If you’re a resident of the District of Columbia and are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, you’re probably feeling scared, confused, or alone. However, you need to understand that you are not alone. Not only are there many women who are going through the same thing, but there are also people out there who would want nothing more than to help you and see you succeed. You may be wondering what exactly the process looks like and how to “put a baby up for adoption in Maryland”.
The phrase “putting a baby up for adoption” has a negative connotation. It makes it sound like you “gave up” or “abandoned” your baby which is the furthest thing from the truth. When you choose adoption, you choose life for your baby. Also, your adoption decision is an extremely brave and selfless choice. If you know you’re not at a place right now to raise your baby, there are many well-qualified, well-screened and well-prepared parents out there who will adopt your baby in a heartbeat. Instead of saying “putting a baby up for adoption”, let’s say something more positive like “placing a baby for adoption” which is exactly what you’re doing; you’re placing your baby in another home where he or she can have a good life with a forever family.
An adoption starts with you. You might be pregnant and considering adoption for your newborn, or you might already be parenting a young child or toddler. We are here and ready to help.
Here is an outline of the adoption process in DC
Its best if the baby’s father participates in the adoption process. With your consent, he can be included in any meetings with you and our social worker and meetings with the adoptive family you’ve chosen. We can provide counseling for him if requested. If he isn’t involved (because he’s unknown, disputes paternity, is uncooperative, or can’t be found) this does not necessarily derail the adoption. In DC, we must give the father notice of your adoption plan, which can be done through certified mail or a process server. If you don’t know who the child’s birthfather is, we will prepare an Affidavit of Paternity for you to sign, explaining why you can’t identify the baby’s father.
Making a Match
You will review Parent Profiles of waiting families and select the family you feel is best for your baby. Every Cradle of Hope waiting family has been carefully screened and studied. Each family will be well employed, financially secure, in good health, and have no history of criminal charges or child abuse.
Once you’ve chosen the adoptive family, we will arrange a meeting with them and our social worker, either in our office or somewhere convenient for you, if you want to meet them in person. Depending on your due date, more meetings can be scheduled, and the adopting mom could even go to your medical appointments with you, if you’re ok with that. If you prefer to have less contact with the adopting family, that’s ok too.
During the period between matching and the child’s birth, our work will include:
- Staying in touch with and supporting you. Depending on how long until the birth, this could include contact every few weeks by phone or in person, answering questions, calming nerves, etc.
- If this is your first delivery, we can arrange a childbirth class at the hospital where you plan to deliver, if you like. Some hospitals will provide a private class for adoption situations.
- You will be offered a free consultation with an independent adoption attorney, so you can be sure that your rights are protected.
- A Cradle of Hope social worker contacts the hospital social worker prior to your delivery to explain about your adoption plan and share your hospital plan. We can ask them not to send a breastfeeding consultant to your room, or to put you on a non-maternity ward (some hospitals will and some won’t). Also, we’ll ask the hospital to find a room for the adopting family to stay in (some hospitals will provide a room if they have space).
At the time of birth, you will notify us that you’re in labor. The adopting family will come to the hospital to meet the baby. If you have someone to support you during labor and delivery (your mom, a friend, the birthfather, etc.) our social worker will be at the hospital after the birth, when the adopting family is meeting the baby. If you prefer, our social worker will be there to support you through your delivery. Once we know how your hospital handles adoption situations, we will help prepare you for what to expect. You will probably be in the hospital for two days after a vaginal delivery, or three days if you deliver by C-section
On the day following the baby’s birth, you will sign the required adoption documents, which MUST be signed before you or the baby are discharged. We will try to meet with the birthfather too if he is cooperating. You will sign a consent, giving Cradle of Hope authority to place the child with the family you’ve selected and giving up your parental rights and an Affidavit of Paternity. Additional and/or different forms may be required by the adopting family’s home state, or if the birthfather is absent or nonparticipating. Also, if you and the adopting family have agreed to have contact after the baby is placed, your Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA) agreement must be in writing, signed by the parties, and should specify the type of contact that’s been agreed to (photos/updates by email or in person visits) and the frequency of contact (quarterly, annually, etc.).
The consent that you will sign after the baby is born gives Cradle of Hope guardianship of the child, specifically for placement with the family that you have selected. The child will go home with the adopting family directly from the hospital. We will make sure you have a ride home from the hospital.
The adopting family takes the child home from the hospital as an “at risk placement”. This means that everyone understands and agrees that your revocation period hasn’t expired and if you change your mind, the adopting family would have to return the baby to you.
While the process of putting up a child for adoption in the District of Columbia may seem overwhelming, rest assured that Cradle of Hope has lots of experience in this area. We have been finding permanent, loving homes for children for more than 30 years. We will guide you through each and every step of the process and support you in your adoption decision any way we can.