Mothers with an unplanned pregnancy are faced with stress, grief, loss and possibly denial; they sometimes are not thinking clearly enough to determine what is their best option when it comes to continuing their pregnancy, parenting or placing the child for adoption. This article is written in an attempt to separate and explain some of the options facing a mother who is considering what to do in an unplanned pregnancy situation.
Please carefully consider any option but abortion when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Most women are scared and just want the ‘problem’ to go away. Abortion is not the solution; it can create more problems than it solves. If you are pregnant and having a child does not fit into your life at this moment, there are other options. Unless carrying this child gravely endangers your life, abortion should not be an option, because there are other choices you can make.
Consider parenting the child yourself. Only you know if you are ready emotionally, physically and financially to parent a child. You don’t have to be rich to parent a child in America today, but you need some sort of stability to be able to offer the child its best chance to grow and prosper. Your family should be the first place you turn if you have decided that marriage to the father is not an option. Many families are capable and willing to find family members willing to parent your child. Give them a chance but keep in mind the long term interests of the child. Are family members going to accept your child openly and with no reservations? Are they going to make your child a scapegoat for every perceived wrong that you ever committed? Make certain to identify a trusted person within your family to parent your child and give them clear guardianship rights to the child. Having a child belong to one family member and needing to be supported and parented by another family member can have adverse effects on the child, on you and on the family as a whole by engendering resentments and grievances about control and financial support. If you are going to choose this option, know and understand that cooperation between family members must be discussed up front and the legal status of the child needs to be carefully considered.
Reach out to the father of this child; he or his family may be willing and able to parent it. If this is an option that seems possible in your situation, then, just like in your kinship placement, there are many things to consider. Who will be responsible for the parenting of and financial support of the child? Will your involvement as the child’s mother be welcomed by the family? Be sure to protect the child and its legal status through clear designation of a guardian for the child. If this is an option that you want to consider, again it will entail cooperation between you, your family, him and his family members. Be sure to discuss up front and get in writing the ways in which you and your family will be involved with the child.
Consider placing your child in temporary foster care. This may be an option in your situation if you are in a position to be able to parent and support your child, but just not right now. Many temporary foster care agencies are dedicated to helping you through parenting classes and other government resources. This may be an option for you if you feel that in a short period of time, you will be able to create safety and stability for your self and your child. It is not a long term solution however.
Consider placing your child for adoption. Most adoption professional agree that keeping your child within your family system is usually the best option for an planned pregnancy; however, only you know your circumstances and your family. If adoption outside of your family is something that you are considering there are many issues to consider before deciding where to turn for help.
There are attorneys, agencies and private adoption facilitators helping birth mothers and adoptive families to find each other. These are called private adoptions.
Be aware attorneys and facilitators are not licensed and regulated by their states for child placement. Many states allow attorneys to facilitate adoptions and a few states such as California allow individuals to advertise for birth mothers and facilitate adoptions with adoptive families who are on their waiting lists. This sounds almost like an agency, but there are big differences. First of all, attorneys and facilitators are not trained in human services and are not regulated for dispensing human services. When facing an unplanned pregnancy, adoption is an emotional experience and as you and your child age, your relationship with him and the adoptive family may require the expertise of an adoption professional. If you are going to use a facilitator or an attorney to place your child, be sure to get your own legal counsel and make sure that you are provided with counseling from an outside source.
Agency adoptions are considered the safest for a variety of reasons. Well run agencies offer pre and post adoption support services for all triad members. Mediation may be offered if your open adoption relationship should start to go off tract. There are good agencies and there are not so good agencies. Know that the adoption services including your living expenses are being paid for by the adoptive family with an agency. This may set up a ‘conflict of interest’ between the agency and you. The best way to find an agency that has your interests in mind is to interview the employees of the agency and birth mothers who have placed with them previously.
When facing an unplanned pregnancy, make sure the agency is actually licensed and since all states keep a record of the complaints filed against agencies they regulate, you might want to check with the regulatory agency to see if birth mothers have filed valid complaints against the agency. Ask to speak to birth mother references of that agency. If you are unsure of your decision to place or not, a well run agency will offer you counseling from and outside source for that decision making process. A well run agency wants the best for you and your baby and wants a relationship with the entire triad, including you, for the long term. Placing a child for adoption because of an unplanned pregnancy is a life changing event and you want to make sure that you are being respected and valued as a full partner in creating the new entity, an adoptive family.
Adoption is the loving option for your child when you are sure you are unable to provide the nurturing environment it needs and deserves. This is a decision that should not be made lightly…make sure you get good counseling.