In 2019, there were 179,871 live births to mothers between the ages of 15 and 19. Of these, roughly 85 percent were not planned – and an unplanned pregnancy can be a scary time for any mother, let alone a teen birth mother. So, what do you do?
Helping Minors Deal With Unplanned Pregnancy
First of all, it is important to know that you are not alone, says Megan Cohen, adoption attorney and birth mother. One of the best ways to deal with an unplanned pregnancy is to Establish a Strong Support Group. 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.
“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.”
Once your support group is established, you should Learn 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.
- 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.” Whether or not you tell your parents about your pregnancy may come down to your plans to keep the child, terminate the pregnancy, or create an adoption plan.
- If I Keep the Child, Can My Parents Make Decisions About My Baby? Even as a minor and even if you still live at home, you have the right to make the decisions about your child. This can only change if a court gives custody to someone else.
- Do I Need Parental Consent to Terminate the Pregnancy? “Many states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to terminate a pregnancy,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. In Maryland, one parent or guardian must be notified before a minor has an abortion, but they DO NOT need to consent with the minor’s choice.
- Do I Need Parental Consent to Create an Adoption Plan? Not in Maryland. “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,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. Though, there are a few exceptions: Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota, and Louisiana.
- 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 Cohen. Click here to read more about dealing with the birth father.
- Can I Finish High School? Absolutely. “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.
Are You Ready to Create an Adoption Plan or Do You 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.
- Cohen, Meghan. “Can a Minor Put a Baby up for Adoption?” Help With Adoption, 15 Apr. 2018, helpwithadoption.com/can-a-minor-put-a-baby-up-for-adoption/.
- Marshall, Andrew G. “I’m a Teenager. How Can I Tell My Parents I’m Pregnant?” BabyCentre UK, BabyCentre Blog, www.babycentre.co.uk/x1043688/im-a-teenager-how-can-i-tell-my-parents-im-pregnant.
- Merrill, Annaleece. “What I Want to Tell Teens Contemplating Adoption.” Birthmother.com | Birth Mom Pre – Post, Rights, Quotes, Search, Birthmother.com | Birth Mom Pre – Post, Rights, Quotes, Search, 29 May 2018, birthmother.com/want-tell-teens-contemplating-adoption/.
- “Minors’ Rights as Parents.” Guttmacher Institute, 13 July 2018, www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/minors-rights-parents.
- “The Rights of Teen Parents.” Minnesota Legal Services Coalition, www.lawhelpmn.org.