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Resources for dealing with an unplanned pregnancy

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Whether you are pregnant and considering adoption, terminating the pregnancy, single parenting, placing a child in the care of a relative or extended family member, or foster care placement, here is a list of things to think about, from adoption expert Sharon Kaplan-Roszia:

1) In what way is this situation a problem for me?

2) What do I already know about the option I am considering?

(for example, adoption) What more do I need to know about it?

3) Do I know anyone who's been involved in adoption before? What words come to mind when I think of adoption?

4) How will those close to me feel if I place my child for adoption? Can I handle those reactions? How do my religious beliefs affect this decision?

5) Will I be able to tell others about my adoption? What does my culture have to say about adoption? Is that important to me?

6) Will I be able to forgive myself, and for what? What will I feel responsible for?

7) Will I be able to forgive my baby's other parent if I make this decision, and for what?

8) If I could have this situation turn out in an ideal way, what would that look like? What would keep this from happening? Can those things be changed?

9) What other kinds of losses have I suffered? How have I resolved them? How will this affect me?

10) What kind of ongoing contact am I thinking about? How much and how often?

11) What will placing this child for adoption do to my other relationships?

12) What will I tell my other children about this decision? Do I plan on being honest with them in the future? How would not being honest with them possibly affect our relationship?

13) Can I tolerate the idea of someone else raising my child? How do I feel about my child growing up away from me?

14) What does it mean to me to be a good parent? What does it mean to have a good parent?

15) Who will support me emotionally and financially if I choose adoption?

16) What can I bring to this experience from my prior losses in life?

Are there other questions you could add to this list, that may help prepare you for whatever plan you decide is best?

Abrazo's compassionate counselors are available around the clock to assist loving birthparents explore these and other concerns. If you are considering placing a child for adoption and need someone to talk to, call us day or night, at 1-800-454-5683 in TX (or call collect from out of state, M-F: 210/342-LOVE.) You talk, we'll listen... you decide, we'll respect your choice... because you & your baby both matter at Abrazo.

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Here's a really excellent resource: Heather Lowe's What You Should Know If You're Considering Adoption for Your Baby, a downloadable brochure for prospective birthparents, written by a birthmom who's painfully honest about the things she wishes she had known... before she made her adoption decision. (And here at Abrazo, we wish we'd known how to make this available to clients before now, because this is important and balanced information for every prospective birthparent to have.) Check it out!

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I loved this (this thing by Heather Lowe) - I stumbled on it earlier this year and posted about it here in January 2002 under Birthparents, Considering Adoption, Know Your Rights and I so wish something like this would have been available to me when I was making my adoption plan.  I'm so glad to see that Abrazo endorses this -

For any prospective birthparents out there - I also recommend you check it out - it's great that you can just download it without ever even talking to someone.  Knowledge is power!!!

-Lisa  :)

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Hi,

I remember when I first began to suspect that I was pregnant (very unexpected and unplanned) and the main thing I remember feeling was so very alone, confused - not knowing who to go to, who to confide in (if anyone), who to trust...

I just stumbled on a website called Lifemothers Lifemothers that has all sorts of information for birthparents and potential birthparents - there's a spot for "Expectant Mothers" and those considering adoption - that looks like it's at least a place to start to try to figure all this out....

Lifemothers - For expectant parents and those considering adoption for their baby

If anyone else has any other resources or helpful information for someone who may have found this site - please feel free to post it as well.

And just know that you are not alone - and whatever you decide, is okay....it's a huge decision to make and unless someone is faced with this situation, they couldn't possibly know what it's like.  Everyone has to decide what works for them....my best advice for you would just be to gather as much information as possible on your options and try to go from there....listen to your own inner voice.

-Lisa :)

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Guest sschervinskis

I absolutely love this website. I would encourage all birthmothers to visit this website!!!

Skye is so real and candid about her feelings as a birthmother (although she does not consider herself a birthmother but rather a Lifemother). There have be times when my days have been extremely long and stressful and I am all birth mothered out and I just don’t want the role or the tile and all the stereotypes that goes with it. At the very same time I just want someone to understand and I want to talk about it but also stay true to who I am…not just smile and say, “everything is fine.” I just love Sky’s website because it’s a place where I feel like I’m not alone. When I read her writings I’m nodding my head thinking…yeah, that’s exactly how I feel. Skye is not afraid to be heard and she’s not afraid she may offend anyone…she just tells it like it is…I love and admire that!

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Guest sschervinskis

Oops…I just realized that this topic was intended for women who are considering adoption! I just show Lifemothers website and got excited!

