Most of us have at least a basic understanding of what adoption is: the process by which a person, usually a child, legally becomes a permanent member of a new family.
But to adopted children, their families and their birth parents, this simple definition doesn't even scrape the surface of what adoption truly means - or the almost-infinite number of forms it can take.
For adoptive parents, adoption is more than filling out paperwork and waiting by the phone for "the call;" it is an incredible gift that allows them to finally become a family. For birth parents, adoption is more than a difficult decision made during the uncertainty of an unplanned pregnancy; it is a proactive way for them to provide their child with the best future possible.
"Adoption" does not refer to a single, simple, linear process. It can take many forms: domestic or international, public or private, agency or independent, open or closed. And within each type of adoption, there are thousands of unique adoption stories.
However, there are also some universal truths about adoption that everyone should know. Whether you're new to adoption as a hopeful adoptive parent or an expectant mother, an adopted person trying to better understand your story, or someone else who is just interested in adoption and how it works, here are the top five things you should know.
1. Adoption has evolved over the past 100 years - for the better.
100 years ago, the average wage for a worker in the United States was 22 cents per hour. Las Vegas, Nevada had a population of only 30 people. Only 8 percent of homes had a telephone - and we don't mean cell phones. We're talking landlines.
The world is a much different place than it was 100, 50, and even 10 years ago. From changing social norms to the rise of the digital age, almost nothing is the same - and that includes adoption.
When many people think of adoption, they envision the orphanages of the early 1900s or the secretive, closed adoptions of the 1960s and 70s. But in fact, these perceptions of adoption are no longer accurate.
Modern-day adoptions are much more positive and offer benefits for everyone involved: adopted children, birth families and adoptive parents.
Benefits of Modern-Day Adoption for the Child
Adoption provides children with safe, stable and nurturing homes, as well as loving and eager parents who are thoroughly screened to ensure they are prepared to raise a child. As adoption has become a more widely accepted and celebrated way of becoming a family, the benefits for adopted children have only grown.
Today's adoptions provide children with:
- the opportunity to maintain an open or semi-open relationship with their birth family, which may help fill the void children often experience in closed adoptions
- a more complete understanding of their adoption story and answers to their adoption questions starting at a young age
- more openness and less secrecy, leading to stronger identity development and improved self-esteem
- financial security and opportunities that their birth parents may not be able to provide (like the chance to attend college)
- not one, but two sets of parents who love them - the adoptive parents who will raise and care for them, as well as the birth parents who loved them enough to selflessly choose adoption
At its core, adoption is about adults - birth parents and adoptive parents - coming together to make selfless decisions in the best interest of a child. But adoptees aren't the only ones who benefit in the process.
How Today's Adoptions Benefit Birth Parents
No one has benefitted from evolving adoption practices as much as birth parents and pregnant women considering adoption.
For a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, a modern adoption plan completed through American Adoptions:
- puts her in charge of the process, allowing her to choose the adoptive parents, plan the life she wants for her baby, determine the type of post-adoption relationship she wants to have, and more
- gives her an opportunity to continue working toward her education, career, and other goals while providing her baby with a positive future
- relieves the financial stress of parenting and unplanned pregnancy by allowing her to receive free adoption services and assistance with living expenses
- is always an option, no matter how far along she is in her pregnancy or even if her child has already been born
- entitles her to a number of free services, including professional, no-obligation counseling, which is available 24/7 through American Adoptions
- allows her to maintain a relationship with her child long after the adoption, which can help her process feelings of grief and loss in a healthy way
- gives her the opportunity to delay parenting until she is truly ready
For many women, unplanned pregnancy happens at a less-than-ideal time. They may have plans and goals that cannot be put on hold to raise a child. Their current circumstances or home environment may not be what they want for their baby. They may have limited support from the baby's father or their family members.
Women have many different reasons for choosing adoption, but the biggest one is that they feel it is the most positive choice for themselves and their children.
You can learn more about the history and benefits of modern-day adoption by speaking with an adoption counselor at 1-800-ADOPTION or requesting free information online. Your phone call is completely free, confidential, and does not obligate you to proceed with the adoption process.
Adoption Benefits for Adoptive Families
The benefit for adoptive parents may seem the most obvious: adoption allows them to add to their families and share their lives with a child. But the advantages of modern-day adoption extend beyond that.
