Staff Photos Megan SmallerHello, my name is Megan Kautio, and I am the Assistant Executive Director of American Adoptions. I have worked with many birth mothers and adoptive families in my time here at American Adoptions and love being able to watch families form through adoption.

Q. Why don’t all birth mothers receive prenatal care, and what does American Adoptions do to encourage it?

A. It is not uncommon for birth mothers to receive very little, very late or no prenatal care at all. There are a number of reasons why a woman might not receive regular care throughout her pregnancy, and these reasons likely differ for each woman.

Some birth mothers spend the early part of their pregnancy in fear and denial. They may not be telling others about the pregnancy and therefore do not begin care until later on when they ultimately begin creating an adoption plan. It is also quite possible – given that she is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy – that a birth mother simply doesn’t learn of her pregnancy until she is further along and the symptoms and signs of pregnancy become more apparent.

Many birth mothers are balancing numerous responsibilities with little to no support. For instance a birth mother, who is a single mom to two other young children and does not have a car or any supportive family or friends to help her, may just not be able to find the time or resources to get to the doctor. Furthermore, even if she can get to the doctor, she may cringe at the thought of spending hours of her day waiting around for a quick checkup. Other women may not have received prenatal care for previous pregnancies, so they feel that it is normal to not go to the doctor and feel that they will know if anything is wrong.

Just because a birth mother does not make it to doctor appointments regularly does not mean that she is not committed to her adoption plan or taking care of herself. Nor does it mean that she has something to hide, such as drug usage. It is important for adoptive parents to remember that while prenatal care might be their top priority if they were pregnant, it might be at the bottom of her priorities, especially if her life is chaotic, which is typical for many birth mothers.

American Adoptions does encourage birth mothers to receive prenatal care and talks with each woman about the importance of receiving care during pregnancy. American Adoptions also helps birth mothers with arrangements to get to and from the doctor or with locating a doctor or getting insurance coverage, if those are barriers to receiving care.

Ultimately, there could be many reasons a woman is not receiving prenatal care, and American Adoptions will do our best to help a woman receive good medical care and support her in whatever ways she needs.