Do: Look at all of the other alternatives, starting with parenting, before choosing adoption.
Don’t: Underestimate the pain of being permanently separated from your child. Adoption is a loving decison, but it has life-long repercussions. Explore all of your alternatives before you make a decision. At the same time, be realistic about whether you’re at a point in your life where you can provide your child with all of the opportunities he or she needs to thrive now and in the future.
Do: Get professional advice.
Don’t: Make an adoption decision based solely on what you find online. That includes sites like this one. Even if you’re 100% committed to adoption and have a plan in place, arrange to have a face-to-face meeting with an adoption professional.
Do: Inform baby’s father or your family about your decision to choose adoption.
Don’t: Keep your adoption plan to yourself. If you don’t want to inform the baby’s father, have your adoption worker inform him for you. But make sure he knows. If he discovers it later, he could try to block or even sink your plan. Be sure to inform your parents as well. They may be willing to offer you support that could lead you to rethink your adoption plan.
Do: Find out what financial support you’re entitled to as you make your adoption plan.
Don’t: Just look at your present circumstances when making a decision about adoption. For instance, you may have money problems today, but they could be temporary. Adoption, on the other hand, is permanent. By the way, in some states expectant parents are eligible for financial aid, regardless of whether they go hrough with their adoption plan.
Do: Consider at least three profiles of waiting adoptive parents before making a decision about one of them.
Don’t: Choose the first couple you fall in love with or based solely on their online profile. Speak to them, meet with them (preferably in the presense with an adopiton professional or a friend or family member you trust), and, if possible, visit them at their home before you make any decision. And don’t be afraid to change your mind or feel guilty about them if they discover they’re not what you thought they were.
Do: Set up a face-to-face meeting with the waiting adoptive parents before making a final decision about them.
Don’t: Contact a family unless you’re seriously interested in them. Calling or mailing them out of the blue will only take them by surprise and get their expectations up, which could make things difficult for you and them if you just as suddenly change your mind.
Do: Be prepared to be asked personal questions and to share personal details about your medical and family history during the adoption process.
Don’t: Tell anyone about your adoption plan unless it’s important for them to know about it. If you don’t want to tell someone, you don’t have to. Adoptive parents don’t need to know everything about you, either. However, knowing about your medical history can help them make a more informed decision and could be helpful if your baby encounters a serious illness down the road.
Do: Not expect other people, even those closest to you, to understand your decision.
Don’t: Go through with your adoption plan just because you think adoptive aprents are more deserving of parenthood than you are. You may not be feeling at your best as a result of an unplanned pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a parent. Think of your baby’s needs above all else. Don’t place your baby for adoption because you want to give an adoptive parent a gift or make their lives complete.
Do: Not worry that you won’t be able to find a loving home for your baby.
Don’t: Leave your decision to place your baby for adoption until the very last minute. The more time you leave yourself to find out about the process, the better position you’ll be in to make an informed choice and to find the family you’re looking for.
[Photo: Joe Houghton]