How to “Put Your Child Up” for Adoption

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Birth Parent Blog

“I’m a single mom to a two-year-old girl, and ever since she was born, it’s been a struggle to pay bills and make sure she has everything she needs. I didn’t have any support from my parents, and her dad disappeared when he learned I was pregnant. The only time I see my daughter is when I drop her off at daycare in the morning and pick her up at night. I want her to have better than this. It breaks my heart to have to admit this, but I’ve Googled, “putting toddler up for adoption” and “can you give an older child up for adoption?”
Young mom sits in her child's bedroom, thinking about putting toddler up for adoptionIf you’re searching for information about adoption, it means that you love your child so much that you want the very best for them. No matter what you’re going through, please know you’re not alone.
Lifetime often hears from moms who don’t have enough money to cover the costs of several children. Others cannot care for their child because of a sudden illness or incarceration. Adoption was the answer to their dilemmas and could be for yours, too.
The phrase “put up your child up for adoption” isn’t used much today. Instead, most birth mothers explain adoption as “placing their child” in adoption. After all, adoption isn’t “giving up” on anything; it’s about making the thoughtful decision to place your child with loving and ready adoptive parents.

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Why Adoption?

If you’re thinking about adoption for your child, you’re probably wrestling with many questions. One that might come up, again and again, is simply, “why?” Why choose adoption? What are the reasons why a woman would choose adoption for her child?
Some women contact us because they’re in an abusive situation and can’t guarantee a safe place for their children. They share with us that it seems like a case plan may be created for their child, so adoption is a better option. Instead of letting the courts decide where their child goes, they are trying to find a good home for their child while they still have the chance.
With open adoption, you can choose your child’s parents and stay in touch in the future. Your child won’t end up getting lost in the foster care system.
Birth mothers today decide on adoption out of love. They choose open adoption because they’re putting their child’s interests before their own.

Reasons for Choosing Adoption

There are a lot of different reasons why women choose adoption, including:

  • Finances: With other children in their home, there’s just not enough money to provide for all of them.
  • Physical illness: Sometimes, a birth parent will contact us about putting a child up for adoption because of a sudden illness like cancer or a debilitating, long-term condition
  • Mental health issues: Moms who struggle with severe mental health conditions may not be able to care for their child, and so they turn to adoption.
  • Drug addiction: This personal challenge may prevent a woman from providing the life she wishes for her child. So, she places her child for adoption to give them the path toward a more hopeful future.
  • Incarceration: Occasionally, jail time is a reality for a birth mom. Even though many things are outside of her control right now, she can still take control of her child’s future by choosing adoption.
    Abusive relationship: If the child’s birth father is abusive, she may feel that moving her child into a safer situation with an adoptive family is best.
  • Lack of support: If her family members can’t or won’t help her, it’s often the tipping point for many single moms. Sometimes family members say they will be there to help out with the baby, but after a short time, that help disappears. If her family isn’t willing to help, a mom may feel very alone and unable to care for her child.

These personal challenges and more may prevent you from being able to provide the life you want for your child. Considering adoption for your toddler is a way you can guarantee they will have a promising future.

What is Open Adoption?

Simply put, it’s an adoption process in which both the birth mother (or birth parents) and the adoptive family meet before, during, and after the adoption. A big part of open adoption is that the birth mother chooses the adoptive parents for her child. There is an exchange of personal information, discussions about adoption plans, and how best to raise the child.
When you choose an open adoption, you can make the choices you want for your child rather than someone else. You won’t have to wonder if your child is safe and cared for the way you would like.
Open adoption allows you to be part of your child’s life throughout their growing-up years. You can get pictures and updates, and even have in-person visits with the adoptive family. Birth mothers at Lifetime Adoption are in control of their own adoption plan.
Most of Lifetime’s adoptions are infant adoption, where an expectant mother contacts us saying something like, “I need to put my baby up for adoption.” We’ve also helped many birth parents place their toddler, preschool-aged child, or a child up to seven years old.

What Choices Do I Have With Open Adoption?

Unlike a closed adoption, an open adoption gives you many choices throughout the process. Open adoption allows you to:

  • Pick your child’s adoptive parents
  • Choose how you want the transition period to go
  • Decide what kind of future contact you want with your child

Your Child’s Adoptive Parents

With open adoption, you choose the adoptive parents you feel would be the best to raise your child. Your Adoption Coordinator can send you links to adoptive family profiles online, or you can begin finding an adoptive family right here on our website.
Each adoptive family’s website includes pictures of the family and information about what they like to do. Most of their websites also have a video of the adoptive couple introducing themselves and giving you a glimpse into what life might be like for your child with their family.
After you choose a couple of your favorite adoptive parents, your Adoption Coordinator will arrange for you to meet with the family to learn more about them. If, after talking, you don’t think they’re the right parents for your child, you go back to the profiles and keep looking.

How the Transition Happens

The adoptive family you choose will travel to your town to spend time with you and your child or children in an open adoption. When you all decide you wish to move forward with an adoption, you are considered “matched.” Your Lifetime coordinator is still walking with you every step of the way.
An attorney and counselor may be involved soon to create a transition plan for your child. For a very young toddler, this may be a short period of time. For an older child, it may last over a week or two, with guidance from a counselor. Understand that it is highly recommended that the transition time not exceed two weeks. Every situation is different, and your Adoption Coordinator at Lifetime will be sure that your needs are being met.

