How Does Adoption Work?

Pregnancy isn’t the same for everyone. Neither is considering adoption. At The Cradle, our counselors can support you through this critical decision-making time with privacy and respect. Our services are free to you, as an expectant parent.

Options Counseling

Cradle Counselors are available to talk with you and help you explore all your options related to the pregnancy.  Your counselor will not pressure you into choosing adoption. Instead, your Cradle Counselor’s goal is simple: to make sure you understand all your options, rights and responsibilities. If you decide that adoption is not the right plan, your counselor will support you in that decision.

Choosing an Adoptive Family

The Cradle has many prospective adoptive families who have been carefully screened.  You can talk with your counselor about what type of family you’re hoping for, and she will work with you to help you choose an adoptive family. You’ll also have the option of meeting the family to be able to get to know them better and have the opportunity to ask them additional questions. View Our Waiting Families.

All of the families hoping to adopt through The Cradle are ready for ongoing contact with the child’s birth family. Learn More About Open Adoption

Choosing, meeting, and having ongoing contact with an adoptive family are all options available to you, but are not required. You can choose what feels right for you. The Cradle can identify an adoptive family for you, if you prefer.

Making Your Final Decision

Adoption is a big decision. In fact, in Illinois, you cannot sign the legal papers making your decision final until the baby is 72 hours old. After the baby is born, your counselor will check in with you to see how you’re feeling about your decision. It is very common to rethink your decision after the baby is born. The Cradle Nursery is available to you if you need additional time to make your final decision, or to wait until you are able to sign legal documents. Watch a Virtual Tour of the Cradle Nursery.

If you decide to move forward with adoption, your Cradle Counselor will help to facilitate your plan and be with you to sign the legal documents so your baby can be placed with the adoptive family.

If you decide to move forward with a parenting plan instead, we will support you in that decision. Your counselor will talk with you about your plan and can help connect you to community resources if needed.

Finding Support When You Need It

The Cradle can continue to provide counseling to you after you’ve made your adoption decision final. It is very normal to feel sadness or a sense of loss. You can continue to meet with your Cradle Counselor to get support regarding these feelings of grief and loss. She can also help connect you to other resources that may be helpful to you.

The Cradle can also support you as you build your relationship with the adoptive family, whether you are in regular communication or if you have never had contact.

It doesn’t matter how long ago your placement was, our door is always open to you. Contact The Cradle at or 800-272-3534.


Hear Lisa’s Experience Working with The Cradle

Video Transcript

Slide: How did you decide on adoption?

Lisa: I didn’t know anything about adoption whatsoever so I just typed into my computer ‘adoption,’ and up pops The Cradle! And they set us up with a counselor immediately who came out to our school and sat down with me and just talked to me about what adoption looked like and the different forms that it can take. It was really interesting to me the whole concept of open adoption.

Slide: How did your adoption process unfold?

Lisa: We decided that open adoption was the appealing route and then went through a list of things outside of that that were appealing to me. I really wanted my child to be raised in an African-American family being that I’m African-American and there would be that relation. I did want a Christian home. Having other kids was an option as well. And just a couple that really loved each other.

She [my counselor] took note of all of that and sent me five packets of different types of families that fit within what we had come up with. And from those packets I would then decide who I wanted to meet with. So I told my counselor, ‘Alright, we’re really interested in John and Donna, let’s move forward.’ And we set up a meeting. And it was just a moment of clarity, a moment of this is what is supposed to happen ... these are the people that are supposed to parent my child.

So fast forward to today, he is seven years old. He is, and I know people say this about their kids all the time, but I am honestly telling you that he is the smartest, most beautiful boy ever. And he’s at the age now where he is asking more and more of the questions. They [his adoptive parents] talk to him about how he’s adopted and who his birth parents are. He has pictures of us. He has pictures of my sisters and my parents. So that’s been ingrained in him since the beginning.

But now that he’s older and able to understand more clearly, he’s starting to ask the questions. Despite those hard questions that are yet to come, he’s still wanting to be around us and know who we are. So I’m looking forward to the future and just continuing on this great, interesting journey!