More Than a Black Square: Actions Matter

Transracial Adoptee Holding Hands with Mother

 
Since our inception, a core goal of Adoptions Together is to address systemic racism through the services we deliver. We fundamentally believe that systemic racism is a human rights issue, and we are dedicated to addressing diversity, inclusion, and equity both internally and externally with the clients we serve.

In June 2020, Adoptions Together issued a statement in response to systemic and institutionalized racism that was brought into the spotlight by a long-overdue national reckoning. As an organization committed to always looking for blind spots and determining what we can do even better, we knew that we had to take the moment as an opportunity to reexamine the role of racism in the child welfare system and deliberately adjust to work against implicit or explicit racism.

In the statement, we shared, “Adoptions Together was built on the value of welcoming every child and family in need of our services. We cherish the diversity in the community we serve. We know that many people in our community are in terrible pain. Trauma that occurs in the context of relationship heals in the context of relationship. Now is the time to show up, to listen, to learn and to reach out and support those who are hurting most.”

After releasing this statement, we immediately began to examine our own practice—sharing our personal and collective experiences, searching for shortcomings, and stretching to see what we could do differently. This is just the beginning of a process of exploring changes that need to be made to better ourselves and the systems in which we operate.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we’re sharing the steps we have already taken and reaffirming our commitment to showing up, listening, learning, and supporting those who are hurting most.

Internal Initiatives and Community Building:

  • Diversity Committee: Adoptions Together’s Diversity Committee was formed in the fall of 2019 and officially started meeting in 2020. Beginning in June 2020, in addition to planning training opportunities and making policy recommendations, our Diversity Committee instituted monthly Brown Bag Zoom Lunches, creating a safe space for our staff members and contractors to come together to listen, learn, and have respectful, yet unapologetically frank conversations.
  • Stronger Together | Processing and Leading Social Change: An initiative that began in January 2021 and includes weekly full staff dialogs to process personal feelings, create mutual understanding and support, and identify practice changes and new services that will enhance the impact of the agency. The well-being of our team is critical to our ability to provide optimal services and staying flexible and responsive to the needs of the community ensures that we are delivering the highest impact services possible.

Trainings | Adoptions Together staff members are engaging in the community to broaden our knowledge base and impact:

  • Janice Goldwater, Founder & CEO, participated in the six month Anti-Racist Leadership Series through Leadership Greater Washington; and serves as a working member of Achieving Race Equity in Child Welfare (Maryland state-wide workgroup).
  • Audra Hurd, Operations Director, attended the Sorkin Center at Compass’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Event that focused on what to consider and where to begin when developing culture, policies, and programs that support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within a nonprofit. Audra is also registered to attend a three-part Policy & Practice Training with the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children-All Families Project.
  • Adoptions Together has regular staff training and participated in the first of a series of all-staff Diversity & Inclusion Training, led by Kia Silver-Hodge, SPHR, CPEC, Coach and Inclusion Strategist.
  • Four members of our team are enrolled in the Helen J. Serini Foundation’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Training. This multi-part series focuses on helping organizations create and sustain more inclusive environments by changing their cultures and identifying how their policies, practices, and procedures unwittingly create barriers to inclusion and belonging.
  • Staff members are participating in the Adoption Exchange Association’s educational programming focused on race and equity in the child welfare system. Some sessions include Reducing Racial Disproportionality Among Waiting Youth in Need of Permanency and We Must Do Better For Children: Race and Equity in Foster Care and Adoption.

Recognized 2019 and 2020 Innovator of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s All Children – All Families Project:

  • HRC’s All Children – All Families, a project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, promotes LGBTQ inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies and formally recognizes those agencies that are leading the field with innovative approaches to inclusion. All staff are currently involved in additional trainings as we work towards this achievement in 2021.