After reading my post I realized that I had some misspellings…oops…it was along night for me…I have a huge paper due today. The whole semester revolved around this ONE paper!!! I’m finally done…Hallelujah!!!!

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sschervinskis,

I think it's great that you posted here and I agree with Lisa about the Lifemothers site. As a potential adoptive parent, I would much rather know a birthparent had considered all her options first before placing her child for adoption - it's a big sacrifice even as it's an act of uncompromising love for the child. You deserve a great deal of respect! You cannot even know how much you are appreciated by childless couples like those who adopt through Abrazo.

Linda

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Sasha - you crack me up!  Promise me you'll never stop posting!!!  And you just post wherever you please - thanks for the thumbs up on the site - I didn't have much time to browse it yesterday (I just found it yesterday) but from what I saw - it just looks AMAZING (is this the only one out there like that?  I know there are quite a few forums out there for birthmothers and potential birthmothers but I don't like them because I found that too many potential adoptive parents were on them seeming like they were just ready and waiting to pounce on them to try to get them to place their baby with them - and it turned more into an advertising forum rather than a helpful thing for birthmothers (and expectant parents...I've gotta get in the habit of saying expectant parents rather than birthparents because apparently, that's the PC way of putting it) to go to (which is something also really cool about Abrazo's website....I've never seen a single e-mail from an adoptive parent on here trying to persuade someone to place with them....).  Anyway - glad to hear that it's a good site (the Lifemothers site).  If you know of any others - please post them!!

Lisa

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Hi Kim,

I just wanted to bring this topic back so you'd see this website I posted about awhile ago - if you haven't already checked it out - I would encourage you to do so. It could help you with some of the questions and concerns you have. Whatever you can do to empower you when you make your decision.....do so.

-Lisa

http://lifemothers.com/expecting.html

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Well, Lance (my husband) is out of town this week & I have a little trouble sleeping (obviously...it's nearly 1am here in the Pacific NW)....thank goodness he comes home tomorrow (well, that's actually today - in fact, he's at the airport now).

Anyway, I tend to do a little internet surfing when I can't sleep...and of course, it always ends up being something related to adoption (often looking at sites that give me some sort of hope that someday I will be able to find my daughter that I placed for adoption - she's 15 1/2 now - wow! The girl who babysate Kayleigh today is 15 - maybe that's one thing that got me on this thing today about my birthdaughter....kept comparing what her babysitter was doing and how she acted and wondered if there were any similarities between them.

Also watched a program tonight on MTV called - True Life - I'm Adopted - it had 2 girls on there who searched for their birthmothers, one girl was 18 - no luck in her finding her birthmother. The other was 28 and it resulted in a happy reunion and she met her 2 half-brothers as well. It also had a birthmother on there who they followed and showed the heart-wrenching relinquishment - it was very hard for me to watch - I kept thinking of the day I relinquished and how horrible I felt and then it made me think of my Kayleigh's precious birthmother and what it must have been like for her - I think I actually felt worse thinking of her and how it must have affected her than when I thought of my own day.

Anyway - speaking of my adoption experience - it was closed or as I've also seen it called, confidential. Not a good thing. They don't do adoptions like that too much anymore (thank goodness and thank the adoption reform movement - hip hip hooray for those brave birthmothers & adoptees who stood up for their rights). So - I found this site through a link I found awhile ago (I found the link awhile ago...I just found this new site tonight) - it's Open Adoption.org I haven't spent a huge amount of time on it so I'm not sure how credible it is and who the guy is that maintains the site. I did run across something though that I thought may be helpful for someone who is considering adoption.

There are 2 things I don't regret when it comes to my placement of my daughter for adoption - one is that I did place her for adoption (because I believe that she was able to experience a better life than I could have given her at the time I gave birth to her) and the other is that I placed her through an agency (albeit an agency I'm not happy with...nonetheless, I placed through an agency). I don't want to knock private adoptions...I just think agency adoptions are better...especially for a birthmother. The other bit of advice I'd give someone considering adoption is to please work with an agency that only handle fully open adoptions - even if you don't want an open adoption...even if you don't think you'll want any future contact - it's better to have that available to you and it's something you can't really go back and change once you've placed your child for adoption.

