If you are a friend or family member of a pregnant woman struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, you naturally feel concerned for her health and the health of her baby. Using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco during pregnancy carries many risks, as it exposes a developing fetus to the substance. Here are some things you or any pregnant woman who struggles with addiction should know about pregnancy and addiction.
What are the risks of addiction during pregnancy?
If you or your friend is in an unexpected pregnancy and struggles with addiction, there are legitimate reasons for concern. Using drugs, alcohol, or smoking while pregnant can put you and your baby at risk. Smoking cigarettes or marijuana during pregnancy can increase the risk for:
- Infant mortality
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Respiratory problems
- Slowed growth in baby
- Low birth weight
Research shows that besides these risks, babies born to addicted mothers are at a greater risk for seizures, feeding problems, and even death.
Can I place my baby for adoption if I’m addicted?
Even if you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol and pregnant, you can still choose adoption for your baby. Many adoptive families are qualified and educated on raising a child who has been exposed to drugs and alcohol.
Remember, no one will judge you for being in this situation. It can happen to anyone. Here at Lifetime Adoption Center, our professional adoption coordinators have experience helping expectant mothers with adoption. They won’t judge you but will help you make the best choice for yourself and your child.
What is the Adoption Process?
If you’re pregnant and suspect you’re addicted but still feel like adoption is the best choice for you and your baby, you can get help right away. Here are the steps to get you started.
1. Contact Lifetime Adoption
Lifetime is available 24/7 by calling or texting 1-800-923-6784. When you contact Lifetime, we will help you get connected to an Adoption Coordinator. She will be your point of contact and walk you through your entire pregnancy and the adoption process. Your Adoption Coordinator will help you as you create an adoption plan, fill out paperwork, and choose adoptive parents.
2. Be Honest
It would help if you were totally honest with your Adoption Coordinator about your addiction. It’s a judgment-free zone with her, so tell her what you’ve taken and how long you’ve been on it. It’s never a good idea to keep your substance abuse a secret because you and your child deserve the best possible care.
If you need medical care, your Adoption Coordinator can help you contact a doctor or connect you to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA’s National Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
SAMHSA is a 24/7 information service that’s open every day of the year. They serve those facing mental health or substance abuse issues. In addition, they can refer you to local treatment, support groups, and community organizations that can help you.
As you get the medical and emotional help you need, your Adoption Coordinator will begin to find the right adoptive family for your baby. There are no restrictions or requirements to stop you from placing your baby for adoption because of your drug usage.
3. Get Prenatal Care
Your Adoption Coordinator will help you find prenatal care. If you don’t have health insurance, you may qualify for Medicaid or some type of low-cost health care coverage. Your Adoption Coordinator will assist you in getting the information you need and find resources to help you have as healthy a pregnancy as possible.
Will my information be kept private?
If you choose to keep your pregnancy and addiction quiet, your Adoption Coordinator at Lifetime will do everything to keep your information private. Your coordinator will use the information in your paperwork to match you with an adoptive family to care for a baby.
The adoptive couple will need to know a bit about your situation due to the baby’s exposure to drugs or alcohol. Your choice to place your child for adoption is a selfless and courageous decision on your part. The adoptive family will have nothing but total respect for you.
You Have Choices
Open adoption gives you lots of choices. Some of them include:
- You can choose the adoptive family – Your Adoption Coordinator will provide you with profiles of qualified adoptive families who are ready to care for a child who was exposed to drugs or alcohol.
- You can choose how much interaction you want with the adoptive family – You can choose to communicate before and after your baby is born. Some birth mothers want to meet the family and get to know them. You can set up how much contact you’ll have with your child in the future through emails, texts, phone calls, or visits.
- You can choose what the labor and delivery will look like – It’s up to you whether the adoptive parents are in the labor and delivery room or if you’d rather have a friend or family member present. You can choose when the adoptive family holds the baby.
- You choose when you leave the hospital – You might want to leave the hospital before the adoptive family leaves with your baby. Be honest with yourself and your Adoption Coordinator about your preferences.
- You can receive counseling – Your Adoption Coordinator will help you find an offsite counselor to walk with you through your pregnancy and addiction.
Pregnancy and Addiction
It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one who’s ever been in this situation, but many women find themselves in an unwanted pregnancy while struggling with addiction.
Many of these birth mothers shared their success stories regarding placing their child in adoption. Their stories are inspiring and can give you hope. Recently, one woman put it well when she said, “I’m an addict…adoption was the best choice I ever made!”
If you or someone you know is facing an unwanted pregnancy and addiction, it probably feels overwhelming. But, remember, you aren’t alone. There are people ready to help you through your pregnancy and provide help with your substance abuse. Connect with Lifetime Adoption today by calling or texting 1-800-923-6784.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.