Unexpected pregnancies can be frightening! Life is just plugging along and then, boom! You are thrown a curveball: a positive result on a pregnancy test. You are determined that you know what you have to do, but your boyfriend has a different opinion than you do. He wants to be a father, and he’s ecstatic about it! What you see as a mistake, he sees as a surprise. What you see as a barrier to success, he sees as a milestone and important life marker. You are not on the same page as your boyfriend. What do you do?
From your point of view:
It is totally understandable if you don’t want to parent at this point in your life. It may actually be a sign of maturity for you to admit that you are not ready to parent. As a matter of fact, more young people are putting off having children and having children later in their lives. It is good to be fully informed and fully prepared when having a family. Many other women have been in your shoes and have experienced the same things. What are some of the reasons why women choose not to parent? Here are some reasons some young women do not feel prepared to parent:
- Too young. Are you a teenager who has found yourself pregnant? Are you are still enjoying being a kid? Well, now you are faced with the prospect of raising a kid yourself. It may not make sense to start a family if you have not completed high school. You may not feel ready for this.
- Other children. Perhaps you are not a teen but you know what it’s like to be pregnant because you already have other children. You may not feel prepared to bring another child into your family.
- Other priorities. Perhaps you got pregnant at the “wrong time.” You were just about to start college, you were just at the beginning of a new career, or you were planning to move. An unplanned pregnancy is the last thing you needed on your plate.
- Not enough money. “Another mouth to feed” is often a phrase many people use when complaining about having another child. The pressures of raising another child are immense when you consider the cost of formula, diapers, childcare, and time away from work. Homelessness is a major concern. Joblessness is a concern. Having to rely on public assistance may not be your first choice. Maybe you prefer being self-sufficient rather than depending on someone else. That is understandable. Poverty sucks. It is loving to want to bring a child into a home in the most ideal conditions.
- Freedom. Some women think having another child would put a cramp in their lifestyle. No more parties. No more drinking. No more spontaneous road trips. No more going out on spur-of-the-moment dates. In other words, no more fun. Somehow, having a kid may seem more like becoming your parents! Yuck! Who wants that? You want to be free and having a kid might take away that freedom.
- Unstable relationship. Perhaps you and your boyfriend do not have the greatest relationship. You fight and argue all the time. You may fear that if you have the baby, he will end up leaving you, and you will be stuck raising the baby by yourself anyway.
- Unhealthy lifestyle. Are you living a less than perfect lifestyle? Are you struggling with addiction? Are you involved with things that may involve Child Protective Services? You may be right to be concerned. No child deserves to be substance exposed or exposed to a dangerous lifestyle.
All of these reasons may be valid to a point. But there is one other person’s point of view that you need to take into consideration: your boyfriend. Yes, the baby is growing in your tummy. Yes, you are the one who will go through the morning sickness, the weird cravings, the labor, and the delivery. But your boyfriend did play a major role in getting you to this point in your pregnancy. His opinions should hold some value.
From your boyfriend’s point of view:
The news of your pregnancy may have been just as shocking to your boyfriend as it was to you. No, he may not have to deal with the physical symptoms of pregnancy, and he may never have to deal with the trauma of labor and delivery, but he does have to think about possibly quitting school, getting a job or extra work, finding a place to live, and telling his parents. This may be life changing to him as well.
Consider this: many men run shirk their responsibility when they find their girlfriend is pregnant. They literally run as far away from mom and baby as possible, or they move on to the next girlfriend, or they force their girlfriend to get an abortion. If your man has not done any of those things but wants to stay and parent your baby—you probably have a good man! Think of it from your boyfriend’s perspective:
- It is an opportunity to bring another life into the world. There are few things greater than bringing a son into the world that looks like you. The pride of getting to protect and provide for a daughter is equally as thrilling. The power of life and death is in his hands. It is no small thing to add another human being to the world. This is what he is looking forward to!
- It is an opportunity to leave a legacy. From a man’s point of view, bringing a “junior” in the world is a great accomplishment! Adding to the family line and adding to the family heritage is fantastic. Continuing the family name, family traditions, and heritage may be expected of him. From a man’s point of view, there may be no greater joy than passing on to the next generation those things which he learned from his dad.
- It is an opportunity to give a child a better life than he had. Your boyfriend may have grown up poor or in an abusive situation. This may be the chance to prove that he is not like his folks and that he can do a better job than his folks. Whether you think that’s a valid motivation or not, it may be his motivation.
