Placing a Baby for Adoption as a Teenager
You’re at a pivotal point in your life right now. You’re likely in high school, struggling to find your place in the world. You have dreams for yourself, both big and small. You want to finish high school, have career goals and you may hope to pursue a higher education.
An accidental pregnancy throws a wrench in your life and your future. We know that an unintended pregnancy is scary, and that it’s even more overwhelming when you’re in your teens. This guide is here to help you understand the choices in front of you, and what comes next.
You always have three choices when you find yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy:
There’s no right or wrong choice in response to an unexpected pregnancy as a teenager. There’s only the right choice for you.
However, in this guide, we’ll specifically be focusing on adoption. Teenage pregnancy doesn’t always end in adoption, despite the stereotype of birth mothers always being teenage girls. In fact, the average teenager considering putting a baby up for adoption typically ends up trying to parent the baby.
But why don’t pregnant teens choose adoption? Often, it’s because they didn’t know how hard it is to raise a child. It could also be that many teenagers don’t know what the modern adoption process is really like and how it can benefit them and their baby for the rest of their lives.
A note about the language used in this article: You’ll notice that we use phrases like “giving up” or “putting up” a baby for adoption. These aren’t the preferred terms, because they imply that choosing adoption does not require a great deal of love, pain, sacrifice, consideration and effort. However, for the purposes of this article, we use them because they’re commonly used and understood. We encourage you to learn about (and use) adoption positive language.
If you are a minor “giving a baby up” for adoption, it’s important to learn about the laws, the process and the pros and cons involved in this decision. Here’s what you should know about how to “give your baby up” for adoption underage:
Legalities of Placing a Baby for Adoption as a Teenager
“Can a minor give a child up for adoption? Will I get into any legal trouble if I’m a teenager and giving my baby up for adoption?”
These types of questions are common. If you’re under 18, you may be worried about the legalities of being pregnant and underage. “Giving up” a baby for adoption is absolutely legal, no matter your age, as long as you work with a licensed adoption professional.
At this point, you may be concerned that you’ll get in trouble just for being pregnant, let alone placing your child for adoption. Remember: You’ll never be in any legal trouble for choosing adoption, even if you’re a minor.
You may still have some questions or concerns about whether or not adoption for teenage pregnancy is an option for you. Here are some of the most common questions about being under 18 putting a baby up for adoption:
“Do you have to be a certain age to give your baby for adoption?”
No. There are no age requirements to place your baby for adoption. Birth mothers are of every age.
“Can I put my baby up for adoption? I’m not 18.”
Yes. While 18 is the legal age of adulthood in the U.S., that doesn’t mean people don’t become pregnant before that point. You can choose to place your baby for adoption whether you’re under or over 18, and the process will remain more or less the same.
“Does a minor need parents’ permission to give a baby up for adoption?”
In most cases, no. You do not legally need their permission to choose adoption, even if you’re under 18.
Your parents may or may not approve of your adoption decision, which can be hard for a number of reasons. However, it’s nearly impossible to keep your pregnancy and adoption plan a secret, nor is it recommended. If you need help talking to your parents about your unplanned pregnancy or adoption decision, you can always contact a professional for free counseling and support.
Remember that it’s always your right and your decision to choose adoption (or any option), and your decision alone.
“Can a pregnant teenager give a baby up for adoption without consent of the father?”
Sometimes, but rarely. There are some situations in which the consent of the baby’s father is not required, but this will depend on the laws where you live as well as your individual situation.
You must always consult with a licensed adoption attorney. Otherwise, your adoption may not be legal. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have about the baby’s father and adoption consent, and their legal fees are covered for you when you work with an adoption agency.
“Can you put a baby up for adoption is a father is underage?”
Yes. Underage birth fathers (or even fathers who are over 18) are often not ready to help their pregnant partner raise a child. You (nor he) will face any legal repercussions for placing your baby for adoption as a minor.
“Can a minor choose who adopts their baby?”
Yes. It is always the right of the prospective birth parents (including those who are not 18) to choose their baby’s future family. Some potential birth parents consider placing their baby with friends or family members, but this often creates tension.
For these reasons and more, most birth parents choose to place their child with an outside family (of their choosing), and more than 90% choose to keep in touch through an open adoption. You can view profiles of waiting parents here.
“What’s the difference between minor and older person giving up for adoption?”
The process of placing a baby for adoption is generally the same, whether you’re a minor or you’re older. The biggest difference may be some of the reasons why you might be considering adoption.
A woman in her 30s and a person in her teens will often have different concerns about parenting at these different stages in their lives, but they’ll both have concerns that lead them to consider adoption. For example, teenagers may not have their own home in which to raise a child, while an older person sometimes does. On the other hand, an older person may be struggling to care for multiple children, while this may be the teenager’s first pregnancy.
No matter a person’s reasons for considering adoption, the reasons are always valid.
The Process of Teenage Adoption
Think adoption might be the right choice for you? Then your next question is probably, “How does a teenager ‘give a baby up’ for adoption?”
If you’re unsure how to put a baby up for adoption if you are a teen, you’ll want to start with this guide to the general process of placing a baby. The steps involved in a pregnant teenage adoption are the same as the process that any prospective birth mother will go through. When you reach out to an adoption professional, they’ll be able to offer you customized guidance based on your age and situation.
