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Is Child Protective Services (CPS) involved with your Pregnancy or your born child? Is there a risk you will not be able to take your baby home from the hospital? Do you know you have options?

No matter the circumstances that brought you to this post, know that you are doing a wise, good, and courageous thing by searching for information on how to best move forward when child welfare is involved with your family. This post addresses several things to consider when you are pregnant and facing the potential of your child’s placement into state custody after birth. While there are many things to think through during this time, the following points give you a good starting place as you consider your next steps.

You have options when it comes to creating a parenting plan.

Oftentimes, when CPS is working with your family, it can feel like you aren’t allowed to make choices about your child’s future. Depending on your unique circumstances, a CPS worker may tell you that your child will go into state custody immediately after birth, or that CPS will closely monitor your family to determine if it’s best for your child to remain in your care. You get to decide whether or not you are willing and/or able to create a parenting plan with CPS in order to regain custody of your child.

Creating a private adoption plan for your child.

If you don’t feel it’s something you’re able to do at this time in your life, you can choose to make a private adoption plan for your child. A private adoption plan is completely different from foster care and completely free from the influence of CPS. Giving up your child for adoption through a private adoption plan is not giving up at all. Just as parenting in a tough situation is brave, so is making a voluntary adoption plan. You get to choose the adoptive family and the level of openness, including future contact with your child.

Private adoption vs. foster care

Remember, private adoption and foster care are completely different. Foster Care has the potential to be temporary; private adoption is permanent. With foster care, your child is non-voluntarily placed in state custody with care provided by CPS-chosen caregivers. With private adoption, you voluntarily surrender your parental rights and choose (if you desire to) who will provide lifelong care for your child.

It’s important to remember that when you work and meet the requirements of a parenting plan with CPS, your child leaves foster care and returns to your custody. If you are unable to meet the requirements, your rights could permanently be terminated, and you will have no say in who adopts your child and most likely will have no future contact with your child.

When you choose a private adoption plan for your child, it is a permanent and legally binding decision without the option of the child returning to your custody, but you have the option to choose the adoptive family and can have an open adoption that allows for future contact.

There is no easy option, and you must think long-term.

It’s our natural, human tendency to want a quick and easy solution to unexpected problems. If you are facing a pregnancy with CPS involvement, there’s not going to be an easy solution to the obstacles that led to this situation. It’s important to recognize that both options involve hard work and grief so that you can really think through your desires for the next steps.

Likewise, whatever option you choose will have a lifelong impact on you and your child. It’s important to consider not only what seems best today, but what you want your child’s future to look like 1, 5, 10, and 20+ years from now. Are you willing/able to work with CPS to reunify your family? What steps will you need to take in order to create a stable, safe environment for your child? Though these questions are hard to consider, honestly evaluating your situation will allow you to gain confidence in the path you choose.

You have the right to be fully informed about all of your options.

Whether CPS is already involved with your family or pregnancy, or you feel they may soon become involved, you have the right to be fully informed about all of your options. When it comes to learning about adoption, your pregnancy counselor will meet with you personally and discuss exactly what adoption would look like in your specific case. We can also connect you to attorneys who will answer any legal questions you may have in regard to your situation. Meeting with a pregnancy counselor does not obligate you to anything, and we will never place pressure on you to choose adoption.