You’ve been feeling tired and nauseous lately. Maybe you have swollen and tender breasts and notice you need to urinate more frequently. Your period is late, too. So, you purchase a home pregnancy test. After taking the test, you wait nervously for the results to appear on the tiny digital screen. Your heart sinks when you see the positive result appear. Perhaps you want children but not right now. Maybe you don’t want to be a mother. Whatever the case may be, you are now facing an unplanned pregnancy.
You’re probably feeling overwhelmed with emotions. You have a huge decision to make. You have three options to consider—parenting, abortion, and adoption.
You may be wondering what the right decision is. The truth is, there is no “right” decision. The best decision for you may not be the best decision for someone else who is facing an unplanned pregnancy. Let’s consider your options one at a time.
If you are considering parenting, many factors need to be taken into account.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to have a baby someday. You think it’ll be wonderful being a parent. You’re right—being a parent is rewarding, joyful, and life-changing. However, it’s also important to realize that parenting is also challenging, frustrating at times, and requires a ton of sacrifice.
Here are some questions to consider to help you determine if you are ready to be a parent.
- Can you provide your baby with a safe, healthy, and loving home?
- Can you provide for your baby financially?
- Have you finished school?
- Do you have a stable job?
- Are you where you want to be in your career?
- Do you have a good support system?
- Are you ready to be totally and completely responsible for every need your child has?
- How will having a baby affect your family? If you have other children, how will having another child affect them?
- Are you in a stable, healthy, and loving relationship? If so, how do you and your partner feel about your ability to parent?
- If you are single, are you ready, willing, and able to raise a child on your own?
- Are there any physical or mental health conditions that hinder your ability to parent?
As a parent, you’ll have the opportunity to experience many joys. Your children’s first steps, first word, the arts and crafts projects they make for you in preschool, teaching them how to ride a bike, watching them play baseball, watching them act in school plays, and watching them grow into young adults are just a few of the joys you’ll get to witness as a parent.
It’s also important to realize that being a parent involves a great deal of sacrifice. As the parent of an infant, you’ll get less sleep and have much less time to do the things you would like to do. Even as your child grows, you’ll need to continually make sacrifices for him or her. You may have to forgo that designer purse you want to buy your child glasses, or you might need to cancel plans with your friend if your child gets sick, for instance.
If you haven’t finished school or accomplished your career goals, being a parent will make these feats more challenging. Additionally, while becoming parents may bring you and your partner closer together, even the strongest relationships can be tested by parenting.
If you aren’t in a relationship, you will face the unique challenges of being a single parent. Being a single parent means that you don’t have a partner to turn to when you need a break. It also means you’re solely responsible for making all the decisions regarding your child. When you’re a single parent, you have to fill the role of both parents, which is a monumental task.
Being a single parent is certainly more challenging, but it’s not impossible. A good support system can go a long way when parenting your child if you determine that’s the right choice for you.
Terminating the pregnancy is another option when facing an unplanned pregnancy. While this option is time-sensitive, it is important that you take the time you need to decide if terminating the pregnancy is the right decision for you.
Abortion is legal and more common in the United States than you might think. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood, approximately 25% of women in the United States terminate a pregnancy by the time they are 45 years old.
Most abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, abortions can also be done during the second trimester of pregnancy. More specifically, some states allow abortions up to 12 weeks, others up to 20 weeks, and still others up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Third-trimester abortions are very rare and typically only occur if the mother’s or baby’s health is in danger. If you are considering abortion, please talk to a doctor about your options and how much time you have to make a decision. What type of abortion you have will depend on your health, how far along in your pregnancy you are, and your state’s laws.
Women choose to have abortions for a number of reasons. Know that if you decide that abortion is right for you, it does not mean that you do not want or love children. In fact, many women who have abortions do so to focus on being the best parent they can be to the children they already have. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 59% of women who got abortions in 2014 had had at least one child by birth. Other women who terminate a pregnancy go on to have children later when they are ready to be a parent.
Some of the reasons women choose to terminate a pregnancy include:
- They are not ready to be parents.
- They cannot afford to raise a child at the time of the pregnancy.
- Having a child would interfere with their educational or career goals.
- Having another child would impede their ability to care for their current dependents.
- They are done with childbearing.
- They are having relationship problems or do not want to be single mothers.
- They are in abusive relationships or were sexually assaulted.
- Pregnancy is dangerous to their health.
- The fetus will not survive the pregnancy, or the baby will suffer after he or she is born.
Your relationship, family, personal beliefs, life goals, health, and safety are all factors you might think about when making a decision on whether to terminate your pregnancy. Remember that this decision is completely yours. Do not let others pressure you into a decision.
Here are some questions to think about when deciding if an abortion is right for you.
- Are you ready to be a parent?
- How would being a parent affect your life goals, such as getting an education or advancing your career?
- How would having an abortion change your life?
- What type of support would you need to be a parent?
- Would you consider adoption?
- What are your religious or personal beliefs about abortion?
- What kind of support would you need if you had an abortion?
Adoption is another choice you have when you are facing an unplanned pregnancy. The great thing about adoption is that it provides you with a lot of choices. Not only can you choose your baby’s adoptive family, but you can also be a part of your child’s life after placement if you wish.
