Pro-life and church communities have been moving to reach expectant mothers, to support them in loving ways through various programs. How we view mothers with unplanned pregnancies is changing to be more accepting and supportive as their options are considered. It’s getting better each year as we listen to their needs, both in parenting and adoption. Change can be slow, but we are moving in the right direction!
However, we also need to keep in mind the other factor in the equation— the expectant fathers who are also impacted and making decisions for their life and their child’s. There needs to be a balance, not just with caring for expectant mom and baby, but with encouraging healthy family building, co-parenting, or adoption relationships. Before adoption can be discussed as an option, life has to be discussed, and in many cases, we have to give the fathers a voice too.
Yes, men are wired differently, and their support will look different. Yes, there are absolutely cases that are tricky to navigate or perhaps unhealthy to have him involved in at all. There will always be exceptions that need to be considered, but as a vast whole of our society we have to look at how we are treating expectant dads and birth fathers.
It is silent. Where are their voices?
There are many fathers who do want to be involved, but they may not know where to turn for help, or where to find a role model to guide them. Social media posts, billboards and ads market heavily to expectant moms. Mothers are positioned as the voice and the one with the choice. Sure, ultimately it is the momma carrying the baby into this world, but have we stopped to consider the father’s choice?
Dads need to be encouraged to have a voice too.
They need to be told their role has value in their child’s life, whether they choose to parent or place in an adoption plan. They need to be reminded that they are also an important piece of their child’s identity. Even in adoption, their child will have questions and may desire a relationship one day. They need to know that their voice can influence the mother’s decisions, as well.
Personally, as a birth mom, the lack of my child’s father wanting to be involved weighed heavily in my decision to place my child for adoption. I wanted her to have a father who would love her and be a support to her every single day, even if he never became my husband.
Sometimes, the lack of decision is a decision, leaving it completely in the mother’s hands.
The Power of Empowermet
How many more women would choose life if we empowered men to have a voice and supported them in this journey, too?
Even in the adoption world, there are little resources for birth fathers to learn about adoption and to cope with adoption after placement. There are few positive voices for fathers to listen and learn from, unlike the many that are offered to birth mothers and adoptive mothers. And rarely do we hear from male adoptees or adoptive fathers.
Maybe this is due to them being more private and not wanting to share their feelings as much. Even so, I have to wonder, is that what God would want— for fathers to remain silent? Sometimes, God does His biggest work when we step out of our comfort zone!
What can we do to improve?
Pregnancy centers and churches can include expectant fathers in their language, their marketing, and programs.
This will look different than how expectant moms are included. Their roles are different, their needs are different, their schedules may be different. They are wired differently. Amy from Beyond Pregnancy Center in Florida shared her insight with me:
“Men are wired to be providers and protectors. In fact, we believe one of the reasons there are so many absent dads, besides the fact that absenteeism may have been modeled to them by their own fathers, is that they are fearful. They fear they cannot live up to that call that is at their core to provide and protect… so they run. These men need to be taught how to navigate the news of an unexpected pregnancy and help them in their role as a new dad.”
Having a “daddy bucks” educational program, where fathers can earn things to provide for their family, whether through in-person groups or online courses, like through Bright Course or InJoy, is one way to empower them in this decision process. Just as an expectant mother needs to explore all her options when planning her future, so does dad!
Encourage men who have experienced unplanned pregnancies and adoption placements to speak out.
Church leaders and the pro-life community can encourage men to speak up and speak out, not just about the fatherhood role in a traditional family, but in the unplanned pregnancies and the adoption world. We need to hear how adoption has impacted their lives too, as well as how we can better support them. Often, men are taught to stuff their feelings down and ignore them. We can’t promote health and change if we continue endorsing that way of thinking!
Mentor the expectant dads.
Many times, expectant dads do not have their own fathers present, nor do they have an example of how to be a healthy male role model. We need the church and pro-life communities to step in and mentor them. Becca from Bringer of Joy worked for many years in a pregnancy center and observed this need.
“Sometimes the biggest impact we can make is doing life with a person, not just teaching them in a class. Invite them in! Hang out with them, watch a game together, invite them to dinner. Be an example for them.”
As Father’s Day approaches, let’s pause to acknowledge the glaring silence brought about by the lack of important voices— the voices of expectant and birth fathers. Let’s think through how we can love better, include better, and help better.