Resources for expectant parents
The most important thing that expectant parents who are considering
placing their child can do is educate yourself about adoption so that you
can effectively determine if placement is a choice you want to make.
To begin, we will talk about adoption and how it works and then discuss
some helpful resources.
At this point, since you are just beginning to consider adoption, it is
very important to receive some kind of adoption counseling in order to
determine if adoption is a choice you might want to make. The decision to
place a child for adoption is a difficult one. It is an act of great
courage and much love. Remember, adoption is permanent. The adoptive
parents will raise your child and have legal authority for his or her
welfare. You need to think about these consequences as you make your
decision. Try to educate yourself on adoption as much as possible, so you
can understand what it will mean to you and your child.
Pregnancy itself can affect your feelings and emotions. Are you only
thinking about adoption because you have money problems, or because your
living situation is difficult? These problems might be temporary. Have you
called Social Services to see what they can do, or asked friends and
family if they can help? If you have done these things and still want
adoption, you will feel more content with your decision.
Here are some places that can help you with adoption counseling and
provide you with information:
- Crisis Pregnancy Center (or more commonly called "CPC")
Crisis Pregnancy Centers specialize in helping pregnant women who are
experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. They offer free, confidential
counseling and can help you with many things. It might even have a
maternity center attached where you could live until the baby is born.
These Centers are extremely helpful to pregnant women in need and you do
not need to be in "crisis" in order to contact one. They can provide you
with free adoption counseling, maternity clothes, medical referrals,
support groups, crisis intervention, legal advice, and many other
Some Crisis Pregnancy Centers are even licensed adoption agencies. In
this case, they would be able to help you with your pregnancy needs and
help you with all of the adoption proceedings (if you choose adoption).
An example of a Crisis Pregnancy Center that is also a licensed private
adoption agency is the Children's Home Society.
A list of Crisis Pregnancy Centers can be found online or you can
call any of the following toll-free numbers for your nearest center:
- National Life Center pregnancy helpline: 800-848-LOVE
- Carenet Pregnancy helpline: 800-395-HELP
- America's Crisis Pregnancy helpline: 888-467-8466
- Adoption agency - This choice is good if you are already
leaning strongly in the direction of adoption.
We can provide you
with a free list of adoption agencies for up to five states.
- Health Department or Social Services - A food stamps or
welfare worker can tell you which clinic or department is the right one.
Look in your phone book for these numbers.
Terms to know
An organization, usually licensed by the State, that
provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents, and children who
need families. Agencies may be public or private, secular or religious,
for profit or nonprofit.
A legal professional who has experience with filing,
processing, and finalizing adoptions in a court having jurisdiction.
For an adoption attorney referral in your state, you can
look in your phone book under "American Bar Association" or contact:
American Academy of Adoption Attorneys
P.O. Box 33053
Washington, DC 20033-0053
World Wide Web:
Phone Number (202) 832-2222
Anyone who helps with the placement of a child, but
specifically someone who makes it his or her private business to
Individual whose business involves connecting birth
parents and prospective adoptive parents for a fee (only allowed in a few
The point at which a child begins to live with prospective
adoptive parents; the period before the adoption is finalized.
The three major parties in an adoption: birth parents,
adoptive parents, and adopted child. Also called "adoption triangle" or
A child's biological parent.
An adoption that involves total confidentiality and sealed
Consent to adopt (or consent to adoption)
Legal permission given by the birthparent for the adoption
Voluntary termination of parental rights; sometimes
referred to as a surrender or as making an adoption plan for one's child.
Decree of adoption
A legal order that finalizes an adoption.
The final legal step in the adoption process; involves a
court hearing during which the judge orders that the adoptive parents
become the child's legal parents.
A feeling of emotional deprivation or loss. Grief may be
experienced by each member of the adoption triad at some point.
An adoption facilitated by those other than caseworkers
associated with an agency. Facilitators may be attorneys, physicians, or
other intermediaries. In some States independent adoptions are illegal.
A feeling of emotional deprivation that is experienced at
some point in time. For a birth parent the initial loss will usually be
felt at or subsequent to the placement of the child. Adoptive parents who
are infertile feel a loss in their inability to bear a child. An adopted
child may feel a sense of loss at various points in time; the first time
the child realizes he is adopted may invoke a strong sense of loss for his
Residences for pregnant women. The number of homes has
decreased over the past three decades, and existing homes often have a
waiting list of women. The women who live in a maternity home may pay a
small fee or no fee to live in the home and they often apply for public
assistance and Medicaid payments.
An adoption that involves some amount of initial and/or
ongoing contact between birth and adoptive families, ranging from sending
letters through the agency, to exchanging names and/or scheduling visits.
Genetic testing that can determine the identity of the
biological father. Paternity testing can be done with or without access to
the biological mother.
Post-legal adoption services
Services provided subsequent to legal finalization of the
adoption. There are primarily four types of post-legal service providers:
social service agencies, private therapists, mental health clinics and
Generally regarded to be true.
Legal term for the alleged or supposed father of a child.
Putative father registries
Registry system that serves to ensure that a birthfathers'
rights are protected. Some states require that birthfathers register at
these facilities, while other states presume that he does not wish to
pursue paternity rights if he doesn't initiate any legal action. We can
provide you with a list of states that have putative father registries.