Women choose to place their children for adoption for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include:
- They are not ready to be parents.
- They are having relationship problems or do not want to be single parents.
- They cannot afford to raise a child right now.
- They want to pursue life goals.
- They were sexually assaulted.
- They are not able to provide a child with a safe, stable, and loving home.
- They do not want to add to their families.
- They are in unhealthy or abusive relationships.
- They feel adoption is the best choice for their baby.
Adoption benefits everyone in the adoption triad – adoptive parents, adoptee, and birth mother.
As a birth mother, you can pursue your own life goals after placement. Placement allows you to choose a family to raise your baby. If you place in an open adoption, you can continue to be part of your child’s life. Open adoption also allows you to see first-hand how your child is doing with the family you chose for him or her.
Adoptive parents benefit from adoption as they have an opportunity to give a child a loving home. Adoptive parents strongly desire to have a child to raise as their own.
Your baby will also benefit from placement. The adoptive family may provide him or her with opportunities you could not have been able to. Your child’s adoptive family will be able to provide for all of the child’s needs and offer him or her a safe, loving, and secure home.
While closed adoptions were very common in the past, open adoptions are the norm in modern times. In an open adoption, you can maintain a relationship with your child and the adoptive parents throughout his or her life. You and the adoptive parents will agree upon what types of contact you have and how often that contact occurs.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering whether adoption is right for you.
- How do you feel about someone else parenting your child?
- Are you able to take care of a baby right now?
- Do you have the support you need to go through pregnancy, childbirth, and placement?
- Are you ready to go through pregnancy and childbirth?
- Do you think your child would have a good life with an adoptive family?
What’s the Right Choice for Your Unplanned Pregnancy?
Nobody can tell you what the right choice is. You are the only person who can decide what is right for you. Your situation is unique. What may be right for a friend who’s facing an unplanned pregnancy may not be what’s right for you.
Here are some tips to help you make a decision.
Journal: Sitting and writing is a great way to examine your own thoughts and feelings. Sit in a comfortable spot with a pen and paper or laptop computer. You may want to play some soft music or light a candle to create a relaxing atmosphere.
Take some time to reflect upon your own thoughts regarding each choice. Take some time to answer the questions above. You may find it easier to journal over a number of days or weeks, giving yourself plenty of time to reflect before making a final decision. Making pros and cons charts for each of your options may also help you come to a decision.
Talk It Out: Talking to someone you trust can help you come to a decision as well. It may be difficult for well-meaning family members and friends to refrain from offering their opinions and advice, but a trusted person can help you examine each of your options.
While talking to them may feel awkward initially, pregnancy crisis line counselors, adoption counselors, and therapists make fantastic resources. Pregnancy crisis line counselors, adoption counselors, and therapists are trained to help you sort out your thoughts and feelings so you can make the decision that’s right for you and your baby. These professionals provide an objective perspective and won’t pressure you into making a decision.
Educate Yourself: You’ll need all the facts on your options in order to make the best decision. You can ask your doctor for information on your options. Pregnancy crisis lines, women’s health clinics, and adoption agencies are also great places to find information.
Take Your Time: With the exception of abortion, you can take as much time as you need to make a decision regarding what to do when facing an unplanned pregnancy. While many women decide to place their babies before delivery, you don’t have to make that decision before giving birth.
It may be helpful to cut back on some of your obligations and activities while you’re making a decision. You need plenty of time to consider your options. Saying no to taking on new responsibilities or stepping back from some of your current obligations is perfectly okay. There is no need to feel guilty about taking the time you need when making such a life-altering choice.
Take Care of Yourself: Even if you’re not sure if you’re going to terminate your unplanned pregnancy, it’s important for you to take care of yourself and your baby while you make a decision.
Make an appointment with your doctor or OB/GYN as soon as you know you’re pregnant. They can help you start prenatal care, such as the following:
- Begin taking a prenatal vitamin or multivitamin containing 0.4-0.8 milligrams (mg) or 400-800 micrograms (mcg) folic acid.
- Avoid listeria and toxoplasmosis by thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them. Don’t eat uncooked or undercooked meat or fish.
- Don’t stop any supplements or medications without talking to your doctor first.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Aim to get two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week unless your physician advises you not to. Try to spread your exercise out throughout the week.
- Gain a healthy amount of weight during your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain.
- Get enough sleep every night.
Listen to Yourself: You are the only one who can determine what the best choice for you and your baby is. Don’t let other people in your life pressure you into a decision. If you and your partner disagree on what to do, seeing a therapist together can help you work through the decision-making process and come to an agreement.
Making a decision regarding your unplanned pregnancy can be downright overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to take your time and listen to yourself during the process. Writing about your thoughts and feelings in a journal or talking to a trusted family member, friend, pregnancy crisis line counselor, adoption counselor, or therapist may also be beneficial during your decision-making process.
Finally, remember that while you may feel alone, you do not have to go through the decision-making process by yourself. While you must ultimately make the final decision, your loved ones as well as adoption counselors and therapists can offer you support along the way.Are you considering adoption and want to give your child the best life possible? Let us help you find an adoptive family that you love. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.