“You’re pregnant?!” Somehow he makes the word sound like a curse, an insult, and an accusation all at once. “What the hell? You were supposed to be using birth control! How could you do this to me?!” You back out of the room, unsurprised but still disappointed in his response. Nothing in his behavior to this point screamed “father material”, so you didn’t think he’d handle it gracefully. How could you do this to him? What about the condom he insisted he didn’t need to wear? What about his insistence that you were too moody on the last birth control so you had to switch? How did this thing that you were doing together become something you did to him? You leave the apartment and get into your car. So now what? Is this a crisis? Is this what they mean by “Crisis Pregnancy”? Is it a crisis?
If you’re a teen and your parents are having loud, angry fights about you and your baby, who to blame, and what to do, you need to know that your crisis pregnancy isn’t the crisis. Your pregnancy is a symptom of a bigger problem in your family. There is damage in the parent/child relationship, and you have to understand that even if they say it is, your parents fighting isn’t about you. It’s about how they are feeling about it. You are at the center of their very big emotions for good reason. You’re important and special and you make up a large portion of your parents’ mental space. Please understand that if you are in crisis and your parents are making it worse and not better, you will need outside help. If you are in danger, you owe it to yourself and your baby to search for help. You owe it to yourself to not beat yourself up but seek out counseling. Reach out to a youth leader, a pastor, or a trusted parent of a friend. If your parents can’t or won’t help you, there is help to be found.
You’re an older mom who was looking forward to an empty nest and is now staring down another 20 years of raising another young person. This wasn’t what you imagined. You had imagined cruises and vacations, not diaper changes and late-night feedings. You did your time. You thought it was menopause… There’s hope for your future. If you don’t think you can parent, it isn’t just 15-year-old girls who consider adoption for their children. Better for your child to grow up wanted and away from you than resented every day for the next 20 years. You have decisions to make but you can make them with help.
Here’s the thing. What is a crisis? It is defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger, or a time when a difficult or important decision must be made. So, strictly speaking, if you weren’t expecting or desiring to be pregnant, yes. It absolutely can be considered a crisis. However, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Being single or unmarried and pregnant today carries a significantly smaller social stigma than it did even a generation ago. Single mothers are more and more frequently accommodated in the workplace and supported in the community. So yes, while technically the answer to the question of, “Crisis Pregnancy: Is it a Crisis?” is yes, your response doesn’t need to be a panic response.
How do we take an unexpected, potentially unwanted pregnancy from being a crisis situation to an “I’ve got this” situation? Here’s a checklist to get you started on that path:
- Do you have a place to stay?
- If yes, will you be safe there?
- If not, can you find someone to stay with temporarily?
- If you have a baby and need time to heal and bond?
- If yes, do you know for how long?
- If not, do you have some ideas?
- Do you have a support network?
- Who can you call in an emergency?
Now probably constitutes an emergency if your guy is freaking out at you. Give them a call.
- Who can you call just because?
- You might give them a call and get some emotional support.
- Do you attend a church?
- Do you have a small group that can wrap around you?
- Do you feel confident that they will help you down the road?
- Do you have a doctor?
- Do you feel comfortable going to them for OB/GYN needs, or do you need to find a different doctor?
- Will you continue to see them postpartum?
If you can’t confidently answer yes to any of those questions, raising your child on your own can be significantly more difficult but not impossible. You may want to consider your options from here. Some to think about are adoption or moving into a maternity home that can help you get on your feet so you can parent yourself. Luckily for you, there are a lot of options. Unluckily for you, there are a lot of options. It’s kind of a double-edged sword thing. If you’re like me and get overwhelmed by choices, you may want to have some specific ideas in mind before you put search terms in ye olde search engine. For instance:
- Maternity homes that have on-site job training
- Maternity homes that offer after birth care for x number of months
- Maternity homes not affiliated with adoption agencies
- Maternity homes affiliated with adoption agencies
- Adoption agencies that are faith-based
- Adoption agencies that are not faith-based
- Adoption agencies that offer quality, long term counseling options
- Adoption agencies that are birth mother focused
- Adoption agencies that offer connections with other birth mothers.
