It's one act that's rife with controversy. It's selfless, some say. Selfish, say the others. And nine times out of 10, the decision to give your child up for adoption is made when you're just a kid.
So what happens next? The biological parents have lives to live too. As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reminds birth parents, "Moving forward does not mean that you will ever forget your baby, just that you are ready to accept the adoption and move on to a new part of your life."
As National Adoption Awareness Month kicks off, here are some amazing people who didn't let a harrowing ordeal in their past stop them:
Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra. They're known because they gave up their daughter in the groundbreaking MTV reality show Teen Mom, but it's their story that has changed perceptions about biological parents drastically in recent months. Shown going through the grief process post-adoption, the teens have proven that often the adoption choice isn't just good for the baby -- it's good for the parents too.
Rod Stewart. He was "17 or 18" and completely broke when daughter Sarah Streeter was adopted. Now the "Forever Young" singer has a second chance and re-connected with Streeter in the wake of her parents' death.
Kate Mulgrew. Before she was on Star Trek The X-Files, she was on Ryan's Hope, where a storyline followed her character's pregnancy. In real life, Mulgrew was pregnant too -- a baby she gave up for adoption. The two were reunited in 2001.
David Crosby. Before he donated sperm to help Melissa Etheridge become a mom and before he sang at Woodstock, the Mighty Cros and a girlfriend gave up a little boy in the early '60s. The boy grew up to be James Raymond, a musician who has since performed with his dad.
Roseanne Barr. She was a high school dropout and fresh out of a mental institution when she gave birth to Brandi Brown at age 17. The baby girl was adopted by another family, but they reunited in 1989, and Brown even worked on her mom's TV show in the '90s.
Mercedes Ruehl. The Tony Award winning actress gave up a little boy, Christopher, in her youth, then years later adopted a child herself. Today Christopher is godfather to her younger child.
Andy Kaufman. The quirky comedian and subject of Jim Carrey flick Man on the Moon had a child with his high school girlfriend who they gave up for adoption. Kaufman rocketed to stardom on Taxi, but he died in 1984, and little is known about the child today.
Patti Smith. The rocker was just 16 and a high school dropout when she gave up her child for adoption, well before her album Horses took the punk rock scene by storm.
Joni Mitchell. She sang a song about a child "born with the moon in cancer," and that was hers, a little girl named Kilauren Gibb who she gave up for adoption. The Grammy Award winning singer/song-writer met her in 2001.
Linda Lovelace. She may be the most famous porn star to have lived, but when she gave birth to a son out of wedlock at 20, it was her mother who made the decision to give the child up for adoption.
Image via MTV