FAQs for Birth Parents
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What is adoption?
Adoption is a deeply personal life decision. It is the legal transfer of parental rights from one parent to another. However, it is much more than a legal procedure. Adoption is a lifelong, life-changing journey for all members involved-affecting you, your child, the birth father, your families, and the adoptive family. Making an adoption plan is a loving and courageous act. An adoption plan is a parenting plan.
How do I make a decision?
No one can know whether adoption is right for you and your child…except you. For starters, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- If I become a parent right now will my child have the best chance in life?
- Can I provide a stable home environment now?
- Am I ready emotionally and financially to support a child/another child at this time?
Most birth parents who consider adoption struggle with their decision and this is very normal. You can make an adoption plan anytime during or after your pregnancy. However, no decision is final until after the child is born and adoption consents are signed. We believe and are committed to providing you the complete and accurate information you need to make an informed decision regarding your child.
Can I choose who will be the adoptive parents?
Yes, birth parents have the opportunity to review profiles put together by adoptive parents, which include ‘Dear Birth parent’ letters and pictures. Birth parents can review as many adoptive parents’ profiles as they wish before making a decision.
Every adoption plan is tailored to the needs and desires of birth parents and adoptive families. Some birth parents want an adoption where they are permitted to meet and correspond with the adoptive parents (Open or Semi-Open). Others prefer the traditional option, where the birth parents never meet the adoptive family (Closed). We can help you find loving parents who have the qualities you think are important.
Can I meet the adoptive family I have selected before the child is born?
Yes. Catholic Charities will assist the birth parent in arranging a meeting at our office or an agreed upon location for you to meet the adoptive family you have selected. At this meeting you will have the opportunity to ask questions and share information. A Catholic Charities Adoption Counselor will be present.
How are couples screened?
All Catholic Charities adoptive families must meet our standards for approval. They are required to complete an extensive home study which includes criminal and child abuse background clearances, as well as multiple interviews both in and outside of their home to ensure that each family can provide a healthy, financially stable, and loving home for a child.
Are all of the adoptive couples first-time parents?
No, while Catholic Charities serves couples that have experienced infertility, we also serve couples who have adopted previously or have a biological child(ren). You can choose the type of family you desire to parent your child.
Will I be able to know how my child is doing?
Yes! Based on the type of adoption you choose—open or semi-open you will be able to get pictures, updates, and even visits if desired. You may also choose a closed adoption.
What about my pregnancy related expenses?
To ensure your child’s health as well as yours, medical expenses not covered by insurance or Medicaid are paid for by the agency. Transportation to medical appointments can also be provided to you. Reasonable living expenses, food, and maternity clothing may be available for you as well. Assistance is also available for up to six weeks after birth if the adoption plan is completed.
Do I have to be Catholic to receive help?
No, pregnancy and adoption counseling is available to individuals regardless of religious beliefs.
How much contact can I have with my child in the hospital?
You can determine how much contact you would like to have with the child in the hospital. A tentative hospital plan can be made to help you think ahead as to what your wishes will be. You have the opportunity to have as much or as little contact as you want. Your parents, family and friends can visit you if you want. You are able to take pictures of the child if you wish. If you choose, you may invite the adoptive family to be at the hospital. If you do complete a tentative hospital plan, you may change your wishes while at the hospital. This is your time with the child.
What happens at the hospital after the child is born? Will I get to hold the child? Do I have to hold the child?
This is all up to you! It’s a good idea to inform the hospital staff when you come in to have the child that you are making an adoption plan. It may make that easier to write down your wishes and allow the agency to send to the hospital prior to delivery. Catholic Charities will help you with hospital planning. The nurse or social worker can put your plan in your file, to minimize the need to repeatedly explain your adoption plan to new staff. Most of the time, women choose to hold and spend time with their children while in the hospital. You may be nervous about seeing the child and how you will feel. If you would like, you can have your adoption counselor present at the hospital for your visit with the child to support you at this emotional time. You may decide to see or not to see the child. Whatever choice you make is supported.