Placing a child for adoption:
There are mainly three ways that a child can be placed for adoption: 1)
through an adoption agency (public/State operated agency or a privately
owned agency), 2) independently, by using an attorney or an adoption
facilitator, and 3) direct placement (only some states allow this).
There are also three kinds of adoption: 1) confidential (closed)
adoption, 2) adoption with some degree of openness, and 3) open adoption.
Closed adoption means that the birth parents and the adoptive parents
never know each other. Adoptive parents are given background information
about you and the birth father that they would need to help them take care
of the child, such as medical information. In closed adoption, there is no
ongoing contact between the birthparent and the adoptive family.
"Openness" refers to some degree of contact, whether it be a one time
meeting between the birthparent and adoptive parent or yearly pictures and
letters exchanged. In this kind of adoption, you may be able to choose the
adoptive parents for your baby.
Open adoption, on the other hand, is one in which the "adopted child
has the potential of developing a one-on-one relationship with his or her
birthfamily" throughout their life. Many adoption professionals believe
that this is true open adoption.
Talk to your counselor about the type of adoption that is best for you.
Do you want to help decide who adopts your child? Would you mind if a
single person adopted your child, or a couple of a different race than
you? Would you like to be able to share medical information with your
child's family that may only become known in the future? If you have
strong feelings about these things, work with an agency or attorney who
you feel will listen to what you want.
Know your legal rights
It is important that you find a professional, whether it be an attorney
or an agency professional, that will advocate for you and will keep your
best interests in mind. Every state has different adoption laws and you
should obtain your own copy of them. You can ask the attorney or agency
that you work with for a copy of the laws for the state in which the
adoption will be finalized in or you can access them online via our links
to State legislative Web Sites in our publication
"Resources for State
Adoption Statutes". If the agency or attorney will not provide you
with this information, you have the right to question this. Make sure that
you go over the laws with your adoption worker. State adoption laws change
frequently, so make sure you receive the most current information.
On this Web site, we also provide State law summaries on the following
Think very carefully before signing any paperwork. Make sure you know
what you are signing. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you
understand when you are legally able to sign the "consent forms". In many
states, these are not signed until after the birth of the baby. You will
also want to know how much, if any, time you have to change your mind or
"revoke your decision" once you have signed the consent forms. Keep in
mind that you retain your parental rights until the consent to adoption
papers are signed. Get copies of everything you sign.
Approximately 43 States have statutes that specify the type of birth
parent expenses a prospective adoptive family is allowed to pay. The
actual dollar amount is usually limited by the standard of "reasonable and
customary." Read our law summary on how each state
The type of expenses most commonly allowed under the law are:
- Maternity-related medical and hospital costs
- Temporary living expenses of the mother during pregnancy
- Counseling fees
- Attorney and legal fees; guardian ad litem fees
- Travel costs, meals and lodging when necessary for court appearances
- Foster care for the child, when necessary
Approximately 21 States also specify expenses that the adoptive parent
is not permitted to pay. These include educational expenses, vehicles,
vacations, permanent housing, or any other payment for the monetary gain
of the birth parent. In six other States, the statutes do not specify the
types of expenses that are not allowed, but do include language indicating
that any expense not expressly permitted cannot be paid by the adoptive
In addition to regulating the type of expenses that can be paid, a few
States have set time limits, typically four to eight weeks, on how long
after the birth of the child an adoptive parent is required to continue
payments for the birth mother's living expenses or psychological
Agency Fees and Costs
The fees charged by agencies and the extent to which they are regulated
by State authorities vary from State to State. Regulation is ordinarily
determined by administrative rules, regulations, and standards, not by
statute. Very few States specify a dollar amount for agency fees or
specific services that agencies provide. In most States, the statutes
simply authorize agencies to collect "reasonable and customary" fees for
the adoption services provided.
The services that agencies typically provide include preparation of the
pre-placement and post-placement home studies of the adoptive family; a
social and medical history of the birth family; and birth family
counseling. Sometimes agencies also will receive payment for birth parent
expenses and make appropriate disbursements. In addition, in some States,
agencies are allowed to factor a portion of their administrative costs
into their placement fees.
If you decide to place your child for adoption and would like to find
support from other birthparents:
Adoption Books (for women considering adoption)
- Pregnant? Adoption is an Option by Jeanne Warren
Lindsay. Morning Glory Press. This book discusses adoption and all its
complexities, benefits, and hardships. It also addresses the emotional
part of placing a child for adoption. Contact your local library or
Tapestry Adoption Book Catalog at (800) 765-2367 to find this book.
- May the Circle be Unbroken by Lynn Franklin. Authored
by a birthmother who explores current issues in adoption. Contact your
local library or Tapestry Adoption Book Catalog at (800) 765-2367 to
find this book.
- The Spirit of Open Adoption by James Gritter. Contact
R-Squared press (see above) to order this book.
- The Third Choice: A Woman's Guide to Placing a Child for
Adoption. Foge, L.; Mosconi, G. This book, written for
birthmothers, provides an overview of the adoption process, offers
information and consideration to women first finding out about their
pregnancies, and guides them through their pregnancy, birth,
relinquishment process, and the grief and recovery periods afterward.
Contact Creative Arts Book Co., 833 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 848-4777 FAX: (510) 848-4844 to order this book.
Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.
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