Considering Adoption

(20 Posts)

Hi smile I know this is a little different to most of the posts on here, but I've recently found out I'm almost 7 weeks pregnant, unplanned, at 19 and halfway through my university course. Parents want me to have an abortion, OH wants to raise it. I don't want an abortion, but I don't feel ready for a baby. My cousin has adopted and I've seen the joy it brings them, and I have realised that it's time to be a grown up and put my baby first.

I know that we could maybe, probably raise it, on a tiny budget, struggling to get by in a small council flat - but the thought of our baby being raised in a house by a family who've wanted a baby and have gone through such a long process, put so much time and care into the process and will give my baby the life and everything it deserves, it makes me feel more and more like it's the right way to go.

I was just wondering if people could give me any insight at all into how it works - from an adopter's point of view and maybe even from a bm's point of view if possible. What is involved, what do I have to do, what process do adopters go through, would we be forced to have contact and would we be allowed contact, what sort of contact, would we be able to change our mind during the pregnancy if we didn't want to go through with adoption?

I'd really appreciate any advice.

Fairylea Sat 07-Sep-13 18:49:40

My first thought is if your oh wants this baby my gut feeling is he should have the baby? If he feels that way it is likely he will oppose any adoption.

The thing is, we live together at university (been together three years), we're very close and he just isn't ready for it either. Neither of us are - he feels ready but financially, emotionally, practically, it just wouldn't be fair on anyone involved.

He says he will do what I want, and says it's up to me, but I value his opinion and I don't want him to hate me.

Fairylea Sat 07-Sep-13 19:18:14

Hmm. I really don't want to sound biased because at the end of the day it is your decision... BUT I am 33 and I have two dc, one to an ex I was with for 5 years from when I was your age and I don't regret having my dc at all.. even though it was essentially a choice I made not to go to university because of dd (not everyone makes that choice, there's plenty of support to continue studies nowadays).

For what it's worth I don't think anyone of any age ever feels completely ready to be a parent! Maybe ironically that's the sign of a good parent ? - knowing what you need to aspire to, to be a good one. If that makes sense.

You have been together 3 years, you obviously love each other. That's a lot more than some people who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant.

I can understand how scared you must be. It's a very difficult situation I realise.

Lilka Sat 07-Sep-13 20:53:32

This must be really stressful for you both - do you have any other people you can talk to, family, friends?

Adoption is all done through children's services (social services). You don't have to do anything now - take as much time as you need to talk to people and think about it.

IMHO it's also important to get impartial counselling. It's a huge decision and talking it through with somebody might be very helpful.

If you decide on adoption (your partner as well) and you are ready to involve childrens services, then you or your midwife can contact them. If you look on your county/city council website, they will have an adoption section, and in there there should be a page for expectant mothers who are considering adoption. It should give you the number to call to make contact. It should also explain how the process works but some websites will have more information than others. It's up to you when you want to involve them - you can call them early on, or you can wait until you are about to give birth or even after the baby is born.

After your baby is born, it will go into foster care on disacharge from the hospital, and will stay with foster carers until adoptive parents are found (this will take a few months)

On the adopters end - all adoptive parents go through a very thorough assessment process, involving criminal and medical checks, preparation course, references and multiple interviews before being passed by a panel.

You will get a social worker who will want to talk to you a lot about adoption and why you are choosing. The social worker will also ask you for personal and family information and your medical history etc. This might all be very important information for your child to have

You give consent to adoption by signing legal forms, but the forms can't be acted on till the child is 6 weeks old at least. The forms and signing will involve another agency called CAFCASS who have to witness you signing

You can change your mind. In pregnancy, you might change your mind scores of times, and thats completely fine and also an area where counselling may help.

You may find you change your mind after the baby is born, this is a period where many women will change their mind

Lilka Sat 07-Sep-13 21:06:48

If you change your mind whilst the baby is living with the foster carers, then childrens services have 7 days to give you your baby back.

If they don't think you should have your baby back (this would only happen if they had serious concerns about the baby's safety with you) they would have to apply to court for an order allowing them to place the baby for adoption, but they would need a lot of good evidence that you can't parent appropriately (things like drug addiction, violence etc)

You can express a preference about the adoptive parents - if you want them to be a certain religion etc. Some councils like mine will show you profiles of waiting families and let you say which ones you like the look of. You don't have the final say on who the adoptive parents are, but the social workers should try to meet all your preferences if possible

The baby would be several months old at least before moving to live with adoptive parents

If you change your mind once the baby has moved to live with adoptive parents, then the adoptive parents and childrens services have 14 days to return your baby to you. Like before they can apply to court if they genuinely think the baby would not be safe with you.

