Statistics show that about 3% of women in prison experience pregnancy throughout their sentence. While the adoption process may be different for women in prison, it is important to remember that it is still an option. There are various resources available to incarcerated expecting mothers. While the decision is difficult, it is important to remember that expecting mothers still have the same rights to choose and make their own decisions regarding the adoption. While the process may differ from state to state, below is an outline of the process for navigating adoption while incarcerated.
- Choose Adoption and Get In Contact with Resources: It is important to choose to place your child for adoption because it is the decision that is right for you. Often, incarcerated mothers may feel pressure to place the child for adoption because of the stigma associated with their position and because many may be facing a lengthy jail sentence. However, it is important to decide if that is the decision you are comfortable with. Once you have decided to place your child for adoption, a prison caseworker will help you talk about your options.
- Choosing an Adoptive Family: Once you speak with a caseworker, he or she will put you in contact with an adoption professional and a social worker. They will help you navigate the adoption process. They will talk to you about your preferences for an adoptive family and send you profiles so that you can choose a family that would be the best fit for your child. Important note for expecting mothers is that the cost of your adoption will be free. You will receive free legal and emotional counseling and the adoptive family will likely cover all the other adoption costs.
- Giving Birth: Before the delivery, you will work with a caseworker and create a birth plan, so you will know exactly how everything will work on the day of the delivery. This way expecting mothers can be comfortable knowing there’s an appropriate plan in place. If you are expected to give birth while in prison, you will most likely be transferred to a local hospital where you will be supervised. Depending on your prison status, you might be allowed to meet the adoptive parents. Each new mother is given the opportunity to spend 48 hours recovering in the hospital depending on jail policies.
While there will be more restrictions placed on time spent with your baby and the circumstances for the adoption, you will still be able to spend the most amount of time that is permitted with your new child. An adoption is always an option regardless of your status in prison and you will always have the ability to choose what you want for your child. Navigating pregnancy while in prison may be challenging, but there are many resources available to expecting mothers. Having the ability to understand your goals and what works best for you will help you to decide on the best option for you.
Julianna McKenna is a college student at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana double majoring in English Writing and Psychology. She is passionate about adoption and foster care and is considering a career in adoption law or counseling. In January 2019, Julianna became an intern for Adoption Choices of Kansas, Inc. She is incredibly dedicated to promoting children’s rights and is excited to research and advocate for children.