The Adoption Experience for Birthparents
Please ask your social worker if you have concerns.
Keep this guide handy as you work through your adoption.
What’s the first step?
If you’re curious about adoption, your first step is to call Adoption Link at 1-800-643-3356. We will assign a social worker to meet with you and talk about the adoption process.
Paperwork: You will meet with an Adoption Link social worker to work on the Social Medical History (JFS 1616) as well as the Adoption Law and Materials Guide (JFS 1693) and look over other forms, such as the openness plan. We try to have all the forms completed before we get to the hospital. If not, we can always do the forms right before or soon after the baby is born.
Choosing a family
We will show you all the profile books of families who are waiting to adopt. You can ask to interview them over the phone or in person or both. Your social worker will make arrangements for you to meet as many families as you want until you meet the family that’s right for you.
The matching meeting
The meeting will take place at a neutral location, such as a favorite restaurant. You can bring questions that you have for the adoptive family. At the end of the meeting the social worker will suggest exchanging cell phone numbers so that you can reach the adoptive parents if you have additional questions.
Smile and get to know them. Ask questions about them or their profile book. Bring up topics such as openness as well as names for the baby — anything that you want to know.
Birthparent care and support
It is not uncommon to have concerns about costs when you are dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. Your relationship with Adoption Link will not cost you anything. All counseling, support, referrals and legal services will be at no cost to you. Adoption Link can assist you immediately.
Adoption Link will be able to assist you with your medical bills and your pregnancy related living expenses. In Ohio, birthmothers are entitled to receive up to $3,000.00 for living expenses such as rent, utilities, food, transportation and maternity clothes. Please let your Adoption Link social worker know if you are in need of assistance before or after your baby is born.
If you have not already started with your prenatal care, make sure you ask your social worker to connect you with an OB care provider that delivers at your preferred hospital.
If everyone is feeling comfortable, it is a great idea for you to share in OB care appointments with the adoptive family you have chosen.
The day has arrived and your baby is due. This is an exciting time for everyone but also a time that can trigger much emotion. You may invite the adoptive family to spend time with you and your baby at the hospital. Usually, you will stay at the hospital 24-28 hours after the baby is born. You can discharge from the hospital with the baby, or you can allow the baby to go home with the adoptive family after you leave — it’s up to you.
Note: The adoptive parents’ relatives are not invited to the hospital at all.
Labor: If you have enough support at the hospital, your Adoption Link social worker will come and see you after you have had a chance to rest. If you need support at the hospital and you have no one else to be with you, your social worker is happy to attend your birth. The Adoption Link social workers do not come for the labor, as the room tends to get pretty crowded. However, we will be available to support birthmoms during labor if there is no doula (birthing coach) or support team in place.
When will an Adoption Link social worker come to the hospital? You will see an Adoption Link social worker every day that you are in the hospital. You will most likely also see the hospital social worker during your stay there. As noted above, Adoption Link social workers do not come for the labor, as the room can become quite crowded. We will be available to support you, however, during labor if there is no doula (birthing coach) or support team in place.
What to bring to the hospital: Bring your medical insurance card to the hospital. If you don’t have insurance, ask to speak with the financial services person who can help you apply for Medicaid and/or HCAP.
Openness Agreement: If we have not already done so, we will put the finishing touches on the openness agreement at the hospital and ask everyone to sign it.
What can I expect from an open adoption?
The Adoption Link Standard Openness Agreement: At minimum, unless otherwise indicated by the birthparents, pictures and letters will be sent to the birthmother and/or birthfather by the Adoptive Family once per month for the first twelve months after placement and four times a year (quarterly) thereafter. Face-to-face contact may occur a minimum of twice per year. Visits can be held wherever everyone is comfortable – in the adoptive family home, at a park, or in a restaurant.
At the hospital
A hospital social worker will make contact with the birthmother at the hospital to help with the adoption plan and make sure things go as smoothly as possible. Your Adoption Link social worker will come to the hospital to work on forms, such as the temporary care agreement.
