Unplanned Pregnancies Can Be Incredibly Scary
I’m pregnant, what now?
I know only too well about an unplanned pregnancy because I myself was a pregnant teenager. Four months after my seventeenth birthday, I found out I was pregnant. And even though I knew deep down that my family was loving and supportive, I was still completely terrified.
My first thought was, “What am I going to do?” First I panicked, and then I began processing all of my fears and emotions, and finally I told my boyfriend and my parents that I was pregnant. After all of that, I could finally start thinking about what to actually do about it. I was pretty sure I wanted to place my baby for adoption, but I still had some reservations.
Teen pregnancies are seen (and sometimes glorified) on shows like “Teen Mom”. However, the reality is that unplanned or unintended pregnancies can be incredibly scary, especially for teens and young women. What do you do if you’re experiencing an unplanned pregnancy? While you will have many thoughts and feelings after you find out you’re pregnant, these are the top 5 things to consider if you have an unplanned pregnancy.
Top 5 Things to Think About If You Have an Unplanned Pregnancy
- Adoption vs Parenting: is adoption the best choice for me?
- How will it make me feel? Will “giving up”/placing a baby for adoption be too hard?
- What do I want my future to look like? Do I want to continue on the path I had planned before I found out I was pregnant, or do I want to go down a different road? Am I ready to be a parent?
- What kind of life/opportunities do I want my baby to have? Am I able to provide those things now? If so, will I continue to be able to provide them?
- Who will adopt my baby? How do I find the right parents for her? What does adoption look like? What level of openness would I want? (And tons of other questions about the adoption process)
Adoption vs. Parenting
Depending on your experience, the idea of adoption can be frightening, especially if you don’t know much about it. In reality, there are countless stories about adoption, and many of them are incredibly beautiful. My own story is one of these.
Whether you’re considering adoption or parenting, or whether you honestly have no idea what to do, you will have questions, reservations, and even fears. How do you get answers to your questions? I did what the left side of my brain was wired to do: I listed the pros and cons of parenting and the pros and cons of adoption. As I made my lists, I realized that the “cons” side of my Parenting list was much longer than the “pros” side was. In fact, for me, the oldest of 6 children whose youngest sibling was still only 3 years old, I knew quite a bit about parenting…at least as much as a 17 year-old could know without actually having a child of my own.
At the top of my “Cons of Parenting” list was the fact that I wouldn’t get to go away to college. And since I was still a junior in high school, I would certainly have to continue to live at my parents’ house for at least a few more years, a thought which was most unpleasant. There were only 4 bedrooms in my parents’ house, and there were already 8 people living there; my baby would make 9. The other side of that fact was that I really wanted to go away to college. I had plans for myself, and my unplanned pregnancy didn’t factor into those plans.
So far, my “Cons” list of parenting looked like this:
-wouldn’t be able to go away to college
-would have to live at home
-wouldn’t be able to get together or go out with my friends whenever I wanted to
I thought about what I’d be missing if I chose to parent my baby: hanging out with my friends would look a lot different, and I’d miss out on a lot of things my friends would get to do. I thought about how my dream of going away to college wouldn’t work out like I’d planned. College life wouldn’t be what I’d hoped and looked forward to. All of these thoughts made the choice seem easy
How Will I Feel?
Still working with my lists, the “pros” side of my Adoption list started out looking exactly like a negative version of my “cons” list: I WOULD be able to go to college; I WOULDN’T have to live at home; and I WOULD be able to get together with friends whenever I wanted to. But I also began to consider other things like how I would FEEL if I chose to parent and how I would FEEL if I chose to place my baby for adoption. I knew I would feel a huge case of FOMO at times when I wasn’t able to join my friends. I also knew the idea of taking care of a baby scared me. But would “giving up” a baby for adoption be too hard for me? Would I miss her too much? Would I be an emotional mess all the time?
In all honesty, I couldn’t anticipate all of the emotions that came with placing my baby for adoption, but I thought about and considered what I did know: I knew I loved the idea of giving the immeasurable gift of a baby to a couple who couldn’t have children; I would be helping some couple’s (or person’s) dream of completing their family come true. Selfishly, I was also pretty confident that I’d feel a kind of freedom, especially since my plan was to go off to college. And since I had babysat and cared for my younger siblings, I knew I’d feel exhausted and even angry at times if I chose to parent.
And while I did expect that I’d be sad and miss my baby sometimes, I underestimated just how much. My emotions turned out to be the most unexpected part of the adoption for me. Even though I wasn’t prepared for how much I would feel her loss at times, I never regretted my decision to place her for adoption.
What do I want my future to look like?
While I felt mostly confused and overwhelmed with all of my feelings and the decisions I had to make, one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to go to college and earn a degree. I had plans for myself. I have always been crazy independent, and I never wanted to have to rely on others to take care of me simply because I wasn’t able to do it myself. I wanted to get a job and take care of myself. And in that process, I also wanted to enjoy college, even into my 20s. I had dreams of traveling and enjoying a time with very few responsibilities. Basically, I knew that if I chose to parent, my future would look nothing like what I had planned.
What kind of opportunities do I want my baby to have?
Up to that point, most of my decision-making thoughts had been focused on myself and my life…because I was 17. However, I began to think about the kind of life I wanted my baby to have also. I wanted her to have two supportive parents. I wanted her to grow up in a stable home environment where she could play sports or take dance or art classes; where she could go to a good school and go off to college; where she could travel and learn from experiences. I wanted her to have the same opportunities I had growing up.
I ran through several different scenarios thinking about how I could parent and still give her those same opportunities. My parents could raise my baby as theirs. After all, my brother was only 3 years old. Alternatively, I could just let my parents take care of her while I was in college, and then I could come back to be “mom” on the weekends and then after I graduated. I even had relatives who were only 13 years my senior offer to raise her. But after going through all of my options, I realized that those things would be confusing to both her and to me, and I realized that those options would probably make it even more difficult for me to separate myself from being her mom so I was left with my original options: I parent her, or I place her for adoption. And when I thought about what I wanted her life to look like, I knew adoption was the right choice for me.
Who will adopt my baby, and how do I find them/him/her?
Once I’d decided to place my baby for adoption, it brought up other thoughts. Who will adopt her? How do I find the perfect parents for my baby? It was at this point that I turned to my mom for her help (we didn’t have access to the internet in 1990, so I couldn’t Google “adoption agencies”). My mom helped me find an agency who supported me, counseled me, and coached me through the rest of the process, which made all the difference in the world.
The next step was to decide the level of openness I was comfortable with. I decided on open adoption. We were able to read bios and choose the adoptive couple. The birth father and I even met them before placement. After placement, we wrote letters to them and received letters and pictures from them. The agency even facilitated a few visits with the family.
The agency continued to be a support system even after placement. If I had not had the encouragement of the agency and my caseworker, my experience would have been completely different; and in my case, it wouldn’t have been as rewarding. Adoption agencies and the support team they provide are priceless.
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Contact Alliance For Children
We understand this is a difficult decision and are here to support you. Alliance is here to answer your questions, talk about your options and listen to you and what you feel is best for your baby. If you have questions or would like to talk, please fill out the form and let us know the best way to reach you. Everything You Share with Us is Private and Confidential