12 Common Reasons for Putting a Child Up for Adoption

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Birth Parent Blog

If you have recently discovered that you are pregnant, you may feel nervous or scared at the idea of becoming a mom. And if you have a lot of questions going through your mind, you are not alone.
Recently we were asked, “What are some reasons for putting children up for adoption?” (At Lifetime, we don’t use this kind of language; we find it to be outdated and not an accurate reflection of the loving process of open adoption. We prefer to say, “placing a child for adoption.”)

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It is normal to struggle with the idea of placing your baby in the arms of another family. However, when you choose an open adoption, you are choosing life for your child.

Top 12 Reasons for Putting a Child Up for Adoption


1. Money

Raising a child is expensive. Clothes, shoes, food, and health care are some of the things that add up quickly. Plus, there are additional costs, such as child care, hobbies and activities, and education expenses.

At the end of the day, raising a child to the age of 17 could cost over $200,000. After looking at their money situation, some women choose adoption so they can give their child a life they couldn’t provide otherwise.

Finally, if a child has special needs, this can make things even more difficult for any mother. There may be medical expenses, therapy, counseling, and lifestyle changes necessary to accommodate your child’s needs.

For women who don’t have the resources to support those needs, adoption may be the answer. There are hopeful couples out there who are waiting to adopt and are not only prepared for this but also feel called to adopt a child with special needs.

2. Future plans

An unplanned pregnancy can cause stress for birth parents. For a birth mother who is young and has big goals for the future, having a baby could make it more difficult to reach those goals. Especially if her future plans include years of college and post-graduate studies, like medical school! In order for birth parents to have the best chance at achieving the big dreams they have for their life, adoption may be their best choice.

3. Not ready or too young to be a mom

Lack of readiness is actually the most common reason we hear. Sometimes women who become unexpectedly pregnant are simply not ready to devote their lives to someone else who needs them 24/7. Whatever their choices in life right now, they are just not ready to shift everything and be a full-time mother.
A pregnant woman standing near a window holding a cup of coffee contemplating putting a child up for adoption
Shares Tina Johnson in a column she wrote for the Calgary Herald, “I became pregnant during high school…Deciding the future for both myself and my child was daunting, overwhelming and isolating. Understanding that I did not have the capacity to figure out my next steps on my own, I relied on a network of counsellors and social workers who helped me understand my options and what resources I had access to. After acknowledging that becoming a teen mom was not realistic, I started to learn about open adoption.”

4. I can’t raise another child.

You might be surprised to learn that many women who choose to place their children up for adoption are already parenting other children. They may not have the time, energy, or resources to devote to a baby while also doing what’s best for their other children. For some moms in this situation, making an adoption plan is the best solution, since it allows her to provide a good, loving home for the child while caring for her other children.

5. I’m afraid my baby will end up in foster care.

Some women know that their current home situation is not suitable for raising children. If Child Protective Services get involved, your child could be placed in foster care, and this system can be unpredictable.

Depending on the circumstances, you may have little to no choice about where your child ends up. When you make an open adoption plan, you get to choose the perfect family to raise your child. You won’t have to wonder if your child is safe and cared for.

6. I can’t give my child the life I wish for him or her.

Finances, physical or mental health issues, drug addiction, and incarceration are all personal challenges that could prevent a woman from providing the life she wishes for her child. One of the most common reasons for putting a child up for adoption is to provide them with the path toward a more hopeful future. There are as many reasons for adoption as there are people making that choice.

7. Single motherhood

Many women find themselves pregnant and a single parent. This can cause anxiety and added pressure to raise the baby on their own. They want their baby to have two parents.

Being a single mom does have challenges. Because of that, many women will decide that if they do not have the support system of a partner or the baby’s father, they will consider adoption. Similarly, many women share that they want a father for their baby.

It’s not easy being a single parent, and some women can’t imagine raising a child on their own. If the baby’s father is unwilling or unable to be a part of his child’s life, a woman may turn to adoption so she can offer her child the stability and support of a two-parent home.

8. Abusive relationship

If the father of the child has been abusive, the expectant mother may realize that it is simply not safe to bring a baby home. So, while she works to get out of the unhealthy or abusive relationship, she may decide that placing the baby with a loving adoptive family is the best and safest option.

9. Stability

A stable home gives the child a solid foundation to start life. Many birth mothers are facing unstable home environments. Perhaps they are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, they plan on moving multiple times for work, or they simply do not have the support system in place at home. A caring adoptive family will provide a stable home environment that plays an important part in the baby’s success in life.

10. I don’t have the support I will need to be a good parent.

Parenthood is exhausting. There is a reason it takes a village to raise a child. Not only do moms need help with child care, but they also need the support, validation, and feeling of community from their close circle. If your family and friends won’t support you or help you with your child, parenthood is going to be difficult.

11. I have religious reasons for choosing adoption over abortion.

Abortion is a permanent decision that could lead to a lifetime of regret. Some women will not even consider this option because of their religious beliefs. They find that adoption is the best solution for an unplanned pregnancy.

12. I want to turn my difficult situation into a blessing for someone else.

There are so many hopeful adoptive couples who dream of becoming parents. They are just waiting for a birth mother to choose them. Some birth mothers express that they made the sacrifice of placing their child for adoption to bless an infertile couple; it leads to a joyful future for an entire family.


Lifetime Adoption Domestic Adoption Agency

If you have questions about open adoption, the adoption process, or info on how to choose an adoption plan, our adoption coordinators can help.

We will work with you throughout your pregnancy to make sure you have an adoption plan in place that makes you comfortable. You can help select the adoptive family, and you can choose to be a part of your child’s life later down the road.

No matter what, you can trust our experienced team at Lifetime Adoption Agency to help. We have been helping families of all kinds since 1986. We provide compassion, understanding, and a nonjudgmental experience to mothers exploring their options in order to provide a bright future for their children.

Call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784 anytime.

You can also contact us here for free adoption information. Women who are thinking about placing their children up for adoption do not need to feel ashamed or alone. There are many reasons for adoption.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 19, 2020. It has since been updated.

Mardie Caldwell Certified Open Adoption Practitioner

Written by Mardie Caldwell Certified Open Adoption Practitioner

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.

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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