Naming the baby
Many options exist for naming the baby. Birthparents have every right to name the baby at birth (any first, middle and last name can go on the birth certificate in the child section). Then, the adoptive family can name the baby when they finalize the adoption. You and the adoptive family may also choose to work together to name the baby at the time of birth or even before the baby is born.
On the original birth certificate, after the baby’s name, the birthmother will put her full legal name. If the birthmother is not married, the birthfather section should say “unknown” so that a CSEA case does not get started.
Social Security number for the baby: Make sure you say “Yes” when asked if you want a Social Security number issued for your child. Once you receive the number you can forward it onto the adoptive family. They often need this number in order to add the baby to their insurance policy.
Leaving the hospital: The birthmother may leave the hospital 24 to 48 hours after birth, depending on how she is feeling. The baby may stay longer, depending on his or her health.
The surrender: The birthmother is usually able to sign the surrender documents 72 hours after the baby is born. Typically, the birthmother’s attorney and an Adoption Link social worker will meet at the birthmothers’ home or hospital to discuss and sign the final papers. The adoptive family and the baby do not come to this meeting.
Living expenses: Your social worker will bring the living expenses allowance for you at the surrender meeting; or, the allowance might be mailed to you. Learn more.
Additional thoughts on Adoption: An Alternative Parenting Decision
How and why birthparents come to the decision of adoption
An unplanned pregnancy can bring a range of reactions. People need to adjust emotionally and financially, as well as structurally – adjusting anticipated life plans for education, marriage, employment, or just the timing of those things. Sometimes an unexpected pregnancy requires changes in life plans that are devastating to one’s hopes and dreams for the future.
Sometimes there is a recognition that the best interest of the baby or the birthparents would not be served by parenting the baby. This could be a matter of finances, emotional duress, life circumstances, or just timing. When an adoption is planned, it is ultimately a selfless and loving decision that gives priority to the care of the baby. Although it is not parenting per se, it is indeed a parenting decision.
How does adoption work?
Adoption involves a decision to legally terminate one’s rights as a parent. It is finalized in a court of law, and with a judge’s oversight that the plan is in the best interest of the baby. It is a legally binding and permanent decision.
Though one’s legal rights as a parent are terminated, open adoption permits various levels of contact and involvement, such that all ties between birthparent and child are not completely severed. The nature of the relationship, however, is different – open adoption is not co-parenting. It is also not a legally binding decision in the state of Ohio, but more of a plan carved out of a mutual caring for the baby, as well as a trust for one another’s intent. Often, through the planning and carrying out of an open adoption, a bond of life-long friendship is forged between the adoptive family and the birth family.
The nature of openness in adoption is designed to serve the emotional needs of the child. In an open adoption, children know from an early age where they came from, and have an opportunity to explore their origins within the loving, trusting family where they grow. They learn that their parents adopted them out of love, and that their birthparents planned for their adoption out of love. They also gain an understanding that it is natural to want to know where one originated. It makes sense to them, and does not cause confusion. Usually open adoptions evolve into relationships of knowing each other in a way similar to how cousins may know one another throughout life.
Emotional/social aspects of adoption
There is loss in the decision to plan for an adoption of a baby. Birthparents live with a decision that ends their rights as a parent to this child, and lose the opportunity to know intimate details of the child’s daily life. At the same time, they gain the awareness that they made a decision in the best interest of a baby whose life they value.
Some birthparents experience shame and guilt in knowing they were unable to provide for their child. Feelings such as these may be managed through a network of supportive friends and family who understand the nature of the decision.
A word about open adoption
In our society the option of turning the care of our children over to others (usually grandparents or other close relatives) has existed for centuries. The option of choosing caregivers from the general public through adoption, however, is more recent. Back in the 1950s, adoption among unrelated people was private and anonymous, and there was often a certain amount of shame associated with it. That has changed a great deal over time, and today, open adoption allows for a lifetime of reassuring contact between birthparents and children. Openness has helped society embrace the positive nature of adoption, making shame and fear a thing of the past.
Please contact Naomi at 937-767-2466 or 1-800-643-3356 or your social worker if you have any other questions. Adoption Link serves all of Ohio, including: Cinncinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Cleveland.