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A Prospective Birth Mother’s Guide to Ultrasound Appointments

When you’re pregnant and considering placing a child for adoption, you’ll experience many emotional moments. Some of the most complicated? Your ultrasound appointments. 

Ultrasounds are an important part of a healthy pregnancy. They confirm the health of an unborn baby, as well as your own during pregnancy. 

But, when you’re considering adoption, ultrasounds can come with an extra layer of emotions. Preparing ahead of time can be extremely helpful. 

In this blog, we’ve listed some important things you need to know. However, remember that this information is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. Please speak with your obstetrician for personal medical guidance. 

First: The Logistics 

As soon as you are pregnant, you should find a local obstetrician for prenatal care. We know life can sometimes get in the way of medical appointments, but receiving prenatal care is key to keeping you and your baby safe during your pregnancy. 

If you’re worried about the costs of prenatal care, reach out to an adoption agency. They can cover your medical expenses, as well as help with childcare during appointments, travel costs to get to the doctor’s office and more. 

Typically, obstetricians will recommend two sonograms during your pregnancy: one in the first trimester and one in the second trimester. Your obstetrician will tell you if additional ultrasounds will be necessary. 

Your first trimester ultrasound will: 

  • Confirm your estimated due date 
  • Confirm the fetus’s heartbeat 
  • Identify whether the pregnancy is correctly placed (to rule out a tubular or ectopic pregnancy) 
  • Determine the number of fetuses 

Your second trimester ultrasound will: 

  • Confirm the baby’s health and development 
  • Identify the baby’s sex 
  • Show you what your baby looks like (with details like feet, hands and more) 

While you will ultimately be responsible for scheduling your prenatal ultrasounds, your adoption professional will help with your medical and travel expenses. They can also let your chosen adoptive parents know about your sonograms, if you want them to share this moment in person or through a video call. 

7 Feelings to Expect During Your Ultrasounds 

An ultrasound can be emotional for any expectant mother, but especially for pregnant women considering adoption. Your emotional response will always be unique, but knowing what to expect can mitigate the most overwhelming feelings. 

1. Disbelief or Shock 

Your pregnancy is likely unplanned, so it can be shocking to see evidence of it reflected in your ultrasound screen. It’s completely normal to feel numb or be in disbelief about your pregnancy. If you’ve distanced yourself from the reality of your pregnancy, your ultrasound may hit you hard. 

Take the time you need to process and accept your pregnancy. However, don’t take too long — you need to be present and make some tough decisions as you move forward with your adoption. 

2. Grief or Sadness 

Placing a child for adoption involves loss, and it’s 100% normal to feel sad about your decision. That grief may be heightened during your ultrasounds. You’ll see the baby you plan to place with another family, and you may better understand what you are losing by choosing adoption.  

Remember that you always have the right to change your mind about adoption prior to signing your legal consent forms. Your grief and sadness may motivate you to parent your child instead. You always have that choice. 

Reach out to your adoption professional for counseling through these tough emotions. 

3. Excitement 

On the other hand, seeing your baby on the ultrasound may make you excited — both for the adoptive parents you’ve chosen and for the future you want for your baby. You may also be excited to meet the baby growing inside of you before placing them in the adoptive parents’ arms. 

Maybe you're finally visualizing the adoption plan you’re making. Even though it’s difficult at times, it’s OK to be excited about your adoption! You’re choosing this path because you know it’s right for you and your baby. 

4. Love for Your Baby 

Seeing your baby on the ultrasound can make them real — and you may be surprised at the attachment to and love you feel for them. It can be easy to distract yourself from your pregnancy and unborn baby during your day-to-day routine, so prepare yourself for a flood of new feelings. 

Every prospective birth mother loves her unborn baby; it’s why she chooses adoption to give them a better future. You can still love your baby and be committed to your adoption plan. Try to accept these feelings of attachment and love. Remember that you will have a bond with this child, especially if you pursue an open adoption. 

5. Happiness 

Just like it’s normal to be excited at your ultrasound appointments, it’s normal to feel happy, too.  

You may be stressed leading up to your sonogram — wondering if the baby is healthy, worried if adoption is right for you, and more. Seeing your baby healthy and developing properly can wash that stress away. You may feel joy and pride in your adoption decision; seeing your unborn baby on the ultrasound may further confirm your choice. 

There is no need to feel guilty about being happy about your baby’s upcoming adoption. You’re choosing the path that’s right for you, so you should be joyful and confident about it! 

6. Disappointment 

You’ll learn your baby’s sex at your second trimester ultrasound. For some prospective birth parents, this knowledge can be disappointing. Maybe you have daughters already, and your unborn baby is a boy. You might feel sad, especially if you’ve always wanted a son. 

Remember that, even if you choose adoption, your child will still be your daughter or your son. Because your baby’s sex may make you question your adoption decision, adoption professionals encourage all prospective birth parents to learn the baby’s sex before delivery. That way, you have time to process your feelings and decide if adoption is really right for you. 

Ultrasounds can also reveal health complications in an unborn baby. All expectant parents have dreams about their child’s future, but an unexpected diagnosis can make those dreams harder to achieve. It’s completely normal to be disappointed — and worried — if your child’s health is not what you hoped it would be.  

Remember: There are plenty adoptive parents who are willing and prepared to parent a baby with special needs, so adoption can still be an option for you. 

7. Relief 

Finally, your ultrasounds may leave you feeling relieved. Every expectant parent worries about their child’s health, and a sonogram can confirm your child is developing as expected. 

Whether or not you end up placing your baby for adoption, knowing they are healthy and safe will always be one of your priorities.  

Remember: There is No ‘Right’ Way to Feel 

During your ultrasounds, you may feel any or all the emotions above — or you may feel nothing at all. That’s completely OK. You’re going through a challenging time, and it’s normal to feel conflicted. You may even be surprised at the emotions you feel during these appointments. 

Your adoption journey is your own, and your experience will be unique. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to feel during your ultrasounds. Pay attention to your emotions and mental health, and don’t be afraid to take a break when you feel like you need it. 

Remember, your adoption professional is on your team. Reach out to them for support and counseling during your pregnancy, especially before and after your ultrasound appointments. 

Don’t have a personal adoption professional? Get connected with a national agency here. 

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