Whether you experienced an unplanned pregnancy; can't emotionally, financially, or physically care for a child; or any other situation you find yourself in, it is important to overcome the birthmother stereotype and address social stigmas that others place on you and that you place on yourself. Just because you have decided to let another family adopt your child doesn't mean you should feel embarrassed or disgraced.
The most important thing is to do what is best for both you and your baby. You may decide that your baby would be better off with another family. Or, you may decide that you aren't quite ready to raise a child, among many other possible situations. Whichever situation you find yourself in, remember that you get to make that choice.
Overcoming social stigmas and stereotypes can be a mentally and emotionally exhausting experience. You will most likely feel that people are watching and judging you. When this is the case, you have several options. First of all, you know yourself and your reasoning behind your decision. For some, just knowing that is enough. Some feel that they shouldn't have to explain their decision to anyone else. If this doesn't work for you, there are support groups and therapists that can help. Therapists are a great resource while making your decision and after you have made your decision. They can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings.
Now that you have worked through those societal stigmas, it is imperative to know your rights as a birth mother-and yes, you do have rights. First of all, you have the right to choose if you want to go through with the adoption. You shouldn't let anyone persuade or coerce you. In order for you to live happily with your decision, it needs to be wholly and completely the parents' decision.
Until you sign to end your parental rights in a voluntary adoption, you still get to make the decisions that go along with being a parent. Creating an adoption plan will help you and those professionals helping your through your adoption know what to expect, what next steps they need to accomplish, and so on. An adoption plan is basically a formally written letter which can include any of the following:
- When, why, and with whom you are placing your child for adoption.
- If you don't know the specific person, you can add which method you'd like to use to find the right family for your child.
- Here is also where you can specify the type of adoptive parents you are looking for and any details you deem necessary.
- Whether you are looking for an open, semi-open, or closed adoption, and then any stipulations within those categories.
- If you want other members of the family (grandparents, siblings, and so on) to be involved in the adoption process, the adoption plan is where you would detail their duties and level of involvement.
- If you or your baby requires help with living and medical expenses, this should be outlined in the adoption plan.
- Which adoption agency or attorney that will be working with you to finalize your decision.
After your adoption plan is complete and ready to be put into action, you will eventually need to relinquish your parental rights before the adoption can be finalized-legally, a child is only allowed one set of parents. Because each state has strict laws and regulations about terminating parental rights, make sure to check with your state even before you begin the process. Also, some states have waiting periods before you are allowed to voluntarily relinquish your rights-some require 12 hours and some a few days. Depending on the state, you may be able to revoke your adoption consent if there is evidence of fraud or coercion. Obtaining legal counsel can be a great way to make sure things go smoothly. A lawyer specializing in adoption is most likely your best option because he or she will specifically and thoroughly understand adoption law in your state.
If you have decided that you prefer to have an open adoption, this is something you need to discuss thoroughly with the potential adoptive parents. Just agreeing it will be an open adoption isn't enough. Here are just a few questions to ask:
- Will you be allowed to visit the child regularly, if you desire?
- Will the adoptive parents send you pictures and letters?
- Are you allowed to call them or stop by their house?
- How much information will your child be told about you?
While many birthmothers believe that an open adoption means you will completely be in your child's life, this isn't necessarily the case. And everyone's idea of an open adoption is different. That is why it is so important to hash out the details before you make your final decision on adoptive parents. Both parties need to feel completely comfortable with the arrangement for it to be a healthy open adoption relationship. And after both you and the adoptive parents have come to an agreement, it is important to stick to those boundaries. Not doing so can greatly damage the relationship.
Once everything is finalized and your baby is placed with the new family, it is common to need someone to speak with. There are many great support groups available-in person and online. Therapy is also an option. Make use of these. It is a great way to stay connected to your feelings and love for your child-with the understanding of necessary circumstances.
Giving your baby up for adoption is a hard decision. Sometimes adoption is the best situation for both you and your baby. Either way, keep a strong support system of friends and family. They can help and care for you along your journey.