The Adoption Option
By Adrian Lam, 15, Staff Writer
Originally Published: September 1, 2015
Revised: September 1, 2015
Every year, nearly 750,000 teenage girls in the United States find out they are pregnant. Some are high school seniors about to head off to college. Others are just starting their sophomore or junior year. Some are even dealing with tough issues like abuse or homelessness. Whatever the situation a teen finds herself in, suddenly having to worry about a baby can be very scary.
As a teenager, you may want to do things other teens do—shop at the mall, cheer on a basketball game, go to the homecoming dance—not take care of a baby. Being a teen parent, you will have to make many sacrifices. If you are very lucky, you may be able to share the burden of raising a child with a partner. Nevertheless, it can be very stressful to continue with school and raise a child simultaneously. Imagine having no sleep AND balancing classes. Being a teen parent isn’t right for everyone. Adoption can be an option that allows all parties to “win.”
Meeting with an adoption counselor is very, very important. You do not want to just start looking for a random family to adopt your baby.
If you do not feel physically or mentally ready to care for a baby and do not want an abortion, you might want to consider adoption. This may be the best alternative for your baby and you. When you arrange an adoption, you give someone else legal custody over your child. The child is then permanently placed in a new home with a new family.
Arranging an adoption can be very emotionally challenging, but this option boasts some major benefits. First of all, it is important to think about both your own and your baby’s future. “Teens that choose adoption are more likely to finish school and achieve other higher education and career goals,” according to a research study conducted at the Battelle Health and Population Research Center in Seattle. They also have the peace of mind knowing their child is living in a financially secure and loving household with committed parents. These new parents can provide the child with opportunities and resources that the teen mother may not have had.
So how exactly do you arrange an adoption?
Arranging an Adoption
While the specific adoption steps and guidelines vary from state to state, this is the general procedure. To begin the adoption process, contact a licensed adoption agency or call to speak with an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION (236-7846).
Coleen Globke, the co-founder of All About U Adoptions at AAUAdoptions.org, says, “The sooner the birth parents start counseling, the better they will be prepared emotionally. We have worked with mothers of babies who were already three to six months old. It is never too late to make an adoption plan.”
A physician can also refer you to some reliable adoption agencies. Local adoption agencies will often provide free, confidential adoption counseling and support services.
I interviewed Monica Gagne, an adoption social worker at Golden Cradle Adoption Services in Cherry Hill, NJ, to learn more about the adoption process. She explains, “A lot of women go to the Internet to learn more about adoption. They can choose a private adoption, which is conducted through an attorney, or open adoption, which is completed through an adoption agency. They can also choose foster adoption, in which they put their infant in foster care.”
While many pregnant women arrange adoptions, it’s important to remember that the father of the child may have the legal right to make an informed choice about what will happen with the child. In some states, it may be necessary to get the father’s consent in order to go through with the adoption. If the father opposes the adoption, he can file a formal written objection and go to court with an alternate parenting plan. Hence, it is best for both partners to agree to go through with the adoption process together. If both partners support the adoption, the father can help choose the adoptive family with the mother.
The birth parents must decide whether they want a closed or open adoption. A closed adoption is also known as a “confidential” or “traditional” adoption. In this type of adoption, the birth parents and the adoptive family do not meet each other. The record of the birth parents is kept sealed, and the birth mother has as little involvement as possible with the adoption. Usually, this option cuts off communication with the infant after birth.
On the other hand, open adoption gives the birth parents the ability to contact their child and the adoptive parents after the mother gives birth. In an open adoption, birth parents can choose to be as involved as they want. Birth parents can select the adoptive family and keep in touch with the child throughout the process if they choose to. This way, birth parents can ensure their child is placed in the best hands possible. Birth parents can also share identifying information with the new legal parents and have direct access to ongoing contact over the years, through letters, pictures, phone calls and visits arranged with the family.
Finding the Right Adoptive Family
After contacting an adoption agency, the birth parents receive a brochure with profiles of the adoptive families. According to Ms. Globke, “Meeting with an adoption counselor is very, very important. You do not want to just start looking for a random family to adopt your baby. There is a process that, if followed, will be very beneficial to you and your baby.”
An adoption specialist can help the birth parents find the right adoptive family. There are many different factors that play a role in determining the adoptive family, such as religion, ethnicity, location, age, health and more. The adoptive families have already been through extensive screening and background checks, including completed home studies, which make sure they are ready to provide a safe and loving home to a child.
Adoption services are absolutely free. The adoptive family may even opt to help pay for pregnancy-related expenses, such as medical care, maternity clothes, transportation, food and rent. Keep in mind that it may take a couple of months from when the process begins to find the right parents for the child, since this is such an important match.
In the end, adoption can be a win-win situation for everyone. The teen parents are able to continue pursuing their goals, the child gets to live in a stable home, and the adoptive parents have a new child to add to their family.
- Aauadoptions.org offers adoption support, education and adoption services to families and birth parents across the country.
- Americanadoptions.com has information about your options and how to go through with the adoption process.
- Birthmombuds.com provides peer counseling, support, encouragement and friendship to birth moms as well as pregnant women considering adoption.
- Childwelfare.org has lots of resources and information on adoption planning.
- Plannedparenthood.org has information on pregnancy options counseling, adoption and parenting.
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