So many times in adoption, all the focus is on the adopting parents.
People share their infertility stories or their faith commitment on social media and with friends and families. Women experiencing an unexpected pregnancy are seen as simply the way for the adopting parents to get their baby. It’s hard to get in the way of their excitement and joy, but no one need ever feel put down or be ignored for choosing to place their child for adoption. No matter how young or old you are, as an expectant mom, you have rights.
These rights include:
Be treated with respect and honesty.
Have an advocate for support before, during, and after the adoption placement.
Ask questions and receive answers about all steps of the process.
Review and understand all legal paperwork before you sign it.
Receive emergency living expenses totaling up to $4,000.
Receive counseling services before, during and after the adoption placement.
Change your mind about placing your child at any point before you sign consents for the adoption.
Choose the family who adopts your child.
Know how the adoptive family has been screened and evaluated.
See, hold, and care for your baby in the hospital.
Rights always come along with responsibilities. These responsibilities include:
Treating others involved in your adoption with respect and honesty.
Let your advocate know your questions, thoughts and feelings before, during, and after the adoption placement.
Request a copy of the legal paperwork before you make a firm commitment to adoption.
Use the emergency living expenses as intended.
Use counseling services to help process your grief and provide a way to move forward.
Be honest if you are not planning on moving forward with an adoption plan.
Think about what type of family would be best for your child.
Ask what screening measures were done by the adoptive family to insure not just a safe home but one where adoption is celebrated.
Being available for your child when they have questions about their identity.
No single list is all inclusive. Maybe the best way to think about rights and responsibilities is to remember the Golden Rule—that is to treat others as you want to be treated.
Adoption is one of those topics about which everyone seems to have an opinion or story. If you mention that you are thinking about becoming an adoptive parent, you will likely hear those opinions or stories, whether you want to or not. Within that conversation, there is also a good chance you will hear the agency versus attorney debate. Should you trust this very important step in your life to an adoption agency or just use an attorney?
The thing is, agencies and attorneys BOTH have a place in the world of adoption.
As an institution, adoption is a legal process that allows for the creation and expansion of a family. Because it allows for the creation and expansion of a family, it is also involves relationships. Opening your heart to adoption means you are opening yourself to new relationships. There is a relationship between you and your child, and there is a relationship between you and your child’s birth family. Your child will always have a relationship between themselves and you, and also will always have a relationship between themselves and their birth family. Yes—let’s repeat that one. Adoptees will always have a relationship between themselves and the family who created them and gave them life. They may not always have a day-to-day relationship with their birth family, but nothing can change the fact that the first relationship in their lives will be with those whom they share a genetic link.
Can you imagine how complicated this can all be?
And if it’s complicated for you, imagine how the children of adoption feel? That baby you are hoping for is going to grow into a toddler, then elementary school kid, and then teenager, and then into adulthood. Along the way, questions will be asked. Will you be ready to answer them?
An adoption agency can navigate all those relationships with you. The people working for adoption agencies see and understand the pieces of those relationships that go into adoption. You know—those things like unexpected pregnancies. Infertility. Physical needs. Emotional needs. They have experience in working through the good and the bad, ups and downs, joys and sorrows that are a part of adoption.
Where does the lawyer come into this? The goal of the lawyer in adoption is to represent either the person placing the baby or the person adopting the baby. The lawyer is there to make certain the legal process is understood and the rights of the party they are representing are upheld. If the lawyer is representing the adoptive parents, the goal is to make certain the adoption is finalized in a court of law and an adoption decree is issued.
Adoption is a lifelong commitment.
If you are going to make this commitment to a child, make certain you have the resources to do honor the commitment well. Know the resources available to you—both for legal support and for emotional support. The best of all worlds in adoption uses both an attorney and an agency. Let them help you create a happy story for your family.
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If you're an expectant mother looking for support, we are here to help. Call or text(317)-255-5916.