- is an option not only for couples struggling with infertility, but also hopeful LGBT parents and other diverse family types
- allows adoptive parents to develop special relationships not only with their child, but also with his or her birth family
- provides adoptive parents with access to up-to-date family medical information that can help keep the child safe and healthy
- relieves parents of the burden of keeping the child's adoption secret or having a difficult conversation in which they "reveal" their child's adoption story
- qualifies an increasing number of parents for employer-provided benefits, such as paid leave and financial assistance
- allows parents to experience all of the joys and challenges of raising a child of their own
Adoption has a long history of bringing families together, and it continues to evolve every day to be even better for everyone involved. Staying informed about the latest adoption news and information can help you understand what modern adoption is really like for today's birth families, adoptive parents and adoptees.
To learn more about how adoption may benefit your family, call 1-800-ADOPTION or request your free adoption information today.
2. You are the only person who can decide whether adoption is right for you.
By now, you've learned that for couples who have struggled to add to their families, adoption is a rewarding and worthwhile journey to parenthood. For a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, it's a loving and selfless way to provide the very best for her baby.
But here's a little secret: adoption is not always right for everyone.
If you are considering adoption, here's what you need to know about your adoption options to decide whether it's the right fit for you:
If You Are Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy
If you are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, you're not just faced with a monumental decision to make. You're also faced with a complex mix of emotions, and likely a number of strong opinions about your unplanned pregnancy options: adoption, abortion and parenting. Between family members, friends and the baby's father, you may feel bombarded with other's thoughts about what you should do in your circumstances.
But the reality is that no one knows you, your situation, or your unborn baby like you do.
With American Adoptions, you are in charge of your pregnancy and your adoption plan - and that includes making a decision regarding your unplanned pregnancy options. We firmly believe that you know what is best for your baby, and that this is ultimately your choice.
However, it is not a choice you have to make alone. Our compassionate social workers are always available to offer the free, no-obligation information and emotional support you need throughout your decision-making process. You can reach them any time, day or night, by calling 1-800-ADOPTION.
As you cope with your unplanned pregnancy and reflect on your options, here is some information to consider:
Deciding to Parent: Raising a child is one of the biggest and most important commitments a person can make. Parenting will require you to prioritize your child's needs over your own, and to keep your child's best interests at the forefront of every decision you make from here on out. And if you were not expecting to start or add to your family at this time in your life, you may not have the financial resources, support, or stability you'd like to offer your child.
Think about the type of life you want your baby to have, and ask yourself whether you can provide that life for him or her. If the answer is yes, and if you feel that you are ready for all of the joys and challenges of parenthood, that may be all the information you need to make your decision.
However, if you're not ready to provide the life you want for your baby, you may be wondering what other options you have.
Having an Abortion: If you know that you are not ready to raise a child, abortion may seem like the quickest and easiest way out of an unplanned pregnancy. Women who choose abortion have the benefit of doctor-patient confidentiality (except in certain states, where women under the age of 18 are required to get parental consent before seeking an abortion). An early abortion may only cost a few hundred dollars (though it can cost more after the tenth week of pregnancy, sometimes up to several thousand dollars). And once the pregnancy has been terminated, a woman may believe that it will be easy to put it out of her mind and move forward with her life, as if nothing ever happened.
But what many women don't understand is that there is another option - one that offers the same confidentiality, is completely free, entitles them to free counseling and support services, and allows them to watch their baby grow up, even if they're not ready to parent:
Every situation is different, and for some women, abortion truly is the best option when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. But it is not the only option - and it is a choice that should be made only after other alternatives are fully explored and considered.
Choosing Adoption: Not only is adoption a completely free alternative to abortion; it is also a more widely available option. You can choose adoption at any point in your pregnancy - even after your baby has already been born - and your decision does not become final until you legally consent to the adoption after delivery.
This gives you more time to think about your options and to receive the counseling and support you need to make the best choice for you and your baby. And in addition to receiving these counseling services for free, adoption entitles you to receive financial assistance for living expenses like rent, groceries, utilities and more.
Adoption puts you in control. It allows you to choose the type of life you want for your child, and to select the perfect adoptive parents who can provide that life. You'll also make important decisions about the services and support you need, the hospital experience you want to have, and the relationship you'll have with the adoptive family during and after the adoption process.
If you know you're not ready to be a parent, but you still want to provide your baby with a wonderful life, adoption may be the best choice for you.
If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and don't know what to do, an adoption specialist is available now to discuss all of your options - not just adoption. You can call the confidential hotline (1-800-ADOPTION) 24/7, for free and with no obligation to proceed with the adoption process.
If You Are Thinking About Adopting a Child
Why do you want to adopt? How does your partner feel about adoption? What are your expectations for this process and your future child?
These can be complicated questions with complicated answers - and they are just a few of the things you need to sort through before you are truly ready to pursue adoption.
