Voices. Lots and lots of voices. Sometimes too many voices can be overwhelming. Some voices will tell you one thing; other voices tell you other things. How do you sort through all the voices in order to get to which is best? Unplanned pregnancy advice.
When you have an unplanned pregnancy, and you need to make life choices for you and your baby, you might feel like this. Where do you go? Who can you trust? Who do you listen to?
If you are in need of unplanned pregnancy advice, you can go to the internet, you can go to the TV, or even go to the radio to help make the right choice. Don’t get me wrong, the internet is not all that bad; after all, the internet is how you found this article. But when you are scared and bewildered and in a crisis, what you need is a personal touch.
Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs).
Also known as Crisis Pregnancy Centers, PRCs are located in most major cities. They rely mainly on donations and gifts and are not government funded. Depending on the PRC you visit, most of their services are free. Some are faith-based, while others are not. Whatever the case, they will welcome you with open arms and without judgment.
- Free pregnancy tests. Going into a store to buy a pregnancy test may be embarrassing. And unless it’s you’re in the self-checkout lane, the cashier may have a lack of discretion. A Pregnancy Resource Center can provide what you need in total privacy and confidentiality.
You may be pregnant. You might not be pregnant. You could be pregnant with twins. In any event, PRCs offer pregnancy tests, free of charge, with no obligation.
- Free Sexually Transmitted Infection tests (STI). Formerly, known as STDs, many PRCs offer free STI tests. This is important because if you are pregnant, some STIs can be passed to your unborn baby. If you do have an STI, professionals at the center can tell you how to treat it. They can also make referrals to physicians who specialize in STIs if you have a more serious case.
- Free parenting education. Thank God we don’t need a license to have children, but parents who are experiencing a crisis pregnancy should take parenting classes. You can learn about anything from how to change a diaper to how to feed an infant; from how to care for a sick baby to how to deal with a toddler in the middle of a temper-tantrum in aisle one of Wal-Mart. PRCs can provide classes, books, pamphlets, and other reading material, free of charge.
Many PRCs offer classes to fathers. If you are in a relationship and the Dad wants to be involved, ask about services for fathers. Becoming a father, unexpectedly, shakes lots of men into maturity. Perhaps this is a wake-up call for your significant other. Parenting classes will help him develop maturity, as well as responsibility, and will help him make better choices in the future.
- Free baby items. Raising a baby can be expensive. Between cribs, strollers, high chairs, car seats, diapers, baby wipes, and baby clothes, many moms have anxiety just thinking about buying these items. Many expectant moms may choose to have a baby shower to help offset the cost of these items. However, some expectant moms do not have this type of support system. That’s where PRCs come to the rescue. Many PRCs provide these items, free of charge.
- Free limited ultrasounds. An ultrasound, or sonogram, is a prenatal image of a baby. In these images, parents can count their baby’s hands and feet, and possibly determine the baby’s sex. Moms can watch their baby move and see how the baby responds to her voice. It is a wonder. If you are considering an abortion, go to a PRC first and request a free limited ultrasound. They will provide one free of charge, under no obligation. It will make a huge difference in your decision.
- Referrals to Maternity Homes. A maternity home is a short-term residential facility for expectant moms who are facing homelessness in a crisis pregnancy. There are usually between two and ten women in each home. The average stay of a woman in a maternity home is about six months. They provide room and board, as well as other services. Women usually share chores and other responsibilities. These homes are privately funded and usually are free of charge. There is usually a waiting list.
- Post-abortion support. Many PRCs either have a counselor on staff or can refer you to a counselor. If this is the case, reach out to a PRC. Some women need counseling for post-abortion depression. * Some need help to raise their other children. Others need help not to find themselves in the same predicament. PRCs can help in any of these situations.
- Adoption referrals. Lastly, some expectant moms choose to place their child in a loving adoptive home. If you are unable or unwilling to care for your baby, for whatever reason, adoption is an option. It is not the end of the world. In many cases, adoptive parents advocate for an “open” adoption, where the biological parents have some level of contact. Also, “kinship” adoption has become a trend in recent years. Kinship adoption is when a relative chooses to adopt someone in their own family.
