Over the years, adoption is one of the many things that has changed drastically. Once upon a time, people thought women placed their baby for adoption because they were single and just happened to get pregnant. People also thought couples who adopted were inadequate because they couldn’t conceive. Thank goodness things have changed. Now, adoption is openly and widely accepted as an option to creating a family. The stereotypes are being broken down and people are realizing that women of all ages and backgrounds are choosing to place their children for adoption. Progress has been made over the years to benefit not only the adoptive parents, but the expecting and birth parents as well.
Open adoption has really changed what the face of adoption looks like. Back in the day, a woman would give birth and most of the time her child was whisked out of the room and given to the adoptive parents. No information or anything was shared. This is a typical closed adoption. Today, open adoption has become more common and acceptable. A study done in 2012 by the Donaldson Adoption Institute has shows that 95% of adoptions today have some level of openness. The majority of open adoptions consist of birth parents and adoptive parents sharing basic, non-identifying personal information. The adoptive parents will receive the biographical and medical background information for the birth parents with any identifying information redacted. Birth parents may choose to prepare letters, journals, or gifts for the adoptive parents to share with the child at age appropriate times. There has been a recent trend of birth mothers opting to provide complete openness with adoptive parents, so they can contact them in the future.
The Adoption Plan Begins
An adoption plan can be created by one or both biological parents (birth parents). For women interested in adoption, the process begins when she meets with an adoption social worker. The social worker will go over all her options and rights according to the state she resides in. The expecting mother can express her preferences to whatever characteristics are important to her, such as religion, family size, couples age, geographical location, same-sex couple, heterosexual couple, etc. Once these details are collected, the social worker will show her profiles of families that match the closest to her preferences. A profile is a unique presentation of the prospective adoptive parent or family which describes their lifestyle, hobbies, interests, why they chose adoption and anything else that’s important to them.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to pick the family if you don’t want to. You can choose to have as much or as little information regarding the prospective adoptive parents. This entire process is based on what you are comfortable with. If you don’t want to select a family, the agency can pick the family for you. Experienced agencies often leave the door open for birth parents to change their minds later on if they want contact, visits, pictures, letters, or basic info on the family.
Once you pick the family, you have the option to have a pre-placement meeting. A pre-placement meeting is when you can meet the family before officially picking them. Your social worker will arrange the meeting between you and the prospective adoptive parents. The social worker will also be present to support you. This is a great way to ask the prospective adoptive parents questions that may be lingering in your mind. You can see if you feel a connection or if this family will be a good fit for you and your baby.
Preparing for the Baby’s Arrival
As your due date gets closer, everyone can get a little anxious. Luckily, the social worker has already thought of that. The social worker will make sure the expecting and adoptive parents are prepared for almost every situation that could happen. Details will be carefully planned: if the expecting mother needs transportation, if she wants to see the baby after delivery, or if she goes into labor late at night will all be worked out. The expecting mother can also decide the level of involvement she wants the prospective adoptive parents to have at the hospital. Do you want them in the delivery room or not until after the baby’s birth. It’s all in your control. Your social worker has also prepared the prospective adoptive parents in the event that your plans change. Be open and communicate your needs with your social worker even if they are different than what you had planned. Your social worker is there to advocate for your needs and desires.
After the Baby Arrives
Once the baby comes, there are all sorts of emotions flying around. If you choose, you can begin spending time with your baby until your are comfortable enough for the prospective adoptive parents to come in. If your opt not to see the baby, that’s fine too. Sometimes it can be too hard emotionally at that time. If this is what you want, your social worker and medical staff will help make this happen.
Depending on the hospital and if there weren’t any complications during labor, you and baby may discharge from the hospital in 1-3 days. Some women choose to spend time with their baby and the prospective adoptive parents during those couple of days. This is completely your decision if you want to do that or not. On the day of discharge, you and the baby will discharge separately. You have the option to discharge together and all of you can walk out, if you’d like. Most often, birth parents choose to discharge separately because this can often be the the hardest part.
Once you leave the hospital, we encourage you to focus on self-care. Self-care can mean a lot of different things, but the main part is just taking care of yourself physically and mentally. If you’re comfortable enough, you may want to join a birth parent support group. If you don’t feel comfortable going in person, there are also online Birth Parent Support Groups you may want to consider. You may also find journaling to be a great tool for self-care. If you choose to have contact, you’ll be receiving your first set of pictures and letters shortly after leaving the hospital. If you don’t feel like you can look at them just yet, that’s okay. If it makes you feel better to look at them, that’s okay too. Only do what you feel comfortable with. This time is about you. It’s helpful to find that one person in your life you can confide in no matter what. That person will come in handy when things get a little rocky for you. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to that massage you’ve been wanting or that pedicure you’ve been thinking about. All of these things and many more are great for self-care. Your social worker is there for you as well. Reach out any time if you are struggling, have any questions or just need to talk.
It is important to note that each state has different laws regarding your revocation period, which is the time after you sign the legal paperwork relinquishing your rights that you can change your mind and decide to parent. This is a time that you have to really make sure adoption is the right decision for both you and your baby. If at any point you are unsure of your decision, contact your social worker to talk more in depth. In some states, like New Jersey, you are not able to sign the paperwork until 72 hours after your baby’s birth but then at that point there is no revocation period to change your mind.