Adoption - Unplanned Pregnancy Options
If you would like to continue with an unplanned pregnancy, but don’t wish to raise the child, adoption is a way of giving a child a new legal family. In other words, an adoption ends the legal relationship between the child and the birth parents.
Continuing with the Pregnancy
Your GP will be able to guide you through continuing with the pregnancy with a view to arrange adoption afterwards. This would include the necessary health checks and dating scans. If you know what you would like to continue with the pregnancy, make an appointment with your GP as soon as you can to talk about prenatal health, a birthing plan, and postnatal care.
Adoptions are arranged by adoption societies/agencies, and then made legally binding by the courts. You can get expert advice on adoption from a number of sources:
• GPs and other Healthcare Providers can explore options with you
• The Social Services or Social Work department of your local council or local authority
• A registered adoption society or voluntary adoption agency
• Hospital social workers who work closely with maternity clinics
To protect the child, only registered adoption societies/agencies and the Health Service Executive (HSE) in the Republic of Ireland are legally able to place children for adoption. They can make full enquiries about the new parents.
If the child will be adopted by a close relative, then you can arrange it yourself, but it will still need to be agreed by the courts.
Permission and Confidentiality
To proceed with the adoption process, you will need the father’s formal permission if you are married and your husband is the father, or if you are unmarried but the father’s name is on the birth certificate.
Similarly, if you’re married, but your husband isn’t the father, your husband will still be considered the legal father, and so his formal consent will be needed.
If the legal father disagrees with the adoption and wants custody of the child, the court will have to make the decision about what is best for the child. If you’re unmarried, and the father isn’t named on the birth certificate, you won’t need his formal permission: but the adoption agency will want some details about him, his medical history and his family health to share with the child. You will not be forced to reveal his identity if you don’t want to. A ‘closed’ adoption means that the birth parents and family don’t have contact with the adoptive family or the child after the adoption.
The other option, if this is in the child’s best interest, is an ‘open’ adoption, where there can be some form of contact or involvement by the birth parents. Adopted people can retrieve their original birth certificate when they are 18 years old. This will have the birth parent’s names on. It is possible for an adopted person to trace their birth parents from this.
If adoption is the best option for you and for the child’s future, a social worker at the adoption society or agency will help you with the process. You’ll be asked some personal information about you, your medical history and your family’s health, for the adoptive family to share with the child as they grow. Preparations for adoption will happen before the birth, however nothing is made definite until after the birth when the application for the adoption order is made to the court. Once an adoption order is granted, this can’t be undone.
Adoption Support Organisations
In the Republic of Ireland
In Northern Ireland
One of 3 choices
Continuing with the pregnancy and arranging adoption is just one of a few choices you have.
The decision about your future, and the future of the child if you decide to take the pregnancy to term, is yours to make. Remember to take your time and know that you can seek advice from specialist organisations to decide if continuing with the pregnancy to term and arrange adoption is the right choice for you. Other possible options include continuing the pregnancy to become a parent, or to end the pregnancy with legal abortion care services.
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