Finding yourself unexpectedly pregnant comes with a variety of emotions, and you may find yourself wondering what’s best for you and your baby. If you’re considering giving your baby up for adoption, it’s important to understand the various steps, processes and laws involved. Here’s a rundown on what you need to know.
In the past, adoptions were often done on a very hush-hush basis, with sealed records and no contact at all between the birth mother and the child. Luckily, most of the stigma associated with adoption has faded, and birth mothers have many more options today. Adoptions can be divided into three main categories:
- Open: The birth mother and adoptive parents freely exchange information.
- Semi-Open: The birth mother and adoptive parents have some communication but there is nothing that can identify either party.
- Closed: There is no contact between the birth mother and adoptive parents.
So which is best? The answer is, it depends on your preferences. Closed adoptions can be beneficial in some circumstances as it provides finality, but it’s difficult to change your mind and have contact with the child or adoptive parents later on. Sometimes, children from closed adoptions search for their birth parents once they reach adulthood, but that’s not a guarantee.
Open adoptions can look very different depending on the family, and the terms can usually be personalized to the situation. For example, an open adoption for one family may mean that the adoptive parents send the birth mother photos of the child and regular updates on their well-being and life milestones. For another, it may mean that the child has regular interactions with the birth mother and is aware of who she is. If an open adoption sounds like something you’re interested in, you’ll want to make sure you discuss it with any prospective adoptive parents and the adoption attorney to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the type and level of contact.
Semi-open adoptions are the middle-of-the-road choice and can be a good compromise. In a semi-open adoption, you can still get updates and pictures from the adoptive family, but you won’t know where the child is or have access to any identifying information.
While you don’t have to decide on the type of adoption you’d prefer right away, there are some prospective parents who have very specific ideas on what they’re willing to do, which means the sooner you know what you’re looking for, the better. That way you can limit your search to adoptive parents who are open to the same level of communication. If you’re not sure what type is best for your situation, talking with an adoption attorney can help you better understand the pros and cons of each.
Choosing Adoptive Parents
Once you’ve thought about what you’d like your adoption to look like, it’s time to start considering adoptive parents. If you already have parents picked out and they are agreeable, you may be able to start the process right away via a private adoption, but there are also agencies you can work with that have lots of prospective parents just waiting for the right birth mother and baby to come along. These parents will likely have information already prepared on themselves, such as their extended family, careers, religious beliefs, academic backgrounds, and why they are looking to adopt. Choosing adoptive parents is a very important step in the adoption process and is one you should feel comfortable taking your time with until you find a family that meets your criteria.
Thanks to pop culture and the media, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding adoption laws, so you’re going to need to get familiar with the rules and regulations of your state. Here are two common myths.
Myth: You need parental consent to give your baby up for adoption.
If you are over the age of 14, you can legally give your baby up for adoption without needing anyone else to sign off on the process. However, if you are 14 or under, you will need to have a legal guardian’s consent, but this doesn’t have to be a parent. If you have another legal guardian, such as a grandparent or foster parent, they should be able to sign the paperwork. A court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem is also an option.
Myth: You will not be able to hold the baby and must immediately sign the adoption paperwork.
While some birth mothers choose to have the baby given to the adoptive parents directly after the birth, you can hold the baby if you want to. You also won’t be signing the adoption paperwork until the day after you have been cleared to leave the hospital or 48 hours after the birth, whichever comes first. As long as the final paperwork hasn’t been signed, you will still have the option to change your mind.
Keep in mind that this is just a quick overview, and you’ll want to make sure you have thoroughly discussed your situation with an experienced adoption attorney.
Whether you are still considering all of your options or are sure that adoption is the right choice for you, our team at Gulf Coast Adoptions can help. Contact us today to find out more about the adoption process and the next steps.