Chapter 1


Common Considerations

Expectant parents and birthparents considering adoption are faced with making important, life-changing decisions. These decisions can be overwhelming and create feelings of uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety. While such feelings are natural they can also make it difficult to concentrate, think clearly, and make well-informed choices with a level of confidence. In this chapter, we offer several strategies to help expectant parents and birth parents gain clarity and confidence about their choices.

Once confirming you are pregnant, considering all your options and choices can be overwhelming. Your current situation, and future goals may play a role in your decision making process. The following are a few considerations you might want to think about before making a decision.

Common Considerations include:

  • How will I support my child if I choose to parent?
  • Will the father want to be involved in the decision, do I want him to be?
  • What are my future goals, college, work, travel and how would a child fit into that?
  • How would I care for my child if I choose to parent? What type of support would I have?
  • Am I ready to go through pregnancy and childbirth?
  • How will I feel after my child is adopted? How will I cope with these feelings?
  • Will my family/friends/father of my child support my decision to choose adoption? How do I tell them?
  • What kind of contact/relationship, if any, do I want with my child after the adoption?
  • How do I choose an Adoption Agency?
  • When do I choose an Adoption Agency?
  • How do I know who to trust?

The Adoption Process Diagram

Get a printable diagram of the adoption process (Credit: Adoptionnetwork.com)

Colleen: Choices between open and closed adoptions

Now that you have started the process of considering your options and answered some important questions, it might be time to write down your thoughts. We want you to learn and understand all you can about your adoption choice, so you feel comfortable and informed throughout the process.

Here are some ideas of how to consider adoption as your choice:

  • Fast Forward Method. Imagine yourself choosing an option and think about what your life would be like 1, 3, 5, and 10 years into the future if you make that decision. Then choose a different option and think about what your life would be like 1, 3, 5, and 10 years into the future if you make that decision. Which one feels more right to you?
  • Ideal Vision: think about your ideal vision for you, your baby, and your life. Which option would help you get to your ideal vision?
  • Pros and Cons: sometimes it helps to put things on paper. Divide a sheet of paper in half. On one side, write PARENTING. On the other side, write ADOPTION. For each option, write down all the pros and cons you can think of for each option. Be completely honest with yourself about the positives and the negatives about parenting or adoption.

Here is one example of the pros and cons of placing your baby for adoption. Your list may look different:

Pros of Choosing Adoption

  • You have control over the entire adoption plan.
  • You can choose the adoptive parents (or not!)
  • You can meet the adoptive family (or not!)
  • You have control over future contact with the adoptive family.
  • You will know that your child is loved and supported.
  • You continue with your life plan, school, work, or travel.

Cons of Choosing Adoption

  • Adoption will come with feelings of grief and loss. This is inevitable.
  • You may, at times, regret your adoption choice, especially if your life changes, you get a better job, or have more support.
  • It’s possible that not everyone in your life will support your decision to pursue adoption.
Considering Adoption While Pregnant: Laura’s Story

Alyssa – How did you decide to make an adoption plan?

Get Answers to Common Questions

Having good information and having answers to your questions is one way to gain confidence in your choice. We’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions expectant parents have about adoption.

All of these questions and more can be answered by our caring adoption counselor. Your counselor will be able to help you plan the adoption that is best for you, your family and your child and support you along the way.

Will you be able to find a family for my baby?
Yes, we have many prescreened and caring families to choose from. Your counselor can also help with choosing a family, but you decide which family is best for you and your child. If your child has a medical concern, we will match you with a family who is fully prepared to adopt a child with a medical need.

What are the qualifications to adopt a baby?

Before a family is found eligible to adopt a child, they must go through a lengthy preparation process which takes months to complete. The family must complete adoption parent training courses and meet with an adoption professional several times to discuss their views on adoption and parenting, their background, extended family and much more. Some important qualifications are a desire to be a parent, good financial security, in good health and have a safe and loving home. The family completes criminal, FBI and child abuse clearances, and provide a lot of documents to show that they are qualified to adopt a child.

Can I still place my baby if I’ve had an issue with substance use?

Yes. Some women come to us who have substance use concerns and other difficult situations, such as mental health or legal concerns. It is important to be honest about your substance use history or current use with your adoption counselor. We have waiting families who are trained and prepared to adopt a baby whose birth mother used substances during a pregnancy or in the past. No one’s life is perfect, and our families understand that.

What if I don’t want to select my baby’s adoptive family?

That’s okay. We can choose the family for you if you prefer. If you have preferences you can tell us what type of family you want and we can choose the family that most fits what you are looking for.

Can I name my baby, even if I make an adoption plan?

Yes, you will have a birth certificate with the name that you chose, which you fill out in the hospital. That name may or may not change if you decide on an adoption plan, but the name you choose will always be a part of your baby’s history.

Will it cost me anything to make an adoption plan?

No, you will not have to pay for for any services related to the adoption. You will receive adoption counseling and legal representation, if needed, at no cost to you.

Do I need the birth father’s permission to place the baby for adoption?

The rules about birth fathers are different from state to state, however it is best if he supports you and your decision. In all states a birth father’s rights will be terminated by a court or he can sign papers himself. If he is unknown, unavailable, or unwilling, each state has a way to deal with that.

Can I see, hold or take photos of my baby in the hospital?

