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Birthparent Guidebook

Is adoption right for me? Is placing my child for adoption something I should consider?

Adoption If you find yourself pregnant, with thoughts running through your head like: “The timing couldn’t be worse!” or “I have so much I want to do before I become a mother!” or “I’m still in school and I don’t have a job!” or “My boyfriend and I just broke up!” or “I can’t possibly raise another child, I already have children I can’t afford!” then maybe you should consider the option of adoption.

Many women find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy and already in a situation where they are feeling overwhelmed. Adding a new baby to the mix is something they just cannot physically, mentally, emotionally and financially handle. The immediate option, abortion, is not an option for many, too expensive for most and an alternative that can leave a women with a lifetime of guilt, emotional problems, nightmares and low self-worth and possible short and long term health effects. Consider a more loving and responsible alternative – adoption with A Act of Love Adoptions.

When most people talk about adoption, they hear the phrase “giving up” a baby. That is NOT the case. Birthparents who choose adoption are not giving up; they are giving more to their child that deserves the very best! Everyone loves their children, those who choose adoption take that love one step further – they show unselfish love for their child. They care more about giving their children a better life then their own current happiness.

Adoption Questions

As you contemplate adoption, there may be many questions on your mind. Learning the answers to these questions will help you make the best decision. Remember, there is not a dumb question when it comes to adoption. Adoption has been around for centuries, but like everything else, it is evolving. It is always best to do some research, whether it is online, calling adoption agencies or attorneys, talking with others who have placed a baby for adoption or talking to those who have adopted children. The more you know, the better decision you will be able to make. You will be surprised as you start talking and asking about adoption – it is everywhere, and all around you. You will begin to meet many people whose lives have been touched through adoption.

Founder and CEO, Kathy Kunkel, of Act of Love has been involved with adoption for thirty-five years. Act of Love has been performing adoptions since 1993 and strives to perform the highest level of services to birthparents.

Open or Closed Adoptions

Adoption today is as varied as the people involved in them are. An adoption can work so many wonderful ways. For some, an open adoption is the absolute best type of option, for others, a semi-open plan works well. The best thing about current adoption is that as a birthparent, you are able to make these types of decisions and make a plan that works the very best for you.

There are so many choices available to you. As you read the following options, take notes about what feels good to you:

  • Receive adoptive parent profiles with pictures to read and review.
  • Talk to possible adoptive parents on the telephone or video Skype.
  • Talk to potential adoptive parents in person.
  • Tell the adoptive parents that they “are the chosen ones”.
  • Have the adoptive parents attend doctor visits.
  • Have periodic visits or calls with adoptive parents during pregnancy.
  • Have one or both adoptive parents in the delivery room.
  • Have adoptive parents in the hospital waiting room during the delivery.
  • Have one or both adoptive parents give the baby his/her first bath.
  • If the hospital allows, have adoptive parents “banded” to see the baby during the hospital stay.
  • Have adoptive parents spend time with you during your hospital stay.
  • Spend time with adoptive couples in the days following the birth and relinquishment paperwork for the adoption.
  • Exchange email addresses or phone numbers.
  • Have the adoption agency be the go-between for picture and letter exchanges.
  • Have the adoption agency connect you for conference calls.
  • Schedule a face-to-face visit every few years.
  • Request pictures and letter updates be included in your file, and should you ever want them, then you can call the adoption agency and request them.
What feels comfortable for you?

Thinking about and writing down the scenarios that make you feel comfortable can help you realize what type of adoption you would be most content with. If you wrote down a good portion of the options that involve you being with the adoptive parents, then you are most likely a great candidate for semi-open to a completely open adoption. If you preferred fewer options and the idea of the agency keeping your photos and letters, you may be feeling more comfortable with a semi-open adoption. There is no right or wrong way – it is what feels best to you.

Whom should you work with?

Choosing how to go about your adoption may also be on your mind. There are many options: adoption agencies, adoption attorneys and private placements are just a few. It depends on the type of support and counseling you are going to want. Most birthparents do not know what kind of support they are going to need at the beginning, so again, doing some homework can help. As a rule, adoption agencies will be offering the most support throughout the pregnancy and adoption process. They are regulated by the states where they do business, and in many cases offer assistance with housing and pregnancy related services and assistance according to the laws of each state. Some of the services they assist with are pregnancy related medical, legal and living situations, and usually have personnel available around the clock. Like Act of Love, adoption agencies have licensed counselors that are available for adoption related counseling and these services are free to birthparents. Adoption attorneys have adoptive parent clients and birthparent clients that usually contact them once a match is made.

Adoption agencies are licensed to take care of the adoption paperwork and offer assistance at birth and the days following to take care of the necessary arrangements surrounding relinquishment. In other cases, birthparents and adoptive parents find each other through other methods such as mutual friends, facilitators, on-line personal ads and profile sites. When they have “matched” themselves then frequently, the next step is to find an entity to do the paperwork. In this scenario, there is little outside support for birthparents or adoptive parents, and can at times be frustrating for both sides. Those involved may find themselves needing answers to questions with nowhere to turn along with needing support during the finals steps of the process.

As you contemplate your situation, ask friends and relatives for referrals. Call or make appointments with adoption agencies, attorneys or facilitators to talk to and learn about them and the services they offer. The staff at Act of Love is always happy to visit with you and answer adoption related questions to help you gather information. After you have gathered your information, reflect on the appointments or calls that made you feel the most comfortable and why. Eliminate the adoption professionals you did not feel comfortable with. Reconnect with the ones you liked to see if you feel the same way. Remember that preparing to place a baby for adoption will be a wonderful yet difficult and emotional experience for you. You want to feel the very best about the people you choose to help and support you all the way through and afterward.

Trust yourself!

Adoption - Trust Yourself Make your decision and move forward. Begin your plan and continue to move in the direction you have decided is right. Remember to move forward with faith and not fear.

Can I call to receive information without a commitment?

Select an adoption agency that offers the utmost confidentially and allows you to obtain information without any obligations. Using a staff like Act of Love that has personal experience with adoptions both professionally and personally will help provide you with the necessary emotional, mental and physical support to make the right decision about your pregnancy.

Even once your baby is born, you reserve all rights to change your mind until the paperwork is formalized and becomes legally binding.

When contacting an adoption agency, reputable agencies will provide information, answer questions about the adoption process and provide you with enough details to make an informed, personal decision.

Additionally, when speaking to adoption specialists, they will offer information about how to start the adoption process, inquire if any assistance is available for housing and medical pregnancy related expenses, if relocation is preferable and also details about finding an OBGYN physician.

Reputable agencies accept calls without any commitments or pressure. This allows you to simply obtain information to help make an informed decision that best suits your current situations, lifestyle and future commitments.

Types of Adoption

There are several different types of adoption agencies available to you as a birthparent. Adoption specialists can work with you to help determine what type of adoption best suits your current and future desires and needs. Highlighted below are several types of adoptions that are common in U.S. domestic adoptions. A Act of Love Adoptions has over twenty years of professional experience with open adoption and continues to see the many benefits that each type of adoption can offer to birthparents and adoptive families.

Open Adoption

An open adoption allows you, as a birthparent, to have a relationship or direct contact with the adoptive parents and your child. This type of adoption varies greatly, as it can be minimal communication, or include open contact between families. You and the adoptive parents can decide what level of contact is appropriate, including if you prefer to share pictures or participate in phone calls or in-person visits. If children already know their biological families, an open adoption is likely best, as this helps facilitate flow of information about medical information, access to siblings, contact with other family relatives, etc. The level of openness and the amount of contact varies greatly, ranging from on-going contact to occasional letters every few years. Some birthparents and adoptive parents form relationships and share holidays and family gatherings. As a birthparent, you have the right to choose what level of openness you prefer.

