Host: What can birth parents expect when exploring the adoption process?
Eliza Niemann: Well, first of all just like adopted families, we encourage birth parents to make sure that they find an agency that is a good set. That they are not just grabbing the first agency that answers the phone, however, it is important because they are experiencing crisis that when they do you call an agency, that the agency is there for them immediately. You want somebody to be there, to provide support and counseling at the drop of a hat. Most agencies will provide counselors and are available by a emergency pager 24x7. So, usually the initial step, once they call an agency is to ask a lot of questions about What services do you provide? Do you have somebody available on an emergency basis 24 hours a day?
, What if I do not want to choose the family?
, What if I do want to choose the adopted family? How does that process work? What kind of assistance can you give me in helping me find medical care, insurance, that type of things? Can you provide counseling for the birth father or my family? Since birth mothers are usually the initial phone callers and that is usually the initial way most birth parents contact an agency. A lot of times we will be talking about the birth mother s needs initially. However the birth fathers very much play an important role in the situation and if they are willing to -- if they are calling or if they are willing to take an active role, we want to make sure that the counseling is available to the birth fathers as well. Sometimes the birth parents -- parents need some support in counseling as well. So if that is the case then that would be question that a birth mother might ask. Most birth parents call at any point in time, in their pregnancy and sometimes it is the first month, maybe it is the third month. But I would say a larger percentage call in the 5th, 6th or 7th month and it is not uncommon for birth mothers to call in the 9th month or right after they delivered and they are calling from the hospital. So, the ideas that an agency is ready at all time for a birth mother and can try to meet her needs and be responsive to her, when she makes that initial phone call. The next step is meeting with the counselor and being able to start the counseling process and in during that period, the counselor over a period of many sessions is going to be asking questions such as, What is going on in your life? What are the other things that are happening? Usually birth parents have many life crises going on at the same time. It might be family relationship, it might be health issue, it might be housing issues. So, a birth parent counselor has to really ascertain all the different issues that a birth parent is meting. The next step is they are also going to be talking with the birth mother about what she is hoping for in an adopted family. Is she looking for a single person or a couple, is she open to a family who has a child in the home already or is she hoping for a childless couple or family. Is she wanting a situation where there will be a state home parent, once the baby comes home, does religion matter? Does education matter? Very important these days is also what type of post placement contact is she hoping for pictures and letters down through the years, from the adopted family or is she wanting more such as maybe a visit in once a year. Those are the things that over a period of time while the counseling is occurring, while the emotional support and the other assistance is being provided, that s what the counselor is doing with the birth parent, to really help her ascertain, what is going to work for her and also what she feels is in the best interest of her child. Once she begins considering families and that can happen anytime usually, from the sixth month on. I would say most agencies really focus on When did the birth mother come to us initially and what is her emotional state, is she really ready to start considering adopted families as a gauge for when she starts looking at families and trying to make a decision on who the family will be. Once she has chosen the adopted family then usually in most situations the birth parent and the adopted family will meet. Sometimes they meet once, sometimes they meet several times. Usually the first meeting is facilitated by the agency staff, either in the agency office or at another neutral location. Then sometimes the birth parents and the adopted parents will then meet at other points in time while they are waiting for the delivery date, for the baby to be the born. Now, this is sort of a typical situation of most birth parent s pregnancies but the reality is some birth mothers will deliver before they have a chance to choose a family or choose what they want. Still this whole process still needs to be gone through maybe in a little shorter time frame, but the bottom line is the birth mother still needs that counseling and support as she decides, if adoption is the best choice for her child. So that is always going to be paramount in the adoption process for birth parents, is having that counseling and support and education on the adoption process to help her get through it.