Anyway, on this site - this guy who I believe maintains this site (Bill Betzen) has this checklist called "The Adoption Agency Checklist if Considering Placement" I'll put the link here that will take you to it but I'll also list it here in case the link ever changes Adoption Agency Checklist if Considering Adoption

Adoption Agency Selection Checklist

If Considering Placement

By Bill Betzen - bbetzen@openadoption.org - 3/19/96 draft

Print out one copy of this form for each agency you want to consider. It is written with the placement of an infant in mind, but the same issues apply to the placement of any child. These issues are drawn from a document called Recommendations for Parents Considering Placement of a Child. That document will help you better understand the issues in the 24 items on this checklist. Score each of the following 24 items in the left margin with a number from -10 to +10, with +10 being the most positive. All "no" answers receive 0 points unless otherwise noted.

Name of the agency: _____________________________________________________

Before you call the agency answer the following:

Is the agency within 50 miles, or one of the five agencies closest to your home? (Yes = +5)

Are there other good agencies closer? (Subtract 2 from 10 for each good agency that is closer.)

Do you have a friend who knows this agency is a good open adoption agency? (Yes = +10)

Is the agency church affiliated, a United Way agency, or an agency with over a 30 year history in your area? (Yes = +5) [beware as some of these agencies are still not open adoption agencies.]

Do they have the largest Yellow Page ad in the book? (Yes = -10, No = +3)

Does that ad make it clear that they are a fully open adoption agency? (Yes = +5)

If the average of the above six scores is +2 or higher, then call the agency. Tell them you are considering placement of an infant and want to know the types of services they offer. If they freely share the following information, without your having to ask about it over the phone, then double their points on any score that is positive:

Do they offer guidance in parenting? (Yes = +5)

Do they offer encouragement and support for parenting? (Yes = +10)

Before they will tell you of the adoption services they will offer do they first ask the race of the child you are expecting? (Yes = -10, No = +5) [To ask if the child is American Indian is a valid question. If he/she is eligible for membership in a recognized tribe, that affects the legal process and may prohibit a relinquishment through an agency. However, a good agency will still serve you and will not ignore the Indian Child Welfare Act in the U.S., and similar laws in Canada.]

Do they volunteer that they only do fully open adoption and that all their families expect such fully open, ongoing relationship, adoptions? (Yes = +10)

Do they accurately define open adoption as fully identified (full names, addresses, and phone numbers shared) and having a commitment for ongoing contact over the years? (Yes = +10)

Do they say they have families waiting for a closed adoption? (Yes = -10)

Do they have families waiting for semi-open adoptions? (Yes = -5)

Do they strongly recommend/require counseling before you begin looking at families? (Yes = +5)

Do they recommend that the families you consider live near enough for a comfortable visit?

(No = -5, No recommendation = 0, Yes = +10)

Are most of the families they would have for you over 300 miles away? (Yes = -10)

Do they freely offer to cover your living expenses without requiring that you remain active in the counseling process? (Yes = -10) [such offers may even be illegal in your area. If they still offer to cover those expenses, report them to authorities.]

Ask them if they would have families for you to consider if you were expecting an African American child. Do they say they either have families or that they will find families?

(Yes = +10, No = -10)

Before the matching process begins is there a warning that the formation of a friendship with a family you select will make it much harder for you to parent after giving birth? (Yes = +10)

Before birth it is very good to practice with the selected family what you and they will do should you decide to parent. Requiring such discussion is a sign of a good, honest agency. Does the agency called require such practice and discussion before a child is born? (Yes = +10, No = -10)

Ask them if they have resumes for families currently awaiting adoption. Do these resumes all have full name, address, and local phone number (i.e., not 800#) for the family? (Yes = +10)

In the matching process will the agency give you a selection of family resumes (maybe 5) they have chosen for you to consider, or do you get to look at every family they have who would be available for your child? (They select group of families = 0. You can see every available family = +10)

Once you are with the agency, does your counselor constantly want to go over the parenting alternative again to the point you are tired of hearing about it? (Yes = +10)

Once you decide for adoption does the counselor NEVER mention parenting again?

(Yes = -10)

Please remember to double the positive scores for each item above that they answered in the positive over the phone without your needing to ask about it.

The total of all the 24 scores above (remember to subtract any negatives) is _____________.

The higher this total score is above 100 the better! The highest possible score is 248. I doubt that many agencies will score above 200. Most agencies are still not fully open and are not spending this amount of time volunteering information over the phone without your asking the specific questions relating to these issues. Please let me know if you find an agency with a 200+ score. They need to be known!

This checklist is based on my personal opinions gained from 23 years of child placement experience and the input of many respected friends. Comments from people who have been reading this page on the Internet have also helped mold this checklist. The important thing is that you form your own opinion on these issues and select an agency accordingly. Doing this checklist takes time and effort. You will never regret having made such an investment with your time. You and your child will benefit most from that investment.

