How to Recognize Red Flags in an Adoption Agency as a Birth Mother


Deciding to create an adoption plan can be a very difficult and emotional decision, so you want to ensure that you are working with an adoption agency that has the best interests of both you and your child in mind. As you navigate this process, you will want to know your rights as a birth parent and what red flags to recognize as inappropriate.

Know your Rights

It can be confusing to know your rights when you’re already overwhelmed by so many other factors. Though you may want to trust an adoption agency wholeheartedly, it’s important to recognize when someone may be trying to take away your rights. 

You have the right to know all of your options. Though you may be coming to an adoption agency thinking you are going to make an adoption plan, you have the right to know what options and support are available to you should you decide to create a plan to parent. 

You have the right to choose adoptive parents and the level of openness of your adoption. An adoption agency can present you with families to choose from when you’re considering making an adoption plan for your child. However, it is not up to them to choose for you. They can also counsel you to help you decide the level of openness of your adoption, but you have the final say. 

You can change your mind at any time. Though you may have chosen an adoptive family to parent your child through your adoption plan, that plan isn’t set in stone until papers are signed. You can decide to parent or choose another adoptive family at any time in the process. 

You have the right to have legal counsel present when you sign paperwork and to receive free counseling. You have legal rights. It’s important to know what those are and how they will affect how your adoption should go. For instance, you can choose when and where to sign papers, etc. Make sure that you understand this process.

If anyone at an agency tells you that you do not have the rights listed above, those are red flags that you can’t ignore.  For more information about adoption rights, click here. Also, review rights in your state as some others differ. 


Look for Signs of Coercion

Simply stated, coercion is any time someone is trying to convince you to make an adoption choice that you don’t want to. It can be a very obvious red flag if someone is offering you money for your unborn child, but it can also be much more subtle. You are an expectant mother or parent, but if an adoption agency is referring to you as a birth mother and the potential adoptive parents as the parents, that can be coercion because you’re reframing how you see yourself even though you can still change your mind. 

If you feel at all like you’re being pushed to make a decision that you don’t want to, that is a red flag. You can leave an adoption agency at any time you don’t feel comfortable. If you feel like the coercion is bordering on illegal or fraudulent, please make a police report to protect other expectant parents as well as to protect yourself. 

You have the Final Decision

You ultimately have the final decision on whether you make an adoption plan, who adopts your child if you choose that option, and how open you would like an adoption to be. If at any time an agency makes you feel that you don’t have that choice, then that is a red flag. You are in control of this situation as an expectant parent–no one else. 

Trust Your Gut

If something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t. If you don’t see a clear red flag like in the information above, but you don’t feel comfortable with the adoption agency you’re using, it might be time to search for another agency. You have choices and rights and no one gets to take those away from you or make you feel uncomfortable throughout the process. 

Learn more about other red flags from the Archibald Project.