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WV Focus: Reproductive Education and Equality

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Adoption

Who’s Who in an Adoption?

A birth parent is the woman who gives birth to the baby and then places the baby in adoption. The birth parent may or may not be able to see or contact the child as he or she is growing up, depending on the type of adoption chosen.

An adoptive parent is the mother and/or father who become the legal parents of the baby that is placed in adoption. These are the parents that will raise the child to adulthood and who have legal rights to make decisions about the child’s welfare.

Adoption Resources

Another way of handling an unplanned pregnancy is to choose adoption. There are two types of adoption: open adoption and closed adoption. In an open adoption, you and the adoptive family can maintain contact as the child grows, through pictures, letters, email, phone calls, and visits. In a closed or traditional adoption, the records will be sealed and you will not have contact with your child or the adoptive family. You can, however, enroll with a “Reunion and Information Registry” so that your child can find you when he or she turns 18.

If you think you might want to choose adoption, you should begin planning and working with a reputable adoption agency while you are pregnant. Many women do not realize that it is important to begin planning with an adoption resource before the birth. However, it is possible to plan an adoption after the baby is born by letting the hospital social worker know you are considering adoption. Women who have left their infants in the hospital are considered to have abandoned their babies. Unfortunately, when this happens, the newborn is often placed into foster care and it can then take years to be adopted into a family. You can find an adoption agency to handle all the arrangements of placing the newborn with a family and make you feel comfortable and respected. The agency may also assist you throughout your pregnancy, including arranging for pre-natal care and even helping with housing, transportation, and maternity clothing costs.

Paying for Your Pregnancy

If you are considering adoption, you may be concerned about the medical expenses involved with continuing your pregnancy. You should know that the adoption agency you choose to work with can help by arranging financial assistance to cover this essential medical care. You may also be eligible for coverage under DHHR’s Right From the Start Program. For information, call 1-800-642-8522.

Myths About Adoption

Many people have a lot of misconceptions about adoption—even healthcare providers. Here are some of the common myths about adoption and the real facts.

MYTH: I will never see my baby again or know if he or she is okay.

FACT: You can choose to have an open adoption in which you and the adoptive family can arrange to remain in contact as the child grows. People who choose this option may exchange letters, pictures, emails, phone calls, and visits. Some families choose to have structured visits at set times, while others maintain a less structured relationship over the years.


MYTH: People will think I didn’t care about my baby.

FACT: Just the opposite is true. It takes a tremendous amount of love to make arrangements for your child to have the best possible opportunities in life.


MYTH: An adoption plan means making up my mind to give my baby up.

FACT: An adoption plan starts well before you make a final decision about adoption (whether you place your baby in adoption or choose to parent). An adoption plan means working with a reputable agency to receive unbiased counseling about the best choice for you, selecting an adoptive family, and taking care of yourself while you are pregnant.


MYTH: I can’t change my mind about adoption.

FACT: You have the right to change your mind before the baby is born and after the baby is born. Once the baby is born you should take the time you need to be certain of your plan before you sign surrender documents. Before you sign documents, you have the right to see the baby in the hospital and fill out the birth certificate form to name the baby, even if you verbally indicated that you are thinking of choosing adoption.


MYTH: I can put the baby in foster care until I am ready to parent.

FACT: Becoming involved in the foster care system may compromise your right to parent your children. If you have other children, you will be placed under the scrutiny of the State Child Welfare system. Should you choose adoption through the public system, you may not be able to choose the adoptive family or have post placement contact. If your child is in foster care, he or she may have several placements before a permanent plan is made, affecting the baby’s ability to feel secure in his or her permanent family.


MYTH: My child could go to a family I don’t approve of.

FACT: If you use a reputable adoption agency, you should be allowed to select an adoptive family that you feel comfortable with. A good agency will allow you to see pictures and descriptions of prospective families and meet with the ones that you might think are a good fit.

West Virginia Adoption Agencies

Adoptive Family Services

Burlington United Methodist Family Services

Children’s Home Society

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