Being pregnant in prison is a difficult situation to be in. However, you are not without rights and options. The actions or incidents that led to your imprisonment cannot rob you of the right to be a mother or make decisions about the future of your child. If you are pregnant in prison, you can temporarily place your baby with a family member or close friend, find a family to adopt him or her, do relative adoption, or allow the state to take custody of your child. Before you make such an important and decisive choice you should have as much information as possible. Your baby’s future happiness depends on it.
Adoption Is Legal No Matter Where You Are Imprisoned
Even if you are pregnant in jail, you still have the right to give your baby up for adoption. Neither prison authorities nor the state has any say in how you go about this process. You have the option of doing private adoption rather than going through a state agency. Private adoption allows you to pick the family you think will provide the best home for your child. Gulf Coast Adoptions can help you find a family, screen prospective families, and opening a dialogue with prospective adoptive parents.
By choosing to place your child with a family through private adoption you can stay in the child’s life. Most adoptive families who go this route are open to the birth mother staying connected to their child as they grow up.
You Can Go Through the Adoption Process While in Jail
If you are pregnant in jail and have found a family to adopt your child, you can still go through the process. You will need to work with your prison classification officer and an attorney who specializes in adoption. If, however, you are pregnant in jail and want to maintain your parental rights, you will want to speak to your criminal attorney as soon as possible about this.
If you have gone from considering adoption while in prison to committing to this course of action, Gulf Coast Adoptions can help create a plan that is right for you. The process will need to be mediated by your prison classification officer. They will work closely with us to create a plan that fits your situation and conforms to your desires. The process of doing an adoption in prison is very similar to those carried out by women who are not incarcerated.
You will first need to find a family and get to know them. Depending on the security protocols in your prison, you may or may not have access to social media or email. Gulf Coast Adoptions can send you adoptive family profiles to choose from. Arrangements can be made so you can have the opportunity to speak to the family you choose.
In most states, it is legal for prospective adoptive families to give money to birth mothers for living expenses and prenatal care. Since you are in prison, many expenses will be paid for by the state. However, it may be possible for you to receive birth-mother benefits that include limited financial assistance to pay for commissary items, phone calls, postage stamps, and extra food. It is important for you to be comfortable during your pregnancy, and the people who will adopt your baby may want to help relieve you of as much strain and stress as possible by providing birth-mother benefits.
You will want to keep in touch with the adoptive parents right up until the adoption and afterward. Your options will be limited. You may be able to exchange letters and speak to them on the phone from time to time. You will need to work through your classification officer to determine the best means of communication with the adoptive parents. Once you have had the baby and signed over your parental rights, the classification officer will ensure that you receive all letters and pictures sent by the adoptive family.
When it is time for you to give birth, you will be taken to a nearby hospital. A prison guard or another security professional will need to monitor you. It may be possible to interact with the adoptive family at the hospital. This is something that can be negotiated by Gulf Coast Adoptions, and the prison classification officer.
48 hours after birth or upon discharge from the hospital, you will need to sign the adoption consent paperwork. Gulf Coast Adoptions will have prepared this document, and they will explain its contents before you sign. You should not sign the papers until you are ready. Giving up your baby is a huge decision. Even if you approve of the family that you have selected, you may want to remain the birth and legal mother of your baby for as long as you can.
After you have been discharged from the hospital, you will be sent back to prison. You will receive all the emotional and psychological support you need to get through the difficulty of the post-placement period.
If your jail or prison sentence is short, you have the option of giving temporary guardianship over your baby to a friend or family member. If you must serve a longer sentence, you can consider relative adoption. This will give permanent parental rights to a member of your family. Knowing that your child will grow up with a loved one can give you peace of mind, especially if you are close to that person. Before you take this step, you must make sure that the relative can provide a supportive environment for your child. You must also ensure that they can supply the child’s material needs.
Even if you are considering adoption, you should not rule out the possibility of keeping your baby and raising it yourself. Some states allow pregnant prisoners to do this. Those with shorter sentences are more likely to have this option. You may be in a prison that provides nurseries and family preparation services for expectant mothers. If you are in such a prison, you will be allowed to care for your child while incarcerated. You will also be able to prepare yourself for motherhood once you have been released. You should speak to your lawyer and classification officer about this option.
Avoiding Foster Care
If you are like most mothers, you do not want your child to be placed in the foster care system. If you don’t have a plan for your child after you give birth, the state will take it into custody for the remainder of your sentence. It is possible to be reunified with your child once you are released. However, there is no guarantee that this will happen. The Department of Social Services will have to determine whether you are fit to be reunified with your child. If you are in circumstances that make it impossible for them to approve reunification, your child can spend years in the foster care system or be adopted by a family you know nothing about. That is why it is so important for you to make a solid plan for your baby while you are pregnant. It is the only way to keep them out of the hands of the state and the foster care system.