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When Can You Give a Child Up for Adoption?

You can start the adoption process at any time. Whether you just found out you are pregnant, are nearing your due date or have already delivered, American Adoptions can help you. Call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time to learn more.


If you are considering adoption for your baby, you probably have questions about when you can start the process.

  • I just found out I'm pregnant, but I already know adoption is right for me. When can I get started?

  • My due date is only days away, but I'm not ready to be a parent. Can I still choose adoption?

  • Can I choose adoption if my baby has already been born?

  • When can you give a child up for adoption?

You can choose adoption in any of these situations and more. In fact, adoption is always an option for you.

Adoption professionals are here to help answer any questions you may have, no matter when you may have them. You can call our 24/7 hotline at 1-800-ADOPTION to get more information, or get more information here

Adoption could be the best choice for you, so you want to make sure you do it the best you can. American Adoptions understands the significance of such an important decision. With over 30 years of experience as one of the nation’s largest domestic infant adoption agencies, we know as a mother, you are only trying to do what is right for you and for your baby. We understand this decision is motivated by love and compassion for your child and is one of the most selfless and courageous choices a mother can make.

Keep reading to learn more about when giving a baby up for adoption is an option for you, and to find answers to other adoption questions you may have.

When Will You Know Adoption is Right for You?

There is no specific deadline on when to start considering adoption. But when it comes to deciding to pursue adoption, first things first: you have to know that adoption is right for you. Adoption isn’t a process you can go through half-heartedly. This is a life-changing decision, and it’s worth taking as much time as you need to determine if it’s the best option for you.

You may be wondering if your feelings about adoption are fleeting, or if this is just an emotionally difficult stretch in life. In instances of unplanned pregnancy, feelings like this are more common than you might think. To determine if adoption is truly right for you at this time, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I want to choose a loving, prepared adoptive family that can provide my baby the best opportunities in life?

  • What kind of goals do I have for myself? How can adoption help keep me on track toward those education and career goals?

  • Do I want to remain an important part of my baby's life through an open adoption?

  • Do I want to work with an adoption specialist to get free counseling, financial support, and other services that will help me during my pregnancy?

With such an important decision, there are other questions to ask, too. You can speak with an adoption professional to get an even better understanding of when to start considering adoption and the steps you should take before making any decisions. Just like how your reasoning for considering adoption is personal, the decision to choose adoption is yours as well.

When Giving a Baby Up for Adoption: Before Birth

Many expectant mothers know right away that they aren’t ready to parent. In these situations, you have two basic options: abortion and adoption. You have the right to choose either, and you should always do what is best for you. Each year, thousands of expectant mothers experiencing an unplanned pregnancy choose adoption to give their baby a chance at life with a loving family.

If you’re asking, “When can I start putting my baby up for adoption?” there’s no point too early in your pregnancy to contact an adoption specialist and begin your process. Even if you’re not completely sure of your adoption decision yet, you can always get more adoption information and speak with an adoption specialist for free by contacting American Adoptions.

  • When you choose American Adoptions as your agency, you will get the expertise and scope of a national agency, with the feel and care of a local office.

  • American Adoptions is staffed by many professionals who have experienced adoption, either as birth parents, adoptive families, or adoptees themselves.

  • They truly understand the adoption process, because they have experienced it firsthand.

  • This adds a level of compassion and understanding that is unmatched by other agencies.

But don’t just take it from us; read stories and testimonials from birth mothers who have completed successful adoptions with our agency. You can even get answers from one of our adoption professionals, Michelle, who knows exactly how you are feeling because she has experienced adoption firsthand.

"I am a birth mom who has been working for American Adoptions since 2003," Michelle said. "I really look forward to continuing to work with American Adoptions and all of the wonderful staff who are dedicated to making the lives of birth parents, adoptive families, and the child as successful and happy as possible. I am available to answer any questions that arise, particularly from birth moms, as I have been in your shoes and know how you are feeling."