Closed Adoption

A closed adoption was the type of adoption common decades ago. A closed adoption does not share or disclose any identifying information about you to the adoptive parents and you will not have any identifying information about the adoptive family. During the course of your pregnancy, information may be exchanged via an adoption specialist, but no identifying information, such as names, or addresses will be provided to either party. There will be no contact in the present or future. Once the adoption is formalized in court proceeding, all adoption records are legally sealed. Local laws vary regarding the ability for closed adoption paperwork to ever be court petitioned for unsealing. Some states allow records to be available to children once they turn 18 years old, while other states and locales do not make this information available.

This type of adoption was very traditional in the 1950s through the 1980s. However, open and semi-adoption adoptions, which are discussed below, are becoming more popular among birthparents and adoptive parents. This does not mean you should feel pressured to pursue an open adoption, as you should select which type of adoption best suits your personal needs. Counseling with an adoption agency can be helpful as you make your decisions regarding future contact.

Semi-Open Adoption

A semi-open adoption is a combination of an open and closed adoption. You will typically not have direct contact with the adoptive family or your child, but you can use the adoption agency or an intermediary to pass periodic information, medical history, pictures, etc., along. This type of adoption does not require identifying information to be exchanged, it just allows the option if you or the adoptive family prefers. This may also mean that you may want to select your adoptive family, as well as, communicate with them prior to placement and have them spend time with you at the hospital.

Why adoption might be the best option for your child

If you are facing an unexpected pregnancy and do not have the financial or emotional resources to care for your baby, adoption is an excellent option to consider. Today’s legal adoptions are far different from those of yesteryear, as birthparents have the right to have open, closed or semi-open adoptions. Both open and semi-open adoptions leave the door open for future contact, which gives you as a birthparent the right to choose how active you want to be in your child’s life.

Adoption is a viable alternative for women that are not currently in a position to provide the type of life they want for their children. A Act of Love Adoptions provides counseling to women who inquire about adoption for a wide range of reasons, which can include:

  • If you are in the middle of school or pursuing a career, having a baby can make these plans seem impossible to complete. If you desire pursuing college or a career, adoption is an excellent option.
  • When you choose adoption, you can live independently and follow your dreams without putting your life’s plans on hold and know your child is in a loving and nurturing home.
  • You can choose when you are ready to become a parent, instead of having to face this decision head on at an unexpected time in your life.
  • Adoption gives you the freedom to choose if you want to have a long-term relationship with your baby’s father. Many women who unexpectedly become pregnant may decide to stay with the baby’s father out of obligation, instead of by personal choice.
  • By choosing an adoptive family that is financially and emotionally stable, you can rest assured that adoption is an excellent alternative to raising a child as a single parent.
  • Choosing adoption gives you more time to plan a family in the future and plan your career, child’s future, settle down and have time to become financially and emotionally stable.
  • Open adoption allows you the ability to have future contact with your child and know how he/she is growing, developing, maturing and being loved.

If you decide to place your child for adoption, Act of Love can assist with the many benefits to help ease any concerns or worries you may have.

  • If you choose, you have the option of helping select an adoptive family that meets your personal needs, expectations and desires. This may also include religious preferences.
  • You can interview prospective adoptive parent’s in-person that have passed necessary home study requirements. Many adoption websites also offer the convenience of placing adoption profiles online, which allows you a glimpse into prospective adoptive parents’ lives, their stories and why they are pursing adoption.

Adoption is a selfless act, one where you put personal needs aside to ensure that your child is granted the opportunities in life that he/she deserves. Not only are you helping provide a better life for your baby, but also you are giving the gift of life to a family that desperately wants to enjoy parenthood.

How to find the right adoption agency

Licensed adoption agencies are certified to complete legal adoptions. When choosing an adoption agency, select one that offers pre-placement birthparent counseling. It is important to work with agencies that offer separate caseworkers, which typically work with adoptive parents, and birthparent coordination and counseling teams that focus specifically on working one-on-one with you, as a birthmother. Act of Love Adoptions is well-known in the adoption community for providing excellent, caring services to its clients.

Reputable adoption agencies provide birthmothers with full disclosure, which includes information on your rights and discusses how the legal part of the adoption process will work. The counselor should provide you with copies of the documents you will be signing and discuss this paperwork with you to be sure you understand the documents. Part of your counseling at Act of Love includes the opportunity to review and ask questions about the documents you will be signing. You should also be able to speak with an attorney, if you choose to get your questions answered.

Professional and experienced adoption agencies will also provide you access to all parent profiles, not just a limited number of prospective adoptive parents. You can browse through profiles, comparing a wide variety of adoptive parents on waiting lists, including their situations, religious practices, careers, etc., as well as have the opportunity to talk or meet directly with the prospective adoptive parents.

Adoption agencies that truly care about birthmothers will offer you both pre- and post-placement support and counseling. These services provide you with support during your pregnancy and the difficult emotional loss that you may experience after giving birth. Even if you do not think you will require emotional support, it is best to work with a professional that provides these services, letting you have the option of choosing one-on-one support, group counseling, community support services, etc. Helping make sure that your emotional health is a number one priority, adoption agencies strive to make this difficult experience as easy as possible.

Many adoption agencies also offer support with pregnancy related medical expenses during your pregnancy and for the birth of your baby. These services are especially helpful if you do not have medical insurance, which makes pregnancy costly and can add unnecessary burdens to you at this time. These services generally include prescriptions, vitamins, check-ups and any unforeseen pregnancy medical expenses.

Meeting the counseling team, social workers and other adoption agency staff is an important part of finding an adoption agency that meets your criteria and makes you feel comfortable with the adoption process. While many expert adoption agencies hire personnel that have participated in their own adoptions, it is important to have experts that understand your concerns and effectively address any questions you may have. Finding someone that understands you and lets you express your needs and concerns is vitally important to your process. Having a chance to receive information and counseling about the types of available adoptions allows you to choose an adoption plan that best meets your current and future situational and emotional needs. Do not hesitate to ask questions about the differences between an open adoption, semi-open adoption and a closed adoption. This will help you choose the best type of adoption. You should have the option to select the type of adoption that best fits your needs.

An agency should never intimidate you or put your concerns aside. Reputable agencies will work with you during this difficult decision making time to ensure that you and your baby are healthy, well cared for and are making the right decisions for you. Never settle for feeling pressured or intimidated into not asking questions. If an adoption agency makes you feel this way, pursue working with a different agency that puts your needs as a primary concern and helps YOU make the decisions that are right for YOU.

Seeking medical care

Adoption - Medical Care Seeking medical care for your pregnancy can sometimes be a challenge due to various factors such as transportation, insurance or Medicaid coverage and childcare. Because of these issues, prenatal care can become a low priority. So why is prenatal care so important?

Having prenatal care is one of the very best ways to ensure a healthy delivery. Starting prenatal care early will improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy, as well as allow professional medical caretakers to notice any concerns that may arise with the pregnancy.

Women who think they may be pregnant should schedule a visit as soon as possible with their doctors so they can begin prenatal care. Prenatal visits will include a physical exam, weight check and urine samples. As your pregnancy progresses, you also have ultrasounds, blood work and glucose testing. All of these exams help you and your baby to be as healthy as possible. At these appointments, your doctor will also discuss labor and delivery as well as any questions you may have regarding your pregnancy. It is a priority to Act of Love Adoptions to help you have access to medical care.

