Adoption is always an option for a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy — even those who are currently pregnant in jail or will be pregnant in prison during their incarceration. If this is your situation, know that our professionals will work closely with you to create a prison adoption plan for you.
Pregnant women in prison have several options for their babies’ futures, but many choose adoption as the way to give their children born in prison the opportunities and safety they deserve. While the prison infant adoption process may be slightly different because of an expectant mother’s circumstances, know that you will have the same legal rights and control over your adoption plan as any other prospective birth mother.
It’s important that all pregnant prisoners who are considering adoption understand the process ahead of them. Our professionals at the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson can answer all of your questions to help you make the decision that’s best for you. If you are not yet incarcerated, you can contact our professionals anytime for more information. If you are currently incarcerated, you may wish to recruit a trusted friend or family member to help you gather the information you need to make your decision. Depending on your prison’s policies, our licensed social worker may be able to visit you to discuss your adoption plan in detail.
For women having babies in prison in South Carolina, having a prison adoption plan in place prior to giving birth is one of the only ways that they can avoid having their child be placed in the state foster care system. Mothers in jail with no plan for their children put them at risk for entering foster care and waiting for months or years to be adopted.
How a Prison Adoption Works
If you are pregnant in prison or know you will deliver your baby while incarcerated, creating an adoption plan can give your baby the safe and positive start to life that you want for them. Often, women who are facing long sentences recognize that adoption is the best option for their child.
Choosing adoption is a difficult decision no matter what the circumstances. That’s why there are adoption counselors to answer your questions and guide you through this process. If you are interested in adoption for your baby, talk with your prison caseworker to be put in touch with an appropriate professional at the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson.
Your adoption professional and your prison caseworker will help you create a prison infant adoption plan that is best for you. It will include these steps:
Step 1: Find an Adoptive Family.
Even though you are pregnant in prison, you will still have the right to choose the family you wish to raise your child. Your adoption counselor will work with you to determine your preferences for adoptive families and show you profiles of families to choose from. While you may not be able to meet these parents before you choose them, your counselors will answer any additional questions you may have about them.
Step 2: Receive Financial Assistance.
As a pregnant inmate, you will find that your living and medical expenses will be covered by the state. However, when you are making an adoption plan for your baby, you may receive financial assistance for other expenses to make your pregnancy more comfortable. For example, you may receive money to buy snacks for your pregnancy cravings or stamps to send letters to the adoptive family.
Your adoption and legal expenses will be completely free of charge to you if you are pregnant in jail and choose to pursue adoption.
Step 3: Share Contact with the Adoptive Family.
Many adoptions today are open, which means prospective birth mothers and adoptive families share pre- and post-placement contact. You will still have the option to choose an open adoption for your pregnancy in prison, but your contact options may be more limited during your sentence.
Usually, you will communicate with the adoptive family you choose through letters and pictures. Your adoption counselor will work with the adoptive family to maintain your open adoption contact during your incarceration and after you are released.
Step 4: Give Birth and Sign Your Adoption Consent.
Giving birth in prison won’t involve delivering your baby in your correctional facility. Instead, you will be transported to a local hospital. Your adoption counselor and prison caseworker will communicate with the hospital to make sure all parties are aware of your circumstances and that you are prepared for what to expect.
During your hospital stay, you may or may not interact with your child’s adoptive parents, depending on your individual situation. After your baby is born, you will likely be able to spend time with the child, if you choose to do so. When you are ready, you will be able to sign your adoption consent. You will always have the right to change your mind about your adoption decision prior to giving your consent, but keep in mind that the longer you wait to make a decision, the more likely it will be that the state will become involved with the care of your child.
After signing your consent, you will return to your correctional facility. Our adoption counselors would love to remain in contact with you and be there to support you through any difficult emotions you may feel. She can also talk with your facility about the option for private counseling for you before and after the birth of the child, if you are interested.
What are the Other Options for Pregnant Women in Jail in South Carolina?
A pregnant woman always has the right to make the unplanned pregnancy choice that is best for her. However, the fact that she is pregnant in jail can complicate these options. Before choosing adoption, you may consider these other pregnancy options:
- Placing Your Baby for Adoption with a Friend or Family Member: You may choose to place your child for adoption with a loved one rather than with strangers. While this may allow you to stay in touch with your child more closely, there are also some important potential issues to consider before choosing this path.
- Placing Your Baby into a Temporary Guardianship: If you are serving a short sentence and are confident you can provide your baby the parenting they need after your release, you may arrange for a temporary guardianship with a friend or family member. That way, you know your child will be raised safely and with a loving guardian until you are able to raise them yourself.
- Placing Your Baby with the Department of Social Services: As mentioned before, pregnant women in prison who do not make a plan for their child will often have their baby placed in foster care after birth. While the goal of foster care is to eventually reunite children and their parents, if a reunification plan cannot be completed upon your release from prison, your child will stay in foster care waiting to be adopted. You can avoid the uncertainty of foster care by creating a prison adoption plan for your infant.
Whatever decision you make, it’s important that you only make it after you have all the information about each process. Our professionals can explain the option of adoption to help you make the decision that’s best for you. To learn more, please contact our law firm today.