Making the decision to create an adoption plan for your child is monumental. You have determined that you are not ready to parent your unexpected baby and have chosen to provide him or her with the gift of life. You are also, in turn, selecting an eligible individual or couple to parent your child in the way that you envision, while providing the potential adoptive parent(s) an opportunity to parent when they may otherwise not have the chance. There is a lot going on in an adoptive situation and many people of whom it effects. This pregnancy, and the choice of adoption, begins with you. It is important that you know your rights as a birth parent when making a decision to create an adoption plan.
As a birth parent you have the right to:
- Learn about your options and receive counseling
- Choose agencies
- Gain accurate information about the adoption process
- Have all your questions answered
- Know what rights you are giving up through the adoption process
- Change your mind
- Make a decision without feeling pressures or obligated to someone else
- Select an adoptive family
- Receive financial help with reasonable expenses for pregnancy-related needs
- Retain at attorney
The Right to Learn About Your Options and Receive Counseling
When experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, you have many options from which to select. You must first decide if you are ready, willing, and able to parent your child or not. Professional counseling is highly recommended at this time and prior to making any decisions. If you determine that parenting is not an option for you now, you have other options available: adoption or abortion. The choice of adoption gives your child a chance at life. If you choose life, you may consider placing your child with an extended family member or with a family that you believe will offer your child the life that you envision for him or her. You may select a family on your own or go through an agency that has available families to select from that are thoroughly screened, trained, and ready for adoption. Even if you select a family on your own, you have the option to create an adoption plan with that family through an agency, or just meet the legal obligations by finalizing independently with an adoption attorney. When going through an adoption agency, you are provided counseling, professional support, and guidance in creating a mutually agreed-upon adoption plan, and are eligible for financial support during your pregnancy and post-partum period. If you are receiving counseling through an adoption agency and feel that they are not providing impartial support, you have the right to receive counseling from a professional who is independent from that agency.
Another option that you have in adoption is an open or closed arrangement. Most adoptions are now open, which means that the birth parents may select and meet the adoptive parents of their choice. Together, the birth parents and adoptive parents agree upon a certain amount of contact they will maintain during the pregnancy, labor and delivery, post-placement, and even post-adoption. Usually, post-adoption contact consists of a semi-annual letter and picture sharing, but sometimes includes telephone and in-person contact. It is important to note, however, that contact cannot be enforced by law following the adoption finalization. Children of All Nations does its best to educate birth parents and adoptive parents about the benefits of open adoption, and works to foster a healthy relationship between the birth and adoptive parents so that continued contact will be maintained as agreed upon in the adoption plan. The choice for a closed adoption is no longer common, but this is your right to determine as a birth parent.
The Right to Choose Agencies
If you decide to pursuer an adoption plan through an adoption agency, it is important to do your research. Not all agencies are created equally. Every agency operates a little differently from one another and offers different services to birth parents. Some agencies are religion-based and others may have specific focus on the type of children they place or potential adoptive families they will accept. Be sure you research the agencies available to you and select one that you are confident in working with.
The Right to Gain Accurate Information About the Adoption Process
It is certainly important that birth parents know what to expect when entering into an adoption plan. There is ample information available on the Internet, and Children of All Nations does its best to provide as much accurate information as possible about the adoption process of this agency on our website. Our adoption counselors are well-informed and are available to answers any questions you may have over the phone, in-person, or by email. Do not hesitate to ask us!
The Right to Have All Your Questions Answered
When it comes to adoption, there are many topics that are uncomfortable and scary. Regardless, as a birth parent considering voluntarily placing their child for adoption, it is essential you ask any and all questions you may have, and that you receive honest answers. The birth parents’ choice for adoption must be well-informed and based on accurate information in order for the adoption to be successful. An agency that hides the truth or is not readily forthcoming with information about adoption and birth parent rights is most likely not an agency you will want to entrust with your adoption.
The Right to Know What Rights You are Giving up through the Adoption Process
When a birth parent places their child for adoption, they are choosing to surrender their legal parental rights and transfer them to another set of parents or an individual. The term ‘parental rights’ is commonly used in the adoption world, but what does it really mean? Click here for a list of what a parent’s legal rights are, and what it is a birth parent is relinquishing in an adoption.
The Right to Change Your Mind
Placing your child for adoption is a voluntary decision made by you. When working with an adoption agency for counseling or adoptive family matching, you are not making any legal commitment to adoption. With Children of All Nations’ domestic adoption program, counselors work to provide you with the information and counseling necessary to make a well thought out decision prior to matching with an adoptive family. When you are ready to proceed with creating an adoption plan and searching for a potential adoptive family, you are moving forward with the honest intent of placing your child for adoption. You still have the right to change your mind up until the time you sign the Affidavit of Relinquishment, which cannot legally occur any sober than 48 hours after the child’s birth.
The Right to Make a Decision without Feeling Pressured or Obligated to Someone Else
This is your pregnancy and your life. The decisions you make at this time are personal to you and will have a profound and lifelong effect on you and your child. No one can tell you what is best for you. You may be feeling overwhelmed now and would love for someone else to take the decision-making burden off of you, but you are the person that must continue through life with consequences of that choice. This is your decision! Speaking with people who know you best may help give you insight on this situation and evaluate your available support. Be sure to be realistic about those who offer you their assistance however, and be sure they are people who have proven their dedication to you already (parents, siblings, close family friends, etc), and will continue to be a part of your life long-term. It is not uncommon for friends, a boyfriend, or other people you are acquainted with to offer their support to you now (and usually with good intentions), but then end up moving on with their life at some point, pursuing their own goals and interests. Then you are left living your life with the consequences of the decisions you make while considering others’ promises. Also, many people feel pressure from family, a boyfriend, uninvolved father, etc. to make certain decisions based on their beliefs and judgments, but again, this is your life and you live with the consequences.
The Right to Select an Adoptive Family
You have decided to make an adoption plan because you have determined adoption is in the best interest of you and your child at this time. So who better to select an adoptive family for your child than you? You have the opportunity to identify a family who can raise your child in a way that you envision. You also have the right to meet in-person or over-the-phone with a family, and review their home study assessment before making any final decision about matching with that family. It is important that you are confident in the couple or individual you have selected to adopt and parent this child you are entrusting them with. After all, you have chosen an adoption plan so that your child will have a chance at life and with a family that will be able to help them reach their full potential!
The Right to Financial Help with Reasonable Expenses for Pregnancy-related Needs
In the state ofTexas, a birth mother is able to receive financial assistance from prospective adoptive parents for pregnancy-related expenses (that cannot be covered through another source) when going through an adoption agency. Some pregnancy-related needs may include healthy food, medical/prenatal care, safe housing, transportation, private legal representation, and private counseling.
The Right to Retain an Attorney
Children of All Nations has a contracted adoption attorney who represents the agency and performs the legal matters necessary for the adoption to take place (including generation of the legal documents and court presence necessary for relinquishments, termination of parental rights, and the adoption proceeding). You have a right to hire your own attorney.
Central Adoption Registry Information
If you’re a birth parent who has already completed an adoption, most states have a voluntary Central Adoption Registry where adult adoptees, birth parents, and siblings can register their name or search for family members who are also registered. Adoption registries allow biological family, separated through closed adoptions, to locate one another without having to go through the court system or spend excessive amounts of time and effort trying to find each other through other sources. You may register in the state in which your child was born and/or where your child was adopted.
In Texas, there are many registries; however, the primary one is through Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics. To receive an application, visit their website, www.DSHS.state.tx.us/vs or call toll free at 1-888-963-7111 (ext. 7388).