Pregnant and considering adoption? We're a family of three looking to grow our family once again through adoption. If you are pregnant or have an existing child and and are considering an adoption plan for your child, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us (collect): 1-540-621-3499.
Last night at a company dinner, I met a contractor who told me she had adopted a child domestically. She offered to talk to me about her experiences with adoption. I was completely blown away by her kindness in offering to share her story.
During the course of our conversation, she told me that their birth mother always felt like people were judging her. She mentioned specifically that the birth mother felt like the nurses in the hospital were judging her. And maybe they were, though the contractor I met said the nurses were all lovely during the birth.
Being new to this adoption process, I never really even considered that a birth mother might feel judged. What a yucky thing, to feel like you're being judged. Especially since birth mothers are about the most selfless people I can think of. Instead of choosing the alternative, they choose to give birth to a wonderful little baby. Then, no matter how hard it is, they make the choice of an adoption plan ... for whatever reason. Maybe the birth father left and she just can't make it on her own financially. Maybe she's exceptionally young and knows someday she'll be ready to rear a child, but right now is just not the right time. Any way you look at it, birth mothers are selfless people. And I admire them.
I got pregnant when I was very young. I was scared and had no idea what options were out there for me. I was afraid of being judged. And so I made a very hard decision ... and its one I've regretted many times over. I've come to terms with it - I still have a place in my heart that will forever be broken - but I just wasn't ready. I've learned not to judge myself. And isn't that the hardest thing of all? To learn not to judge yourself? To learn to be compassionate toward yourself?
Who would I be to judge someone for giving life to a child and making sure that child is provided for in the best way possible? It's not about judgement. It's about opportunities.
So, if you're a birth mother and you're feeling judged, always remember that you're making the choice of adoption for the best reason of all ... love. Have compassion for yourself. I do.
The very first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment with your doctor. You can see a family doctor or an OB/GYN. OB is short for obstetrician, a doctor who has been trained in pregnancy and childbirth. An OB can deliver your child. GYN is short for gynecologist, a doctor who has been trained in reproductive health. A gynecologist can do yearly pap smears, which screen for cancer and other diseases. They can also test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
If you do not have a doctor, or feel like you cannot afford one, there are many things you can do. Go to your local health department. Visit your local hospital and ask about a payment plan. Look into applying for Medicaid. Call or visit Planned Parenthood and ask them about options. It is so important that you start receiving medical care immediately if you are pregnant.
During your doctor visit, your doctor will ask you questions such as, what was the date of your last period? You will most likely have a pelvic exam, a urine test and a blood test. Your doctor may also put you on prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins contain at least 400 mcg of folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9. Taking 400 mcg of folic acid every day during your pregnancy (and even before pregnancy) can help protect your baby from birth defects of the spine and skull.
Things that can harm your baby
While you are pregnant, avoid drinking alcohol, especially during the first trimester. If you drink during your pregnancy, your baby may develop fetal alcohol syndrome. Fetal alcohol syndrome causes mental and physical problems.
Smoking pot or taking drugs during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, premature labor or fetal death (death of the baby in the womb).
Smoking cigarettes or inhaling second-hand smoke can cause major problems once your baby is born. SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is when a baby dies suddenly without warning while he or she is sleeping. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke while you are pregnant is associated with miscarriage, stillborn babies and premature birth.
Things to do for your baby's health
Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you suspect you are pregnant.
Take prenatal vitamins that contain 400 mcg folic acid.
Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water, baked or grilled low-fat meats.
Drink plenty of milk. If you are lactose intolerant, ask your doctor to suggest milk alternatives.
Exercise for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week. Walking is great exercise but always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine if you are pregnant.
Get a lot of rest. Take naps during the day.
To find out more about what to do if you suspect you are pregnant, visit the following resources:
Have you ever seen that movie Juno? You know the one. A quirky high school girl gets pregnant and decides to terminate the pregnancy then has a moment of reality and changes her mind, consequently choosing an adoption plan? (Whew!) The movie's received a lot of criticism because it doesn't take the perspective of the birth mother seriously enough. After reading birth mother blogs and birth mother books and meeting a deeply grieving birth mother, I can definitely see how Juno would be ... well, almost insulting to a birth mother. Then again, I've never been a birth mother. But I have been pregnant when I was young. Unlike Juno, I didn't choose adoption. And now, here I am at a time in my life when I would love to have a baby - and I can't. I understand the grieving, and honor it.
What struck me, though, while I was watching the first meeting scene, was the portrayal of the adoptive parents. Jennifer Garner plays an overzealous adoptive mother. Her desperation to be a mother simply oozes. Her perfect life is just a facade for the broken, anxious mess that she's become. Jason Bateman plays the complete opposite, a complacent adoptive father who isn't happy in his marriage.