Receiving regular prenatal care can help prevent complications from arising during both the pregnancy and delivery. This helps to protect both you and your baby. Some of the things that prenatal care can do are:

  • Help monitor any medications you should be taking. Your doctor will prescribe a prenatal vitamin that will help provide your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as giving these nutrients to your growing baby. Your doctor will also discuss any other medications you may be taking such as allergy medications, acne medications or medications for medical conditions, especially those related to anxiety or depression. Your doctor will let you know of any risks these medications may pose to the health of your baby.
  • Reduce the risk of complications related to your pregnancy. By going in for regular prenatal check-ups, your doctor can monitor any issues that may arise, such as high blood pressure or other various symptoms. Your doctor will also discuss proper nutrition and exercise during pregnancy. By going in for your regular doctor visits, and following the advice of your doctor, it can help you avoid complications due to your pregnancy, such as preeclampsia.
  • Reduce the risk of complications to your baby. Your doctor will also discuss with you the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs during your pregnancy, and the affect they can have on your baby, during development and after birth. Studies have shown that alcohol and tobacco use may increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Alcohol consumption can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause physical abnormalities, learning and memory issues, poor coordination or problems with the heart and/or kidneys. Smoking cigarettes directly links to low birth weight in babies.
  • There are so many reasons to receive regular prenatal care. You will have peace of mind that your baby is healthy and growing properly. This will give you and your baby the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

If you are considering adoption for your baby, the agency you are working with can help you find a doctor. Agencies usually work with doctors who are very familiar with adoption. Private insurance or Medicaid may also cover you. If you do not qualify for medical coverage, talk to the adoption professional you are working with about the adoption process covering necessary pregnancy related medical expenses. Prenatal care is important for you and your baby. It will give you and the adoptive family the assurance that your baby is growing healthy and strong.

Who pays my medical expenses?

If you do not have medical insurance or Medicaid, the adoptive family adopting your baby should cover your pregnancy related medical expenses. The prospective adoptive parents should be responsible to cover the expenses related to your pregnancy and delivery.

While state laws vary, some states allow medical insurance to pay for prenatal and hospital expenses for adoption-related medical costs. To be certain what your state allows, be sure to check with your state officials. This includes the following:

  • If you are employed and have medical health insurance, the insurance company may pay for prenatal and delivery costs, which are subject to deductibles, co pays and other medical-related fees. For those that are or have been employed you can check into the programs available through your work, such as a 401(k) plan if needed, to cover necessary expenses. This applies to prospective adoptive parents and helps prevent birthmothers from paying newborn medical expenses.
  • If you are a minor or a student in school, your parents’ medical insurance plan may cover you until you are 26 years old.
  • If you have a very low income, the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) coverage may help cover necessary medical costs.
  • Some states allow birthmothers to be covered by Medicaid, but government agencies, such as the Department of Job and Family Services has refused coverage to birthmothers seeking adoption. While this is a state-by-state decision making process, some physicians and hospitals have also refused to accept Medicaid payments for any adoption related medical expenses.
  • If you do not have medical insurance or do not have public assistance, adoptive families can provide medical care via a reputable adoption agency. The adoptive parents then repay this money to the agency. Some states prohibit adoptive parents from financially assisting in medical expenses, counseling, support services, adoption related services and legal support, these fees can be collected from prospective adoptive parents in the form of adoption fees and/or donations. Some states allow adoptive parents to directly pay birthmothers. In this case, most states direct payments require an escrow account, which documents all payments to the birthmother, ensuring they are legally compliment with state and federal regulations.
  • Reputable adoption agencies will go a step further and offer birthparents pregnancy related medical, legal and financial assistance. They provide thorough counseling, provide apartment housing and can arrange transportation to and from medical appointments. A reliable adoption professional will also provide post-counseling and arrange for birthmothers to join nearby community groups.

How will my child feel about me if I choose adoption?

Adoption is an incredible gift. Giving life to a family that cannot physically have children or prefers to adopt is a selfless act. Fortunately, unlike most adoptions from decades past, today, adoption is more socially acceptable and is very common among way to build families.

By choosing the option of adoption, you are giving your child the opportunity for a safe, loving and permanent home. Prospective adoptive parents can provide the necessary love, support, security and financial means to help support your child in today’s world.

If you opt for an open adoption, you have the right to stay in contact with your baby and the adoptive parents. When working with a reputable adoption agency like A Act of Love Adoptions, birthparents can rest assured that children are only introduced to couples that have successfully met all the requirements, home study programs, counseling and mental wellness preparation for taking care of a child.

Many birthparents are concerned that their children will grow up disliking them and feeling negativity towards their decision to place them for adoption. The reality is that when children are raised knowing they are adopted, they form a special bond with their birthparents; having an appreciation for the beautiful life they chose for them. Adoptive children flourish in healthy surroundings.

This does not mean that children will not go through emotional difficulties without understanding why they were placed for adoption. This is a significant reason most pediatricians recommend explaining adoption to children at very young ages.

Many adoption agencies recommend telling young children their adoption stories, so that it is engrained in their everyday life experiences. It’s important that prospective adoptive parents explain to their child that your decision to place them for adoption was not due to lack of love, but you were looking for an emotionally stable home that would provide a healthy environment for their upbringing. It is important to address adoption as not giving a child away, but a birthparent simply preparing a child for a healthy childhood and future.

There are no guarantees that children will be able to understand or comprehend why you placed them for adoption. Some adoptive parents prefer to put together a biological mother and father guide or Life Book, which provides children the necessary visual references to understand their genetic makeup and where they come from.

If you select an open adoption, this may be something you want to put together, explaining your family history and that you love him/her, but you unfortunately were not in a position to give him/her the best future and home he/she deserves.

There is no guarantee how your child will feel towards you about adoption. Children may go through a range of emotions, including anger, abandonment, realization and ultimately acceptance. Patience is key to this emotional journey for adopted children.

What kind of counseling is available to me?

Adoption - Counseling Counseling is an integral, important part in the adoption process. Studies show that women who are in prenatal counseling are able to make the best decision for their baby when the emotions are running high and they have just been through the birthing process. Typically, decisions made with good information, time to process feelings and not made at the last minute will be decisions that you are happier with and with less regret. Act of Love believes that counseling helps women determine the best choices in their lives and helps them to process the beauty of adoption and opportunities for their children.

Counseling focuses on birthparents making solid, non-emotional decisions; which helps reduce the likelihood that they may later regret their decisions to choose adoption. Adoption is one of the most emotional decisions a woman can ever make. Society makes common misconceptions about adoption, equating it to a woman not wanting her child. This is simply untrue and a completely naive belief. Women choose adoption because they love their babies and want their babies to have a better life, not because they do not have an emotional attachment or feelings towards them.

Many pregnant women may feel all alone, abandoned by family support, friends and their boyfriends. Counseling helps both women with support systems and those that do not have a complete, solid support system during this difficult, trying time. Counseling helps to address the challenges and struggles, these women experience, including:

  • Counseling helps birthparents explore what types of adoptions best suit their needs and requirements, including open, semi-open and closed adoptions.
  • Adoption agencies cover all necessary pregnancy related counseling costs and expenses. Personalized counseling sessions are individualized. They also continue after adoption placement, helping women emotionally deal with the grief and loss process that is commonly associated with adoption placement. In fact, reputable adoption agencies provide 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week help lines, ensuring that experts are available at all hours to discuss pre-delivery and post-delivery needs.
  • When working with an adoption agency, it is best to choose one that puts you first, focusing on your emotional and mental wellbeing. Decades ago, adoption was a negative topic, one not openly discussed in society. Today, adoption is commonplace and more counselors are realizing the importance of providing birthmothers with the necessary support they deserve.
  • In many cases, birthmothers may feel misunderstood, abandoned and judged by their friends, family and peers. Some adoption agencies also offer retreats or community events that gather birthmothers so they can have a support group that truly understands their hardships, emotions and the difficult journey they are facing.

Why is counseling important for me?

When the word “counseling” is mentioned, sometimes people think, “Why would I need counseling? Nothing is wrong with me.” Counseling sometimes gets a bad reputation in today’s society.

Everyone can benefit from counseling. Whether it is about relationships, time management, anger issues, poor study habits, motivation, lifestyle choices, stress relief or many other topics, counseling can help people express their thoughts, feelings and emotions without feeling judged. Counseling can help people figure out their problems, as well as solutions to their problems. Counseling can help lift the weight off your shoulders and clear your head. In fact, our country might be much healthier if Americans were able to attend weekly counseling sessions.

