How the Adoption Process for Birth Parents Works: When asked to consider adoption many women facing an unplanned pregnancy initially think “I could never give my baby away!” That’s often because in the “old days” many women felt left out of the adoption process, with no control over what would happen to their baby. In today’s modern adoption, you can decide what happens in every step of the process, including your baby’s parents, region of the country where they can grow up, and even their faith life. You choose the future you want for your baby.
Why Do Women Choose Adoption?
- You’re not ready to be a mom
- You can’t count on support from the baby’s father
- Cannot afford another child
- Plans to attend college
- Desire for a two-parent family
- Rape or incest
- Prior involvement with Child Protective Services or use of drugs
The option of adoption can be very rewarding for you, your baby, and an adoptive couple.
It is a great idea to contact an adoption professional and ask questions. You want to know what your specific options are and what to expect throughout the process. Different parts of the process vary among states, so make sure to research your state’s laws.
The basic steps of the adoption process are as follows:
- Choose the type of adoption (closed, semi-open, open)
- Select an agency, attorney, or facilitator
- Review prospective adoptive families (possibly meet and interview them)
- Select an adoptive family, wait for their acceptance, and sign consent/intent for adoption papers
- Deliver your baby and sign termination/relinquishment of parental rights papers (24-48 hours after birth, depends on state)
What is the first step in the adoption process?
You will need to decide whether to place your baby for adoption through a private or public agency. As you examine these options, you will discover there are advantages and disadvantages to each, so take your time and be thorough in your research. You may want to consider Lifetime Adoption which specializes in providing adoption services in the United States; and Bethany Christian Services provides services in the US and internationally.
What should I expect when I go to the adoption agency?
The agency will meet with you to help you sort through your options for adoption and help decide if adoption is a good fit for you. They will discuss your reasons for seeking adoption, ask for a thorough medical history (and will keep up on tests during your pregnancy), and determine your preferences in terms of an adoptive family. They will also discuss how the process would be paid for and what the contracts and/or agreements look like.
How much will an adoption cost me/is it free?
Likely, you will not have to pay for most of your own costs. Often it is the adoptive family or financial assistance from the agency that will pay your medical bills. You need to discuss this specifically with whatever agency or adoption professional you choose. Financial help could include legal fees, living expenses, medical bills, counseling fees, etc.
What if the birth father is against an adoption?
If the birth father does not want to go through with the adoption but the birth mother does, he will have to register with your state’s Putative Father Registry (may have different names in different states) anytime during the pregnancy or 5-30 days (depends on the state) after the birth. He must then file a formal written objection to the adoption and present an alternative parenting plan in court. He will need an attorney for this process, and he is not guaranteed success.
I’m a minor. Will my parents have to sign off on the adoption?
In most states, the answer is no. In those states, your parents cannot prevent the adoption from taking place, though if they desired and you agreed, they could choose to adopt the child. They would, however, have to go through the same process as other prospective parents. Check your state’s laws.
How long does it take to pick or match with an adoptive family?
It depends on the adoptive parent applications available to you and when your chosen family accepts. For a closed adoption or assisted adoption search, it depends on how long it takes for the adoption professional to find a good match for you and your baby.
When is the adoption finalized?
After your parental rights have been terminated and the child is in the adoptive family’s home for approximately six months, the social worker will submit a recommendation for approval. A judge will then finalize the adoption by awarding the adoptive parents all legal rights and responsibilities. This is called the final adoption decree.
When do I sign the relinquishment/termination of parental rights papers?
Though it varies state to state, it can happen no sooner than 48 to 72 hours after birth. Check your state’s laws.
Can I change my mind about the adoption?
Yes, but only until a certain point. You can attempt to withdraw consent before the interlocutory order (around 30-45 days after the child is placed in the home) or before the final adoption decree (around 6 months after the child is placed in the home). However, you would need to provide strong evidence that the best interests of the child have changed. These attempts are almost never successful.
More Adoption Questions
It is common to have more questions than what is addressed above. Contact an adoption professional to ask those questions or to learn more. Again, adoption laws and processes vary among states, so make sure that you understand the laws for your state specifically.
Want to Know More?
- Ohio State Bar Association (ohiobar.org)
- Adoptive Families: The How-to-Adopt and Adoption Parenting Network (adoptivefamilies.com)
- National Adoption Center (adopt.org)
- Lewin, Tamar (19 March 2006). “Registry sets post-adoption trap for Dads”. Star News. North Carolina, USA.
- Guttmacher Institute (guttmacher.org)
- American Adoptions: America’s Adoption Agency (americanadoptions.com)
- Family to Family Adoptions, Inc. (fam2fam.org)