What to Expect When You Are a Birth Mom
You have taken the first big step and called me, an adoption attorney. You are filled with all kinds of emotions – sadness for being in this situation, nervousness as to what will happen these next few months, grief for carrying a child you may not know, and curiosity as to the adoptive family that you get to pick, just to name a few.
As you begin this journey, know that you are not alone…even if it seems you are. There are other women in your shoes, who have experienced these same emotions and made an adoption plan.
There are many reasons why women make an adoption plan, but they all decide to place their child for adoption because they love their child. It’s not an easy decision, but they make this decision because they truly love the child they are carrying and want something different than they can provide.
So how does an adoption actually work? What will the next few months, and even after, look like?
Meeting an Adoption Attorney
The first step is for us to meet. I can meet you at my office or at a coffee shop – wherever you might be the most comfortable. At this first meeting, we will get to know each other. You can tell me what your wish is for your child and why you are considering adoption. We can discuss what kind of family you want for your child – do you want a family who does not have kids, a family who does not have kids, a family that has pets, a family that goes to church, etc. We can even look through profile books of potential families. We will go over Florida adoption law and I will have you sign the Florida Adoption Disclosure which states the adoption laws. I am required to give you this information within 14 days of our meeting.
Picking an Adoptive Family
At some point after our initial meeting, or maybe at that first meeting, you can pick a family. Once you pick a family, you can decide if you would like to meet them. Most of my birth moms meet the family at least once. However, you do not have too. And when we do meet, we will only share your first name. I will be there with you when you meet the family. The meeting always starts out a little awkward. But then it gets exciting as you tell the family your hopes for your child. This meeting gives you a chance to get to know the family better, and it helps you feel good about the decision you are making.
In the meantime, there are still doctor appointments. And some legal things to discuss. At our first meeting, I will explain that I cannot be your attorney. I represent the adoptive parents in this process. I will also tell you that you can back out of the adoption at any time, even after you have given birth. The adoption must be your decision, and no one can pressure you into this decision.
Discussing the Adoption Process
Here are a few other things we will discuss during our meetings together:
- Birth Father: In Florida, I have to notify anyone whom you might think is the birth father to tell them of his rights. If he wants to participate in the adoption process with you and you want him, he is more than welcome to do so. Birth father rights are tricky, so we can discuss this more at our meetings.
- Medical Records: At some point, I will ask for you to sign a HIPPA form allowing me access to your OB/GYN records. Under Florida law, the adoptive parents are allowed to review your medical records during your pregnancy. It protects them from being shocked when a baby is born with issues. When sharing your medical records, your contact info and name will be redacted. You are entitled to a right to privacy under Florida law.
- Interview: You will meet with a social worker in person or over the phone to have a birth mother interview. This is required by the law. The interview allows you to understand your rights from a third party as well as gives the adoptive parents more info about you (your hometown, sibling info, etc.).
- FSMH: You will fill out a form entitled Family Social Medical History. This form is a health history of you and your family members. For instance, if you wear glasses, this is something that the adoptive parents will need to know.
- Type of adoption: We will discuss whether you want an open, closed, or semi-open adoption. The majority of my adoptions are semi-open meaning that will receive pictures and letters of your child throughout his/her childhood.
- Counseling: We will also discuss counseling. I am a firm believer that all parties, especially birth moms, going through this process needs counseling.
- Finances: If you are in unemployed or underemployed, the adoptive parents can help you with some of your expenses while you are pregnant and up to six weeks after you have the baby.
As it gets closer to the due date, we will talk about your hospital plan. Yes, more planning. And the hospital plan may change when you get to the hospital or while you are there. But, it is important to go ahead and think about how you want delivery and post delivery to go. For example, you can choose the following:
- Who do you want in the hospital room prior to delivery? Some of the moms I work with are in labor for awhile, so they have the adoptive parents come in to the room. Others just want one person.
- Who do you want with you in the room during delivery? Options include boyfriend, friend, adoptive mom.
- Do you want to see the baby? Do you want to hold the baby? Most birth moms want to see the baby but not for long.
- Do you want the baby in your room while you are in the hospital? Most birth moms do not want the baby in their hospital room during their stay because they do not want to get any more attached to the baby.
- Do you want to breastfeed? Most say no.
After the baby is born, you have to wait 48 hours or after you are discharged to sign your consent to the adoption. The consent to the adoption is the paperwork you will sign to agree to terminate your parental rights to the child. Legally, a child can only have one parent. However, practically, a child can have many moms. You will have to agree to terminate your parental rights so that your child can be adopted by the family you chose.
Signing the Consent Form
When you sign your consent, I will make sure you are not under the influence of any medication. We want you to be totally clear minded so that you know what you are signing. You will need two witnesses of your choice and a notary to be present. I will be there. The notary most likely will be a court reporter who will put you under oath. I will ask you questions as to why you are placing your child for adoption, if you have had any medication lately, and more concerning the adoption. The reason for the questions is to make sure that you are making the adoption on your own free will, no one has defrauded you, and no one has threatened you. If anyone threatens or defrauds you, the adoption cannot take place.
When you sign your consent, you will also have to sign a bunch of other legal documents that will confirm that your child is yours, there is no other case involving this child in the court systems, whether your child is of Native American descent…and a few more.
Once the consent to adoption is signed, it is legally binding. The only way it can be overturned is to prove fraud or duress in court.
We can also sign an agreement as to the communication you would like to receive about your child. This agreement is not legally binding, however it is made in good faith.
While this is a lot of information, I will be there every step of the way. I will also connect you to a counselor, if wanted. There are also many support groups out there. We can even get you your own attorney! The goal is to make sure you are informed and comfortable with everything that is happening throughout this process. It is an exciting time!
If you’re interested in learning more about what an adoption plan would like for you, it’s always best to have someone by your side to help advise you on the process. Here at Florida Adoptions, we have the right knowledge and experience to walk you through the adoption process and would be more than happy to help you. Please contact us with any questions you may have or to start your adoption journey today.