9 Next Steps to Learn About the Adoption Process
Considering adoption is not easy, rather it is brave. But just because the decision is difficult, it doesn’t mean the information concerning the adoption process has to be confusing.
That is why we at ITWY and our friends at BraveLove have written this Next Steps adoption resource. We want you to be able to understand what adoption is and what the adoption process looks like so that you can better decide if adoption is a great option for you and your child.
Steps 1 through 4 – Are items for you to read, think through, and do now.
Steps 5 through 9 – Are actions you can take in the future if you decide you want to look further into the adoption process.
STEP 1 – Learn the 3 Types of Adoption
In adoption, you as the birth mother have the control to pick the adoption type that is best for you and your child. The three types of adoption listed below are based on the type of post-birth relationship that is desired between the birth mother and child after the birth.
Open Adoption – Generally in open adoption, the birth mother can maintain a close relationship with the child and the child’s adoptive family through the exchange of written communication, phone/video calls, and periodic visits.
Semi-Open Adoption – Generally in semi-open adoption, the adoption agency facilitates regular communication between the birth mother and the adoptive family who is parenting the child through the avenues of mailed letters, photo sharing, and emails.
Closed Adoption – In a closed adoption, there is no contact or shared information between the birth mother and the child or the adoptive family..
STEP 2 – Confront the Misconceptions & Unhelpful Thoughts about Adoption
Adoption is a tough and brave choice, but it could be the very best choice for you and your child. Still, there are a lot of unhelpful thoughts and misconceptions about adoption that could be going through your mind. Below are the truths to counter common misconceptions about adoption in today’s culture.
Misconception – “I must must be a bad mother to give my child away in adoption.”
TRUTH – Being a good mom means choosing what is best for your child and their future.
“If I place my child in adoption, it must mean I don’t love them.”
Your choice to sacrifice your body and heart’s desires for the sake of placing your child in a more stable family situation is truly an act of love.
“My child will never know me.”
With open or semi-open adoption plans, you have the opportunity to maintain a relationship with your child.
“My child will be traumatized and hate me because I gave them up.”
Your child has the opportunity to flourish in a loving family that you pick, and the adoptive parents will tell the child of your loving sacrifice and speak honorably of you.
“Adoption means I am giving up.”
Adoption means that you are making a brave choice for what is best for your child – not giving up.
“Adoption is only for teenage unmarried girls.”
Adoption can be an amazing choice regardless of your age, relational status, or other children. If you do not have the life situation to properly care for a child, adoption is a great choice no matter the circumstances.
STEP 3 – Learn the Real Adoption Facts
Since adoption might be new to you, here are some quick adoption facts and statistics that we hope will bring you more clarity…
- 99% of adopted children know they were adopted.
- 90% of United States infant adopts are open and semi-open.
- You can start the adoption process and change your mind later on.
- A birth mother can pick the family she wants to place her child in.
- Making an adoption plan is free for birth parents.
- Some adoption agencies provide assistance with prenatal support, housing and other living and medical expenses (more description on adoption agencies in Step 5).
- Agencies generally provide service before, during, and after the adoption, such as counseling and assistance on planning for the future.
STEP 4 – Watch the Stories of Other Women Who Chose Adoption
We believe hearing the stories of other people who have walked the adoption journey can be helpful in your own situation. So we encourage you to take some time to watch the videos below to be inspired by and learn from people have a similar circumstances to you and chose adoption.
Steps 5 – 9 are the actions you will take in the future if you move forward in the adoption process.
STEP 5 – Locate & Contact a Licensed Adoption Agency
An adoption agency is the organization that facilitates the process of helping match birth mothers with families wanting to adopt. Adoption agencies are in place to handle the bulk of the logistics of the adoption process which include pairing adoptive families and legal paperwork. These organizations have processes and screenings in place to ensure that each child ends up in a family that is safe and healthy.
You will need to call, email, text, or fill out an online form to contact an agency to start this process. This contact information can be found on an agency’s website. Contacting an agency does NOT mean you’ve decided on adoption. Rather, contacting an agency simply gives you access to more information to make an informed decision down the road.
Search the map below to find your local adoption agency’s* contact info.
*All agencies on map are official partners with BraveLove. If you do not see an agency in your area, click here.
STEP 6 – Get Assigned a Caseworker and Develop An Adoption Plan
Once you contact an adoption agency, you will be placed with a caseworker who will personally walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. You can view this caseworker as an advocate and personal guide who will help navigate you through the details of the adoption process, plan, and decision. Again, by contacting an adoption agency you are not committing to adoption. It’s just a step to gather more information.
An adoption plan is created with the help of the caseworker and by one or both of the biological parents of a child who will be placed for adoption. The plan can be simple or comprehensive, as it navigates through decisions like living arrangements, family selection, the birth father’s role, legal terminology and paperwork, delivery planning and hospital stay, openness agreement with adoptive family, and post-placement support.
STEP 7 – Browse. Meet, and Select Potential Families
After you finish the adoption plan, your caseworker will begin the matching process between you and prescreened perspective families who are registered with the adoption agency and are desiring to adopt. The matching process is detailed below:
Browse Potential Families – Your caseworker will bring you a collection of potential adoptive families that will include their pictures and personal information about who they are and what they value in life.
Meet Potential Families – Once you decide on a possible family match or a few families, you can schedule a time to meet with them in person to get a better understanding of who they are. This will help you decide if they are a good match or not for you and your child.
Select Family – Once you have met with these potential family(s) in person or over a video call, you will decide which amazing family you want to place your child with.
STEP 8 – Delivery & Signing Legal Papers
The delivery might feel like a long time from now, but it will come quicker than you think. If all goes to plan, you will deliver your child at the designated hospital and spend the time recovering with your newborn child. The adoptive family you have picked will be contacted and meet you at the hospital.
Signing the legal papers could be the most difficult part of the process emotionally. By signing the papers, the birth mother officially relinquishes her legal rights as the guardian of her child by passing the role to the adoptive family. Depending on your state’s adoption laws, the time between delivery and signing the papers varies. In some states it’s 24 hours, and in others it can be weeks. Your caseworker will communicate your state’s laws to you. Note: Even if you have made an adoption plan, you can still have the legal right to keep your child and not sign the legal papers. Once the papers are signed and the newborn child is medically clear, the adoptive family will bring the child to their home.
STEP 9 – Continue Relationship with Child and Adoptive Family and Receive Continue Care from the Agency
Continued Relationship – Depending on the type of option chosen, you will begin a new season of relationship with your child and the adoptive family you have chosen. This can include personal visits, video/phone calls, and pictures and letters being sent back and forth.
Post-Birth Support – It’s vital that a birth mother not walk alone because the journey of adoption does not end at placement. The process of separation from a newborn child can be very hard. Birth mothers are heroes for choosing this road for the betterment of their children. To help you through this challenging time, often the birth mother can receive continued care through counseling from her agency. Post-adoption support groups, retreats and gatherings are also available for birth mothers to connect, support, and encourage one another.