About Informed Consent
“Informed Consent” is a vital element in many areas of the law. A patient undergoing a medical procedure must give their informed consent to any potential side effects and risks. In the criminal law context, a person accused of a crime may not give up their right to a jury trial when entering into a plea bargain with the State until fully informed of their right to such. Today, parents must give their informed consent before their child is allowed to ice-skate or ride the bus to school. Surely few areas of life require more care than the decision to place one’s child for adoption. In adoptions, an expectant parent’s informed consent is absolutely vital to the integrity of the adoption.
“An expectant parent’s informed consent is absolutely vital to the integrity of the adoption.”
Informed Consent and Adoption
Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary defines informed consent thus: “An agreement to do something or to allow something to happen, made with complete knowledge of all relevant facts, such as the risks involved or any available alternatives.” If we want to be in the business of compassionate, respectful, legally-sound adoptions, we must make every effort to ensure that a birth mother is fully informed. Certainly, she must know each of her rights: her right to have her own attorney, her right to make an agreement with the adoptive parents about post-adoption contact (including her right to be fully informed of her state’s laws about whether or not that agreement will be legally enforceable), and her rights regarding financial support during her pregnancy.
“If we want to be in the business of compassionate, respectful and legally-sound adoptions, we must make every effort to ensure that a birth mother is fully informed. “
Knowledge of Available Alternatives
Equally important to truly informed consent, as Nolo points out, is that expectant parents make their adoption plan with the knowledge of available alternatives. If we’re serious about educating expectant parents about alternatives, we must offer real options counseling with someone that has no financial stake in the ultimate decision. That excludes adoption attorneys, facilitators, adoption agency social workers, and Planned Parenthood. Women’s pregnancy clinics are usually a good place to find true options counseling. We’re happy to help connect you with options counseling in your area.