Can I name the child?
Yes, if you want to. Sometimes the birth mother chooses to name the child. If you choose not to, the child is legally considered “Baby Girl Smith” or “Baby Boy Johnson” until after the adoption is completed and the name is legally changed to the adoptive family’s name.
Who will take the child home from the hospital?
When you sign the legal documentation for adoption (before or at your discharge from the hospital) and if you have chosen an adoptive family, the child will go home with the adoptive family.
Does my child have to go to foster care before he/she is placed in the adoptive home?
No. As stated before, the child can go directly home with an approved adoptive family. Catholic Charities does not provide foster care services, however, if there is a delay in placement, we have licensed cradle care providers through Catholic Charities.
How soon after the child is born can I sign the adoption papers?
Birth parents can sign adoption consents when the birth mother has been cleared for discharge from the hospital (or 48 hours after birth). Catholic Charities will prepare the adoption paperwork in advance for you to have the opportunity to review before you give birth. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Most birth mothers elect to sign the consents before they go home from the hospital. Catholic Charities is able to bring the consents to the hospital for you to sign before you go home, if you are ready at that time. Once you have signed the adoption consent forms, your decision is legally binding and irrevocable. Because of this, you will never be encouraged to sign until you are completely ready.
Do I have to go to court?
No. The paperwork you sign will be represented in court by the agency’s attorney.
Do my parents need to sign for the adoption?
No, however, if you are under the age of 14, your legal parent or guardian will need to witness consent.
Does the father of the child have rights?
Yes, the father of the child has rights. If he disagrees with your adoption decision, or you are no longer in a relationship with him, our agency will work with him directly to determine what his legal rights are and satisfy the requirements of the law. The law honors your wishes, and we will help you, even if he isn’t in agreement with your plans. We ask that you disclose all the information you know about the birth father so we can help resolve any issues that may arise.
In Florida, the law requires birth fathers to provide emotional and financial support to the birth mother during her pregnancy and after birth. If he has not provided both of these things, a court can assess whether he is entitled to interfere with a birth mother’s adoption plan. Additionally, Florida has a “paternity registry” where birth fathers can register if they believe they may have fathered a child. Any man who thinks he may have fathered a child can register in the 9 months prior to the child’s birth and 30 days after the birth to receive notification of an adoption. Failure to register in a timely manner means a birth father may lose his rights over the child. We will discuss with you what the agency has to do to notify the birth father.
A birth father who is involved with you and the child, and who is on board with the adoption plan can be included in the adoption planning process. We will discuss all of this with you as the process progresses.
What happens if I don’t know who the birth father is or where he is?
Don’t worry, this situation is not unusual. Often women report not knowing the identity of the birth father, or how to locate him. It is helpful to be able to work with the birth father as well as obtain his consent to the adoption, however it is not required for the adoption to take place. An adoption can take place without a birth father’s consent by checking the Florida Birth Father Registry. Documentation that no man has registered can take the place of a birth father’s consent. In the best interest of the child, we would like to receive any Social and Medical History from the birth father.
What information is needed, if any, from the birth father?
We ask birth fathers to provide the same information we collect from the birth mother. We ask for personal information, medical and social history. We need both sides of child’s background to put together a comprehensive package of information for the Adoptive Parents.
What is openness in adoption?
Openness in Adoption is a broad term that means the exchange of some form of information or contact between the birth family and adoptive family. Openness is available due to the recognition of the need and right of the adopted person to have accurate medical/health and social information. We know birth parents often continue to take an interest in the child, and that adoptive parents can benefit from an open exchange of information. When there is respect for each other’s role, open adoption can be an enriching experience for everyone.
What if my child is born with a serious medical condition?
If your child is born with a serious medical condition, this will be disclosed to the Adoptive Parents. If they decide they cannot or will not assume this responsibility we will find another adoptive family who is willing to take on the responsibility. There are always families willing to adopt children with special needs.
Catholic Charities can support and assist you with your decision. Counseling is provided free of charge and any questions or concerns will be answered by your counselor.