In addition to the emotional connection and overall service level, we are also able to provide services that ensure your adoption journey goes as smoothly as possible. Services like:

  • Creating an adoption plan: Having an adoption plan in place will outline nearly every detail and step of the adoption process. This helps eliminate confusion and surprises along the way and keeps you on track towards a successful adoption.

  • Financial assistance: You are likely eligible to receive adoption financial assistance for things like your pregnancy-related medical expenses, living expenses, and more. American Adoptions will work with the local courts to determine your eligibility and make sure your needs are met throughout the process.

  • 24/7 counseling and support: When we say 24/7, we mean it. We understand questions, thoughts, and concerns don’t always happen during business hours. Because of this, we have adoption professionals on standby, ready to answer your calls and provide the assistance you may need, no matter when you need it.

  • Placement assistance: We work directly with prospective birth mothers like you to help you find the best adoptive family for your baby. Our national scope provides you with more opportunities than smaller, local agencies, so you’ll be more likely to find exactly the type of parents you’re looking for.

  • So much more.

These are just some of the benefits you receive when working with American Adoptions.

Beginning the adoption process early in your pregnancy can be a preferable choice, especially if you need financial assistance to keep yourself and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy. When you call 1-800-ADOPTION, our adoption professionals will help you understand all of your options.  If you’re ready to get started, they’ll also explain when you can put a child up for adoption and give you more information about all of the benefits of working with our agency.

When Giving a Baby Up for Adoption: At the Hospital

It may take longer to decide if adoption is right for you and your baby, and that is perfectly ok. You may not know until after birth when you realize you aren’t ready to parent, but you still have immense love for this newborn. Many mothers in this situation wonder when you can put a baby up for adoption, and if it is too late now that they have given birth.

The answer is no, it’s not too late.

Know that you are not alone in wondering when you can put a baby up for adoption. American Adoptions has helped women just like you complete successful adoptions, even after their child was born. “Last-minute” adoptions happen more frequently than you might think. If you are in this situation and don’t know what to do, call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with a specialist who will walk you through what needs to happen.

When “giving a baby up” for adoption, it’s important to work with a qualified professional who can help you complete an adoption in a responsible, safe way.

When Can a Child Be Given Up for Adoption: Older Children

You may be reading this, scrolling, and still waiting for us to describe your situation. You gave birth, and your child is home. You love your child, and you thought that parenting, even though it seemed impossible, was something you could do. But things have changed, and now you are wondering when you should “give up” a child for adoption.

We want to make sure you are aware, no matter if your child is a few days, weeks, months, or even years old, adoption is always an option for you and your baby. If you are considering adoption for your child, strongly encourage you to speak with an adoption professional. They will help you understand your options and guide you through the next steps if you choose to pursue adoption for your baby.

Placing a child for adoption at any age can be challenging, but it can be especially difficult as they get older. Many private domestic adoption agencies, like American Adoptions, can only work with infants — and occasionally toddlers up to 4 years old. The older your child is, the harder it may be to place them for adoption.

Depending on your child’s age, there are also some additional requirements that the adoption may have to meet before it can proceed. This is not to discourage you from exploring adoption, but to help prepare you for the process. A social worker may ask for:

  • Your child’s birth certificate

  • The name of the child’s father listed on the birth certificate

  • All medical records for the child from birth to present

  • Documentation of everywhere your child has lived from birth to present

  • Information on everyone who has had custody or care of your child from birth to present

  • A list of everyone who has provided support (financial and emotional) for the child from birth to present

  • Documentation of child support provided by any father

If you have an older child — a child older than — adoption may still be an option for your family, but American Adoptions will not be the best agency to assist with that process. Placing older children for adoption comes with unique challenges, and it will depend on the specific details of your unique situation if it is still a possibility. There are also many resources to help make parenting easier that may be available to you. Adoption may seem like the best choice for your family, and it’s wise to speak with an adoption professional about when to start considering adoption with older children.

If you’re still unsure about adoption or want to learn more before you make a decision, you can get free information at any time. Our adoption professionals would be more than happy to go over all of your options for placing an unborn baby, infant, or toddler for adoption with our agency.



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

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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Adoption Glossary

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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