So I was watching the new Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice crossover last week and cringed at the following conversation:
Addison: If you want to consider adoption, I can help you.
Sloan: What, like pick a family out of "The Pennysaver"?
Addison, kind of chuckling: No, that's just in the movie "Juno." :::proceeds to tell her all about adoption agencies making it sound like that's the only way to go about adoption.:::
Actually, you *can* "pick a family" out of Pennysaver-type publications. It's called private adoption.
While agencies can be helpful, they are not the only way.
There are tons of choices for people who are considering adoption for their child. When we were approached by a birthfamily in October, they didn't know anything about adoption so I did a bunch of research for them so that they would know what all of their options are. Here's what I wrote up:
-Whatever option you choose, there is no cost to you.
-It is suggested that you seek counseling, to help you sort through your feelings and make sure you are absolutely comfortable with your choice. (The agency or couple you choose pays for this.)
-Until you sign over your parental rights, which depends on the laws of the state you live in, you make all of the decisions for the baby and yourself. You can change your mind at any time up to the point that you sign those documents.
To get started, the first thing you have to do is choose how you want to proceed:
1. Contact an adoption agency or adoption attorney that matches.
-They have waiting families who are ready to adopt that you can choose from and they take care of the legal side of everything.
If you call before the baby is born, you can meet with an agency or attorney and they will show you scrapbooks that the families have put together to help you choose. You can choose more than one and meet with them to get to know them better before making your final choice.
If you wait until the baby is born to contact an agency or attorney, let them know what kind of couple you are hoping for and they can choose one for you. (Though if you want an open adoption with visitation, it is probably best to call sooner rather than later so you have the time to get to know the couple beforehand to make sure it's a good match.)
If you decide to have a closed adoption, you can call an agency or attorney at any time - before the birth, after the birth or when you are being discharged from the hospital - and they will find one of their waiting families to come get the baby from the hospital.
If you do not have insurance or Medicaid, medical care can be arranged at no charge for you. This is paid for through the fees the adoptive families pay to the agency or attorney.
2. Find a couple who is interested in adopting on your own. (This is private adoption.)
-Their attorney will take care of the legal side of everything. They will also pay for you to have your own attorney so that there are no conflicts of interest.
a. look in the classified sections of publications under "Adoption." (Not all states allow this - Ohio does not.)
b. look online for blogs created by waiting families. :::waves!:::
c. ask friends/family if they know anyone who wants to adopt.
The couple you choose can pay for certain expenses relating to the pregnancy depending on the laws of your state.
3. Inform the hospital at the birth that you will not be leaving the with the baby.
-They will contact the state and the baby will go into foster care until a family can be located to take him/her. You would have no contact and would not know what happens to the baby.
The downside with this option is that there are hospital staff that will pressure you to keep the baby or look down on you for your decision. Obviously not all hospital staff are like that, but from what I've read, it's more likely to happen than not.
4. If you decide to parent and change your mind, you can do any of the above things at any time.
-In addition, all states now have a Safe Haven law, which allows a birth parent to leave a baby (up to 30 days old) with a medical worker at a hospital, a medical worker at a fire department or other emergency service organization or a peace officer at a law enforcement agency - no questions asked. You would not have to give your name or anything, but they will ask you to fill out a form with basic info like the baby's date of birth, if it was full term, any known medical issues for the baby, if you had any medications/drugs/alcohol during the pregnancy, and whatever you know about your own and the birthfather's health backgrounds. You would have no contact.
So, as you can see, there are many choices with adoption. It bothers me that a lot of people only know things based on what they see represented on tv and in movies. (And I'm not just talking about adoption - I'm talking about, well, everything in life.) TV/movies are for entertainment and therefore not always accurate... there are usually stretches made so things are more exciting to draw people in to watch.