Is Adoption Better for Mental Health Than Abortion?


If you’ve already ruled out parenting as an option for you, your choices for a pregnancy are either abortion or adoption.

While we’re clearly advocates for adoption, that path simply isn’t for everyone. There are likely many factors you’re considering in your decision-making — the costs of abortion vs. adoption, the physical effects of each option and more. One of your considerations is likely your mental and emotional wellbeing. Many pregnant women weighing their options have asked, “Is giving baby up for adoption better for mental health than abortion?”

Ultimately, women who have decided to parent, abort, or place their baby for adoption have all been affected mentally and emotionally by their choice to some degree. There is no option where you remain completely unaffected. But these are some of the differences between adoption and abortion, so you can gain a better understanding of how either option may affect you:

The Emotional Effects of Adoption

Choosing adoption for your baby is difficult, but it’s a decision that many women feel will ultimately be the most beneficial for themselves and their child. However, as with all of your pregnancy options, there are mental and emotional effects to consider, such as:

  • Doubting the decision leading up to placement. This is a common part of the process for many women, as questions that arise through doubt often reveal your original motivations.

  • Feelings of guilt or selfishness for “failing” to parent the child you placed (even though choosing adoption is not failing or “giving up” — it’s actually an incredibly brave and selfless choice!).

  • Heightened sadness during significant post-adoption events, like holidays or birthdays.

The most common experience after placing a child for adoption is the grief process. Even though they feel confident in their decision and in their child’s happiness, women still often grieve the loss of that child. For some women, seeing their child’s growth and happiness through open adoption helps them cope with that sense of loss. For others, seeking counseling to help them process their emotions is the best way to heal and move forward.

Benefits of Choosing Adoption

Placing a child for adoption is a difficult decision, but it’s one that’s made out of love. Some of the main benefits of adoption include:

  • Being able to see your baby grow up through photos, letters, calls and visits if you choose to have an open adoption.

  • Adoption is free for you.

  • Free medical care, legal representation and emotional counseling throughout the process.

  • Potential for financial assistance with your costs of living while pregnant, like rent, utilities, groceries, etc.

  • The ability to pursue your educational and career goals.

  • Not having to financially provide for this child.

When you place a child for adoption, there is often a sense of peace in knowing that your decision benefitted so many people at once.

The Emotional Effects of Abortion

Ending a pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no mental or emotional effects. Some potential effects that abortion may have on your mental health include:

  • Feelings of guilt or shame over terminating a pregnancy, which can sometimes linger.

  • Feeling like you can’t talk about your feelings or experience with friends or family for fear of judgment, which can lead to feelings of isolation.

Most women who receive an abortion go through the grieving process. For some women, that grieving process is more brief. For others, it takes longer to deal with, and they made need additional help to work through it. Grief is a common emotional experience after an abortion, and should never be ignored.

Is giving baby up for adoption better for mental health than abortion? That seems to depend on the individual and what option brings them the most peace. Only you can know for sure.

Benefits of Choosing Abortion

Of course, the primary benefit of abortion is that you’d no longer be pregnant. But this doesn’t make it as if you were never pregnant in the first place. Your life is always still affected.

Some of the other potential benefits of abortion include:

  • A relatively quick recovery time, depending on the abortion procedure you receive.

  • A low risk of complications.

  • Some abortion providers can refer you to a counselor if you request it.

  • The ability to pursue your educational and career goals.

  • Not having to financially provide for this child.

As with all three of your pregnancy options, there are benefits and drawbacks to choosing abortion.

Whatever You Choose, There Are Always Effects

There is no unplanned pregnancy option where your mental health isn’t affected in some way: positively, negatively or, most commonly, a mix of the two. However, it’s likely that one of your options simply feels more right to you.

So, whatever option you think is best, take care of yourself and never be afraid to ask for help if needed.

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