Adoption process for birthparents
Once a birth mother has decided to make her baby available for adoption, her first point of contact should be an adoption social worker. This social worker may work for the State, an organisation or a private establishment that facilitates adoptions or offers services to birth mothers. At this stage it is assumed that the birth mother has received option counseling to weigh up the long and short-term, as well as legal, financial, physical and emotional implications of the choices and is satisfied that adoption is the route she will take.
Once she has the support of a social worker, the birth mother will become part of a therapeutic process designed to care for her physical and emotional health and thus the wellbeing of the child. Depending on her needs, she may receive medical and ante-natal care, HIV counseling or treatment or be accommodated in a home for expectant mothers during her last trimester. Care and accommodation is also available during the recovery period after the birth.
During this time, and depending on which organisation is assisting her, the birth mother will be advised of her options in terms of selecting the adoptive parents and determining the contents of the adoption plan and agreement, for example the extent to which she would like to receive progress reports on the child's early years of development, in line with the type of adoption chosen and prevailing legislation.
The social worker will work with the court to facilitate the legal process which will include identifying the birth father and obtaining his consent to give the baby up for adoption. If the birth mother is a minor, the social worker will assist in the interactions with her guardians, who then have legal responsibilities in terms of consenting to the adoption. The consent forms are signed before a magistrate in the family court and from this date, the birth mother or father has the right to change their minds within a 60-day period during which the baby may be in the care of the adoptive parents or fostered in the interim.
Thereafter the adoption is considered complete and the adoptive parents are considered the child's natural parents. The birth mother will have effectively given up the rights to the child but the conditions set out in the agreement will be upheld by the parties concerned.