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What Are My Rights as a Teen Birth Mother?

Black and white photo of a young pregnant girl leaning against a brick wall and gently holding her stomach.An unplanned pregnancy can be a scary time for any mother, let alone a teen birth mother. However, it is important to know that you are not alone, says Megan Cohen, adoption attorney and birth mother. 85 percent of all teenage pregnancies are unplanned. With the right support system, you can get through this. 

Step #1 – Establish Your Support System

“Unexpected pregnancies are not events that should be dealt with alone,” says Elizabeth Danish, HealthGuidance. “Women should share their thoughts on this experience and surround themselves with a supportive group of people.” This is one of the best ways to deal with an unplanned pregnancy.

Everyone’s support system looks different. So, who will be a part of yours? Your partner, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, neighbors, and even healthcare professionals, local support groups, and adoption counselors can play a role. The important thing is to surround yourself with positive people who will actively help you throughout your journey – whatever that may look like.

Step #2 – Know Your Rights

“Being pregnant as a teen is scary and hard,” says Annaleece Merrill, birth mother and open adoption advocate. “It forces you to grow up too fast, to make decisions no kid should have to make.” So, it is important to know your rights. Some of the most common questions we hear include:

  • Do I Have to Tell My Parents? “Giving your parents the big news is bound to be a daunting moment,” says Andrew G. Marshall, relationship therapist. “Especially if they have strong opinions about teen pregnancy or don’t know that you’re sexually active.” So, your decision may come down to what you plan to do with the pregnancy.
      1. Keeping Your Child: Keeping a pregnancy secret can be difficult for minors living with their parents. So, it is probably best to tell them before they figure things out on their own. 
      2. Terminating the Pregnancy: “Many states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to terminate a pregnancy,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. Check your state guidelines.
      3. Creating an Adoption Plan: “States overwhelmingly consider minors who are parents to be capable of making critical decisions affecting the health and welfare of their children without their own parents’ knowledge or consent,” explains the Guttmacher Institute. However, there are a few exceptions. So, again, check your state guidelines.
  • Can My Parents Make Decisions Regarding My Baby? Even if you are under 18 and still live at home, YOU have the right to make the decisions about your baby. You have legal and physical custody of your child. This can only change if a court gives custody to someone else.
  • Can I Finish High School? The sad reality is that more than 50 percent of teen mothers never graduate from high school. However, you absolutely have the right to finish high school. “The school cannot discriminate against you because you are pregnant or have a child,” according to Education for Justice. Many schools even have programs for young parents, such as daycare centers. “Call your school district to see what programs can help you,” advises Education for Justice.
  • Do I Need the Father’s Consent to Create an Adoption Plan? Yes. “Your child’s father, regardless of his age, also has rights in an adoption and this may include the right to give or withhold his consent,” explains Megan Cohen, adoption attorney and birth mother. Click Here to read more about dealing with the birth father.

Want to Know More About Your Rights as a Teen Birth Mother?

Adoption Makes Family is here to help. If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal. Our staff is here to listen – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience.

24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100

If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at dr.kirschner@adoptionmakesfamily.org or use our online contact form.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 3rd, 2020 at 2:06 pm . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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