Adoption can be confusing. To make it as easy to understand as possible, we've broken it down into the 5 Steps of Adoption:
After carefully considering all of your pregnancy options, if you decide to move forward with adoption, your first step is to find the best adoptive family for your child. The family should fit your preferences and be working with an ethical and licensed agency or attorney. AdoptMatch is a great place to find an adoptive family and a trustworthy agency and attorney.
Pregnancy options education provides you with comprehensive, neutral, and accurate information about parenting, adoption, and abortion. Pregnancy options education should occur in a neutral setting (i.e., not at an adoption agency) by experienced professionals who will connect you with support and resources no matter which option you choose.
Before choosing an adoption agency or attorney, you need to make sure they’re licensed in your state, and can provide you with:
Every AdoptMatch family is working with a licensed agency or attorney committed to ethical and safe adoption.
There are thousands of qualified adoptive parents in the U.S. who are ready to adopt. Your first job is to determine what qualities you’re looking for in an adoptive family and then connect with the right adoption professionals who will provide you with the support you need before, during, and after the adoption.
Choosing an adoptive family for your child is a huge responsibility. Looking through profile books is an excellent first step in finding the right family, but you need to know more about a family than what you’ll find on the pages of a profile book.
Make sure you meet the family face-to-face (or, at the very least, speak to them on the phone if an in-person visit isn’t possible) before choosing them.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask:
Yes! You should meet the adoptive parents you’re considering in person, whenever possible. Talking to a family on the phone or via FaceTime is a great way to get to know them better. Still, before you take the step of giving a family the incredible honor of becoming your child’s adoptive parents, you should meet them face-to-face.
Your adoption professional will arrange for the family to come to you for a short visit or, if more convenient, make arrangements for you to travel to meet them.
It’s quite common for adoptive parents to help out with the expectant mother’s living expenses during her pregnancy, including housing, transportation, medical expenses not covered by insurance, counseling, legal fees, and maternity clothes. Each state has specific laws about living expenses, so ask your lawyer about your state’s regulations before accepting any money from anyone connected with the adoption. You should also know that accepting financial help does not legally obligate an expectant mother to place her child for adoption.
If you need help with living expenses during your pregnancy, there’s no reason to refuse a modest contribution from the adoptive parents, but don’t accept any more help than necessary to cover your most basic living expenses. It can be tempting to accept a generous offer of support, but it’s not worth the risk that you may end up feeling obligated to place your baby for adoption if you do.
Very Important Notes:
Open adoption allows the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child to stay in contact after adoption, usually through sharing photos, videos, and updates. Open adoption can offer you the comfort of knowing that your child is growing up in a stable, safe, and loving environment.
Research has shown us that birth parents who have ongoing contact with their child are more at peace with their adoption decision than those who don’t. Open adoption also allows the child to preserve a connection with his or her birth family and heritage.
An Open Adoption Agreement, sometimes called a Contact Agreement or Post-Adoption Contact Agreement, is an agreement between birth parents and adoptive families that describes how and when their communication will occur after the adoption. Such an agreement is usually made in writing and signed by the adoptive and birth parents, but sometimes it is just a verbal agreement.
Contact agreements are legally enforceable in less than half of the states, which means that in those states, the court may intervene if the adoptive parents don’t follow the agreement as promised. Regardless of your state’s laws, you should make sure that your agreement is in writing.
Having a written Open Adoption Agreement is the best and only way to reduce the possibility that you and the adoptive parents will have a future misunderstanding about how and when the contact will happen.
Adoption is a serious legal process. Every expectant mother placing her baby for adoption should have her own lawyer, provided at no cost, to make sure she understands her legal rights and responsibilities throughout the adoption process. The adoptive parents should hire a different lawyer for the same reasons.
Your adoption social worker will help you and the adoptive family create a detailed plan for how things will happen at the hospital, including whether the adoptive parents will be with you in the delivery room, nearby in the hospital waiting room, or at home waiting for a call.
Of course, the adoptive parents will be excited to begin bonding with the baby as soon as possible, but you may want to spend some time alone with your baby first, which is entirely up to you. To avoid any misunderstanding, it’s essential that you and the adoptive parents openly communicate about this part of the hospital plan ahead of time.
It’s up to you to decide how much time you spend with your baby during your hospital stay. You can choose to have the baby stay in your room, in the nursery, or with the adoptive parents, assuming the hospital will allow them to have their own room. These options vary by hospital, so you’ll want to ask your social worker or attorney about your hospital’s specific adoption policies.
Having your hospital bags packed and ready to roll at least 2-3 weeks before your due date is a very smart idea. In addition to your toiletries, you’ll want to bring a sweater or sweatshirt and a couple of pairs of cozy socks.
