Your teen years are hard enough without facing an unexpected pregnancy. You might feel your life is over, and it’s just too much to handle. Until now, your parents dealt with the big decisions in your life. But now, you face a difficult situation where you must decide what to do. It’s important that before you decide about your pregnancy, you understand your pregnancy rights.
Teens and adoption aren’t new; many young women have been in situations like yours. They felt scared and overwhelmed as you do. But they came through stronger and more confident that they made the right decision. So right now, take a breath and try to relax. Here is some information about your pregnancy choices and your rights as a young adult.
What are my choices?
If you’re in your teens and are pregnant, your parents can’t force you into a decision about your baby. So before you decide what to do about your pregnancy, learn all that you can about your pregnancy choices and parenting options. Basically, you have three choices when you’re in an unexpected pregnancy: abortion, parenting, or adoption.
You may feel so overwhelmed that you aren’t sure what to do. Perhaps you never thought you’d consider abortion. Abortion is a final decision for you and your baby. It isn’t something you should decide quickly. You don’t want to have regrets in the future. So here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Can I afford an abortion?
- Do my religious beliefs or values eliminate the option of abortion?
- Do I feel forced to have an abortion by friends, family members, or my baby’s father?
- Do I think my mental health is strong enough to make my own decision without feeling pressured by people?
What about parental consent?
Many teens wonder, “can my parents force me to get an abortion?” Unfortunately, some parents try to make all the decisions about their daughter’s pregnancy.
In most states where abortion is legal, parental involvement is required if a minor decides to have an abortion. These states ask for consent or notification from at least one parent within 24 to 48 hours before you get the procedure. Some states require both parents’ signatures. Taking the time to research your state laws will help you find out if this is an option for you.
After you tell your parents you’re pregnant, they may offer to help you out. Their offer of support might make you want to choose to parent your child. But, first, you probably need to sit down with your parents and ask them some questions, such as:
- Are you willing to help me raise my child?
- Will you be able to help me financially with things like health insurance for my baby or items my baby and I need?
- Can I continue going to school while you watch my baby?
Your family members may have strong opinions about what you should do. But, to be honest, most teens are not ready to become parents. Even so, you must decide for yourself and your child what you should do. You also need to consider whether the baby’s father will be involved in parenting or support.
Many people feel that teens and adoption don’t go together. They assume because you’re young, you can’t be responsible enough to make such a big decision and choose adoptive parents for your child.
However, there’s only the right choice for you. And it takes a strong sense of yourself to choose adoption.
This is called identity formation: It’s defined as positive teen self-identification. Science says this is vital because it shapes your perception of yourself and belonging in your adult life.
What are the reasons a teen would choose adoption?
Even under the pressure of an unexpected pregnancy, a teen chooses adoption because she believes it’s the best choice for her and her child. Here is a list of some common reasons that teens choose adoption:
- Aren’t mentally, emotionally, or physically ready to be a parent
- Don’t feel comfortable with or believe in abortion
- Can’t afford the high cost of raising a child to 18
- Don’t want to stop their schooling or career goals to raise their child
- No support from baby’s father and don’t want to be a single mom.
- Want to provide their child with the stability of a two-parent home. So, they place their child with a married couple ready and excited to become parents.
Teens and Adoption
Parents may try to make all the decisions for your pregnancy. However, you have the final say. Sometimes parents may not understand your decision to learn more about adoption, so more conversation and education can reveal the benefits of adoption for all involved. Contact Lifetime for tips if you need help on what to say to your parents about adoption.
When you place your baby for adoption instead of becoming a teen mom, you can continue working toward the educational and career goals you have set for yourself. Your Adoption Coordinator can help you throughout your pregnancy to keep you track with your goals. If you want to continue your education, you could even attend an alternative schooling program during your pregnancy. After placement, you will be eligible for an adoption scholarship for your future educational goals.
Lifetime Adoption has over 35 years of experience working with teens in unexpected pregnancies. We have many hopeful adoptive parents for you to choose from, and they come from various backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, and locations. You can start looking at adoptive family profiles online today.
Our caring professionals are happy to spend more time with you discussing your adoption options as a teenager. In addition, they can explain the rights and choices you have as a birth mother. You may not know it, but you always have the right to choose what is best for you and your baby, regardless of your status as a minor.
We offer 24/7 confidential help and information for pregnant teens. If you want to learn more about teens and adoption, call or text us at 1-800-923-6784.
When you choose adoption, you give yourself and your child a bright future together.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 4, 2017, and has since been updated.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.