How Does Adoption Work?

Pregnancy isn’t the same for everyone. Neither is the adoption process. It may seem intimidating, confusing or just plain difficult. But it doesn’t have to be.

Pregnant and Considering Adoption? Speak to a Counselor for Free

At The Cradle, your counselors guide and assist you through this critical decision-making time with total privacy, completely free of charge. If you decide that adoption isn’t a good choice for you, that’s okay. We are here to help you better understand the process of adoption and decide what’s best for you.

You can call, IM, text or email us whenever you'd like. If you are very early on in your pregnancy or even if the baby has already been born, you can start the adoption process at any time.

It's not too early or too late. We will answer your questions and help you create the plan you want. A Cradle counselor will talk with you and meet to help you explore all your options. She will never pressure you into choosing adoption. Instead her goal is simple: to make sure you understand all your options, rights and responsibilities.

Your counselor will explain the different types of adoption and help you outline an adoption plan that’s right for you. The Cradle's decision-making counseling services to expectant parents are free. We can also pay for pregnancy-related medical and living expenses, as needed. Please discuss your specific needs with a counselor.

If you'd like, you can pick the parents for your baby from our group of waiting families. Rest assured all Cradle families have been thoroughly screened and are excited about parenting through adoption. 

Maybe you would like to have some kind of relationship with the adoptive family or maybe you prefer not to have any contact at all. Either way is fine -- and totally up to you. Cradle families are open to whatever adoption plan works best for you, and if you’d like to meet them, you can.

Here's a look at some of our adopting families.

Adoption is a big decision. The best way to feel confident in any big decision is to fully explore all options and then decide. Adoption is no different. It's very common to go back and forth while about the idea.

In fact, when the baby is born, in many states you can’t even sign the legal paperwork until the baby is a few days old. That’s an important time to make sure you still feel like adoption is the best option for you and the baby. In Illinois, you will need to wait at least three days after the baby is born to sign the legal papers. Laws vary by state. You can find your state’s adoption laws here

After the baby is born, your counselor will check in with you to make sure that adoption is still your plan. If you need more time to think it over, The Cradle nursery is always available while you make your final decision. If you are ready to proceed with adoption, your Cradle counselor will meet with you to sign all the documents that make it legally secure and permanent. 

You may take long as you need to make this decision. Once the papers are signed, however, the adoption is complete.

We encourage you to continue to meet with your Cradle counselor after placement – our door is always open to you. You are not alone and it is important to talk with someone who understands what you are going through. How much you stay in contact with the adoptive family will depend on the relationship you and the family decide to form. Typically, birth and adoptive families exchange pictures often and even arrange for seasonal visits.

If you've lost touch with the adoptive family, we can help reconnect you as well. Just give us a call or contact our counselors at

"I didn't know anything about adoption..."

Video Transcript

Slide: How did you decide on adoption?

Lisa: I didn’t know anything about adoption whatsoever so I just typed into my computer ‘adoption,’ and up pops The Cradle! And they set us up with a counselor immediately who came out to our school and sat down with me and just talked to me about what adoption looked like and the different forms that it can take. It was really interesting to me the whole concept of open adoption.

Slide: How did your adoption process unfold?

Lisa: We decided that open adoption was the appealing route and then went through a list of things outside of that that were appealing to me. I really wanted my child to be raised in an African-American family being that I’m African-American and there would be that relation. I did want a Christian home. Having other kids was an option as well. And just a couple that really loved each other.

She [my counselor] took note of all of that and sent me five packets of different types of families that fit within what we had come up with. And from those packets I would then decide who I wanted to meet with. So I told my counselor, ‘Alright, we’re really interested in John and Donna, let’s move forward.’ And we set up a meeting. And it was just a moment of clarity, a moment of this is what is supposed to happen ... these are the people that are supposed to parent my child.

So fast forward to today, he is seven years old. He is, and I know people say this about their kids all the time, but I am honestly telling you that he is the smartest, most beautiful boy ever. And he’s at the age now where he is asking more and more of the questions. They [his adoptive parents] talk to him about how he’s adopted and who his birth parents are. He has pictures of us. He has pictures of my sisters and my parents. So that’s been ingrained in him since the beginning.

But now that he’s older and able to understand more clearly, he’s starting to ask the questions. Despite those hard questions that are yet to come, he’s still wanting to be around us and know who we are. So I’m looking forward to the future and just continuing on this great, interesting journey!