If you are pregnant and in jail or prison, you may be scared of what will happen to you and your baby. There is good news – you have options available to you! As a pregnant inmate, you still have rights. We want to help you think through your options in order to make a plan for you and your baby. Some of your options for your baby include:
1) Placing your baby with a relative or friend
This could be a good option if your incarceration is temporary and you’re able to parent after your release. There are a few important things to consider when choosing this option: Will this relative support my parenting once I’m released? Will this relative be able to provide emotionally, physically, financially, and mentally for my child?
2) Placing your baby in state foster care
If your incarceration is for two years or less, this may be a good option for you. If child protective services become involved, the baby will be placed into a foster home. Visits are hopefully possible during this time, and then, after your release, you will work with CPS to complete a plan and accomplish goals that will allow you to regain care of your child. If you feel you could accomplish this plan, this could be the option for you. Ultimately, if you were unable to work this CPS plan, your child could be permanently placed in an adoptive home without any contact or input from you.
3) Parenting with other potential resources
In some circumstances, there are private organizations or programs within your jail system that provide temporary parenting options while you remain incarcerated. If those resources are available in your area, we can help you locate them.
4) Making an adoption plan
Voluntarily putting up your child for adoption is completely different than the potential of an involuntary adoption following foster care. When you make an adoption plan for your child, you are completely in the driver’s seat regarding what happens to your baby. This is a voluntary adoption plan; this is not forced on you by the child welfare system. You get to choose the adoptive family from approved and waiting families. You get to choose the level of openness and contact you desire with the family and your child. This is a permanent plan that does not allow you to parent your child after release, but it does allow contact.
Move forward with what is best for your situation
If you are facing a pregnancy while incarcerated, there’s not going to be an easy solution to the obstacles ahead of you. It’s important to recognize that all options involve hard work and grief so that you can realistically think through your desires for 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 after your release? 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.
When it comes to learning about adoption, our pregnancy counselors 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 regards 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.