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It is possible that you have just discovered that you are pregnant and exploring your options between parenting, abortion, or adoption. It is often more common for birthmothers to first decide between carrying to term or termination, and then later working their way through the decision to parent or place for adoption.
No matter where you are at in the decision process, here are a series of common questions and discussions that may help you make that decision.
1. What is Adoption?
Adoption is a process in which birth parents make a plan for their child to be raised by other parents. Permanent legal custody, with all of its rights and responsibilities, is transferred from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. Most birth mothers choose adoption as a sacrificial gift to their child. They are choosing to give the child a family and opportunities that they are not able to provide.
2. Why might I choose to make an adoption plan for my baby?
Adoption makes it possible for a new beginning for all involved – the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive parents. Many women choose adoption when they feel they are unable to be the best parent they could be at this time in their lives – emotionally, financially, or relationally.
A birthmother who desires for her child to be raised in a stable, secure two-parent family (giving her child the gift of a loving father and mother) may decide that adoption is the best way to fulfill dreams for her child.
3. Can I choose who will adopt my child?
You will be able to select parents for your child – in fact, this will be the most important decision you will make as a birth parent. The agency or attorney who will help you with the process has information about many couples who are waiting to adopt.
These couples have gone through an extensive screening process to make sure that they will be able to care for and love your child. You will want to think about what things are important to you as you choose a family to give to your child.
4. What kind of support will I receive?
There are many places where you can find support throughout your pregnancy. Pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and many social service agencies can help you work through the decision of whether adoption or parenting is best for your child and best for you.
Once you have decided to look at adoption more closely, an adoption agency / attorney can assist you with the selection of adoptive parents, and with the legal process of adoption. Most will help you look at your medical and financial needs in connection with having a baby. Many of the agencies will also help you establish a plan for your life after your child is placed for adoption.
5. What rights does the birth father have?
Certain rights and responsibilities come with being a birth parent. Every state has its own laws concerning birthfather’s rights. The adoption agency/attorney will know the laws of your state.
With parenting or adoption, it is ideal for both parents to work together in planning for the child’s future. In most states, both birth-parents must consent to the adoption plan. Your adoption counselor and attorney can help you work through this part of the process. In most cases they will make the contact with the birthfather as needed.
6. Won’t it be painful to place my child with other parents?
The birth of a child brings a mix of joy and sorrow, love and sacrifice – whether you choose parenting or adoption. It is important that you make this decision carefully, with much thought and planning, so that you will be confident in your choice, knowing that it is the right decision for you and for your child.
This confidence will help you as you deal with your feelings of sadness and loss. Grieving comes to all of us at some time in our lives and it usually makes us stronger and wiser. Counseling and a positive support system will be a great comfort to you.
7. Will I be able to see my child again?
You may choose to have time with your baby during your hospital stay. Many women take pictures and hold a special ceremony to say goodbye to their child. During your pregnancy, you will work with your adoption professionals and the adoptive parents to determine how much communication will take place after the adoption is final.
Many adoptive parents will send pictures and letters while some may allow other kinds of contact for a specified period of time. The Christian Adoptions Alliance recommends an open adoption which will allow you to see your child as he or she develops and grows.
The important thing to remember is that the child is part of the family you chose for him or her. The child will become part of a different family, however you will always be the birth parent.
8. What if I change my mind?
It is normal to wonder if you have made the right decision. This is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Some women question their decision after the child is born (just as some women question their decision to parent as challenges arise).
With good counseling during your pregnancy, including making a plan for your time in the hospital, you should be able to work through your uncertainty. It may be helpful to re-examine your decision with your counselor and to remember why you made the choice for adoption for your child and for yourself.
You do have the right to change your mind about the adoption at any time until you have signed your “consent” papers. Some states will allow you to “revoke” (take back) your consent until your rights as a parent have been “terminated” (ended). Once the process is completed in court, the adoption is final.
9. What will happen to my child? Will he or she be ok?
Children who are adopted generally do as well as or better than other children in the areas of emotional and physical health, education, and involvement in other activities. In studies, teens who were adopted as infants rated themselves as being as happy or more happy than their peers. Adoptive parents have gone through an extensive process to ensure their ability to care for a child, just as you will go to choose the couple you believe will be the best parents for the child.
10. What will my future be like?
Your experience with pregnancy and making a decision between adoption and parenting will have a great impact on your life. You can be stronger, better informed, and more mature person as a result, regardless of your decision. You will never forget the child you gave birth to, but you will have the peace of knowing that you made a loving choice to give your child a secure family and a future full of promise and hope.