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EXPERT TIP: Modern Adoption

It’s helpful to understand a few things about adoption and the clients we serve.

  • Most women don’t know about modern adoption.

  • Most women will not bring up adoption or initiate the subject in the counseling room.

  • Most women will research adoption on their own if they are considering it rather than ask for a referral.

There are many reasons why women won’t bring up adoption in the counseling room and, when it is brought up by their advocate, will have a negative reaction. Many believe it is like foster care, or something that happens when you are a “bad mom.” Some believe no one would want their baby, especially if there’s been substance abuse. Typically, all are fearful of being judged because they may be considering adoption for their baby.


When the subject of adoption is approached and we hear “I could never get my baby away,” we need to reframe it. We need to see that as an indicator a mother doesn’t understand what modern adoption is rather than a rejection of the idea altogether. We need to take her response as an invitation to share with her what adoption can be. Even if it may not be the right choice for her, it will begin to help change cultural knowledge and understanding of what adoption looks like today.


The choices women have with modern adoption include:

  • The family who adopts her baby. She can choose a family in her state or across the country. She can choose a couple with no children or those who are experienced parents. She can even choose a couple who is white, black, Hispanic, or any race. She can talk to them and get to know them as part of making her decision for adoption.

  • The type of contact she wants after adoption. Open adoption today allows her a variety of choices in how she stays in touch with the adoptive parents. It can be letters and pictures, e-mail, texting, video chat, social media and even getting together for visits once or twice a year. Understanding this often helps the woman see that she can remain a part of her child’s life and that adoption is not goodbye forever. Often, the mother finds herself embraced by the family as well. Some women choose not to have any contact, and that is one of her options too.

  • How things go with the hospital. She can choose who is in the delivery room who cuts the cord and if she wants to spend time with her baby. She is a pregnant mother, and like any other pregnant woman, is allowed to make a birth plan, deciding how she wants this time to go. Many mothers, if they formed a strong relationship with the adoptive parents, may ask the adoptive mother to be in the delivery room with them. This creates an even stronger bond, all for the benefit of the child.

  • The adoption professional who helps her. Women can choose to work with a local adoption professional or one from anywhere in the country. This is one of their options and professionals provide a variety of different resources. It is important that they have this choice and freedom to feel comfortable with the adoption agency.

  • To receive financial help. Most states allow mothers to receive help with reasonable and allowable pregnancy expenses. This may include rent, clothing, food, cell phone, and other things during the pregnancy and recovery period.

  • To decide later. Adoption is not a choice that needs to be made early in pregnancy. In fact, it can be done anytime during pregnancy and even after the child is born. There is not the pressure of time to get an adoption in place.

But how do you share these choices when a client tells you she’s not interested in adoption at all?


Through working with many centers over the years, Lifetime developed a quick and easy way that we provide to pregnancy centers and anyone interested in sharing adoption with the clients they serve. It’s as easy as: I understand, I could never give my baby away either. I would like to share with you that modern adoption is not giving your baby away. Let me explain how it’s different -- even if it’s not the right choice for you there may be a friend you can help with this information. With modern adoption, you can choose your baby’s parents and get to know them, have future contact, decide how things go at the hospital, and get help with your expenses if allowed. It’s never too late for adoption; if your plans change, adoption is always an option even after your baby’s birth.


It’s important that our clients have this knowledge and understanding, because even if they’re not interested in adoption, circumstances can change. And the woman who’s baby was diagnosed with Down syndrome or who’s boyfriend suddenly left, they may suddenly consider abortion when the thought had never previously entered their mind. If they never heard or understood what adoption can be like, it was a missed opportunity indeed.


Your teams need to be equipped to talk about adoption and be enthusiastic about sharing it with clients. This can be challenging when they’re continually met with negative responses. Providing them with the tools they need to both understand modern adoption and effectively share it is key.


We also need to ensure we are providing modern and qualified adoption information (brochures and pocket cards) and referrals for both staff and clients. Today, it seems harder than ever to find adoption agency referrals that align with your values and provide the services that clients need. Take the time to get to know the agencies you refer to and periodically check in with them. Review your brochures and other adoption materials to ensure they are modern and look like something your clients will relate to.


Most importantly, understand that you play an important role in giving her the truth about all of her options, including adoption. Women are often surprised to learn the choices they have with modern adoption, and it’s not uncommon to hear someone say “I didn’t know adoption could be like this!” You don’t have to be an expert, just understand the basics and ensure your staff is confident enough to share so that your client can make an informed decision for her baby.


Heather Featherston is Vice President of Lifetime Adoption and has worked in Christian adoption for over 20 years. She has developed Lifetime’s free adoption training program specifically with pregnancy centers in mind. She can be reached at heather@lifetimeadoption.com





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