Adoption counseling is no different. When birthparents make the decision to contact an agency and ask for services, counseling should be a major part of those services. Adoption counseling, at A Act of Love Adoptions, will include sessions about the following: Is parenting a better choice? What kind of pressure am I receiving from my support circle? How do I handle the bonding I am feeling for my child? What kind of grief am I going to feel afterward? How or should I tell others I placed a child for adoption? What kind of contact can I have with my child?

Adoption counseling can also encompass goal setting for the future, how to go about starting or continuing with post high school education or career training. It can focus on relationships between birthparents, between a birthmother and her family, etc.

Those who take advantage of the counseling offered through adoption agencies do the very best, coming out ahead through the tough parts of the adoption process. Taking the time to assimilate what you are doing, logically, without letting emotions guide you, will help tremendously throughout your journey. Thinking through the adoption process and then understanding yourself, and your emotions, will guide you in the right direction. Sometimes this is difficult to do on your own. That is why a counselor can ask the questions and you can answer honestly. Eventually, you will come to know what is right for you. Adoption counseling can prepare you for the emotions you will feel and help you understand you are not alone.

Counseling can also relieve pent up emotions that you did not even realize you were carrying. It always feels good to talk about things that may have been bothering you with someone you can trust. Adoption counseling can also be beneficial post-partum. Many women find comfort in attending adoption group sessions, where other birthparents come together and share their experiences and stories. Great friendships result through group sharing. Individual counseling is also beneficial post-placement and can help a birthparent work through the first few months, which can be difficult and lonely.

As you consider your options and look into adoption, remember to ask about counseling when interviewing agencies and adoption professionals. Taking advantage of counseling services can make a world of difference in your adoption experience. Be sure to ask specific questions, such as the number of counseling sessions available to you and post-placement counseling services.

Making sure the adoption professional is licensed and able to provide the services necessary to complete the entire adoption

There are several types of adoption professionals, including the two most common, which feature professional licensed adoption agencies and adoption facilitators. This information highlights the differences between these two types of adoption experts.

An adoption agency is licensed with credentialed professionals that are able to help work with you every step of the way, from your pregnancy, to adoption placement, terminating parental rights, screening adoptive families, developing types of visitation plans and much more.

State and federal laws regulate these licensed adoption agencies, which means they are held personally accountable for their actions.

On the other hand, adoption facilitators are typically unsupervised and have the least amount of oversight. They simply serve as an intermediate adoption facilitator that matches birthparents and prospective adoptive parents. Clients that work with adoption facilitators generally have little or no recourse with issues that arise. It is important to know if your State allows the payment of facilitators prior to engaging with them to ensure an adoption can safely be finalized.

It is strongly recommended by adoption professionals for birthparents to utilize adoption services from licensed adoption providers. It is important for birthparents and adoptive parents to have the highest level of protection when participating in the adoption process.

Adoption facilitators arrived on the scene nearly three decades ago and their licensing and regulation requirements vary state-by-state. Adoption agencies offer a full-service approach, which includes working with adoptive families to ensure they are well qualified to adopt children. Adoption facilitators, on the other hand, tend to put more focus on finding birthmothers, instead of spending time with families that adopt children.

It is always best to have an intermediary handle adoption paperwork and ensure that adoptive parents have completed all necessary adoption paperwork. Some of the differences and definitions of facilitators and agencies are provided below:

  • Adoption Agency – These agencies are state licensed to work with adoptive parents and birthparents during the pre- and post-adoption phases, on education, performing initial paperwork, adoptive family home studies, completing legal paperwork and are required to comply with all state and federal laws. While some of these agencies can be for-profit, most run on a non-profit basis, simply focusing on matching birthparents with adoptive parents.
  • Adoption Facilitator – These adoption providers may or may not be licensed providers and are only legal in some states. Adoption facilitators usually charge a fee to connect adoptive parents with expectant birthparents and may or may not be versed in adoption practices. They may not be held to the same standards as licensed adoption agencies with certain requirements such as adoption education or family support. Your state should be able to provide you with the policy for the State(s) you are working with.

Should I do my research to find a reputable adoption professional or simply listen to my instinct?

It is important that birthparents and adoptive families alike research adoption agencies before making any commitments to their services.

Instead of just simply listening to your feelings and instincts, remember that this experience involves your baby and a long-term commitment for your baby. It is important to keep the child’s best interests first during this difficult decision making process. Consider asking the following questions when interviewing reputable adoption professionals.

  • What are your accreditations/licenses?
  • Have you ever received a license suspension?
  • Can you recommend other agencies/adoption professionals within the U.S. that I can interview?
  • Can I receive a list of recommendations and references from other clients that have placed through your agency?
  • How long have you been providing adoption services?
  • Approximately how many adoptions do you handle annually?
  • How many infants do you help place? Do you also help place children with special needs or those that are older?
  • Ask if you can meet the prospective adoptive parents. If the agency does not recommend this, press for a reason and if they refuse, consider working with another agency.
  • If the family speaks another language, is it possible to have a translator in the room during initial meetings?
  • How does the agency interact with birthparents?
  • What type of adoptions do you offer? Closed, open or semi-open adoptions
  • Is the agency staff available 24/7 and on holidays?
  • Can you assist me from the beginning of the adoption through the finalization of the adoption?
  • What services can I receive after I am matched and after I place the baby for adoption?
  • Are you able to take my relinquishment or do I need to go to court?
  • What post-placement services and help can I receive?
  • Can you help with pregnancy related medical, living and legal services?

If at any point as a birthparent you feel disrespected, discouraged or bullied, visit a different adoption agency or professional. You want to feel as though your information is being handled confidentially and you are treated with the utmost respect.

Thoroughly research adoption agencies and professionals, making sure they are not participating in child trafficking, selling babies and violating any legal processes. Talk to other people who have placed children for adoption to receive personal recommendations, listening to their stories. Read on-line reviews to help get a feel for how solid an agency’s or adoption professionals reputation is, including their thoroughness and attention to detail. Remember not to base your opinion solely on a few reviews good or bad. Most importantly, as a birthparent, the adoption provider should listen to your needs and desires, not simply forcing you into their services.

Proper nutrition needed

nutrition4Every BODY needs good nutrition to keep it healthy and functioning the way it should. You would not put bad fuel in your car, as it would cause major damage. You also would not let your car run out of oil or your engine would be ruined. Keeping your body healthy is no different, especially our pregnant bodies.

As most people know, when a woman is pregnant, she may like or dislike many types of food. A pregnant woman may crave food that she would never touch before becoming pregnant and dislike the foods she used to eat on a regular basis. Pregnancy does funny things with our food likes and dislikes.

What is important for all women to remember is that proper nutrition can do wonders for the health of your baby. Eating a healthy, “clean” diet is good for everyone and it is healthy for a pregnant woman and her child. When we say “clean,” we mean foods without preservatives or heavily processed foods. “Clean” foods are fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, lean meats, chicken and fish. Sometimes these are referred to as foods that will spoil in a few days, because there is nothing artificial in them.

The interesting thing about a pregnancy is that the baby will take the nutrition first; leaving whatever is left over for the mother. Because of this, many pregnant women find themselves tired with no energy, brittle nails and hair, dull skin tone and a host of other effects. These issues are not entirely due to their diet, but a big portion is due to nutrition. If a pregnant woman consumes mostly vegetables and protein with some fruit and nuts daily, she will be giving her baby the very best possible nutrition.

Equally important to nutrition is water. Drinking many glasses of water daily is very beneficial to both the mother and her growing child. Many women experience dehydration during pregnancy. Dehydration can be due to inefficient amounts of water being taken in and/or drinking too much soda. Many sodas are full of salt and do not help hydrate the body. Many women begin having signs of labor when they are not close to their due dates and can be brought on by dehydration. Always drink water several times daily throughout your pregnancy. If you do drink soda, you should increase your water consumption even more.

For those who are sick most of their pregnancy, consult your physician on the best form of nutrition. Some women become so ill and are unable to keep any food down. In these cases where you are unable to keep your food down, it is best to consult with your doctor to see if you need any additional supplements and help for both your body and the growing baby.