If you have comments or suggestions, or if anything is unclear, I welcome hearing from you. You may e-mail me at bbetzen@openadoption.org. Such comments have already helped improve this checklist. Thank you for visiting. .

May God bless your parenting/adoption decision making process. I hope this checklist will be part of that blessing.

Bill Betzen

Dallas

3/19/97

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Lisa-

It’s funny you brought this up. I was thinking about this the other day…I was thinking about the benefits of going through an agency, especially one like Abrazo. I think it is so important for a birthmother to have that sort of support…yet did you feel that support while at Gladney? I sometimes wonder if there are other agencies that sell “open” adoption just to get you in the door. In fact the other day I saw a billboard that advertised an agency that said it fully supported birthmothers but when I went to their website there was hardly anything about support for birthmothers and there was a lot of time spent on information for the adoptive parents. I don’t know, I could be totally wrong but I just had this weird feeling…it wasn’t a good one. I would really encourage women to really look into an agency…don’t just trust everyone. I remember calling an agency in town (during my pregnancy with Michaela) and just taking it all in and really liking what I heard… I think part of my problem was that I was so scared and naive and had no clue what to look for or ask. Just a couple of years ago this same agency was in the news…it wasn’t good and it is so scary that I could have placed through them. It still amazes me how God had his hand on me during this time. So…I was thinking about the support that Abrazo gives birthmothers is really amazing. I’m sure not everyone has a great experience…it’s bound to happen..but when you compare them with other agencies…there is really no comparison.

So, I started thinking about my own adoption…as you many of ya’ll know it was a private adoption. There really is a lot of pros and cons. I thought about many of my feelings that I had back then. It was really hard not having that middleman…if I had a problem I had to either tell them or keep it to myself. Usually I kept things to myself because it was soooo hard to tell them exactly what I was feeling. Again, it is funny how God had his hand on me because I came across some incredible people who were out to protect me. Such as my midwives and the social worker that I saw a few times. The midwives treated me as the mother while I was pregnant. There were a few times that Mo went in with me for my prenatal visits…she didn’t like the way they treated her. She eventually stopped going and told Dwight to go with me…I guess she thought he’d set them straight…it didn’t work. They explained that I was their patient not him. I honestly didn’t feel like they treated them badly…to them I was the mother and until I signed the papers that was how they were going to treat me. I eventually started going by myself..that was a little sad for me. The midwives also spoke to me many times about getting some sort of medical aid so if I did change my mind I wouldn’t have to worry about medical bills. They also talked to me about getting my own lawyer during the process…I clearly remember them saying, “they are paying someone to protect them, who is going to protect you?” Can you imagine all the things running through my head? I was so lost and so scared. I remember Dwight’s response to this,” we don’t want to get anther lawyer involved, we are in this together and if another lawyer were be apart of this it would make things more complicated.” I bought it…we were in this together. I also had an incredible social worker that I really felt comfortable with, she was so nice and so understanding. She was the one who helped me tell Dwight and Mo that I needed time alone after Michaela’s birth. She was also there right before signing the papers a few days after delivery. The nurses at the hospital were also really incredible. With all that said…I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I totally think the pros out weight the cons. I would never have been able to have this experience if I went through an agency. Being able to live with them was incredible. I got to know not just them but both sides of the family. I also got to meet their friends and community. There was so much peace in knowing exactly what my daughter would grow up around. Great friendships began during my time in Iowa. Its really hard to explain because it was really a scary, sad time in my life yet it was a time that I really grew spiritually and there were many happy times that I had there. I met a lot of great people.

Okay, so I’m not saying that private adoption is the best thing…I totally think that people considering adoption should really seek out the best agency out there. DON’T just go anywhere. But my experience with private adoption it was overall really good.

So, Lisa, you talked about the 2 things you don’t regret. Are there things that you do regret about your adoption? I know I’ve said several times that I don’t have regrets either and for the most part I don’t but I wouldn’t be totally honest if I said that there have been times when I thought I had the biggest mistake of my life…yet isn’t that a regret? I’m just babbling…I don’t really have any huge regrets but there are days when I do wonder…ya know?

I also saw that MTV show…it was really hard for me to watch too.