Future Contact With Your Child

One of the biggest advantages of open adoption is choosing what kind of contact you would like to have with your child as they grow up. Open adoption allows you to stay connected to your child through emails, texts, or phone calls. Some birth mothers become very involved with their child and the adoptive family.
Every open adoption looks different depending on what you and the adoptive family decide. The important thing is that having a certain level of openness will be beneficial for both you and your child.
Studies have found that birth mothers who had contact with their child and the adoptive family experienced less unresolved grief than those who had none. Having contact with your child and the adoptive family will help you in the days after your child goes to live with the adoptive family.

What is the Process for Putting a Toddler for Adoption?

Putting your toddler up for adoption gives you complete control and allows you to provide your child with the life you want them to have.
At Lifetime, you’ll work one-on-one with your Adoption Coordinator as you move through the process. She is there to help you in any way they can with kindness and without judgment.
Your Adoption Coordinator will prepare you, so you know exactly what is going to happen. That way, there won’t be any surprises or uncomfortable last-minute decisions, making this adoption process a little easier for you to walk through. Here’s how adoption works:
A mom rides on a city bus with her sleeping daughter

1. Reach out to Lifetime

Call or text us to speak to a caring Adoption Coordinator that can help answer your questions about the adoption process for a child already born. Depending on your specific needs and situation, she can help you with the best approach. Every adoption is different.
She will also gather information about you and your child, like their age, development, health, interests, school progress, and general behavior. There are adoptive families open to adopting every child, and by gathering as much information from you, she will be able to help you in the best way possible.

2. Fill out paperwork

Your Adoption Coordinator will send some paperwork for you to complete, or you can complete the paperwork online. This paperwork gathers information; it’s not the final legal paperwork. It includes a health history and medical releases.
Your Adoption Coordinator will use the information to gather adoptive family profiles for you to consider. We can also schedule a time that you can speak with a counselor who can talk to you about your decision-making process and help as you prepare to transition your child to their new family. There is no charge for this, and it is a vital part of the adoption planning process.

3. Look at adoptive family profiles and choose the best parents for your child.

After looking at adoptive family profiles, you’ll need to choose one or two favorites. You can speak with one or more families, which will help you decide and allow you to talk about what type of contact you would like in the future. All of the adoptive families that Lifetime works with are open to keeping in touch with you through letters, photos, email, texting, phone calls, social media, and even getting together once or twice a year for a visit.
You may have some questions about their lives and interests, and they may have some for you about you and your child. If you prefer, your coordinator can be a part of the phone call, or you can start by emailing them. You can even speak with more than one family if you’d like.

4. Begin the Transition Period

Once you choose an adoptive family, they will travel to your town to spend time with you and your child or children. At first, you and your child will meet the adoptive family at a park or playground. If possible, you may want to allow your child to get to know them over several months. The transition should be slow to help your child adjust easier.
During this transition time, you may meet with the attorney to learn about your rights and begin to complete the paperwork for the legal aspect of adoption. You may also want to schedule a time to speak with the counselor or a peer counselor.
You may want to write a letter to your child and gather some of his or her favorite things, like blankets or stuffed animals. After you have signed the final adoption paperwork, your child and chosen family will go to their home. You will have the time you need to say goodbye, knowing that this is not goodbye forever, but you will stay in touch.
Your Adoption Coordinator will be there for you throughout the adoption process, sending you free information and answering all your questions, including “can you give an older child up for adoption.” You can reach her by phone or text message for 24/7 counseling and a listening ear.

Helpful Resources As You Put a Toddler Up for Adoption

Here are some things you can do to cope with the many emotions you’ll experience after placing your toddler for adoption.

Get Counseling

Your Adoption Coordinator can connect you with a licensed counselor to meet with. A counselor can help you deal with your grief and reassure you that what you’re feeling is normal. She can also help as you move through the transition process.

Find Support

Get support from your family, trusted friends, or a support group of other birth mothers. You can also find support from one of Lifetime’s peer counselors. Connecting with someone who has placed their child for adoption can be very helpful.
You can ask her questions such as how she told her child’s father and how she picked a family. You may want to hear what her adoption experience was like. Her story may be different from yours, but she will understand how you feel and what your concerns are. Lifetime’s peer counselors are more than happy to share their adoption journeys with you.

Keep a Journal

Some birth mothers find writing out their feelings and thoughts in a journal helpful. Journaling can help you understand how you’re feeling and give you perspective as time goes on. In addition, this journal may be something you want to share with your child when they reach adulthood.

Give Yourself Time

Most of all, allow yourself time. After placing your toddler for adoption, dealing with all your feelings will take time.
Remember, it’s a process. There isn’t an exact timetable for how long it takes to cope with your grief. Don’t minimize your feelings of grief and sadness. Over time, you’ll feel better and be able to move forward in your life. Being able to see your child and get updates on how they’re doing will be helpful and healing to you.

Lifetime is Here to Help You

We have experience helping women place their baby or child for adoption at any age, from newborn to seven years old. With open adoption, you choose your child’s parents and stay in touch with your child in the future.
As difficult as it can be to think about this, remember the choice is yours to make. Lifetime is there to assist you in any way we can.
Our Adoption Coordinators are here to help you. We can answer your questions about choosing adoption for your toddler. Just call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784 to chat with a caring adoption professional. Remember that if you’re asking “can you give an older child up for adoption”, it’s not giving up, you just want the best for your child.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 27, 2018, and has since been updated. 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.

Read more about Heather Featherston

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