What You Should Know About Choosing Adoption
We know that you probably have a lot of questions. The questions and answers on this page may not answer all the questions you may have about adoption, but this list should help you get started.
Adoption is the legal process by which parental rights and responsibilities are transferred from one parent or set of parents to another, with the purpose of ensuring that the child placed for adoption has all the benefits of a loving, permanent family if his or her birth parents choose to make an adoption plan.
No, adoption provides you with the opportunity to make a plan for your child's future. It is not abandonment. It can be a good and loving plan that you make in order to give your baby the security and benefits of a permanent family, should you decide that parenting is not the best option for you at this time in your life.
Today, the vast majority of infant adoptions in the U.S. have some degree of openness, which means that birth parent identities are not kept from the child or adoptive family, and there is often some agreed upon ongoing contact between birth and adoptive families.
Contact in an open adoption may include the exchange of letters and photographs, phone calls, emails, visits – whatever you and the adoptive family are comfortable with.
Parents who want to adopt an infant are required to meet with an adoption agency representative, social worker, or other approved agent and complete a number of requirements, including an in-depth homestudy, to determine whether they are ready and able to parent.
Prospective adoptive parents have to meet all criteria set by their home state, as well as their adoption agency, in order to adopt. If you and your child’s adoptive parents agree to pursue and maintain an open adoption relationship, you will be able to receive updates, pictures, and letters, visit if it is agreed upon, be a part of your child’s life as he or she grows up, and see firsthand how your child is being raised.
That’s up to you. You can choose how much contact, if any, you would like to have with your child and his or her adoptive parents. If you choose a more open adoption, you will be a part of your child’s life as he or she grows up.
You have the right to receive counseling before making a decision. Expectant parents are not advised to make adoption plans without first undergoing counseling, exploring all their options, and receiving a thorough explanation of what adoption would entail.
Birth mothers in the U.S. typically place their children through an adoption agency or a private adoption attorney. If you want to work with a licensed agency, it is important to do your research to find the agency that fits your unique needs if you are considering adoption for your baby.
When working with a reputable agency, you are more likely to receive a higher standard of professional care and counseling. You may also want to consider religious preferences, the type of adoptive parents the agency works with, and other important factors as you consider an agency.
Your agency should never make you feel pressured or coerced in any way as you consider your options. If you ever feel uncomfortable at an agency you have consulted, you should seek alternate counseling or use a different agency.
The best agencies are staffed with ethical, knowledgeable professionals who bring years of expertise to adoption counseling and support. Adoption agencies should offer free support services and counseling to you before, during, and after an adoption decision is made, as well as support or referrals for other needed services.
Many adoption agencies will also provide expectant parents considering adoption with a written contract, detailing the agency’s responsibilities and promises to the parents both during and after the adoption process.
You are facing one of the most important and overwhelming decisions you will ever make. A responsible adoption professional should never pressure you either way or deny you help while you are considering your options.
Many women who seek information and counseling at adoption agencies do not decide to make adoption plans, and agencies can and should help connect these women with needed resources and support within the community.
Expectant parents considering adoption, whether or not they ultimately choose adoption, have the right to accurate information about all of their options, compassionate support, and the space to make their own decisions.
Throughout the adoption process, the expectant parent considering adoption has the opportunity to receive counseling, weigh all of her options, and reevaluate her decision. Expectant parents may change their mind and choose to parent up until the time, as defined by the state, that the revocation period expires on the relinquishment documents.
The adoption agency or attorney must try their best to locate the expectant father and inform him of his rights. Expectant fathers’ rights vary from state to state. In some states the father may be required to be involved within a certain time frame to have parental rights and parent his child. If the expectant father supports the adoption and wants to be involved, he has a right to receive the same counseling and support as the expectant mother.
When facing an unintended pregnancy, a woman may turn to many different individuals for guidance and support. You are encouraged to involve your family and friends as you consider your options if you are comfortable doing so. Only you can decide what is best for you and your child, but you may certainly benefit from the advice and support of the people who love and know you best.
If you do not already have health insurance, you may qualify for Medicaid, and your adoption agency should be able to help you secure coverage, whether you ultimately decide to place or not.
Many adoption agencies will provide free legal services to help you plan for your adoption. Many will also provide financial support for additional medical and living expenses, either directly or through referrals to local organizations that can help meet your needs.
If a prospective adoptive family has been chosen, they may also agree to help. The resources available will depend on what is available locally and allowed by state law. A good adoption agency will help you find the best resources to meet your needs.
The level of contact you have with your child and her adoptive family will depend on what all of you are comfortable with. If your adoption agency knows that you prefer a more open adoption, it should try to help you identify adoptive parents who desire a similar degree of openness or contact.
In most adoptions, after you have selected a family to adopt your child, you will discuss and come to an agreement over how you want to pursue and maintain your open adoption relationship. You may agree to an ideal number of letters, calls, or visits per month/year/etc.
Many in open adoptions stress the importance of honesty, flexibility, and respectful communication in order to ensure mutually beneficial open adoption relationships between birth parents and adoptive parents.
Adoption agencies maintain complete, detailed files about their waiting prospective adoptive couples. Before you read parent profiles or select an intended adoptive family for your child, it is best to make a list of the qualities and attributes you think are most important for the adoptive parents to possess. Then you may be able to view adoptive parent profiles online, or you may be asked to visit the adoption agency office to receive information about prospective parents.
After you have viewed parent profiles and gathered information with the help of your adoption counselor, you can select an individual or a couple to consider for potential placement. At this point, you can also choose to correspond with the prospective adoptive parents or meet them in person.
Experiences and emotions vary from parent to parent, but placing a child for adoption is never an easy decision for anyone. Even birth parents that feel very secure in the rightness of their adoption decisions experience a real sense of grief and loss. This loss can only be worked through and reconciled if it is recognized, and if a birth parent receives the ongoing help and support she needs.
All birth parents are entitled to understanding, counseling, and support. This is necessary to help them heal, reconcile their feelings, grieve their loss during and after the adoption, and feel a sense of peace about their decision. Adoption may be a one-time legal event, but it has a lifelong impact for those involved, and it is different for each individual experiencing it.
A great deal depends on the individuals in question and how much they may personally know about adoption. While many people are very supportive of adoption, you should be prepared for the possibility of members of your community, family, or friends not understanding your decision to make an adoption plan, especially at first. You do not owe them an explanation, but you and your agency may be able to help them understand your thinking and your reasons if you ultimately choose adoption.
It is important that the decision to place be yours, dictated by your own conscience and reasoning, free from coercion or undue pressure, for the sake of your child as well as yourself. Remember that those who may not immediately understand whatever choice you make will not be the ones to bear the consequences of the decision – you will, and so will your child. This is why it is your choice alone, because only you can know what is right for both of you.
If you do contact an adoption agency, counselors should be able to connect you with other birth parents that have been in your situation. They can tell you how they felt at the time and how they feel now, explain what was most helpful to them, and provide additional support as you consider your options. You can also read the birth mother testimonials on this website, and search for other birth parent information, blogs, and support groups online.
A counselor or social worker at an adoption agency in your area can help answer your questions. Find an adoption agency or support organization in your area here.
Find an Agency or Attorney
Search NCFA's Member Directory to find an adoption professional to assist you with a range of services including homestudies, placement services, expectant parent counseling, birthparent support, legal services, search and reunion guidance, post adoption support, and much more.