Two Major Adoption Options for Expectant Parents
If you are an expectant mother experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, you probably have a million things running through your mind. Questions, concerns, doubts, worries, excitement, and confusion are just a few of the things you might be dealing with. When making a plan for your future, it’s important to consider all options.
The decision to parent your child is a big one but can be very rewarding. Loving and caring for another person brings a lot of fulfillment and joy throughout your life. Caring for a child is a big responsibility and there are a lot of things to consider and think about.
Each stage of childhood comes with its own set of challenges. When a baby is firstborn, they will need round the clock care. They are very fragile and rely on their caregivers for everything. Caregivers feed, change, clean, clothe, and help the baby sleep. They require regular pediatric appointments and are more susceptible to illness. Children require healthcare/insurance, a secure home environment, food, clean air, and someone to care for them at all times. Things to consider might be whether or not you will need to work and put your child in daycare, where you will live, and if you have the means to pay for diapers, clothes, food, and childcare. Some questions you might ask yourself:
- What are my feelings about being a parent and taking care of another person?
- Does becoming a parent feel like what is best for me at this time in my life?
- Am I ready to take care of all my child’s needs?
- Am I ready to love a child now?
- Am I ready to have less time for myself, more stress, and deal with the money needed to support a child?
- What would it mean for my future if I have a child now?
- Do I have support from my family and friends?
If you find that you are worried about raising your child, you must meet with a professional to walk you through your decision-making process. The Gladney Center for Adoption is a wonderful resource as you work through your decision to parent. They will pair you with an options counselor to go over all of your options and work with you to make a plan for you and your child. They will pair you with other expectant mothers that can offer you support. If you are already parenting your child and deciding whether or not to place them for adoption, you can use the Rest and Respite program by Gladney to provide some rest to reflect on how you’d like to move forward. With the Rest and Respite program you can expect the following:
- You will be assigned a compassionate counselor who will work with you for two weeks helping you determine the best possible scenarios for your future and your baby’s future.
- Your baby or toddler can go into short term transitional care with a loving and Gladney-qualified family for up to two weeks while you work with your counselor.
- During that time, you will learn about Gladney’s Next Step program, and the options available for educational opportunities to help secure your goals for a positive future.
- You will also have the opportunity to learn all you can about adoption options. You can speak with birth mothers who have made adoption plans for their children, and you can look at profiles of hopeful families who are waiting to adopt.
- At the end of the 2 weeks, you’ll have enough information to decide if continuing to parent your child or making an adoption plan is the best decision for you and your baby.
- If you move forward with adoption, your caseworker and other Gladney staff will assist with making your personalized plan just for you; you will continue to receive counseling and post-adoption services.
There are many resources for families that decide to parent their child/children after an unplanned pregnancy. If you find yourself worried about meeting the basic needs of your child, reach out to your local Medicaid, Food Stamp, and WIC offices for more resources.
Deciding to place your child for adoption is not an easy decision. Before deciding to place your child for adoption, there are a few questions to ask yourself.
- What are my feelings about adoption and another person being my baby’s parent?
- Does adoption feel like what is best for me at this time in my life?
- Can I go through pregnancy and birth then give my baby to someone else?
- Will I be able to cope with the feeling of loss that I may have after the pregnancy is over?
- Is anyone pressuring me to choose adoption?
- Do I have support from my family and friends?
As you consider adoption options for your child, you should know that as an expectant/birth mother, you are entitled to rights that put you in control of the situation. We will review some of the rights that you have during the process of making an adoption plan for your child.
Termination of Rights
The first and ultimate decision you will make when placing your child for adoption is choosing another family to have legal guardianship of your child. Once you place your child for adoption, you will sign your parental rights to a new family. Parental rights are terminated both voluntarily and involuntarily.
Parents whose rights are terminated involuntarily are found to be unsuited to parent their child or children. Generally, these parents have worked with the foster system and have had their children placed in foster care. With the help of a caseworker and a judge, a service plan is created to regain parental rights. If all of the pieces of the plan are completed and the court finds the parents capable of caring for their children, the child/children can return home. If not, the parental rights are terminated.
