An unexpected pregnancy can bring with it many mixed feelings. You may have feelings of joy and sadness, delight and fear, love and sorrow. If your life circumstances make it impossible for you to raise and support a child, the range of emotions you feel can be highly stressful. Deciding what to do about the pregnancy will also bring strain.
Yours is not an uncommon experience. Nearly half of all women in America have an unplanned pregnancy at some point in their lives. You have three choices:
- You can give birth and raise the child
- You can end the pregnancy
- You can give birth and place your child with another family
The decision is 100% yours. And before you decide, you should think about work, money, relationships, life goals, and personal beliefs. Here are some of the specific questions you should ask yourself:
- What do I want for my future?
- How would my decision affect it?
- Am I ready to go through pregnancy and childbirth?
- Am I ready to raise a child right now?
- Will my family, my friends, and my partner support my decision?
- How important are the views of others to me?
- Can I go through with an abortion?
- Can I give up my child for adoption?
- Who do I want to adopt my baby?
- How can I go about finding someone to adopt my baby?
Different people have different relationships with their family and loved ones. If you are close to your family and have a strong relationship with the father of your child, it is right for you to discuss the above questions with them. And although the final decision about your unplanned pregnancy is yours, there is nothing wrong with considering the views of people you love, respect, and trust.
If you are not in a financial position to raise a child, then you may rule out keeping the baby. If you are likewise unwilling to end the pregnancy, then you will rule out abortion. This leaves adoption.
What is Adoption?
Adoption is the legal process by which a child is separated from their birth mother and made a full, permanent, and legal member of another family. Those who adopt a child become their legal parents with all the same rights and responsibilities.
As an expectant mother, the prospect of carrying a baby for nine months and then forever losing contact with them can be painful to contemplate. It can make you hesitant to go through with an adoption. On the other hand, you may feel that once you have decided to give your baby up for adoption the best thing for everyone concerned is for you to stay out of their life.
These are extreme positions, and you don’t have to take either one of them. Arrangements can be made that work for the birth mother, the child, and the adopting parents.
Things to Consider Before Putting a Child Up for Adoption
It is now possible for birth mothers to control the adoption process. You are no longer forced to leave the fate of your baby to a foster care agency. In a private adoption, you voluntarily place your child up for adoption, and you get to choose the family who will raise them. You can either find the family through word of mouth, through profile searches, or with the help of a private adoption attorney. Some people even opt to have a family member adopt their child.
If you decide to give a baby up for adoption, these are some of the things you will need to consider:
Do You Want an Open, Semi-Open, or Closed Adoption?
In an open or semi-open adoption, you can stay in touch with the adoptive family in the way that best suits you. This includes regular contact with your child. As an expectant mother, you may feel that allowing another family to raise your child is the best thing for them. You may not have the resources or you might be dealing with some other life challenge that would make rearing a child difficult. However, the desire to see your baby grow up, to see them shine and prosper, to have a role in their life is something that you do not want to give up. Choosing an open or semi-open adoption means that you don’t have to.
In a closed adoption, you will not have contact with the child or adoptive family. Choosing this option only means that there will be no arrangement for active and ongoing involvement in the child’s life. It is still possible for you to meet them later—when they have grown up.
Open and Semi-Open Adoptions Are Not Legally Enforceable
It is important to remember that once a child has been adopted, the new parents have full rights as parents. Even if you have made an open or semi-open adoption arrangement with them, they can close the adoption at any time without a valid reason. And you will not be able to contest the decision in court.
This possibility is pointed out to make you aware of the fact that open and semi-open adoptions are informal arrangements, not legally binding contracts. In fact, many families are receptive to such arrangements and are willing to accommodate birth mothers who want to stay in the life of their child. To ensure that everyone is on the same page, it is best to have an open and honest conversation with the adoptive family about your circumstances and what you expect from an open adoption.
If you are looking for an open or semi-open adoption, it is best to select a family who are also looking for this kind of arrangement.
Can You Still Change Your Mind?
Typically no, once you have signed the papers, you decision is final unless there is some undue influence or duress.
Make Sure You Have an Understanding With the Birth Father
The father of your baby has paternity rights. You should make yourself aware of the putative father laws in your state and come to some understanding with the father before you give a baby up for adoption. This matter is easily settled if you are in a relationship with the father and you have both agreed to give the baby up for adoption. If you have no contact with the father, then you should try to find them and get their consent. This is the best way to ensure a smooth adoption process.
The Expenses Covered by the Adoptive Parents
In most private adoptions, the adoptive parents cover the costs of the pregnancy. In some instances, the adoptive parents also cover living expenses like food and rent. You should know exactly what kind of financial support to expect from the parents you have selected to adopt your baby.
Doing What Is Right for Your Child
In the end, you must choose the most loving, caring, and compassionate people you can find for your child. There is no reason to think that even if the couple already has children that your child will be treated unfairly. The evidence is clear and abundant: adoptive parents are fully capable of loving and successfully raising children that are not biologically related to them. Part of loving and supporting a child is giving them the opportunity to forge a relationship with the woman who gave birth to them. You should choose parents who understand this. For it is possible to establish a harmonious relationship between everyone involved in an adoption.