What to Expect

Adoption can be a complicated and emotional process for both birth parents and adoptive parents.

No adoption will take place exactly as you planned, and what you want for yourself and your child may change along the way. The steps below represent one picture of what birth parents experience when they choose open adoption.

Step 1: Consider Your Options.

Adoption is just one of the choices available to pregnant women. We encourage you to think about all of your options and to discuss them with us, a counselor, or your friends and family. Don’t worry if you haven’t made up your mind yet; we will work with you even if you are still considering your options.

We will continue to help you even if you decide to keep your child, as long as you haven’t given your irrevocable consent, which usually happens within a few days of the birth.

Step 2: Choose an Adoptive Family.

If you decide that adoption is the right option for you and your child, the next step is to choose an adoptive family. We will show you profiles of families we think will be a good match for you. You may also see an advertisement for an adoptive family or know of someone in your community looking to adopt.

When you are interested in a potential adoptive family, we will arrange for you to spend time with them so you can see if you would like them to adopt your child. This is a chance for the adoptive family to make sure they feel comfortable with you too. You can continue meeting potential families until you find one that feels right.

Step 3: Review the Open Adoption Agreement.

When you have chosen an adoptive family, we will prepare a detailed Open Adoption Agreement for all of you to sign. This agreement will state how much financial support the adoptive parents will give you, which may include living, medical, counseling, and legal expenses. The agreement will also outline what everyone expects about how open your adoption will be, including how often and in what ways you will communicate with the child after the birth.

It is not uncommon for these agreements to change over time. You and the adoptive parents might sign them at this time, closer to the birth, or right after the birth when you sign the consent documents.

Step 4: Establish a Pregnancy and Birth Plan.

We will talk to you and the adoptive parents about how involved you want them to be during the pregnancy. We may arrange additional social meetings to allow you to get to know each other better. We will also work with you and the adoptive parents to establish a plan for the birth and the time you spend at the hospital following the birth.

Step 5: Review the Consent Documents.

Before your child is born, we will go over the consent documents with you to make sure that you understand that you will be giving up your parental rights to the child once you sign. If the adoption is being finalized in Washington, you may choose to sign the consent documents at this time. If the adoption is being finalized in Oregon, or if you are not ready to sign, you will wait until after the birth.

Step 6: Wait for the Birth.

As you wait for the birth of your child, the adoptive parents will provide you with the financial and social support you agreed upon.

When the child is born, you and the adoptive parents will follow the directions of the birth plan. The plan usually allows the adoptive parents to spend time with the baby at the hospital.

How much time you spend with the child at the hospital is up to you. Some birth mothers prefer to spend some time with the baby, while others prefer not to have much contact.

Step 7: Make Your Final Decision.

Birth mothers usually make the final decision to place their child for adoption at the hospital after the birth. If you have changed your mind or need more time to think before you sign the consent documents, you have every right to do so. We will guide you through your options.

Step 8: Sign the Remaining Consent Documents and Agreements.

Once you are ready to make the decision to place your child for adoption, you will sign the documents that make your consent to the adoption final and irrevocable. After you sign, your parental rights to the child no longer exist.

You will also sign the Open Adoption Agreement and any other documents you and the adoptive parents did not sign during the pregnancy.

Step 9: Be Involved in the Child's Life.

You can return home whenever you are medically cleared to leave the hospital. Remember that if you want to talk to a counselor about the adoption before or after the birth, in most cases the adoptive parents will pay for it.

After the birth and for the rest of the child’s life, you will get to watch her grow and thrive with her adoptive parents. Depending on the plan you and the adoptive parents agreed upon, you may send and receive letters and photos, make phone calls, and spend time with and get to know the child.