I'm eighteen, single, and pregnant, but I don't want to release my baby for adoption. Why should I? I could never give up my child to strangers who might turn out to be weird and abusive. Besides, my parents have already promised to help me (they don't approve of adoption anyway). I've even got a feeling that my boyfriend (the father) may change his ways and become more actively involved if I decide to keep the baby. When it comes right down to it, adoption sounds like a bad idea for a lot of reasons. In fact, I can't help feeling that even abortion would be a better choice. It would sure be easier. Can you convince me otherwise?
You're in a challenging situation; thank you for sharing it with us. You've got a lot to think about and a difficult decision to make. Ultimately it's you who will determine whether to raise your child on your own or place your baby with a family who is looking to adopt. Your decision is important and will have life-altering implications for both you and your child. That being the case, we encourage you to base it upon a prayerful and honest assessment of your circumstances, and with the most reliable facts and information available. As for some of your specific concerns and objections, let's take a closer look:
- "I don't want my baby raised by strangers. What if weird, horrible people get my baby?" Stop for a moment and consider this truth: in most states, the only people who have to jump through any hoops at all to "qualify" for parenthood are adoptive parents! In fact, the screening procedures for prospective adoptive parents are so tough that they usually include extensive interviews, paperwork, home visits, criminal background checks and psychological screening. That's not to mention that as an unmarried mother in the 21st century, you have a great advantage over women who released babies for adoption in previous eras. With approximately forty qualified couples waiting for every baby available, you can be quite selective. And with the prevalence of open adoptions, you can get to know the prospective parents personally before making a decision. You can even stay in touch with them as your child grows. In many cases, adoption plans include financial assistance to help with your prenatal and childbirth expenses. And since most adoptive parents come from a middle-class to upper-middle-class socioeconomic background, you have the confidence that they will be able to provide your baby with the financial security and material advantages that children raised by single mothers often lack.
- "My parents have promised to help me raise the baby. Besides, they disapprove of adoption." As wonderful as your parents may be, it's still possible that they aren't the ideal "solution" to your childrearing dilemma. Raising children takes a lot of energy, and many grandparents will lose their "enthusiasm" about this option after chasing a toddler around all day or experiencing a few sleepless nights. They simply are not equipped physically to go through the process of raising another family, especially if they have full-time careers. Plus, it can be confusing to a child when both a parent and grandparents are "parenting" him or her. That's not to mention that you are the mother of this baby, and the responsibility for its welfare ultimately falls on your shoulders. You are the one-not your parents, your friends, or the baby's father-who should make the final decision about adoption.
- "If I keep my baby, maybe the father will become more actively involved (i.e., marry me, stay with me, help raise the child)." The sad truth is that babies rarely have this effect on young guys. Beyond this, it's not a baby's job to turn a self-centered, immature, and irresponsible boy into an ideal husband and father. Statistics indicate that this is extremely unlikely to happen: most young women who get pregnant out of wedlock don't end up marrying the father of their child. If they get married at all, it's usually to someone else.
- "I could never give up my baby." The majority of young women in your position feel the same way in the beginning. We'd suggest that your perspective may change when you finally get around to considering the tremendous cost and responsibility associated with single motherhood. Successful child-rearing, while greatly rewarding, is also very demanding, even for two-parent families. It requires a lot of time, self-sacrifice, and financial expense. Statistics show that, almost without exception, birth mothers who choose an adoptive family for their baby concede later on that it was the right thing to do.
- "Neither option sounds easy. Abortion would be easier." You're right about one thing: There are no "easy outs" in this situation. But if you think that abortion is the "easier" of the two, you're swallowing one of the biggest lies ever cooked up. Abortion will be anything but easy for your baby. And that's not all- you will suffer emotional and physical consequences as well. The depression and malaise associated with post-abortive syndrome have been well documented by psychologists and physicians. And research shows that women who have been through an abortion are more likely to experience future pregnancy complications such as preterm labor, and various kinds of cancer later in life.
Bottom line: in most cases, adoption is the most loving and unselfish decision an unmarried, expectant mother can make for her child. That's because love is not primarily an emotion. Love means taking action in the best interests of another person, regardless of feelings. As one birth mother said of her choice to make an adoption plan for her baby daughter, "I knew that my decision would be the hardest thing in the world for me. But that was okay because it wasn't about me. It was about her. It was about what I could give her: a family, stability, a chance for a future." You have the opportunity to do the same thing for your child.
If you'd like to discuss this crucial decision with a member of our staff, feel free to get in touch with Focus on the Family's Counseling Department. Our trained counselors would be more than happy to speak with you over the phone. You can contact them for a free consultation Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4537). They'll be pleased to assist you in any way they can.
The First Nine Months (booklet)
I Might Consider Adoption If . . . (booklet)
OptionLine.org - A Web site for young women that offers online support, fetal development information, true stories of girls who've faced unexpected pregnancies and a confidential crisis pregnancy help line.
iChooseAdoption.org - Up-to-date information about adoption. You can also read birthmother testimonials, look at sample profiles of adoptive families, view additional adoption resources or find an adoption agency in your area.