If you’re pregnant and asking yourself “should I give my baby up for adoption?”, you’re not alone.
Every year, women from all walks of life from all across the country, ask themselves the very same question.
Most women who create an adoption plan do it because they’re unable or not ready to parent and want the best for their baby.
And yet even though placing a baby for adoption is an act of love (note, like others in the adoption community, we use this adoption-friendly phrase in place of “giving up a baby for adoption“) that involves a mother putting your child’s interests before her own, there are still many myths and misunderstandings surrounding it.
The good news is that there are support groups online and in your community where you can learn more about the process.
And, depending on how committed you are to your plan, you can also consult a birthparent counsellor who can explain the open adoption placement process from beginning to end.
Bonnie Archer is a counsellor with the Beginnings Family Services in Hamilton, Ontario. Recently, we asked her about the main things that a woman who is considering adoption for her baby needs to know.
1. Can you give us a sense of what’s the first thing that happens when a woman calls you or comes into your office and says, “I’m pregnant and considering adoption?”
When a woman initially contacts Beginnings Family Services we are often the first point of contact when they want to explore their options.
It is important for women to feel welcomed and supported around any decision that they make. They need to know they will not be judged no matter what.
I want all of my clients to feel proud of themselves and to hold their head up high and feel good about the decisions they have made for their child.
It can be very empowering for a woman to know she has taken the time to explore all of the information and options so she can begin to make the best decision for herself and her child.
Beginnings Family Services receive calls from not only women but boyfriends, family members, friends and community partners who are inquiring about adoption.
2. Generally speaking, how would you describe her mindset?
Some clients feel very alone when they reach out to us. Some have very little support around them.
Knowing there is someone to talk with and walk alongside them as they explore their feelings can mean a great deal to our clients.
Some clients have known about their pregnancy for some time and others have just recently found out they are pregnant.
We see clients who are very clear about what they want and are ready to make an adoption plan while others need time to continue exploring their options.
Beginning’s role is to be present with our clients wherever they are at and to provide information and support as they make decisions for their baby.
Regardless of where they are in their journey, every parent needs to feel supported and treated with dignity, care and compassion.
It is important for clients and their families to know that decisions should not be rushed. Taking time to process the information and discuss options before making a decision is critical.
3. If someone is sitting on the fence and unsure whether adoption is best choice for her and her baby, what are some of the things you do to help her decide?
We encourage clients to take the time to reflect on the pros and cons for parenting and adoption.
This can assist them during the pregnancy as well as after the baby is born by helping them clarify and communicate their decision making process.
Journaling is another helpful tool in expressing thoughts, feelings and ideas on paper.
Birth parents also share that reflecting back on their journey can be therapeutic.
It is important for clients to talk about their fears when deciding whether adoption is right for them and their baby.
Counsellors provide this safe and nonjudgmental space for clients to talk about these fears.
Some clients find it helpful to connect with other birth parents who have made an adoption plan or are choosing to parent.
Talking with others who are living with their choices can shed further light on the positives and challenges of both options.
Beginnings can connect parents with one another, through a phone call, email or in person.
4. How involved are others—the baby’s father, her family or friends etc.—in the decision-making process?
It is very important to include fathers in the decision making process whenever possible. For a child to know that their biological father played a role in the decisions made can be very meaningful.
In some instances a father’s legal consent is required for an adoption plan to move forward. A counsellor can explain the legalities to all parties.
If a client does not want to have communication with a birth father we can include him without clients having contact with one another.
Often, this can help clients feel secure in their adoption planning without the additional stress of ongoing contact.
Extended families are also very important in adoption and add to the love and support each child deserves. We often have other family members that want to be involved in a relationship with the child.
Some clients have not shared their pregnancy with anyone. We help clients understand the implications of secrecy when it comes to making an adoption plan.
We can sit down with clients and their families as they inform them of a pregnancy or adoption plan. Support is provided for everyone. Adoption affects not just the birth mother and birth father but so many others.
At Beginnings we are there for everyone who needs support.
It is so important for birth parents to have as much emotional support as possible as they work through their grief when making an adoption plan.
This is an extremely difficult time and we are there to assist family members, friends and community, both now and in the future.
5. How much do the women you see know about openness, and what’s their initial reaction to it?
Most clients are aware that there is an opportunity to have a relationship with their child and the adoptive family. What many don’t understand is what that relationship will look like in the beginning and in the future.
Counsellors are able to guide birth families around the intricacies of open adoption relationships.
At the beginning of an adoption process, relationships are new for everyone. Like any new relationship, it takes time.
Communication and respect for one another’s roles is important in navigating relationships. It is amazing to observe birth families and adoptive families as they see openness through their child’s eyes.
They see the positive impact this relationship has on their child’s understanding of who they are and where they came from.
6. How do you help them determine how much openness to have in their relationship with their child’s adoptive parents?
It is very important to listen to what birth parents are hoping for regarding openness as well as explore realistic boundaries.
Adoption is not co-parenting. Each situation is different, and the level of contact and openness will vary for each family.
Additional family members, like grandparents, can also be involved with the child and adoptive family.
Beginnings Family Services works with birth families and adoptive families together to build an open adoption agreement.
This agreement, while not legally binding, focuses on the commitment that is made to each other for the sake of the child.
7. What advice do you have for expectant mothers who are looking for adoptive parents?
Many birth parents look online for adoptive parents. Canada Adopts! is a great resource for finding a forever family for their child.
Often these prospective adoptive families are also registered with an adoption agency like Beginnings Family Services.
Another resource is to reach out to an adoption agency/licensee who will work with you and show you adoptive family profiles that meet your wants and wishes.
8. What suggestions do you have for them when they find a family?
If a client finds a family online or through other means, it is important for them to connect with an adoption agency/licensee so that all the legal aspects and process of adoption are clearly explained before strong connections are made to one family.
An agency like Beginnings Family Services can help with each step in the adoption process.
9. Generally speaking, what matters to them the most when it comes to choosing a family?
Every birth parent is different in what they are looking for in a prospective adoptive family.
Clients need to think about what is important to them and their child when looking at profiles.
The family they chose will be one of the most important decisions in the adoption process and it needs to feel right.
10. What’s the one thing you wish people understood better about birth parents who place a child for adoption?
Adoption is a decision made by women of all ages and backgrounds.
This decision will impact them and their families for the rest of their lives. It is a decision created out of a deep love for a child.
Birth moms and birth dads are both selfless and courageous. I hold so much respect for a birth parent who makes the ultimate sacrifice when making an adoption plan.
Ready to look for adoptive parents for your baby? Check out our couples who are hoping to adopt.
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