Avoid alcohol during pregnancy and it is best to also avoid tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco can be very dangerous to the baby and unhealthy for both of you. As with anything, moderation is a good rule to follow. Sweets and sugary desserts should be consumed with control and are not suitable substitutes for meals. As you eat healthy and get some moderate exercise, such as walking around the block, you will hopefully feel good and look good.

Eating a healthy diet will also help keep your weight at the proper levels for weight gain during pregnancy. Overall, taking care of yourself and your baby will make both of you happier and healthier.

Adoption and Birthfathers

You may hear the buzzwords and phrases about “birthfather rights” in the adoption world these days. So, what is all the commotion about? Some claim that birthfathers are being left out of the adoption process; they are simply unaware of an adoption plan or not given accurate information about the adoption plan.

In some instances, this may be the case, but for most adoptions, birthfathers are active participants or are invited to be included. When a birthmother finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy, one of the first things she is likely to do is talk with the birthfather. There are hundreds of responses to this kind of news, including: “What should we do now?” “We can’t take care of a child.” “What about our future?” “You should get an abortion.” “How do you know it’s my baby?” “We can be great parents!” “My mom will raise the baby for us.” “We have no jobs.” “We’re still in school and our parents are going to be furious!” While these are just a handful of replies, what happens after the news is digested is also quite varied. Some birthmothers find the birthfather to be very supportive and helpful, willing to talk about parenting the baby, getting married, having joint custody or adoption. Other birthmothers find the birthfather’s phone is no longer in service, he’s left his apartment, gone back to his home country or doesn’t respond to calls or texts and wants nothing to do with her.

Those that are willing to be involved should be applauded for taking their share of the responsibility in creating life. Many birthfathers in this category take an active role in the adoption plan including: meeting with adoption agency case workers, participating in counseling, helping to select the right adoptive parents for the baby, and providing emotional support to the birthmother during labor and delivery. These fathers also are involved in the openness agreement, whether it is together with the birthmother or their own separate plans. They sign the relinquishment documents at the appropriate time and place. These birthfathers, like the birthmothers, feel all the emotion of placing a baby for adoption. They love and cherish their child, just as the mother does.

Others take their responsibilities seriously, but do not want to be directly involved in the day-to-day process of adoption. Many of these fathers are in agreement that adoption is the best option for the baby and are willing to sign the relinquishment paperwork, terminating their parental rights. This is also a mature and responsible way for a father to show he is sharing the duties of parenthood. Others will relinquish their rights even if they are unsure whether they are the child’s biological father, showing support for a birthmother that is choosing adoption.

Every state has laws concerning the establishment of paternity and the period in which that can take place. The best advice to a birthfather who wants to parent is to establish his paternity early. By doing so, he is being forthright with what his intentions are and stating that he wants to actively parent the child. This gives a birthfather and mother time to make the best possible plans for their child, without any uncertainty or unknown variables. Establishing paternity comes with responsibility. As a birthfather that has established his rights, he should then be willing to take on his share of the expenses, time and effort in raising the child. It is not the sole responsibility of a birthmother to clothe, feed and raise a child with an absentee father. Those who go into an unmarried, parenting situation should set clear boundaries and expectations where each parent is equally responsible.

Parenting is a wonderful, challenging, joyful, stressful and rewarding job. Making a good decision for your child is of the utmost importance. Placing a baby for adoption can also mean being a good parent. Those who have placed children understand this, and it is reiterated when they receive pictures of happy times and milestones in their child’s life, which would have been more than difficult for them to provide. Adoption is a wonderful commitment that birthparents make to the well- being of their child. And, just think how lucky that child is … having two sets of parents who love and adore him/her!

What is a putative father registry?

A putative father is the legal paternal relative to an unborn or born child, where no legal relationship has been established or confirmed. A putative father claims to be or is alleged to be the biological father of the child. Generally, couples are not married at the time of the child’s birth, which makes this process more complicated.

Many states have a voluntary Putative Father Registry. A father can register whether he knows or simply believes he is the father of a child born outside of marriage. Fathers who desire to parent are typically permitted and encouraged to register prior to the child’s birth so that others will be aware of the fathers’ intentions to establish paternity to the child.

In the U.S., about half of the states participate in established paternity registries. While filing is voluntary, this is sometimes the only way that fathers can protect their rights as unmarried parents. All states have a procedure for establishing paternity through the courts, even if they do not have a paternity registry. Some information regarding the procedures for establishing paternity in the various states can be found on the website for the Child Welfare Information Gateway, at https://www.childwelfare.gov/. Because laws change and A Act of Love Adoptions is not responsible for the data compiled on the government website, Act of Love does not guarantee the accuracy of information on the website listed above. Birthfathers may want to contact governmental authorities or counsel in a particular state to find what the putative father laws are in that state. Birthfathers who are aware of that a birthmother is living in another state or that a child is or may be born or placed for adoption in or pursuant to the laws of another state may be required to comply with the putative father laws of the other state.

Staying in your home state or traveling to another state for services and support

If you have a solid support system in your home state and are surrounded by friends and family that support your decision to adopt without judgment or negativity, then you may feel comfortable staying in your home state and interviewing adoptive parents via video chats or selecting through profiles. You can even arrange for an in-person visit once you have narrowed down possible adoptive families.

If, however, you find yourself in a situation where your friends and family do not support your decision to place your baby for adoption or you are in a serious, harmful or unsafe place, then you may want to consider seeking an adoption agency or professional that is out-of-state and offers a variety of services to help surround you with support and love.

Many out-of-state agencies will also assist with pregnancy related living accommodations, finding you a reputable OBGYN physician, assist you with pregnancy-related expenses and have counselors on-site to help discuss adoption plans, such as open, semi-open or closed adoptions. A full-service adoption agency, like A Act of Love Adoptions will also provide complimentary counseling, both before and after the baby’s placement, as well as staffing a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week adoption team.

While the choice is entirely yours, if you feel pressured, intimidated or threatened to not consider adoption, you may feel best in a neutral environment that offers encouragement and helps you make the right decision for your life. After all, caring for a baby is not a temporary sacrifice, but a life-long commitment.

Out-of-state adoptions are coordinated with legal staff and adoption specialists. In-state adoptions are much easier to facilitate, but this should not be a reason to move during your pregnancy. Going somewhere new and gaining, a new perspective on life can help put your overwhelming situation into prospective and give you insight into what your future may hold.

Pregnancy related services and pregnancy related financial help

Adoption - Financial Long ago, help for unwed pregnant women meant sending them to “camp” and forbidding breaching or discussing the subject of unwed pregnancies. Today’s society realizes the importance of embracing pregnancy and the option of pursuing adoption.

Most adoption agencies and professionals understand that women who intend to place their children for adoption do not have the necessary financial assistance to help them raise their babies. Reputable adoption agencies, such as A Act of Love offer pregnancy related medical, financial and legal assistance. Most times the adoptive family is responsible for the pregnancy related medical bills and delivery-related expenses. Adoption agencies have attorneys on hand to help answer any questions that birthparents may have about the adoption-related process.

During the pregnancy, women can explore the benefits of complimentary, one-on-one pregnancy counseling, both before and after placement. Adoption professionals that help put birthparents first and make their concerns a priority also offer free help lines, which are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Some women prefer to relocate later in their pregnancies, being closer to the adoption agency, doctors and the future adoptive family. A Act of Love Adoptions offers comfortable apartments that have convenient locations to nearby hospitals. Most of these apartments are fully furnished and feature on-site laundry facilities, which help birthparents, remain comfortable during their last trimester. Many of these apartments are in central urban areas, meaning they are close to parks, shopping centers, public transportation, etc.

For birthparents that choose to remain in their own states, state laws define the amount of support they receive, with some states offering less assistance to birthparents. Because unexpected pregnancies are costly, it’s important that birthparents find a reputable adoption agency or professional that is willing to work with them, providing financial support for basic pregnancy related housing supplies, medical appointments and needed pregnancy related assistance.

