Pregnant teens have three options when they are pregnant: They can terminate the pregnancy, or they can carry the pregnancy to term and either raise the child or arrange for an adoption. No matter what happens, this is a decision and a time your teen will always remember. You’ll remember it, too.
It’s vital that you never coerce or force your teen into a choice about her pregnancy. Not only will she be left feeling powerless, but she may feel betrayed by you; that’s not something either of you should have to live with. However, your input and guidance may help her through a difficult time. If there is a choice you are hoping she will make, or one that falls in line with the values of your family, tell her, while making it clear that it’s her decision and you will respect the one she makes.
Your teen may want to bear the child, and have a family adopt the baby and raise it. There are many different types of adoption, and your teen will have a chance to choose what is right for her. It’s very common for a teen thinking about having her baby adopted to fear that she will change her mind. Make sure your teen knows that she can arrange for an adoption and have the child, and then decide to keep it at that point if she really cannot see things going any other way. This certainly isn’t the best or easiest way to go about it, and can be a hardship to a waiting adoptive family. But until she “signs the baby over” to that family, she has the chance to change her mind. This can be comforting for pregnant teens to know. We’ll talk more in upcoming posts about different methods and types of adoption.
A termination, or abortion, means that your teen will seek medical services in order to stop the pregnancy. This is a very emotional topic, and I am not going to address the morality of pregnancy termination. I would encourage you to discuss it with your teen, however, giving your opinion and seeking hers.
One important thing to consider about termination is that the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be made as quickly as possible. This is never a decision you want your teen to rush, but the earlier the termination, the easier it will be to find a provider and have the simplest procedure possible. If your teen cannot decide whether or not to terminate for months and months, she is in essence choosing to bear the child. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this; this may be the way she ends up making the choice that’s right for her. But make sure she knows that if she is certain this is what she wants, it’s best to start seeking out a healthcare provider.
Raising the Child:
Your teen may decide that she wants to bear and raise the child. Depending on her age, this may involve a lot of you raising the child as well. She will most likely need financial support, not to mention help in learning to parent, fitting a child into her future plans, and dealing with negative reactions from those around her.
Most parents do not plan to raise another baby when they have teenagers. It’s important that your teen be involved in the work as well as the joy of raising a child, and it’s just as important that you’re there to help her. Once you have wrapped your mind around the fact that your kid is having a kid, offer as much support as you can while encouraging her to take responsibility for things like scheduling prenatal care appointments, seeking out a place to give birth, and deciding on how childcare will proceed after the baby is born. Teenage young woman who have children can and do finish high school, go to college, and complete graduate and professional programs. Having a child might make her educational goals more difficult, but by no means impossible- especially if you commit to helping her reach them.
We will be talking about these three options in more detail over the weeks to come. Please feel free to chime in with any thoughts or questions!