- Adoption agencies that are 100% open adoption
- Adoption agencies that are not 100% open adoption
- Adoption agencies in your state
- Adoption agencies in a specific state you’d like to live in
Even narrowing it down a little bit can make some of the decisions slightly less overwhelming. I sometimes create separate spreadsheets or lists to further narrow down my choices. I like lists. Maybe you’re more of a “leave it to God” kind of gal. I am too, but I like the illusion of control. Be aware that some agencies pay for ad space and will therefore be the first response to your search terms even if they aren’t the best option or don’t totally meet your search terms.
Crisis Pregnancy: Is it a crisis? Still, kind of. Have you decided what you might like to do? I can’t quite imagine being in the position you are in. That’s not a holier-than-thou statement, it’s an “I’m infertile” statement. Like, I literally can’t imagine becoming pregnant by accident. So, there’s that. I don’t know what you’re feeling. You may be happy, overwhelmed, scared, angry, betrayed, excited, frustrated, all or none of the above. You may not actually know how you feel right now. Maybe it’s too early. Maybe you were raised a certain way and now you’re confused. Do you feel ashamed? I can’t tell you not to feel what you feel but I hope you don’t feel ashamed. People can be judgey and awful sometimes, but there are people who want to support and help you if you can reach out and let them know you need it.
While your ideal might not be living with a bunch of other pregnant women, maternity homes are actually a really nice solution to the immediate issues surrounding a crisis pregnancy situation. If you’re feeling the immediate strain in family relationships, you can move away from that drama into your own space. If you don’t have a support network, a maternity home comes with one built-in. If you need some time to decide if you’d like to parent yourself or choose adoption, you’ve got time to see both situations play out for other women in a similar situation.
The question of “Crisis Pregnancy: is it a crisis?” is still on your mind. You don’t have to know right now what you’re going to do. You have some time to decide. You have time to make informed choices for yourself and your baby. If the father of your baby is being difficult, you may need to immediately decide if you’re changing your living arrangements. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a domestic violence counselor. They may be able to offer some immediate help for your current situation. If things get violent or dangerous, don’t be afraid to call the police.
You might be guessing that I’ll suggest you place your baby for adoption. I won’t lie. I love adoption. I think it can be a beautiful imperfect solution to a complicated problem. As an adoptive mom, no matter how upset I am with my kids’ biological parents, I am always thankful they chose life for these wonderful kids. My kids are adopted from foster care. They were placed there from abusive situations. Their situation could have been wildly different if their birth parents had support during their pregnancies instead of feeling like they had to parent in isolation. If my children’s birth parents had been supported emotionally, physically, and spiritually, their lives would have been tremendously different. I wouldn’t have my kids, but I’d rather them have happy, healthy lives with their birth families than living through the trauma they did that had them placed with me. So, If you think your crisis pregnancy is a crisis, and you feel strongly that you can’t parent on your own, yes, I absolutely hope you choose adoption. However, if you think that with some support you can parent yourself within a community, I think that is the best choice.
If you do choose adoption, know that you have a lot of say in how that goes. You are able to choose from hundreds of adoption profiles. Those people are praying and hoping every day for a baby to add to their family. Your crisis could end up being their dream come true if you so choose it. Thousands of smiling faces staring at you from adoption profile books are pleading for you to choose them. They want you to be the birth mom to their adopted child. They want to support you and love you while they raise your child to love you and them both.
You’ll need to decide what type of agency you’d like to work through. Many are faith-based, but if that isn’t your thing, there are also many that are secular and care just as much about all parts of the adoption triad. Choosing one can be a daunting task, but once you’ve decided, then they will wrap around you to help you throughout your pregnancy.
Back to our birth father at the top. He is out of line. He isn’t saying good things. I understand he’s in shock, but there is no excuse to be a jerk. If he’s that way with you, a rational, adult human, I cannot imagine what will happen when a baby is crying and can’t be consoled. Babies are the definition of irrational human beings. They do not care or understand that you need sleep to function. Their diapers are wet and they are hungry. They don’t care that it’s 2 a.m. Get out of the situation before you find yourself in an even worse one.
So, “Crisis Pregnancy, is it a crisis?” Yes, but with some planning, prayer, and proactive actions on your part, it doesn’t have to be an ongoing, elaborate crisis. Your lives will be forever changed whatever choice you make, and that’s okay. That’s the nature of life. Change is the natural marching forward of life and progress. You can do this. You are capable of finding the best choices for yourself and your baby.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.