If you face an unplanned pregnancy, you have several options. Take your time to investigate them all. Gather as much information as possible so that you can make a careful, informed decision that’s best for you and your child.
Get support during the decision-making process
Close family members and friends can provide important input. But you may have reasons for privacy. Or you may simply need a special person to listen without judgment and without the emotional attachments. Many women find it helpful to have an objective third party walk with them through the decision-making process.
A Birthmothers Friend is trained to act as a sounding board and provide resources you need while you decide your next step. Many Friends have themselves experienced an unplanned pregnancy and understand the challenges you face. A Friend won’t pressure you or preach to you. A Friend provides unconditional acceptance, information, and support. Click here to learn more about being matched with a Friend.
There are at least three alternatives to abortion:
• Interim Foster Care
Each has its own elements to consider.
Parenting is a challenging but an extremely rewarding experience. As you consider the parenting option, give yourself time to investigate it thoroughly and to understand what raising a child will require.
If you choose to parent, you have several options:
Marriage and parenting. You are ready to make a commitment to both your partner and the child, and choose to marry and raise the child together.
Things to consider: have you been together for awhile? Have you considered getting married? Do you have a good relationship? Are you committed to each other?
Joint parenting. Although not ready to make a marriage commitment, you and your partner choose to share responsibilities for raising the child in a joint custody arrangement.
Things to consider: are you both committed to the child’s needs and best interests above your own? Are you able to work through scheduling, financial, commuting, and communication challenges?
Custodial parenting with visitation. One partner is fully committed to raising the child. The other partner is less than fully committed.
Things to consider: is the custodial parent able to take on nearly all of the responsibilities for the child? Is the visiting parent able to provide financial child support and invest some time in the child? Do both parents have an additional support system of family and friends? Are you able to work through scheduling, financial, commuting, and communication challenges?
Custodial parenting. One partner is fully committed to raising the child. The other partner is either unable to participate in parenting, does not want to be a part of the child’s life, or has exited the relationship.
Things to consider: as custodial parent, do you understand that responsibility for the child will fall completely on you? Do you have an additional support system of family and friends? Are you prepared to have to petition for child support?
Things to think about in general when considering parenting
• Am I ready to accept responsibility for my baby’s needs?
• Will the other birth parent be supportive?
• Do I have family support?
• Am I too young? Am I too old?
• How will I support myself and my child? Do I have a job? Will I be able to finish school?
• Where will we live?
• Do I have access to affordable medical care?
• What kind of life can I offer my child?
• Do I have any physical, mental, or emotional health issues that could impact my parenting?
• Do I struggle with substance abuse?
• Am I in a safe situation?
2. INTERIM FOSTER CARE
Interim foster care provides a loving, nurturing short-term home for a newborn infant. It can last as little as a few hours or up to several months. Interim foster care families are skilled at caring for babies. This option offers flexibility while you decide what to do.
Interim foster care provides extra time. Birth parents may need more time to decide whether an adoption plan is best. They may wish to make a specific type of adoption plan or choose an adoptive family. Some birth moms find that after birth, they must re-process their decision to parent or to place. A birth mom may simply need more time to get to know the prospective adoptive family and be certain they are the ones to raise her child. Paperwork can be delayed. Foster families can step in to provide interim care in any unforeseen turn of events.
Things to consider: Do you need more time to make a decision? If you’ve already chosen to place for adoption, have you made an adoption plan? Do you need to choose an adoptive family? Do you want to spend time getting to know the prospective adoptive family?
Interim foster care provides a secure environment. The birth father or other family member may file for custody or contest an adoption. Interim foster care can provide a loving, secure environment for the baby while court cases are pending.
Things to consider: Is there a potential custody case?
Interim foster care serves as a safeguard for everyone. With interim foster care, the birth mom doesn’t have the pressure of making or finalizing her decision during her hospital stay. An adoptive family doesn’t have to live in fear of the baby being removed from their home. The baby won’t be moved from place to place.
Things to consider: Are there any elements about your unplanned pregnancy that remain uncertain?
Adoption is the legal transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities to another adult or adults. Many women choose adoption because they believe it is best for their children. They acknowledge that adoption is not abandonment, but rather a loving, responsible act.
How it works
Adoptions are arranged in one of two ways: independently or through an agency. Most states allow birth moms a set period of time after delivery to finalize her adoption plan. Laws specifying that amount vary from state to state.
Independent (Private) Adoption. Private adoptions are arranged without an agency. Prospective placing and adopting parents find each other through attorneys, physicians, advertisements, or other facilitators (where legal).
Agency Adoption. Two types of agencies handle adoptions.
Private Agency Adoption. Private agencies are licensed by the state but funded privately. They assist in all types of adoptions and serve prospective placing parents, adopting parents, and children simultaneously.
Public Agency Adoption. Public agencies are licensed by the regional or state government and operate on public funds. They primarily facilitate adoption from foster care.
Approximately 75-80% of adoptions are independent (private or direct), in which the parties locate each other without the assistance of a child-placing agency.
Different types of adoption are distinguished by the level of contact between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child. As a birth parent, you have considerable control over what adoption type you choose. You’ll choose a type of adoption based on what level of contact you want, what your state allows, and what agency or facilitator you select.
Open adoption. An open adoption allows for some level of direct contact between birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child. Typically, the birth mom writes an adoption plan for her child which includes choosing the adoptive parents and exchanging letters, pictures, and perhaps visits with her child. The adoptive parents can choose whether or not to accept her plan or negotiate parts of it. Birth parents and adoptive parents can have direct contact before and after the adoption. An open adoption can be handled through an agency or through an independent attorney, depending on state law.
• greater control over the adoption process
• potential for a role in child’s life
• comfort in knowing about child’s well-being
Semi-open adoption (or “mediated adoption”). A mediated adoption is a variation of open adoption. Prior to placement, the birth parents and pre-adoptive parents exchange mostly non-identifying information. Once the child is placed in the adoptive home, the adopted child may have contact with the birth family that involves pictures, letters, or other types of communications sent through the adoption agency or the attorney who assisted with the placement.
• some privacy for all parties
• the ability for all parties to have contact
• comfort in knowing about child’s well-being
Closed adoption (“confidential adoption,” “traditional adoption”). A closed adoption allows for no direct contact between birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child. The birth mom (or birth parents) may be given some non-identifying information about the adoptive parents, such as their ages and occupations. Adoptive parents are given information that will help them take care of the child, such as medical or family history. Specific information, including names and addresses, are not revealed to either party. A closed adoption is not as widely used today as it used to be in years past. It can be handled through an agency or through an independent attorney, depending on state law.
• privacy for all parties
• possible sense of isolation for child, birth parent
Things to think about when considering adoption
• Am I able to give the child the love he needs and deserves?
• Am I patient enough to deal with the noise, confusion, and the 24-hour-a-day responsibility of having a child?
• How will I support myself and my child?
• Could I handle a child and a job and/or school while parenting?
• How would I take care of my child’s health and safety?
• How do I feel about my child being raised in a one-parent household?
• Am I willing to learn about the various types of adoption?
• Do I know any birth moms who have placed? Adoptive families? Adoptees?