For many years, adoption was a scary thing that involved going away to a home with strangers who were also pregnant and unmarried, and signing away rights to your baby immediately after birth. You were never allowed to see or hear about your baby again and were frequently told to not let anyone know that there ever was a baby.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be like that anymore. In addition to the possibility of raising your baby by yourself, you also have the options of arranging open, semi-open, or closed adoptions. An open adoption is the more common choice for birth moms today, because you and the adoptive parents have the ability to decide how much contact you, the baby, and the adoptive parents will have throughout the child’s lifetime.
When you are looking into adoption, it is important to understand how adoption works, and who will be responsible for what expenses. When you give your child up for adoption, you are committing to allowing another person or couple to raise your baby, and to be his or her parents for the rest of your child’s life. Although you may be able to get letters and pictures about your child in the future you will not be able to make any decisions about their life. You will not be responsible for any of the expenses that are associated with raising your child, and the adoptive parents do not have to ask your permission for any decision they make, from braces to private or home-schooling.
Open adoption is an excellent choice for many birth moms, because it may allow you to:
1) Know your child throughout their lifetime
2) Have a relationship with you, although your role with your child will not be as a a parent. Many families and birth moms have compared it to that of a cousin/aunt relationship that is seen only periodically, so the child doesn’t see you all the time, but is aware of your existence.
3) Answers to the child’s questions as he or she gets older. This can be particularly helpful if health problems come up in your family that would be beneficial for your child to know about in his or her lifetime ( like cancer, diabetes, etc.), or questions about the onset and age of puberty.
Open adoption allows you and the birth parents to decide how much contact to have, and you have the right to choose the people who will be raising the baby. Open adoption can mean as little as a single meeting before or after the birth, or as much as regular contact, visits, pictures, and phone calls throughout your child’s life. You have the right to choose the people you like, and part of that choice should be how much contact they are comfortable with.
Some adoptive parents may not want as much contact, or as little contact, as you do. If that’s the case, you might want to look into some of the other parents that are there. Once you have decided on adoption as the choice that you think is best, you need to decide how much contact you want to have, and how well you would like to get the know the adoptive parents before deciding on them as the most appropriate parents for your son or daughter. If you know this information before you choose the birth parents, you’ll have an advantage and you’ll probably manage to save some time.
You may not have heard of this type of adoption, but it is one that facilitates the placement of thousands of children into loving adoptive homes each year. It is often thought that semi-open adoption allows for fewer feelings of guilt and worry in the birth parents. If you choose this type of adoption, you can expect to:
1) Have less fear about how your child is going to grow up, and what they will deal with as they begin to understand exactly what being adopted means
2) Fewer uncertainties, both about this difficult decision you are making, and the parents you are choosing for your child
3) Have more privacy than if you were to choose someone from your community. The birth and placement of your child is something that you can decide to share with the persons you choose to tell, which might not be an option if you were to just choose someone that you know, or someone from your community.
Closed adoption might be the best choice for you if you are absolutely sure that you never want to know about or hear about your child for the rest of your life. This will typically include even the most severe of circumstances, including the serious illness of your child. This could apply even as your son or daughter grows up, has children of their own, and might want to have more information about you, the biological father, or your extended family. With this type of adoption, you give up your child, and walk away forever. You cannot receive any kind of update, at least until your child is a legal adult.
Children who were adopted in this way will sometimes never learn that they were not the biological child of their adoptive parents.
As you have already noticed, the expenses that relate to your pregnancy mount up quickly. You might want to know that if you choose to place your child for adoption, in at least 45 states, the adoptive parents will be responsible for many of prenatal expenses, including:
1) Prenatal care, including doctors visits and hospitalization costs
2) All legal costs of the adoption, including filing, attorney costs, and the appointment of a guardian ad litem, if necessary
3) Temporary housing costs for you, during your pregnancy
4) Travel costs, housing, meals, that are necessary if you are required to travel to implement and finalize the adoption
5) Foster care fees, if necessary or required in your state
6) Counseling fees for you, the child’s father, or the adoptive parents
You are not allowed to benefit directly from the birth and adoption of your child, and are allowed to only receive funds that are “reasonable and customary”. What the adoptive parents are required to pay will vary tremendously by state, and you are allowed to choose parents that do not live in your state.
Independent adoptions are often facilitated by an agent, whose job it is to locate pregnant women that are considering or have already decided on adoption. This is usually done within the realms of being an adoption agency, and in at least 27 states, and the District of Columbia, no-one is allowed to receive financial incentives for allowing the placement of a child. Simply put, that means that in most states your adoption agent cannot profit from your adoption, and you cannot receive or be offered gifts or money, beyond the approved expenses, for giving up your baby. At least 12 states have laws in place that require only licensed child-placing agencies, or other approved agencies. That means that you and the adoptive parents cannot just come to an agreement, you will have to involve one of these third parties in order to make the adoption legal.
In addition, in at least 13 states, you cannot be required to pay back the expenses that were paid during your pregnancy if you have changed your mind about giving up your baby for adoption. If you live in California or Nevada, and are not sure that you want to give up your child, it is probably best for you to not accept payments for your expenses until you are. That’s because in California and Nevada, there are laws that expressly forbid the acceptance of funds when no decision has been made, or when you have no intention of placing the child for adoption. Idaho, however, is currently the only state that will require you to pay back all of the expenses that were paid for you ( including medical care) if you change your mind. Many other states have laws to protect birth parents from feeling that they have to give up their baby, simply because some or all of the expenses have already been paid by the prospective adoptive parents.
In all states, you will have some time after you give your baby up to change your mind. This could be as little as only 15 days. or as much as twelve months. In either private or independent adoptions, the Judge has the final say in what expenses can or should be paid. This is particularly appropriate if you have experienced complications in your pregnancy that have resulted in higher medical costs, or if you lack adequate insurance.
The decision to place your child is almost certainly the hardest decision you will ever make, and it’s normal to feel doubts about it. Many birth mothers have reported that it was necessary for them to interview dozens of families before they found the right parents for their baby. Although it seems as if everyone has heard of adoptions that fell through, very few adoptions actually fall through after the child has been placed. It is also common that if you make the decision to give your child up for adoption in your second or third trimester, you are more likely to allow the adoption to be finalized.
Regardless of your age or how many children you have, you will probably feel some conflicting emotions about this momentous decision. Regardless, if you do not feel that you are at a point in your life where you can raise your child, adoption could be the best gift you could give your baby. You will not be responsible for any of the expenses, and there are many qualified families that are waiting to be parents to your baby. If you are considering adoption, please contact an adoption agency or lawyer in your area to find out the laws that pertain to you situation.