|The choice you have to make about your unplanned pregnancy is not an easy one. It’s not just about the practical problems that a baby brings. It’s also about your feelings, beliefs and personal values. The information given here is to help you explore what each option (parenting or adoption or abortion) might mean for you in your situation. It is important that you also take into account any deeper emotional concerns.|
Some parents say ‘I could never do that” when they think of adoption. However for some parents, adoption can be a very positive choice. It can be their chosen means of providing the best for their baby.
Perhaps you wonder what’s involved with adoption. Maybe you have questions in your mind similar to those below?
What happens if I’m not sure about adoption?
You don’t have to decide during your pregnancy. This is a time for looking at adoption as a possible option, and finding out what’s involved. Some babies are placed with adoptors from birth, but you will have plenty of time to consider if this is right for you and your baby. You don’t need to decide finally until your baby is six weeks old, as legal consent for adoption cannot be given until the baby is six weeks old .
What kind of life would my child have?
Studies have shown that the vast majority of baby adoptions work out happily, and that those children do well in life. Prospective parents are selected very carefully. Sometimes there are problems, as in ‘ordinary’ families, but these may not be due to adoption.
Would I always think about my child?
You would always remember your child, but these thoughts needn’t continue to be painful ones. It is only natural for you to feel some grief and loss initially, but you would be more likely to feel consoled by the fact that you gave your child a positive start in life by providing a family and a future.
Adoption means I don’t care about my child, doesn’t it?
Adoption means you do care. You would not be rejecting your child as unwanted, but putting him or her first by ensuring they receive what you feel unable to give at this present time. It is a responsible and caring choice.
So what’s involved?
Adoption is a legal process which provides a child with new parents. It is arranged by the Social Services Department. If you are considering adoption, you can arrange to see a social worker who will spend time with you discussing the procedure and answering your questions. You can do this during your pregnancy.
If you decide to pursue adoption, the social worker will ask questions about you and usually the baby’s father. This is so that your child can know as much as possible about his or her origins. You will be asked what sort of parents you would like for your child and later be told about the prospective adopters, probably meeting them if you wish.
What happens when the baby is born?
You may be able to choose what arrangements you would like in the hospital, such as whether to care for and feed your baby for a short while.
When you leave hospital, the usual arrangement is for your baby to be looked after by a foster carer. This would normally be for a period of six weeks. You can visit your baby during this time so that you can be sure about your decision. You may request that your baby goes to prospective adopters immediately, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
What happens then?
If you have decided to go ahead with the adoption, your baby will be placed with the prospective adopters who then apply to the court for an adoption order. The court is able to make an adoption order when the baby has lived with the adopters for at least 13 weeks and is at least 19 weeks of age.
You do not have to attend court. The court will send a social worker, called a ‘reporting officer’, to make sure you agree with the adoption and ask you to sign a formal document.
What if I change my mind?
If you change your mind before the time your baby is placed with adopters, you can normally have your baby live with you immediately. If you change your mind during the three month period after placement, the court would ask more questions about your reasons and the judge would decide the matter. Once granted, an adoption order cannot be reversed.
What about the future?
Your child should be brought up knowing he or she is adopted. You will be able to exchange news and photos from time to time. The child will have a ‘life book’ telling him or her about you. When the child is 18, he or she can see the birth certificate and trace you if they wish.
If you want to know more about adoption, the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) publish a leaflet called ‘Pregnant and Thinking about Adoption?’