The gifts of pregnancy and giving birth are beautiful and special to women alone. However, for birthmothers who have decided to place their child for adoption, these experiences can take a physical and emotional toll. Feeling lost, confused, or helpless in the face of the adoption process is not uncommon, and can lead birthmothers to feel enormous stress. However, by knowing the unique resources available to you as a birthmother, this process can be made easier and any fears you may have can be relieved.
No State is the Same
Every state has its own unique adoption statues and laws, and it is essential that birthmothers understand what their state mandates for issues such as consent time frame, revoke time frame, and relinquishment consent. Child Welfare Information Gateway (https://www.childwelfare.gov) is a helpful online resource for birthmothers to read up on their state’s laws regarding a slew of topics. Additional online resources to research each state’s adoption laws include Adoption.com and the National Council for Adoption (http://www.adoptioncouncil.org/). In most states, birthmothers are allowed to accept financial support from their child’s adoptive family. Typically, basic living expenses of the birthmother are covered for the last trimester of the pregnancy and for two to eight weeks after the birth of the baby. The actual amount of this coverage varies from case to case, but for the most part, adoptive families are willing to assist the birthmother to cover rent, utilities, food, transportation, and maternity clothes. In addition to these living expenses, the majority of states also allow for the adoptive parent(s) to cover the costs of counseling, attorneys’ fees, and medical expenses. For more information on birthmother finances and other concerns, Adopt Help (http://www.adopthelp.com/birth-mother-questions-answers/) is a beneficial online resource featuring a question and answer section dedicated specifically to birthmothers.
Creating Your Adoption Plan
Once a birthmother has made the decision to say yes to adoption, she must face a long list of subsequent decisions. As outlined by Adoption Services (http://www.adoptionservices.org), if you choose to have an adoption plan many rights are afforded to you, regardless of state. Some of these rights include:
- Choosing to place your child through a licensed adoption agency or an independent or private adoption attorney.
- Accessing counseling before, during, and after the adoption.
- Choosing whether or not to see your child before placing him or her for adoption.
It is important that birthmothers are aware of the various types of adoption they may choose. As outlined by the National Adoption Center (http://www.adopt.org/types-adoptions) and Adoption Advisor (http://www.myadoptionadvisor.com/th_gallery/private-vs-agency-adoption/), the types of adoption arrangements include:
- Closed adoption is one where no identifying information about the birth family or the adoptive family is shared between the two, and there is no contact between the families. After the adoption is finalized, the records are sealed. Depending on local law and what paperwork was signed and filed when the adoption was finalized, these records may or may not be available to the adopted child when they reach 18.
- Open adoption is one that allows for some form of association among the birth parents, adoptive parents and the child they adopted. This can range from picture sharing to phone calls to open or contact via an intermediary among the parties.
- Agency adoption features an agency to act as the intermediary between the adoptive family and the birthmother or birthparents. The agency can either be a public adoptive agency (such as social services) or a licensed private agency.
- Independent adoption is when the adoptive family works primarily with an attorney throughout the adoption process instead of with an adoption agency. In private adoptions, the birth parents usually relinquish their rights to parent directly to the adoptive parents.
Once you have chosen what type of adoption is right for you and your child, you can then think about what kind of life you want your child to have. Ask yourself:
- What qualities and characteristics are important to me in an adoptive family?
- Is there a family structure and home environment I prefer for my child (married, single parent, etc.)?
- Is there a religion I would like my child to be raised in?
- How much contact do I want to have with my child as he/she grows up?
These are just a few of the many considerations birthmothers need to make when forming their adoption plan. As a birthmother who chose adoption for her child, you have every right and freedom to form your adoption plan as you see fit for you and the life you desire your child to live.
One of the most sensitive parts of the adoption process is the delivery of your child. A lot of anxiousness can swirl around the day your little one comes into the world, but if you think of how you would like your delivery day to look and plan accordingly, communicating openly and truthfully to the adoptive family, your birthing experience will have much room for success. It is important to consider your choices and preferences:
- Do I want to hold my child?
- Do I want the adoptive family to be present during the birth?
- Do I want to feed my child?
- Do I want to be in the same room as my child after birth?
- Who do I want to visit you or the baby?
- Do I want to leave the hospital before or after my child has been taken home to their new family?
As the birthmother it is important you are comfortable during your hospital stay. Most hospitals are accustomed to adoption births and are more than willing to accommodate your stay. Do not hesitate to communicate to your adoptive family and hospital staff your desires for your birthing experience.
Pampering the Birthmother
Women who say yes to adoption experience a unique pregnancy, and thus have unique needs. Organizations such as Sally’s Lambs (http://www.sallyslambs.org/programs) encourage the friends, families, and adoptive families of birthmothers to remind the birthmother how special and loved she truly is. Gifts that pamper and celebrate the birthmother can be a wonderful way to relieve some stress during the pregnancy. Gifts such as books, movies, neck or body pillows, bath products, maternity clothes, lotions, jewelry, or gift certificates to the mother’s favorite spa, store, restaurant, or salon are all fun ways to shower the birthmother with appreciation and love and make her pregnancy as comfortable as possible.
The Best Choice for You
Choosing adoption for her child can be one of the most selfless acts a woman can do—but most importantly, choosing adoption can be the best choice for you. Staying informed and honest with yourself are the keys to satisfying your unique needs as a birthmother and experiencing a positive pregnancy and adoption process.
Article by Lauren Sumners.
- Adoption Advisor, http://www.myadoptionadvisor.com/th_gallery/private-vs-agency-adoption/
- Adopt Help, http://www.adopthelp.com
- Adoption Services, http://www.adoptionservices.org/
- Birthmothers, (877) 77-BIRTH http://www.birthmothers.org.
- Birth Mother Baskets, http://www.birthmotherbaskets.org
- Child Welfare Information Gateway, https://www.childwelfare.gov
- National Adoption Center, http://www.adopt.org/types-adoptions
- National Council for Adoption, http://www.adoptioncouncil.org/
- Parentfinder, http://www.parentfinder.com/
- Sally’s Lambs, http://www.sallyslambs.org/programs
“Finding a Place for Adoption” An article about workplace benefits for birthmothers and adoptive parents.
What You Can Do
- If you are the friend or family member of a birthmother, help her get through the adoption process–which is often an emotional time–by offering up your support.
- Show a token of your love. Whether you are the adoptive family or simply a friend or family member of the birthmother, shower her with love by giving to her a thoughtful gift. Sally’s Lambs and Birth Mother Baskets are both wonderful organizations that recognize the importance of appreciating birthmothers and reminding them of their self-worth.