If you’re new to the process — and the truth is, most people are unless they have a personal connection to it — adoption can seem pretty scary and confusing at first, especially when you’re just looking into it. From deciding on how to break the news to your family to finding the right adoptive family, it feels like there are a million things to get your head around.
The good news is there is no one right way to place a baby for adoption (to use the wording more commonly heard in adoption circles today). And yet there are several wrong ways. What follows are some of the common mistakes that women with an unplanned pregnancy make when considering adoption.
Dive in without looking at your options
If done right, adoption — and especially open adoption — can be a wonderful alternative to an unplanned pregnancy. But it’s not the only one. Before you make a decision, you owe it to yourself and your baby to research all of your choices and to choose the one that’s right for you. Read about how the process works. Learn about your rights and responsibilities. Find out what other people in your shoes have done before you.
You may know someone who placed a baby for adoption and had a great experience. But just because it was the right decision for her doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for you. Each case is different. So how will you know for sure if it’s right for you? One way to find out is to talk to an adoption professional. And best of all, It’s free, whether you decide to go ahead with your plan or not.
Keep your baby’s father in the dark
Just because your baby’s father is treating you like a jerk or walked out on you after you told him you were pregnant — thus setting in motion your adoption plan — doesn’t mean you should keep him in the dark about it. To avoid problems down the road, tell him about your decision now. If you don’t want to speak to him directly, your adoption worker or attorney can do it for you.
Keep your family in the dark
Telling your baby’s father about your plan won’t be easy. Telling your family won’t be easy, either. But for different reasons. Adoption has always had a bad rap, and nobody likes to be judged, especially by their own family. But an unplanned pregnancy is never easy to deal with. Wherever you can find them, it’s important to surround yourself with loving, positive people who can help and support you.
Choose an adoption agency without researching it
No matter how committed you are to your adoption plan, you still need to go through the proper channels. An adoption agency or attorney can walk you through all the legal ins and outs. But be sure to check them out beforehand. Speak to recent clients to see if they’re a good fit for you. If their marketing material emphasizes quick placements or has one message for adoptive parents and a different one for expectant parents, that could be a warning sign.
Fail to complete the medical and family history forms
Nobody likes to fill out forms. But the ones in adoption aren’t there just to pry into the details of your life — there’s a purpose to them. They’re aimed at giving you a better understanding of how process works and to help you make the best decision you can. They’re also there to help the hopeful adoptive parents of your baby make the best decision they can both before and after the placement — for their sake and your baby’s.
Pick the first adoptive parents you find
Next to choosing adoption for your baby, choosing an adoptive family will be the hardest thing you’ll have to do. But don’t rush your decision. If you decide you don’t click with one family, don’t be afraid to move on to another. And don’t let anyone pressure you into making a decision until you’re ready. There are literally hundreds of families out there that can provide your baby with a loving home.
Make a decision without meeting your baby’s adoptive parents
Reading about hopeful adoptive parents is one thing; meeting them is another. A couple may sound perfect to you on paper. But it’s only after you meet them face-to-face that you’ll you really know whether they’re a good match for you. In the time leading up to your placement, be sure is to spend as much time together as possible and to get to know them and their family.
Choose your baby’s parents when you’re at the hospital
If you’re struggling with your decision to place your baby, you may find yourself putting it off until the last moment. That’s okay — just don’t make the decision at the hospital as you’re about to give birth. Your mind and emotions will be too far out of whack. Instead, wait until after the delivery, when you’ve had a chance to take a step back and think through your decision in a more relaxed setting.
Don’t make a post-placement openness plan
Up until the birth of your baby, you could be so focused on the delivery that you may not think about what happens afterwards. But creating a post-adoption openness plan with your baby’s future parents is essential. Your adoption worker can help you find a level of contact that’s comfortable for you and ensure that you and the adoptive pages are on the same page in regards to your relationship together.
Don’t explore your post-placement support options
Adoption isn’t a one-time event nor is it an emotionally easy event. That’s why it’s important to see a counselor after as well as before the birth of your baby. No matter how happy you will be to watch your son grow up in a loving family, you’ll still need to deal with the effects of your placement. Joining a support group is another option that many women have found helpful.
Although adoption can be a rewarding process, it is also be very complicated. To make the most of it and increase your chances of having a successful placement, be sure to do your research, seek out professional advice and support, and good get a handle on what’s involved and what to expect.
Learn more about hopeful adoptive families.