Can I get financial assistance after the baby is born?

Many adoption agencies and professionals have the option of post-counseling placement for birthparents after the child is born. You can choose to participate or waive this form of treatment.

For women that choose to parent their babies, there are charitable organizations; including religious charities, which may be able to provide group and financial assistance. This may include items such as clothing, formula, baby supplies, etc. These programs will help women learn skills to become more independent and allow them to thrive in society.

In many states, pregnancy related financial assistance continues for a minimum of six weeks for the post-confinement period, just as most new parents have maternity or paternity leave from jobs. Adoption agencies can also provide you with referrals for housing, Medicaid, education, public assistance and job training.

If before and after adoption placement assistance is important to you, choose a state that is birthparent friendly and offers pregnancy related benefits to birthparents. Among these include Utah, which allows birthparents and adoptive parents to work together to provide the necessary pregnancy related financial assistance, counseling and job placement endeavors to make the post-confinement easier for birthparents to recover, thrive and succeed.

When can I place my child?

Contrary to popular belief, adoption plans can be made at any time before or after the child is born. While newborn and infant adoptions are more popular, some mothers have difficulty committing to adoption once their babies are born. In this case, birthparents can choose to either take the baby home with them while they make their decision, or they can place the baby in temporary foster care. It is important to note that children need a permanent, loving home immediately, so it’s best to avoid a long decision making process.

An adoption plan is generally complete before the baby is born, but A Act of Love Adoptions can help with this plan after the baby is born. An adoption plan simply means that the birthparent is comfortable with their decision and has decided on a family to adopt their baby.

Choosing an adoptive family can be a difficult process, but fortunately birthparents have many options to help select the right adoptive families for their baby’s needs. This may include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Religious preferences
  • Parents’ ages
  • Length of marriage
  • If existing children are in the home
  • Personality traits of adopted parents or their current children
  • Professions
  • If one parent will be a stay-at-home parent
  • Location of the family’s home
  • Extended family
  • Living in a multi-cultural community

Act of Love understands that all of these questions play an important role in birthparents selecting adoptive parents for their babies. The adoption plan is an agreed plan that both birthparents and adoptive parents agree to create, as they both feel it is in the best interest of the child.

  • Would you like to choose and interview the adoptive family?
  • Would you prefer to meet the adoptive family before the child’s birth?
  • Would you prefer an adoption counselor to help choose a family?
  • Would you like the adoptive parents be present for the child’s birth?
  • Would you like to receive updates on how your child is doing?
  • Would you prefer to have contact with the baby and the adoptive family?
  • Do you want to pursue an on-going relationship with the adoptive family?
  • Do you want the adoptive family present at the hospital?
  • Do you want other family members or close friends to be participants in the adoption plan?
  • What else is important to you for your adoption plan?

An adoption plan does not have to occur before or immediately after the birth of the baby. The birthparent can bring the baby home and later decide that adoption is the best option and will help give her child the best life possible. Making an adoption plan after birth is not uncommon and the staff at Act of Love is available 24 hours, seven days a week to assist you.

How is the adoptive family screened for adoption?

Many birthparents express concern about how adoptive families are screened to become adoptive parents. Prospective adoptive parents are subject to extensive screening, which includes making sure they have a genuine commitment towards raising a child that is not biologically theirs.

Adoptive families are subject to the following:

  • Criminal abuse and background checks, which includes child abuse and neglect violations
  • Attendance in adoptive parent preparation classes
  • Pre-adoption counseling sessions
  • Assurance that the adoptive family is financially, medically and mentally stable to parent a child
  • A social worker will visit their home to ensure it is a safe environment for children.
  • A home study is necessary for parents that wish to adopt a child. This involves a qualified worker visiting the home, understanding why the prospective adoptive parents are interested in adopting and confirming the house is completely childproof.
  • These adoption specialists speak one-on-one with prospective adoptive parents to make sure they have made a dedicated transition from overcoming fertility issues to accepting adoption.
  • If families wish to communicate with birthparents, social workers will pass this information along and birthparents can make their own independent decisions about if direct communication best meets their current and/or future needs.
  • Adoptive parents are also subject to complete medical reports to ensure they are in optimal health.
  • Close friends and relatives are contacted for references about their parenting abilities.
  • Adoptive parents must provide proof that they are employed and financially secure to raise an adopted child.

Adoption is a sensitive subject and one that is handled with the utmost care. Adoption agencies and professionals go to great lengths to personally interview potential adoptive parents, making sure only the best potential applicants are permitted to be approved as adoptive parents. A Act of Love Adoptions believes it is important to provide the support and education for adoptive families to successfully parent an adopted child.

Birthparents can rest assured that great care and time has been devoted into checking out adoptive parents, including their education plans, future living plans, financial situation and much more.

When can I look at adoptive family profiles?

Adoptive family Most adoption websites offer viewable adoptive parent profiles to the public. While some just feature a brief introduction, others feature detailed information about the adoptive family. In fact, seeing adoptive families that catch your interest can actually help solidify your decision to pursue adoption.

It is important that once birthparents make the decision to place their children for adoption, they start looking at adoptive parent profiles. This is part of the acceptance process, which includes mental and emotional preparation related to adoption.

Birthparents should have an idea if they want an open, semi-open or closed adoption, as this will help eliminate a large group of potential adoptive families. Both parties have to be accepting about the type of adoption and agree to participate, putting the child’s needs first. When selecting a potential adoptive family, birthparents should make a general list of criteria that are important to them. This may include religious beliefs, length of marriage, age of parents, similar interests, if they have biological or adopted children, financial stability, neighborhoods, schooling and if they are willing to work with you as a birthparent. The counselors at Act of Love will be key in helping you to make the choices that will bring a peace of mind to you as you move forward with your adoptive family selection.

Birthparents should look for strong, well thought out profiles that are genuine and heartfelt. Additionally, they should include pictures and captions that are entertaining and gain your interest. Most importantly, they should express deeper feelings than what they simply say. Instead of saying, “We enjoy camping,” look for captions that elaborate on what type of camping. Do they enjoy tent camping, backpacking through the wilderness, going in a RV, etc.?

If on-line adoptive family profiles on the Act of Love website do not interest you, contact the agency to see if they have other prospective adoptive parents. Chances are, not all adoptive families are listed online.

Other on-line highlights for birthparents to consider are as follows:

  • Why are they choosing to adopt?
  • Are they open to interracial adoptions?
  • What is their experience with children?
  • What support can they offer children physically, spiritually and emotionally?
  • What are their child rearing values?
  • What is their personality and sense of humor?
  • What are their educational goals for your child?
  • What types of hobbies and activities interest them?

How to select an adoptive family

For some birthparents, selecting an adoptive family is as simple as following their gut feelings. Whatever birthparents envision for their children is probably the type of adoptive parents they should pursue. If a birthparent prefers urban dwelling, a family living in the big city may make the ideal adoptive parents. If, however, birthparents prefer rural settings with pets, it may be best to consider searching for adoptive parents that fit these profiles.

If reading a plethora of adoptive parent profiles seems overwhelming, your adoption specialist at A Act of Love Adoptions can help review adoption profiles and select ones that match your parameters and criteria. Do not hesitate to ask for adoptive family pictures, profiles and videos, as these all help you determine if you would like to meet them in person.

Additionally, once you have narrowed down your selection, it is important to get to know the adoptive family. Whether it is participating in video conferences, telephone calls or simply writing emails, it’s important for birthparents to ask specific questions to help ensure they are selecting the right adoptive family for their babies. In fact, Act of Love Adoptions offers to arrange in-person meetings between birthparents and adoptive parents, which provides both sides a better understanding of what both parties are looking for and build lasting relationships.

Birthparents should also determine future adoptive family and child contact. As the birthparent, do you want to be involved in your child’s life? Would you prefer telephone or in-person visits? Do you want direct communication or do you prefer a third-party communication through Act of Love?

