“I’m pregnant” was the most challenging admission I made in my teenage years. It was so distressing I could hardly speak. Through my tears, I only nodded to affirm my parents’ suspicions — their child, their little girl, was pregnant.
The answer was a simple sentence, but it changed the course of my life along with the lives of those around me. Additionally, it forever altered the life of a family who, although strangers at the time, would become like a second family to me — my daughter’s adoptive parents.
The Power of Supportive Parents
My answer was wrapped in guilt, shame, and grief that branched deep into my soul. I knew I had messed up. I knew life wouldn’t ever be the same. I worried about what my parents would say and how they would react. As now a parent of teens myself, I can only imagine the sheer heartache and frustration my parents had towards this news when I was 16 years old.
But while my words changed the course of all our lives— their reaction changed my heart.
I wasn’t met with criticism or judgment or yelling. They thanked me for choosing life. I could have kept this all a secret, gotten an abortion without them knowing. Instead, I firmly believed in my tiny baby’s life and that it mattered. My parents acknowledged that bravery, and while I was in the lowest moments of my life, they uplifted me. Then, in the months to follow, they demonstrated that support with their actions. Amid the knowledge of my first decision, one which led to pregnancy, they built me up to be proud of the second choice I made: Life.
Unfortunately, this news can often cause much tension, stress, and discord for families, understandably, as emotions and fears are running high. At times, we experienced this as well. However, overall, I felt supported throughout my pregnancy as well as after I placed my daughter in an open adoption. We didn’t always get it right, we still had disagreements and conversations to work through, but I felt completely loved and supported regardless. That is what I pray every mom in an unexpected pregnancy feels.
Your reaction and support matters!
I was talking to a dear friend who used to be a director at a pregnancy center. She shared this with me:
“It was often the girls whose parents were part of the church who had no support and had to hide their pregnancy. Whereas my clients whose families were maybe more in chaos, the family was supportive. It was always crazy to see the reactions.”
Many young moms feel encouraged into abortion out of the fear of judgment. Whether in secret or even by family pressure, some parents drive their children to the abortion clinic! I have also heard a pastor advise a young woman to get an abortion so she wouldn’t bring shame on her family.
Parents, it starts with you.
Thankfully, slowly, the movement of love, grace, and help is expanding in our homes and pro-life organizations with programs like Embrace Grace. Parents, it starts with you. Be a safe place. They need you more than ever to be there for them.
One thing my parents did well was to get me into counseling right away. There is no shame in seeking help for your family! I believe this helped me begin the process of healing before my adoption decision even began. Counseling helped me process shame, guilt, grief. It helped me explore my options and feelings with an unbiased person, and to navigate family tensions.
Also, my parents never pressured me into any decision. Sadly, from the stories of others, I have seen so much manipulation. Sometimes, there’s a parent or a boyfriend who feels strongly about one choice and threatens not to support the birth mother, to leave her, or kick her out if she does not comply. How is that showing Jesus’ love and grace?
The best gift you can give your daughter is the loving empowerment to make her own choice. Rather than taking control, trust God with the process, and remember our eternal focus rather than today’s limited perspective.
How can parents support their child who is considering adoption?
After a mother decides to choose life, she then has the choice of parenting or placing. For a variety of reasons, mothers choosing adoption is statistically low. Studies show that while 1.4 million moms decided to parent in 2010, only 14,000 chose adoption. Adoption is not “popular” by any means, especially for the mom choosing heartbreak in return for what they feel is best for their child. For this reason, when a mother chooses to walk alongside her pregnant daughter, rather than pressure her, they both need a vast amount of support and encouragement.
Unfortunately, many birth parents, don’t have the family support that I did. I hear story after story in my birth mom groups of women feeling judged, shamed, and alone in their choice of adoption. I realize, with every new story I hear, that my account of having support isn’t necessarily the norm.
My story should be the norm, not the exception.
Because my parents loved me unconditionally, got me the outside help I needed, and walked with me without judgment. They helped guide me into healing and making healthier life changes. Additionally, this same support is what lead me into a relationship with Jesus.
It was their undeserved kindness that turned my heart to Jesus.
My family, teachers, and fellow church members were an impactful part of experiencing who Jesus is and how He loves. It was their kindness and grace that drew me to both Jesus and His healing. They celebrated me, provided for me, and cried with me. It wasn’t always their words that uplifted me. Many times, it was their actions.
As Christian families, and as a pro-life community, the approach of grace and love is what is needed. Every mother needs compassion for her situation, and the understanding that this isn’t easy for her. Most of all, young mothers need grace to overlook the past, just as Jesus does for us, as he moves us towards a future filled with hope. Extending arms for hugs, financial support, and emotional support— this is where healing begins, when the seemingly undeserved kindness sweeps away the ache of brokenness.