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Parenting vs. Adoption [4 Things to Consider]

How to Decide to 'Keep' a Baby or Not

If you’ve found yourself choosing between adoption vs. “keeping” the baby because you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, there are pros and cons of each path.

Deciding whether to keep a baby isn’t easy, but American Adoptions is here to give you personalized, unbiased support. You can call 1-800-ADOPTION now to talk through your situation and get the information and resources you need.

  • First, know that you are not alone. Many women have been in your position before, and many will be in the future.

  • Second, know that — while no one can make this decision for you — there are many resources dedicated to help you choose between “giving your child up” for adoption or “keeping” it. 

  • Third, remember that you have the opportunity to provide your child with an amazing life — whether you are able to do it on your own through parenting or by placing him or her with a loving and prepared adoptive family.

How to Decide Whether to "Keep" a Baby [Giving Your Child the Best Possible Life]

When it comes to choosing between parenting vs. adoption, it’s important to make the choice you believe to be right for you and your child. Parenting is not for everyone, in every situation, at every time in their life, and neither is adoption. If you’re unsure whether you should pursue adoption instead of keeping the baby or vice versa, below are four questions you can ask yourself to help you determine whether to choose adoption or keep the baby.

First, though, there’s one important thing you need to understand as you make this choice: adoption isn’t “giving up” or “giving away” your child. This type of language is common in discussions about parenting vs. adoption, and we use these phrases throughout our website materials to make sure the brave women who are trying to make this decision find the information they need.

However, when you’re wondering, “Should I keep my baby or give up for adoption,” think about what your words are saying.

  • Using the phrase “keep” implies that parenting is the positive option, while your other option (adoption) is a negative one of “giving away” or “giving up.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • You are not "giving up" or "giving away" your baby by choosing adoption. You are bravely and selflessly placing them with another family who will love them unconditionally and provide them with a lifetime of opportunities.

  • Adoption is a brave, loving and incredibly selfless decision, so please do not let negative adoption language sway you as you consider your options.

That being said, here are some things to consider if you’re wondering how to decide to “keep” a baby or not:  

Step 1: Consider your financial situation (because parenting is expensive).

Financial instability is often one of the main reasons women facing an unplanned pregnancy are unsure if they are ready to parent or if they are ready to add another baby to their family. It’s understandable; kids aren’t cheap. The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture states the average cost for a single mother to raise a child to age 17 is $233,610. This is a large sum of money to anyone, particularly someone who hasn’t been financially preparing for it or who is already caring for other children.

This does not, however, automatically mean that you should choose adoption vs. “keeping” the baby. Financial resources like Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Medicaid may help relieve some of the financial strain for food and healthcare. But, if you are considering adoption instead of keeping the baby, it's important to think about whether this financial support will be enough to provide the life you want for your baby.

  • If you believe that raising this baby will be a financial struggle for you, your child, or perhaps even for your other children, adoption will ensure your child has the financial stability and endless opportunities every mother wants for her child.

  • In addition, if you choose to make an adoption plan, all of your legal, medical, adoption planning and counseling services will be provided at no cost to you.

  • You may also be eligible to receive help with certain pregnancy-related living expenses, including rent, utilities, groceries, and more.

So, when it comes to cost, the benefits of adoption vs. childbirth and parenting are obvious: when a woman chooses adoption, the costs — including the medical costs of pregnancy and delivery — are covered for her. Without that financial support, affording pregnancy, childbirth and parenting may be much more challenging.

Step 2: Consider your support system (because unplanned pregnancy is never easy).

Another reason many women consider adoption is to provide their child with a stable, two-parent home environment. The benefits of being raised in a two-parent home are obvious. Not only is having a father (or second parent) important to a child’s emotional development, but it also provides a secondary income and a partner in raising a child.

“I gave him the best possible future, filled with unconditional love, financial stability, education and so much more!  He has a mommy and daddy who love him more than anything. He has so many family members who can’t get enough of him,” said Sara, a birth mother, about her adoption experience.

Being a single mother can be challenging, especially if you are parenting more than one child and/or parenting with little help from family members or friends. However, it can be done, and single mothers can be amazing parents, too. If your baby's father is not in the picture, you can still surround your child with positive male role models, and could someday find yourself with a new partner who would love nothing more than to become a father to your child. Still, it's something to consider when questioning how to decide whether to keep a baby.

Step 3: Consider the time commitment (because parenting will change your life).

When you have a lot of other things currently happening in your life, like finishing high school or college, raising your older children, or beginning or continuing your career, it’s common to wonder: “Should I keep my baby on top of my responsibilities at school or work? Do I really have time for a child (or another child) right now?” Adding a baby into your busy life would undoubtedly take time and attention away from those other goals and responsibilities.

At the end of the day, you will need to determine whether you can balance life as a new mother with these other responsibilities and interests. Ask yourself:

  • Will I have time and energy to be the attachment figure my baby needs during the most influential time in his or her life?

  • Will my child be my top priority?

  •  Should I keep my baby, even if it means putting my own plans on hold?

  • Will parenting this baby be the best thing for my other children? How will adding another child to our family impact them?

These important questions must be considered before taking the next step.

Step 4: Consider your own readiness (because “keeping” the baby is not right for everyone).

When you’re faced with an unplanned pregnancy, it is the most important question of all: “Am I ready to be a parent?” or "Am I ready for another baby right now?"

  • If you have aspirations to attend college, pursue a career or simply just want to maintain your current lifestyle, you may find that you aren’t ready to raise a child, and that’s okay.

  • If you are currently parenting another child or children, you may feel like you just don't have the capacity to add another baby to your life right now, and that's okay, too.

  • If you decide that adoption is what’s best for you and your baby, there is another family out there who is ready to adopt and give a child the greatest life imaginable.

  • Ask yourself whether you feel that you are ready and committed to being a mother to this baby. That may be the only answer you need. 

Remember, this is your baby and your decision. If you are asking, “Should I keep or adopt my baby to another family?” know that you are ultimately the only person who can answer that question. No one can tell you what is best for you and your child, nor should anyone ever try to convince you to choose adoption instead of keeping the baby or vice versa. Whatever you decide, there are resources and support available to you.

While we cannot tell you how to choose adoption or to “keep” your baby, we can give you the helpful information, guidance and support you need to make an informed decision. To get more information about parenting vs. adoption and what that choice could look like for you, contact American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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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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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