Finding out you’re pregnant can be great news, but for those who are facing an unplanned pregnancy, this news can be daunting. In the United States, teen pregnancy and birth rates for those between the ages of 15 to 19 remain among the highest of industrialized nations. Teen pregnancy isn’t uncommon but it’s not something most teenagers plan. Having an unplanned pregnancy means that your choices are to parent, adopt or have an abortion and this will be the hardest life choice you will have to make. Adoption Network Law Center is a full-service entity that helps pregnant teens like you who are considering adoption and by “help,” we don’t mean just with adoption. Adoption Network Law Center prides itself on being a neutral advocate for women, helping you make the best decision for your individual situation and answering any questions you may have about parenting, adoption or abortion.
Teenage Pregnancy – Parenting
Being a parent will have its challenges, but being a teen mom you may have more obstacles to overcome. Having to parent as a teen can disrupt your education and career goals, affecting earning potential for the future. Parenthood for girls experiencing an unplanned pregnancy is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school. More than 50% of teen mothers never graduate from high school and less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30. According to the latest annual report from the US Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child until age 18 is approximately $245,340. In addition, nearly 80% of fathers do not marry the teen mother of their child and pay less than $800 annually in child support. Becoming a parent comes with many sacrifices and it’s an enormous responsibility that you will have to take on to ensure that your child is raised in a safe and positive environment. While making this decision, think of your needs and the best interests of your child. Listed below are questions to go over before making the choice to parent.
- Is the baby’s father willing and available to help provide care?
- How will you afford to take care of your baby?
- How will you provide for your baby’s medical care?
- Will you be able to continue your schooling or maintain a job?
- Who will provide child care when you’re away?
- Have you considered the impact to your social life or personal goals?
- Do you have a strong support system that you can rely on?
Teenage Pregnancy – Adoption
Adoption is an option for teenage women who don’t believe in or agree with abortion, or who cannot get an abortion for medical reasons but are not prepared to parent a child. Adoption can be very rewarding for you, your baby and an Adopting Family. Placing your child for adoption may seem overwhelming but if you contact an adoption professional they can guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Different parts of the process vary among states, so make sure to research your state’s laws. You have the right to be involved in every aspect of the adoption. Adoption entities will have adoptive family profiles to help you find the perfect family for your baby. If you choose, you will be able to ask the Adopting Parents questions and get to know them throughout your pregnancy. If allowed by state law, some Adopting Parents can also provide financial support for a Birth Mother’s medical and pregnancy related expenses.
Choosing to place your child with a loving family is a courageous decision and will give your child the life that you cannot offer at this time. However, you will likely experience feelings of grief, especially after the placement. These feelings are normal and not a sign that you have made the wrong decision. For many Birth Mothers, being able to have an open adoption has helped them heal. There is no one level of contact for an open adoption. Some Adoptive Parents and Birth Mothers decide that occasional photos and letter updates work best and some may decide visits on special occasions are appropriate. Whatever the level of contact is, many Birth Mothers have shared that seeing their child growing and thriving has helped to reaffirm that they made the right decision.
Teenage Pregnancy – Abortion
If you know you are not ready to parent and it’s early enough, another option to an unexpected teen pregnancy would be to end that pregnancy and, therefore, the child’s life. The immediate reaction is often relief; the unplanned pregnancy is over and you can return to your life and routines. However, many women report feelings of anger, regret, guilt or sadness after an abortion. The emotional toll of an abortion can, and often does, last for years. The emotional side effects of abortion are usually more serious than physical ones. Laws regarding abortion vary from state to state. Depending on the age of the teenager and the state they live in, it may be necessary for a parent or guardian to decide and sign for the termination of the baby. There are two different types of abortion, medical and surgical. Both must be done early in a pregnancy, up to 12 weeks from the first day of your last period. For both types of abortion, the exact cost depends on location, the facility, and timing. Planned Parenthood estimates that in the United States a medication abortion costs between $300 to $800 and a surgical abortion (in the first 12 weeks) between $300–$950. While getting an abortion is generally safe, there are some medical risks. There are some common side effects as well as some rare and more severe ones. However, serious complications arise in less than one percent of abortions. Listed below are questions to go over before making the choice to get an abortion.
- How much is it?
- Do I need parental consent?
- What are the laws about abortion in my state?
- What type of procedure do I want?
- How far along am I and how does that affect the procedure options?
- What are the risks associated with each type of procedure?
- How might I feel after the procedure physically? Emotionally?
- How might this affect me in the future?
- Is abortion the only way I can continue my schooling or other goals?
- Do I have any moral or religious objections to abortion?
If you are facing an unplanned teenage pregnancy it is important to know that you have options and to know that you are not alone. You need to take the time to carefully consider all of your options to make sure you are making the decision that is right for you, and if choosing between parenting and adoption, right for you and your baby.