or she is loved, chosen, and wanted. If you’re still confused and want help to weigh your options, you can talk to a guidance counselor.
You Can Focus on You and Your Goals
Especially in the case of open adoptions, you will be able to be a part of your child’s life while focusing on yourself. If you’re a teenager, you’ll probably want to finish high school, get a job, go to college, or whatever else you want to do. Or maybe you’re completely unsure what to do as this unexpected pregnancy threw you in for a loop. If you are an adult facing an unexpected pregnancy, you may not be ready to be a single parent or you may not have sufficient support to raise a child on your own. No matter what, Gladney has resources available for expectant mothers who want to find help and/or achieve their life goals. The Next Steps program is perfect for getting your plans in place even before you give birth. It “helps you imagine your future and set goals through career counseling, budget coaching, and educational opportunities”. If that’s something you’re interested in, talk to a guidance counselor.
You Have Access to Support Before Birth and After
One of the biggest things that a pregnant woman needs, especially one who has decided to go through the adoption journey, is having a good group of people to walk with her during the ups and downs. If you’re wondering about the environment of the adoption world, the goal of everyone you come in contact with is to see you succeed. They’re not here to make you feel guilty or horrible for your choices. They want to love you and support you.
Not only can you get support during the adoption, but you have access to it for as long as you need it. The relationship isn’t cut off just because you gave birth. The Gladney Center for Adoption has many different resources for you and your family: counseling, medical care, financial support, and legal services. They also have a few programs. Rest & Respite (R&R) is for mothers and other family members who are struggling and need a break to decide their next steps. Living at Home helps you make connections with other birth mothers, schedule your appointments, and get the most out of your financial assistance. Lastly, the Family Loving Decisions workshop “helps family members learn about the adoption process and how to support a mother during pregnancy and after placement”.
Why is adoption good? There really isn’t a simple answer. Even though it’s hard, you will have a lot of people on your side even when it gets complicated. The focus is also on you, so you can be seen and heard. You are an important factor in this journey.
Everyone has their own experiences with adoption, but just remember that no one should make you feel shame or guilt. Anyone who shames you and doesn’t support you during this difficult time is not being helpful. You need help.
If you still have questions you can talk to a birth mom and/or listen to their experiences. It helps to contact someone who has walked in your shoes. Additioanlly, the adoptive family may desire a relationship with you and for you to be a part of your baby’s life. If you are choosing to place you baby through adoption, you get to decide how involved you want to be as well. Some birth families want to be as involved as possible and others just want a clean slate to start over. Whatever you decide, just remember that you are choosing life and that in and of itself is beautiful.
If you are the parent or partner of a pregnant woman, there are resources for you too. It may be hard for you to imagine that your daughter or partner wants to find a family to raise her baby, but she needs support to get through this. It’s going to be a lot harder if she doesn’t have her people in her corner encouraging her to keep on going. Dads, I would highly recommend reading this story about Andrew, who is a birth dad and went through the same experience you’re going through. He candidly shares his experience with Gladney, his feelings about his daughter’s adoptive family, and the support he was able to receive because he grieved after placing his daughter through adoption.