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8 Important Adoption Rights You'll Have as a Birth Mother [Your Legal Rights]

Because you’re the prospective birth parent, you will have certain undeniable parental adoption rights as you progress through the adoption process. Most importantly, you will always have the right to do what is best for you and your baby, no matter what anyone else says.

If you’re asking, “What are my rights to give my child up for adoption?” you’ve come to the right place. At American Adoptions, we are dedicated to providing objective, helpful information to all women facing unplanned pregnancies (including those considering adoption) to help them make the decision that is best for them. You can always get connected with an adoption specialist for free when you call 1-800-ADOPTION.

Your Adoption Rights During Your Pregnancy

When you choose to pursue adoption, you become a prospective birth mother. As a prospective birth mother, you will have certain rights during your journey. At American Adoptions, we will always protect those rights and make sure you feel comfortable during your adoption process.

A woman’s right to “give a baby up” for adoption includes more than just her right to choose this option and legally complete the process — it also encompasses all the rights she has to plan her own adoption journey. When you work with our agency, you can know you will have these protected rights along the way:

1. The Right to Change Your Mind at any Point in the Process

As part of a mother’s legal rights in “giving a baby up” for adoption, she always has the right to change her mind about her decision before completing the adoption paperwork. This means that you will always have the right to choose to parent your child, whether it’s early in your pregnancy, after you have met adoptive parents, or even once you have given birth. You are never obligated to choose adoption, no matter how far along you are in your adoption plan, and your adoption specialist will always respect these inherent legal rights behind putting a baby up for adoption.

If you are a teenager, you may ask, “If I decide to give my baby up for adoption, do grandparents have a say so?” In most cases, no — adoption is only a decision that you can make, as the mother of the child. However, we encourage you to reach out to an adoption specialist for more information on placing a baby for adoption as a minor.

2. The Right to Receive Free, Objective Unplanned Pregnancy Counseling

Because you always have the right to choose what’s best for your baby, you will always receive objective information about all of your unplanned pregnancy choices from our adoption specialists. Contacting our agency never means you have to choose adoption; it just means you’re taking the brave step to receive the information you need to make the best decision for you.

Adoption is rarely an easy choice to make, and most prospective birth mothers experience difficult feelings before, during and after the adoption process. Your adoption specialist is available 24/7 to provide the free, professional counseling services you need to sort through your feelings, explore your options, and ultimately make a decision that you feel good about.

“Even though adoption was the hardest decision I will ever make in my life, American Adoptions also made it the best decision I’ve ever made in my life,” said Erika. “Even to this day, I know that every time I call Shannon I feel like I am her only birth mom that she has to deal with, because she has no problem talking to me and listening to everything I have to say.”

3. The Right to Create Your Own Adoption Plan

Your adoption rights as a prospective birth mother mean that you run the show of your own adoption journey — that is, you create your own adoption plan detailing every step from start to finish. You are always in charge, although your adoption specialist will be there to support you the whole way. You will never be forced into decisions you are uncomfortable with, and you will have all the time you need to make important decisions in your adoption plan.

“You could tell they weren’t just putting on a front to make you want to do it or push you into it,” said Angelica about her experience working with American Adoptions. “They want whatever you want, and that’s what they told me during the whole process. It wasn’t up to them; they were just going to be there for me no matter what decision I made.”

4. The Right to Choose Your Child’s Adoptive Family

One of your prospective birth mother rights in open adoption is being able to choose the family that you wish to place your child with. This is a big decision to make, and you will always be the one in charge of choosing the family who is right for your baby. To aid you in this decision, your adoption specialist will speak with you at length about your desires for an adoptive family and present to you profiles of families who meet those preferences.

You will have the chance to meet with and get to know the family when selecting them for your baby. You can take as long as you want to find the perfect family for your child, and American Adoptions will support you through this decision. You will always have this right, no matter how late in your pregnancy you are choosing adoption.

5. The Right to Choose Your Post-Placement Relationship

Another of your prospective birth mother rights in open adoption is choosing the kind of contact you want to have with the adoptive family before and after your adoption is complete. You always get to choose what kind of relationship you want — whether it’s a closed, semi-open or open adoption.

“Alyssa and I felt so privileged to have such amazing support from American Adoptions,” said Josh, Cassius’s birth father. “We couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to make the choices of who would adopt Cassius, what sort of contact we might have, and how regularly we might have contact. To have that kind of control over the situation made all the difference for us.”

While you will have no legal parental rights after you give a child up for adoption, open adoption allows you to remain a part of your child’s life. Your adoption specialist will always be there to coordinate communication and make sure the adoptive family maintains their communication with you.

Your Adoption Rights When Giving Your Legal Consent

When it comes to giving your legal consent for adoption, you may have a lot of questions about a mother’s legal rights when giving a baby up for adoption, such as:

  • Can you give your child up for adoption without giving up your rights?

  • Can someone adopt my child if I don’t sign the rights over?

  • Can someone adopt my child without my permission?

Before you place your baby for adoption, a local adoption attorney will always explain your adoption rights in the process. However, know this: Adoption is a permanent choice that will terminate your parental rights, and if you are making a voluntary adoption plan, no one can adopt your child without your permission if you are pregnant.

Here are the adoption rights you will have in this legal process:

6. The Right to Choose When to Sign Your Adoption Paperwork

You will never be expected to complete the adoption paperwork until you are 100 percent comfortable with your decision. Every state has different adoption consent laws, which means you may have to wait a few hours or days after giving birth to sign these documents. You will not be able to complete the paperwork before state laws allow, but you can always take as much time as you need to make the decision that is best for you and your family. Our agency respects a woman’s right to “give a baby up” for adoption, and our specialists will not pressure you into a decision.

7. The Right to Legal Representation When Signing Your Documents

Before you complete the paperwork when “giving up” for adoption at birth, an adoption attorney can explain your parental adoption rights now and your parental rights after you “give up” a child for adoption. This way, you will completely understand this life-changing decision before you make it. You will always have the chance to ask any questions you may have about your legal rights of “giving a baby up” for adoption in your situation.

8. The Right to Revoke Your Consent, Depending On Your State Laws

In some cases, birth mothers decide they have made the wrong decision after placing their child for adoption. Certain states have revocation periods to allow a woman to take back her parental rights in these situations. However, this legal process can be complicated. Your adoption attorney will explain your state revocation policy to you before you sign your consent and guide you through the necessary steps if you decide this is the best choice for you.

Remember, if your baby has not yet been born and you have not signed your adoption consent, you always have the choice to change your mind, should you wish to. When you choose to place your baby for adoption voluntarily, someone cannot adopt your child without your consent, no matter where you are in your adoption plan.

To get more information about your legal rights in the adoption process and the support that is available to you, call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with an adoption specialist or visit our website.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions 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

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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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