Unplanned Pregnancy Options Guide

Things to think about when you're unexpectedly expecting.

Facing an unplanned pregnancy can be difficult and emotional. I so wish I could somehow personally reach out and hug any and all who are reading this. I have been there. I know how hard, scary, and confusing it can be– but hopefully this guide can help you better understand your options.

 

Since you’re here, you’re likely researching the options that are available to you. If you’re pregnant, there are a lot of things to consider during this time. Arming yourself with information about your options is the first step in empowering yourself to make an informed and well-thought-out decision regarding your future– and the future of your unborn baby.

 

At this point, you might be considering parenting, adoption, or abortion. It’s important that you carefully consider each of these choices for you and your baby. We’re here to help you explore the adoption option.

 

Section 1: Why Adoption?
1. Section 1: Why Adoption?
No one can tell you why or why not adoption may be an option for you and your child. This decision is completely yours to make.

No one can tell you why or why not adoption may be an option for you and your child. This decision is completely yours to make. Make sure you consider all of your options and the outcome that each may or may not have on you and your child.

The decision of placing your child for adoption is obviously not an easy one. But in some situations, it is what the mother sees as the best option.

We are here to educate you on the option of adoption and provide you with resources that will help you make an informed decision.

Some things you may want to consider while making your decision are:

Financial stability
Child care
Parental involvement
Home environment
Your future plans
What you want for your child’s future

Every situation is so unique and different. We cannot make a set list of “reasons why you should place”. There are so many things that play into this difficult decision along with so many emotions.
Section 2: Learn About Adoption
2. Section 2: Learn About Adoption
What is adoption?

Our goal is to make sure you are informed and educated about your decision.

This section will help you better understand what adoption could look like for you and your child's future.
 Explore Open Adoption
3. Explore Open Adoption
Adoption can give you the opportunity to create a relationship with your child’s adoptive parents, a relationship based on mutual respect and love.

Adoption has evolved over the years into something much different than what it once was. You may have heard horror stories of a young girl whisked away to live on a farm and deliver her child, just to be taken back to her day-to-day life, where she was expected to never speak of it again. Fortunately, that is not what has to happen any more.

Adoption can be a very beautiful and respected mutual agreement between two parties. As a placing mother, you have the opportunity to be involved in your child’s life to whatever degree you decide you are comfortable with.

Adoption can give you the opportunity to create a relationship with your child’s adoptive parents, a relationship based on mutual respect and love. This open adoption relationship can add a beautiful dimension to adoption that was missing in previous generations.
Make Connections
4. Make Connections
Sometimes the best way to learn about something is to hear about it from people who have been there, done that. Connecting with other men and women who have also faced this decision can be very helpful. Not only in making the decision, but in knowing that you are far from alone in this. Search out others who can relate and support you during this difficult time.

You can click here to read more stories on our website from individuals who have placed their children for adoption.

You can also click here to connect with birth mothers in our forums.

Don’t forget that you can find support through professional counseling in one-on-one or group settings. (More on that later!)
Research Adoption Laws
5. Research Adoption Laws
One of the first steps you'll want to take when considering adoption is to learn more about the process and laws in your state. Adoption laws vary by state and can be drastically different as you cross state lines. Some of the things you might be interested in researching are your state's position on post-placement contact agreements, allowable expenses, and the use of adoption professionals.

Learn more about the laws in your state.
Understand Grief, Loss, and Healing
6. Understand Grief, Loss, and Healing
We are not here to make up your mind for you and we are certainly not here to tell you that adoption will be an easy solution to the situation you have found yourself in. Understand that there is no easy solution to an unplanned pregnancy. This is a very difficult position to be in.

Adoption, even when it is open and you have contact with your child, is still a great loss. When considering adoption, it is important to not be naive to the grief that placing your child will create.

Adoption is the act of relinquishing all parental rights to another. It is a very serious and, at times, painful choice. If you decide that open adoption is right for you and your baby, you will have the opportunity to watch them grow and thrive in a loving home that you hand-select for them, but with that joy, there will be pain.

There are amazing communities to help you through this loss. Women who have made this decision regardless of what pain it may cause them. If you do decide to place your child for adoption, seek out these communities. Allow others to help support and lift you up in the difficult moments.

“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength” - Oprah Winfrey
Section 3: Seek Professional Help
7. Section 3: Seek Professional Help
You are not in this alone! There are so many different avenues you can take to find the support and love you need during your pregnancy and decision making process. Do not be afraid to reach out!
Counseling
8. Counseling
Seek out a professional with whom you feel comfortable sharing your emotions. Having an unbiased party to talk things over with can make a huge difference in your decision-making process!

A counselor can help you process and work through some of the strong emotions you are probably experiencing. They can help you understand the reasons behind the emotions and how to best handle them.
Adoption Agencies
9. Adoption Agencies
Adoption agencies can be a very good resource for anyone who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.