Community Services:

  • After hearing feedback from our existing Transracial Adoption Family Group, we added the Transracial Adoption Children’s Group to provide a safe space of emotional support for children and youth adopted transracially to engage in open discussion and guided activities focused on civic and cultural topics that impact their lives. This group aims to increase their consciousness of their resilience, self-worth, and the value they add to their family, community, and the world.
  • We revamped the private Transracial Adoption Facebook group to provide increased opportunities for learning and interaction on a day-to-day basis.
  • For the month of February, we have waived the registration fee for the Transcultural-Transcultural Adoption and Parenting webinar. Families who adopt transracially or transculturally will face a unique set of concerns that require careful thought, preparation, and ongoing education. This webinar is designed to educate prospective and current foster and adoptive parents about the important issues involved in transracial and transcultural adoption including selecting a school and community that embraces differences, educating extended family members, responding to intrusive questions, and preparing your child to confront racism.

We are committed to the work and growth that lies ahead and will continue to provide updates of our progress and actions. As always, we welcome your feedback.


Empowering Transracial Adoptees To Own Their Voice on the Path From Childhood to Adulthood: Part 1

Transracial Adoptee Holding Hands with Mother

 

Empowering children to hear, value, and own their voices starting at a young age is core to raising strong and confident human beings. At Adoptions Together we recognize the critical importance of a parent’s role in nurturing the development of their child’s voice. As a place of lifelong growth and healing, we offer support groups and counseling to strengthen resiliency, provide children and their families guidance they need in the moment, and recommend tools to create lasting stability.

This series, born from our Transracial Adoption Family Support Group (TAG), will provide a platform to hear from transracial adoptees and their families as they navigate and grow on the path of life. We’ll also discuss common questions and concerns of this community.

For the first part of the series, Mindy*, a long-time member of the group, shares her views and experiences encountering race early in her children’s lives.

As the white mother of two Black children, a  6 year-old girl and a  3 year-old boy, Mindy knew she needed to find a place for her children to see similar families and freely ask questions to find their voices early in life. TAG brings together children and their families, creating a safe space to offer advice, ask questions, and grow as a family unit and community. The support group is facilitated by Adoptions Together counseling professionals who are trained in these highly-nuanced topics.

With conversations about race, a critical question that naturally arises is when to introduce a child to the concept—especially a child who is adopted transracially. The next question is how to do so.

From conversations and anecdotes discussed in TAG, Mindy says it’s clear that there is no definitive answer. Children who do not look like their parents often encounter uncomfortable questions from their peers, and these questions put parents in a challenging spot. As the parents in TAG meet with one another, they continually acknowledge how important it is to have the right resources for difficult conversations with their children in order to lead them to better find their voices and develop empathetic worldviews in which they are powerful advocates for themselves and others.

Questions may arise at any time and children should never be shut down. Instead, Mindy and the other TAG parents focus on identifying resources (through TAG and elsewhere) that are accessible for their children based on age and maturity level. By answering questions and exploring topics openly, children are validated and have the tools to discover their own self-expression and perspective.

One of Mindy’s primary goals is the development of her children’s voices as their own, empowering them to advocate for themselves and others in all matters, regardless of the scope. Her daughter is building this skillset through TAG by learning how to voice her opinions, share appropriate, thoughtful responses when faced with negativity, and better understand how kids sometimes perceive their skin and hair, especially in comparison with their parents. TAG has provided structured learning opportunities within the group for children to practice owning their voice and feeling comfortable in the moment with another child.

When children are given the chance to learn to use their voices, doors are opened in their development as individuals. For children like Mindy’s, resources like TAG allow them to have spaces that foster positive growth, cementing who they are and will become in the future.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality.


Adoptions Together: Home for the Holidays

two moms and their newly adopted child right after finalization

However holiday celebrations look this year, one thing is certain: all children deserve to enjoy the season with a loving family.

Across the United States, there are over 120,000 children available for adoption. These children live in a state of uncertainty—moved between foster homes, group homes and other unstable settings. As we count down the days until Christmas, we are all surrounded by images of children spending days of celebration with the warmth and security of a family. For these children that is far from reality. While these children wake up every day with uncertainty of what the future will bring, these children will not spend Christmas wrapped in the loving care of family.

