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If you’re interested in learning more about making an adoption plan for your baby, it’s important to remember that you have many rights in the adoption process. This means the professionals who give you advice about adoption have a responsibility to guide you with compassion and care. The following rights are based on the laws in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Reach out to us if you have any questions about your rights.
Many unlicensed organizations (often called facilitators) and individuals may attempt to provide information about adoption to you in hopes that you will choose to place your baby for adoption using their services. They do not provide ongoing supportive services to expectant parents after making a match with an adoptive family. Always ask the organization you are working with if they are licensed to make adoption placements in the state in which you live.
Adoption counseling should always be free. Free of costs, free from pressure, and free of influence. You always have the right to receive in-person or virtual counseling from a licensed adoption counselor. If you choose adoption for your baby, you also have the right to receive continued emotional support services after the adoption is finalized, for as long as you need them.
You have the right to receive financial assistance once a doctor signs a note relieving you from work. Financial assistance includes basic living (e.g., rent, food, phone bill) and medical expenses during your pregnancy and for 6 weeks after your baby’s birth.
You have the right to plan your labor and delivery experience. Many women considering adoption believe they must allow the adoptive family in the hospital room during their labor and delivery. Your labor and delivery experience is 100% in your control- you get to decide where you give birth, who is present at your baby’s delivery, whether you hold and feed your baby, and what happens after delivery.
Regardless of where you are in the decision-making process, you have the right to wait until you are comfortable to sign any paperwork.
If you aren’t sure about an adoption plan for your baby, you have the right to work with an agency that offers temporary care (known as “interim care”). This allows you more time to consider your adoption decision and to visit your baby/get daily updates and photos before he or she goes home with the adoptive family or with you. Your baby can stay here for a few days and up to approximately 1 month.
If you are thinking about placing your baby through private adoption without an agency, we urge you not to waive your right to an attorney. In a private adoption, the attorney working with the adoptive family has a legal obligation to protect the interests of the family, not to you. In this situation, the adoptive family should pay the fees for you to have your own attorney.
There are many kinds of families looking to adopt, and you have the right to pick which one will raise your child. If you are looking for someone to adopt your child, your agency should provide you with information about diverse, local families. Post-placement contact agreements outline specific months in which you can expect an update (photos and letter) or visit (in-person or virtual). We recommend every birth parent have an agreement even if they’re unsure how frequent they’d like those visits in the future.
After you sign the adoption consent paperwork you have time to change your mind. This time is known as the revocation period. Birth parents in Maryland have 30 days to change their minds, birth parents in DC have 14-30 days, and birth parents in Virginia have 7-10 days. If an adoption facilitator asks you to waive your state rights, make sure you know what the other state’s revocation period will be; if you are not comfortable with its length, you have the right to refuse
Whether you choose adoption for your baby or not, we understand that every pregnancy is complicated. No organization or individual should make your decision more complicated by making you feel guilty about the choices you are making now- or have made in the past. Adoptions Together supports all your pregnancy options and we are here to help you make the decision that is right for you.
No matter what your pregnancy has been like or how long you’ve known about it, your labor and delivery experience will always be an integral part of your child’s adoption story – and you have the power to control what it will be like. Below are some decisions you may want to make before your hospital stay.