Who may receive LSS-MT birthparent counseling services?
Anyone who is currently pregnant or parenting a small child and needs decision-making counseling to help plan for that child’s future. Both birthmothers and birthfathers are encouraged to participate; however, many birthmothers attend counseling alone or with another support person. An appointment can be made by calling the closest LSS-MT office or 1-800-726-3083. LSS-MT has offices in Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, Great Falls, and Kalispell. We cover the entire state for services and can meet clients at other locations as needed. All inquiries and services are confidential.
When is counseling needed? What does it cost?
Unplanned pregnancy is often an emotionally stressful and confusing time. Professional counseling services can help sort out feelings and options in a safe and non-judgmental environment. For someone who is currently parenting with difficulty, this can be a time to step back and re-evaluate. Montana law requires a woman who is making an adoption plan to receive counseling from a licensed adoption agency prior to relinquishment. If the plan is to parent, resources and plans can be explored before the child arrives. LSS-MT counselors are trained specifically for this and have experience with both parenting and adoption issues. Birthparents are not charged for decision-making counseling. If a birthparent comes to LSS-MT for contract counseling to place with a specific non-LSS-MT couple, the fees are the responsibility of the adoptive couple.
How can a birth family be involved in the child’s future?
The birthparents (and their families if they wish) begin by participating in counseling to make a careful plan for the child’s future. If adoption is planned, most birthparents choose some form of open or cooperative adoption, which allows them, and often their families, to have an ongoing relationship with the child. After counseling has been initiated and a decision for adoption has been made, the birthparents will choose a family from our waiting couples. Many begin their relationship with a meeting before birth and continue throughout the child’s life.
What if I already know a family who wants to adopt my child?
This is called a direct parental placement, if the family is not currently active with a licensed adoption agency. In these adoptions, the arrangements are made by the birthparents, the adoptive parents, and the attorney involved. As noted above, the birthparent must participate in a minimum number of counseling hours, which they contract for with a licensed adoption agency like LSS-MT. The family must have completed a homestudy (also called a pre-placement evaluation), and have been approved for adoption. This service can also be contracted for with LSS-MT. The only exception to the homestudy requirement is when the adoptive parent is a family member who is a first degree relative to the birthparent (parent, sibling or child).
Why does the law have to be involved in the adoption?
The State of Montana has a duty to protect children within its borders. Adoption is a serious and life-changing act which can have far reaching effects on all parties involved. To decrease the chance of anyone being hurt or taken advantage of, the law attempts to provide some framework to guide people. The ultimate goal is to make sure children are provided with a safe, loving, and permanent family environment. The adoption decision is an ongoing process requiring support, education, and counseling. Although birthparents may make the decision before their child is born, no legal papers can be signed until 72 hours after birth.
How will I know my child is okay?
LSS-MT encourages birthparents to continue counseling as long as they feel it is helpful. Even though adoption is a loving and caring choice, it involves loss and often sadness. The counseling supports the birthparent through the grief process. LSS-MT remains available to both birth and adoptive families throughout the child’s life. Families who adopt through LSS-MT go through an intensive screening and educational process. Most adoptions involve ongoing communication and often there are visits between the adoptive and birth families. LSS-MT supervises all agency placements for the first six months and provides a report to the court at the end of this time. If the birthparents choose not to be in contact with the adoptive family, they can still receive any available up-to-date information through LSS-MT.
What will my child think of me?
Adoptive education teaches adoptive parents that open discussions about adoption should happen throughout the child’s life. A child who is raised to know that adoption is a loving choice will have been given a positive view of the birthparents’ decision. Every child will process the information differently, depending on their own personality. In open adoption, the birthparents will often be available to speak to the child themselves and to answer questions which arise. This has proven to be beneficial to all parties and exemplifies the love that led to the decision for adoption.
What is the right decision for me?
Only you can decide. To do that, you need to look honestly at your current lifestyle, financial situation, resources, relationships with others and future plans. You need to ask yourself, “Am I really ready and able to be a secure parent at this time? Do I want to change my life in order to be a parent now? What choice will ensure the best future for me and for my child?” Your answers will depend on many factors and it will take courage and maturity to live out your decision.
LSS-MT has been helping birthparents since 1954. We are here for you today & tomorrow. Call 1-800-726-3083 or contact us