Adoptions Together is driven by the belief that family is a human right. We believe there is no such thing as an unwanted child, just unfound parents. Every day spent without a family is a day that offers no chance to heal from trauma. We know healing happens in the context of healthy relationships and we do everything possible to support children and families.

Children should be home with their family, especially during the holiday season. Adoptions Together has been working hard throughout this complicated year to ensure that kids are connected to their forever families, and we are thrilled to be placing 6 children with secure families this month—just in time to make dreams of spending Christmas with family come true.

Adoption across state lines is complicated and geography should never be a barrier for a child to have a family. While each state system has a complicated bureaucracy to navigate, social workers must work diligently to push through the process. Unfortunately, it can take months of additional instability before a child arrives home with their forever family. At times, it can take advocacy on all levels to bring a child home.

Eleven year old Anthony matched with his mom and dad back in July and has been visiting through daily Facetime calls since then. It’s been hard for Anthony to understand. Why is it taking so long for him to come home? Our team has moved mountains to get this young boy home for Christmas. We are thrilled that Anthony will wake up Christmas morning in his own room, and be surrounded by his forever family.

While we celebrate the joys of these six children and their families, there is still much to be done. As you experience your own holiday traditions this year, as different as they may be, we hope you will dream about how you can help make a difference in the life of a child.

Remember, there’s no such thing as somebody else’s child.


Can I Give a Baby Up for Adoption if I’m Not a US Citizen?

pregnant woman

Can I Give a Baby Up for Adoption if I’m Not a US Citizen?

When a woman considers giving a child up for adoption, there are a lot of questions that might go through her mind. How does adoption work? How can I begin the adoption process? Who should I talk to about adoption for my baby?  And sometimes, women we work with have specific questions about their backgrounds and how that might impact giving up a child for adoption.  Specifically, can you give a baby up for adoption if you’re not a US citizen?

Yes! Each year, we work with women who come from all over the world. Many women who choose to place a baby for adoption are not US citizens.  Adoption is an option if you are not a US citizen. Here are some questions you might have if you’re considering adoption and you’re not a US citizen:

Will my pregnancy counselor ask me questions about my immigration status during the adoption planning process?

Your pregnancy counselor will not ask you any direct questions about your immigration status at any time during the adoption planning process.  If you decide to place your baby for adoption, she may request to see copies of your identification card or medical insurance card, but the adoption process can move forward if you don’t have an identification card or health insurance card.  Sometimes, a woman chooses to reveal her immigration status to her pregnancy counselor. Remember this: we consider a woman’s immigration status part of her confidential record. We will not report her immigration status to ICE or any other legal authority.

Will my pregnancy counselor discuss my immigration status with the hospital when I have my baby?

Your pregnancy counselor will not volunteer any information about your immigration status to the hospital.  Some hospital social workers who contact us to help women make adoption plans may inform us that they believe a woman is here without legal status, but this is not important in the adoption planning process. Additionally, hospitals and healthcare facilities do not report information to ICE.  Keep in mind that just like us, the hospital may ask for a form of identification and insurance.  This is for billing purposes, not to report to authorities.

If I am in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, is it still possible for me to have an open adoption?

Yes! If you are an undocumented immigrant, nothing prevents you from having the same type of open adoption as US citizens or documented immigrants.  We have worked with many undocumented birthparents who are able to continue maintaining open relationships with their children.  Your legal status does not impact your access to an open adoption plan.

Remember that giving a baby up for adoption is a challenging process. Working with an agency that provides you with support along the way helps to ensure you are protected legally, emotionally and in the future. Adoptions Together is here to support you in making an adoption plan, regardless of your legal status.

If you are considering giving a baby up for adoption and would like to speak with a counselor, contact us today.


Placing a Baby for Adoption and Your Hospital Stay

Adoption and the hospital stay

 

Some women spend eight months planning an adoption for their baby. Others don’t tell a soul they are pregnant. 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.

Who is going to be there with you?