While you may be eager to add to your family, it is important to ensure you fully understand the adoption process and your own readiness before you dive in. This means:
- giving yourself time to grieve - if you have struggled with infertility, it is important that you fully move through the grieving process and accept your infertility before pursuing adoption.
- agreeing on your adoption goals - it takes time to decide that you are ready to add to your family, and additional time to decide that you are ready for adoption. You may feel like you're ready before your spouse does, or vice versa - and that's okay. Give each other time to get on board with adoption, and make sure you are on the same page before getting started.
- believing that love makes a family - adoption means that your child will not be biologically related to you, but you have to believe that that doesn't make him or her any less "your" child.
- being prepared for parenthood - not only do you need to be financially and emotionally prepared for the adoption process, but also for what lies ahead: parenthood.
- trusting in the process - adoption can be emotionally draining and financially demanding; you need to be ready for an in-depth screening process, a potentially emotional wait to be chosen by an expectant mother, and more.
- budgeting for adoption - it's no secret that adoption costs can be significant; it's important to have some savings set aside for the adoption process and to research tax credits, loans, and other financing options to ensure you're financially prepared for adoption.
- being eligible for adoption - state laws allow most anyone to legally adopt, regardless of marital status, age, sexual orientation and other factors; however, you must be able to meet certain agency requirements, as well as the adoption home study requirements of your state and the state in which your baby will be born, before you can adopt a child.
Feel like you meet these criteria? You may be ready to take the next step. Request free information online or contact an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION to get started today.
Still struggling with your adoption decision? Our compassionate adoption specialists are always available to provide the detailed information and support you need during your decision-making process.
Whether you need more information about adoption or you are ready to begin the adoption process immediately, you can contact American Adoptions any time, with no obligation, at 1-800-ADOPTION.
3. Adoption can be a long - but rewarding - process.
Deciding you are meant to pursue adoption is an important first step, but it's just the beginning. Once you've made it through the decision-making process, the real journey begins.
No two adoptions are quite the same - and yours will be no exception. There are a number of factors that will impact your adoption process, including your personal preferences and adoption goals, your state's laws, and your relationship with the birth or adoptive parents. In general, here's how adoption works:
Make a Plan. Whether you are thinking about placing your child for adoption or hoping to grow your family, it's important to take some time to envision your adoption process. If you're a prospective birth parent, what type of life do you envision for your baby? What kind of relationship do you hope to have with the adoptive parents? As an expectant parent, you are in control of the entire adoption process, and your adoption plan will guide your adoption specialist every step of the way.
If you're hoping to adopt, you will need to answer similar questions about your adoption goals. What kind of adoption do you want to pursue? What types of adoption opportunities do you feel comfortable with? During this stage in the process, you will also need to prepare for adoption with an adoption home study.
American Adoptions can provide the guidance, education and support you need to create a detailed adoption plan based on your individual goals and circumstances. If you're ready to create an adoption plan, you can call an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION to get started today.
Find an Opportunity. With your plan in place, it's time to begin searching for an adoption opportunity. With American Adoptions, every waiting family creates custom adoptive family print and video profiles, which will be presented to prospective birth mothers for consideration. An adoption specialist will show a family's profile to an expectant mother when their adoption plans and goals are compatible.
From there, it is up to the potential birth mother to choose the perfect adoptive parents for her baby. She'll have the opportunity to review as many profiles as necessary and get to know potential adoptive parents through mediated phone calls, emails, and possibly even in-person visits to make sure they're the perfect fit for her adoption plan.
Complete Placement. Once a prospective birth mother is certain of her choice and her baby has been born, the child can officially be placed with the adoptive parents. With American Adoptions, placement often happens at the hospital shortly after delivery.
Prospective birth mothers have the opportunity to create a hospital plan, which determines exactly what they'd like their hospital experience to look like. This might include details about who will be present at the hospital, how much time the birth parents would like to spend alone with the baby, and more.
The adoptive parents will be informed of the hospital plan ahead of time so they know what to expect. When the birth parents are ready, the adoptive parents can meet their baby for the first time, and an adoption specialist will guide the birth mother through the legal document-signing process.
Continue the Journey. While the birth and placement of the child may feel like the end of a long road, the adoption process actually continues long after placement. Adoptive parents will need to satisfy post-placement requirements and finalize their adoption, while birth parents will need to take time to heal.
American Adoptions is always available to provide post-placement support for birth parents as they need it, and an adoption specialist will continue to coordinate ongoing contact, including the exchange of pictures and letters, for years to come.
It's important to understand that the adoption process is not always a straightforward one. Whether you're considering adoption as an expectant mother or a hopeful adoptive parent, adoption can be full of unexpected turns - but it's a worthwhile journey that will leave you forever changed.
