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Updated February 11, 2011

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and conflicted about what to do. On one level, you may realize that you are not ready to be a mother, and you can logically explain all the reasons why you feel this way. On the other hand, you may start to feel guilty or confused about your feelings. You may find yourself thinking, "Am I being selfish?" Or you may start trying to justify to yourself that this may not be such a bad thing and that you can make it work.

It is important that you have reliable information when considering all your options. One option available to you is adoption.

What is Adoption?:

Adoption brings a child, who was born to other parents, into a new family. Since adoption is the legal act of permanently placing a baby with parents who will raise the child as their own, it is important to realize the baby will become a legal member of the adoptive family once an adoption is finalized. That family will have complete control over all decisions pertaining to the baby.

Even if you know that you are making the right choice, deciding whether or not to place a child for adoption is not an easy decision.

Why Women Choose Adoption:

There are many reasons why an expectant mother may choose adoption for her child. The most common reason is that they want a better life for the child -- one that they realize that they cannot provide. Many people view adoption as an act of great courage and much love as you are allowing the opportunity for your baby to have a fulfilling life. Other reasons that a birth mother may choose adoption include not being in a position to raise a child, having a child would interfere with her future plans and goals, gender preference, or societal stigma towards single parenthood.

Adoption Options:

When trying to make this decision, it is important that you receive accurate information from reliable resources. Make sure you are prepared, informed, aware of your rights, and in control. Learn about pre-birth contracts, and know that even if an adoptive family pays your pregnancy expenses, the adoption is not binding until the final paperwork is done.

Realize that the choice to place your child can be made after you give birth; you can try parenting first before you decide on adoption. The more prepared you are, the easier this process will be.

You should also be prepared to feel loss, and you may grieve this loss for the rest of your life. Be honest with your feelings and allow yourself to feel the loss and grieve it. It may help you feel more in control knowing that a birth parent has the ability to choose how involved she wishes to be in the adoption process. She can select an adoptive family or be completely uninvolved.

Open Adoptions:

An open adoption is when there's an agreement between the adoptive family and birth family that specifies that the two families will keep in touch. In open adoptions, birth parents can choose if they would like to meet the adoptive parents before they decide to place their baby with the family. Even once the adoption is finalized, the relationship between birth family and adoptive family may remain close; the birth parents can contact the child through visits, phone calls, letters, pictures and/or e-mails.

The level of contact and communication is decided upon before the adoption takes place. Please note that in many jurisdictions, open adoption contact agreements are not enforceable, so that may be one thing you may wish to consider. Open adoption also allows for an adopted person to have access to his/her file and/or original records at a specified time.

Semi-Open Adoptions:

In a semi-open adoption, the birth parents may meet the adoptive parents one or several times, but no more in-person contact occurs once they have chosen this family. An adoption agency or attorney may be able to facilitate the exchange of letters and pictures throughout the years (or the adoptive family may allow for this directly). As the years progress, the relationship with the adoptive family may evolve to be more open or closed, or it may remain the same.

Closed Adoptions:

In a closed adoption, non-identifying information is exchanged between the birth parents and the potential adoptive families. This information may include medical history; it can also include profiles of the adoptive families. These profiles may contain information about the families' ages, marital status, personalities, physical descriptions, religion, occupations, educational levels, feelings about birth parents, family make-up/other children in the home, etc.

Once a "closed" adoption is legalized, no further information or contact occurs between the two parties. The adoption records remain confidential and sealed.

Adoption Resources:

Choosing adoption is a big decision. If you are thinking about placing your baby for adoption, here are some reliable and accurate resources to further help you in your decision-making process.

  • Checklist: Choosing Adoption
    If you are leaning towards adoption, you can use this checklist to further determine how you are feeling. Read the questions and ask yourself if the following would apply.

  • Finding Support Online with Other Birth Parents
    Expectant mothers who are considering adoption for their unborn children need to have a support system during this stressful time. Many have found help online support to be extremely beneficial.

  • Book: The Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy
    This book empowers pregnant women by emphasizing the importance of knowledge during a pregnancy. This pregnancy guide provides information about how to seek the best prenatal care. Topics range from healthcare issues to pregnancy statistics and there is a helpful section on teen pregnancy. This is a comprehensive book that yields valuable information for pregnant women to consider.

  • Before You Choose Adoption for Your Baby
    There is a lot to consider when thinking about adoption for unplanned pregnancies. Find a listing of resources helpful to expectant mothers looking to place their babies for adoption.

  • Next Steps for Expectant Mothers
    If you have decided that adoption is right for your baby, what do you need to think about next? What is the expectant mother and soon-to-be birth mother's next steps toward a baby adoption?

  • What to Look for in an Adoption Agency
    Many adoption agencies are out there. If you are not comfortable with one or don't feel that the agency has you or your child's best interest at heart, leave and try another.

  • Top 10 Placing/Birth Parent Blogs
    A list of top birth parent blogs.

  • Consent to Adoption
    What is a consent to adoption? Who can give consent?

  • Adoption Laws & Legal Resources
    Learn more about legal information, going to court, legal terms used in adoption law, and legislation (adoption law and other legal resources).

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