Some birth mothers want to be alone before, during, and after labor and delivery, especially if very few (or no) people know about their pregnancy. On the other hand, some birth moms we’ve worked with have had many people in the room. No matter how many people want to be there, you are the person who decides what happens. If your family or friends are against your adoption decision, then it will be up to you to decide who supports you during your hospital stay. Think about what you know about your family and friends and how you can best take care of yourself if they are around and have strong feelings about the outcome of this pregnancy.

If you are the kind of person who needs to have a little bit of separation from others when you are emotional or who gets stressed out about having a lot of people tell you what to do, then you may need to put up a boundary and decide not to have any visitors. Our adoption counselors have been in a lot of hospital rooms where family members were crying and telling the birth mother what they thought she should do, and in many of these cases, the birth mother ended up changing her mind about her adoption plan and deciding to parent because multiple family members had become attached to the baby. Changing your mind is absolutely okay; our point is that you should think carefully about how you will be feeling and who you will want to have supporting you during this difficult and emotional time.

How much contact will you have with your baby afterward?

This is your decision. A lot of birth mothers decide not to see their baby after delivery because they are trying to protect their hearts; they know themselves and feel certain that if they do see their baby, it will be much more difficult to place their baby for adoption if they hold the baby. These birth mothers sometimes feel ashamed about not having any contact with their baby, and we urge them to remember that they know their own needs better than anyone else does and that they know best how to take care of themselves. We will say that the birth mothers who make the difficult choice to see and hold their baby after delivery tend to be better able to process the adoption later on. Those who do not get that time with their baby often find themselves with unanswered questions.

Many times, birth mothers who change their mind about adoption are the same ones who made the decision not to spend much or any time with their baby while in the hospital. In our experience, because these birth moms did not have the bittersweet experience of seeing, holding, feeding, and taking photos of their baby, they never had the opportunity to process the adoption plan. In these cases, a birth mother’s unanswered questions and feelings can then become so overwhelming that she ends up changing her mind about the entire plan. That said, we have also worked with plenty of women who did not see their baby after delivery and did not revoke. Only you can figure out what will work best for you.

How will you name your baby?

The baby will have to be named in the hospital, even if the adoptive family is going to legally change that name later on.  You will be asked about the name soon after delivery. If you do not want to name your baby, your adoption counselor can choose a name for you; if you do want to name him or her, you can pick a name you like, or a name that is meaningful to you, or the name of a family member. Pick whatever you want, but remember that the adoptive family may change this name later on. If you are thinking of using a name to which you are very much attached and you think you will feel hurt if it is changed, discuss this with your adoption counselor so that she can find out how the adoptive family is planning to go about naming the baby.

Find a middle ground.

This hospital stay should be tailored to your needs. You don’t have to choose between ten visitors or no visitors – you can choose exactly who you want to have with you and when. You don’t have to choose between having no contact at all with your baby or having a huge amount of contact – you can choose to spend one or two hours with your baby or to simply look at your baby through the nursery window. And most importantly, you can always change your mind. If you decided beforehand to allow visitors but end up feeling overwhelmed, you can ask them to leave.If you decided not to see your baby but then realize you want to do so after all, you have every right to ask a nurse to bring your baby in to you or to go to the nursery to visit your baby. Keep your adoption counselor in the loop about how you are feeling and what you need, and she will work with hospital staff to make sure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the experience.

If you are planning for adoption and nearing your due date, let us know in the comments section what you think of these suggestions and what your own plans are! And if you made an adoption plan in the past, we’d love to learn more about what it was like for you. Did you have visitors and/or contact with your baby after delivery? How do you feel about those decisions now? 


How to Explain Your Baby’s Adoption to Your Other Children

“Mommy, Where is the Baby?” What To Say to Your Other Children About Adoption

Giving a baby up for adoption if you have another child

There is no hiding your baby’s adoption from your other children.

Somehow, while you try to take care of yourself, process your emotions, and return to your daily life, you’ll also need to find a way to talk to your other children about their sibling’s adoption.

This may not be easy, but the good news is that you have more control than you realize over how your children respond. Kids process information based upon how it is presented to them; if you present the adoption as a good thing, then that’s how they’ll process it. Here are four important tips to keep in mind when you talk to your children about their sibling’s adoption.

