One of the principle laws of the scientific world is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you start evaluating life decisions in this way, you will discover that there are unique positive and negative impacts that will happen after committing yourself to a specific direction.
When the choice you must make is to give a baby up for adoption or raise the child in your own family, then the stakes are very high. Do you have the ability to provide the best possible life for that baby, or would adoptive parents provide a home with more opportunities for them?
Under most circumstances, it is the birth mother who ultimately makes the decision on whether or not adoption is the best option to pursue. It may not seem fair to the people in her close circles if there is disagreement, but adoption is also a long-term agreement that can change everyone’s lives in positive ways. Some biological and adoptive families even stay in contact with one another so that the baby can get to know their life story authentically.
If you find yourself in this situation, then here are some of the thoughts you’ll want to review as you ponder the pros and cons of giving a baby up for adoption.
List of the Pros of Giving a Baby Up for Adoption
1. Openness agreements can help you stay in contact with the adoptive family.
One of the best advantages of adoption is an openness agreement. It might be called a post-adoption contract or some other name, but the process is the same. This document allows the birth mother and the adoptive parents of the child to understand what the communication expectations will be in the relations. It takes all of the guesswork out of how the relationships will form moving forward.
These agreements provide children in adoption with the consistency that a long-term relationship provides. Both parents and the adoptive ones can maintain contact with mediation help from the agency that initiated the process in the first place. Everyone benefits.
2. It provides an option to stay in a child’s life without being a parent.
Some biological parents are not in a physical, emotional, or financial place where they can take care of a child. Instead of seeking an abortion to counter those issues, giving up a baby for adoption creates a situation where there can be a little breathing room. A birth mother can still play a role in the life of her child without needing to worry about the full-time responsibility of parenting. Signing a legal relinquishment form in an open adoption might even mean that the adoptive parents were chosen by the child’s biological family.
It is not always an easy choice to make, but giving a baby up for adoption gives that child the best shot at life. It gives another family the option to have a child when they might not have been able to do so by themselves.
3. Healing is always possible after giving up a baby after adoption.
Many birth mothers know when adoption is going to be the best choice for their child. It can be a painful experience to sign over her parental rights. The good news is that no one must stay trapped in their feelings of pain forever. There is a path of healing to be found that uses resources, community supports, and communication to begin the restorative process. Many adoption agencies have mentorship programs and other services that can improve the lives of the biological family too.
4. Everyone has the right to adopt or pursue a different course to follow.
Since adoption is a legal agreement, everyone involved in the life of the baby has the right to change their mind about this process. One moment of decision does not require a follow-through if there is any hesitation in this idea. Everyone has the option to change their mind even after several months of waiting and planning. As long as the proceedings have not yet finalized, there is a way to stop the process of transferring parental rights from the biological parents to the adoptive ones.
5. It gives the baby and all of the parents a new beginning.
The chance to have a new beginning is one of the most significant benefits of the adoption process. It is a way for the dreams of the adoptive parents to come true because they get to start a family of their own after the transfer of rights. There are new goals that can be set, a sense of hope for the future, and the opportunity to pursue a better life. Giving up a baby for adoption empowers everyone involved in the arrangement to embrace the idea of starting over with a clean slate.
6. Both families receive an enhanced peace of mind from the adoptive process.
Many birth mothers feel frantic because they’re unsure that they can provide what their baby needs. Adoptive parents become fearful that they might never have the opportunity to start a family of their own. When the two families come together, there can be an intense sense of peace that washes over you. Some people who have gone through this experience call it a breathtaking experience.
You’ll know as the birth mother that you are choosing a family that will keep your son or daughter safe for the rest of their life. The adoptive parents become the people upon whom the baby can depend on for every need. Do not underestimate this advantage if you’re unsure about what to do.