In contrast, you can decide to place your child with another family. While the decision is hard and shouldn’t be made lightly, the decision for parental rights to be terminated would be yours. One or both parents must consent for parental rights to be terminated. If the father is known, he must agree to the termination of rights. If he is unknown, every effort must be made to identify and find him. Otherwise, the birth mother can choose to terminate parental rights alone.
Each state has varying rules and laws about when parental rights can be terminated. Some states allow parents to terminate rights right after birth. Others require a longer period, some even up to thirty days. Generally, the termination of rights cannot be reversed. It is a binding contract that cannot be revoked. In extreme and unique circumstances, it might be possible to revoke the termination of rights in the following cases.:
- fraud or coercion was involved
- the state allows a set time for revoking consent
- the state (or other governing body) determines that revocation is in the best interest of the child
- the birth parents and adoptive parents mutually agree to revocation
It is important to contact an attorney to review your options, to understand your state’s laws, and to help you make an informed decision.
During Your Pregnancy
You make all of the decisions for you and your child while you are pregnant. You must receive prenatal care for you and the baby. Finding a doctor that supports you throughout your pregnancy will ensure that needs of both you and your child are met. If your finances are limited, you will likely qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid is government-issued insurance that helps children, low-income individuals, pregnant women, elderly, and those with disabilities.
During your pregnancy, you can research different adoption agencies. You have the ultimate say in which agency you decide to work with. Look for an agency that listens to you and your needs, respects your desires and opinions, and has reviews as an ethical agency. The more transparent an agency is, the better. Ask them any and everything that you want.
When working with an agency, they can provide many resources and information for you while pregnant. For example, when working with Gladney Center for Adoption, you will be paired with an options counselor that will work with you through your whole process and pregnancy. They will put you in contact with other expectant moms that have decided to place their child for adoption, which can be a great resource and support.
Gladney also works closely with you to help you find medical care and support some of your financial needs like food, housing, and transportation. They also sit down and work with you to create a plan for your future after the baby is born. If you have educational or career goals, they will help you to navigate how to accomplish your goals. The options counselor can help you:
- determine your eligibility for financial assistance.
- schedule and arrange doctor and hospital visits.
- coordinate free legal services for the adoption.
- connect you with others who’ve chosen adoption for their children (so you can hear about their stories and experiences).
You also can make the decisions for your adoption plan. You can choose the type of family that you want your child to be placed with. Do you want a two-parent home? Married? Single? Heterosexual? LGBT? Do you care whether or not they have children already in the home, or would you want their child to be the first? You may have specific preferences about religion, race, and whether or not one of the parents stays home. You will work closely with your adoption agency to think about the type of family you want to place your child in.
You can also decide how open your adoption is. There are three levels of adoption openness: closed, semi-open, and open. A closed adoption is just that: closed. After parental rights are terminated, you will no longer be in contact with the adoptive family or the baby. With a semi-open adoption, you can be sent pictures occasionally and receive updates on how the baby is doing. This puts a little bit of space between you and the adoptive family, but you are still able to see your baby grow and feel confident in your decision to place your baby. With fully open adoption, the possibilities are really up to you. You can ask for regular phone calls, in-person visits, pictures, or whatever else you feel you need.
Semi-open and open adoptions are wonderful opens for everyone in the adoption triad. For birth moms, it gives them peace of mind knowing that their child is safe, well-cared for, and loved. For adoptees, they can know their history and where they came from. So much of a person’s identity is made up of their genetics and family history. For the adoptive family, they can feel the comfort knowing that there are more people in the world that love and care for the child.
You also get to choose how your delivery will play out. You can decide who is in the room with you, whether or not you will have a c-section, use pain medication, or give birth in a hospital. You choose if the baby is kept in the room with you until rights are terminated. You get to make the decisions about your experience in the hospital and how much involvement you’d like with the adoptive family.
Birth fathers aren’t often recognized, but if you are a birth father and are involved in the adoption process, you must be aware of your options, too. To be able to be a part of the decision making, you must be registered and recognized as the biological father of the baby. You will work closely with the child’s birth mother to make decisions about the adoption plan and the family that your child will be placed with.
Learning about your adoption options is important as you begin your journey. The more healthy expectations you can make, the more likely you are to find peace in the ultimate outcome of your life, your child’s life, and your future.
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