They can answer questions you may have regarding laws in your state and how the adoption process works.

Agencies employ professionals who are there to help you in the decision-making process, not just after you have made your decision. Make sure you take advantage of these services.

To find a service provider near you, check our our directory with reviews.
Adoption Attorneys
10. Adoption Attorneys
Perhaps you do not feel like an adoption agency is the right fit for you; adoption attorneys are also a resource that is available to you.

Along with all the emotions and connections that are involved in this life-long and life-changing decision, adoption is also a legal agreement between you and the adoptive couple. Adoption agencies have attorneys that work with them to help all the paperwork get in the right places and ensure that all the laws governing adoption in your state are being adhered to.

If an adoption agency is not right for you, you will still need legal representation to protect your best interests and that of your child. It is common for the adoptive parents to pay for your attorney fees if you are not using an agency.

Check out our directory with reviews to find an adoption attorney in your area.
Section 4: Let’s Talk About Money
11. Section 4: Let’s Talk About Money
This section will help you understand what adoption can mean for your financial stability during your pregnancy and potential placement of your child.
Will it cost me money to place my baby for adoption?
12. Will it cost me money to place my baby for adoption?
Absolutely not! Making an adoption plan for your child is completely free.

All legal fees surrounding the adoption process will be taken care of by the Adoptive Family. These fees will not be your responsibility to pay.

Your prenatal and hospital care will also be paid for. This is something you will discuss with either the adoption agency, adoption attorney, or adoptive couple to coordinate.
Housing Options
13. Housing Options
Some women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy find themselves in a living situation where they do not feel safe and supported. If this sounds like you, know that there are housing options available to you.

Contact an adoption professional for more information about birth mother housing.
Pass-Through Expenses
14. Pass-Through Expenses
You may have financial needs during and after pregnancy. It's common for parents with a plan to place their child for adoption to receive some financial support related to the pregnancy.

Laws vary by state on how much one can receive and what kind of financial support can be given but you can share your specific needs such as food, shelter and medical needs with your agency, an attorney, or the adoptive parents. A plan to take care of your basic needs that is legal and ethical can be made to ensure a safe pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery experience.
Section 5: So, You’re Pregnant.
15. Section 5: So, You’re Pregnant.
So, you’re pregnant. Trust me, I know how hard those words can be to hear. This section will walk you through some steps you will want to take now that your pregnancy is confirmed. We will also discuss some of the emotions you may be dealing with and provide you with some useful tools and resources.
Finding an Amazing Obstetrician
16. Finding an Amazing Obstetrician
Lets face it: None of us really enjoy going to an obstetrician. That said, finding a good doctor is necessary for your health and your baby’s health. Prenatal care is very important, and the sooner you receive it, the better!

Do not hesitate to find a doctor because of your situation. It is not something to be ashamed of. Let them know your plans, goals, and hopes for the pregnancy and what is to come after.

Find a doctor who can be respectful of your situation and support you in whatever decision you make. If you don’t feel that your doctor is supportive and helpful, don’t hesitate to switch practitioners.

Keep them informed throughout the pregnancy so that they can make sure you are receiving the care you need.
Emotions You May Be Experiencing
17. Emotions You May Be Experiencing
This is obviously a very emotional time. You may be experiencing fear, shame, anger, sadness, confusion, and even excitement.

Do not discredit any emotion you may be feeling. These are valid emotions that you will probably continue to feel on different levels throughout your pregnancy and decision-making process. It’s okay to be emotional. Seek out support from others and professionals as often as possible.
Pregnancy Things You Can Do on Adoption.com
18. Pregnancy Things You Can Do on Adoption.com
You can calculate your due date and read weekly updates about your baby’s development and what you may be experiencing right now.
Section 6: Finding the Perfect Family for Your Baby
19. Section 6: Finding the Perfect Family for Your Baby
If you do decide that adoption may be a good option for you and your baby, there are some steps that you will want to take. First, finding a good “match” for you and your baby. We say “match” because this is not just finding a family that will give your child a good life-- there are plenty of those. This section is about finding a family that will have all the qualities you are looking for in a family for your child-- and also a family that you feel comfortable with. This will be a life-long relationship and we encourage you to move forward with a family you feel a connection to and bond with.
 Look at information about potential adoptive parents.
20. Look at information about potential adoptive parents.
There are so many amazing families out there who are hoping to adopt, and you have the opportunity to hand-select a family that matches what you are looking for.

You may receive pressure from family or friends to select a family that they personally know which can be a great avenue to finding a family, but also make sure that you are not selecting a family out of obligation. This is your child’s future and you are allowed to be as picky as you want!