As a national, full-service adoption agency, American Adoptions is committed to guiding potential birth and adoptive families through the entire adoption process. Call 1-800-ADOPTION or request free information today to learn how we can be there for you from start to finish and beyond.
4. Your adoption professional can make or break your experience.
Of all the decisions you'll make during the adoption process, your choice of adoption professional is one of the most important. Your chosen professional can either make the adoption work well - or it can make your experience a bumpy one.
So how do you know you're choosing the right professional for you? Read below.
Get Help Placing Your Baby for Adoption
As an expectant mother considering adoption, it's important that you choose a professional you feel comfortable with - as well as one who can meet your needs and provide all of the services you're entitled to receive.
As with everything in the adoption process, it is up to you to decide which services you want and need during your adoption process. These are some of the most important services your adoption professional should offer to any woman making an adoption plan:
- 24/7 Counseling and Support: Unplanned pregnancy can be emotionally challenging, and professional counseling is essential to help you make the best choice possible in your circumstances. If you choose to proceed with adoption, you will also likely need counseling and support throughout your pregnancy and following the adoption process - and because your pregnancy isn't on a 9-to-5 schedule, you deserve 24/7 support. With American Adoptions, your adoption specialist will be available any time of the day, any day of the week, so you can reach them whenever you need them most. In fact, our 24/7 adoption hotline is available to you right now at 1-800-ADOPTION; your call is always free, confidential, and does not obligate you to follow through with the adoption process.
- Adoption Planning: To ensure you are in charge of every step of the adoption process, you will need to work with a professional who can help you make your own personalized adoption plan. Your adoption specialist should help you determine exactly what's important to you and what you want your adoption experience to look like - and then use that plan as a guide for the rest of your adoption process.
- Finding Adoptive Parents: Choosing the perfect adoptive parents to raise your baby may seem overwhelming, but the best adoption professionals provide extensive advertising, screening and matching services to help you find the best adoptive family for your adoption plan. With American Adoptions, this means that your adoption specialist will get to know you, and, when you're ready, present you with profiles of pre-screened adoptive families who may be a good fit for you and your baby. Not only will you have a chance to review these print profiles, but you'll also get to view each family's video profile for a deeper look into their lives and personalities.
- Contact Mediation: While print and video profiles provide a good introduction to hopeful adoptive parents, the best way to ensure you're choosing the perfect family is to get to know them personally. When you find a family you'd like to learn more about, your adoption specialist will help you get to know them however you wish - whether that's through mediated phone calls, email exchanges, or even meeting the family in person.
- Financial Support: As a woman considering an adoption plan, it is important to understand that you should never have to pay for your adoption services. At American Adoptions, all of your counseling, medical and legal costs are covered for you, and, depending on your state's laws and your individual circumstances, you will likely also receive living expenses to help cover your pregnancy- and adoption-related costs. Common living expenses include: rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, transportation, maternity clothes and more.
- Hospital Planning: Your adoption professional should help you feel as comfortable as possible with every step of the adoption process, and your hospital experience should be no different. At American Adoptions, you'll work with your personal adoption specialist to create a detailed hospital plan, which outlines the type of birth and hospital experience you'd like to have. With this plan in place, you can determine exactly how you want to interact with the adoptive family and your baby at the hospital.
- Legal Services: Adoption is a legal process as well as an emotional one, and it is important that you fully understand your rights and the legal implications of your adoption decision. American Adoptions will coordinate an attorney for you to represent your best interests - and no one else's. This attorney will help you understand your state's laws and adoption procedures and will walk you through the legal document-signing process when you are ready.
- Picture and Letter Coordination: Today, most birth mothers choose to have an open or semi-open adoption. This means that you can keep in touch with your child and the adoptive parents after placement through pictures and letters, phone calls, email, video chats, and even in-person visits. With American Adoptions, not only do you get to choose the type of post-placement relationship you want to have, but you can also feel confident that the adoptive family will follow through on their commitment to you; our adoption specialists will follow up with the adoptive family to ensure you continue receiving picture and letter updates for the next 18 years.
- Birth Mother Scholarship Fund: Adoption is a choice that many birth parents make in order to continue pursuing their educational goals. When you go through the adoption process with American Adoptions, you will have the opportunity to be considered for a financial scholarship to help you continue your education.
- Post-Adoption Support: Placing a baby for adoption is one of the bravest, most selfless and most difficult decisions a woman can make, and it often takes time, effort and counseling to fully heal. Your American Adoptions specialist will continue to be available to you long after the adoption process is complete. You can get the free, professional, 24/7 counseling and emotional support you need to move forward after adoption by calling 1-800-ADOPTION.
