Giving up a baby for adoption is the hardest decision most parents ever have to face in their lifetime, even for those who choose to place.
At Abrazo, we don’t call it giving up a baby, of course. We refer to the act of surrendering parental rights as “placing a baby for adoption” or “making an adoption plan for a child.”
Yet the emotions of the experience are the same, whether you put a baby up for adoption, give up a baby or place a child. Most birthparents find that it teaches them just how strong they truly are– and how much it takes to love your child more than you love yourself.
Launching an Adoption Plan
At the beginning of a pregnancy, before there’s even fetal movement, it’s easy to consider the adoption option. The pregnancy is barely even “real” yet. The mother may be thinking of the baby more as a “problem” than as a potential family member.
“When I first found out I was expecting again, I panicked. I wanted to make it go away as soon as possible, so it wouldn’t be real,” says Nikita, who was surprised to learn that most adoption agencies wouldn’t even start services until she was in the second trimester.
At Abrazo, we provide free options counseling at any stage of pregnancy. We can help you with the preliminary paperwork involved in planning an adoption. We get you set up with prenatal care, housing and support. (However, we discourage expectant moms from matching with adoptive couples until they’re at least four months from their due date.) And every mother still has the right to change their mind about placement, until the legal documents are signed (48 hours or more after birth.)
Why Mothers Choose to Place
The majority of moms who choose adoption for their babies are already parenting kids fathered by other partners. It’s because they know what it takes to be a good mom that they know when they’re not ready for another. And being conscientious mothers, they can’t bear to see anything destabilize the lives they’re struggling to provide the children they already have.
During the pregnancy, most prospective birthmoms experience a roller-coaster of emotions about placing, which is normal. “I knew adoption was the right thing,” says Cameo. “There were times, though, like when I would’ve given anything for my situation to be different so I didn’t have to go through with it. But even winning the lottery couldn’t change everything, like the baby’s dad being married to someone else, or me being hooked on brown. And that wasn’t the baby’s fault.”
Many birthparents report that being able to choose their child’s new parents, getting to know them before the birth and participating in the choice of the child’s new name gave them a greater confidence in their decision when the time did come to make it. Spending time with the baby in the hospital, counter-intuitive as that may seem, is also an important step in making an informed decision for your child’s future.
How Giving Up a Baby Feels
“Giving up a baby for adoption feels like giving a part of yourself away,” says Monica, one Abrazo birthmother. (And it is.)
This is why pre-placement counseling (like post-placement counseling) is such an important part of the preparation process. It’s also why Abrazo practices open adoption. Knowing who your child will be with and where doesn’t lessen the pain or grief, but it gives a parent some peace of mind, at least.
For Lisa, what was hardest wasn’t seeing her baby go home with the adoptive parents, whom she loved. The hardest part was dealing with the cruel and insensitive remarks of her family and friends who opposed her decision. “I knew they weren’t going to help raise the baby. I knew I wasn’t ready to be a mom. But I didn’t know they would judge me for doing what I thought was best.” That took a toll on her and her relationships for some time, even after the adoption was completed.
When birthparents sign the adoption paperwork, their baby goes right home with the adoptive family they have chosen. However, that family is under Abrazo’s supervision for 6-18 months, while everyone adjusts to the change. The birthparents continue to be welcome at the agency (and stay in touch with the adopting family). The adoption is finalized in court after the agency ensures that the child’s every need is being met.
Happily Ever After
Birthparents at Abrazo remain welcome in the lives of the child and the adoptive family after the adoption is complete. (Why? Because they’re relatives, after all.) It’s not co-parenting, of course. Yet open adoption is about sharing, one of the first and most essential skills that everyone teaches their child/ren.
Open adoption means the adoptee grows up never remembering a time when they didn’t know their birthparents, and the true story of their beginnings. Their adoptive parents never goes through life fearing the birthparents. And the birthparents can take pride in the adoptee’s growth and accomplishments, just like any other proud parents.
If Abrazo can help you with placing (ie., giving up a baby, toddler or child), please be assured: we’ll do all we can to make your adoption plan a happily-ever-after experience for everyone involved.