An Advocate For Birth Mothers

The reasons a mother makes an adoption plan are highly personal. Every situation is unique. No matter the circumstances, choosing to place your child for adoption is one of the bravest and often most difficult decisions you can make.

You will not find judgment - only help when you contact me. My practice has always included helping birth mothers with the adoption process. I will help you understand your rights and options. If you decide to make an adoption plan my goal is to ensure your child is placed with not just any family, but the right family.

I am available anytime to listen and answer your questions and if you want, explain your options. There is no pressure to make an immediate decision. I can explain the entire adoption procedure, the timing of the major steps, answer questions about the birth father's rights, and how I can help you as you make your decisions/plans.

If you decide to make an adoption plan and have not yet identified potential adopting parents, I can provide specific resources where you can learn about couples wanting to adopt, or you can describe what you want for your child's adopting family, and I will identify some families and provide you profiles and you can select the family.

If you need counseling or financial assistance during your pregnancy, depending on what state you live in, financial assistance may be available for rent, food, utilities and other necessities. In Indiana, a birth mother is entitled to up to $3,000 assistance without the court's involvement. If financial assistance of more than $3,000 is requested, then the court must approve the request.

Finding The Right Solution Given Your Unique Needs

As an adoption attorney with many years of experience, I expect that I may know some of the questions you're likely asking. The answers to these questions and others will depend on your unique or special situation. Even still, here are some answers to questions I typically receive. Click on the links to learn more.

How Do I Know if Adoption is Right for Me and My Baby?

Making a decision to place your child is very difficult. And while no one can understand your every thought, question or fear, many birth mothers have stood in similar shoes. I can share what many birth mothers have shared with me.

While most of us spend our lives focused on what we want, what we think we need or what others tell us we want and need, there is something about carrying a child that allows a woman to stop thinking about herself and think about her unborn child. Almost every birth mother has told me that while pregnant she has thought about her life, what she wants and hopes for her child, and has come to the realization that she is not currently in any position to be able to give her child what she wants for her child. She is not talking about love or things, she is talking about a safe environment, a stable home, opportunity to accomplish what she wanted to accomplish or many other reasons. There are other birth mothers who may be working on certain goals in life and understand that they do not have the time, energy or capacity to care for their child the way they would want their child to be cared for.

In short, it's never a question about loving her child, but what is best for her child. I have heard many many reasons why birth mothers made an adoption plan and the most important aspect of each birth mother's decision is that it is her decision.

I emphasize that it is YOUR decision because when you make the decision to place your unborn child for adoption, you need to have peace that it is the right decision. Sometimes when a birth mother tells her family or friends, many of these well-intentioned family and friends start telling her it is the wrong decision, that she doesn't love her unborn child, how could she do such a thing, or any number of other hurtful or hateful statements. This is the point where you must be brave and stick to your decision about what is best for your child.

Another reason I hear from some birth mothers is that they fear for the child because they know how violent and abusive the birth father is to her or other children. This can be a very valid reason for considering adoption. One thing I want birth mothers to know is that in Indiana and some other states, you have the right not to identify the birth father and exclude him from your decision plan. This involves what is called in Indiana as the Putative Father Registry and is discussed elsewhere on this page.

Can I Choose My Child's Adoptive Parents? Will I Be Able to Meet Them?

Yes, you can choose who you want to adopt your child. I can explain this in more detail if you contact me, but there are several ways to identify and select potential adoptive parents. And like so many aspects of your adoption plan, it is up to you if you want to meet the adopting parents.

Can I Receive Any Financial Help During My Pregnancy? What About My Medical Bills?

If you do not have health care and you are pregnant, we should be able to see that you either get signed up for Medicaid, HIP (Healthy Indiana Plan) or other options. Healthcare for you and your child are extremely important. If you are on Medicaid, your child automatically qualifies for Medicaid at birth.

A General Overview of Adoption

Adoption has been around for thousands of years. Today all adoptions go through state courts and each state has its own adoption law. While most state adoption laws are similar, there are significant differences between state laws.

If you are a birth mother and want to know more about adoption, the important information for you to know is that the decision to make an adoption plan for your child is YOUR decision. It may involve the father if he continues to be part of your life, wants to be involved in the decision and you want to involve him. But the decision is ultimately YOUR decision, not your mother's, father's, aunt's, or grandmother's. Often well-intentioned family members get involved, but only cause stress and confusion for you - the birth mother. Not only is the decision to adopt your decision, you decide who adopts your baby. How to identify adopting parents and information about the procedure is provided under other tabs on this page.

