This is Part One in a two-part series. Look for Part Two next week.
I am a firm believer in learning as much as you can about something before committing to it. However, in more emotional situations, it may prove much more challenging to do all the research for yourself. That’s why I have taken the time to go ahead and share these facts about adoption.
If you are a woman who is considering adoption, please use the resources that you have to learn about the facts of adoption and how they might apply to you. I have heard too many horror stories of misinformation about adoption passed around to ignore this subject.
In this article, you will find 4 important about choosing adoption for your baby that you may not have been aware of before.
1. State laws do NOT regulate the type of post-placement relationship a birth mother chooses to have with her birth child and his or her adoptive parents.
I think this is a crucial point to make. The reason that I put this as No. 1 for important adoption facts to know is because of a story I commonly hear from women. I was recently a participant in a birth mom retreat, and one of my fellow birth mothers shared that her adoption agency told her she was not legally allowed to choose an open adoption for her baby. I was horrified at hearing this because it is absolutely 100 percent NOT TRUE! State law cannot regulate the type of post-placement agreement you choose to enter into with your child’s adoptive parents. If an adoption agency tells you otherwise, they are LYING.
2. Only 28 out of the 50 states have legally binding post-placement agreements.
When I chose adoption, I was informed by my adoption professional that the state I was choosing adoption in did not acknowledge post-placement agreements as legally binding (a fact I had confirmed by my adoption attorney). This means that if my open adoption goes south, I have no legal recourse for receiving contact again. This might sound scary to prospective birth mothers, but the truth is I have never come anywhere near that situation being the case. However, it has happened for some. Please ask your adoption professional (and confirm their response with an adoption attorney) about whether or not post-placement agreements are acknowledged as a legally binding contract in your state.
3. Birth fathers must have their rights terminated before an adoption can be successful, regardless of whether it is done voluntarily or involuntarily.
There are so many misconceptions out there regarding how to handle a birth father in an adoption situation. My advice is simple: speak with an adoption attorney and check out your state’s birth father laws! With all the stereotypes in society surrounding adoption — and the horror stories that, as well — it is important to learn how birth father laws in your state will apply to your individual situation.
Whatever your relationship is with the birth father, it’s still worth speaking to an adoption attorney before passing on something as wonderful as open adoption. In some cases, a birth father’s rights may be involuntarily terminated, but that can ONLY be determined by an experienced adoption attorney whom you and your adoption professional trust. Don’t let anyone else tell you how the law applies to you when they don’t have the knowledge or facts to back it up.
4. Closed adoption wasn’t introduced into our culture until the late 19th Before and after then, open adoption was the more popular post-placement relationship for adoption.
During the Victorian era, children considered illegitimate were locked up or hidden away. Birth mothers in these situations were considered a burden of society — labeled misfits, outcasts, or worse. This history is where many of the stereotypes for birth mothers began. It is sad to me that birth mothers still receive these labels and that a woman believes she should feel shame for her adoption decision.
Before the Victorian era, adoption was something that past cultures welcomed, regardless of government regulation or not. Since around the 1960s, when adoption became more heavily regulated, the societal acceptance of open adoption began to evolve, as well as its understanding of it.
My point in sharing these facts with you is to educate others on adoption. Society is moving in a positive direction but still lagging far behind when it comes to the positive aspects of open adoption. Choosing an open adoption is beneficial to everyone in the adoption triad (birth mother, adopted child and adoptive parents). However, it is important to know that open adoption is not your only option. The truth is that the choice for adoption belongs to an expectant mother, and no one else.
If you are feeling uncomfortable in your adoption process, or if you just need someone to talk to, please contact an adoption professional such as American Adoptions (1-800-ADOPTION). Adoption specialists will answer your call and your questions and can perhaps help you remedy your situation.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.