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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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How to Put a Baby Up for Adoption

Six Steps for Putting a Child Up for Adoption

If you’re wondering how to put a baby up for adoption, it’s likely that you have quite a few questions running through your mind: How does adoption work today? What is the adoption process like for expectant mothers like me? How do I start the adoption process if I’m facing an unplanned pregnancy? How can I give my baby up for adoption?

Below is a tour through the steps taken to place an unborn child for adoption for a woman considering her options. If you are an adoptive family, you can learn more about the domestic adoption process here.

If, however, you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, please begin your decision-making process with the following helpful information about the adoption process for pregnant women.

How to “Give a Baby Up” for Adoption

Before we explain how to “give up” your baby for adoption, please know that at any time, you may speak directly with an adoption specialist 24/7, confidentially, and with no obligation via our contact form or by calling 1-800-ADOPTION. Our adoption specialists are always available and happy to answer all of your questions about how to begin the adoption process.

Also know that, while it is common to hear and use language about the “giving a child up for adoption” process, you are not “giving up” if you do choose to place your child for adoption. We continue to use this kind of language in our content because so many people search using this phrase, but please know that a woman who places her child for adoption is actually making one of the most difficult sacrifices possible for her child.

Because we've helped thousands of women through the steps to place a baby for adoption, we understand your feelings, fears and questions during this delicate time. We will talk to you honestly about your options and will provide you with resources to help you make the best decision for your situation.

If you do indeed decide to take the next step toward adoption, here's how the adoption process works:

Step 1: How to Start the Adoption Process – Determine if Adoption is Right for You and Your Child

Before even starting the adoption process, the most important step you can take for yourself and your baby is determining whether this is really the right path for you. This is likely the biggest decision you've ever had to make, so it's important that you consider all of your options before worrying about how to “give a child up” for adoption. Every woman’s situation is different, and only you know what’s right for your baby — not the father, your parents, your sister or your best friend.

To help you decide if adoption is right for you, our adoption specialists have answered some of the most commonly asked questions about adoption:

We are here to help educate you about adoption, and only if and when you are ready will we take the next steps for giving a baby up for adoption. When you are ready, our adoption specialists will help walk you through how to start the adoption process.

Step 2: Decide How to Put Your Baby Up for Adoption with an Adoption Plan

At American Adoptions, you are in charge of the adoption process; you get decide how to go about putting your baby up for adoption in a way that you are comfortable with. Your adoption specialist is your partner, counselor and friend throughout this process, and she will work closely with you to understand, and most importantly, fulfill, all of your wishes for this adoption. She will ask you about your ideal adoptive family, the type of contact you wish to share with the family, the type of contact you wish to share with your child, how you envision the hospital stay, and much more.

Your answers to each of these questions will develop your “adoption plan," which will help us find the best adoption situation tailored specifically to your wishes. Your adoption plan will guide you and your adoption specialist through the remaining steps for giving your baby up for adoption, so you can ensure this process goes exactly how you want it to.

Step 3: Choose the Perfect Adoptive Family for Your Child

It’s a common question for women wondering how to “give up” a baby for adoption: “How do you give your child up for adoption to the perfect family?” American Adoptions has helped countless pregnant mothers through the delicate process of finding the perfect adoptive parents. Because we have hundreds of waiting adoptive families, you are sure to find the family who will provide your baby with the best life possible.

All of the families on

  • have completed a home study and various background checks.

  • are excited to get to know you through phone calls, emails and more.

  • have an adoptive family video profile.

  • have moved on from their infertility and are fully committed to adoption.

When you are ready to take the next steps to put a baby up for adoption, your adoption specialist will send you family profiles and video profiles that best match what you are looking for in an adoptive family.

Step 4: Get to Know the Adoptive Family

Over the past few decades, adoption has become increasingly open, in that birth parents have more opportunities than ever to get to know the adoptive family prior to and after placement. All adoption professionals, especially American Adoptions, believe pre-placement contact is essential to a healthy adoption relationship, as it helps you confirm the people you've chosen will provide the life you've always dreamed of for your child.

You may interact with the adoptive family through:

  • conference calls

  • email exchanges

  • texts

  • social media interaction

  • a meeting in your hometown

  • interaction at the hospital

Some women are a bit nervous, albeit excited, to get to know the adoptive family. If this describes you, please remember that your social worker will be with you during this important step in the giving up baby for adoption process.

Step 5: Give Birth and Complete the Legal Steps for Adoption

Your hospital plan is much like your adoption plan in that you have full control over the hospital stay. You get to decide when and how to put your child up for adoption at the hospital. Your adoption specialist will help guide you in creating your hospital plan and understanding what to expect when you go into labor. For example, you may decide:

  • how much interaction you have with the adoptive parents

  • how much time you want to spend with your baby

  • who is the first to hold your baby

  • whether you want to leave together with the adoptive family

  • and much more

Once your baby is born, you usually must wait at least 48–72 hours before you can legally consent to the adoption, depending on your state’s laws. Your adoption specialist and an adoption attorney will help prepare you for the legal process of how to give a child up for adoption. They’ll make sure you understand your rights in adoption and that you’re comfortable with your decision before proceeding with the document-signing steps for adoption.

Step 6: Share Contact After the Adoption

In today's adoptions, "goodbye" doesn't have to mean forever. The steps to putting a baby up for adoption officially end when you sign your adoption consent, but that doesn’t mean your adoption journey is over. It is up to you to decide what kind of relationship you want to have with your child and the adoptive family after the adoption; just as you get to decide how to “give up” your baby for adoption, you get to decide how you want your open adoption to look after placement.

Most women who choose adoption receive picture and letter updates for 18 years. Many also stay in contact with the adoptive family through emails, texts messages and social media updates. Some even plan personal visits once per year, or more.

However you envision this relationship can become a reality, as long as you choose an adoptive family excited to pursue a similar relationship. We can help you find that adoption situation — one in which you are as much of a witness or participant in your child's life as you feel comfortable with.


Hopefully, this article helped you learn more about how the adoption process works. You likely have many more questions about each of these steps in the process, or perhaps even questions that were not addressed. Please contact one of our adoption specialists today at 1-800-ADOPTION to help you decide which path is truly best for you and your child and learn more about how to get started with adoption when you’re ready.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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