Adoption Over The Years
Many years ago, adoption was very secretive. It was not a topic discussed openly.
Most children who were adopted were typically not told the truth of their background. There was, and at times still is, a stigma attached to the adoption choice. Society sees it as “lesser” or a “second best option”, since it does not consist of a biological family unit. Over time, adoption became more widely understood and open for discussion. The most common type of adoption now is actually semi-open, which has changed since the more secretive and closed adoptions in the past.
Historically, international adoption was most common, specifically in countries where there were high rates of poverty and governmental restrictions on the number of children allowed per family. As time went on and new laws in both the US and other countries developed, domestic adoption began to be equally as common as international adoption. Nowadays, domestic adoption is actually much more common than international adoption because it has become more difficult to adopt a child overseas.
The adoption process can be widely confusing, then AND now. It is an exciting journey, and no matter what led you to this decision, you are making a brave and beautiful choice!
Terminology to help understand the confusing adoption process:
Semi-Open: some identifying information of the birth parents and adoptive parents are shared, they may meet a few times prior to delivery/placement, and ongoing exchange of letters or photos post-placement may occur on a minimal basis, and often times through the agency
Closed: no identifying information about the birth parents and adoptive parents are shared between the two parties, no contact before delivery/placement, and no ongoing communication about child after placement
Open: all identifying information shared between birth parents and adoptive parents, they typically meet multiple times prior to delivery/placement, and have ongoing contact after placement
Newborn Adoption: the adoptive parents are choosing to adopt a newborn baby and are typically matched with the birth mother during pregnancy or shortly after delivery when birth mother voluntarily relinquishes her parental rights
Foster to Adopt: the adoptive parents are choosing to foster a child first through the state foster care system, typically older (average age 8 years old) and not a newborn, prior to the finalized adoption process
Birth Mother: biological mother who carried and delivered baby
Adoptive Parents: parents who are choosing to raise a child that is not biologically their own
Not only can the adoption process be confusing, but also frustrating, long, and heartbreaking at times as well. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming, it is difficult to even know where to start! Do your research on adoption agencies and meet with multiple to find the best fit for you and your family. Discuss with your partner and family what type of adoption you want and are comfortable with: newborn adoption, foster to adopt, older child adoption, open adoption, closed or semi-open adoption... Once you make those first few important decisions, you are one step closer! One more tip is to participate in as many adoption information sessions, parent education classes, pre-placement support groups or support services so you don't feel alone during the process.
Adoption Process NOW:
Home Study: a process where a licensed professional enters the adoptive parents' home for an interview and evaluation to approve the adoption process to begin
Adoption Plan: birth mother and/or father develop an adoption plan that typically includes hospital plan, adoption style (open, closed, semi-open), choosing prospective adoptive parents, legal resources, and other basic needs (if a voluntary relinquishment of biological parental rights is leading the adoption process, and not the legal system)
Match Process: the timeframe when the adoptive parents are matched with a birth mother and/or child. If engaging in a newborn adoption where birth mother is still pregnant, she cannot relinquish her parental rights until at least 48 hours after delivery
Placement: once birth parental rights are relinquished either voluntarily or otherwise, the baby/child is placed in the adoptive parents home
Termination: a court process after birth mother has signed relinquishment of parental rights that officially terminates her parental rights by court of law
Post-Placement: once the baby/child is placed in the home, there is a supervision period of at least 5 months in Texas for monthly check-ins to assess attachment, bonding, and growth of the new family
Finalization: after the post-placement supervision period, the adoptive parents will present in court to officially obtain all parental rights of their new child approved by court of law
“Imagine this: what would happen if we were all brave enough to believe in our own ability, to be a little more ambitious. I think the world would change.” – Reese Witherspoon