Selecting an adoptive family also includes more in-depth, personal questions, such as if you want your baby raised in a two-parent home or does it matter, do you want one parent to stay at home while the child is an infant, do you prefer selecting parents that have children and if religion is an important factor in choosing an adoptive family.

Just as important as the above factors, are education, parenting styles and beliefs. If adoptive parents are well educated, there is a higher chance they will prepare adopted children for advanced education. If there is a specific type of parenting style or discipline method that bothers you, discuss this openly, as it may influence your opinion into choosing a different adoptive family for your child.

What type of contact can I have with the adoptive family after placement

When a child is adopted, the birthparents and adoptive parents enter into a post-adoption contract agreement. This contract details open, semi-open or closed adoption arrangements. While these contracts can be informative, they generally highlight mutual understandings between birthparents and adoptive parents and can be held to legal written standards. It is important to understand the laws in the state where you will be signing your consent regarding post-adoption contact.

Currently, about half of the states recognize written contractual agreements between birthparents and adoptive parents. Most of these agreements clearly state post- adoption communication and contact that is acceptable. Some states also permit birth relatives to be listed in the agreement, which may include grandparents, uncles, aunts and other siblings.

Common types of post-placement contact include the following:

  • Pictures and Letters – Adoptive parents can send pictures and letters to the birthparents, provided an open adoption agreement is mutually acceptable. If the adoption were a semi-open agreement, these documents are sent to an acceptable third party, such as Act of Love.
  • Email – Some open adoptions include email, which shares stories and can include pictures. Email is a great way to stay in touch, while still maintaining enough distance to not confuse children at a young age.
  • Phone or Video Calls – The step following email contact is phone or video calls. These may be infrequent, only occurring during holidays or once every several years.
  • In-Person Visits – Some birthparents and adoptive parents opt for in-person visits. The first visit should be in a neutral location, as this can be a sensitive step in any adoption relationship. It is important to remember that in-person visits are not for everyone and are not always advisable.

A closed adoption allows no contact between parties, not even with a third-party administrator. For both open and semi-open adoptions, there are several books written by experienced adoption experts and psychologists that highlight how to create evolving relationships between birthmothers, birthparents and adopted children. A Act of Love Adoptions can provide resources and counseling to help assist you in your decision making process.

Preparing an Adoption Plan

Adoption An adoption plan occurs when both the birthparent and adoptive parents agree about the type of adoption that is acceptable. In most cases, this includes closed, semi-open and open adoption plans.

A closed adoption excludes identifying information from being shared with either the birthparent or adoptive parents. The only information that is exchanged is brief medical or family history. Names, jobs, where they live and other identifying details are withheld.

An open adoption occurs when both the birthparents and adoptive parents agree to share specified identifying information. They can discuss how much information is acceptable to share and together they can develop a personalized adoption plan that meets their needs.

Semi-Open

An adoption plan often revolves around what makes the birthparent comfortable. Birthparents must consider what is best for their baby and themselves. When working with an adoption professional at Act of Love, birthparents have advocates that are working for their best interests, helping personalize and build an adoption plan that specifically caters to their needs and desires. Adoption agencies and professionals also screen potential adoptive families and are committed to accepting adoptive parents that are dedicated to providing a safe, loving atmosphere for nurturing growth.

Choosing an adoptive family can be difficult, which is another reason why it is important to work with an adoption counselor to help prepare a specific adoption plan. If a birthparent does not want to help choose an adoptive family, an adoption expert can facilitate a healthy match. Birthparents can also decide if they want their child entering into a family with children and agreed levels of adoption contact.

One of the most significant aspects to any adoption plan is the hospital stay. Birthparents can choose to have adoptive families in the delivery room, have family members or friends with them in the hospital, spend one-on-one alone time with their babies, take pictures of their babies with or without their adoptive family or leave the hospital with the adoptive family. Your adoption counselor at Act of Love will help discuss this plan with you and create your plan through several counseling sessions.

Last, but most important, it is vital to agree to the level of contact that is acceptable to both parties. Does the birthparent want to develop a casual friendship with the adoptive parents? Would they prefer email, telephone calls, in-person visits or video conferences? Do they want an on-going relationship with the child and adoptive family? How frequently does the birthparent want letter and picture updates of their growing child?

All of these questions are personal and can only be answered by birthparents and adoptive parents. It is important to select parents that not only meet your expectations but also adhere to the expected parenting plan documentation. Act of Love believes that having an adoption team that helps you to build a meaningful and lasting relationship together will help to ensure your needs are met in your adoption plan.

Support at the hospital/making a plan for the hospital

It is important for birthmothers to have a specific labor plan. Similar to an adoption plan, a birthing plan can include or not include the adoptive family. Questions for birthmothers to ask themselves include:

  • Do I want the adoptive family in the delivery room with me?
  • Will I have a healthy support group that includes friends and family?
  • If you already have other children, do you want the other children to meet their sibling?
  • Do you want to spend time with your new baby by yourself or with their new adoptive family?
  • Do you have a preference about who first holds the baby?
  • Do you want confidential hospital admittance?
  • Have you decided on a birthing plan and if it will include a medical or natural delivery?
  • Do you have a preference how much time is spent with the adoptive family at the hospital?
  • Would you prefer pictures with your baby?
  • Would you prefer leaving the hospital before or after your baby leaves with his/her newly adopted family?
  • Do you want to leave the hospital with the adoptive family?

Having a detailed hospital plan allows the adoption workers to carry out your wishes for the adoption process. Adoption plans can change. As you get to know the adoptive family better, you may decide you would prefer they be in the delivery room. Act of Love Adoptions staff is trained to work with birthmothers, helping to create comfortable birthing plans that are best suited for all parties.

Most birthmothers feel as though they have to please adoptive parents, but if this is causing stress during a birthing plan, it is important that birthmothers’ put their needs first.

Consider placing a birthing plan in writing and distributing copies to those parties involved in the adoption. This gives everyone adequate notice about your wishes for the delivery of your baby.

If you feel sentimental about the birthing process and placing your baby for adoption, consider asking the hospital for double sets of keepsakes. This way the adoptive parents and you can both have footprints, caps, mittens and blankets as reminders of this special day.

How does relinquishment of my rights happen?

What is a relinquishment? When do I terminate my parental rights?

This is a commonly asked question when birthparents are considering an adoption plan. Every state has different rules and time lines when it comes to relinquishing or terminating parental rights. But one thing that every state has in common is that parental rights do not terminate until after the child is born.

When you begin to work with an adoption agency, such as A Act of Love Adoptions, you will begin to complete paperwork. This paperwork contains information for the agency to be able to offer you their services. You will be signing papers stating how much counseling you would like, what type of adoptive parents you are interested in, some questions about your medical history and basics information like contact information. By signing this paperwork, you are not giving up your rights as a parent. You are signing that you would like to receive adoption services. A Act of Love Adoptions knows and understands that birthparents go through many emotions as they move through their adoption journey. We welcome open discussion about the birthparents’ thoughts and feelings on placing versus parenting. By receiving counseling, many birthparents can begin to see more clearly the path they should choose. The paperwork signed in the beginning is to allow these types of services, in addition to help with medical appointments and other pregnancy related needs.

Once the baby is born, the state in which the child is born has its own laws for adoption. One of these laws clearly states the amount of time that must pass until the birthparents can sign a consent or relinquishment to adopt. A Act of Love Adoptions is based in Utah, so in Utah, a birthparent must wait 24 hours (or longer) after birth to sign a relinquishment. Once that document is signed in Utah, it becomes irrevocable, meaning there is no “change your mind” period. Also in Utah, a birthmother and birthfather can sign anywhere they please, such as in their hospital room, at their home, the adoption agency office, etc. A Act of Love Adoptions works with many birthparents that choose to remain in their home state for their adoption plan and follows the laws of states where the baby is born and the state in which the adoptive family lives.