Absolutely. You can see, hold, take photos, and/or take care of your baby in the hospital. You can pick out special clothes, a toy, or a blanket for your baby, if you wish. You will make all of the hospital decisions before you deliver the baby including the amount of time you want to spend with the baby. That decision might change and that is okay too. You may also want the adoptive family at the hospital or even be present for the birth. It’s all up to you.

If I am under 18, do I need my parents’ permission to place my baby for adoption?

Different states have different rules for those under 18 who are making an adoption plan. We would be glad to discuss your situation and provide you with information that is most relevant for you.

Where does the baby go once it is time to be discharged from the hospital?

Usually, the baby goes home with the adoptive family right from the hospital.

What if I change my mind?

Different states have different rules about this. In some states, you can sign an adoption consent right away but have time (up to 30 days in some states) to change your mind. In other states, you have to wait a few days before signing the papers, but once they are signed, you can’t change your mind. In some places, you can change your mind but a judge may decide what happens. We’d be happy to talk with you about your state, your situation, and your options.

Can I see my baby after he or she is adopted?

Yes, you may decide on an open adoption and have contact with the adoptive family, which may include a yearly visit, photos, letters and gifts. It is your choice.

Is it okay if I don’t want contact with my baby after the adoption?

Yes, you can decide what is best for you and your child. Not everybody chooses to have contact.

How will I know if adoption is best for me?

Your adoption counselor can help you decide if adoption is the best option for you and your child. We want you to feel comfortable and confident about your decision. We are committed to helping you every step of the way.

What if my baby is already born, can you still help me?

Yes, we can help during your pregnancy or after you’ve given birth.

Who will know about the adoption?

Besides you and possibly the birthfather, you decide who else needs to knoww about the adoption. Your information is kept confidential.

If you have other questions, we can answer them for you.

Talk to Counselors and Others/ Taking Care of Yourself

When you’re considering adoption, you may feel anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, and many other emotions. Be sure to take care of yourself and get proper health care for your child and yourself. Counseling during pregnancy with a neutral, caring and trained counselor can help you cope with your emotions and empower you to make the best decisions for yourself and for the child.

Grief and loss are common reactions for birth parents who make an adoption plan. Some birth parents also experience feelings of guilt and anger. Feelings of grief and regret may occur many years after the adoption is finalized. It’s important to be aware of these feelings and know that they are normal feelings, however, you may seek counseling in your community or a support group to help you cope with these feelings. Counseling can help birth parents process emotions, deal with comments and opinions of others, and prepare her/him to transition back to life after placement.

Lindsey, a birth mother who worked with American Adoptions, felt this connection with her social worker.

She was there for me when I didn’t have anybody, and she always knew just what to say,” she remembers. “I did have a lot of concerns and fears, and she knew how to talk me through them. She’s someone that’s even now, three months after I’ve had my baby probably going to check in on me from time to time. She was just amazing, and I’m so glad that she’s in my life.
I could have never have made it through this adoption process without you. I have met a lot of social workers in my life but never felt as comfortable as I did with you. You gave me so much confidence and supported me and made me feel like I was going to have your blessing however I chose. My daughter is happy and loved and safe and I couldn’t dream of this adoption going any smoother.


Support Group Information for Expectant Parents/ Birth Parents

Attending or logging onto a support group session with others in a similar situation can help you feel more confident in your choices and decisions. A birth mother support group is a great way to process emotions, share stories, and more. Placing your child for adoption can bring on a whirlwind of emotions. A birth mother support group is a welcoming place where you’ll find validation for every emotion you feel along the adoption journey. You’re never alone in this process — there are plenty of women who have been where you are and felt what you’ve felt. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and discuss how the adoption journey has been for you.

  • Some topics that are spoken about often in support groups include, but are definitely not limited to:
  • Asking questions that may be weighing on your mind
  • Exploring the pros and cons of adoption placement
  • Wondering if what you are feeling is “normal” (trust me, it probably is)
  • Sharing your joy over receiving photos or enjoying visits with your birth child
  • Sharing frustration when things don’t go as you had planned
  • Speaking freely when you are having a difficult day
  • Asking for encouragement when your situation looks bleak
  • Asking for tips or sharing your experiences with reunion
  • Talking about how the adoption has affected your family
  • Dealing with the general public’s view of birth mothers and adoption (and discussing how exactly to answer the dreaded question, “How many kids do you have?”)
  • Sharing poems and songs that make you smile or help you grieve
  • Before joining a group, it can be helpful to consider what type of support you are hoping to receive.
  • Do you prefer a local group with face-to-face meetings? If so, how frequently do you want to meet with them⁠—weekly, monthly, yearly?
  • Would you prefer an online or social media group where you can check-in when you’d like?
  • Are you looking for a group of women who have placed through similar situations like yours⁠— through the Department of Children’s Services/foster care, through your specific agency, in your age range, etc.?
  • Do you prefer a group that has experienced mostly closed or mostly open adoptions?
  • Are you looking for a group of women who are very happy with the way their adoption journey is going or are you looking for a group of women who are struggling with difficult placements?
  • What you may find is that many groups contain a wide variety of individuals in a wide variety of situations⁠—and they all get along and support each other beautifully!