The first time I watched this movie, I thought, "what an a**hole." But, having gone through the experience of infertility, I know what the whole process can do to a marriage. Month after month you face the fact that you aren't pregnant. You take hormones that make you crazy. The doctors and health care providers aren't sympathetic. It's all so ... clinical. The pressure on both the wife and the husband is enormous. You lose a sense of who you are and it just becomes all about the process. Robert and I learned that path just wasn't for us.
Back to Juno. In one scene, Juno walks up the stairs of the adoptive parents' home to go to the bathroom. On the wall by the staircase is a series of pictures, the adoptive couple dressed all in white, smiling at the camera looking like models in a frame on the shelf of Macy's. That's hilarious. Once my sister had our entire family buy blue shirts and black pants for a family photo. I bought one of them and put it in a box. It wasn't us. We don't believe in shiny lights and photoshop. We are who we are.
Despite the extreme character portrayals, if I were to write a book about adoption, it would have to be like Juno. A little quirky, a little humor sprinkled in with a lot of reality. Humor is a coping mechanism - and the business of infertility and adoption is serious business.
Am I like the Jennifer Garner character? Well, I don't think she would own two crazy dogs that like to sleep on the furniture. Because I work from home, I wear jeans most of the time. You won't find a sitting room in our house and it's not perfectly clean. We don't have a maid. And if you've seen the pictures of Robert, you already know he's not like Jason Bateman. He's very affectionate and energetic. He's looking forward to being an adoptive dad. The both of us have gone through some pretty tough times together, which have made us stronger than ever. Robert is the best friend I've ever had.
Despite it all, I like the movie Juno. This is one fictional situation - and every adoption story is different. So I can watch it with perspective and appreciate it for what it is. Just a movie. I know our own adoption story will involve a lot of emotions - fear, doubt, anger, sadness, happiness, hope and maybe even some humor sprinkled in with all of that.
Every year, Robert and I take a couple of trips. One is always for our anniversary. We pull out a map, point at a city and simply go for about four days. The other trip might be a week-long family vacation. In years' past, we've gone to Hilton Head, Boston and Salem, Washington, DC and even Nashville.
And then there are the countless trips we have taken individually. Once upon a time, I traveled for a living so I've been all over the place: California, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Michigan, New York, Florida, Georgia and more. Plus, when I was a girl, I traveled across Europe, visiting England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. Robert's jobs have allowed him to travel all over the world, from Japan to Afghanistan to Australia to the Eastern block and countless more.
We both appreciate cultures from around the world. When we visit a place, we try to walk as much as possible, because there's no better way to get to know the people of a region than to walk amongst them.
When we finally adopt our special someone, it's our hope that when our adoptive child is old enough to experience travel, our traveling adventures will be done as a family ... not all the time - we plan to provide a stable home life with friends, family, hobbies, education - but at least once a year, we'll head somewhere fun. Over a lifetime, that's a lot of trips! We'd like our adoptive child to learn about the people and places of the world and to have a greater awareness of what it means to live in a culture that is different from our own.
Meanwhile, here are just a few of the trips we've taken in the past few years:
In Boston, we walked the Freedom Trail from end-to-end, enjoyed lobster rolls and walked the cobbled streets of Quincey's Market.
We got into the spirit of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts. The streets were lined with Halloweeners of all ages dressed in costume and celebrating the history of Salem and the autumn. We got there by ferry.
Robert's parents still have a home in England. We traveled there a few years ago and had a real Dickens' Christmas. Here we are eating the traditional fish and chips after walking through the Canterbury Tales exhibit. England is indeed a jolly old country and the people are incredibly friendly.
Not the greatest picture, I'll admit, but Nashville holds great memories for us. We stayed at the Union Station hotel, which is located on the main strip. Every morning, we got up, took an early morning walk, had breakfast and then set out for a new adventure.
I just recently talked Robert into taking me to Hilton Head. Though my family has always traveled to the beach every summer, Robert has never really been interested until now. We flew into Savannah, rented a convertible Mustang and drove to the beach.
Robert's family loves history. So this year, for his dad's birthday, we all headed to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktowne. We took our 14 year old nephew who was totally bored by it all ... and I don't blame him. I can only take so many battlefields myself. Despite that, it was great family fun.
I never had any desire to travel to Utah but we went ... I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. You see buffalo in this picture behind me. There really are wide open spaces in the world, and Utah is one of them with the snow-capped mountains and the lovely rabbitbrush.
Did I mention we like to hike? Here we are hiking in Gatlinburg. (That's me and Robert's dad who always carries a nice little treat in his backpack.) At the top of this hike was a lovely waterfall.
