“Giving Baby Up for Adoption” – What it Means and How it Works

What it Really Means to “Give a Baby Up” for Adoption

What exactly is this thing that society calls “giving a baby up for adoption”? What are the basics of adoption? What is and is not true about putting a newborn up for adoption? How do I begin to understand the language of adoption? I have heard many things about adoption, but what is fact and what is fiction? This article will answer your basic questions about what adoption is, what adoption isn’t, and one birth mother’s experience.

What Is Adoption?

Adoption is a decision made by a woman or a couple who are either pregnant or parenting to give the care of their baby over to other people. The couple or woman who is pregnant or raising the child has the option of choosing the parents who will take over care of the child. The parents who will take over care may be someone they know well, or a couple whose profile was shown to them by their adoption agency. Regardless of whether or not the birth mother knew the parents or not prior to choosing adoption, it is ultimately still the birth mother’s decision who will parent her child.

The woman or parents who have chosen adoption are considered the birth parents or the birth mother. The parent or parents who take on the ongoing care of the child after the adoption considered the adoptive parent or adoptive parents.

Involuntary adoption occurs when outside circumstances and influences, like the legal system, take custody of the child and turn rights over to adoptive parents. This type of adoption is most commonly associated with adoption from the foster care system. In this article, and in the many articles that I write, I will focus on voluntary adoption.

Am I Really ‘Giving My Baby Up’ for Adoption? Some Adoption Language and Terms

The world of adoption brings with it a new culture and new language. There are phrases and roles that individuals will come across when they are considering adoption or chose to place their baby up for adoption. Here are some of those terms:

  • Birth Mother: Woman who was pregnant or had custody of her child and chose to place her baby for adoption.
  • Birth Father: Biological father of the child who was placed for adoption, whether he was involved in the adoption process or not.
  • Adoptive Parents: The individual or couple who takes the legal and physical responsibility of the child who was placed for adoption.
  • Placement: The act of transferring custody from the birth parents to the adoptive parents.
  • Finalization: The final court date in which the placement process is finalized and the adoptive parents agree to take on full and permanent responsibility of the child who was placed for adoption.
  • Placed for Adoption: The act of choosing adoption for a child. While this choice is commonly referred to as “giving baby up for adoption” or “putting a newborn up for adoption,” the preferred language is “placing an infant for adoption” or “making an adoption plan for your child.” Whether you are a new mother considering adoption or pregnant looking into adoption, remember that you are not “giving your baby up” for adoption.

What Adoption Is NOT

There are many myths that exist in our society regarding adoption. Some of these myths have been born from poor adoption experiences, while others have been born from ignorance. Regardless of their roots, here are a few myths dispelled regarding adoption:

1. Adoption is NOT giving up on the child for whom adoption is chosen.

“Should I give my baby up for adoption?” This is a common phrase that women use when deciding on or even exploring adoption. To give up on something means to get rid of it, to drop it, to stop taking responsibility for it. This is not the case when it comes to voluntary adoption.

In fact, I would argue that the opposite is true. Adoption, when the decision is made voluntarily, is more realistically defined as an act of love for a child in the right circumstances. Adoption is not giving up on a child. Adoption is choosing a better life for a child when a birth mother or birth parents know that they are unable to provide the life they might want for that child.

2. Adoption is NOT an institutional way for companies to make money.

Organizations that facilitate adoption charge adoptive families for their services. Adoption costs money for adoptive parents. There are lawyers involved, counseling services, and other resources that come into play, and adoptive families are responsible for fees to help cover the costs of these services. But are these institutions in place just to make money?

I would argue that is not the case. Adoption has a long history in societies, and while institutions have arisen to facilitate such a process, that cannot conclude that adoption was designed to create profits. Claiming that adoption is an institution meant to make profit is not true. Adoption was an option and practice long before such organizations existed.

If anything, I have seen some of these organizations take great strides to make adoption an easier process for potential birth mothers while breaking societal stereotypes that criticize adoption. Adoption is a very real option for a woman facing such a decision.

