The Cradle Blog

The Adoption Process Through Birth Parents' Eyes

As most parents who have adopted know, the process of adopting a child is long and often challenging. But, we don’t always get to see what it’s like from a different perspective: the birth parents. We spoke to expectant parent counselors at The Cradle to learn what it is like for those who make the selfless, difficult choice to place their children. Some common threads appeared: expectant parents often came into the process feeling lost, scared or ashamed.


As confusing as the adoption process is for adoptive parents, it’s just as, if not more, overwhelming for birth parents. Sometimes, birth mothers have just arrived in the U.S. and don’t completely understand English, let alone the process of placing a child. Many times, birth parents have experienced multiple traumas and don’t have an adequate support system. Often, they are simply lost in the amount of decisions they must make. Together, expectant parents and counselors work through these difficulties, but it doesn't change the fact that the process is daunting. 

Cradle counselors hear:

  • I don’t know where to turn.
  • How does the adoption process work?
  • How will I afford this pregnancy?
  • What is the best plan for my child?  
  • What will happen after?


In many cases, feeling lost also leads to fear. Uncertainty is difficult to process and causes fears of the unknown. From worrying about selecting the right family to concerns about their open relationships after placement, fear is a very prevalent feeling throughout a birth parent’s decision process. At times when pregnancies have gone undetected, birth parents fear they have harmed their child. Sometimes birth mothers are worried a birth father won't be supportive of an adoption plan. But, says Cradle counselors, the most common fears surround choosing their child's family. They worry: "Will my child's parents keep their word regarding ongoing contact?" Birth parents already parenting children often have concerns whether their children will accept their sibling's placement. Often they worry the child they placed will resent them or have difficulty understanding their adoption.  

Cradle counselors hear:

  • Will my baby be okay?
  • How can I get back to my daily life now?
  • Have I hurt my baby?
  • Will my child be angry with me?
  • Will the children I am parenting be hurt and upset?
  • Did I pick the right family?


Sometimes expectant mothers hide their pregnancies from their families while working with The Cradle. They may face extreme judgment or shame, be at-risk of being turned out of their home, or even in physical danger. When a family puts excessive shame on a birth parent, this often falls on top of shame a birth parent is already facing. They may struggle with not being able to provide for their child, or are angry with themselves for having an unplanned pregnancy in the first place. The Cradle will help a birth parent in any situation they face, and help them to feel validated and respected, but often we can’t control the way a family will respond.

Cradle counselors hear:

  • Will my family accept me?
  • How will the outside world judge my choices?
  • I am embarrassed.
  • I should be able to care for my own child.
  • I feel alone in my situation. 

To understand more about the emotions birth parents face, you can read our previous post, "6 things birth parents wish adoptive parents knew."