The adoptive parents can apply to the court for an adoption after after the baby has been living with them for 10 weeks. If you change your mind after they've applied for the order, you won't be able to have your baby back automatically. The baby would remain with the adoptive parents until the court hearing. You would need to ask the court to return your baby and would need a solicitor etc. The court could rule against you and finalise the adoption

Once the adoption order goes through, legally you will no longer be related to the baby and have no rights. It can't be reversed

If you don't want any contact with your baby, nobody can force you to. It's up to you. If you do want contact - normally, contact is one or two letters a year, maybe with photos, and/or one or two visits a year. If you want to visit your baby once or maybe twice a year, the social worker will try and find a family who are happy with that. You don't have any legal right to contact once the baby is adopted, but the contact plan should be sorted out before then and everyone in agreement.

Hope that is helpful, sorry about the length!!

Surrealistrhinoceros Sat 07-Sep-13 21:16:23

Hello. I'm an adoptive mum to two kids and will see if I can answer some practical questions for you. This must be a terribly difficult time for you and you need to take lots of time to think.

It's very unusual nowadays in the UK for babies to be given up or 'relinquished' (the legal term) for adoption - most adoptions, including my two, are of children who've been removed by social services from parents who couldn't care for them. That doesn't mean this isn't the right decision for you and your partner, but be aware that there isn't a well recognised route for you to go down.

In practical terms you would need to approach the social services department of your local authority and tell them you are considering relinquishing the baby when it is born. Both you and the local authority could make plans for adoption BUT you are not legally allowed to sign papers until six weeks after the baby is born. You can either take it home during that time, or it could be placed with foster parents. Up until the baby is six weeks old, you can change your mind at any time, even if the baby has been placed with foster or potential adoptive parents.

As you can see, if the choice in your mind is between adoption and raising the child yourself, you have a lot of time when you can explore the possibility of adoption, but can change your mind at any time,

If the baby was placed for adoption, you would probably have the opportunity to meet the adoptive parents. You might be able to discuss the kind of family you would like with social services although I doubt you would be allowed to 'choose' a family as mums apparently do in the US. The normal set up for contact is an exchange of letters and photos once a year between you and the adoptive parents. It's more unusual for there to be 'direct' contact (where you actually meet up with child and adoptive parents) but not impossible - you could ask for this. Most adoptive parents are encouraged to keep up contact with birth families but you have to understand that not all do and it's hard to force them. I hope that most adoptive parents would understand the value of keeping up contact with a caring birth mum and would do so. I certainly would. You probably wouldn't know where in the UK the baby was living.

If on the other hand you don't want contact, nobody would be legally able to force it on you. Bear in mind that the adoptive parents would be expected to tell the child they were adopted, and to give them information about you at least once they were 18. So it's likely there would be some contact in later life.

From an adoptive mums point of view, I can tell you that the process of being approved to adopt is rigorous, and most couples who get through do so because they want a child very, very badly. The adoptive parents I know are a very committed and loving lot and if you do go down this road I can assure you the baby will be very much wanted and loved. I adore my two and adopting them is the best thing I've ever done.

Your post does read slightly as if you are worrying about what you can give the baby practically. From my experience of adopting I can definitely say that the material stuff matters very, very little. Of course babies need the basics but the most important thing is that they are loved. If you don't feel ready to be a parent - which you will need more time to think about - that's a good reason. If you feel that an adoptive couple would give your baby a better material start in life than you, then I would say that's a bad reason, children don't see the world that way.

You do have some talking to your partner to do, and I hope you now see that you have some time to do this. I think that legally if he was on the birth certificate he would have parental responsibility and would also have to agree to the adoption. If you don't put him on the baby's birth certificate, only you have to make the decision - but if you've been together three years I think he deserves some part in a choice this big. Social services will also want to know his views when discussing adoption, I imagine.

I hope that's of some help. Please ask away if there are more practical things you want to know, and the very best of luck whatever you decide.

Lilka Sat 07-Sep-13 21:24:15

I forgot to say that if you wanted to meet the adoptive parents, you could

Also that if you want to look around the internet for more information, make sure you are only looking at UK sites. Most of the sites online about relinquishing a baby are American ones, and the process there is completely different

Thanks for the responses smile I thought giving a baby up for adoption was more common than it is; didn't realise it was so rare. Why is this?

Thanks for all the advice, we're going to take it all into account.

Lilka Sun 08-Sep-13 16:24:18

There's a number of reasons why it's rare, but mainly

A) No serious stigma attached to single parenthood, or unmarried cohabiting couples any more
B) We no longer believe that adoption is always a great thing - we recognise the impact on the child and birth parents, and believe that it must be a free choice, so mothers are no longer being blackmailed or coerced by midwives/social workers and other professionals to give rtheir baby up
C) Good access to abortion services
D) Benefits and other help are available that didn't use to be
E) It's now completely acceptable for mothers to work so single mums can afford to keep their babies

things like that

I think there can't be more than maybe 40/50 at maximum relinquished babies in a year throughout the whole country but I'm just guessing. We rarely see it where I live

Thanks for the reply. I can understand all of that.

OH is encouraging me to consider that maybe keeping the baby is an option... parents don't want that, but I understand that they're looking out for me but maybe I can do it and just need to convince them of that fact.... looks like I've got a lot of thinking to do. I really didn't realise it was so rare.