Something that was helpful to me was to make a list of what I was looking for and what I wanted for my childs future. I then based my search on those qualities. Every birth mom is different though. You may base your search completely on your feelings, or on pictures, or on religious references. Whatever it may be, make sure you find a family that respects you and your decision, and is committed to maintaining a lifelong relationship with you.

Looking at the families listed on Adoption.com Parent Profiles℠ is a great place to start.
Building the Relationship
21. Building the Relationship
Once you have selected a family, you will have the opportunity to get to know them and build a relationship.

They will be just as eager to get to know you as you are to get to know them. You can start building this relationship in whatever way you feel most comfortable. You may want to start with something small like emails or letters and from there, slowly work into phone calls or a face-to-face meeting.

Remember that the ball is in your court. Move as slowly as you need and feel free to ask the family whatever questions you may have. This is a great way to build that connection and make sure the family is a right fit for you and your child.
Preparing for Openness
22. Preparing for Openness
Once you have started to build a relationship with the potential adoptive family, you can start discussions about how open you want the adoption to be.

Make sure you are vocal about your needs and wants. Open communication and honesty is necessary in an open adoption. Your “adoption plan” may evolve over time and change, but now is your time to let the family know what you need and want from this new relationship.

The level of openness is often classified in three categories, however, you can make your own adoption plan that fits what you and the adoptive family are looking for. The 3 levels are usually classified as follows:

Closed: No contact
Semi-Open: Pictures & updates through letters/emails
Open: Frequent Pictures, Updates through letters/emails, and visits

Remember, every open adoption is completely different. Do not feel like you need to fit your adoption into any certain mold. Move forward with what feels comfortable to you and the adoptive family. Like I said, It may change and evolve as time goes on, so keep the lines of communication open!
Section 7: Birth, Placement, and Beyond
23. Section 7: Birth, Placement, and Beyond
The day has come, the day to bring your child into the world! This is a very overwhelming and unknown time for every mother, not just ones facing an unplanned pregnancy. This section will help you better understand what that day may look like and how to better prepare yourself for it.
Making a Birth Plan
24. Making a Birth Plan
Make a birth plan! This can be a great tool to receive the support you need during labor and delivery of your child.

Make sure your doctor, social worker/case worker, and support system are all aware of your birth plan and bring it to the hospital with you when it’s time. Having this birth plan in place can help everyone involved better understand your situation and what you need from each person.

Support is key! Make sure that you have positive people surrounding you who respect your birth plan and will help you have the experience you want.

Consider how much involvement you would like the adoptive family to have in your birth and include this in your birth plan. This can be something you discuss with them, but ultimately, their involvement in the birth is completely up to you and what you are comfortable with. Let them know ahead of time what your birth plan is and what they can do to support you.
After the Birth/Before Placement
25. After the Birth/Before Placement
After you have given birth to your baby, you will have a window of time before you are able to sign any legal paperwork. Your child will legally be yours until after relinquishment paperwork is signed.

Take this very precious time to bond with your new child. During this time, the involvement of the potential adoptive family is completely up to you. You can involve them as much or as little as you would like. This is your time. Make sure you are being open and honest about your wants and needs.

This will obviously be a very difficult time for you. Surround yourself with people who will support you in any decision that you make.

You are not legally obligated to sign relinquishment paperwork until you feel that you are ready. Take your time, ask questions, seek out help when needed, and only move forward with signing relinquishment paperwork if and when you are comfortable with it.
After Placement
26. After Placement
If you do decide to sign relinquishment paperwork, this will be an extremely difficult day. You will experience a large range of emotion. You will be happy for the adoptive family, but you will be grieving your loss as well.

You are not expected to go back to life as normal! Take time to heal physically and emotionally, seek out help when needed, allow yourself time to grieve, find comfort in those who support you, and reach out to others who can relate to the emotions you are experiencing.

You will be experiencing a great loss, but reminding yourself of why you made this decision and what it means for you child can help. Pictures, updates, and visit with the adoptive family can also be very helpful while you are working through these emotions. Make sure the adoptive family is aware of how you are feeling and what you need.

Mothers hold their children’s hands for just a little while, and their hearts forever. – Irish Proverb
Nurturing the Open Adoption Relationship
27. Nurturing the Open Adoption Relationship
Now that birth and placement of your child has taken place, you can begin your open adoption relationship that you had previously discussed with the Adoptive Family.

COMMUNICATION is key here! Both sides need to make sure they are being completely open about how they are feeling. If something is upsetting to you, let the adoptive family know. If they come to you with a concern or request, be open to it!

An open adoption relationship is no different than any other relationship. It requires communication, trust, and love.

This not an “agreement,” this is a relationship. By nurturing this relationship, you will become like an extended family. Your child will always know you, love you, and understand why you made the choice that you did.
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