You’ve just found out you are pregnant but this wasn’t planned.  Now what?  If you are not ready or unable to parent a child, then you might be considering placing your baby for adoption. But how does that work?  If you have searched the internet for answers to your questions, you have probably found a variety of conflicting answers.  Adoption Options has been helping young women facing an unplanned pregnancy for over 25 years and we are here to answer your questions and help you as well.  You are not alone and we are here to guide and support you throughout each step of the adoption process.


As you are learning about adoption, you will hear different words or phrases used.  It is helpful to be familiar with their meaning.  As times have changed, adoption language has changed and more positive terms are used to accurately reflect the selfless decision of the birth mother to make a loving choice for her child.

Adoptee (or Person who was Adopted): anyone who joins a family through adoption.

Adoption: a legal arrangement in which a child who will not be raised by his/her birth parents becomes a permanent member of the adoptive family.

Adoption Agency:  an organization that is licensed by its state to perform all services necessary for an adoption that is in the best interest of the child.

Adoption Plan: a unique and individual plan that includes details of what you wish for your child’s future and what you want your adoption experience to look like.  As the expectant parent, you are in control and get to decide what you want your adoption to look like and we will help you to create it.

Adoption Social Worker (or Case Worker or Support Coordinator):  a person licensed as a social worker who performs counseling and helps the expectant parents navigate the adoption process.  This is a private social worker who is not affiliated with the Department of Social Services.

Adoption Triad:  the 3 main parties to an adoption – the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child who was adopted.

Birth parents: the biological parents of the child who was placed for adoption.

Consent (or Relinquishment or Surrender): the legal document executed by the child’s parent(s) which surrenders custody of the child to either the adoptive parents or the adoption agency who then places the child for adoption with the adoptive parents chosen by the birth parents. In South Carolina, these documents are not signed until after the baby has been born.

Expectant Mother: a woman who is pregnant and considering adoption for her unborn child.

Home Study: the process through which prospective adoptive parents are approved to adopt a child.  In SC, these are conducted by Certified Adoption Investigators who interviews the prospective adoptive parents and conducts an investigation on them to determine that they are emotionally and financially stable to adopt a child. They also obtain child abuse clearances and criminal records checks on them, as well as ensure that they have received adequate training.

Matching:  the process by which expectant parents select potential adoptive parents who are home study approved to adopt their child. The process involves the viewing of parent profiles and possibly interviews for the expectant parents to make their decision. Potential adoptive parents accept and agree with the expectant parents’ adoption plan.  Adoption Options helps to guide expectant parents through this process.

Open Adoption: an adoption that involves some amount of contact between the birth parents and adoptive parents before and/or after the placement of the child.  The contact can include ongoing letters & pictures and yearly visits with the child.  Generally, there is the disclosure of some identifying information between the parties.  Adoption Options believes that an open adoption is most beneficial for all members of the adoption triad.

  • Semi-open adoption: an adoption with more privacy than an open adoption.
  • Closed adoption: an adoption with no contact between the parties.

Parent Profiles:  a short book prepared by the prospective adoptive parents that gives you an idea of who they are, including their home, extended family, and community.  The profiles contain letters and pictures and are presented to expectant parents in the matching process.  Adoption Options also maintains electronic profiles on potential adoptive parents that include videos.

Placement:  this occurs when the birth parent signs the consent and the child is formally placed into the care of the adoptive parents.

Revocation Period:  the period of time a birth parent has to change their mind and regain custody of the child.  Revocation periods vary from state to state and not all states have revocation periods, including South Carolina.  This is why Adoption Options ensures that prior to the birth of the child, the expectant parents are familiar with and understand the consent documents they will be signing after the child is born.


Positive Language Negative Language
Birth Mother/Parent Natural or Real Mother/Parent
My child Adopted child
Make an adoption plan Give up my baby, give away my baby
Unplanned pregnancy Unwanted pregnancy
Child with special needs Handicapped child
Born to unmarried parents Illegitimate child
Was adopted Is adopted