Q – Is financial assistance available during my pregnancy?
A - Most states provide some type of government aid or support for low income women or families facing pregnancy-related expenses including medical benefits, food stamps, WIC, housing, utilities and transportation for doctor visits. Check your state’s local offices for applications and available assistance programs in your area.
Q - What rights does the birth father have to the baby?
A – The birth father has all the same rights you have to the baby. You are equal parents and as such must procure his consent in order to terminate his rights if you choose to pursue adoption. If you choose to terminate your rights and the father does not agree with placement, he has the right to obtain legal custody and raise the child.
Q – What are the differences between open and closed adoptions?
A – In closed adoptions, the birthmother has little to no involvement in the placement, limited or no identifying information about the adoptive family and no contact following the placement of the child.
In an open adoption, the birthmother has the option to select the adoptive parents, form relationships and depending on the pre-placement agreements, can have varying degrees of contact with her baby and the adoptive parents. This can include simply exchanging medical or identifying information at birth, post placement communication via email, mail, phone or through agreed upon visits.
Every birthmother will feel differently about the amount of communication she’d like to have or maintain. Adoptive parents may additionally have their own ideas or concerns regarding openness post placement. A good rule of thumb is communicating your desires and discussing how to best ensure they are met and fulfilled post placement.
Q – What types of screening processes are required for prospective adoptive parent(s)?
A – Hopeful adoptive parent(s) undergo a series of home study screenings through a state-licensed agency in order to insure a safe and stable environment. This includes; fingerprint clearances, certified home inspections, health clearances from a medical doctor as well as mental health clearances and strong references from friends and family members.
Q - Are counseling or therapy services available through adoptive agencies?
A – Most adoptive agencies suggest and provide counseling or therapy services to birthmothers both during pregnancy and post placement.
Q - What happens before the baby is born?
A - Depending on the program you choose, once you choose a family and you are sure about them, it is considered a “match.” You most likely will speak with your adoptive parent(s) on a regular basis until the baby is born. If you would like to meet with your adoptive parent(s) and spend time getting to know them, you may do so. You will continue seeing your doctor and taking care of yourself. The program you select will assign you a case worker who will take care of all arrangements and make sure your adoption is going according to your adoption plan.
Q - What happens after the baby is born?
A - After the baby is born, you will spend 12-48 hours recovering in the hospital before you are released. You will have the option to spend as much or as little time with the baby as you’d like. The hospital social worker will meet with you to sign the hospital release forms and the baby will be discharged directly to the adoptive parent(s).
Q – Will the adoption be kept confidential and private?
A – It all depends on which type of adoption—closed, open, semi-open/semi-closed—and agency you choose. Not every agency or adoption professional is created equal. Some are more reliable than others. If you need your placement to be private, make sure you address that issue before you agree to work with anyone.
Q – Where will my child end up?
A – It all depends on what avenue you decide to take. Your child could be placed in a foster home or with an adoptive family. If you’d like your child to be permanently placed with an adoptive family, you have the right to arrange that. In most cases, this is possible. However, if there are no available and interested adoptive families, foster care might be a good option until the right family for your child comes along.
Q – I’m not sure adoption is the right choice for me. What should I do?
A – If you’ve already begun the placement process, you still have the right to change your mind, if it’s before you’ve relinquished your parental rights. It’s important to your emotional health that you’re certain your decision is the best for your specific situation and your needs, no matter the end decision. Deciding to place your child with an adoptive family is a big decision to make. It’s a decision you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. Make sure it’s one with which you’re comfortable and confident.
Q – What are the types of adoption professionals with whom I can work?
A - Adoption Agencies offer help in placing your child with an adoptive family. They can help you search through available adoptive parents and teach you what to expect from the adoption process. Before you agree to work with an adoption agency, make sure they have your need and your child’s needs as priority. You will want to find an agency that will work with you and provide you with the best service they can offer.
Adoption Facilitators can help you navigate the water of adoption by matching you with adoptive parents. While adoption facilitators aren’t legal in every state, if you do decide to use one, you need to also hire an adoption lawyer to help finalize the adoption. Adoption facilitators are basically there to help you complete the placement.
Adoption Lawyers are there to help you finalize the adoption, but also help you along the way. They know your rights and will help you assert those rights when you need to. When you hire an adoption lawyer, make sure s/he will represent you appropriately and professionally. They should do all in their power to have your needs met during the placement process. If you’re currently uncomfortable with your adoption lawyer, find another. It is always better to be comfortable with the professionals with whom you’re working than have someone misrepresent you because they weren’t a good fit for you and your situation.