You may be considering giving your baby up for adoption. Here are 6 myths about the adoption process. Let me know if you have any questions!
Adoption Myth #1: You must sign paperwork immediately after the baby is born.
This is not true. Every state has laws about how soon a woman can give her baby up for adoption. The laws are there to protect you from signing immediately after delivery when you’re most vulnerable. Here’s what you need to know:
- Most states won’t let you sign until anywhere from 24 hours after birth to 72 hours or more.
- You can relinquish your baby any time after that time has passed, just not before.
- Do NOT relinquish your baby until you know you are ready. Don’t let anyone pressure you to sign as quickly as possible. Many women want to sign as soon as the law will allow them, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
Adoption Myth #2: You can’t take your baby home from the hospital.
You are your baby’s parent until you relinquish. This means you have the right to take your baby home if you want to even if you’ve made an adoption plan. Some states require that the baby must be discharged to you, though you aren’t required to take the baby home.
There’s just one exception:
- If the hospital has contacted child protective services or you have an open CPS case, then the hospital may not discharge the baby to you.
- CPS typically gets involved if you or your baby has tested positive for drugs.
Adoption Myth #3: You don’t have the right to an attorney.
You absolutely should work with an attorney on your adoption as soon as possible! Every state has adoption laws that say a birth mother is entitled to an attorney if she wants one. Here’s what you need to know:
- Once you’ve chosen potential adoptive parents for your baby, you should find an attorney right away.
- The adoptive parents cover the cost for your attorney.
- An attorney will make sure you understand your rights and the baby’s father’s rights.
- Your attorney owes you the highest obligation to act in your best interests and to maintain confidentiality.
- Your attorney can help you with an agreement for future contact with the adoptive parents.
- Most important, an attorney will help you get your baby back if you change your mind about the adoption within the time frame allowed.
Adoption Myth #4: I can’t put my baby up for adoption if I’ve used drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.
There are adoptive parents out there who have no problem at all adopting a baby that has been exposed to drugs or alcohol. Most adoptive parents are well educated on alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. They understand the risks involved and are comfortable parenting a child that has this exposure. Here’s what you need to know:
- Get prenatal care right away.
- Tell the potential adoptive parents about any drug or alcohol use. If you lie to them it will impact their trust in you.
- Remember that most adoptive parents are open to drugs and alcohol as long as you are honest.
- More information about the prenatal environment means better care for you baby in the future.
Adoption Myth #5: Adoptive parents will say anything just so I will give them my baby.
I’m sure this happens, but given my experience, I don’t believe it’s the norm. Adoptive parents may unintentionally make promises they cannot keep. They might make promises with the best intentions to keep them but then discover later that what they’ve committed to is unrealistic. Here’s what you need to do:
- Get to know the adoptive parents well so that you can build trust with them.
- Ask them why they’ve chosen open adoption and what they know about it.
- Be honest with them about your medical and social history and about the birth father. If you want them to be honest with you, you have to be honest with them.
- Make clear your expectations and make sure you put these in writing.
- Talk with an experienced counselor or mediator to make sure everyone’s expectations are realistic and that everyone is on the same page before you relinquish your child. The adoptive parents will pay for this professional help.
Adoption Myth #6: I am a bad mother for giving my baby up for adoption.
It breaks my heart to hear women ask this question. That said, as a birth mother, I can say for certain that I asked myself the same thing. I was sure that I would be judged by my family, my community, and any future family I might have. Over the years, I have come to realize that giving up my son was something only the most loving mother could do. It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I could only do it for someone I loved as much as I love him. I wasn’t ready or able to give my son the best, so I chose something better for him: his adoptive parents. I know in my heart that I’m not a bad mother for making this sacrifice. Read my story here.