What’s involved in finalizing your adoption plan?

ACI’s Ask a Question About Adoption

ACI is dedicated to demystifying the process of adoption for parents considering placing a child for adoption. Our blog series ACI’s Ask a Question About Adoption has resources for expectant and birth parents trying to understand what their adoption journey may look like. In this blog, we will explore what’s involved in finalizing your adoption plan.

Finalizing your adoption plan, parenting, or finding other options.  

There is no simple or universal reason why adoption is or is not right for you. No one can tell you whether adoption is right for you. This is a question each person must decide for themselves. 

Women and men who have placed children for adoption frequently say that choosing to place a child for adoption was one of the most important and difficult decisions they ever made.  You are not alone.  There have been many who have been in your position.  

With any life decision there are sure to be doubts, questions whether it’s right.  All anyone can do is make the best decision at that point in time of their life with what information and life circumstances are there before them.   

Surrender meeting 

When and if you feel ready to finalize your adoption plan, you will meet with your counselor to sign Final and Irrevocable Surrender paperwork. This meeting can take place wherever is most comfortable for you. 

By signing the final surrender paperwork, you are terminating your parental rights to your child which then allows the adoptive couple to become the legal parents.  In Illinois, it is only possible to sign final paperwork for adoption at least 72 hours after birth. However, you do not need to sign the paperwork after 72 hours. You can and should take more time if you would like to.

Understanding and considering your options is key to feeling at peace with a big life decision. When you decide to terminate your parental rights, you should feel that all your questions regarding adoption (and parenting) have been answered, all your concerns have been heard and you have had time to think about what is the best decision for you and your child. 

When preparing for the day you surrender your parental rights, it’s imperative you allow yourself to feel sad and know it will be a hard day. Many birth moms describe the day they signed surrender paperwork as the hardest part of the process. 

After the meeting, surround yourself with your support system  and/or take time for yourself. In the days/weeks following, consider getting connected to an adoption competent therapist. You can request help from ACI in getting connected to such a therapist.

*NOTE: In Illinois, once you sign final adoption paperwork, you can not regain custody or parental rights. 

Post Placement Communication

Prior to the surrender meeting you will have discussed with your counselor and the prospective adoptive family post placement communication expectations.  At the surrender meeting you will sign a non binding agreement that sets the foundation for building your ongoing relationship.  This is fluid and can change over time whether that means more contact or less. You and the adoptive family decide what feels right for you.   Maybe a more open adoption feels right for you, the child and the adoptive family. That contact could include: regular planned visits, connecting via phone calls, texts, emails or social media, getting photos, or any combination. You can also decide that you prefer having communication through ACI

Relationships are fluid and can go through many different phases.  There can be periods of silence where there isn’t much communication being exchanged.  Then, communication opens and visits or numerous exchanges of communication happen. Just like every other relationship in a person’s life, the biggest hurdle can be recognizing that relationships have phases.  This does not mean that the love fades or falls apart during those quiet phases. It’s important to remember, every relationship needs to be nourished with honest communication, respect and love.

Making the choice to Parent or other possible options

It is your right to decide to parent your child at any point before signing final adoption paperwork. ACI fully supports your decision to parent your child. There may also be other options you haven’t considered such as a temporary family placement until you feel you are able to parent. Your counselor can help talk through your decision and give community resources to help you parent. 

Post Placement Self-Care

Some things you can do to help

  1. Stay connected to those that supported you no matter what
  2. Stay connected to your counselor
  3. Journal about your feelings, day to day thoughts, what you want for the future for you, your child, adoptive family for you all
  4. Stay busy as you can while you are healing postpartum
  5. Take gentle care of your body and do extra self care if you are able.
  6. Seek extra counseling if you feel this is appropriate for you (your counselor can help you get connected)

Information for People with Older Children

If your child is already born or older, you can still take the time needed to create a thoughtful adoption plan. We can provide temporary care for your baby while you explore adoption. Temporary care gives you time and space away from the baby while you decide if adoption really is the best option for you and your child. If you decide to move forward with an adoption, you still have the ability to choose the prospective adoptive family and meet them prior to placing the baby in their home. 

Be Easy with Yourself

After placing your child for adoption, you will likely experience a mixture of many different emotions. You may feel numb, worried, at peace, sad, angry, guilty, content or guilty that you are feeling content. Anything and everything you are feeling is completely normal. The best thing you can do for yourself and your healing process is to acknowledge each feeling and know that it may change day to day.  Be easy with yourself and allow yourself time to process.  

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