Here are a few support options:

Recommended Books and Videos

Placing a baby for adoption is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. No matter where you are in the adoption process, you may benefit from reading books about adoption that teach birthparents about the process, help them through the emotional roller coaster of placing a baby for adoption and learn about other birthparents’ experiences.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best books about adoption for birth moms. Find out which book you should read next!

Check Out These Helpful Books About Adoption for Birth Moms!

The Third Choice: A Woman’s Guide to Placing a Child for Adoption

At the top of our list of books about adoption is The Third Choice: A Woman’s Guide to Placing a Child for Adoption by Leslie Foge and Gail Mosconi. The Third Choice is a comprehensive guidebook that answers common questions birthmothers have about adoption, including what the exact process is for placing a baby for adoption. This book provides comfort and support to birth moms everywhere!

Pregnant? Adoption is an Option: Adoption from the Birthparent’s Perspective

Pregnant? Adoption is an Option: Adoption from the Birthparent’s Perspective by Jeanne Warren Lindsay is a close look into the option of adoption. Lindsay takes a realistic look at adoption’s effects on the birth parents and the child alike. She shows the importance of learning as much as you can about the adoption process and creating a clear action plan. Through the perspective of a fellow birthmother, you learn more about adoption and whether it’s right for you.

Saying Goodbye to a Baby: The Birthparent’s Guide to Loss and Grief in Adoption

Saying Goodbye to a Baby: The Birthparent’s Guide to Loss and Grief in Adoption by Patricia Roles deals with the birthparent’s grief. It’s common for birthparents to feel grief after placing her baby for adoption. This book walks through the adoption decision and living with the decision. In addition, the book covers the relationship with the adoptive parents, feelings of guilt and anger, and when to get counseling. Overall, no matter where you are in the adoption process, this book will help you work through feelings of loss and grief.

Adoption Wisdom: A Guide to the Issues and Feelings of Adoption

Adoption Wisdom: A Guide to the Issues and Feelings of Adoption by Dr. Marlou Russell looks at the perspective and insight of adoptive parents, birth parents, and the adopted children. All in all, this book about adoption helps people learn about the lifelong impact of adoption for everyone involved. As a birth mom, it may be helpful to read about how your baby and his/her adoptive parents will be affected too. That way, you feel comfortable making the decision to adopt.

Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby

Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby by Kathleen Silber and Phylis Speedlin is a complete adoption guide. The guide includes actual letters between adoptive parents and birth parents and between birthparents and children. The Child Welfare League of America encourages all birth parents to read this book.

Other recommended books

Confessions of a Lost Mother

Barton, Elisa. Elisa Barton 2006. Twenty years after she placed her baby for adoption, a birth mother answers the question “What was it like, giving up a child?”

Birth Fathers and Their Adoption Experiences

Clapton, Gary. Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2002. Thirty birth fathers recall their experiences and the impact it had on their lives.

Because I Loved You: A Birthmother’s View of Open Adoption

Dischler, Patricia. Goblin Fern Press 2006. The regret and pain a birth mother faced after placing her son for adoption and how she replaced it with love and understanding.

How to Open an Adoption: A Guide for Parents and Birthparents of Minors

Dorner, Patricia. R-Squared Press 1997. How to get the most out of your open adoption.

Following the Tambourine Man: A Birthmother’s Memoir Ellerby, Janet.

Syracuse University Press 2007. One woman’s story on how she went from a protected and privileged childhood to an unplanned pregnancy and adoption.

The Girl Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade

Fessler, Ann. Penguin Press 2006. Women who were forced to give up their babies for adoption from the 1950s through the early ’70s talk about the choices they had to make and the aftereffects.

I Choose This Day: Mournings and Miracles of Adoption

Fieker, Sharon and Smith, Lori. Tate Publishing & Enterprises 2006. A birth mother looks back on why she placed her baby daughter for adoption and how she and the circumstances behind her placement changed over the years.

The Third Choice: A Woman’s Guide to Placing a Child for Adoption

Forge, Leslie and Mosconi, Gail. Third Choice Books, 2004. A guide for prospective birthparents dealing with the complex issues involved in placing a baby ranging from what to expect during your pregnancy to how to deal with your emotions afterwards.

To Keera with Love: Abortion, Adoption, or Keeping the Baby, the Story of One Teen’s Choice

Heckert, Connie. Sheed & Ward, 1989. The journey of one teen as she goes from a happy and protected home environment to becoming a mother too soon and the decisions she made along the way for herself and her child.

Reunion: A Year in Letters Between a Birthmother and the Daughter She Couldn’t Keep

Hern, Katie. Seal Press 1999. Letters trace the post-reunion relationship between a birth mother and the daughter she placed for adoption 26 years earlier.

Soul Connection: Memoir of a Birthmother’s Healing Journey

Hughes, Ann. Otto Bay Books 1999. A birthmother reunites with her son through the help of astrology.

Birthmothers: Women Who Have Relinquished Babies for Adoption Tell Their Stories

Jones, Merry. iUniverse.com, 2000. Birth mothers recount their reasons and the emotions behind their decision to place their babies for adoption.

Blended Hearts, Broken Promises: An Open Adoption Gone Wrong

Kats, Linda. MileStones 2005. A birth family explains how they were duped and betrayed after agreeing to place their baby for adoption.

