It’s one of the most difficult decisions a woman with an unexpected pregnancy can face: whether to keep the baby or to place the child for adoption. Most women in this situation have already decided to carry the baby to term, and are trying to figure out what the best option is once the baby is born.
And, as much as it is a deeply emotional decision, it should also be a pragmatic one, one that considers both the short and long-term effects. Here are some important aspects to consider.
- Are you financially able to raise a child? Babies and children are expensive. It costs an average of $245,000 to take care of a child up to age 18, not including college tuition. Some birth parents, recognizing that they are unable to financially provide for the baby, find that adoption ultimately provides the baby with more lifelong opportunities.
- Do you have a realistic action plan for either decision–keeping or placing your child? If you plan to keep the baby, have you determined where you’ll live and what you’ll do for childcare? Will you have to quit school or work, or rely on someone for financial support? Do you have the support of family and friends? What changes will you need to make to your lifestyle to accommodate a baby, and are you prepared for those adjustments?If you are considering placing your child for adoption, have you looked at the different types of arrangements in your state, i.e. open, closed, to see which one you are most comfortable with? Have you talked with an adoption lawyer to find out what your options are, including how much say you have in the adoption process?
- Do you have any automatic emotional reactions that make one option seem impossible? Some birth parents feel the idea of “giving up” a baby makes them seem unloving. However, many adoptive parents will vouch that placing a child with a nurturing family is one of the most loving things a person can do. The stigma associated with unplanned pregnancy, adoption and single parenting is diminishing, which gives you the flexibility to make the best decision for you and the child; not based on society’s expectations.
- How will either decision affect you, even years from now? This is both an emotional and a pragmatic question. Logistically, keeping a baby may mean the end—or at least the delay of your education, or moving back home with your parents while you raise your child. Will you resent these sacrifices? On the other hand, what will it mean for you if your place the baby with a family—will you be satisfied with the amount of contact you have, based on your agreement? Will your child be happy with their adoptive family? Will you tell any current or future children about their adopted sibling? How will you feel if they want to meet, or don’t want to? Will the child want to meet you—or not, and how do you feel about that?
Deciding whether to raise a child yourself or choose an adoptive family is undoubtedly tough. But the right decision—the one that provides the best future for that baby…that child…that teenager…that adult—comes not only from your gut and your heart, but most importantly, from your head.
If you would like to talk with someone to explore your options, please contact A Child’s Hope. Our compassionate counselors can provide the support you need to make the best decision. Call our 24 hour hotline at 877-890-4673, or visit our website, A Child’s Hope.