7. It gives the biological parents another chance at life.
An unplanned pregnancy creates an interrupted life. Although some critics of the adoptive process might say that a person’s choices create this circumstance, that is not always the case. Teens and women in their early 20s must set aside their educational opportunities, career prospects, and social networks to manage their pregnancy in today’s society. Then you have all of the hormones shifting and the physical changes that occur as the baby develops in the womb. Choosing to give a baby up for adoption allows for an unprepared parent to have another chance at life, creating opportunities for more mature decisions in the future.
There are many times when the idea of adoption provides a wake-up call for those who are not walking a healthy journey through life. This option lets another family pursue their goals and dreams while the birth mother looks for ways to return to where she needs to be.
8. Adoptive parents can exchange letters and pictures.
When you can create an open relationship between the biological and birth parents, then it gives the birth mother an opportunity to watch their child growing up. Even with the potential challenges that take place in this relationship, seeing your baby thrive in a new environment allows most mothers to find some peace with their decision. Exchanging letters and pictures can be a helpful component of the healing process as well.
You’re going to exchange other forms of information as well. If your baby ever experiences an emergency, then you’ll be one of the first people to know about the situation if there is an open relationship. You can provide life-saving medical data that could help the child to recover from the situation. There won’t be a struggle to open the adoption records either, which can be problematic in some U.S. states.
9. Birth mothers can let an adoption agency do the vetting work.
Some birth mothers like to have their hands on the vetting process so that they can see the benefits of giving up their baby for adoption personally. You also have the option to hire an adoption agency to do this work on your behalf. It increases the risk of the process leading to a closed adoption instead of an open one, but there can be some biological families who are not in a position to find an excellent future home for their child. There are several professional agencies throughout the United States and around the world that can help to facilitate the searching and placement processes so that the child can have the best start to their new life.
If you do choose to have a closed adoption, it is essential to remember that children can begin to request their adoption records once they turn 18. It is not unusual for babies who were given up for adoption to try to find their biological family when they become an adult.
10. There is a “semi-open” option that could be a possibility.
If a birth mother wants to share a small amount of information about themselves and stay in the life of a child, then some states allow for a semi-open adoption. This advantage allows you to let a professional agency to mediate the letters and pictures that you might agree to exchange with the adoptive family. You can use this option to provide third-party supports for communication and other needs as well.
If you choose this option as a birth mother, you can still have some privacy without feeling like you’re closing the door entirely to your child.
List of the Cons of Giving a Baby Up for Adoption
1. Some states in the U.S. do not enforce openness agreements.
The validity of an openness agreement depends upon where the birth mother lives and/or signs the documentation that governs the relationship with the adoptive family. Some biological parents may not have a right to enforce the contract based on the laws of the state where it became enforceable. There is a lot of variance in American law in this area to the point where some adoptive families can cut off all contact, and there would be nothing that anyone could do about that situation.
2. Legal relinquishment means a birth mother no longer has parental rights.
If a birth mother decides that her child is not being taken care of correctly or in a manner she desires, there is nothing that can legally change the situation. Adoptive families have full rights to make whatever choices they feel are the correct ones about the baby. The only exception to this disadvantage would be to contact Health and Human Services or the Division of Children and Families if there is the possibility of abuse happening. If allegations are made that are false and it is a repetitive issue, then the adoptive family could have other legal options that could create even more separation.
3. Some families struggle to get over the pain of losing a child to adoptive parents.
The path toward healing is different for every biological family. Some birth mothers see the action of giving a baby up for adoption as a traumatic experience. It may take a lifetime of self-reflection to get back into a place where there is happiness to experience once again. Biological parents often need help with the first steps toward motivation. There are self-directed moments that must be taken as well, and it may not be possible for every parent to do so since their child is with a different family.
Grief is a natural emotion to feel when giving up a baby for adoption. You’re experiencing a loss directly related to the child. You might lose other people in your life who decide to pull their support for you as well. Feeling empty and lost can be an overwhelming experience.