Motherhood Silenced: The Experiences of Natural Mothers on Adoption Reunion

Kelly, Ruth. Liffey Press 2006.Through their own accounts, this book examines the impact of adoption and reunion on a group of birth mothers.

Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter

Lifton, Betty Jean. Other Press 2006. Life as an adoptee when talking about adoption and one’s birth parents was considered taboo.

Healing the Hole in a Heart: One Birthmother’s Journey into the Adoption Triangle

Mac Isaac, Nancy. Mac Isaac Enterprises 1998. A guide to getting the most out of your reunion and building relationships with all members of the triad.

Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey

McElmurray, Karen. University of Georgia Press 2006. In a work of creative non-fiction, a birth mother explains how she survived being coerced into placing her child for adoption and the reunion that followed.

Shadow Mothers: Stories of Adoption and Reunion

McKay, Linda. North Star Press of St. Cloud, 1998. A birth mother tells her story and the story of nine other birth mothers who placed their babies for adoption, and the ups and downs that followed.

Returned with Love: I Gave My Baby Away A Story of the Pain and Joy of Adoption

Page, Kathryn. Winepress, 2005. The story of one birthparent who turned her life around with the help of religion after placing her baby for adoption..

Cooperative Adoption: A Handbook

Rillera, Mary Jo and Kaplan, Sharon. Triadoption Library, Inc. 1985. A handbook for birth parents and adopting parents on how to build healthy relationships in open adoption.

Adoption and Loss: The Hidden Grief

Robinson, Evelyn. Clova Publications, 2005. How one woman who placed her son for adoption in the ‘70s dealt with her grief and the obstacles she had to overcome en route to her search and reunion.

Saying Goodbye to a Baby: Volume 1The Birthparent’s Guide to Loss and Grief in Adoption

Roles, Patricia. Child Welfare League of America 1989. Strategies on how to deal with the post-placement loss and separation of your child.

The Other Mother: A Woman’s Love for the Child She Gave Up for Adoption

Schaefer, Carol. Soho Press, 1992. A first personal account by a birth mother on her decision not to parent her child and what others can learn from it.

Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby

Silber, Kathleen and Speedlin, Phylis. Corona Publishing,1991. A guide to open adoption that includes letters by adoptive parents and birthparents, and between the birth parents and their children.

Adoption Healing… A Path to Recovery for Mothers Who Lost Children to Adoption

Soll, Joseph. Gateway Press, 2003. The emotional, psychological and physical fallout suffered by women who were forced to give up their babies for adoption and how to deal with the loss and pain.


Chapter 2


Open Adoptions

Just as no two people are alike, no two adoptions are alike. Open adoption can look differently for each person and can range from pictures and updates to yearly visits to having a private social media account. Ongoing contact may also include direct emails, phone calls and texts. In an Open Adoption you can choose the adopting family for your baby, meet and get to know the family and have ongoing contact before and after your baby is born and placed with the adopting family. This is your choice.

Benefits of Open Adoptions

Open adoptions benefit a birth parent, an adoptive parent and the child in many ways. It provides the birth parent a sense of safety, security and peace of mind knowing you made the right decision. This choice may assist you in the grieving process. Many emotions may be brought to the surface before, during and after birth and an open adoption will give you an opportunity to see your child thrive with his/her adoptive family. It allows for the door to be open to you when you are ready rather than closing it at the start.

Other benefits of an open adoption are related to the child. Openness can help to create a stronger sense of self identity for the adopted child. It provides the child the opportunity to have a connection to their birth family and can provide a larger family support network for the future.The sense of safety and pride from understanding that they were not abandoned but given the best life possible is really powerful. The self-confidence and security that comes from living in a loving home and still getting to connect with their culture and birth mother can be a great gift.

For adoptive parents, an open adoption helps them to know you better and be able to ask questions about your history. It also allows them to know that you are adjusting to the adoption. Adoptive parents care and are concerned about the birth parents of their child.

Challenges of Open Adoptions

This type of adoption can also come with some unexpected challenges or difficulties. One of the first challenges that might arise is not having a sense of closure. Unlike a closed adoption, this chapter of your life doesn’t end with placing your child with the adoptive family it brings about a new beginning and a new relationship that a birth parent might want to consider as they decide what type of adoption plan to make.

Some birth parents might experience a sense of conflicting values as they watch their child being parented by the adoptive family. Unrealistic expectations for the child and their future may create a sense of unease as the years progress. Birth parents might also struggle with boundary issues. It may be very difficult to stay at a distance once the child is living with his/her adoptive family. Talking through some of these cons is an important step in deciding what type of adoption relationship you are most comfortable with.

How to Make an Open Adoption work for everyone

It is important in an Open Adoption to communicate clearly about the expectations and boundaries for both the birth parents and the adoptive parents. It is also important to remember that these may change over time. Keeping an open dialog between both families is crucial to the relationship. Having an open adoption requires everyone to listen and be heard when they have questions or concerns.

It is important to remember openness can look different for each person.

I had to navigate this new relationship and find a comfortable place. What an awkward place to figure out! How would I fit in to this family and how would this family fit in to mine? I had never met anyone who was part of an open adoption. I did not know the possibilities, or how to even approach the relationship. I knew that I wanted to be a part of my child’s life, but how would I do that without stepping on toes? What could I have a say in now that I had relinquished my parental right?

