What Happens After Adoption?

Close up of a beautiful birthmother.

When deciding to place a child with an adoptive family, there may be a lot of unanswered questions about what will it be like after the adoption. Here are some basic facts to give you an idea of what to expect.  

The biggest mystery of the adoption process for a birth mother may be what it will be like after she places a child with an adoptive family. Depending on which state you live in, and the terms of the adoption, birth mothers may have different experiences after the baby is born, but some of the milestones are the same across the board.

To help you prepare, we’ve put together a list of basic facts and some of the things you can expect to happen after placing a child for adoption:

·      You can decide on adoption after the baby is born.

Each state has different laws regarding how much time a birth mother has to give consent to the adoption or change her mind about an adoption after giving birth. If you feel uncertain about your decision to place a child with an adoptive family, please read this article.

·      You can determine the level of contact between you and the adoptive family.

Some adoptions are open, and some are closed. Some birth parents find peace of mind knowing that they can visit, talk to, or see photos of the child they placed with the adoptive family, and others find it easier to move forward with their lives by abstaining from contact with the child or the adoptive parents. You should discuss your options with your adoption professional and figure out which adoption arrangement would work best for you.

·      You can name the baby.

As a birth mother, you are allowed to name the child you are placing for adoption any time before relinquishing your parental rights, and this name will appear on the child’s original birth certificate. When the adoptive parent or parents have finalized the adoption, they too will have an opportunity to name or rename the child. Many parents compromise and decide jointly on a name, or give the child a first or middle name of the birth parents’ choosing.

·      You will be asked to sign consent papers.

One of the milestones of an adoption is when the birth parents relinquish their rights. At some point during pregnancy or after the baby has been born, you will be required to give your written consent to the adoption. More information about adoption consent laws here.

·      There may be a grieving process after placing.

A sense of grief and loss is normal after placing a child for adoption. For more information about dealing with the emotions after placing a child, see this article from Child Welfare Information Gateway about the Impact of Adoption on Birth Parents.

·      You can ask for counseling.

Experiencing a range of emotions is natural during pregnancy and after having a baby. It might be helpful to have someone to help guide you through the internal changes before, after, or even during an adoption. Not all adoption agencies provide post placement counseling, but they can help find you the support you need after placing a child. Don’t be afraid to ask.

·      Adoption records are not public.

You don’t have to talk about your adoption; this is your personal choice. Adoption records are confidential, and private. For more on talking about adoption (or not talking about it), read this article.

·      Many women move forward with their lives successfully after an adoption.

After an adoption, you are free to resume your life as it was before the pregnancy. Some birth mothers go back to school, some start their own families, and others pursue careers. To hear stories from other birth mothers about what happens after an adoption, check out this page.

·      You may have an opportunity to reunite with the child you placed for adoption when they become an adult.

When the adopted child turns 18 years old, or is at the age where they are considered an adult, they are allowed to register with state and national reunion registries and access their adoption records to try to locate and reunite with their birth parents. Many adoptees seek out their birth families. Whatever you decide, this is a personal choice whether you want to reunite with the child you placed, or not.

Want to learn more about being a birth mother from women who have been through adoption? Read our birth mother blogs. Trying to find a loving adoptive home for your baby? Have a look at our adoptive parent profiles.

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