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Can birth mothers change their minds about adoption?

Many birth mothers who place their children into adoption do so after unplanned pregnancies. Their pregnancies catch them by surprise and force them to ask some tough questions. Should they keep the baby? Abort it? Or place it for adoption? These questions are hard for anyone, especially for young women suddenly faced with the idea of becoming moms.

As a result, adoptions usually come after some tough soul-searching, serious counseling and deep thought. Women who place their babies for adoption often do so because they see that it’s best for the child. The women realize they would struggle. They would be unable to give their children the lives they deserve. But when these women give birth, they often experience doubts.

Birth mothers minds will change even if their decisions do not

While you have probably heard about the hormonal changes that go with pregnancy and birth, you’re likely less familiar with the changes a woman's mind undergoes. Business Insider covered some of the changes in a recent article, noting that:

  • Birth triggers hormones like dopamine and oxytocin that lead to strong good feelings. These hormones are basically programming mothers to “fall in love” with their babies.
  • New mothers become more alert, despite their fatigue, thanks to changes in their brains’ salience networks.
  • Changes in the mother’s insular and amygdala make her more empathetic.

The takeaway is that biology works very hard to bond new mothers to their children. It is entirely normal for young mothers to have second thoughts about placing their children for adoption. This is true even when they know they are making the right decision.

Florida law demands that birth mothers take time to think

Adoption changes lives forever, so Florida says that birth mothers cannot consent to the adoption until after they give birth. Then they must wait 48 hours or until they are discharged from the birth unit, whichever comes first.

When they sign, they must have at least two witnesses. The birth mother can choose for at least one of those witnesses to be someone who represents her—a family member, friend or lawyer. And even as she holds her pen in hand, the birth mother will learn she has the following rights before signing:

  • To consult with a lawyer
  • To hold and care for the child
  • To place the child with a family member
  • To take the child home
  • To learn about other possible resources

Even if a birth mother has chosen an adoptive family and signed other documents, none of them are final until after the birth. Then the birth mother has time to breathe, think carefully and do what’s best for the child.

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