These are just a few of the places we've been. We don't always take pictures, but we sure do always have fun.
Adoptive parents in Virginia who choose to adopt a child through private (independent) adoption follow a long but rewarding path. Everything must fall into place just right, from picking an experienced adoption lawyer meeting and matching with the right birth parents and beyond. Becoming an adoptive parent takes commitment and persistence, but most of all, faith.
For a birth parent, understanding this long journey might help them understand that adoptive parents choose to take this path. They devote their time, their resources ... and indeed their lives to finding the right match. There's no way all of the steps on the path can be outlined in one little blog post, but a quick snapshot may help:
Adoptive parents decide to adopt - The reasons for the decision to adopt are many. For us, the decision came after two years of trying to have a biological child. The infertility process is difficult, even for the most devoted couples. We finally decided the Universe was trying to tell us something - that adoption is the right path for us.
Select an adoption attorney (lawyer) - Adoption laws are very targeted, and because of that, choosing an attorney who specializes in adoption is key. Alternately, if the birth parents who match with the adoptive couple don't have an attorney, they should select an adoption lawyer too. Adoption lawyers will know all the ins and outs of the adoption laws in a particular state.
Complete a home study - What can we say about the home study? The home study evaluates the potential adoptive parents for adoption readiness. Adoptive parents must be screened by the FBI, must have child abuse clearance in every state that they have lived in, be screened by a social worker and provide a huge amount of personal information, including financial information. The process can take months and months, and costs, on average, $2,000 to $3,000 to complete.
Search for birth parents - Once a home study is approved, the adoptive parents who choose private adoption start looking for birth mothers who have chosen or are considering an adoption plan for their child. The search can include word of mouth, newspaper ads and social media networking.
The first meeting - Once a connection is made with a birth mother, or birth parents, the adoptive parents meet with them in a public place (such as a restaurant) to see if there is chemistry and to exchange important information.
Birth parents retain lawyer - The birth parents are advised to retain the services of an attorney (lawyer). This attorney is separate from the adoptive parents' attorney and represents the interests of the birth parents and the child.
Medical release from birth parents - Adoptive parents ask the birth parents to release their medical records. This will help the adoptive parents understand the genetic gifts birth parents have passed on to their children.
Make prenatal and hospital arrangements - The best gift a birth mother can give to her child is to take care of herself. That means taking prenatal vitamins and visiting an OB/GYN (a doctor who specializes in caring for women's gynecological needs and who can deliver a baby) on a regular basis to be sure the pregnancy is going well.
Child is born - Enough said.
Birth parents give legal consent - In Virginia, birth parents can give legal consent three days after the birth of a child.
Adoption finalized by court - In Virginia, the adoption is usually finalized eight months. The consent from the birth parents cannot be revoked 10 days after a child is born.
As birth parents, did you ever think that adoptive parents had to do so much to adopt a child? It's my hope that this information will help you understand that adoption is a choice for adoptive parents, and that they walk this path because they desire to parent and love a child. It's a huge commitment, and one that demonstrates adoptive parents' devotion to the child they plan to adopt. And of course, you are not alone on this journey either. There are so many resources available to you, if you choose an adoption plan for your child. Ask questions. Get as much information as possible. And make sure, most of all, that you take care of yourself.
Please note that we are not adoption professionals. The information provided in this blog is compiled from credible adoption resources but please be sure to talk with an adoption lawyer to get the facts on the laws and to know what's right for you. If you do not know an adoption lawyer, visit the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and look for one in your state.
The first meeting between a birth mother (or birth parents) and potential adoptive parents can be daunting for everyone involved. To cut down on the level of stress and to help both parties get to know each other better, it's a good idea to exchange some very basic information.
As a birth mother, you definitely don't want to talk about the weather or the latest movies. After all, you're there for a reason - to find the right adoptive parents for your child. If the adoptive parents are asking you questions, it's just because they - like you - are trying to get to know you and understand if the situation is right for them. Remember, everyone at the table is probably very nervous. Take a deep breath, take your time and try to provide as much information as possible. And remember ... you are allowed to ask questions too.
Questions Adoptive Parents May Ask a Birth Mother
About the Birth Mother:
What is your name and address?
What is your date of birth?
What is a phone number where you may be reached?
Tell us your situation.
Why are you considering adoption?
Are you currently married?
The reason why adoptive parents need contact information is so that both parties can keep the lines of communication open. The adoption process requires open communication in order to be sure you are taking care of yourself and getting the best care for your baby. You may want the adoptive couple to go with you to doctor visits or help you get back and forth to your lawyer. It's always best to supply adoptive parents with as much information about yourself as possible.
About the Birth Father:
Who is the birth father?
Where does the birth father live?