Semi-Open Adoption

A Semi-Open Adoption is one in which there is contact during the pregnancy, usually involving meetings, phone calls, and/or texts. After placement, adoptive parents (and birth parents, if they wish) send letters and photo updates, so birth parents are aware of how their child is doing as they grow.

Semi-open adoption may be a good choice for birthparents who do not want the complete separation a closed adoption would bring but are also not prepared for a fully open adoption. As with an open adoption, birthparents also have the satisfaction of choosing the adoptive family, but this can sometimes make it difficult for birthparents to change their minds about adoption if they know the adoptive parents are already emotionally and financially invested in their child.

Semi-open adoption pros:

  • The ability for the birth parents to choose and get to know an adoptive family to ensure their child is joining the right situation
  • A sense of privacy is maintained even though both parties continue to have some level of contact post-adoption through a third party
  • Post-adoption grief and stress is helped by allowing for a certain level of continued contact and updates provided to the birth parents
  • Reduced fear and guilt by allowing for mediated contact between birth parents and adoptive families

Semi-open adoption cons:

  • Despite having some contact with the adoptive family, a semi-open adoption means there will be a disconnect or potential loss of a relationship with the child
  • Inconsistent contact can create a bigger void in the ability to maintain a connection in the child’s growth and development
  • Limited information on the life of the child can make a birth parent feel increasingly distant

Closed Adoptions

In a Closed Adoption you can ask us to choose a family for your baby or you can choose the family. All communication is through the agency. The family will send yearly pictures and updates to the agency that you can ask for anytime. No identifying information is shared.

Benefits of a Closed Adoption

Closed adoptions offer the birth parents closure that is not possible or expected with an open adoption. Limited or no identifying information is shared between adoptive parents and birth parents in a closed adoption so there is no exchange of information or relationship between them. Birth parents are able to to keep the birth and adoption of their child more private in a closed adoption. Placing a child for adoption can be a very emotional time no matter how the child was conceived, and, no doubt, it is hard to watch another family raise the child to whom you gave birth; however, a closed adoption can allow a definite break so that the birth mother can move on from that part of her lifethis may aide in the healing process.

Choosing a closed adoption may be the choice of some birth parents in order to reduce the stress and anxiety an open adoption might create. For some birth parents, maintaining a closed adoption with no contact or communication with the adoptive family can alleviate some of the challenging emotions that come with watching your child from a distance.

Birth parents who come from an abusive environment may choose a closed adoption to protect the safety of their baby. When toxic relationships are involved, closed adoptions can protect the best interest of all parties involved.

Closed adoption ultimately comes down to how a birth mother sees her life after the adoption. Is the adoptive family included in it? Does she have a relationship with her child? If so, how much, or how little?

Challenges of a Closed Adoption

One of the challenges to a closed adoption could be the lack of shared information. Not having even basic updates on your child from the adoptive family may be difficult. Many birth mothers in closed adoptions report dissatisfaction, as they are left always wondering whether their child is doing OK and what their life turned out to be like. Know that if you choose to have a closed adoption, the adoptive parents can still provide information about you and your history and answer any questions that you child may have. Closed adoptions might also make it difficult to obtain important medical information about the birth parents should the adoptive family and child need it later in life. It may also be difficult for your child to locate or connect with you in his/her adulthood.

One of the biggest challenges of choosing a closed adoption after the birth of your child is you can’t change your mind about seeing your child again. If you are worried or just curious about how your child is doing, you won’t be able to get information or photos.

While closed adoption might seem an easier choice at the time of delivery, it isn’t necessarily easier when moving on with your life. The mystery of where your child is and how are they doing could be a lifelong state of wonder for you.

Stephanie’s Journey

Adoption Agencies

You’ve made the decision to place your child up for adoption and now you need to make a choice about how to proceed with your adoption plan. You have options to consider and there isn’t any right or wrong choice, but getting answers to your questions and feeling supported are the most important factors to consider.

What to consider when choosing an agency:

Do an internet search of licensed agencies in your area

  • Work with an agency that has adoption counselors in your area can be important.
  • Find a place that is supportive of expectant parents, not only adoptive families.
  • You should have choices in adoptive families and types of adoptions.
  • What kind of support does the agency offer: emotional, financial, housing, medical care?
  • Are they helpful, kind and available to answer your questions?
  • PRIVATE AGENCIES will help you through your pregnancy with living expenses, medical needs and social/ emotional support. Your team will facilitate the legal process and long term plan for open vs closed adoption. Trained adoption counselors are should be available to you 24/7 during your pregnancy and postpartum. Specialists will help you choose the adoptive family you want for your child, all with confidentiality, respect and understanding.

There are different types of PRIVATE ADOPTION AGENCIES to consider:

  • Local Adoption Agencies: These are licensed organizations that provide adoption services to clients in a specific area, typically within the boundaries of an individual state. 
  • National Adoption Agencies: National adoption agencies are licensed in multiple states and work across the country. They can serve adoptive families and prospective birth parents in any state. 

