Facing an unexpected pregnancy can be a stressful time. This pregnancy is not what you had planned. You want to make the best decision possible, but are unsure what that decision is going to be. One of the best ways to help you reach a decision is to get informed. The more you know about each of your options, the more likely you are to make a sound decision.
As an expectant/birth mother, only you know what is best for your baby. However, doing research – and talking with experienced professionals – can help make your decision a little bit easier. As you explore the loving choice of adoption, one of the first things to research is the adoption laws in your state.
Adoption is incredibly positive and beneficial. It is also quite complex. Laws vary by state, and they may change at any time. This is why it is so important to use an adoption agency with legal partners who specialize in adoption. Adoptions With Love, for example, partners with licensed adoption attorneys across the United States. They can meet you – wherever you are – to help you understand your rights in the adoption process, as well as the laws and required paperwork in your state. These services are provided at no cost to you.
In the meantime, we can help get your research started. While each state has its own set of adoption laws, there are some common federal laws that you will find remain the same across the country. Here are some of those adoption laws, according to the Library of Congress:
- The requirement of consent. Every state requires the biological parents (birth mother and potentially birth father) to give voluntarily consent of the adoption, in order for it to be legal and finalized. Birth father rights and consent requirements vary by state, so it is important to speak with an adoption professional about the laws in your area.
In every state, a birth mother cannot sign consent (i.e. any adoption papers) until after her baby is born. This allows mothers to really think about their feelings and wishes, post-partum, before making a final decision. It also allows them to spend some time with their baby, if they wish.
- The best interest of the child standard. Every state has a law that requires prospective adoptive parents to be deemed suitable parents for the child, and that the adoption is in the best interest of that child. The goal of this adoption law is to ensure the child’s needs will be met and placed above all else, instead of the interests of the birth or adoptive parents.
- The confidential nature of the adoption. Adoption is an official, legal process. The court proceedings and official records are closed to the public. Years ago, the documents were all sealed away – even from the birth parents – including the child’s birth certificate. Adoption has, however, come a long way. Courts are now more accommodating to open adoption agreements between birth and adoptive parents. You can learn more about open adoptions here.
- The permanent nature of adoption. Once an adoption is complete through a court of law, it cannot be reversed. All states have a period of time after birth, prior to the time a birth mother can sign a consent to the adoption. Some states have a revocation do period, in which a birth mother may change her mind. However, once the revocation period has expired there is no going back. From that point on, the adoptive parents take on full responsibility and parenting rights of the child, just as a biological parent would.
Of course, the above laws are the few common adoption laws that hold true across the entire United States. There are many differing laws between the states that break down certain aspects of adoption, such as when a birth parent may sign over consent. In Florida, a birth mother may sign over her consent 48 hours after birth or at the time of discharge at the hospital, whichever comes first. In Massachusetts, birth mothers cannot sign any legal documents allowing adoption until four days after giving birth.
Open adoption is another element that has its own set of rules and regulations. Open adoption involves some form of communication between birth and adoptive parents, often after the adoption takes place. Today, 95 percent of adoptions are open adoptions. Most of these open adoption plans are not binding if they cross state lines. This means that the adoptive parents are not legally obliged to stick to the agreement, and same for birth parents. However, if a birth mother signs an open adoption agreement with a licensed adoption agency like Adoptions With Love, then the written agreement is enforceable.
Adoptions With Love works with expectant/birth mothers all over the country, and places children with families in Massachusetts and mostly in the northeast. Massachusetts is one of just 29 states with enforceable, written open adoption agreements. This gives many expectant/birth mothers peace of mind. With a binding agreement and ongoing support of a fully licensed adoption agency, expectant/birth moms need not worry about the arrangement with their child’s adoptive family after the adoption is complete.
Open adoption agreements and complex adoption laws are just two of the many reasons it is so important to have an adoption agency (with full legal services) in reach. This will also ensure your rights as a mother are protected throughout this process.
Remember, legal assistance is a free service offered to expectant/birth mothers considering adoption at Adoptions With Love. Our expert team of attorneys are well-versed in the adoption laws across the country and keep up with the changing rules and regulations. You can rely on the professional work of our adoption lawyers to make sure your rights are protected and you are informed of your options – all at zero cost to you.
Adoptions With Love wants to make sure expectant/birth mothers are focused on staying healthy instead of worrying about money. Our caring team has been helping see expectant/birth mothers through this process since 1986, and we stay with these brave women long after the adoption is complete.
If you would like to learn even more about making an adoption plan for your child, be sure to read our free eBook: How to Place Your Baby for Adoption: A Guide for Birth Parents. Contact Adoptions With Love, 1800-722-7731 or text 617-777-0072.