I didn’t know what to expect financially when I chose adoption. As I learned about the process, I became educated on all the costs that are associated with adoption. The potential adoptive parents are the ones who carry the financial burden, not the birth mother. I didn’t ask for financial compensation, but my son’s parents did pay for the cost of me attending therapy while we were going through the adoption process. That was a significant factor in my ability to process the emotions that I was going through. The other costs associated with the adoption were extensive, and my son’s parents, and potential adoptive parents in general, are responsible for covering those costs. Such costs include home studies, applications, legal fees, and other costs that the agency may need covered in order to facilitate the adoption process.

3. Adoption is NOT co-parenting.

Voluntary adoption gives a potential birth mother the option of whom to place her child with. Whether it be a referral from her agency, or a close family friend, or even a relative, the birth mother can make the decision as to who will parent her child. While a birth mother no longer holds a parenting role, her role is still incredibly important as a birth mother. Open adoption encourages a birth mother to have contact with her child as outlined in an open adoption agreement.

I chose open adoption because I didn’t want my son to have unanswered questions about where he came from and why he was being raised by the parents that I chose for him. I speak with my son on holidays over the phone, visit him at least once per year, and send and receive care packages of love on a regular basis. The adoption agreement that has been outlined between myself and my son’s parents is very open, and we adjust per our needs.

Just because I have a very open adoption, that doesn’t mean it is appropriate for every family. It is up to each family to decide amongst themselves before placement what an appropriate agreement looks like. These agreements are not typically legally binding, but they are guides to appropriate levels of communication between a birth mother and her child and the adoptive parents. These agreements may be open, semi-open, or closed. Once custody of a child has been transferred to adoptive parents, a new role is opened up for all parties involved, and a woman who may have been pregnant or parenting becomes a “birth mother.”

However, adoption means that all rights and responsibilities for that child are no longer the birth mother’s legally. This means that a birth mother no longer has any legal rights to continue parenting in any way. The birth mother will face a process of grief, which includes acceptance, as to the fact that her role will transition from custodial and legal mother to supportive and birth mother.

Who Can Choose Adoption

Adoption is an option for any woman at any time. Whether the woman is pregnant, has an infant, or an older child, she has the option of adoption. A woman who is considering adoption, regardless of the age of the child, should consider what is best for the child, and what is best for her also. Adoption is not a decision to be made lightly, and can be the best decision for both the birth mother and the child whom is to be placed for adoption.

My Experience – What Is Adoption

Adoption was an option for me. It turned out to be the best option. It was the hardest decision I have ever made in my life, and next to not choosing abortion, adoption was the best decision I have ever made in my life. For myself and my child, adoption means love. Adoption was a way for me to give my child everything I wanted for him: a better life. The way I gave him a better life was to place him with parents who were ready for a child and had the means to provide for him. I hold adoption dear to my heart, and encourage any woman who is looking for options to thoughtfully consider the option of adoption when deciding whether to keep her baby.

If you are asking yourself any of the following questions or find yourself making any of the following statements, please take some time to do some more exploration on adoption, what it means, what it entails, and if it is right for you and your baby:

  • “Should I ‘give up my baby’ for adoption?”
  • “Is placing my baby up for adoption the best decision for me?
  • “Can I continue to parent?”
  • “I’m thinking about giving up my baby.”
  • How do I put my unborn baby up for adoption?”
  • “I’m pregnant and I don’t want the baby.”
  • “I’m pregnant and thinking about adoption.”
  • “How do I decide to place by infant for adoption?”
  • “What does adoption look like?”
  • “Can I place my infant up for adoption?”
About the Author

Lindsay Arielle has been a proud birth mother since placing her son for adoption in 2011. Her post-placement agreement has always been an open adoption. She loves the time she gets to spend with her son and his parents during visits. Lindsay truly believes that for herself and her family, adoption has been a blessing, and she enjoys writing about spiritual healing for birth mothers.

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