1. “Where do I start?”
The first step is simply to find out what adoption agencies are in your area, and make calls to two or three requesting some information. Ask your local pregnancy resource center for referrals, look under “Adoption” in the Yellow Pages of the phone book, or contact your pastor or priest (if you have one).
Common questions and concerns about adoption:1
2. “But if I contact an adoption agency, won’t I be making a commitment to release my baby for adoption?”
No – not at all. Simply make an appointment to talk to one or more agencies that interest you. When you meet with a staff member from the agency, ask them to explain what the different adoption “options” are, what the process is, and how they screen prospective adoptive parents. Ask all the questions you need to. The truth is that the more information you get (no matter what you decide in the end), the more likely you are to make the right decision.
3. “If I release my baby for adoption, people will talk.”
So, what else is new? If you survived middle school (and most of us did), you know that the happiest people are those who learn to tune out the people with flapping mouths, and do what they know is best for them. Since people are going to talk no matter what, give them something admirable to talk about – make it clear you chose to think of your baby’s best interests!
4. “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 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.
With approximately 40 qualified couples waiting for every baby available, you can be quite selective about the parents you pick for your child; and you can get to know them personally before making a decision. Also, in many cases, adoption plans include financial assistance with your prenatal and childbirth expenses. Secondly, most adoptive parents come from a middle-class to upper-middle-class socioeconomic background and, therefore, can provide your baby with the security and advantages that children raised by single mothers often lack.
As an unmarried mother in the 21st century, you have a great advantage over women who released babies for adoption in previous eras. Now, with the prevalence of open adoptions (if that’s what you desire), you not only can choose your baby’s adoptive parents, you can get to know them and stay informed about where (and how) your baby is. Depending on the specific arrangement that you and the adoptive parents agree to, you can have varying degrees of news and contact as your baby grows up. In the meantime, you can be getting on with your life without the major commitment of time and money required to responsibly raise a child to adulthood.
5. “My parents disapprove of adoption. They say they’ll help me raise the baby.”
As wonderful as your parents may be (or not be), they’re not the ones who will pay the ultimate price for rearing your baby. They undoubtedly have their own parenting flaws and may actually be relieved if you make a decision that “gives you back your life” while preserving the life of your baby. Moreover, there aren’t very many middle-aged parents who want to go through the entire process of child-rearing again! Ultimately, however, remember this: You are the mother of this baby, and it is you – not your parents, friends or the baby’s father – who should make the final decision.
6. “If I keep my baby, maybe my baby’s father will…(marry me, stay with me, come back).”
Sorry, but babies RARELY have that effect on guys…especially guys who have sex with you before saying “I do.”2
Moreover, it’s not a baby’s job to turn some guy who’s possibly self-centered, immature and irresponsible into your ideal partner.
Statistically, you’re much more likely to meet and marry Mr. Right later on (and avoid another out-of-wedlock pregnancy) if you release your baby to loving adoptive parents than you are if you choose single motherhood.
Adrianne's story is featured at: www.bravelove.org
7. “I could never give up my baby.”
The majority of young women in your situation feel the same way initially. However, rarely does an unmarried pregnant woman stop to consider the tremendous cost and responsibility of choosing single motherhood. Successful child-rearing, while greatly rewarding, is also very demanding, even for two-parent families. It requires a great deal of time, self-sacrifice and financial expense. Almost without exception, birth mothers who choose an adoptive family for their baby later say it was the right decision. Yes, you will experience some grief temporarily, but you will be supported by caring counselors and the knowledge that you made the best decision for your baby.
8. “Neither option sounds easy. Abortion would be easier.”
You’re right about one thing: There are no “easy outs” in this situation. However, one of the biggest lies ever is that abortion is an “easy solution.” It’s anything but easy for your baby, and you will suffer emotional consequences;3 research shows that post-abortive women are much more likely to experience infertility, future pregnancy complications and various kinds of cancer later in life.4
Some Final Thoughts
Keep in mind who’s most important here. The one truly helpless, innocent person in this situation is your baby. Your child needs you to act responsibly and unselfishly in this situation – which means not rushing into a quick decision based on current emotions, loneliness and sentimentality. The truth is that single mothers often wish they had chosen adoption after only a few months of caring for their child. Therefore, you’ll want to gather information on adoption vs. single motherhood and get input from people you respect (preferably, people who are already parents).
The “realities of life” and statistics make it clear that adoption is the best choice for most single mothers and their babies. Whether or not you choose adoption, however, the organization or ministry that provided this brochure wants to encourage and support you in any way it can. There are people who truly care about you and your baby… you are not alone!
1.Adapted from: “Ten reasons Clients Give for Not Choosing Adoption: Adoption from an Adoptive Mother’s Perspective, “ Cindy Hildebrand, Heartlink, November 2000.
2.Julie Parton, Heartlink, November 2000
4.J.R. Daling, et al., “Risk of Breast Cancer Among Young Women; Relationship to Induced Abortion,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 86, November 1994; Bill Bell Jr. and Deborah L. Shelton, “Abortion Bill Would Require That Patients Get Cancer Warning,” St. Louis Post Dispatch, February 9, 2001.
5.Lutherans for Life, “Adoption Facts and Fallacies,” www.lutheransforlife.org/adoption/10-05-00.
6.“The one factor that most clearly determines the well-being and future success of children is wheter or not they grew up with a father in the home.” (World Magazine, May 17-24, 1997).
7.Marie J. Howe (pseudonym), The Adoption Factbook, p. 306.
8.Curtis Young, “Adoption Counseling in Pregnancy Resource Centers,” Heartlink, January 2001.
9.Curtis Young, The Missing Piece: Adoption Counseling in Pregnancy Resource Centers (Washington, D.C.: Family Research Council, 2000).
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. It was about her. It was about what I could give her: a family, stability, a chance for a future.”7
In your current situation, you not only have the opportunity to do the same thing for your baby, but you can fulfill the dreams of a carefully-chosen couple who have been longing for a child. Here’s a great statement that says it all:
“Adoption is not a breaking of trust but a keeping of faith, not an abdication of responsibility but an act of redemption, not the abandonment of a baby but an abandonment of self for a baby’s sake.”
Here are some facts you should consider during this important decision-making process:
• Statistically, adopted children have stronger identities and self-esteem than children raised by single mothers.5
• Making an adoption plan will give you a second chance.
In all probability, your baby’s father is experiencing few – if any – consequences for his irresponsibility. Should you choose single motherhood, statistics indicate that not only is your child likely to experience a deprived and stressful childhood,6 but your life will never be the same. The realities of single motherhood mean that your opportunities for dating, marriage, higher education, good jobs and a comfortable standard of living may be severely limited.
• Adoption is truly a heroic act – an act of love.
In most cases, adoption is the most loving and unselfish decision an unmarried, expectant mother can make. You see, love is not primarily an emotion (even though most of us have picked up a different message). Love is taking action in the best interests of another person or persons, regardless of one’s emotional feelings.
• Adoption saves your child from the all-too-frequent damage that comes from being raised in a fatherless home.
o Children in families without fathers are five times more likely to grow up in poverty.
o Children in families without fathers are three to four times more likely to commit suicide.
o Children in families without fathers are two to three times more likely to abuse drugs.
o Seventy percent of long-term inmates grew up fatherless.
o Girls without a father in the home are more likely to get pregnant before marriage.