I talk with women every day about adoption for their child. (Read my adoption story here.) Here are the 15 most common reasons why women choose to give a baby up for adoption. This isn’t an exhaustive list. Every situation is different, and every woman has her own reasons. While many of these may seem obvious, some might surprise you.
1. Not ready to be a parent.
Some women make an adoption plan for their baby because they are not ready to be a parent. Unplanned pregnancies throw life into chaos for many women. A woman might still be in school, just getting on her feet, or lacking support. Some women know immediately that they aren’t equipped to take on the cost of raising a child. Even though she might want to have children in the future, a woman may choose unplanned pregnancy options such as adoption because she knows she isn’t ready now.
2. She doesn’t want to be a parent.
Similarly, some women choose to give a baby up for adoption because they feel they are not cut out for parenthood. She may have negative life experiences around parenthood, or maybe she isn’t feeling a mothering instinct. Many women have firsthand knowledge of the financial and personal sacrifices parents make, and they decide early on that they don’t want to raise children. Choosing adoption in these circumstances feels like the right choice for many women.
3. Can’t afford the financial cost of parenting.
Babies are expensive. The cost for food, diapers, clothing, childcare, and other baby equipment costs well over $1,000 per month. Many women, even those who make more than minimum wage, can’t afford it. Some women choose to put their baby up for adoption with a family who can afford to raise a child.
4. Her life is unstable.
An unplanned pregnancy can be devastating for a woman whose life is unstable. She may be homeless or struggling with addiction or some other illness. Her life isn’t in a place where she can provide a safe and stable environment for a child to thrive. A woman may feel that putting her child up for adoption in these circumstances is the best she can do for her child.
5. She’s too young to raise a child.
Parenthood is a lifelong choice. When a woman becomes pregnant and considers the pros and cons of parenting, she may decide that she is too young to parent. It could be that she still considers herself a child with her entire future in front of her. Maybe she wants to finish school or gain some life experience and independence before she starts a family. Maybe she doesn’t have a good support system.
6. Pregnancy costs are too expensive.
Any woman who has had a baby knows very well how expensive it is to give birth. This is especially true if you don’t qualify for state funded insurance. Some women choose to put a child up for adoption at birth because the adoptive family covers the medical costs of the pregnancy. Furthermore, some states allow adoptive parents to help an expectant mother with her pregnancy-related expenses. While financial assistance is not an incentive to choose adoption, for some women, it’s a financial relief.
7. Her baby is at risk of going into foster care.
If a woman or her baby tests positive for drugs at delivery, the hospital social worker is usually mandated to report this to child protective services. When this happens, the woman’s baby is at risk of going into foster care. Some women know that a positive drug test is inevitable because of drug use during pregnancy. In order to avoid foster care, they may make a plan before delivery to give a baby up for adoption. In this way, the baby will be discharged to the adoptive parents, not to foster care.
8. Baby has special needs she is not prepared to take on.
Some children born with special needs require a lot of hands-on care. This care usually requires a stay at home parent and a lot of financial resources. You can choose a family who is prepared for this and still put your baby up for adoption a birth. There are many waiting families who are prepared to adopt a child with special needs.
9. She wants her child raised by two parents.
Raising a child as a single parent isn’t easy. It’s difficult to cover all of the costs of raising a child with just one income. Some women choose adoption because they want their child to be raised in a home with two parents. They believe that a two parent home is more stable both financially and emotionally. Some women have experience with what they call a “broken home” and choose adoption because they don’t want that for their child.
10. She doesn’t want baby’s father involved in the child’s life.
Some women choose adoption when they become unexpectedly pregnant with a man they don’t want to be with. Choosing to parent means your child’s father may always be a part of your life. Some women are afraid of the birth father. Maybe he is abusive or has a criminal history. Some women don’t ever want to see the birth father again. Maybe he is married or in another relationship. A woman might choose adoption in order to give their child a fresh start with a stable, loving adoptive family.
11. Family and friends cannot help her raise her baby.
Children benefit from the support of an extended family. Sometimes family can offer not just financial support but emotional support as well. Frequently our families are a source of childcare, a desperately needed break from parenting, and advice at all levels of child development. A birth mother might choose adoption if she doesn’t have family or friends who can provide her with this much-needed support.
12. She wants adoptive parents who will provide a unique childhood.
Parents have all kinds of hopes and dreams for their children. Sometimes this looks very different from their own childhood. Some women choose the adoption process because they want their child to have experiences that she didn’t. Maybe her home wasn’t financially stable, or maybe she didn’t have strong role models. She might choose an adoptive family who can provide these things and will raise the child in a particular geographic area, or will encourage education, arts, and travel.
13. The child was conceived as a result of rape.
I’ve written a lot about date rape and the tragedy of women being drugged and raped. Some women choose to give a baby up for adoption because they discover at several months pregnant that it’s too late for an abortion. Many of these women didn’t even know they had been victimized. The trauma of the discovery of an assault and the subsequent pregnancy can make the prospect of parenting terrifying. Some will choose adoption for one of the other reasons above, but many may choose adoption because their child is a reminder of the trauma.
14. Abortion is not an option.
For many women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, abortion is not an option. This can be for religious reasons, personal reasons, or fear of the procedure. Some women are afraid they will regret an abortion in the future if they go on to have children later. For some women, abortion is not an option because they cannot afford it financially, or it is illegal in their state. This is just one of many reasons women seek out adoption services, like open adoption, closed adoption, or independent adoption, for an unplanned pregnancy.
15. She wants to give the greatest gift to a loving family.
Many women create an adoption plan for their baby because they want to give a loving family a child. They don’t get pregnant for this reason, but they see it as a silver lining to the crisis they have found themselves in. Some women specifically seek out adoptive parents who have no children because the joy in giving can lessen her pain, her grief and her loss.
If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and want to talk about your options, we’re here to help. You can call, text or email 24/7.