To Diane, my Lifetime Adoption Coordinator,
It has been almost a year since the little bundle of joy that I’m proud to call my birth son has been born. I looked through tons of profiles while I was pregnant trying to find the family who could raise my baby. One couple always stood out because the woman reminded me of my mother. I ended up talking to a few couples that didn’t work out and as my due date came closer, I was worried if I could find the right couple. About a week before I had the baby, I started talking to these wonderful people. They came to the hospital the morning after I had my baby and I knew that they were the right ones. They keep me posted and send me lots of pictures. I’m truly grateful to have found them. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, next to actually giving birth. He will always be my birth son. These people and their families have taken in this child and given him the love, care and support a child needs to grow. I cannot express enough how truly grateful I am. I never gave up my child; I’ve gained a second family.

—Forever grateful, Birthmother in Nevada

Types of Adoption Overview for Expecting Parents Considering Adoption

Family Member Adoption/ Kinship Adoption

Adoption of relatives is common and may be less complicated than other adoptions, but still often requires the help of an adoption agency. Relative adoption involves the adoption of a child by an immediate relative – grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle. If the child lives with the family for a year, then the process is called a kinship adoption. Kinship care is also a common type of adoption, more common with teenage birth parents. Often, it starts out as a temporary arrangement and becomes permanent if the relative chooses to adopt the child.

Why Choose Family Member/ Kinship Adoption?

You know them. This family is part of your family and you may know what kind of parents they will be to your child. You know they have your best interest in mind and will likely take your emotions and wishes into consideration.

You will have an open adoption This can be a positive, but be prepared for the adopting family member to keep your identity unknown from the child if they choose.

Temporary guardianship. Adoption is permanent, but you can place your child in a temporary guardianship until you’re ready to parent. You may want to finish school, find a better job, move into a safer home or save money before you take on the full responsibility of parenting. Just know that if you choose adoption, you can’t return to this option. And if you choose a temporary guardianship you have time to be sure of and prepared for parenthood.

What might be a challenge of family/ kinship adoption?

Constant reminders. If you choose a family member to adopt your child, it may be harder to let go. You’ll be in your child’s life, but for some birthmothers this isn’t enough. Adoption is hard no matter what. Make the choice that will be best for you, regardless of what others think.

Disagreements in parenting. No matter who you choose as the adoptive parents, they will have full rights and responsibilities to make decisions for your child. You will not always be a part of that process. There will be times when you don’t agree with the adoptive parents’ choices, but you must trust them to do what’s right.

Mixed emotions from all family members. Keeping your child in the family may cause mixed emotions for other members of the family. They may disagree with your decision or be hurt that they weren’t chosen as the parents. It can be hard to make the right call with everyone’s opinion in your ear.

When considering family member/ kinship adoption remember to:

  1. Be aware of communication and the need for open dialogue between the birth parent and family member adopting the child. Will you be heard and will your questions be answered?
  2. What will happen if there is conflict/ disagreements between family members? Will there be distance or the possibility for compromise?
  3. How do family members handle money? Is this something that will come naturally or will there be struggles? Making a plan from the start and having written expectations is critical.

Learn More about Kinship Adoption

Robert Finds His Forever Family through Kinship Adoption

State Adoptions/ Child Protective Services/ Department of Children and Families

At times, birth parents are unable to care for their child due to various circumstances such as mental health, drug use, and legal concerns to name a few. When birth parents are experiencing these types of problems, it is possible that Child Protective Services/ DCF will step in at the time of birth or possibly even prior to birth. In some cases, a child’s birth parents will not have agreed to give up their legal parental rights. Child Protective Services or DCF may place a child with a stable and loving pre-adoptive family while they seek a termination of rights in court.

At this time birth parents will have representation from an attorney to help navigate the process and to advocate for their rights.

Additional Resources:

Attorney Adoptions/ Independent Adoptions

If you are considering making an adoption plan for your child, it is important for you to understand your rights and responsibilities as you begin the adoption process. Adoption laws vary from state to state, so all birth parents should speak with an experienced adoption attorney or licensed agency in order to understand how the adoption process works.

Adoption agencies should provide an option for birth parents to meet with and have representation from an attorney and State Child Protective Services/ DCF must offer this to birth parents as well. 

Birth mothers are able to choose to work with a private attorney directly when making an adoption plan. Choosing the right attorney for you might be challenging but looking into the particular state regulations and recommendations for adoption attorneys is a good way to start. You want to choose a reputable and ethical attorney.

After choosing a reputable attorney in your state, the next step would be to consult with your lawyer who will answer your questions and guide you through the adoption process including the plan for contact with the adoptive parents before and after the adoption.

Note: The reasonable fees for your own lawyer will be paid for by the adoptive parents or adoption agency.

Some questions you may:

  • Birth parent rights after the adoption
  • Consent laws
  • Relinquishment time frame
  • Birth father rights/ termination of those rights

Birth Mother Rights With an Adoption Attorney

Birthmother Tips

Chapter 3

Understand how the adoption process works for birthmothers and fathers

All birthparents have both state and federal legal rights. These laws vary from state to state but all protect the rights of the birthparents prior to, during and after the adoption process. Birthparents should become familiar with their rights and seek legal advice if they so desire. Adoption agencies often assist birth parents with this step or at the very least provide a list of legal resources at the beginning of the relationship.

Differences between states are limited but do exist. Each state has their own consent laws, revocation period, regulations regarding financial assistance for birth parents and requirements for emotional support services provided to the expecanat parents prior to and after the birth.