4. Adoptive parents have the right to change their mind before signing the paperwork.
Although this disadvantage is somewhat rare in the United States, adoptive families do have the option to change their minds before they sign the documents that give them parental rights for the child. The biological parents have the same right as well. When this issue occurs, the trauma involved in trying to find another family or another child can devastate the entire family. It is almost impossible to walk away from this situation without experiencing a broken heart.
5. It gives the biological parents a way out of being accountable for their actions.
There are times when giving up a baby for adoption does make sense. No child should need to live in an abusive household. It is also a notable disadvantage to give the biological parents of a child a fresh start because there is no way to hold them accountable for their actions with this process. There might be a particular beauty in this idea with many sacrifices involved that make it a beautiful process in many situations, but it is the adoptive family who often gets stuck with the legal bills, the costs of taking care of the children involved, and all of the other expenses. The biological family can often walk away without any other consequences – including the option to not stay in contact after the transfer of rights is complete.
6. Some birth mothers come to regret the decision they make to give up their babies.
Some biological parents might feel that giving up their baby for adoption is the correct choice to make right now, but it is also a perspective that can change in the future. It is not unusual for birth mothers to ask themselves a lot of “what if” questions. The answers to those hypothetical queries can lead some people to regret the decision they made.
Some women feel pressured into giving up a baby for adoption, especially if the people in their lives believe that they are not equipped or mature enough to make the choice alone. This disadvantage is the reason why you’ll want to take your time when selecting a family or finding a way to support the child on your own.
7. Some babies can grow up to resent their biological family.
Some, but not all, adoptive children can grow up feeling resentful or bitter about the fact that their biological parents decided to give them up to someone else. This disadvantage occurs most often when the children are led to believe that their moms and dads were their own from conception. That’s why open communication is such a necessary component of many adoptive relationships. It will help the baby find a way through the emotions of abandonment that they might feel in the future.
From the standpoint of the biological family, there is no way to control the influence of the adoptive family in this circumstance either. Some kids might hear all of the bad things about their birth mothers without understanding the positives of this relationship. Even if you do everything right, there is always a risk that this disadvantage could remain present in the relationship.
8. Some children are unable to gain access to their adoption records.
Some U.S. states, such as Missouri, consider all adoptions to be a closed process. This perspective makes it challenging for adult adoptees to gain access to their original birth certificates or the medical information of their parents. It is a disadvantage that leads some people to pursue DNA testing and other methods of determining their history to figure out who they are or what their medical needs might be in the future. This issue works against birth mothers who seek information about their children as well.
That’s why knowing what the adoption laws are in your jurisdiction is a critical component to the transfer of parental rights. It can be a tremendous challenge in closed states to find the information needed to make critical decisions later in life.
9. It can be a challenge to establish boundaries with an adoptive family.
Some biological parents can struggle to establish a healthy boundary with their adoptive family. It can be a problem to adhere to the open adoption agreement that both groups form to transfer parental rights as well. When there is a lack of communication between all parties, then a closed process might be a better one to pursue. Although many parents want to share information about themselves to help their baby have as many advantages as possible, there are times when it might be more important to protect your privacy to let an adoption agency do all of the work for you.
Is it Worthwhile to Give a Baby Up for Adoption?
As with any other life event, there are several pros and cons of giving up a baby for adoption to consider. There are also many reasons why a biological parent might choose to sign over their rights, just as there are reasons for a family to pursue the idea of adopting a child in the first place. These challenges are all part of the journey.
Some might look at the disadvantages of this legal process and decide to stop it because they are afraid of what it might mean for their family. Others see the sacrifices of this journey and embrace them wholeheartedly.
Adoption is often a beautiful and selfless process. Every situation is different, which means it is up to each family to decide if it is the correct decision to make based on numerous factors – including the crucial points noted above.
If you have any questions or want to speak with someone before making a decision, then the Child Welfare Information Gateway offers several contact numbers for you to call.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.