Becoming unexpectedly pregnant can be stressful. If you are pregnant and addicted to drugs or other substances, such as alcohol, that overwhelming feeling may be intensified. Before you read any further in this article, please know one thing: American Adoptions does not judge. Regardless of whether or not you are pregnant and addicted to harmful substances, we can still absolutely work with you to create an adoption plan.
It’s important to know that if you do choose to pursue adoption, there’s a perfect adoptive family out there for every pregnant woman, substance abuse issues or no. Here’s how American Adoptions helps women who come to us when they are pregnant and addicted:
When a pregnant woman first contacts American Adoptions, she is connected with her own personal adoption specialist. This social worker will be her main point of contact throughout her entire pregnancy and the adoption process, should she end up choosing to pursue adoption for her baby. This one-on-one relationship will serve as a woman’s primary screening process. Her adoption specialist will work to determine her commitment to adoption and help her to learn more about living a healthy lifestyle, both for her own benefit and her baby’s.
If a woman contacts American Adoptions early enough in her pregnancy, her adoption specialist will also help her to receive access to prenatal care. These prenatal care records, along with her self-disclosed Social Medical History form, will be given to her child’s adoptive parents (with personal identifying information redacted). The Social Medical History form will ask a woman to disclose information about her family’s medical history and her own, as well as any pertinent facts about substance usage.
Please know, however, that disclosing any information about drug and alcohol abuse will not lead to any sort of punishment or consequences. Rather, this information will help us to match a woman with an adoptive family who is prepared to accept any challenges a child may have in relation to the substance use. For example, some families may be better equipped than others to adopt a baby from a woman who is pregnant and addicted to pain pills. There will be no judgment based on any substance usage; a woman who chooses to place her baby for adoption is giving an incredibly selfless and wonderful gift, regardless of any other circumstances.
At American Adoptions, we do not drug screen the pregnant women we work with. Initially, this is a practice we did stand by, but we quickly learned that the cons outweighed the pros. By drug screening pregnant women who seek out adoption plans for their babies, adoption agencies can:
Undermine their relationships with the pregnant women who come to them for help. Drug screening a pregnant woman indicates to her that we don’t trust her, which is certainly not the case. The bond an adoption specialist shares with her clients is paramount to a successful adoption process for everyone.
Give adoptive families a false sense of security. The honest truth is that a drug test can be circumvented in a variety of ways. Just because a woman passes one does not necessarily mean she is not using drugs. Since many of our adoptive families are willing to adopt babies from women who were pregnant and addicted to certain substances, we don’t wish to give anyone a false sense of hope that their child will not have had this exposure because of a false drug test.
Offend the pregnant women who seek help from them. We respect and trust the potential birth mothers who contact our agency. If a woman says she is not using any substances, we believe her. If she is, we do not judge; rather, we help her to make an adoption plan and to make healthy choices for herself and her child.
Every family who works with American Adoptions fills out an APQ, or Adoption Planning Questionnaire. In their APQ, they will be given the opportunity to indicate which substances they are comfortable with a birth mother potentially using throughout her pregnancy. Prospective adoptive families will be presented to pregnant women who are a good fit for the preferences they list on their APQ.
So, for example, if you came to this article thinking, “I’m a pregnant heroin addict; what about the baby?” The answer to that question is that, if you pursue adoption, your adoption specialist would help you find an adoptive family who was comfortable with handling the potential effects that heroin exposure could have on an infant. Adoptive families are encouraged to be as flexible as possible in their APQs, so no matter what your history with substance use is, we promise there’s a perfect match out there for you.
It’s also important to know that, just as American Adoptions does not judge, neither do the adoptive families you may be matched with. They understand, as we do, that admitting an addiction while seeking to give your child the best life imaginable is extremely difficult and commendable. You will receive nothing but respect and admiration from an adoptive family for doing what is ultimately best for your child.
Regardless of your circumstances, adoption can benefit you and your child just as it can for anyone else. A few of the pros of adoption are:
You may be eligible to receive financial assistance in the form of pregnancy-related expenses. Depending on where you live, adoptive families can pay for a pregnant woman’s rent, maternity clothes, utilities, groceries, health expenses and more when she chooses to pursue adoption.
You can choose your child’s adoptive family. An adoption specialist will help you to determine exactly the kind of life you imagine for your child and ensure that you find a family who is capable of providing just that.
You can still have a relationship with your child. By choosing an open adoption, you’ll be able to watch your child grow into a happy, healthy adult, and have as much contact with him or her as the two of you wish.
For more information about pursuing adoption if you are pregnant and addicted, please call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION for a free, noncommittal consult.
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