When I told my parents I was pregnant, I was terrified of their response. Would they be angry? Disappointed? Would they even want anything to do with me? Telling them I was pregnant was almost as scary as finding out I was pregnant. But it didn’t need to be. I was met with love and support instead of anger and punishment. Since that day, my relationship with my parents has blossomed into a friendship that never could have existed without their unconditional love.
“I’m pregnant.” Under different circumstances, these words would elicit joyful congratulations, but coming from our unwed 17-year-old daughter they elicited very different emotions, including fear for both her and the baby. What would the future hold for each of them?
Thus my husband and I began an unexpected journey, one we admittedly wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves, yet one that has brought profound personal growth and insight.
If you are the parent of a child who is considering placing a baby for adoption, there are surprisingly few resources available for you. Here is some advice for parents based on our family’s experience aimed at helping you to both preserve and strengthen your relationship with your child as well as to help your child make a mature decision as to what will be best for the baby.
First and foremost, remember this decision is not yours to make. You are not the baby’s parent, and a decision to place a baby for adoption is a parental decision. Your child needs your unconditional love and support. Model positive parenting and be a sounding board and shoulder to cry on. Express your love for both your child and unborn grandchild often.
What NOT to do:
Rush the decision-making process.
Offer unsolicited advice.
Pressure your child to decide one way or another.
Remind your child of your own pain.
Express confidence in your child.
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Be available emotionally and intellectually.
Help your child examine the options of parenting and placing as objectively as possible while taking all pertinent circumstances into consideration.
Share your pain with your spouse or close friends.
Regardless of whether your child ultimately decides to parent or place, there is bound to be a certain amount of second-guessing. Having thoughtfully explored various scenarios will help you and your child find peace with the decision.
If your child is firm in the decision to place the baby, be supportive but not directive in selecting an adoptive family. If your child is comfortable with it, meet with the family and get to know them. Be involved to whatever extent circumstances allow.
I was fortunate to be able to coach my daughter through labor and delivery as well as be at her side, along with my husband, both when she signed the papers relinquishing her parental rights to Baby R and then placed that precious little girl in her new parents’ arms. As painful as these experiences were, they were also filled with the united love we all felt for the beautiful new life that had entered the world.
Our adoption journey is ongoing and not without its bumps in the road. I hesitate to put too rosy a face on it for others facing this difficult decision, but I also want you to know that there is hope.