Facing an unplanned pregnancy is one of the most frightening and overwhelming situations a woman can face. If you are the father of the baby, it can be scary for you too. You may be angry that this happened. You may be embarrassed that this happened. It makes no difference if this woman is your girlfriend, wife, or a casual acquaintance — you need to accept your part in this pregnancy.

Ultimately, the woman will make the decision that is best for her and her baby, but that doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the situation with her. If you are a man facing an unplanned pregnancy, here is some advice for supporting the woman making this decision.

1. Remain calm.

An unintended pregnancy can rattle even the most grounded of individuals. Do not assign blame and do not take out your feelings on each other. You both had a part in this pregnancy. Do the best you can to work together as a team.

2. Remember you are in this together.

It is natural to immediately think about how this will affect your life. What will your friends, family, and coworkers say? If she is planning to parent this baby, will you need to find a job, or a job that makes more money? Have your dreams and goals been shattered? While you will want to talk with someone about all of these feelings, unloading them on the woman facing the unplanned pregnancy may not be the best idea. Ask her how she’s feeling. Ask what her initial thoughts are on the pregnancy. When you show care and concern, she will be more willing to have a positive conversation about the situation.

3. Know your options.

Even though the woman will have the ultimate decision on how to handle her unplanned pregnancy, it is very important that you understand your options as the father. You can have input in the decision as well. Here are some questions worth asking yourself:

  • Can you afford to raise a child?
  • Are you willing to co-parent with or marry this woman?
  • Can you support the woman financially and emotionally should she decide to have an abortion?
  • Do you understand the abortion laws in your state?
  • What do you know about adoption? Do you understand what an open adoption is?
  • Do you want to be involved in the adoption process? Are you willing to sign away your parental rights to your baby?

Take some time to understand all your unplanned pregnancy options — parenting, adoption and abortion. Then you will be able to have a productive discussion with the mother.

4. Be supportive of her decision.

This can be difficult if her choice is not the same as yours, but you need to take responsibility and ask how you can help. She may or may not want you closely involved, but offer assistance either way. If she decides to parent the child, know that you will likely be legally required to pay child support if you don’t want to be involved in your child’s life.

5. And most importantly, learn from this experience.

Take precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the future. Be prepared with multiple forms of birth control. Regardless of the outcome of this unplanned pregnancy, you will learn a major life lesson. Take this lesson to heart.

If you are interested in working with your child’s mother to create an adoption plan, or if you would simply like to learn more about your options for unplanned pregnancy, you can call American Adoptions any time at 1-800-ADOPTION.