Placing your baby for adoption can trigger all kinds of conflicting emotions ranging from fear and anger to hope to excitement. Deep down you may feel you’re making the right decision for you and your baby. But another part of yourself may be struggling with doubts about whether you’re doing the right thing and how your child will eventually feel about your decision.
The good news is that you don’t have to make your decision alone. There are plenty of people who can help you. The key is to start your research now and collect as much information as you can to make an informed choice. But before you speak to anyone else, you’ll need to have a conversation with yourself and ask the following questions.
Why am I placing my baby for adoption?
Expectant parents place their babies for all kinds of reasons. No one answer fits every situation. So the first thing you need to ask yourself is why am I considering adoption? Is this my decision or someone else’s? Are my money, relationship, family or parenting problems temporary or long-term? Focus on your situation today. But try to imagine how you’ll feel about your decision 20 years from now. Speak to birthmothers who have recently placed their baby for adoption. They can give you a better idea about what to expect, what you’ll experience and where to go from here.
Have I explored all my options?
A pregnancy, never mind an unplanned pregnancy, can affect your mind and emotions in funny ways. Throw adoption into the mix and suddenly things can get very complicated very quickly. That’s why it’s important to look at all of your options and go through the pros and cons with a licensed counselor. A counselor will spend time getting to know you and your particular set of circumstances and can help you process your emotions in a non-pressure, non-judgmental, confidential setting. And best of all, all of the assistance is free, whether you go through with your adoption plan or not.
When can I start making an adoption plan?
You can start making an adoption plan at any stage of your pregnancy. However, you can’t place your baby until after the birth. Early on in your pregnancy, you may decide that adoption is right for you. But as you get closer to your due date and your plan becomes more real, you may find yourself having second thoughts. So even though it’s never too early to think about an adoption plan, you shouldn’t make a decision until you’re completely ready.
Does the baby’s father need to know about and agree with my decision?
If you and the baby’s father are on the same page about your adoption plan, that’s great. But if you’re not, that could complicate things, especially if he opposes your decision. Whatever the father of your child thinks about your plan, it’s important to let him know about it and to get him involved as early as possible. Birthfather rights vary from state to state, so your attorney can explain the ins and outs in more detail and what your options are as you move forward with your plan.
Should I go with an agency or independent placement?
When it comes time to place your baby for adoption, you have two options: you can arrange it through an agency or an attorney. If you choose an agency, make sure it’s licensed. Depending on what state you live in, you may also have the option of working with an attorney on what’s called an independent adoption. Again, when choosing your attorney, make sure that he or she is licensed and has experience in open adoption, and that he or she is independent of the attorneys chosen by the adoptive parents and the father of your child.
How much openness do I want in my adoption?
Open adoption means you have the option to choose the parents for your baby, get information about them, and decide what kind of relationship you want to have after the adoption has been finalized. Openness covers a wide spectrum and can be tailored to your specific wants and needs. Many expectant parents choose open adoption because it allows them to have an ongoing relationship with their child. But if you want less contact, you can opt for that too based on your and the adoptive parents comfort level and what you think is best for your child.
What kind of adoptive parents do I want for my child?
When it comes to picking adoptive parents for your child, you have all kinds of choices. The first step is to figure out what’s important to you. What values or characteristics do you want your child’s parents to have? Do you want a family without or with children? Suburban or rural? Religious or spiritual? Anything is possible. Every hopeful adoptive parent has to undergo a rigorous screening process that involves financial, medical and police background checks, as well as classes in parenting and adoption. So between that, and their parent profile, you’ll know a lot about them prior to the placement.
How much contact do I want to have after the adoption has been finalized?
Open adoption isn’t about co-parenting, but it does allow you to have a presence in your baby’s life. The type and frequency of contact is up to you and the adoptive parents to negotiate. You can keep in touch through letters, phones, emails, Skype, text or visits. That way you’ll always know that your child is safe and loved and your child will always know the reasons behind his or her adoption.
What if I change my mind?
Adoption is an emotional rollercoaster ride so prepare yourself for plenty of highs and lows. There will be good days and bad days, days of hope and days of despair. It’s just part of the process. As for changing your mind, you can do it any time before the your baby is born. However, after you sign the relinquishment papers, your parental rights will be terminated, depending on the laws of your state. As a result, it’s important to know and understand your rights and responsibilities before you sign any legal papers.
What do you think are the most important questions to ask before placing a baby for adoption? What advice do you have for someone who is considering adoption? Leave your comments in the section below.