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It's good to know your overall experience with a private adoption was a positive one...I guess the major con I see with it though is the lack of the middleman - you were fortunate to have all those other people on your side....I placed through an agency and I didn't even have that...but I still feel I made the right decision placing through an agency. I guess to me, it just felt like there was an extra set of checks and balances on whether or not this was a good couple or not...whereas I felt a private adoption wouldn't offer that (in your case, you actually knew the people personally - prior to placing your daughter for adoption - have you ever wondered how the dynamics would have changed had these people been complete strangers? which is typically the case in a birthmother/adoptive parents situation...I think...?

Anyway, it's always good to get different perspectives - I still feel strongly that an agency adoption is a better way to go but I agree wholeheartedly that just because it's an agency, doesn't make it a good place...even if it's been around for 100 years or more...that's why I really liked this checklist I ran across. There are so many resources available now to expectant mothers who are trying to make a decision - I had no idea I could even ask questions of the agency back when I placed - I just felt like I was so shameful for getting pregnant in the first place that I just needed to obey whatever they said and did...not question anything.

To answer your question though - what regrets do I have concerning my adoption...oh boy, how much time ya got? If only I knew then what I know now.....To name a few....

1. I wish I would have known I could name her and had a name on her original birth certificate and I wish I would have named her. It really, really, really bothers me that she is listed on her birth certificate as Baby Girl Davidson (I guess that's what it says). I guess this really came in to focus for me when I thought of my Kayleigh's birth certficate not having a name on it - every baby should have a name on their birth certificate...even if it is gong to be sealed in some vault for 100 years or whatever.

2. I wish I would have had the confidence or knowledge or something to know that there was a better place/agency for me to place my daughter for adoption. I remember one of the reasons I chose Gladney was because I could live there and go to school there and not have to go to school with regular people. I thought they were the only place that offered that. And maybe they were...I don't know how many agencies had their own school (Gladney did, they don't any longer). I wish I would have not cared about what other people thought so I could have just gone to any high school - I remember there was an agency in Dallas called Hope Cottage - I thought about calling them but didn't for some reason. I wish I would have called them...it seems like they may have done open or semi-open adoptions then (maybe they didn't...I'm not sure...?) I just wish I would have called more than 1 agency and not been so ashamed of my situation that I was afraid to ask any questions (not that I knew any questions to ask - it's not like there was a manual I could refer to for someone thinking about becoming a birthmother)

3. I wish I would not have placed through Gladney.

4. I wish I would have not delivered my baby at the hospital Gladney had on their campus, and gone to Harris (which was nearby).

5. I wish I would have known that there was something out there called open adoption - even back when I placed...there were people placing their babies for adoption in open adoptions.

6. I regret so much that I don't know her first name - that drives me NUTS!

7. I wish I would have sent her a birthday card every year so that when/if she ever checks her file at Gladney, they'd be there for her (I don't think I've ever even written her a letter other than the first one I wrote her when she was just a few days old - but how many times have I thought about what I would say to her if I did write her a letter...soooo many times. I think I finally recently wrote a letter to her mom and it's in the file at Gladney in case they ever check it)

Okay, I'm getting kind of upset now...enough of my "wish I would'a" stuff...can't do anything about it now so it gets me nowhere to dwell on what I would have done different.

If you're asking me if I've ever wondered if I made a huge mistake by placing her for adoption...(not sure if you are but in case you are)....I don't think I have ever wondered that - it's possible in the beginning but I don't even think I thought that then because I just knew there was no way at all that I could parent her - it was as impossible as me climbing Mt Everest or finding $1 million dollars in a briefcase on the street that I could keep - I mean it just seemed absolutely positively undoable at that time. I did make some contact in the beginning, shortly after placing her with some people that were really anti-adoption (I spoke on the phone to this lady who wrote this book called The Dark Side of Adoption - she was very, very anti-adoption) and were trying to convince me that it wasn't too late to try to get her back - that wasn't what I wanted to do but I just wanted to know her name. One person told me that I could request a copy of her birth certificate as long as I did it soon - I didn't think she was correct and I was too scared to attempt to do that so I never did...I wish I would have done that now...at least tried to do. Anyway, no - from what I can remember, I've never doubted that I made the right decision for us. And certainly as time has passed - I know in my heart of hearts I did the best thing (unless I find out at some time that something horrible happened to her or that her parents didn't love her or something - then we're talking a whole other issue I'll be dealing with) and if given the situation again - I would still choose what I chose to do (although I would NEVER go through another adoption ever again - one was enough for me...there was no way I could have experienced that again but I'm glad (in a weird way) I experienced the one I did (just wish I would have handled it differently).

