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pregnant

Photo taken from ababystepadoption.com

Being pregnant is such a wonderful time in any woman’s life. Sometimes, pregnancy can come when you aren’t ready to be a parent. Fortunately, there are many families in the world, waiting for a chance to be parents. Considering adoption can be incredibly difficult and daunting. Fortunately, Villa Majella has a highly experienced and professional adoption lawyer, Doug Donnelly, available for referral, to assist you in any questions or concerns you have regarding placing your child for adoption.

Many of you who are coming to this blog may have many unanswered questions about the adoption process including are you able to pick the adoptive family, how to ensure your child grows up with a religious upbringing, how to have a role in your child’s life after the adoption process has been completed, concerns of involvement of the birth father, how to get your bills paid during and after your pregnancy, and are you able to change your mind once the adoption has been finalized? We are here to answer these questions for you.

 Am I able to pick the adoptive family?

Absolutely, it is encouraged that you pick a family that you feel embodies the lifestyle and morals you want your child to grow up with. Adoption agencies have family profiles that have already been screened under specific guidelines, so you know you are choosing from a pool of perspective families who are loving, and emotionally and financially ready to care for your child.

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Photo taken from theguardian.com

How can I ensure my child grows up in a religious household?

During the adoption process, you will be allowed and encouraged to have a discussion on religious preferences with the potential adoptive family, to ensure your child is brought up in the religious environment that rings true to you.

How can I play a role in my child’s life after the adoption process has been completed?

Either before or after the child is born, but before the placement, the mother and the adoptive family can prepare and sign something called a “Postadoption Contact Agreement,” also sometimes referred to as an “Open Adoption Agreement.” Under California law, if that agreement is in writing and signed by all concerned, and if it is filed in the adoption case, that agreement is enforceable under California law. This will ensure the birth mother can have contact with the birth child, if that is her wish.  Some of these agreements go further and authorize the birth parent(s) to have visitation rights with the child after the adoption. Arrangements of that type are sometimes referred to as “cooperative adoption,” and are considered somewhat controversial, for fear it could cause a dysfunctional upbringing for the child, or confusion regarding who is the “mother” or “father.”

The traditional “closed” adoption is almost non-existent under California law, at least in an independent adoption, you are required to know a great deal about the adopting parents including their full legal names, and what they do for a living. In fact, if you request to know their address, the law requires the address be provided to you.

How much does the birth father have to be involved in the adoption process?

According to the California Law, the birth father is seldom required to be involved in the adoption process. The only exceptions to this rule, which would then require the birth father to be involved, would be the following:

  1. If you and the father are or have been married.
  2. If the father has received the child into his home, and has publicly acknowledged that the child is his child.
  3. If the father and you have both, at the hospital, signed a California state form in which you both agree he is the father of the child. This form is called a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.
  4. If the father has done everything he could have done to take responsibility for the child, both emotionally and financially, during the pregnancy, starting within a short time after he knew or should have known of the pregnancy.

If any of the exceptions above apply to you, than the father’s consent and involvement are required, and the child cannot be adopted without his consent.

However, in all circumstances, even if the father’s consent to the adoption is not required, the law still requires the birth father be notified that the child is being placed for adoption. Even if the birth father files a lawsuit against the adoption, the only way he will have a chance of winning is if he can prove the child is better off with him than with the adopting family you have selected.

What financial assistance is the adopting family allowed to provide?

Under California Law, the adoptive parents can pay all medical bills related to the pregnancy including doctor visits, counseling, and even reasonable and necessary living expenses for the period of time when the mother is no longer able to work (usually the last three months before the mother gives birth.) The law also allows them to assist for up to six weeks after the mother gives birth. As always, there are limitations to these rules. Always be specific about your financial needs to your lawyer, so they can better explain what is and is not legally allowed.

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Photo taken from http://www.mooreaphoto.com/galleries/babies/

What if I change my mind after I give birth and I want to mother my child?

There are only a few instances where you can change your mind and get your baby back once you have handed the child over to the adoptive family. Since there are two primary types of adoption, how long the law allows you to change your mind will depend upon the type of adoption involved.

Agency Adoption: In an agency adoption, the birth mother signs something called a “relinquishment,” which the agency then files in Sacramento. Once that relinquishment is filed, which can take up to 10 days, the relinquishment becomes binding and the mother is no longer able to change her mind, except with the consent of the agency. The mother can ask that the agency hold the relinquishment for a time, and refrain from sending it to Sacramento, if the mother wants more time to think it over, or if she wants to have it held until the father’s rights are terminated.

Independent Adoption: In an independent adoption, the mother signs something called ”consent,” and by law can change her mind until sooner of:

1. 30 days have elapsed since she signed the consent.
2. One business day has elapsed since she signed a form waiving the 30 day revocation period.

Within these guidelines, California Law states if the mother changes her mind, the child MUST be returned to her with no questions asked by the adoptive family. If you choose to waive the document stating your right to change your mind, you will need a lawyer to advise you. The law allows for the adopting parents to cover the cost of your legal representation. If you are not in California but you want to sign the waiver, you don’t need a lawyer. However, if you choose to have one, the adoptive family can still cover that cost.

We hope the information above has answered some of the questions you may have regarding your choice to place your child for adoption. For more resources on adoption, please visit the Law Offices of Douglas R. Donnelly, or visit his website.

Resources:

http://adoptionlawfirm.com/birthparents.html
http://www.mooreaphoto.com/galleries/babies/
http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/sep/26/adoption-and-care-statistics-england
http://ababystepadoption.com

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