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I'm 18 - What Should I Do About My Unplanned Pregnancy? [Options You Have]

Deciding Between Adoption and Parenting

First, if you're pregnant and considering adoption, call 1-800-ADOPTION now. Next, there are three important things you need to understand about choosing adoption as an 18-year-old:

  • You are in control of your adoption from start to finish. You choose how much post-adoption contact you want to have with your child and more. 
  • An adoption plan is created specifically to address your needs. 
  • Based on what you feel is important in an adoptive family, you can view profiles and select the best possible adoptive parents for your baby. 

As an 18-year-old experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, you've likely just finished high school and are entering adult life. College or a career is next but what do you do now? Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.

We have helped birth mothers in your same situation find adoption for more than 30 years. We’re here to help you create a better future for you and your child through the loving and heroic choice of adoption. 

Just like any other woman in her teen years, if you are unexpectedly pregnant at 18, you will have an important decision to make. However, because you are a legal adult, you may assume that you’re more capable of raising a child than a woman who is younger than you.

While this may be the case, remember this — you do not have to become a parent after an unexpected pregnancy just because you are a certain age. You should only become a parent when you’re ready. 

Still, if you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may wonder what having a baby at 18 would be like. You may even ask, “I’m 18 — should I keep my baby?” 

This decision will always be entirely up to you. However, American Adoption is an agency comprised of experienced adoption specialists, many of whom are adoptees, adoptive parents or birth parents. This first-hand knowledge of the adoption process and how life-changing adoption is means we have the unique ability to make sure your experience is just as impactful. 

Sara knew she couldn’t parent her child under the circumstances and found American Adoptions, changing her life and the life of her child.

“I was scared I wouldn’t be able to care for the baby properly, financially support the baby, and keep up with the baby as he grew older.”

“I didn’t know what to do, so I got on the internet and searched ‘adoption.’ I was trying to convince myself it was the right thing to do. The next day, I called American Adoptions and left my information. I had never known anyone who’d been through adoption, and I had a lot of questions. Social worker Erin immediately returned my call. She answered my questions, and we discussed the concept of adoption. When I hung up the phone (crying), I knew this was the right choice for me and the baby. It was what my child deserved.”

Adoption is never “giving up” on your child. By choosing to find a loving and nurturing family, you are making a decision based on love and wanting the very best for your baby. This makes you a hero

To get more information on placing your baby for adoption as an 18-year-old, call us at 1-800-ADOPTION to speak to one of our adoption specialists or visit us online. We can go over your unplanned pregnancy options as well as get you started on your adoption journey today. For adoptive families wanting to adopt, get free information by filling out this form

First, let’s compare parenting your child and the choice of placing your baby up for adoption at 18 years old. 

Are You Ready to Be a Parent? 

While you are a legal adult when you are unexpectedly pregnant at 18, you may not yet have the financial and practical support system that a woman a few years older than you may have. Even if you live alone at college, you may still depend upon your parents to pay for your rent, supplies and education. They may not be keen on paying for the expenses of a baby on top of that. 

Even if you are living on your own, you are likely in the beginning stages of your career. You may not make enough to afford the extra expenses of a baby. Additionally, childcare is expensive. You may not be able to afford the childcare needed to continue working. While having a baby at 18 and parenting that child is certainly possible, these circumstances can make your journey a bit difficult. 

Ultimately, no one else can tell you what you “should” do when it comes to your unplanned pregnancy. However, there are usually a few reasons why you may decide to keep your baby from an unplanned teenage pregnancy: 

You have your parents’ support. 

Raising a child is a big responsibility and it is an incredibly difficult path as a single parent. If a young woman decides to be a mother, it is likely because she has financial, practical and emotional support from her parents along the way for things like childcare, baby expenses, medical bills and more. 

You are comfortable postponing or canceling your dreams. 

If you are having a baby at 18 and are considering raising that baby yourself, your life will need to revolve around that new child. This means any dreams you have of a “traditional” college experience will need to be postponed or canceled, as well as any goals you may have in regards to starting your career uninhibited or getting married before having a child. It’s a good idea to speak with other teenage parents to understand exactly what you will give up if you choose to have a baby at 18. 

You are ready for the ups and downs of motherhood. 

Becoming a parent is more work than it may initially seem. It is a 24/7 job that you cannot ignore, even if you wish you were doing something different. If you are thinking about having a baby at 18, think hard about all the aspects of motherhood — not just the Kodak moments of first steps and first words but also the late nights up with a crying baby, changing diapers and more. 

Do You Want Your Child to Have the Best Life Possible? 

Choosing to place your child for adoption is a decision many women make because their circumstances don’t allow for parenting. Being pregnant at 18 is difficult and if you aren’t considering abortion as an option, placing your child for adoption creates a more hopeful future for both you and your child.  

So, what are the reasons you may consider placing your baby for adoption as a pregnant 18-year-old?

You want to give your child the best life possible. 

While there are many successful teen moms out there, it will be a lot of hard work if you choose that path.

On the other hand, you may choose to place your child for adoption with people who are financially and emotionally prepared for the challenges of parenthood. The people who are interested in adoption are thoroughly screened by their adoption agency and are excited at the opportunity to have a relationship with you before and after your child is born.

In no way is this path “giving up on” or “giving away” your baby; it’s choosing to give them the best opportunities possible

You want to have a relationship with your child as he or she grows up. 

It’s normal to have maternal feelings toward a child you are carrying, but those maternal feelings aren’t always enough to provide the best childhood possible.

If you choose adoption, you will not say “goodbye” forever. You will have the opportunity for a direct relationship with your child and their parents through letters, pictures, phone calls and even in-person visits during the years to come. 

You need financial assistance for your pregnancy expenses. 

Pregnancy is expensive, and it can be difficult to find the funds for your prenatal care and delivery if you are only 18 years old.

When you choose adoption, your entire journey will be free of charge — which means you will not bear the financial burden of pregnancy on your own. You may even be eligible for additional financial assistance, based on your situation. 

  • If you are interested in placing your child for adoption, know that you will be in charge of the process every step of the way.
  • You will get to choose the family you want to adopt your baby, as well as the kind of open adoption relationship you want to have for the years to come.
  • You will never be obligated to choose adoption when you contact an agency, and you will always retain the right to change your mind about your decision before you sign your legal adoption documents after your baby is born. 

If you’re ready to place your child for adoption or simply want to learn more about all of your unplanned pregnancy options as a pregnant 18-year-old, Michelle, a birth parent specialist and a birth parent herself, is ready to answer any questions you have about putting a baby up for adoption at 18.   

“I am available to answer any questions that arise, particularly from birth moms, as I have been in your shoes and know how you are feeling,” Michelle said. “It was most helpful to me when I had someone to talk to who would just listen to me without making any judgments or conclusions about who I was as a person.”          

You can ask Michelle questions about the adoption process online. You can also call us at 1-800-ADOPTION, or get free information with our online contact form for prospective birth mothers considering adoption here. Adoptive families wanting more information on adopting a child can click here to get more information. 

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Adoption Glossary

Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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