Putting a baby up for adoption in Canada is a life-changing process that can be difficult but rewarding.

The first thing you need to know is that if you’re feeling conflicting emotions about your decision, it’s perfectly normal.

Every expectant mother who considers putting up (or, as it’s more commonly described, placing) her baby for adoption experiences a wide range of feelings ranging from shock, guilt, anger and confusion to relief, excitement and acceptance.

Even though adoption has changed and people’s attitudes have come a long way from what there were in the past, there are still many misconceptions about it.

And women who place their babies feel the brunt of it.

Even though they know nothing about you or your situation many people will judge you. They’ll accuse you of being irresponsible, of not loving your baby, of taking the easy way out. Or maybe all three.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Today, most women who place a baby for adoption do so because they feel they’re not ready or able to parent. They make their decision because they’re responsible. Because they love their baby.

In fact, they put their child’s welfare above their own and only make their decision after a long and difficult period of soul-searching.

You likely have your own reasons for choosing adoption. Suffice to say, there’s no one right reason to do it. The circumstances and motivations behind the decision to place vary as much as the individuals who make them.

The next thing you need to know is that adoption is a legal and social process. So you can’t just decide one day to place your baby and go out and find an adoptive family.

Adoption comes under provincial or territorial jurisdiction. As a result, the laws and rules regarding the process vary from one province to the next.

However, no matter which part of Canada you live in, as an expectant mother considering adoption, you have the right to:

  • make your decision without pressure or coercion
  • receive counselling free of charge
  • make an informed choice

Although you can start creating an adoption plan at any time during your pregnancy, the adoption itself can’t take place until after the birth of your baby.

Depending on which part of Canada you live in, you can have an active role in the placement process from start to finish. This could include:

  • choosing parents for your baby
  • speaking to the parents you’ve chosen
  • meeting with them
  • having an ongoing relationship with them and your child as he  grows up

Not sure whether adoption is right for you? Having second thoughts about your decision? You also have the right to change your mind any time before the birth of your baby.

As mentioned, the laws and process differ in each province. That said, generally speaking, here’s how it breaks down step-by-step:

1. Explore your options

Decide between adoption, parenting and adoption. If you do decide on adoption, you’ll also need to decide which path to pursue: open adoption (exchanging identifying information and contact with the adoptive parents); semi-open adoption (exchanging some identifying information with the adoptive parents); and closed adoption (no exchanging identifying information and no contact with the adoptive parents).

2. Receive counselling

Meet with an agency worker, social worker or crisis pregnancy specialist to find out more about the process and whether it’s right for you. receive counselling –   an agency worker, unplanned pregnancy specialist, or social worker can walk you through the process,

3. Choose adoptive parents

Depending on which province you live in and how confident you are with your adoption plan, you can begin evaluating pre-approved couples and singles who are hoping to adopt through an agency or on your own online.

4. Speak to adoptive parents

Again, depending on the adoption laws in your province and how involved you want to be in the pre-placement process,  you have a chance to speak to the parents you’ve chosen for your baby and get to know them better.

5. Meet adoptive parents

If you’d like, you have the option of meeting the parents for your baby face-to-face, directly or through a third party, to discuss details such as your hospital plan and your post-placement relationship.

6. Give Birth

Depending on the adoption rules in your province, this would also include deciding how much involvement, if any, you want the adoptive parents to have in the delivery and aftermath, and how much one-on-one time and contact you want to have with your baby.

7. Place Baby With Adoptive Parents

Today, most open adoption  placements typically occur directly at the hospital. The adoptive parents would then take the baby home and depending on where you live, there would be a set time in which you would need to sign the relinquishment and have the option to change your mind before the adoption is legally approved.

The exact order of these steps may vary depending on which province you live in and your individual needs. For instance, many expectant parents today go online and choose parents for their baby before they visit an agency or get counselling. As with so much of the adoption process, the decision is up to you.