Finding yourself pregnant when it hasn’t been hoped for or expected can throw a woman into a tailspin. Sometimes she doesn’t even have enough information to know what questions to ask. And so, in a state of confusion, this mother-to-be tries to move forward but often feels like she’s spinning her wheels. Following are some starting points and some resources that will help organize the chaos that you’re currently experiencing:
Options: You’ve decided to continue your pregnancy and give your child life. But that doesn’t mean you’re finished making decisions. Will you parent or will you place your child for adoption?
There are many non-profit as well as for-profit groups who are able to assist you in making a choice without you having to pay a penny. These include, but are not limited to, crisis pregnancy center;, no- or low-cost counseling programs offered by organizations like Bethany Christian Services, LDS Family Services, and Catholic Charities; and adoption agencies like Adoption.org.
There are also a wide variety of forums and groups with members who have been (or currently are) in your situation. Once you get started with a group, forum members are the best sources for referring other groups. The Option Line is another good place to start. You can chat online or over the phone at any time of night or day, any day of the week!
Support: While working on a decision, it helps so much to get positive feedback and to feel truly supported—even if you make a choice that’s unpopular with your family or close friends. Sometimes that support comes best from strangers—people who will become your friends! Consider joining a support group right away. Support groups can be found on Facebook, on adoption websites, and through agencies or adoption attorneys. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations!
FINANCIAL, MEDICAL, AND NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): This is a government program that will help pregnant women not only pay for the basics such as housing, food, and clothing, but also assists in preparing for and finding employment. There are eligibility requirements that must be met, but typically, pregnant women who are without other resources will qualify for and receive assistance quickly. To apply, you must contact the office in your state.
Medicaid: Administered state by state, this program will help you receive the medical care you and your baby need. Eligibility requirements must be met, but generally, pregnant women with a lower income and fewer resources will qualify. Contact your state Medicaid office to schedule an appointment.
State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): If you make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to purchase insurance, this program may bridge the gap for you. This is a program merging state and federal governments to help those who don’t fit into the income bracket for other programs. It will provide health insurance for children under the age of 19. To see if you qualify, contact the Benefits office.
Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC): This is a nutritional program that has a pretty broad eligibility range. At present, to qualify, a pregnant woman’s income must fit within 185% of the poverty income guidelines. If you qualify for Medicaid, you are automatically approved for WIC. This program will be available to you throughout your pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum. The program provides nutritional instruction and pays for specific healthy foods. This is done by issuing checks or debit-type cards to the recipient which can then be used at most grocery stores for specific food items. Contact your local WIC office to apply.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This used to be known as the Food Stamp Program and offers nutritional assistance by providing eligible recipients with debit cards to purchase groceries. This program is not as strict in the types of food that can be purchased as WIC is. It is also not as generous in the eligibility guidelines. To be eligible, one’s income must be very close to the poverty guidelines. To apply, contact your state SNAP office.
Other Government Benefits: Depending on the state in which you live, you may be eligible for other benefits. Peruse this government Benefits Website to see what is offered in your state.
Additionally, Eligibility.com offers a simple way to determine your eligibility for benefits such as unemployment insurance, social security disability, pell grants, scholarships, and more.
Once you’re on the road to being taken care of financially, medically, and nutritionally, you’ll be in a better place to make the decision to parent or place. There are still difficult decisions to make, but your life will feel more organized with you a little bit in control. Remember, you’re bringing a beautiful new life into this world, and that is a miracle. So take care of yourself, and both you and your baby will benefit.