Understanding Voluntary Adoption

voluntary adoption

One of our key programs at New Life Adoptions is Education. Although statistically 60% of all Americans have some connection to adoption, it remains the most misinformed social issue that has been measured. Why is that? For one, the laws on adoption are different for every state, and some Americans receive their information on adoption from movies and TV shows which are not always accurate.

First, let’s address the definition of voluntary adoption. Making a voluntary adoption plan is when an expectant mother decides that it is in the best interest of her child to place that baby with another family. She voluntarily signs a relinquishment of parental rights, giving the adoptive couple the legal right to pursue that child through adoption into their family. An expectant mother does this for many reasons, but NEVER because she doesn’t love her child. The opposite, in fact, is true. She loves that baby enough to give her child more than what she can give at the time of birth. She chooses a family, chooses to sign the paperwork, and chooses to walk away empty handed from a birthing experience. Heartbreaking and beautiful. A true sacrifice for the betterment of another person, her child.

In Texas, a birth mother cannot sign her relinquishment paperwork until at least 48 hours after the birth of the baby. That 48 hours can look however the birth mom wants it to look! For example, her hospital plan could include any number of options:
• She may wish for the adoptive mom to be in the room for labor and delivery.
• She may wish to be alone or with her family during delivery.
• She may want to keep the baby in the room with her during the day and at night send the baby to the adoptive family.
• She may not want the baby in the room with her at all.
• She may want the baby with her for the full 48 hrs.
• Or any combination of the above!

Here is a key misconception….once a birth mother signs her relinquishment of parental rights, there is not a period of time where she can change her mind (legally). She cannot come back one week, one month, or one year later to change her mind. By law, she is given those 48 hours after birth to carefully consider her options and make the best choice. In Texas, her “consideration time frame” is that 48 hours.

This is why options counseling before birth is so important. New Life’s goal is to assist any woman, who comes to us for options counseling, in looking and considering all of her options. She can choose to parent through adoption or parent herself. In counseling we help her work through what the relinquishment will be like, and explain in detail about the finality of her choice. If a birth mother isn’t comfortable or ready to sign relinquishment at 48 hours after birth, she may choose to put a little more time into her decision. This is a very heavy decision that requires a lot of consideration.

Going forward (post placement) we continue to provide support and counseling for our birth moms for life! We want them to have no regrets, and a positive solution for difficult circumstances.

Here’s a video about a hospital experience if you’d like to view it:

— Rachel Wimmer, Outreach and Education Coordinator