Birth parents may consent to the adoption at any time. A consent is deemed irrevocable 10 days after baby’s birth or signing, whichever is later. If the 10th day falls on a weekend or legal holiday, the period extends to the next business day. If a revocation occurs before that time, return of child is automatic. There is a putative father registry.

Prospective adoptive parents may advertise within the state. Out of state adoptive parents may finalize within the state.


A birth mother may relinquish her child after her discharge from the hospital or she may sign at anytime after the child’s discharge if the birth mother’s competency is verified.

A consent may be signed placing a child for adoption 48 hours after birth. The consent is considered irrevocable after finalization of the adoption, which typically occurs within 30 days of filing the consent. Return of the child would be automatic if a revocation was received before then. There is no putative father registry in the state.

Prospective adoptive parents may advertise within the state. Out of state adoptive parents may not finalize within the state.


In this state, a birth mother may sign her consent within 48 hours after birth, or after release from the hospital, whichever is earlier. The birth father may sign any time after birth. Within a newborn placement, the consent is irrevocable upon signing, unless fraud or duress is proven. With a consent taken for a child ages 6 months or older, the consent is deemed irrevocable 3 days after signing or when the child is placed in an adoptive home, whichever is later, unless fraud or duress is proven. A statement of non-paternity can be revoked only if fraud or duress is shown. There is a putative father registry within the state.

Reasonable living expenses (including rent, utilities, phone, food, transportation, clothes, insurance), medical and attorney fees, and adoption-related expenses deemed necessary are permitted up to 6 weeks postpartum.

Prospective adoptive parents may not advertise in the state. Out of state adoptive parents may finalize the adoption within the state.


Birth parents may sign the consent 4 days after birth. It becomes irrevocable at that time. There is no automatic return of a child. There is a putative father registry within the state. Despite this fact, the court will require a notice to the father regardless if he registers or not.

Prospective adoptive parents may not advertise in the state. Out of state adoptive parents may finalize the adoption within the state, if child is a state resident and probate court permits it.


Birth parents may consent 72 hours after birth. If it is a New Jersey agency adoption, the surrender is irrevocable after signing before a Judge or upon taking the surrender. Within a private adoption, the surrender is irrevocable when a Judge terminates birth parents’ rights, usually 2-4 months after birth. Return of child is not automatic should a revocation occur. There is no putative father registry within the state.

Prospective adoptive parents may advertise in the state. Out of state adoptive parents may finalize the adoption within the state if a New Jersey agency was utilized or if the child was less than 3 months old at time of placement (in which case papers must be filed in the county where the baby was born.)


Consent may be signed by birth parents at any time after birth. A man denying paternity may make an irrevocable denial before the birth of the child. The surrender becomes irrevocable 30 days after signing the surrender if taken by an Authorized NYS adoption agency and transfer of child to adoptive parents was made. Within a private adoption the surrender is deemed irrevocable 45 days after signing and transfer of child to adoptive parents occurred. Revocation of the surrender triggers a “best interests” hearing if the adoptive parents or agency choose to contest the revocation. There is a putative father registry within the state.

Allowable birth parent expenses may include medical, legal, counseling, living (housing, maternity clothes, and transportation) and may be paid to the birth parents from two months pre-birth to one month post-partum, unless court finds extraordinary circumstances to extend this period.


A birth mother may not consent to an adoption until 72 hours after birth while a birth father my consent at any time after he learns of her pregnancy. A birth mother’s consent is typically irrevocable within 30 days after signing. The revocation period may extend to 60 days if they can prove fraud or duress. Return of a child is not automatic, but difficult for adoptive families to challenge. There is a putative father registry within the state.

Prospective adoptive parents may advertise in the state. Out of state adoptive parents may finalize the adoption within the state.


With a Rhode Island agency adoption, a surrender may be taken 15 days after birth. If it is a private adoption, termination of parental rights may not occur until approximately 6 months. The consent is irrevocable 180 days after decree is entered, unless mitigating circumstances are filed. In practice, the return of the child would be automatic. There is no putative father registry within the state. There is no law within the state regarding birth parent expenses.

Prospective adoptive parents may not advertise in the state. Out of state adoptive parents may finalize the adoption within the state.


It is required to have a termination of parental rights hearing. Within a private adoption relinquishment is revocable for 10 days, or irrevocable for up to 60 days after signing. If properly revoked during appropriate time, return of child is likely. With a Texas agency adoption, relinquishment is irrevocable. There is a putative father registry within the state.

Prospective adoptive parents may not advertise in the state. Out of state adoptive parents may finalize the adoption within the state.

Adoption Agency Process

  1. Contact an adoption agency. …
  2. Start an adoption plan. …
  3. Choose the type of adoption you wish to have. …
  4. Select an adoptive family for your baby. …
  5. Prepare for child birth. …
  6. Have a post-adoption plan.

Family Member/Kinship Adoption Process

  • You’ll petition the court to adopt your family member. 
  • You may have to complete any required home studies and submit any necessary documentation to verify that you’re prepared to parent this child.
  • The child will be placed in your care, and you may undergo a post-placement supervision period.

