Adoption isn’t always easy and it isn’t always straightforward.
The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. There are lots of people and professionals who can help you navigate the process and get you where you want to go.
What’s more, there is no charge for their services. If you’re not ready to contact them directly yourself, have a family member or friend contact them for you. They can answer your questions and take a lot of the load off your shoulders.
Crisis Pregnancy Centres
Crisis Pregnancy Centres are a great place to start because they’re easy to find and specialize in working with pregnant women. They provide counseling on pregnancy, abortion, and childbirth, and may include other services such as pregnancy testing and medical exams. Crisis Pregnancy Centers can be helpful, especially if you live in a community where there’s limited access to other professionals. But don’t expect a balanced view. Many centers have ties to pro-life groups and have a very specific agenda.
Public Health Services
If you live in a small town or want to keep your pregnancy secret, Public Health Services may not be the first folks you want to call on for help. But they’re easy to find and can provide basic counseling about your choices. So if you’re just looking for someone to talk to or suggestions on where to go for additional help and support, they’re as good a destination as any.
If you’re interested in putting together an adoption plan or just considering one, skip the other two services and go directly to an agency. An agency can put you in touch with a licensed adoption counselor who can answer all of your questions and guide you through every step of the adoption process. Among other things, they’ll explain your rights and responsibilities and the pregnancy- or birth-related financial assistance you may be eligible for and can show you profiles of prospective adoptive parents.
Adoption is a legal process as well as a social process, so that’s where your attorney comes in. He or she can explain how the adoption laws in your state work, and what you can — and can’t — do as an expectant parent. And they can put you in touch with an agency where you can get more specific information about your alternatives, if you haven’t contacted one already.
Adoption may be a new experience for you, but not for birthmothers. Birthmothers are women who have placed their baby for adoption. As a result, they can give you insights into the process and what to expect that other people can’t. Because they’re been through the process themselves, they “get” what you’re going through. So you don’t have to worry about what to say to them or how to say it.
Neither agencies nor attorneys, facilitators often work with one group or the other. Their main role is to help connect hopeful adoptive parents with prospective birth parents. If you have doubts about whether to go forward with your adoption plan, you’re better off seeing a counselor first. Unlike agencies and attorneys, facilitators are not licensed. And in some states, they’re not even allowed to operate.
Although an unplanned pregnancy is difficult to deal with, there are many people who can help you turn your crisis into an opportunity. Be sure to reach out to them and see what they have to offer before making any plans regarding your baby’s future.
[Photo: Cristian Bernal l townhero]