He may be thinking, “I was raised in an alcoholic home. I’m not doing that to my kid.” or, “I was raised with domestic violence. I’m not doing that to my kid.” Or maybe it wasn’t harsh situations, but he feels the need to do better than his parents. For example, “My parents raised 3 kids, I’m going to raise 4.” Or “my parents sent me to this college, I’m sending my kid to a better college.” This type of competition is not unusual for men and can even be a good thing that pushes him toward excellence.
Before you make a permanent choice, consider this:
Another perspective you need to take is that of the child. The decision you make is more than a disagreement between you and your boyfriend. This decision will affect the life of your child! If you are currently pregnant while reading this, please consider this: you are already a mother! There is a living human being growing inside of you. When you make your choice, please consider this:
- Children are a blessing! It is not the child that is unwanted, but rather the added expenses, inconveniences, changes to lifestyle, and discomforts that are unwanted.
- Abortion may let the man off the hook. Abortion does not hold a man accountable for his actions. Listen to the words of Mother Teresa, “…that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So, abortion just leads to more abortion.”
If your boyfriend wants to take responsibility for his actions. Let him!
- The child has 50 percent of his DNA. The fact is, though you are carrying your baby, that child has 50 percent of your boyfriend’s DNA. He should have a right to have a say in the life of his own child.
You do have more than one choice.
Society tells that there is only one choice in the case of an unexpected pregnancy: abortion. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many other options to consider.
- The adoption option. Your child could be the blessing that another couple has been hoping and praying for! Statistics show that there are about 1 million abortions per year in this country alone. But there are also about 1 million people waiting to adopt. What looks like a crisis to you could be an answer to prayer for an infertile couple! In some cases, you may be able to stay in touch with the child through an “open adoption”. Your pregnancy may be unwanted, but your child is not! Rather considering abortion, consider adoption! If you don’t want to parent your child, you don’t have to, but your child doesn’t have to die, either! Consider adoption.
- Kinship adoption. Is there someone in your family that is willing to adopt your child? Perhaps your parents? An uncle and aunt? Some distant cousin? Kinship adoption is when a blood relative adopts someone in their family. A kinship adoption keeps the child in the family rather than be placing them with a stranger.
- Paternal adoption. Another option is to have your boyfriend’s family to adopt. If you are not prepared to parent and he is not prepared to parent perhaps his family can. If they are responsible, good people, then what do you have to lose? If you automatically eliminate the father’s side of the family, you remove 50 percent of your resources! Consider allowing his family to be involved in your decision.
- Guardianship. This is a legal measure where another person is granted temporary custody of your child. A judge reviews and approves this and it must be renewed annually. Parental rights are not necessarily severed, and visits may be allowed between the birth parents and the child. This is a good option that allows the birth parents to become more stable. In some cases, permanent guardianship is chosen when parental rights are severed. This happens when abuse and neglect can be proven or when birth parents die, become incapacitated, or are incarcerated.
- Keep the baby and raise the baby with help. Many women facing unplanned pregnancies choose to keep the baby. If you do not feel prepared to parent, perhaps there is some else that can help you. Move near them. Move in with them. Don’t do it alone! You are not a lone ranger! Get help and do the right thing for you and your baby.
Still not convinced? Do these three things first:
- Get an ultrasound. Contrary to what some may say, your baby is not a clump of cells. The word, “fetus” means “baby.” If you were to look an ultrasound, you would see that your baby has arms, legs, fingers, and toes! Moreover, at 6 weeks old, your baby has a beating heart. At 7 weeks old, your baby has brainwaves! Your baby is alive! If you choose to get an abortion all that would come to an end!
- Speak to other women who had unplanned pregnancies yet kept their child. Other women have been where you have and have survived. Their babies have also survived. Get wisdom and follow in the footsteps of someone who, under great odds and difficulties, succeeded.
- Get counseling. Lastly, if you and your boyfriend are really struggling, get counseling. Perhaps there is someone in the faith community or in a Pregnancy Resource Center that can help. You could also get counseling, informally, by your parents. Getting someone else’s perspective can go a long way.
Whatever you and your boyfriend choose to do, please keep in mind, that your choice does not involve two people, but three. Your problems are not insurmountable. This is not the end of the world. If your boyfriend wants to parent your baby, you probably have a good man. There is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Follow it.
Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journey. He and his wife started their adoption journey in 1993 and have eight children, six of whom are adopted. His adopted children are all different ethnicities including East Indian, Jamaican and Native American. He loves traveling with his family, especially to the East Coast and to the West Coast and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption are his passions and callings for Derek, and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.