-Lisa

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Just wanted to clarify that even though I knew Dwight’s sister, I did not know Dwight and Mo…so they were really like strangers to me. The first time I supposedly met Dwight I was around 10 or so…don’t remember meeting him and then around 15, he and Mo came to visit…don’t remember that either. In fact when they were here we were talking about that…they remember meeting me but I don’t remember meeting them. Mo kinda laughed about how snooty I was and how Michaela acts the same way around strangers. I’m not like that anymore. But anyway, I really did not know them when I moved in with them…it was really, really strange moving in with people you don’t know. It really was a leap of faith for all of us. We all had to believe that we were right for each other. Honestly, I was just glad that they were willing to be apart of an open adoption…in fact it really was their idea. I really had not heard much about open adoption so when it was mentioned I jumped on board and so did my parents (my dad had a really, really hard time with the idea of adoption, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad so crushed…still brings tears to my eyes). I think we all bought into the idea that adoption would fix everything…so we went with it. And I truly did spend a lot of time thinking about what was best for her and Joshua (my son who I was parenting at the time). I mean I really felt that we would all have a better chance at having a better life if we went with adoption. But honestly I don’t think we were at all prepared for the journey ahead…we were soooo clueless. Which brings me back to the topic of agency or private. Had we gone through an agency, especially one like Abrazo, I think we would have had a better idea of what adoption is really like. I think the orientation that adoptive parents are required to attend is really good at explaining what open adoption is. I don’t think you can ever fully prepared for such an adventure but at least you have an idea on what it could be like. I was totally unprepared for my lose….had no idea how to deal with it…had no one to talk to about it. How did you deal with it Lisa? Did Gladney really talk to you about the lose and the feeling you would have afterwards? Did you leave right away after placement? Were you able to talk to your mom or sister or friends about your experience? How did you deal with the lose?

Sorry about having to ask about the regrets…I just wondered if you had any. I guess we all have them. Like I wonder why the heck I ever went back with my ex-boyfriend…what was I thinking? Really, what was I thinking? I must have had some really low self esteem…like really low. I always felt like I was confident…guess I was really wrong! Its funny looking back how I would have done anything to make the relationship work…gosh what was I thinking? As Garth Brooks puts it, “Thank God for unanswered prayers…some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

Lisa, I have faith that one day you will have many of your questions answered…I just don’t doubt that your daughter will find you or vise versa. Just like I don’t doubt Mo’s son will one day find her…gosh I pray all the time that he is doing well and that he will search or is searching. I know it would just give Mo so much peace. She, like you, wonders what his name is…she did name him but feels strongly that he was renamed. I use to believe that he had the same name….back then I could not understand how adoptive parents could change a baby’s name…I can understand better now. But don’t get me started on Adoptive parents that change a child’s name who is already 2 or 3 years old. I see it all the time on the Adoption Stories Series…I really don’t understand that. Ooooh it makes me upset. Lets just pretend you didn’t exist before and lets start all over….really what are they thinking? Anyone willing help me understand? Okay, I’m off my soapbox! Anyway, Lisa, I can understand why just knowing her name would be important to you. At Gladney did they not encourage birth moms to name their child? How did that work? Dwight and Mo already had a name picked out and I just went with it. I know naming is a big issue. Mo really could not understand why I would not name her…I could not understand why she would want me to. Okay, let me name her so you can turn around and change it…okay that makes sense to me, especially in an open adoption where I would have a relationship with her. I could not imagine going my whole life identifying her at “Jan” (just an example) in my mind but having to call her Michaela. Let me just say I understand why naming is important, I can certainly understand why Mo would name her child…I would have too if I was in the same position but I wasn’t and I was completely happy with the name chosen and I went with it. I really like when adoptive parents and birth parents work together on a name.

Anyway, Lisa is good to hear that you don’t have any doubts about what you did. I really don’t either but sometimes my guilt likes to creep on me and make me feel bad. I know, that I know that I did the very best for all of us…just hope she understands that…I think she will. And I can understand how you were glad that you experienced what you did…can totally understand. I know I would not be the person I am today had I not gone through it. I am so much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for and their were so many lessons I learned…ooooh the lessons I learned….lets just say it was enough for me to never, ever want to go through it again.

Edited by scs

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Last week, Abrazo got a call from some birthparents who'd been involved in private adoptions, where the plans were being handled not by a reputable and licensed adoption agency, but by a shady lawyer who promised the birthcouple they would receive cash from the adoptive parents after the baby was born, and who told them they did not need any legal advice from a separate attorney since the adoptive parents had hired this lawyer to "handle all the arrangements."

