How Adoption Works

A Helpful Guide to Birth Parent Adoption Rights


When you consider adoption for your baby, you are protected by certain adoption laws and birth mother rights. But, if you’re like many expectant mothers, you’re probably unsure of what these are and which ones are applicable for your situation.

Here, we have created a general, comprehensive guide covering common questions prospective birth mothers have about adoption laws in America and their legal rights. We hope that you find everything you’re looking for in this article.

*A quick note: While we have done our best to provide a comprehensive guide to adoption legal rights, this article does not constitute legal advice. Laws regarding adoption are always subject to change. Additionally, adoption laws vary widely from state to state. If you have any questions about domestic adoption law or your adoption rights as a prospective birth parent, please reach out to your adoption attorney for more information.

What is Adoption Law?

The adoption process is governed by state and U.S. federal adoption laws. These laws ensure that every adoption is completed to the highest standards. They are also used to protect your rights, and those of the adoptive family, throughout the process.

When you’re a prospective birth mother, the most important laws regarding adoption you should be aware of are:

We will mention these U.S. adoption laws briefly in this article, but your attorney will go over each one in more detail to make sure you understand what’s involved.

The most important thing that you should know is that it’s not your job to learn about legal adoption procedures on your own. Your adoption attorney and adoption professional will do most of the heavy lifting for you. However, it’s a good idea to be aware of what you should expect.

Do I Have the Right to an Attorney for Adoption Legal Advice?

Yes. Prospective birth parents have the right to an attorney during the adoption process.

As a prospective birth mother, you do not need to worry about finding an attorney if you choose to work with an adoption agency. You will never have to pay for legal guidance, either. Whichever attorney you choose will provide free legal advice on adoption.

Locate a local attorney now with the AAAA attorney directory.

Can I Choose the Adoptive Family in a Legal Adoption?

Absolutely! Every prospective birth mother has the right to find and choose a family for her baby. You are completely in charge of this step, and you can take as long as you need to find a family that is exactly what you’re looking for. Your adoption professional will be there every step of the way to help you find a perfect family.

You also have the right to get to know the adoptive family beforehand through phone calls, emails, texts and even in-person visits.

Do My “Give Your Child Up” for Adoption Legal Rights Include Counseling?

They do. Part of the adoption laws and services you are entitled to include the ability to receive free, unbiased counseling. You have the option to receive counseling before, during and after your adoption.

Your adoption professional can help you find an adoptive family, make your adoption and hospital plan, and prepare for post-adoption contact. In addition, they are a great resource for those considering other unplanned pregnancy options — not just adoption.

If you are looking for free adoption counseling, you can always contact a 24/7 adoption hotline, with no obligation to make an adoption plan.

Are there Adoption Laws by State that Allow Paying Mothers?

No. It is illegal in every state to receive payment in exchange for placing a baby for adoption. However, it is possible to receive financial assistance throughout your pregnancy if you choose adoption.

This financial assistance can cover:

Of course, this can look different depending on your unique situation. The laws concerning how much you’re able to receive vary in every state. Your social worker will make sure that you receive as much as you’re entitled to for your adoption.

Can I Give My Baby Up for Adoption and Get Him or Her Back?

Questions about how to get your child back after adoption are common. But, sadly, the answer to this usually no.

Adoption terminates the legal rights of biological parents. Once you have signed your adoption legal consent paperwork and the period of revocation has passed, you won’t be able to get your baby back. At this point, the adoptive family that you choose will be your child’s permanent, legal parents. That is why it is crucial that you are absolutely, 100% certain adoption is the right choice for you and your baby.

With that said, you will have many opportunities to change your mind about the adoption process at other points in your pregnancy. You are never bound to the adoption process, even after you’ve made an adoption plan and found a family. This is your adoption, and you are in charge the entire way through.

If the time ever comes where you realize that adoption is not right for you, your adoption counselor will help you work through the next steps. If you are unsure or if you are having any second thoughts about adoption, please reach out to them as soon as you can.

Each state has its own adoption laws for birth mother rights that detail when she must sign their consent to the adoption. Normally, it can be anywhere between 24 hours to a few days after birth.

The reason for this? Even if a woman is certain that adoption is right for her at every other point in her journey, she still needs time to reflect on her decision after delivery. This experience is a long, emotional process, and it’s normal for feelings to change during the adoption, even after birth.

Once the waiting period passes, you can sign the consent to the adoption when you are ready. At that time, your adoption professional and attorney will go over your legal rights for adoption and the consent process to ensure that you understand everything before terminating your parental rights.

No matter what your final decision ends up being, know this: You are the only one has the right to make it. When you choose to place your baby up for adoption, no one else can adopt them without your explicit consent.

What are a Birth Mother’s Rights in an Open Adoption?

Every woman has the right to continue a relationship with her child, should she choose to. But many women want to know if open adoption agreements are legally enforceable. The answer to that varies depending on where you live.

An adoptive family and a birth family can enter create their own post-adoption contact agreement. But in most states, this is not an actual contract, and it is not legally enforceable.

If you would like to know if you live in a state with legally enforceable open adoption agreements, please reach out to your adoption attorney to learn more about post-adoption laws.

Are there Privacy Laws When You “Give a Child Up” for Adoption?

As a prospective birth mother, you have the right to choose a closed adoption. Although this type of post-adoption relationship is not as common as it once was, it is still a possibility for you. But with that being said, we’d like to mention that it’s harder than ever for most modern adoptions to be truly closed. It is easy for someone to order a DNA testing kit, or to try and search for a lost relative through social media. If you are worried about your privacy in an adoption, please talk to your adoption professional to learn more about the realities of a closed adoption and what you should know about the modern adoption process.

What Else Should I Know About Laws Related to Adoption?

While the laws around putting a child up for adoption can be confusing, we hope that this guide answered some of your pressing questions. If you have any other questions concerning adoption laws by state or prospective birth mother rights in adoption, your attorney can answer any adoption legal questions.

If you are ready to start your own adoption process and be connected with an agency today, complete our contact form to get the free information and services you need.


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