Birth Parent Counseling
Birth parent counseling is critical to the adoption process, from the perspective of both the birth parents and the adoptive parents.
For a birth parent, good birth parent counseling is key to making your adoption plan work for you and your baby. It is not “counseling” in the sense that many think of it; no one is trying to “fix” you or analyze you. It is meant to inform you about your options and to make the adoption process as positive and smooth as possible if that is your decision.
Initially, birth parent counseling is your opportunity to explore whether adoption is an option for you. You may receive information about resources that could be available to you if you choose to parent, such as public assistance programs. You should not be expected to make your decision in a vacuum, without sufficient information.
As you proceed with an adoption plan, birth parent counseling will cover a wide range of topics, depending on what is important to you. For example, you will explore what kind of family you want to choose for your child. You will learn about the legal process and how the birth father’s rights are addressed. You will discuss practical matters like how things will be handled at the hospital and the social worker can help you make a hospital plan that suits your needs. You will also consider what kind of relationship and communication you would like with the adoptive parents. Finally, you will learn that grief and joy can both be part of the adoption process. The adoption counselor will talk through with you how you are likely to feel at different points in the process and in the future, and how to handle those feelings. It is important to validate and prepare for your feelings of grief.
Sometimes, adoptive parents fear that birth parent counseling will be expensive or will result in a birth parent being “talked out” of adoption. Adoptive parents must put those fears aside. Good birth parent counseling will help a birth parent to determine whether adoption is truly in his or her child’s future. It will also help a birth parent to feel secure with the adoption process. Most adoption attorneys can point to cases in which competent and sensitive birth parent counseling made the difference between an uncomfortable or disrupted adoption match, and a positive decision and relationship going forward for both birth parents and adoptive parents. In this way, skilled and valued birth parent counseling is a key service to ask about when selecting an adoption agency.