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How Adoption Works

Unplanned Pregnancy?

Call our 24-hour toll-free number to speak to a Cradle counselor:

800-CRADLE4 (800-272-3534)

Text CRADLE to 66746

Or, fill out our online form  and we’ll email you back.

Your information will be kept confidential.

Pregnancy isn’t the same for everyone. Neither is the decision-making around parenting and adoption. At The Cradle, our counselors can support you through this critical time with privacy and respect. Here’s what you need to know.

Cradle Counselors are available to talk with you about your options and will not pressure you into choosing adoption. Instead, your Cradle Counselor’s goal is simple: to make sure you understand all your options, rights and responsibilities. If you decide that adoption is not the right plan, your counselor will support you in that decision. Learn more about your options.

The Cradle’s services are free of charge to expectant parents.

We have counselors and case workers available to meet where the expectant parents feel comfortable. We have offices in Evanston, IL; Hyde Park, IL; and Merrillville, IN. Or, we can also meet you at a place that’s convenient to you such as a coffee shop, a library, or a restaurant.

The Cradle is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, non-sectarian, licensed child welfare agency. We have a reputation for ethical adoption practices. To maintain our 501(c)3 status, we undergo regular scrutiny to ensure our goal is never to make a profit. Licensure indicates oversight and regulation by the states in which we operate (Illinois and Indiana).

Considering adoption placement through Facebook? Even if you connect with a family through Facebook or any other media, you’ll still need a licensed agency or an attorney to ensure the adoption is handled legally.

If expectant parents need support beyond counseling and support we can also provide resources and referrals (such as help finding a pediatrician, linkage to housing or transportation, etc.)—before, during and after pregnancy and placement.

If you are pregnant and considering adoption, we can discuss this with you. Licensed adoption agencies like The Cradle can ensure the plan for your baby is handled responsibly, as our practices are closely monitored. You can choose the adoptive family! The Cradle has many prospective adoptive families who have been carefully screened. You can talk with your counselor about what type of family you’re hoping for, and they will work with you to help you choose an adoptive family. You’ll also have the option of meeting the family to be able to get to know them better and ask them additional questions. View Our Families.

Choosing and meeting with an adoptive family are options available to you, but are not required. You can decide what feels right for you. The Cradle can identify an adoptive family for you if you prefer.

All of the families hoping to adopt through The Cradle are ready for ongoing contact with the child’s birth family. An open adoption is one in which the birth and adoptive families have shared identifying information and can include direct ongoing contact. Some birth and adoptive families choose to stay in touch after placement through emails, texts or phone calls. Many also arrange for occasional visits.

Like any relationship, connections between birth and adoptive families change over time. You may not feel ready for ongoing contact, and that’s OK! We will talk with you about how it works, provide you information about open adoptions, and discuss your comfort level so you can choose what’s right for you.

If you have ongoing contact with your child’s adoptive family, you will be able to:

  • Share your child’s birth story with them directly
  • Answer any questions they have about your family, and why you chose adoption
  • Receive updates about important milestones and events in your child’s life

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to open adoption at The Cradle. How your relationship develops will be something you and your child’s adoptive family will discuss, create and build together. If you ever need help navigating the relationship, now or in the future, The Cradle is here to support you.

If you feel strongly that an open adoption is not for you, that’s OK too. All of our adoptive families are prepared for some level of ongoing contact, so if you change your mind later on we’ll help you reconnect. In Illinois open adoption agreements are not legally enforceable. An open adoption relationship is built on trust and mutual respect. Any arrangement about ongoing contact is a good faith agreement between you and your child’s adoptive parents.

Adoption is a big decision. In fact, in Illinois, you cannot sign the legal papers making your decision final until the baby is 72 hours old. After the baby is born, your counselor will check in with you to see how you’re feeling about your decision. If you need additional time to make your decision past 72 hours after the baby’s birth, that’s OK too. Your counselor will work with you as you consider all of your options.

If you decide to move forward with adoption, your Cradle Counselor will help to facilitate your plan and be with you to sign the legal documents so your baby can be placed with the adoptive family.

If you decide to move forward with a parenting plan instead, we will support you in that decision. Your counselor will talk with you about your plan and can help connect you to community resources if needed.

It is very common to rethink your decision after the baby is born. The Cradle Nursery is available to you if you need additional time to make your final decision, or to wait until you are able to sign legal documents. The Cradle is the only adoption agency in the country with an on-site nursery offering a safe, neutral place for infants to stay while their parents take the time they need to decide if adoption will be the plan for their child. Learn about The Cradle Nursery.

This temporary, nurturing environment is made available at no cost, regardless of the parent’s decision. The Nursery relies on private donations to operate.

The specifics of an open adoption are different for every family. We ask that, together with your child’s birth parents, you develop an ongoing plan in which you are both comfortable. The open relationship is going to be different for every situation. Learn more about the benefits of open adoption.

It is our experience that open relationships may develop into something different than originally planned. Generally, adoptive parents look for more contact as time goes by than do the birth parents. Most of our adoptive parents recognize the benefits that the relationship offers to their child and they look for continued contact. Initially most birth parents want the security that the decision they made was the right one for their child.

The Cradle can continue to provide counseling to you after you’ve made your adoption decision final. It is very normal to feel sadness or a sense of loss. You can continue to meet with your Cradle Counselor to get support regarding these feelings of grief and loss. She can also help connect you to other resources that may be helpful to you.

The Cradle can also support you as you build your relationship with the adoptive family, whether you are in regular communication or if you have never had contact.

It doesn’t matter how long ago your placement was, our door is always open to you. Contact The Cradle at 800-CRADLE4 (800-272-3534) or email us at helpline@cradle.org.

Contact the Cradle

We’re available 24/7. All of your information is confidential

To speak to someone now, call our 24-hour hotline: (800) 272-3534 or text us at (312) 800-1559 (answered 8:30am-8pm).

If you’d like us to contact you, please use the form . If you are looking to adopt a child, please schedule a call with an Adoptive Parent Counselor. If you are an adopted person looking for information, please schedule an informational consultation with our post adoption department.