I’ve given you a list of goals if parenting is your long-term pregnancy goal for 2010. Now it’s time to talk adoption. Please know that I intend for you to compare and contrast your lists after you have made them and considered them thoroughly. One list is really not complete without the other. Remember that as I give you a list of things you need to do if placement is on your list of possibilities for 2010.
One thing about adoption is that it is not something you should consider, at all, without thorough research. And I mean thorough. Relying on what an agency or attorney tells you is simply not thorough enough. As such, the first few things on your list are researched based. Don’t skip over these or take them lightly. It’s important.
1. Research the types of adoption. Do you want a closed adoption? An open adoption? A semi-open adoption? What do those terms even mean? Do they mean different things in different states? (See next point.) Learn what each type of adoption means and what you would feel most comfortable with both in the short and long term.
2. Research your state laws. This is where it gets difficult. Laws differ from state to state and that means things can be very different just across a state line. You need to research all of the information regarding your state’s treatment of the Termination of Parental Rights, revocation periods and minimum time allotment before you are allowed to sign. You need to research whether or not your state allows for legally binding open adoptions or whether the adoptive parents have the ability to fall off the face of the Earth after you sign away your rights. You need to research how your state treats Original Birth Certificates and whether or not you need to sign a waiver so that you child can access your information in the future should your adoption be suddenly closed. And more.
3. Research agencies. This is also more difficult than it sounds. You need to do the research as to whether you want to go local or national. You need to research each agency’s treatment of expectant parents considering placement. Do they provide you with your own legal counsel? Do they provide you with counseling before and after placement by an unbiased third party? Do they have a lot of complaints on the web? Are they ethical? It can be overwhelming but it can be done.
4. Research adoption grief and loss for both birth parents and adoptees. This is not the fun part but it is the very meat and potatoes of adoption. Don’t write it off as something you won’t experience. Read blogs. Read books. Read forums. Ask questions. Seek advice. There’s a wealth of information as to the long term emotional affects of placement on both birth parents and adoptees. Read it.
Research done and agency picked, you need to do a number of other things before your child arrives.
5. Pick a family. Again, it seems like it might be easy. It’s hard. Don’t allow your agency to limit the number of coupones or individual potential parents that you interview. Interview as many as you need until you feel as though you have found the most perfect parents for your child.
6. Seek counseling. If your agency is not providing you with counseling (which they should be), please seek private counseling. Find a therapist that works on a sliding scale and just go. There are things that even researching grief and loss can’t begin to tell you about how you will handle the process of relinquishing your child. A counselor can help you deal with those emotions.
7. Prepare your friends and family. They are likely bound to have deep opinions on the topic of adoption. Educating them as well as all future people in your life is just a part of adoption.
8. Write a letter to your child. Or a journal. Or write our their family lineage. Or buy a gift. Or all of the above. The truth is that once you sign the Termination of Parental Rights, you don’t honestly know if your child will be told about you or that he/she was even adopted. Write the letter even if you have been promised that you will always be involved in the child’s life. Write that letter and make a copy, keeping one for yourself and your records.
9. Know your rights. Perhaps this goes under the research header above but it is so very important, especially as your pregnancy draws to an end. In the hub-bub that comes with labor, delivery and hospital stays, rights can be forgotten. Remember that you are entitled to be with your baby at all times in the hospital. You don’t have to sign the Termination of Parental Rights immediately and can take as long as you need. Should you change your mind before you sign those papers, everyone needs to respect those rights. Please keep reading about your rights in the months and weeks leading up to your child’s arrival.
These two lists might seem vastly different. Perhaps they are. While one results in parenting and the other results in placement, the two lists, written out with your specific goals and issues in black and white, achieve the same end: they allow you to make the best decision possible with all of the available information. Please take the time to make these goals in 2010.
You can make this year your Best Year Ever if you take the time to go about these decisions in a well-researched, well-planned manner. You are in charge of what happens this year. Make your decisions with as much information as you need.