After you deliver, it will take at least a few weeks before your body returns to its pre-pregnancy fabulousness, so leave your thong undies at home and pack a few pairs of your favorite granny-style underwear and most comfy, loose-fitting pants instead.
Don’t forget a phone charger (an extra-long cord may come in handy) and earbuds if listening to music is something you enjoy.
It depends. There’s a pretty good chance they’re going to eventually find out about your pregnancy, so what matters is how and when you want them to find out.
If you’re still deciding whether or not to make an adoption plan, you should first seek advice from people you can trust and whose advice you respect.
If you’ve already decided on adoption, your counselor or social worker can help you figure out how and when to tell your close family and friends (especially those who may not be super supportive) about your decision.
If you have other children, an adoption counselor can also guide you to figure out how to help your children understand your decision and feel comfortable asking your questions about adoption.
Yes, probably. If you’re worried that Child Protective Services (also sometimes called Department of Family Services, Department of Social Services, Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), or Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) ) may place your child in foster care after birth, or if that’s already happened, you must speak with your own lawyer about your legal options as soon as possible.
If you’re pregnant and using drugs, your baby might test positive for those drugs at birth. If that happens, the hospital social worker will have no choice but to make a report to your state’s child protective services agency. However, in most cases, if there’s an adoption plan in place for your baby, the social worker is not required to contact child protective services.
In many states, a biological mother has the right to choose an adoptive family for her child, even if her child is in foster care. The social worker assigned to your case or even your court-appointed lawyer may not know about your rights to make a private adoption plan, so make sure you consult with your own adoption attorney about this issue if your baby is already in foster care or you’re worried that he or she will end up in foster care after birth.
Listen to Birth Mom Jessie talk about signing adoption papers.
Each state has different laws about when a birth mother may sign adoption paperwork and who must be present when it’s signed.
You may prefer to finish all of the adoption paperwork before leaving the hospital, but it may be best to wait until you’ve had a chance to go home and get some rest. Speak to your lawyer about your options and what your state’s law says about when you’re allowed to sign the adoption consent.
Regardless of when you sign the adoption paperwork, your state may also have rules about who must be present when you do. Each state’s laws are different;
Each state has different laws about how long a birth mother has to change her mind about adoption after signing the consent. This period is often referred to as a “revocation period.” There’s no revocation period in some states, which means that her adoption consent becomes final as soon as it’s signed.
Revocation periods generally vary from 24 hours to 30 days. Your adoption attorney will explain your state’s specific laws and make sure you understand precisely how long you will have to change your mind about the adoption after the paperwork is signed.
Generally speaking, your consent to adoption is permanent; however, there are a few exceptions to that general rule. Once the revocation period has passed, it is nearly impossible to undo an adoption. Most states will only reverse an adoption only if there is evidence of fraud or proof that someone coerced the birth mother into signing the adoption consent or that she signed it under duress.
Whether the birth father’s consent to adoption will be required depends on a few factors, including whether or not you and the birth father are married and whether or not he supported you during your pregnancy or registered with your state’s putative father registry (if applicable).
But in most states, the birth father must at least receive notice of the intended adoption and be given a chance to object and establish his parental rights to the child.
There are some important exceptions to this requirement. For example, notice to the birth father is usually not required in a domestic violence situation where giving him notice may pose a danger to you or your child. State laws on the issue of a birth father’s parental rights vary greatly, so you must speak to your attorney as early on in the adoption process as possible.
Yes. Just about every adoption agency out there will offer you some sort of counseling after an adoption. Often, the counseling will be with the same social worker who handled your adoption paperwork. That may be a good option for you, but some birth mothers prefer to do their counseling with someone who isn’t connected to her adoption.
A reputable agency or attorney will make sure you have access to several sessions of counseling with a licensed therapist of your choosing at no cost to you.
Having emotional support during and after adoption can make a huge difference in your ability to move forward after placement. It’s best to establish the relationship with a qualified adoption counselor during your pregnancy and plan to meet with her as soon as possible after your baby is born.
When choosing a counselor, it’s essential to choose someone experienced with the issues of grief and loss that most birth mothers experience after placing a baby for adoption.
A qualified birth adoption counselor will be familiar with the emotional and psychological impact of adoption on everyone involved and understand the intense roller coaster of emotions you’ll be dealing with, including the ones caused by your hormones. Your adoption agency or attorney should be able to refer you to a few different counselors in your area.
Having emotional support after adoption can make a huge difference in your ability to move forward after an adoption. It’s best to establish a relationship with a qualified adoption counselor during your pregnancy and plan to meet with her as soon as possible after your baby is born.