Adoption means giving somebody else the legal right and responsibility to raise your child. It is important that you fully consider all of your options when making this decision. You may choose adoption in order to provide caring and permanent parents for your child when you feel this is something that you cannot provide.
Adoption is complex, both legally and emotionally. Whatever you choose to do, remember that this is your decision. Doing research and exploring your feelings is crucial to making a clear, informed decision. The list below was compiled with your decision-making process in mind, but it is far from inclusive. Further resources are listed at the end of this section.
What kind of adoption do I want to arrange?
There are several different kinds of adoption. They fall into the following three general categories:
- A closed adoption is one where the birth mother is able to be involved in the selection of the adoptive family, but there is no contact between the parties involved. The birth mother and the adoptive parents will never know each other's names or any other identifying information.
- A semi-open adoption is one where the birth mother is involved in the selection of the adoptive family, and she and the adoptive family do have the option of contact with each other, but only through the agency or attorney who arranged the adoption. The birth mother may correspond with the adoptive parents, but all letters must go to the adoption agency and be re-directed to the other party.
- An open adoption is one where the birth mother is involved in all aspects of the adoption process. The birth mother selects an adoptive family's profile from an adoption agency or attorney, and has the opportunity to meet with them and get to know them personally. This is the only adoption process where the birth mother and the adoptive family have direct contact.
Who will help me arrange an adoption?
There are four potential routes to take when arranging an adoption.
- An adoption agency is usually a state-approved, nonprofit agency that works with both birth mothers and adoptive parents.
- An attorney who specializes in adoption can help organize the process. This is only legal in some jurisdictions.
- An intermediary such as an "exchange" or a "consultant" may do general adoption work or may be involved with a specific population. There is, for example, a specific exchange for children with Down's Syndrome.
- Some people become adoption experts themselves. If you choose this approach, be sure to educate yourself thoroughly, as the process can be complicated.
How will I feel if I choose to place my infant for adoption?
There are as many answers to this question as there are women who choose to have their child adopted. Every situation is unique and has its own challenges and rewards. Some of the questions listed below may help you explore your feelings.
- Who is supporting you in this choice and who is opposing your plans? How does their opinion affect you?
- What are your future goals and how would continuing your pregnancy and placing the child for adoption impact these goals?
- What is your relationship with the birth father? What has been his reaction to your plans?
- Would the adoption be harder or easier for you if you could be in contact with the child and her adoptive parents?
- Do you want the adoptive parents to be a part of your pregnancy experience?
- Are you prepared to go through nine months of pregnancy?
- What kind of family would you like to adopt your child? Are you comfortable that you can find such a family?
- If your child approaches you in 18 years and wants to know why you placed her for adoption, what will you say? How will you feel?
We recommend the following resources for safe and accurate information.
National Council for Adoption
Ferre Institute, Inc.