The Adoption Community
If you are struggling with finding quality unplanned pregnancy advice, consider seeking out those in the adoption community. Why? They have already experienced some of the things you soon might and would be a great resource and support to you. Who is in the adoption community? See below:
- Other birth moms. You are not alone. There are other people who have walked in your shoes, experienced what you experienced, and have been successful. Get advice from other moms who have placed their children in a loving adoptive home. Talk to other moms who decided to keep and raise their children. Each one of these women will tell you about their circumstances and what led to their decision. They will tell you about their open adoption experience and their relationship with their children. These birth moms can be a valuable resource.
- Adoptive Families. These are men and women who adopt have good motivations for adoption. Either they want to give back to their community, they are infertile, or they want to serve God. Whatever the case, interview a family who has adopted. Ask them what the ups and downs were. Ask them if they kept in touch with the biological parents. Ask how caring for and supporting an adopted child is the same and different from doing so for a biological child. Their insights will be eye-opening.
- Adult Adoptees. Get to know adult adoptees. They will often be candid, open, and honest. They will tell you how it felt growing up as an adopted child. They will tell you how it felt in an open adoption. They will tell you how it felt to not know their biological parents growing up, or how it felt to be reunified with them after many years. Every adult adoptee has a different story. Listen to those stories. Many stories are heartbreaking, but most are inspirational.
- Adoption Agencies. Finally, adoption agencies can be a great resource to a mom seeking unplanned pregnancy advice. They can help you to search for adoptive parents, refer you to counseling, refer you to attorneys, and guide you in the adoptive process.
The Social Service Community
If you have an unplanned pregnancy, you might need to seek out social services help at some point. Seeking this type of help does not make you a weak person, it means that you love your child and want the best for them.
- Women, Infant, and Children (WIC). WIC is a federal program, located in each state that provides food vouchers for women who have children, ages 0-5. They promote a healthy diet and diet education and conduct free health screenings. Some of the food you can receive are milk, cheese, fruit, vegetables, cereal, and formula.
- Head Start. This is a federal educational program located in each state, free of charge. Head Start is available to pregnant women and to children ages 0-5. They provide classes to children, either half-day or full-day sessions. Most states also offer in-home classes to women and their children.
- Drug and Alcohol abuse counselors. If you have a substance abuse problem and are pregnant, that could land you in a lot of trouble with Child Protective Services. It could also have dire effects on your child such as Fetal Alcohol Effects or Drug Alcohol Effects. The sooner you get control of the situation, the better. Get help now.
The Faith Community.
You may have strong ties in the faith community or may never have been to church in your life. Nevertheless, those in the faith community are ready, willing, and able to help. You may be apprehensive of reaching out to the faith community because you are afraid of being judged. The reality is many women in the faith community are willing to help moms with an unplanned pregnancy because they found themselves in that position years ago. So, they know what you are going through.
Search for churches in your area that focus on families and children. Search for those with programs for single moms, young moms, or Orphan Care ministries. You do not have to be a Christian in order to receive services from them and they will not require you to join their church.
Also, search for faith-based Pregnancy Resource Centers in your area. They will treat you with respect, pray with you, and offer you spiritual counseling. They will assist you and your baby with no preconditions and no judgment. Take a step of faith.
- Your mama. Your family may be a major source of support and inspiration for you, or not. Your family may be angry and embarrassed at your pregnancy. They may disagree with your decisions. They may have threatened you. They may have cut you off. But if they are supportive ask them for advice. They may have answers you never thought of.
- Grandma. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins may be available to help raise your child. Or they may be available to raise your child for you if you are unable to. Extended family can be a valuable resource.
- Your boyfriend’s mama. If you are in a relationship and have an unplanned pregnancy, your boyfriend’s family may be available to provide advice. Consider this: your baby is every much a part of his family as yours. Half of your child’s DNA is inherited from them. So, if they are healthy and if they are safe, invite them to be a part of the decision-making process.
Having an unplanned pregnancy can be scary. Surrounding yourself with the people, who will point you in the right direction is vital. As you can see, there are dozens of people who can give you advice. Your peers may be a source of strength and comfort, but speaking to someone who has had the same experiences as you, can be invaluable. Having the right support can make all the difference. Create a positive support team who will look out, not only for your best interests but also for the best interests of your child.
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 8 children: 6 of which are adopted. His adopted children are of 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 is a passion and calling for Derek, and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.