Even when dealing with the legal system while pregnant, you have the right to consider all of your options. The steps to making an adoption plan from within the prison system are very similar to any other adoption plan.
Exploring Your Options
Although you’re incarcerated, you have the ability to explore your options. You can make a request to privately talk with a Birth Parent Counselor about those options by calling Caring for Kids directly at (614) 306-1079, which is a prepaid phone account through ConnectNetwork/GTL, or by telling your case manager that you would like to meet with a Birth Parent Counselor from Caring for Kids. Your placement options can include parenting, temporary or permanent care with a family member or friend, working a case plan with children’s services or making an adoption plan.
Our counselors have years of experience working with expectant moms within the prison system in Ohio. They are sensitive to your unique needs and desires for privacy. Choosing to meet with a counselor does not obligate you to move forward with an adoption plan. Should you decide to move forward with an adoption plan, we are here to support you and your plan.
Choosing an Adoptive Family
Regardless of your situation, you have the right to select the potential adoptive family for your child. The Birth Parent Counselor will talk with you about your family health history, social history, requests for ongoing contact (openness), and other factors that may be important to you when considering parents for your child. Other factors may include family make up, faith, location, or other important criteria specific to you.
Your Counselor will connect with waiting families that meet your requests. You will then have the option to review the potential family profiles and personally select which family you are interested. Depending on how close you are to delivery, a face to face visit can then be arranged so you have the opportunity to talk with this family and ensure you are comfortable with your decision.
Generally, once you’ve selected a family, you can begin communicating with them directly. You also can decide how much involvement they will have at the hospital with you and the baby, within the rules set forth by the system. This is the beginning of a lifelong relationship that grows while you’re incarcerated and after you’re released. If you choose, families will continue openness, such as visits and communication, after the baby has been placed with them. Many will also communicate directly with your family, if that is something you request.
Making the Adoption Legal
When the time comes to deliver, the prison will transport you to the local hospital. Your birth plan will have been submitted to the hospital social worker and your wishes will be made known. Our goal is that each of those wishes are honored within the restrictions that are in place.
After the 72 hour mandated waiting period has passed, you will be able to make a final and permanent decision to proceed with adoption. It is always possible to take more time than that, if needed. Generally, the hospital will not allow inmates to stay longer than 48 hours. In order to avoid a placement within the foster care system, you will sign a temporary custody order that will remain intact until the permanent decision can be made.
When the time comes to sign your legal paperwork, you will meet with your Birth Parent Counselor, as well as an attorney that will represent your needs for the adoption. There is typically also a representative from the jail or prison present for the signing of these documents. Once this occurs, the baby will be placed with the adoptive family.
What Happens Next
This is an emotional and difficult decision. Your Birth Parent Counselor will meet with you regularly to provide counseling for grief and loss. Regardless of your location, we ensure you are offered these services.
No matter where you are in your pregnancy, you can choose adoption! Depending on your situation, you can even make this decision if the child is already born. This decision is legal and available to you. As a pregnant woman that may be in jail or prison, choosing adoption will not impact your sentence in any way. Making this decision with licensed professionals makes this a safe and legal option for you and your baby.