Even though adoption is becoming increasingly common and widely accepted in society today, there are still some pretty persistent (and often, damaging) myths about birth parents out there — one of them being the myth of the teenage birth mom.
It’s not uncommon for people new to adoption to assume that most birth parents are teenagers, but that’s not at all the case. In fact, while there are certainly teenage birth parents out there, it may surprise you to learn that only a fraction of women who choose adoption are teenagers.
To help combat birth mother myths, here’s what you should know about the women who choose adoption and their reasons for doing so.
Birth Mothers Come from Varied Backgrounds
A woman can experience an unplanned pregnancy at any point in her adult life. While unplanned teen pregnancies may get a lot of attention in the media, most women who consider adoption are actually in their twenties or thirties (and some are even in their forties). The majority of birth mothers are in their mid-20s when they choose adoption.
In fact, national adoption agency American Adoptions estimates that only around 8 percent of the prospective birth mothers who contact them are 20 years old or younger. And, the agency reports, this is a number that has remained relatively steady throughout the organization’s history — even despite a dropping teen pregnancy rate.
This raises another question — why aren’t more birth mothers and women considering adoption teenagers?
Understanding Why Women Choose Adoption
Depending on a woman’s age and other circumstances, her reasons for choosing adoption will also be different.
For example, women who choose adoption in their twenties and thirties often already have other children that they are currently raising. One of their reasons for choosing adoption may be that they simply aren’t in a position to take on the responsibility of another child. Mothers in their twenties and thirties already knows what it takes to raise a baby and can often make better-informed and more mature decisions about whether they’re realistically able to parent another child, potentially making them more likely to choose adoption.
Expectant teen mothers, on the other hand, may be more likely to choose parenting over adoption. While it’s difficult to find statistics, anecdotal evidence suggests that teenagers may not have the same ability to fully comprehend the responsibilities that come with motherhood. In addition, it’s common for a teenager’s parents or other relatives to step in and offer to help with raising the child.
There is No “Typical” Birth Mother
Above all else, it’s important to remember that no two birth mothers are alike (just as not two adoptees or adoptive parents are alike). Women who choose adoption come from many different backgrounds, and their reasons for making an adoption plan are just as diverse as they are.
It’s always best to avoid making generalizations, but if you are looking for one characteristic that nearly all birth mothers have in common, it’s this: a selfless and loving desire to provide their children with the best life imaginable.