If your pregnancy was not planned and you don't know what to do, it might help to ask yourself a few questions. Am I ready emotionally and financially to become a parent? Is the baby's father ready emotionally and financially to become a parent? Will I receive the support from friends and family that I and my baby need? How can I continue my education? Can I get a job?
After thinking about your pregnancy and talking it over with your partner and family, you need to decide whether to keep the baby, give the baby up for adoption or have an abortion (end the pregnancy). If you choose to continue your pregnancy and have the baby, then you either keep the baby or place the baby up for adoption. Think carefully about all your choices and make your decision based on what's best for you, your baby and your family.
Abortion is considered to be safe and legal. Most abortions are done during the first 12 weeks (3 months) of pregnancy. Depending on the state where you live, you may or may not need your parent's permission to have an abortion. In many states, women younger than 18 must contact their parents before an abortion can be done. If you feel you cannot talk with your parents, speak with a judge who can help decide whether you are mature enough to make this important decision. Your doctor, social worker or other health professional can also talk with you about abortion and whether it might be right for you. Having someone to help support you during this often challenging and difficult time is very important.
Early abortion (within the first 3 months) is usually done in a doctor's office, hospital or clinic. You don't need to stay overnight, and the surgery usually takes only a few minutes. Physically, you should be able to go back to your normal activities in a day or two. In some cases, abortions before 49 days (usually 7 weeks from your last period) can now be done with pills alone.
If you have questions about abortion, talk with your doctor, your local Planned Parenthood office, family planning center or department of social services. You can also call the National Abortion Federation Hotline at 1-800-772-9100 for more information.
There are often families who are unable to have children and are looking to adopt a newborn baby. If this pregnancy was unplanned and you have decided to continue the pregnancy, but not keep the baby, giving your baby up for adoption is the greatest gift you can give another family.
There are two main kinds of adoption: adoption through an agency (licensed adoption) and independent (unlicensed) adoption. With agency adoption, the birth parents give up their child to the agency, which then finds a home for the baby. With independent adoption, the birth parents give the baby directly to the adoptive parents.
Before you decide on adoption, talk with a lawyer. Adoption laws are different from state to state, and you want to make sure you have all the facts before you make a decision. If you don't know any lawyers or don't know where to find one, call your local state bar association, family court, local family service organization or the Legal Aid Society. A social worker can usually help you find a lawyer, too.
The National Council for Adoption hotline can give you the names of licensed adoption agencies in your area. You can reach them at 202-328-8072. If you are pregnant, you can call collect. Their Web site address is www.ncfa-USA.org.
For information about independent (open) adoption, call the Independent Adoption Center hotline at 1-800-877-6736.