Your teen or college-aged daughter just told you she’s pregnant. This news will probably surprise and upset you. No matter what vision you’ve had for your child, it probably didn’t include an unplanned pregnancy.
But now you know, and kudos for being close enough to your daughter that she’s shared this life-changing news with you. You may need to pick yourself up off the floor and wrestle with anger, denial, and disappointment, but do your best to stay calm and positive. There’s a lot you can do to help your daughter through this life-changing experience.
Guidelines for helping your daughter with her unplanned pregnancy
No doubt about it, this time is fraught with emotion. The worst thing you can do is to react negatively (if you want to preserve a relationship with your daughter.)
What can/should you do in this situation? This is probably just the start of a discussion that you want to be ongoing. Here are some suggestions for the initial talk:
Tell her you appreciate knowing about her unplanned pregnancy
Keeping this news a secret is an option your daughter may have considered. Aren’t you better off knowing? Now you can offer support. Make sure she knows how pleased you are that she trusted you with this news.
Acknowledge how hard it must have been for her to share this news
Your daughter knew her unplanned pregnancy news would shock and disappoint you. It took courage for her to talk with you about it. Acknowledging how difficult this must have been shows that you’re on her side.
Stay away from judgemental statements or pushing your opinions
Unplanned pregnancy and decisions about what to do about it are topics that evoke strong opinions and emotions. If your goal is to preserve an open, healthy relationship with your daughter, we suggest you steer clear of judgment and opinions. Treat her like an adult, listen to her ideas, and respect her choices, but don’t be afraid to add your perspective or ask questions. Just keep out the judgment and opinions.
Ask how you can help
You may want to jump in and fix the situation. As parents we want to take care of our children, to “make it all better”. However, unasked-for advice may not be taken well. In the interest of keeping communication open, we suggest you ask how you can help.
Deciding what to do about unplanned pregnancy
Parenting? Adoption? Abortion? Your daughter is facing a major decision when it comes to how to handle an unplanned pregnancy. She’s probably given it some thought already.
Listen to her thinking with care and respect. However, try to convince her that making a quick decision is not the best thing right now. Give her your honest advice without being condescending.
Exploring adoption as an option
It is a major decision to carry a baby, give birth, and then place the infant permanently with another family to raise. If your daughter chooses this option for her unplanned pregnancy, she will have a lot of control. You and the staff of your reputable adoption agency can help her sort through her feelings and choices and even help her choose an adoptive family for her baby. When you work with us at Friends in Adoption (FIA), our caring and experienced counselors will explain all the options to your daughter and you without exerting influence in any way.
A major choice your daughter will make is the type of adoption she wants: open, closed or semi-open. Here are brief explanations.
This popular option lets the adoptive and birth families share identifying information and have contact with each other during and after the adoption process. However, no two open adoptions are alike.
Visits and phone calls are examples of the ongoing contact your daughter can have in an open adoption, but they are not the only types of contact. Contact could be photos, cards and letters, or emails and texts. In fact, open adoptions cover a wide variety of types and amounts of contact shared between parties. It all depends on what the birth parents and the adoptive family have agreed to.
Your daughter may want to meet with or talk to the adoptive family before the birth, and that’s an option.
A closed adoption is one in which the adoptive family and birth mother remain confidential, with no contact prior to or after the placement of the child. Communication and information to be shared between birth parents and the adoptive family must go through a third party, often an attorney or adoption agency, until the child reaches legal age (18-21, depending on the state).
Although closed adoptions have waned in popularity, there are some advantages:
- Emotional closure: For some, an open adoption might be too painful. Some birth parents can feel that a closed adoption will provide a sense of closure for them.
- Privacy: If a birth mother chooses to keep the pregnancy and adoption plan secret from some, closed adoption may make it easier for them to keep this secret.
- Options down the road: With Friends in Adoption, you have time to change your mind. So even if you initially want a closed adoption, you can always reach out to Friends in Adoption down the road if that changes, and FIA will work with you and the adoptive family to facilitate opening up the adoption.
This is the middle ground – a semi-open relationship. The agreement may involve limited phone calls, emails and texts after placement of the baby. There may also be meetings before the birth. Birth and adoptive parents typically know one another’s first names. The plan is made based on the needs and wants of the birth parents and adoptive family.
Whatever type of adoption is best for your daughter, we recommend she set down her wishes in an adoption plan.
Choices in adoption
As you and your daughter move through the process, she’ll need to make some important choices. Your daughter’s adoption plan will spell out where she stands on:
Confidentiality: Do you want to share your pregnancy and potential adoption plan with family and/or friends or do you want to keep it completely confidential?
Adoptive Family: Do you want to choose your child’s adoptive family? If so, what type of adoptive family do you prefer (e.g., race, religion, a family with other children, etc.)?
- What hospital will you use?
- Do you want to spend time with the baby at the hospital?
- Do you want the prospective adoptive family to do the same?
Unplanned pregnancy? Friends in Adoption can help.
Our network of dedicated, experienced, and caring adoption professionals provides free and confidential adoption services for pregnant women/couples anywhere in the United States. Their experience and skillful support will help you and your daughter as she makes crucial decisions.
Adoption is a life-changing process. The best adoption relationships are based on trust, honesty, and mutual responsibility. That’s what we promote at FIA. Contact us for help guiding you and your daughter through the process of adoption.