Just a word of caution!! In private adoptions in Texas, attorneys cannot ever "match" adoptive parents with birthparents, cannot pay maternity expenses for things like living expenses (only documented medical and legal bills!) and cannot represent or advise both the adopting couple and the birthparent/s, since this could be a huge conflict of interest!!

Furthermore, in private adoptions, the birthparents cannot be asked to sign any binding agreements about placing their child/ren for adoption before 48 hours after the birth!!

If you are considering a private (attorney-handled) adoption, rather than an adoption done by a licensed, professional adoption agency, please be sure to have a second, qualified attorney representing just the birthparents-- and take care to acquaint yourself with all the laws in Texas, so you know everything is "on the up and up" from start to finish. You cannot be too careful!! After all, your child's future is at stake.

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It sounds like those birthparents were "shopping" for an agency who would be the "highest bidder"! Thanks, Elizabeth, for making sure that Abrazo follows the letter, as well as the intent and spirit, of the law.

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It sounds to me more like the adoption lawyer was trying to “buy” the birthparents. It makes me incredibly sad that people who have the money would try and take advantage of birth parents. I understand that it is also sad that birthparents would even consider taking money or put a price on their child. But we’ve got to understand that we all come for different walks of life…some really good and some really bad. I’ve never been in a situation when I had to worry about shelter or food but I know what it feels like to be scared and alone and very vulnerable.

And if I had to do all over again (adoption) I would go through an agency...without a doubt!!!! Being so young and niave it was really hard for me to speak up. I was soooo alone during a very hard time in my life...and I didn't have anyone to back ME up, no one to speak up for ME. I basically let everyone tell me how it was going to be.

Edited by scs

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According to Kristen Gerencher of Marketwatch:

Births to unmarried women hit a record high of nearly 1.5 million last year but the teenage birth rate continued to decline, according to new government figures. Unwed partners contributed 35.7% or 1.47 million of the total 4.1 million U.S. births in 2004, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. That's up 4% among all age, race and ethnicity groups from 2003. The total number of births edged up nearly 1% last year. More than half of births to women in their early 20s and nearly three in 10 births to those in their mid to late 20s were to unmarried women last year.

Read the full story at:

Baby Boom

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Some things to remember when considering adoption planning in Texas:

* The birthfather does not have to sign a consent in order for the courts to terminate his rights without his permission, but the party seeking termination must prove to the courts that a diligent effort was made to locate him, that he did receive due notice of the lawsuit, and that termination of his rights is in the best interests of the child.

* There is no minimum "age of consent" required to place a baby for adoption: Texas teens may relinquish their rights without their parents' knowledge or consent, but must seek parental permission or a judicial consent in order to abort a pregnancy.

* Birthparents cannot officially place a baby for adoption until at least 48 hours after the birth, however, if the relinquishment was properly executed after this 48 hour delay, there is also no reclaim period during which the decision can be voluntarily withdrawn by the birthparent.

* In Texas, there are no laws in place to enforce the terms of open adoption agreements, therefore any such understandings are considered the voluntary commitment between the birthparent(s) and adoptive family, meaning agencies/attorneys/courts cannot enforce compliance between the parties after finalization.

* It is against the law for birthparents to seek or accept payment or gifts of value from the adoptive family in exchange for placing a child for adoption.

* It is against the law for adoptive parents to offer gifts of value or make direct payments for birthparent expenses in conjunction with adoption planning; it is also illegal to demand repayment of maternity support should birthparents change their minds about placing and elect to parent.

Have questions? Call Abrazo for more information, or for referrals to board-certified family lawyers who can offer legal advice regarding adoption laws in the Lone Star State!

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Thought this was a great resource for anyone considering placing their child for adoption and for those who have already placed their child for adoption...

Birthmom Buds

-Lisa

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Guest bmom2nickngrace

Birthmom Buds is a great website..... I have been a lurker there for a long time. I started posting alot more in the last few months before my reunion. They have a bmom chat on Monday nights and its very interesting.

Elicia

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This is a link to a fact sheet put together by the NAIC (National Adoption Information Clearinghouse) called Are You Pregnant and Thinking About Adoption

Here is some info on what the fact sheet contains from the NAIC website:

Are You Pregnant and Thinking About Adoption?

Author(s): National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (HHS)

Year Published: 2000 - 6 pages

Written for pregnant women who are considering placing their child for adoption, this fact sheet provides practical information about adoption alternatives. It describes the benefits of counseling and reviews the different types of confidential and open adoption arrangements. Tips for working with adoption agencies, independent attorneys, and adoptive parents are included. Special considerations for babies of color also are discussed.