One of the most important facts for a birth mother to know is that in Indiana and almost all states, a birth mother cannot sign a binding consent to adoption until after the baby is born. The birth mother may be asked to sign documents before she gives birth, but the consent that allows the adoption to go forward must be signed after the baby is born. Thus, a birth mother can stop an adoption plan after she gives birth and before signing a consent to the adoption if she changes her mind.

Open/Closed Adoptions

An open adoption is where you have some ongoing contact with the adopting parents and your child. It can be as simple as yearly pictures and letters to actually having visits with your child in years to come.

A closed adoption is where after you sign the consent to adoption and the adoption is completed, you have no further contact with the adopting family and your child. However, you may change your mind years later and there are ways to try to locate and contact your child later. In addition to the traditional ways of trying to locate your child in years to come, social media makes it much easier today.

Remember, you, as the birth mother, get to make this decision, and there are reasons to have an open or closed adoption. Traditionally, once the child has been adopted, the birth mother has no contact. Over the last few decades, however, families have pursued open adoptions. In an open adoption, you and your child's adoptive parents agree to a certain extent of contact as the child grows up. Contact can range from periodic updates or photos to regular visitation.

Pursuing an open adoption requires everyone's cooperation. As your lawyer, I will work with you and your agency to locate adoptive parents who are interested in open adoption. We'll then craft an agreement that outlines each party's rights and expectations.

Finding the Right Family to Adopt Your Child

There are so many ways to find families wanting to adopt. Almost all families create family profiles that provide information about themselves and pictures that you can view online. Before you start looking at family profiles of hopeful adopting families, I encourage you to consider what you want in adopting parents:

  • Families with a strong faith and active in their church
  • Families with no religious beliefs
  • Families that already have children
  • Families that don't have any children
  • Is there a certain age range for the adopting parents?
  • Does race or ethnicity matter to you?
  • Do you want the adopting parents to have a particular type of job or profession?
  • Do you want to meet the family in person or on the phone?

Everyone wanting to adopt has to have a home study report completed by an agency licensed in the state where they live. The home study includes health checks, employment checks, work histories and criminal history background checks. The judge who approves the adoption reviews the home study. So, if a family has a completed home study, they have been approved as adopting parents by a state licensed home study preparer.

Do I Have to Tell the Birth Father?

The short answer is generally no, but it depends on a number of factors, starting with the state law of the state you live in.

Most states have what is called a "putative father registry." What this means is that if a man has intercourse with a woman and wants to ensure he has parental rights to a child from the sexual relationship, he has to fill out a form with the State Department of Health. If he doesn't, he loses any say about the child or your adoption plan.

However, it will certainly make the adoption a little smoother if the birth father is identified and he consents to the adoption. That said, if you know or suspect the birth father or his mother will oppose the adoption, in many states, including Indiana, a birth mother has the right to not name the birth father.

I have assisted many birth mothers who were not certain who the birth father was. The same comments written above apply.

Finally, if you are married, whether your husband is the birth father or not, your husband will be required to consent to your adoption plan - unless the baby is the result of a criminal act against you.

Does the Birth Father Have to Agree To My Adoption Plan?

If the birth father agrees to your adoption plan, it is easier, but if you name the birth father and he does not want to agree, under Indiana law you can give the birth father a pre-birth notice that requires him to take specific actions by filing a paternity action with the court to have a say in your child's life. If the named birth father does not file an action within 30 days, in Indiana he will forever lose the right to object to your adoption plan.

If the birth father does file the required court documents, the fact that you have considered an adoption plan will not work against you if you decide not to complete the adoption because you know he won't consent to it.

If the Birth father Doesn't Agree, Will I Lose My Baby Because I am Considering Adoption?

It makes things easier if the birth father agrees with your adoption plan; but it is not necessarily required. If the birth father is named and receives notice of your adoption plans but does not file the require papers with the court, he has no rights and you can proceed with your adoption plan without his consent.

If your pregnancy is the result of rape, the birth father has no right to object. If your child is six months or older when you decide to make your adoption plan and the birth father has not seen your child or provided any support for your child, the birth father's consent is not necessary under Indiana law. There are other cases where the birth father's consent is not required.

If you make an adoption plan and then the birth father is named and doesn't agree, under Indiana law your having made an adoption plan will not work against you if you decide not to proceed with the adoption and you want custody of your baby.

Discuss Your Situation With A Qualified Professional

I know you have lots of questions. That's why I offer a free initial consultation. We will briefly discuss your situation and then you decide how to move forward. If for whatever reason I don't think I can help, I will direct you to a qualified professional or service who can.

To get started, call me at 812-483-9072 or contact me by email. Based in Evansville, Indiana, I represent mothers anywhere in Indiana.

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Keith Wallace Law
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