What is the birth father's age and date of birth?
Does the birth father know about the pregnancy?
Does the birth father agree to the adoption?
Birth fathers have a right to know they are parents. If the birth father is known, every attempt should be made to obtain his consent to the adoption. In Virginia, men who think they have fathered a child can register on the Putative Father Registry so they will be notified in the case of adoption or termination of parental rights. Of course, registration does not prove paternity - birth fathers will still be required to undergo paternity testing to prove they are the biological father of the child.
About your pregnancy:
How do you know you are pregnant?
Have you had any previous pregnancies or do you have children now?
Have you seen a doctor? If so, do you know your due date?
Do you have medical insurance?
How are you feeling?
Are you having any complications?
Are you on prenatal vitamins?
Taking care of yourself and your baby are the most important things you can do right now. If you have not already, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor (preferably an OB/GYN) who can help guide you through prenatal care and who will be your health care partner through the delivery. You may also find connections to other resources, such as counseling to help you weather the emotions that you may be feeling right now. If you are not under the care of a doctor, you can ask your adoptive parents to help find one for you. If you do not currently have medical insurance, you may qualify for Medicaid to help pay for your health care needs. In the state of Virginia, adoptive parents are allowed to help out with medical expenses - most of the time, that means taking care of copays and driving you to your doctor visit, if you need a ride.
About your support system:
Does your family know about your choice for adoption? For example, what does your mother think? Is she supportive?
Do you have a good support system through family or friends?
Would you like to speak with our adoption lawyer?
You are not alone on this journey. There are countless resources available to you, if you are willing to look for them. Friends and family can offer emotional support. Counseling is never a bad idea to help you understand the feelings you are going through and to help you know that the choice you are making is the right one for you. You may want to read What to Expect When You're Expecting to understand the changes your body is going through or sign up for a week-by-week pregnancy calendar online. As for a lawyer, you will need a lawyer to represent you if you are involved in a private or independent adoption. Your lawyer will make sure that your rights and needs are represented. Have compassion for yourself and make sure you are taking care of you.
About your choice to adopt:
What are you looking for in an adoption plan?
What led you to us?
There are so many different types of adoption available today. The best part is that you get to decide what type of adoption you want for your child. Do you want the adoptive parents to be in the delivery room with you? Do you want the adoptive parents to take physical custody of your child directly from the hospital? What kind of contact do you want after the adoption? Letters and photos? An occasional phone call? You define the terms. You decide what's best for you and your child.
Remember, the adoptive parents aren't pushing you into a corner by asking questions that probably seem very invasive. Instead, they are just trying to gather the facts needed to ensure the adoption is right for everyone involved - you, the birth father, the adoptive parents, and your child.
When I was a young girl, adoption options were limited. Generally, the birth parents had no idea where their children were placed and often, adoptees had no idea they were even adopted. Today, the adoption world is very different, taking into account what's best for everyone involved.
There are many different types of adoption these days, and you can read more about the different types on Adoption.com. One common type of adoption is private (also known as independent) adoption.
In a Private (Independent) Adoption, the adoptive parents play an active role in finding a birth mother who has chosen an adoption plan for her child. Once the adoptive parents and the birth mother, or birth parents, agree that they are a good match, both parties get a lawyer to represent them. Depending on state law, the adoptive parents may pay for their lawyer and the birth mother's lawyer. In the state of Virginia, adoptive parents are allowed to pay for the birth mother's legal representation. The birth parents and the adoptive parents will have separate lawyers that represent each of their interests.
We have decided to list with an adoption agency and pursue a private adoption. We know our special person is out there and we're just trying to open as many doors as possible so he or she can find us. If we are matched through the agency, the agency will handle all of the paperwork and legal issues. We will still have to get an attorney to finalize the adoption in court. If we are matched independently - meaning we meet a birth mother or birth parents who have chosen an adoption plan for their child - we will connect them with someone who can help them select a lawyer and guide them through the adoption process.
We are so excited to be a part of this wonderful world of adoption. I've said it many times, and I believe it ... Adoption is a powerful choice.
If you're facing an unplanned pregnancy, there are many options available to you. This decision is yours, and you have the right to take as much time as you need to make the decision that's right for you. Educate yourself and learn as much as you can so you can make an informed decision.
Don't know where to start? Here are some resources:
Adoption.com - There's an entire section on Pregnancy, including options and information for unplanned pregnancies.
What to Expect: The First Year - If you're wondering whether you should keep your baby and raise it yourself, this book gives step-by-step instructions on what to expect during the first year.
Of course Robert and I believe adoption is a powerful choice. If you are pregnant, however, we urge you to weigh all of your options and make the choice that's right for you. No judgement. It's your life, after all.