1. Be honest about placing your baby for adoption.

Children always pick up on our emotions, even when we don’t state them out loud. No matter how hard you try to act normal, your kids will realize that something is going on, and if you don’t talk about it they will become confused and even frightened. Don’t try to cover up your feelings – instead, be honest about them. Let your child know that you are going through a difficult time and are feeling down. Most importantly, don’t try to keep the adoption a secret and pretend that nothing has happened or that the baby died. No matter how careful you are about keeping the secret, your child will almost definitely find out about it one day, and consider this: Would you rather your child hear the news from you, or from your aunt when she’s mad at you or your niece when they’re playing together outside?

2. Use words about placing the baby for adoption that they understand.

Honesty is important, but that doesn’t mean you have to explain everything you’ve been through with this pregnancy and adoption to your toddler or very young child. It’s okay to simply say, “It would be too hard for mommy to take care of the baby right now, so the baby is going to live with another family. Sometimes mommy misses the baby and feels sad about that, but she also feels happy that the baby has a family who loves them very much.”

3. Reassure them that they are safe with you.

It is natural for your child to feel upset or uneasy when they learn about the adoption. They will likely be afraid that if the baby went away, you might go away, or that they, too, will have to go live with another family. They’ll need to hear you say frequently that you are not going anywhere, that they are going to continue to live with you, and that you will always take care of them. Children often believe that they are responsible for unhappy events, so you’ll also want to reassure them that it is not their fault that the baby went to live somewhere else or that you are feeling sad.

4. Help them express their feelings about their sibling’s adoption.

Encourage your child to express his/her feelings by drawing a picture or writing a story or poem. Research has shown that drawing and writing reduce children’s anxiety and can also help parents to understand how their child is feeling. While you’re at it, why not sit down and write or draw with them? You’ll both have an outlet for your feelings, and your presence will reinforce the fact that they don’t have to worry about losing you.

Still worried or uncertain about how to address adoption with your other children? Talk to your adoption counselor! They can help you figure out what to say and can even meet with you and your child together.

How did you talk to your other children about their sibling’s adoption? Share your story in the comments section below.


Kinship Care: Is It for You?

grandparents walking with two young children Kinship Care

As you think about your pregnancy options, have you considered kinship care, or family placement?

Many expecting parents prefer to place their child in the care of someone they already know. While only you can decide what’s right for your family, we’re here to help you explore this option.

Kinship Care — More Than Free Babysitting

The tradition of relatives helping raise a child has been around much longer than child welfare agencies. Kinship arrangements mean more than having an extra pair of hands to help with diaper changes or grocery trips, however. State and federal laws recognize kinship care as an official type of foster care.

Ever since the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, relatives are the first to be given the choice of raising children whose parents cannot be the primary caregivers. As of September 2016, 32 percent of children in the foster care system were placed in foster homes with relatives.

What some expecting parents don’t realize is that they can explore the option of kinship care before their baby is born, similar to the adoption process.

All in the Family

Like adoption, kinship care can take many forms. Although the kinship care model typically means literal “kin” or family, it also can include a close friend who cares for your child.

In some arrangements, the birth parents maintain legal custody of their child, with the kinship foster parents assuming physical custody and day-to-day parenting responsibilities. This type of agreement allows birth parents to still make decisions concerning their child. In other arrangements, kinship parents receive both legal and physical custody of the child.

Kinship care is a common type of adoption for teenage birth parents. Often, it starts out as a temporary arrangement and becomes permanent if the relative chooses to adopt the child.

Because some kinship arrangements start out informally, kinship parents don’t always receive the same recognition or support as other adoptive or foster parents. The needs and demands of kinship parenting are just as real, however. We encourage kinship parents to seek counseling and support services from experts who can help them care for themselves and their loved ones. Kinship caregivers may also find assistance through national resources and state programs like the DC Child and Family Services Agency’s Grandparent Subsidy Program.

Family Matters

Families can be complicated and messy, and they come with their own set of challenges. Similarly, placement of a child within a family comes with many special considerations.

