1. What is adoption?
There are two perspectives to consider in answering this question. One is from a legal point of view and the other is from a social/emotional perspective. Legally, adoption is the process of transferring parental rights from one set of parents to another. For adoptive parents, it is accepting full legal custody of a child not born to them and raising the child as their very own.
However, adoption is much more than a legal process. Adoption is full of social and emotional factors for birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents. Indeed, just consider the many books there are on adoption to get a sense of the wide range of issues involved.
2. How can I be sure adoption is the right decision for me?
Making a decision for adoption is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make. This is why counseling and assistance in this process can be very helpful. Good decision making involves many factors, including exploring options, weighing pros and cons, anticipating consequences, clarifying values, searching the heart and remaining objective. You must be careful how you compare yourself to others. What is "right" for one person may not be "right" for another.
You need to realize there are many misunderstandings and myths about adoption. Talk to adoption experts to get the true facts. It is understood that decisions are made in the current context of one's life. The future is unknown and circumstances may change, but decisions are made in the present time. All one can do is the best they can do with what they know at the present time. This is how to make a responsible decision.
3. Is adoption harmful to a child?
Certainly not in most every situation! Adoption provides a child with a loving mother and father who have been carefully screened and approved. Adoption provides an opportunity for couples who cannot have children biologically to have children. Because of this, they are extremely grateful for the sacrifice of birth mothers and are highly motivated parents.
Unfortunately, the media and some well meaning people often misrepresent the impact of adoption on a child by giving the impression that adopted children have more emotional, psychological and behavioral problems than non-adopted children. In reality, however, this is not true. To support this claim, there are studies which show that adopted children are doing as well as, and even in some ways, better than non-adopted children.
4. What is meant by the term “open adoption?”
Open adoption is a term used in different ways by different people. Therefore, it can be somewhat confusing. The degree of openness in adoption means the extent of contact and communication between birth parents and the adoptive family.
5. Can I choose and meet the adoptive family?
Yes! This is part of what's involved in openness in adoption. Birth parents are given extensive information on prospective adoptive families and have the opportunity to meet and interview them. The choice of a family to adopt your child is yours to make. At Agape, we play the role of bringing people together. We help each one to take more charge of their destiny and work together toward mutually satisfying outcomes.
6. How carefully are the adoptive parents screened and evaluated?
Going through the approval process to be an adoptive parent is a very detailed and time-consuming experience. Each family goes through a training process and an extensive evaluation process called an "Adoptive Home Study." This includes a series of interviews and reference checks to determine their emotional stability, parenting understanding and ability, financial security, motivation and understanding of adoption, marital stability, etc. Not everyone who applies to adopt is approved.
7. Will my child resent me for choosing adoption?
Although this is a common fear of birth parents, it is based upon worse case scenarios that do not happen in good adoption practices. The most significant influence on attitudes about being adopted come from the adoptive parents. In years past, out of fear of the birth parents, some adoptive parents would talk little about the birth parents. But this is not the case today. Adoptive parents have very positive attitudes about birth parents and convey this in special ways to their child. Adoptees know their birth parents love them and wanted the best for them.
8. Can the adoptive parents truly love my child?
This is also a common fear, but is again based in an exaggerated perspective of a worst-case situation which does not happen. Adoptive parents open their hearts to a child and love the child as if born to them. Bonding and attachment begins immediately and it is both ways! If you know an adoptive parent, you know how true this is.
9. How much contact can I have with my child and the adoptive parents after placement?
This is again part of what is involved in open adoptions. The amount of contact is initially determined by mutual agreement prior to placement. However, as relationships develop over time, the amount and kind of contact is often negotiated to fit the current context of the relationship. Pictures, letters and future meetings are common in current adoption practices.
10. What if I don’t want the birth father involved in the adoption?
We understand there are many times when there is a strained relationship between the birth mother and birth father. We also know there are many other reasons why a birth mother may wish for the father of the baby not to be involved. The reasons why will need to be better understood to answer this question fully. We can help you understand the laws in your state and the options you can consider as you proceed further.
11. What role can a cooperative birth father play in the adoption process?
There are many times when the mother and father have a good relationship and want to work constructively together for the adoption of the child. This is the best of circumstances and something to celebrate. Being cooperative with the mother opens many doors of possibility for birth fathers. The problems come when the birth father is not cooperating with the plans of the birth mother. This can take many forms and is impossible to address in a short paragraph. We would be happy to talk with you about this further.
12. What if the birth father is uncooperative?
If you as a birth mother want to place your child for adoption and the birth father is unwilling to cooperate, this presents added challenges to the adoption process. Unfortunately, it is a fairly common occurrence. There are a variety of reasons why a birth father would be uncooperative along with a variety of ways he can act out his uncooperative stance. These must be taken into consideration to understand what they mean to the adoption process. Sometimes, some level of intervention on our part can resolve the situation. At other times, it may require legal intervention. The outcome depends on many factors, including how reasonable, stable and self-sufficient the birth father is, what his financial situation is, what kind of support he has from his family, etc. All of this highlights how that each situation is different.
13. How confidential is adoption?
There are several aspects to adoption which impact the level of confidentiality. When working with an adoption agency, professional ethics guarantee the highest level of confidentiality of privileged information as allowed by law. This is like a “therapist to client” relationship. Information received about you is considered privileged and confidential. Sharing of this information only occurs with a signed release of information.
However, if there is openness in the adoption process, this opens-up the communication between the birth and adoptive parents and reduces the control of information and, therefore, the amount of confidentiality. Then there are legal circumstances which may require some disclosure of information. All of this can be discussed with each birth parent prior to any actions taken.