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Right now, you may be in the midst of coping with an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption for your baby. You may still be weighing your other options, or you may be feeling more and more certain that adoption is the right choice for you. But how do you know it’s time to make that first step?

When it comes to adoption, where to start can be one of the most daunting challenges. Here, you can find everything you need to prepare you for those first steps in the adoption process.

What is the Adoption Process?

Before you can start the adoption process, you should have a clear understanding of the process so you will know what to expect. Usually, a woman in your position will take the following steps to adoption:

  1. Find a professional – If you decide to place your baby for adoption, you have many different options for adoption professionals, including agencies, facilitators, and attorneys. Adoption agencies have the benefit of providing every service that you need in one place.
  2. Find a family – As the mother of your child, you get to decide who raises your baby. If you work with an agency, you can view that agency’s collection of family profiles and find the right parents for your child.
  3. Get to know the family – After you have selected a family, you can spend the duration of your pregnancy getting to know them better, letting them know your wishes for your baby, and establishing how much contact you will have with them in the future.
  4. Have the baby – Before the big day arrives, you will need to create a hospital plan.
    That way, when it is time to have the baby, everyone will know who you would like to have there with you, how much time you want with the baby, and anything else that you feel is important.
  5. Move forward – Sometime after having the baby, you will need to legally consent to the adoption, and the adoptive family will take the baby home. After that, you will maintain whatever level of contact you agreed on with the adoptive family.

You can learn about each of these steps in detail at our Adoption Process page.

Am I Ready for Adoption?

At this point, you have likely already carefully considered all of your options for your unplanned pregnancy. If you are unsure of your options or would like to learn more, visit our pages on Adoption vs. Abortion and Adoption vs. Parenting.

Here are just a few of the questions that you should ask yourself before making any decision:

  • Can I provide the life I want for my child?
  • Do I want/need a partner to raise my baby?
  • Am I ready to be a parent?
  • Am I prepared for the emotions that come with adoption?

If you decide to begin the adoption process, remember that nothing is final until you terminate your parental rights after giving birth. Although you can change your mind at any time, it is still best to be certain about your decision before you go on to create an adoption plan.

What is an Adoption Plan?

Once you decide that adoption is right for you, you will want to begin considering your adoption plan. This is essentially an outline of how you want your adoption to proceed. While your adoption professional will be able to help you with the details, it does not hurt to have a general idea of what you want.

One of the first steps you will take if you decide on adoption is choosing the adoptive family for your baby. You can select a family based on whatever is important to you. Do you want your baby to grow up with other siblings? Is a good neighborhood or school district important to you? What kind of activities do you want your child to engage in as he or she grows?

You should also think about how much contact you would like to have with whatever family you choose. Most adoptions that take place today are either open or semi-open, which means you will have some degree of contact with the baby and the family. However much you would like to see them, you can find a family that will share your wishes.

Once you reach out to an adoption professional, he or she will be able to help you with the details of creating your adoption plan. Whenever you feel you are ready, you can contact an adoption agency or other professional to get started with your adoption journey.

Who Will Help Me With My Adoption?

The final step to beginning your adoption is choosing your professional. You have a number of kinds of professionals you can choose from, each providing a different range of services:

  • National agency – National adoption agencies are full-service providers that can help you with every step of your adoption, from counseling you in the beginning to finalizing the process at the end.
  • Local or regional agency – While national adoption agencies have a broader scope, local and regional agencies work within a more limited area. This may be beneficial if you are looking for a family near you, but they tend to work with fewer total families.
  • Adoption Facilitator – Adoption facilitators primarily provide matching services, meaning that they will help you to find an adoptive family for your baby. All other services, such as legally finalizing the process, must be found elsewhere.
  • Adoption Attorney – All adoptions require an attorney to complete the necessary legal procedures.

If you are ready to get started on the adoption process, or if you simply have more questions about adoption, you can reach out to an adoption professional near you.