One of the most unique parts of kinship care is that the child’s kinship parent also has a personal connection with the birth parent. This can be comforting for older children entering kinship care, since they are going to live with someone they already know.

On the other hand, these same ties can make it difficult for kinship caregivers to “own” the role of parent from the start. While it takes time, it is important for kinship parents to model stability around roles, routines and a sense of home to the children in their care.

Another hurdle that kinship parents might not expect is the foster care system and its many policies and requirements — many have only the experience of raising their own children to guide them. And when kinship parents are the child’s grandparents, just the thought of raising a child in today’s era may be overwhelming.

Support from experts and other families bonded by this unique type of arrangement can help kinship parents provide a stable home for the children they already know and love. If you’re thinking about placing your child permanently or temporarily with a relative and want to chat with a counselor, contact us anytime via email, text message, phone or by chatting with us online.


Can I get paid to give my baby up for adoption?

pregnant woman asking, "Can I get paid to give my baby up for adoption?"

“Can I get paid to give my baby up for adoption?”. We get asked this question a lot, and it’s time to talk about it.

In Maryland, it is legal for adoptive parents and licensed adoption agencies to pay “reasonable expenses” for women considering adoption for their babies. The payment of “reasonable expenses,” which generally includes necessities such as housing, food, and clothing, was already legal in 37 states, and until Maryland passed a law allowing adoption agencies and adoptive parents to help birth mothers with these costs, Maryland families and agencies were only allowed to help cover birth mothers’ medical and legal bills. As a result, some birth mothers were choosing to make adoption plans with families out-of-state so that they could receive financial assistance with living expenses while pregnant.

Help During a Tough Time

Birth mothers who were going out of state in order to receive financial assistance were not always able to find an ethical adoption agency or attorney who ensured that they received thorough counseling and legal representation. Legalizing the payment of birth mother expenses in Maryland was good news in terms of protecting the rights of birth parents. It was also good news because most birth parents are already struggling in some way, and those struggles only increase once they become pregnant. Many women who are considering adoption do not have stable housing; they live with family members, rent rooms, or stay in shelters. They are often either unemployed or underemployed, and those who have been able to find work risk losing their job once their employer finds out about the pregnancy. If you’ve ever been in this boat, then you are well aware that even a small amount of financial assistance with paying rent or buying food can make a big difference to the physical and emotional health of a pregnant woman.

Under Pressure

We also need to acknowledge, however, that financial assistance can add pressure to an already emotionally difficult situation. Even when we do a lot of counseling with birth mothers and they understand that legally they can change their minds about their adoption plan at any point until their parental rights expire, they usually still feel a deeper sense of obligation to make an adoption plan if they have received financial assistance during their pregnancy. We never want a woman to go through with an adoption simply because she feels she can’t change her mind, so the fact that Maryland women can now receive financial assistance makes providing emotional support and counseling for birth parents during their decision-making period more crucial than ever.

A Temporary Solution

And of course, whatever financial assistance a birth parent receives during her pregnancy is only temporary, which is why birth parents should always work with an adoption counselor to come up with a reasonable amount to request. For example, it probably isn’t wise for a birth mother to ask for assistance in paying rent for an especially expensive apartment that she will no longer be able to afford after her pregnancy.

If you’re considering adoption and need to chat with a counselor about financial assistance, contact us anytime.  You can reach us via email, text message, by phone, or by chatting with us online. 


How Will I Know If Adoption is Right for My Baby?

Gazing at baby thinking, "How Will I Know If Adoption is Right?"

Birth mothers often ask us how they can know for sure whether their decision to place a baby for adoption was the right choice to make. We wish we could give them an answer so they wouldn’t have to wonder, but unfortunately we can’t.

No matter how well we’ve gotten to know a birth mother, we only see tidbits of her life. We don’t understand what it feels like to be in her shoes every day, what she is ready for, or what will be too difficult for her. No one but a birth parent can know whether adoption was the right choice for them.

