"I haven't gone to the doctor yet. How do I find a doctor, or pay for medical care?"
It is very important that you seek medical attention, for both your and the baby’s good health. A good way to find a doctor or clinic is to talk with a friend or family member who has had a baby or may know that you are pregnant and see what she has to say. Or, you can call a pregnancy center or adoption agency, since they often have established relationships with medical providers in the area. As far as paying for medical care, the state of Missouri’s Medicaid program provides free medical services for pregnant women who qualify, based on income. To apply for Medicaid, you will need to take proof of pregnancy (as a statement signed by a doctor or nurse from the local health department or pregnancy center) as well as the last two months of your pay stubs if you are working (and your husband’s pay stubs if you are married) and monthly expenses to the Family Services department in your county. Many pregnant women qualify for the Medicare benefits, but if you do not and are not covered by private insurance, there are other resources available to help. If you choose adoption, your baby’s adoptive parents could help with medical and hospital expenses, in addition to the other essentials necessary for life if needed.
“My family does not know I am pregnant and am thinking of adoption, and I am not sure how or if to tell them. What should I do?”
This is a hard one. The first thing we must consider is your safety. If you are worried that by telling your family you could be hurt, please let your social worker know right away so she can organize community resources to help protect you. However, if safety from physical harm is not a reason why you haven’t told your family, but are mostly concerned that they will be angry with you, there are lots of good ways to break the news. We think it is very important to have at least one person in your family or circle of friends who can support your choices. Most adoption agencies have articles or suggestions for having the adoption discussion with family and can help you with this if needed. But of course, this is all up to you. You know your family best, and if you think it’s a better idea that no one knows, then you can certainly choose to keep this private.
“How do I know that my baby will go to a good family?”
Adoptive parents are screened very carefully. They participate in several interviews with a social worker, and have adoption and infant education so that they are well prepared to adopt a child. In order to be approved for an adoption, prospective parents much submit to criminal checks, health screenings, character references, financial verifications, and provide copies of a number of supporting documents. Homes are inspected for safety, and if the family has any pets, a veterinarian must provide a statement that the animals are not dangerous. A report is written and a professional recommendation is made before families are allowed to adopt.
“If I am choosing adoption, what happens at the hospital after the baby is born? Will I get to hold the baby? Do I have to hold the baby?”
This is all up to you! Its a good idea to tell your nurse when you come in to have the baby that you are making an adoption plan, but to make that easier you can write down your wishes and hand it to your nurse when you are admitted. Most adoption agencies have hospital planning worksheets available to make this easier for you. The nurse can put your plan in your file, and this way you don’t have to have the whole I’m-doing-an-adoption conversation over and over again with new nurses. Most of the time, women choose to hold and spend time with their babies while in the hospital, but it might be that you’re nervous about seeing the baby and how you will feel. If it helps, you can have your social worker present at the hospital for your visit with the baby to support you at this emotional time. However, it might be that you decide not to see the baby at all because it may feel too painful to tell him or her goodbye later, and that’s okay, too. You certainly don’t have to visit in the hospital at all, but its okay if you change your mind either way after the baby is born.
“Can I name the baby?”
Yes, if you want to! Sometimes the birth mother chooses to name the baby, and sometimes they don’t and the baby is legally considered “Baby Girl Smith” or “Baby Boy Johnson” or whatever until after the adoption is completed and the name is legally changed to the adoptive family's name.
“Who will take the baby home from the hospital?”
Again, this is your decision. For an adoption that occurs through a licensed adoption agency in Missouri, the baby is legally released form the hospital into the custody of the agency. The agency can then either place the baby into a temporary foster care situation or directly place with the adoptive family, according to your preferences.
Hopefully these answers have provided helpful information, but it is very likely they will also raise questions that you might not have realized you have! Please feel free to call and speak with a social worker about all of your parenting or adoption planning questions and concerns – it is her job to assist you in a private, confidential, and honest manner. The social worker’s role is to educate and support you and your baby, no matter if you choose adoption or parenting.
If you are pregnant and considering adoption, you can contact a pregnancy counselor 24 hours a day at 1-866-424-2974. Or, simply text 217.898.1158 or email Maria for adoption information and assistance.