If there is any one line I have heard more than 1,000 times in the 10 years I’ve worked with women facing an unplanned pregnancy, it’s “I could never give my baby away.” This response to an adoption conversation seems to be the nuclear response that ends the discussion more often than not. Where do you go from there? I understand both why an expectant mom would say that and why those who help her don’t seem to have a good response. Is making an adoption plan giving your baby away?


Just like every other sensitive topic, we all have blindspots in our understanding and beliefs that are not real. Somewhere in the synapses of our minds, we have captured information and held it as gospel truth. Over time, as we reconnect with those mindsets and affirm their truths, another groove is worn into our thinking until it becomes a mental rut we have trouble getting out of. Oh, we can parrot all the right things, but at the end of the day, what do we really believe?


Adoption Is Not About Giving Your Baby Away


When a woman tells me that she could never give her baby away, the first thing I ask is, “Why do you think open adoption means you are giving your baby away?” When someone objects, it is not necessarily that they do not agree with what is said as much as it is them having to overcome their preconceived notions about adoption. There can be a variety of reasons why she relates adoption to giving her baby away.


The adoption stories of decades ago told of young women who were forced in many cases by their parents to place a child for adoption. More often than not, they delivered a baby that was then rushed out of the delivery room, leaving the new mother unaware of what the child looked like. That child was then placed in the arms of faceless people, unknown to her and never to be heard from again. Today, open adoption is now the preferred way to handle adoptions. Research overwhelmingly shows that open adoption is in the best interest of the child and everyone else involved. Open adoption allows the birthmother and the adoptive family to agree on what their relationship and ongoing contact will look like following placement. In some states, that agreement is legally enforceable.


Other times, expectant moms can relate adoption to their experience with state-run child protection services. Expectant moms who have experience with these agencies can be averse to adoption because they are relating that experience to what they think making an adoption plan will be like. First off, with an adoption plan, the expectant mom is the one making the choices. She gets to pick the family and decides what she wants the adoption relationship to look like. With foster care placement, you don’t get to decide anything.


An expectant mom can be afraid of what the emotional upheaval will look like if she goes through with an adoption plan. The idea that she will languish in grief without a voice or a way to process it can create a barrier to discussing adoption fast. Usually it looks like her flailing her arms and saying, “I could never do that!” Thankfully there are post-placement adoption support and recovery options available for birthmothers who want support to process the loss post-placement. Making an adoption plan does involve loss, but it is not like giving your baby away. Open adoption is not co-parenting. There will be a real separation between the birthmother and her biological child. But those losses can be overcome. There is recovery to those who are willing to seek out the best way to do that. Knowing they will have continued contact and communication makes dealing with adoption loss much better to deal with than no contact at all.


Getting Real About Making An Adoption Plan


For anyone considering adoption, even if it is just a vague thought at the moment, understanding what the options are and what you need to know to make the right decision for you is the first step. Understand that talking to an adoption agency does not obligate you to anything. What talking to an agency will do is help you be correctly informed, so you can decide if making an adoption plan is right for you.


If you have questions about the right information to help someone make an adoption plan, or if you are considering one for yourself, contact us today for a no-obligation conversation. The right information is just a phone call away and the best choice for mom and baby is worth taking time to carefully consider.