Private Adoption Process

  • Find reputable and ethical adoption attorney and make an adoption plan
  • Initial contact with attorney and possibly adoptive parents if wanted
  • Decide on type of adoption/ open, closed
  • Establish financial assistance to be given during pregnancy
  • Make a hospital plan including contact with adoptive parents, contact with baby, etc.
  • Sign consent, and termination of parental rights

Chapter 4

Steps to getting medical care

If you have medical insurance

If you have medical insurance, contact your insurance company to find out what services they will cover for your pregnancy and delivery, and what portion of those costs they will pay. If you would rather have your attorney or adoption social worker call your insurance company in order to obtain this information, you can provide your insurance company with the name of the person you are authorizing to call on your behalf, so that they can speak with him or her. If you will be using your private insurance for your prenatal care and you need to find an Ob/Gyn, your insurance company can provide you with a list of Ob/Gyn doctors in your area that will accept your insurance. If you have any questions regarding your health care coverage for your pregnancy, your adoption social worker or attorney can assist you with obtaining the information you need from your insurance company.

If you don’t have medical insurance

If you don’t have medical insurance, you can apply for Medicaid, as it provides free or low-cost medical benefits to eligible pregnant women. You need to call Medicaid as part of the application process. If you would like one of our staff members to be on the call with you, we are happy to do that. We will assist you in filling out paperwork so you can get medical insurance.

Visit the Medicaid website for more information.

Chapter 5

How to ease financial and housing stress

Easing Financial Stress During Pregnancy

If you are worried about what you will live on and how you will pay your bills during your pregnancy, please know that there are many ways that we can help. First of all, we never “pay” anyone to “give up” their child for adoption, and our services are completely free for you. You have enough to worry about without thinking about having to pay medical bills, legal costs, counseling fees, or anything else associated with your pregnancy and adoption. Very often we are able to help pay for food, clothing, a phone, transportation, and other monthly expenses—in addition to help with rent and housing. We will help you apply for food stamps, WIC, and other government assistance if you need and want that. We will help you find a doctor and make sure that your medical bills are paid.

Each state has its own rules about how much financial support a pregnant woman is allowed to receive, how long she is able to receive it, and what type of costs can be covered. For example, some states don’t allow any type of financial support to be given, while others may allow it for the whole pregnancy. Still, others will allow it just for part of a pregnancy, such as the last three months. There are differences in how long after placement financial support can continue. There may also be rules about what expenses can be paid. In most states, food, clothing, and transportation to and from doctors’ appointments are allowed. However, many states do not allow financial support to be used for car repairs, childcare costs for children already in the home, or subscription streaming services

Does all of this sound confusing? Probably! Fortunately, our staff is very knowledgeable about financial support services, and what is allowed and what is not. We will help you sort all this out.  We don’t want you to have to worry about paying your bills while also trying to stay well, take care of yourself, and make important life decisions that will affect you and your baby.

Our agency will work with the adoptive family, once they have been identified, so they can ease some of your financial burdens in accordance with state guidelines and agency regulations.

Easing Housing Stress During Pregnancy

Some women have concerns about their housing situation. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • They may be in a stable, supportive housing environment but because of increased expenses while they are pregnant, they may have trouble affording their current housing situation.
  • They may be in an unstable, unsupportive housing environment, either due to conflicts over the pregnancy or because of other issues and need a place to stay either temporarily or permanently.
  • They may not have housing at all and are dealing with homelessness in addition to an unplanned pregnancy.

In many cases, housing assistance may be available to you during your pregnancy and for a few weeks after placement. The specific rules vary from state to state.

If someone is in a stable environment but needs help paying for their rent and utilities, we are often able to help with that. If someone is in an unstable environment and needs a different place to stay, the agency can help with that, also. This may include such things as extended stay hotels, motels, renting a room, or renting an apartment or trailer. We might also be able to help with expenses if someone has a friend or relative they can share an apartment with.  If someone is both homeless and pregnant, we may need to look for something to address an immediate need for a place to stay, such as a safe house, a few nights in a motel, a program that serves pregnant women, shelter, etc. while we search for housing that will continue through the pregnancy and beyond.

When a pregnant woman selects an adoptive family, that family will provide funds to cover these costs. How much help we are able to give will vary from situation to situation and will depend upon each individual’s circumstances, as well as each state’s rules and regulations.

Our goal is to help people plan for what will help when they can no longer receive housing support. We do not want to provide temporary support and then leave a person hanging when that support is no longer available.

We do not “pay” anyone for a baby, and no one receives money for placing their child in an adoptive home. At the same time, pregnant women who are thinking about adoption may have a real need for help with housing. If that is the case, we want to offer our support and assistance. If it removes one source of stress and makes things a little easier during a difficult time, we are more than happy to help.

Chapter 6

How to choose a family

When expected parents are choosing an adoptive family for their child, they have many factors to consider. Adoptive family profiles contain a lot of information about their lives, family values, beliefs and cultural identity, extended family members, and lifestyle. Expectant parents have the opportunity to review these profiles and think about their own feelings and reactions. Sometimes it is the heart that guides us in decisions of such great importance.

Some areas to consider might be:

  • A gut feeling that it is the right family
  • Desire for openness or not
  • Rural vs city living
  • Values, morals, and beliefs that are similar to your own or that you hope for your child
  • Personal preferences: religion, pets in the home or not, other children in the home, holiday traditions as well as many others.