A positive pregnancy test should be a cause of joy to a couple. But if you're not married, it very well could be the worst and scariest news you've ever received.
You may find that your emotions are confused. Or, once the initial shock has passed, you may find you are feeling strong emotions of fear, regret, shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Perhaps you are feeling alone and completely unprepared to face the momentous decisions now before you.
We want you to know from our hearts that we are here for you, and our desire is to walk with you through this new and somewhat frightening season in your life.
Most importantly, in the coming weeks you will need to be deciding whether or not you are going to raise your new baby. Will you send your precious little one to a loving adoptive family? Or will you choose to raise your child as a single mother?
We have found the following ten questions to be a helpful starting place for birthmothers whose hearts are swirling with concerns—both for themselves and the new life living inside of them.
However, we are certain that a compassionate and understanding smile and a listening ear go much farther than a page of information can. That is why we would love to speak with you and personally answer any of your questions and concerns that we can. To contact the center closest to you, click here.
10 Questions Most Birthmothers Ask about Adoption1
1. How can adoption be a good thing for my baby and me?
Even if you are not yet ready to be a parent, you can still give your baby the gift of life by choosing adoption. You can plan positively for your baby's future by selecting a stable, loving family to care for him or her. After birth, you can see your baby, name your baby, and spend time with your baby. If you so choose, you may be able to receive updates on your child's progress or have ongoing visits throughout your child's life while you continue your education or career goals. Finally, and most importantly, you can find peace and joy in the fact that you chose life for your baby.
2. Can I choose a family for my baby?
Yes! Most adoption agencies have adoptive couples who come from a variety of backgrounds, and they have been screened and certified to adopt. There are additional options such as choosing a friend, or someone who has been recommended to you. Your agency will discuss all of these options with you.
3. How much contact can I have with my baby after birth and after adoption?
You may have as much contact with your baby at the hospital as you desire. When planning your child's adoption, you can choose an open adoption plan—one that allows ongoing visits with your child, or you can choose a less open adoption that keeps you informed about your child's progress through letters and photos. Adoptive families respect the need of birthmothers to know that their child is loved and happy. Finally, if you decide you would not like to have any ongoing contact with your child and the adoptive family, confidential adoption plans are also possible or you may choose a semi-open adoption.
4. How soon after birth can my baby be delivered to the family that I choose?
The timing of your child's placement depends on three factors: (1) Your preference for the timing of the placement, (2) legal aspects of the adoption, which may vary from state to state, and (3) the cooperation of the birthfather.
Many birthmothers want their baby placed with the adoptive family directly from the hospital. Some women prefer to place their baby in temporary care while they consider their adoption decision. Your agency can help you pursue either option.
5. How much will my child know about me?
That depends on what type of adoption plan you choose: open, semi-open, or confidential. Your agency will encourage you to provide your complete medical and social history for your child, no matter what type of adoption plan you make, and in some states, that is required. You may choose to share your identity and where you live with the adoptive family. If you've made an open adoption plan, you may have ongoing, direct contact with your child and the adoptive family.
The information your child will know about the birthfather depends on his relationship with you and your counselor. Most birthfathers give their complete medical and social history, recognizing how important it is for the child. In some cases though, the only information available about the birthfather is what the birthmother provides.
6. Does the birthfather have any rights to the child?
Both you and the birthfather have rights to your child. If you disagree about adoption or you no longer have a relationship with him, your agency will work with the birthfather and/or the courts to notify him of his rights.
7. Can my child find me if he or she wants to search for me someday?
The law in your state determines when and how your child may access the information in the adoption file. Your caseworker will explain the current laws as they apply to your particular adoption plan.
8. How can I be sure my child will be well cared for?
Adoptive families approved by your agency must meet standards that are shared with you. Your agency will make every attempt to complete a thorough assessment of potential adoptive families. Prior to finalizing the adoption, a caseworker will make home visits to ensure the child's well-being. In an open adoption, you will be able to see for yourself how well your child is cared for and how much he or she is loved through your ongoing relationship with your child and the adoptive family.
9. Do I need an attorney, or do I pay my adoption agency to assist me with the adoption?
You do not need an attorney and there are no costs charged to you. The adoption agency will handle all the legal details for you and the birthfather.
10. Does the adoption agency offer assistance with medical and living expenses while I am making an adoptive plan?
Assistance with medical and living expenses is available through many adoption agencies. For details about how your agency can help you in your particular circumstances, contact your caseworker.
We hope this information was able to answer at least some of your initial questions and concerns, but we would still love the opportunity to sit down with you and discuss the hope-filled future of you and your child.
We believe whole-heartedly that your pregnancy is not a problem to be solved or an accident to be fixed. It's about life—yours and your baby's.
Everything happens for a reason. We want to see you make the most healthy and positive choices possible, for both of you!
1 This material has been adapted from "10 Questions Most Birthmothers Ask about Adoption," © 2003 Bethany Christian Services.