- National Adoption Agencies: National adoption agencies like American Adoptions are the largest and most well-regulated type of adoption professional. These organizations provide services to waiting families and expectant parents across all 50 states and are licensed and regulated in multiple states to ensure they operate legally and ethically. National agencies can usually provide all of the services needed throughout the adoption process and employ large, qualified staffs. Because they operate in multiple states, they also tend to be more stable and less susceptible to changes in state laws and licensing requirements. American Adoptions can offer more robust services, lower wait times, decreased chances of an adoption disruption, and more - in part because we are a national adoption agency.
- Local Adoption Agencies: Local and regional adoption agencies often offer many of the same services as national adoption agencies, though they are smaller and typically only work with families and birth parents in the immediate area - which may lead to a longer adoption wait time. Local agencies are often only licensed and regulated by one state government and may be more susceptible to changes in state laws. While local agencies may be advantageous for families who want to meet regularly with their adoption professional in person, these organizations may have access to fewer resources, and likely will not be able to offer the same level of service offered by larger national organizations, like 24/7 adoption support.
- Adoption Attorneys: In every adoption, you will need to work with an attorney to legally finalize the process. If you work with an agency like American Adoptions, these legal services will be coordinated for you. However, some families choose to forego many of the services offered by a licensed agency and instead work with an attorney as their primary professional throughout the process. This is considered an independent adoption. When a family has already identified a potential adoption opportunity on their own, they may choose an independent adoption in an effort to save on the agency fees charged by a full-service organization. However, adoption attorneys tend to charge hourly fees, which means the adoption may be more expensive if there are unforeseen challenges, like a disruption or a contested adoption. In addition, attorneys do not offer many of the services needed to ensure the success of an adoption, such as birth mother support and counseling, contact mediation, and more.
- Adoption Facilitators: Adoption facilitators (or "adoption law centers," if they're operated by an attorney) are unlicensed, unregulated organizations that provide adoption matching services and little else. While they may be able to help you find an adoption opportunity quickly, they often charge exorbitant fees and offer no other services - leaving it to you to coordinate counseling, legal aid and any other services you need on your own. Because you'll likely be piecing these services together from multiple professionals, you'll probably end up paying more for the adoption overall. Additionally, it is important to carefully review your state's laws to ensure adoption facilitators can legally assist you with the adoption; in several states, these types of professionals are illegal, which could jeopardize your adoption.
With American Adoptions, these services are all available for free and in one place; you'll work one-on-one with your adoption specialist to coordinate the entire process, so you won't have to work with multiple professionals to get the services you need.
To learn more about our services for prospective birth parents, request your free information online or call to speak with an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION. Like all of our services, your call is completely free, confidential, and does not commit you to the adoption process.
Choose a Professional to Help You Adopt
Any time you bring a new person into your family, it is an incredible and memorable experience that will stick with you for a lifetime. When you are adding to your family through adoption, you want to make sure the process is as efficient and enjoyable as possible.
Choosing the right adoption professional is essential in ensuring a smooth adoption process. This professional will be your guide and partner through the adoption, and will ultimately play an important role in connecting you with the child who is meant to be a part of your family.
As hopeful adoptive parents, you have your choice of four main types of adoption professionals:
In general, the best adoption professionals are the ones that can guide you through the entire process from start to finish, offering the services, guidance, education and support you need to ensure a successful adoption experience.
If you think you may benefit from working with a full-service, national adoption agency, or if you have more questions about the advantages of working with American Adoptions, request your free information now or speak with an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION.
5. A perfect match leads to a wonderful life.
"Because of adoption, my life was filled with love and opportunity." - Scott Mars, President of American Adoptions
Adoption is about finding the right family for every child - and when that perfect match is found, it can lead to amazing things.
For adopted children, adoption leads to a life full of love - not only from their adoptive parents, who have often tried and waited for years to start their family, but also from their birth parents, who loved them enough to give them life and to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to give them a better future.
For adoptive parents, it leads to a life full of memories, the types of memories they've always dreamed of making with a child of their own - from fishing trips to dance recitals, family vacations to becoming grandparents.
And for birth parents, finding that perfect match with an adoptive family reassure them that they made the best possible choice for their baby. It means helping to create a family that would have been impossible without them. And it means they can continue pursuing their own goals and dreams, all while remaining an important part of their child's life.
At American Adoptions, we believe there is a family for every child and a child for every family. Our job as your adoption professional is to help you find yours.
To learn more about the impact adoption can have on your life, or to start the process to adopt or place a baby for adoption, request your free information online or speak with an adoption specialist now at 1-800-ADOPTION.