The question is normal, though. When we make difficult decisions, we often look for signs that might tell us whether we’ve made the right one. Sometimes we find them, but other times we don’t. Trying to find meaning, to find lessons, is part of the cycle of grief, loss and healing.

But what if we stopped looking for signs, and just made them ourselves? What if, instead of waiting for them, we made meaning from our choices?

People choose adoption for all sorts of different reasons. The circumstances that led you to choose adoption for your baby might or might not have been in your control. What you definitely can control, right here and right now, is what you decide to do now that you’ve made the choice. Did you choose adoption so you could pursue your education? Use this experience to help you stay dedicated to that goal. Did you choose adoption in order to better provide for your other children? Spend extra time playing with them and nurturing them (they grow up fast!). Did you choose adoption so you could try to make some changes in your life? Remind yourself what those changes were, and reprioritize them if you need to.  Remember that we are here for you when you need us.

You won’t necessarily get a sign that adoption was the right choice for you to make. The only way to be sure is to create it yourself. There will be times when you doubt yourself, but you can use those painful moments to propel you forward. Your adoption story is a part of your life, and every step you take is a chance to write that story yourself.

Have you ever doubted your adoption decision? How have you determined whether you made the right choice?


Adoption vs. Safe Haven Laws: What You Should Know

pregnant woman thinking about adoption and safe haven laws

Adoption vs. Safe Haven Laws: The Important Differences

In the 1990s, there was a surge in the number of babies being abandoned by their birth parents. Because they were left in unsafe places, many of them died. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by pregnancy or parenthood, it’s easy to imagine how these parents felt when they left their babies alone: frightened, uncertain, and desperate.

In response to these deaths, many states enacted what are known as Safe Haven Laws. Safe Haven Laws allow parents to leave an infant at a designated location – usually a hospital, police station, or fire station – and as long as the baby has not been harmed, the parent will not be punished for leaving them. Proponents of the laws hoped that they would encourage birth parents who felt they couldn’t care for their children to leave them in a place where the baby could be found and cared for, instead of abandoning them unsafely where they might not be found.

The well-being of children is our top priority at Adoptions Together. We believe that Safe Haven laws work well when they keep babies from being harmed. However, we feel that it is crucial for birth parents to know that Safe Haven is very different from choosing adoption for your baby through a non-profit agency.

If you are pregnant or a new parent and feel like you need someone else to take custody of your baby, take a moment to learn about the differences between using Safe Haven laws and choosing adoption.

Difference #1: Adoption gives you time to be certain about your decision.

Everyone feels overwhelmed at times. Some problems seem too hard to solve. But most of the time help is available, even if it seems difficult to find. An ethical adoption agency will help you access resources that can help you decide whether parenting is the right choice for you.  And adoption agency’s job is to help support you and help make a plan that’s right for your family. Safe Haven placements are designed to be anonymous- you don’t get that type of support, and you can’t just change your mind once you’re feeling better; you’ve already given up custody of your child. Plus, if you decide one day that you want to know how your child is doing, you won’t necessarily have the right to get in touch the way you would if you arranged for an open adoption through an agency.

Difference #2: With adoption, you are in control.

Ethical adoption agencies like Adoptions Together put you in control of your baby’s adoption process. This means that you can choose the adoptive family you want to raise your child and that you can determine what kind of adoption relationship you’d like to have with your child’s family, whether that means yearly letter-and-picture updates, in-person meetings, or other arrangements. If you give up custody of your baby under a Safe Haven law, the baby will go into the social services foster care system and their future will be determined from there. Not only can this take up to a year – which is a long time for a baby not to have a permanent family – but you don’t have any control over who eventually adopts your baby. Nor can you specify what type of contact you’d like to have with them and with your child in the future.

Ultimately, we all want children to be safe. If leaving your child at a Safe Haven location is the best way for you to keep them out of harm’s way, then we trust you to make that choice. But we also want you to stay safe, both physically and emotionally, and we don’t want you to give up your right to be a part of your child’s life if there might be another way. If you’re in crisis and worried about caring for your baby, we hope you’ll call us or another licensed agency so we can figure out a plan – together.