For many women, facing an unplanned pregnancy can leave them feeling scared and confused, unsure about what they should do. While the choice between continuing a pregnancy and having an abortion often weighs heavily on a woman's mind, a third option may go overlooked. This is the option of adoption.

Adoption Stories
Choosing adoption means carrying your child to term, giving birth and then legally giving your child to another couple who assume all parental rights for the child. While in the past closed and completely private adoptions, whereby the birth mother knew absolutely nothing about who was adopting her child, was the norm, nowadays birth mothers have a choice.

There are generally two types of adoptions a woman can choose between. A closed adoption allows the birth mother to remain anonymous and entrusts a third party to conduct a search for and select the adoptive parents. An open adoption, on the other hand, encourages the birth mother to take an active role in the adoption search for parents.

Closed Adoption
Closed adoption, also known as a private adoption, is usually done through an agency either run by the state (public agencies) or privately. If your child is placed in either a child welfare or foster care system, she will be adopted through a public agency. On the other hand, if you have decided on adoption before the birth of your child, you can work with a private adoption agency that will find adoptive parents for you. While many adoption agencies encourage the birth mother to be active in the adoption process, you can also choose to remain anonymous.

In the United States, women who choose adoption through a private agency can opt to work with a licensed or unlicensed agency. Unlike an unlicensed agency, licensed agencies must adhere to state regulations and standards in order to keep operating. Many women prefer to use a licensed agency because they feel more confident in the quality of service they will receive.

One benefit of working with an agency is that they will handle all legal matters pertaining to the adoption for you. However, be sure to thoroughly read any contracts they provide you with before you sign. Ask questions about any part of any contract that you don't understand. Put off signing the contract until you feel confident that you properly comprehend the terms of the contract.

Open Adoption
More birth parents, as well as adoptive parents, are choosing to have an open adoption. In this type of adoption, the birth mother takes an active role in choosing the adoptive parents, meeting and interviewing potential couples. Often, the birth mother and adoptive parents are able to form some type of informal relationship and many continue this relationship after the child is born.

If you would like to do an open adoption, there are various ways you can go about the process. As stated before, many private agencies nowadays encourage birth parents to take an active role in the adoption process. However, if you would prefer to not work with an agency, you can conduct your own search for a couple. This is known as an independent adoption. There are many adoption resources that allow you to conduct an adoption parent search through their database of potential couples. To help protect yourself, it is a good idea to enlist the help of a lawyer if you plan to do an independent adoption.

Going down the independent road does not necessarily mean you have to go it alone the entire time. You may choose to do what is known as an "identified adoption" whereby you approach an adoption agency once you have already chosen an adoptive couple. The agency will then take care of the legal issues surrounding the adoption as well as perform a home study on the prospective parents. They can also offer you some counseling to help explain the process better and help you deal with any emotional issues you may be having.

Adoption Laws
Adoption laws tend to vary from country to country. Even within the same country, they can be different from one state to the next. Therefore, it is necessary for you to do some research on just what type of adoption is allowed where you live and what is not. Also, learn when you're expected to give up your rights to your child and how long of a grace period, if any, you are granted to change your mind.

Typically, a birth mother in the United States relinquishes all parental rights to her child upon birth, which means the adoptive parents can leave the hospital with the child. In Canada, however, there is a mandatory nine-day waiting period before a birth mother can sign any adoption papers. She is then given a further 21 days to change her mind about the adoption.

Emotional Aspects of Adoptions
Deciding on adoption can be an extremely emotional and even devastating decision for some. Many women form a loving bond with their child during pregnancy and already feel emotionally connected to their child even before the child is born. It is normal for you to feel upset, depressed, angry, fearful, and even experience a sense of loss and grief. For some women, having an open adoption and being able to get to know the family who will be raising their child and even receiving periodic photos and updates about their child as they grow up can help relieve some of the distressing emotions. But not for every woman.

If you are considering adoption, take the time to speak with counselors who can help you understand your feelings surrounding the issue better. While adoption can be a wonderful choice for many people, it is still important to take your time in considering this option.

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