Maryz Sun 08-Sep-13 16:44:03

It is incredibly rare for a baby to be voluntarily relinquished. Both my two were, by two different mothers, but I am the only person I know who has adopted children like them. Obviously it is nice for me to be able to tell them that they weren't neglected or abused, but it does raise other and harder-to-answer questions about why their birth mothers made those decisions. And I know for sure that one of them at least really, really regretted her choice which I suspect was made to please her family.

I think you need to make your decisions in two different sections. First of all decide between abortion and going ahead with the pregnancy. If you decide abortion isn't for you then you have a lot of time to decide what to do after the baby is born.

These decisions should not, in my opinion, be made while you are pregnant, because the combination of exhaustion, stress, hormones, worry etc etc make it pretty much impossible to make a dispassionate, sensible, pragmatic decision.

If, after the baby is born, you feel adoption is an option, then that is the time to get social services involved - but be aware they will look at your partner and at other possible family members as well as "stranger adoption", which I imagine would be very hard for you.

You know, the fact that you are wanting to do the best thing for your baby means that you will be a good mum, whether you manage to raise your baby yourself or get outside help (either through adoption or other means).

I wish you all the best.

Maryz Sun 08-Sep-13 16:46:57

Oh, and just to add, dd is 17 now and says she understands why her birth parents made the decisions they did. She knows that she can get in touch with them at any time, if she wants to. However, having had the inevitable "what would you do if you got pregnant" conversation with her, her opinion is that she would never have an abortion, or give up her baby for adoption. She has made that very clear to me.

aladdinsane Sun 08-Sep-13 16:50:36

It is your decision but the best place for a baby is with its birth parents- unless something is terribly wrong
Babys suffer when they are removed from the birth mother and the care system in this country can be very damaging
The baby would then grow up and have to understand that a parent voluntarily gave them up
It is a lot for a child to cope with
Dont underestimate what you have to give to your child. Love from your parents is the most valuable thing

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 08-Sep-13 16:53:19

moominleigh, sorry to hear about your difficult decision.

I can't add anything really substantive to the helpful posts upthread, but I wonder if you have read any of the threads in this section on adoptive children looking for their birth parents, and mothers who either relinquished their baby or had their baby taken into care. This might be helpful to work through the longer term consequences of your decision. Please make sure you get some proper counselling to help you through this decision.

Lilka Sun 08-Sep-13 16:53:59

Explore all your options in detail - you can't be sure that adoption is right unless you've taken a long hard look at parenting and seen if there's any way you can make it work.

I would caution that you should only go through with adoption if you are sure. If after your baby is born you have doubts, then don't go ahead. Adoption is permanent and regretting your decision would be an awful position to be in. If your family played a part in your adoption decision, then you'd be left resenting your family forever as well. Don't ignore doubts, go with them. There's nothing stopping you from taking your baby home and parenting it for a few weeks before deciding either. Just be sure before going through. And if you changed your mind after the baby moved into care, even after it moved to adoptive parents (but in the legal time limit, before they apply for an adoption order), don't hesitate to say so, or feel guilty about it because as long as you can parent safely/appropriately, then you have the absolute right to do so. If you want to parent your baby, then your baby should be with you, full stop, not with adoptive parents.

If you do decide to parent, you may find your family come round and support you after they have met the baby. It's one thing to talk about a baby in the abstract when you're not even showing, it's quite another after it's born and gurgling and grasping your fingers.

SoonToBeSix Sun 08-Sep-13 17:17:34

I am adopted due to neglect however by the time I was adopted my birth mother had sorted out her problems and had custody of my younger sister. This was in the 70's and I was later told that if I had been in that situation now I would have been returned to my bm. However my adoptive parents were married , middle class and SS thought I would have a better quality of life.
Although I love my adoptive parents I had complex emotional and attachment problems in my childhood and teenage years.
Please do not think material things are important, they are not. Obviously a child needs the basics food clothes a home etc but the benefit system
will provide for that. What your child really needs is your love.
I wish you the best.

Thepoodoctor Sun 08-Sep-13 22:51:30

Just changed my username from surrealist rhinoceros above.

I think it is probably rare for babies to be given up for adoption because going through a pregnancy and then relinquishing the baby is a tougher option for most women than either an early termination or raising the child. That doesn't mean adoption might not be the right decision for you though - just that its a difficult choice and you will need to give it a lot of thought.

Forgive me if I'm wrong but you sound very worried about what your parents and your partner want. You are the one who has the toughest part to play in all of this, whatever route you finally choose. Do you have some space to think about what YOU want? Maybe some counselling from someone neutral?

Very best of luck with whatever you decide.

Thanks so much for the advice. My parents have come around to the idea of us keeping it, in fact my mum seems so excited grin we've spoken to people including lecturers and they seem positive and they've said they'll do whatever they can to make sure I get the best marks possible, and there's many options for me.

OH is thrilled and it's early days but I'm a little bit excited too smile

Lilka Sat 21-Sep-13 21:42:07

Wonderful news grin Hope the rest of your pregnancy and birth is as uneventful and uncomplicated as possible and enjoy your lovely little one smile

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