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Bumping up this topic for any new birthmothers - my 5/23/06 post has a link to a site called "Birthmom Buds" that looks neat (in my opinion) and may provide much needed support during a time when you may need it.

-Lisa smile.gif

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Please be careful to find out whether the agency you're contacting for open adoption really offers truly open adoption, or not!! For example, the largest adoption agency in Texas (which is NOT known for being supportive of birthparents who want open adoptions) has paid for this sponsored link on Google:

OPEN ADOPTION

Open adoption is one of your

choices through adoption.

www.adoptionsby-------.com

Texas

If you click on that link, it takes you to a page, which says NOTHING about what open adoption choices really entail; rather, it sidesteps any bonafide description of open adoption quite obviously. Here are the "answers" offered there to women who go to that site specifically seeking open adoption information:

Questions About Adoption

Where do you turn? Who can you trust? What are your options? The ------- Center for Adoption can help you. Here are answers to some tough questions that you're probably asking yourself:

Q: What is adoption?

A: Adoption is the loving act of biological parents (birth parents) who choose a family to nurture and care for their child. When considering adoption, you're thinking about your child and what's best for his or her life. Adoption finds forever homes for children, homes where emotional and financial support create a stable, lifelong future for your child.

Q: What does adoption offer me?

A: ------- offers birth mothers many options:

* All inclusive maternity home.

* The ability to choose an adoptive family through your own personalized plan.

* Assistance with pregnancy-related needs, including housing and medical care.

* Access to an experienced attorney and legal department.

* Education and career planning.

* Emotional support during your pregnancy and beyond.

* Access to -------'s post-adoption services.

* Photos and letters from adoptive parents after placement.

Q: What does adoption offer my child?

A: By choosing adoption, you give your child the love and security of a mother and a father who are emotionally and financially ready to be parents.

Q: Am I strong enough to give away my baby?

A: Adoption is not about giving away your baby. Adoption's about making a plan for your child's life.

Q: How do I know adoptive parents will take care of my baby?

A: Parents who adopt through -------must prove that they are emotionally and financially ready to parent. They must complete a rigorous home study process to be approved as adoptive parents. Since so many couples want to adopt, ------- is extremely selective about the couples with whom we work. Also, you can watch your child grow up through the photos and letters sent to you from the adoptive parents.

Q: My mother had me at my age, and she raised me. What if she thinks I should raise my baby?

A: Once you know the facts about adoption, you can make the best decision. Think about the dreams that you have for yourself and your child. You, and only you, have the right to determine your future. It's a gift of love that only you can give.

Q: Won't the government help me take care of my baby for the first few years?

A: Possibly, but welfare only assists with basic necessities. It does not help you to buy clothing, toys, gifts and all the extras you may want and need for your child.

Q: Will my baby grow up hating me?

A: Adoptive parents often tell their children, even as babies, of the tremendous love their birth parents have for them. Adopted children grow up with a great deal of respect and a very special love and appreciation for their birth parents. Just call 1-800-------- and a counselor will assist you. No one will judge you. We're here to listen and to help. Call anytime!

But if you carefully search elsewhere on their website, you eventually find this buried disclaimer:

The adoptions our agency facilitates are semi-open. That means that you will know the adoptive parents first names and they will know your first name. No last names are shared. No identifying information is shared; such as, address, phone numbers, social security numbers, etc. Your child will only be able to locate you when they are older...

We realize the phrase "open adoption" is used in a variety of ways-- but for a licensed, professional agency to "market" itself by using the headline OPEN ADOPTION without offering genuinely open adoptions seems misleading at best and deceptive at worst... and for women with unplanned pregnancies needing reliable information on open adoption options, it offers no more accountability than blossoms in the dust.

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In the interest of providing information on all available alternatives and resources for those facing unplanned pregnancy, here is a well-written Florida story about the Politics of Abortion.

If you need help finding information on Texas abortion services/law/access, Check This Out.

And if you're wondering why an adoption agency website includes information on the abortion option, it's because this adoption agency believes that prospective parents need to know all their options in order to make a fully-informed decision on behalf of themselves and their children, and we fully support them in that endeavor.

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An interesting new study shows that 4 out of every 10 infants in America are born "out of wedlock" (See Story, here) and that the majority of these children are not being born to teen parents but to women in their twenties. The largest increase is among moms of Hispanic descent.

In 2002, statistics showed that less than 20% of unmarried moms were living with their baby's father at the time of birth.

No data is available to indicate what percentage of these unwed mothers considered adoption.

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