In other states, the laws vary. Some states require 72 hours or three days to pass after the child’s birth until a birthparent can sign relinquishment papers. Some states are 48 hours and some give a time after signing documents that allows a birthparent to revoke their relinquishment or consent. Other states require that relinquishment documents are signed in a court of law.

When preparing to place a child for adoption, it is wise to learn the laws of your state and the state where you will be delivering, if different from your home state. Ask questions about the time lines and other laws that are required. Some states require a birthfather signature, birthfather notification or have a Putative Father Registry check. In some states, the birthfather can sign his consent to the adoption before the birth of the baby. The Putative Father Registry is usually checked during the pregnancy and afterwards by adoption agencies and attorneys.

A Act of Love Adoptions counselors review relinquishment documents before the birth of the baby with the birthparents. This review period enables the birthparents to read each line in the document to make sure they understand the contents and if they have any questions, to clarify their understanding with legal answers. Many birthparents appreciate a review opportunity that allows them to understand what they will be signing before the actual relinquishment and making a permanent decision. As with any important decisions made in life, it is always best to learn everything possible and consider the information so a well-informed decision is made.

Do grandparents have rights?

Grandparents’ rights to their grandchildren vary from state-to-state.1) In most situations, maternal and paternal grandparents are secondary to and contingent upon the birth parents’ rights. If an older child is placed for adoption or if the birthmother is an underage minor and the grandparent has been the grandchild’s primary caregiver, however, the grandparent may have significant legal rights that may affect an adoption. This is generally the case when grandparents, not in infant adoptions, have cared for a child.

In recent decades, states have passed statutes that allow grandparents to petition for visitation or custody of the child under certain circumstances. In 2000, however, the United States Supreme Court struck down a Washington grandparent visitation statute because the justices felt it went too far and violated the parents’ due process to raise their children. Thus, grandparent rights have been a hot topic in the legal community.2)

There are several factors courts typically consider before granting grandparent rights. For example, many states require that grandparents have proof of regularly scheduled visits, taking care of grandchildren, etc. In the case of infant adoptions, this usually hasn’t occurred and grandparent rights are generally not a factor. Additionally, courts often require legal proof that the parent is unfit to parent before awarding custody or visitation to a grandparent contrary to the parents’ desires. Even if the relationship between the child and grandparent is very strong, this is still a difficult uphill battle, as ultimately fit parents have superior legal rights to their children. When courts award grandparents custody or visitation rights, the prior relationship between the grandchild and grandparent is highly analyzed, including the effect such relationship will have on the parent and child relationship.3)

If a birthparent chooses to pursue adoption, it is ultimately their choice and no one else’s. The general legal practice is that, if birthparents agree to place their child with an adoption agency, then grandparents immediately forego any right to seek visitation or contest the adoption. Unless a statute or court order provides otherwise, adoption by anyone other than a relative immediately terminates grandparents’ rights, which means that adoptive parents can rest assured they won’t have to share visitation if they do not believe it is in the child’s best interests.4)

1) See: https://www.grandparents.com/family-and-relationships/grandparents-rights/grandparent-rights-guide, a website sponsored by the American Grandparents Association that provides a guide to grandparent rights in each state.
2) Id.
3) Id.
4) See: https://family-law.lawyers.com/adoptions/rights-of-birth-parents-and-grandparents-after-adoption.html.

Who will name the baby and what happens to the birth certificate?

Some adoptive parents’ adopt a baby that already has been named by his/her parents. When going through the adoption process, parents have the right to change the original birth name. This may be more common for foreign adoptions. While experts stress that changing a child’s name can cause confusion over his/her identity, another idea is incorporating the original name with a name the adoptive parents select. Including the name a birthparent has given their child along with the name the adoptive parents choose can be important later in life for the child as they learn more about their birthparents. Many adoptive parents choose to keep the given name from the birthparents along with the first and middle name that they choose for their child.

When selecting a closed adoption, naming children together is still possible through your adoption counselor. However, if you choose an open adoption you can request that the adoptive parents work with you when naming the baby. For example, perhaps you could let the adoptive parents select the first name and request that you be able to choose a middle name for the baby. This special bonding process allows the birthparent to feel as though they can take an active roll in giving something as special and important as a name to their baby.

Some adoptive families prefer to focus on family names, naming children after living or decreased relatives and truly making them feel welcome into their families. Having a special family connection makes children feel more valued and important as they grow into adults.

After the adoption process, the adoption certificate reflects the adoptive parents’ names. Once the adoption is final, the courts will provide a Decree of Adoption and the new birth certificate will be processed with the local State Department. The new birth record will include the given name of the baby by the adoptive parents along with the names of the adoptive parents as the child’s parents. The biological parents’ information is entirely removed from the record and the new record replaces any existing information. The original birth records are sealed and are usually only permitted to be released in rare situations.

Who will name the baby and what happens to the birth certificate?

Some adoptive parents’ adopt a baby that already has been named by his/her parents. When going through the adoption process, parents have the right to change the original birth name. This may be more common for foreign adoptions. While experts stress that changing a child’s name can cause confusion over his/her identity, another idea is incorporating the original name with a name the adoptive parents select. Including the name a birthparent has given their child along with the name the adoptive parents choose can be important later in life for the child as they learn more about their birthparents. Many adoptive parents choose to keep the given name from the birthparents along with the first and middle name that they choose for their child.

When selecting a closed adoption, naming children together is still possible through your adoption counselor. However, if you choose an open adoption you can request that the adoptive parents work with you when naming the baby. For example, perhaps you could let the adoptive parents select the first name and request that you be able to choose a middle name for the baby. This special bonding process allows the birthparent to feel as though they can take an active roll in giving something as special and important as a name to their baby.

Some adoptive families prefer to focus on family names, naming children after living or decreased relatives and truly making them feel welcome into their families. Having a special family connection makes children feel more valued and important as they grow into adults.

After the adoption process, the adoption certificate reflects the adoptive parents’ names. Once the adoption is final, the courts will provide a Decree of Adoption and the new birth certificate will be processed with the local State Department. The new birth record will include the given name of the baby by the adoptive parents along with the names of the adoptive parents as the child’s parents. The biological parents’ information is entirely removed from the record and the new record replaces any existing information. The original birth records are sealed and are usually only permitted to be released in rare situations.

Can I get pictures of my baby in the hospital?

Until the paperwork is signed, you will make the decisions about your baby, which means that you have the option of taking hospital pictures with friends, family and the adoptive family. While you remain in the hospital, you can choose to spend as much or as little time with your baby as you wish.

Some birthparents find it more difficult to bond with their babies after the delivery, so they prefer to not see their babies. Other birthparents participate in breastfeeding, bonding, taking pictures and creating memories they can hold onto and cherish for a lifetime. Neither choice is wrong. It is simply a matter of personal preference.

Act of Love Adoptions helps birthparents create a post-adoption contact arrangement that allows for birthparents to feel comfortable with the contact and updates they receive on their child. The counselors and staff at Act of Love understand the needs of birthparents and strive to help birthparents walk through each step of the adoption and create plans for post-adoption that are healthy and promote healing and the ability to move forward.

What is most important?

As you make the decisions that feel are right for you and your baby, A Act of Love Adoptions encourages you to make certain that you find qualified and trusted adoption professionals to assist you before, during and after the birth of your baby. Ask questions about the professionals qualifications to provide legal adoption services, number of years providing adoption services, is availability 24 hours/7 days a week and holidays, will they help make certain you can receive services by qualified, licensed professionals where you live, what services can they legally provide you, will your information be kept confidential, what support will be offered to you at all stages of your experience; including counseling, do some on-line research of your own, ask for references and make sure that you visit with the staff and feel comfortable they have the best interest of you and your baby.

The life-long decisions that you make for you and your child are some of the most important decisions you will make. Make certain that you are in control of these decisions and not feeling forced or coerced into your decisions and that the plans you make are done through careful thought and consideration. You should feel loved, cherished and supported before and after your adoption process. Take the time to find the right adoption professional to assist you in your adoption journey.

Adoption
is An Act of Love

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