Should a birth mother choose to create an adoption plan, she will work with either an adoption agency or an adoption attorney. The birth mother should seek an adoption professional who offers to promote the kind of relationship that she wants with her child's adoptive parents. A good adoption professional will gladly assure that the adoption plan accords as much as possible with the desires of the birth mother and adoptive parents.
Many different relationships can develop between the birth mother and adoptive parents. In confidential ("closed") adoption, the birth mother chooses to have no information whatsoever about the adoptive parents or her child; and the adoptive parents and child have no more information about the birth mother. The adoption professional selects the adoptive couple.
Confidential adoption has been the method traditionally employed. For some birth mothers, confidential adoption eases the dilemma of an unplanned pregnancy by assuring privacy. The adoption process remains relatively simple and straightforward. By relying on the experience and good judgment of the adoption professional, the birth mother is spared the emotionally demanding process of selecting the best adoptive parents for her baby.
If the birth mother has special requests, such as a particular ethnic or religious background for the adoptive parents, the good adoption professional will try to meet those requests as exactly as possible.
Sometimes the birth mother wants to retain her privacy while actively learning about prospective adoptive parents. Adoption professionals gather considerable information about prospective adoptive parents. For example, beyond basic factual and biographical information, some adoption professionals have prospective adoptive parents write brief autobiographies that reveal unique personal information: attitudes; values; goals.
The adoption professional will provide the birth mother with information about prospective adoptive parents who might be appropriate for adopting the birth mother's child. From this information the birth mother may help to select the adoptive parents, or she might still defer to the more experienced judgment of the adoption professional.
Sometimes the birth mother may want additional information about one or more couples after reviewing the information provided by the adoption professional. The birth mother can then utilize the adoption professional to have her questions answered, without direct contact with these couples. This indirect contact may take the form of simple questions and the adoptive parents' responses, or an exchange of letters, pictures, or even audio or video recordings.
Some birth mothers value privacy less, and want more direct contact with the prospective adoptive parents. These birth mothers can help select adoptive parents based upon both information provided through the adoption professional as well as personal meetings with adoptive parents, facilitated by the adoption professional.
From the initial information provided by the adoption professional, the birth mother selects prospective adoptive parents to meet and get to know well enough to choose as her baby's adoptive parents. The number, frequency, and nature of these meetings depends upon the desires and requirements of both the birth mother and the adoptive parents.
After the birth mother has chosen a particular couple, the birth mother and adoptive parents may continue to meet and build a rapport throughout the pregnancy. Since the birth mother has chosen these adoptive parents and continued throughout the pregnancy to get to know them better and build a close rapport, she almost certainly feels comfortable with her choice of adoptive parents by the time the adoption is finalized after the baby's birth.
Having achieved this level of comfort with her choice of adoptive parents, some birth mothers feel the need to "let go" entirely, to detach and allow the adoptive parents the best opportunity for bonding with the baby. Other birth mothers may still feel the need to express their feelings through letters or gifts for the baby.
Birth mothers often send these tokens without requiring or expecting a response from the adoptive parents. This allows the adoptive parents the discretion to introduce these objects to the child when they deem that he is ready to understand and emotionally deal with the complexities of the relationships.
Such gestures by the birth mother enable her to express her feelings, while also providing for the child's eventual need to know something about his birth mother and her care for him. At the same time, the process of absorbing the full experience of the adoption continues for the birth mother; she moves toward the detachment and adjustment necessary for her to continue with her life.
Occasionally, if the rapport established between the birth mother and adoptive parents during the pregnancy is particularly strong, both may maintain contact after placement through letters, pictures, even telephone calls. While quite rare, some birth mothers and adoptive couples even arrange actual visits, with baby included.
Such visits can ease a birth mother's concerns about her baby even more than exchanging letters and pictures. However, such openness can also place undue emotional stress upon the birth mother, prolonging her period of adjustment before successfully moving on with her own life. Adoption professionals or counselors usually try to moderate the degree of openness between birth mother and adoptive parents based upon what works best for the individuals involved.