Pros and Cons of Choosing Adoption as a Teenager
If you’re unsure of whether or not adoption is the right fit for you, you may find weighing the benefits and drawbacks to be helpful when considering your options for a teenage pregnancy. Adoption pros and cons can vary from one person to the next. That being said, some of the most commonly cited pros of “giving your child up” for adoption while a teenager include:
- The ability to continue your education and career goals after the baby is born.
- Not having to be physically, mentally, emotional or financially responsible for a child.
- Your baby having a loving, excited and prepared family, who are able to provide him or her with opportunities that you’re unable to provide at this point.
- The option to have a relationship with your child and their family through an open adoption.
Some of the cons of choosing adoption may include:
- Having to carry a pregnancy and give birth.
- Potential judgement from peers, friends or family members who don’t agree with your choice.
It’s up to you to decide if this is the best path in your situation.
Reasons Some Teens Choose Adoption
People who have never faced the uncertainty and fear of an unplanned pregnancy sometimes can’t understand why a teen mom would put a baby up for adoption. But the teenagers who ultimately chose to place a baby for adoption felt that this choice could provide their child (and themselves) with the best possible future.
So, why should teens give their baby up for adoption? Let’s consider some of the most common reasons why pregnant teens choose adoption:
- They aren’t physically, mentally, emotionally or financially ready to be a parent.
- They don’t feel comfortable with abortion, or abortion is not a viable option in their situation.
- They don’t want to end their education or career goals in order to raise a child.
- They aren’t in a physically, mentally, emotionally or financially stable place in their lives as a teenager, so they’re unable to provide for a child.
- They want to provide their baby with a loving family who is ready and waiting for a child.
Placing Your Baby for Adoption at a Specific Age
Can you give a child up for adoption if you are under 18? Always. People who are over 18 also frequently choose adoption.
Although you can choose adoption at any age, your current age will influence where you’re at in life right now — mentally, emotionally, physically and financially — as well as what’s happening in your day-to-day.
Choosing to place a baby for adoption when you’re 14 is different than when you’re 19, but it’s never more or less difficult. Here are some things you may be considering, based on your current age:
“Giving Your Child Up” for Adoption at the Age of 14
At this age, you may be thinking, “Please help — I don’t want to be pregnant at 14.” We know this is scary, but unfortunately, there’s no way to become “un-pregnant” once that test is positive. You’re pregnant — so what can you do next?
At 14, you’re probably just starting out high school and you’re new to so many things. Becoming pregnant wasn’t how you pictured your teenage years. But you’ll need to make an important choice right now — which of the three unplanned pregnancy options is right for you?
If you are pregnant at 14, your first step should be to tell a trusted adult, like your parents. While they can’t tell you wat to do with your unplanned pregnancy, they can help you get the support and services you need, especially if your pregnancy is the result of a crime committed against you. If your pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, you need to talk to a trusted adult or contact the authorities right away.
After confiding in someone you trust, you should learn about the options available to a 14-year-old. Reach out to an adoption professional to learn more about the process of placing a baby for adoption at 14, as well as information about parenting or abortion at this age.
“Should I Keep My Baby? I’m 15.”
Becoming pregnant at any age is scary, but it’s particularly hard at 15. You’re still in high school and figuring out who you are. You’re still dependent on your family for most things, and so you’re probably not in a position where a child could solely be dependent on you.
Considering adoption can feel a little overwhelming at first, but the sooner you learn about your unplanned pregnancy options, the better. Taking charge of your pregnancy is the first step. You can always contact an adoption professional to ask questions, learn about the process of placing a baby for adoption at the age of 15 and more, all for free and without any obligation to commit to adoption.
Putting a Child Up for Adoption at 16
Young women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant at 16 have a lot of questions and worries. Here are some of those common questions, and the answers:
“I’m 16 and don’t want to be pregnant. But, I’m pregnant at 16. What do I do?”
As much as you might wish for a pregnancy test to magically become negative, you first have to come to terms with the fact that you are pregnant. Next, you’ll need to learn about your options. Having an abortion is the only way for you to not carry the pregnancy any longer, but this option is only possible if you’re early in pregnancy (and, even then, abortion isn’t always the right choice for everyone). Both adoption and parenting require you to carry the pregnancy to term.
“Should I keep my baby at 16, or should I choose adoption?”
Deciding between parenting and adoption is not an easy choice. Are you physically, mentally, emotionally and financially prepared to become a parent right now? Do you want to become a parent at 16 (or at all)? Are you willing to put your life on hold in order to be a parent to your child? If you answered ‘no’ to these questions, you should learn more about adoption.
“Can I give my baby up for adoption? I’m only 16.”
Yes. You can choose adoption at any age, including 16.
“Is it legal to put a child up for adoption at 16?”
Yes. As long as you work with a licensed adoption professional, placing your child for adoption is 100% legal at any age. There are no legal repercussions just because you’re under 18.
“When giving your baby up for adoption at the age of 16, who needs to be there?”
You can choose who you want to be with you when you give birth or consent to an adoption. Some professionals will need to be present when you offer consent to an adoption, but anyone beyond that is up to you. Nobody is required to be there unless you want them there.
“I’m 16 and I don’t want my baby. Is it still possible to choose adoption after the baby is born?”
Yes. Depending on the age of your baby, your options may change. Reach out to an adoption professional to talk about adoption for your child, and how the specifics of your circumstances may affect your ability to choose adoption.
So, can you put a baby up for adoption as a 16-year-old? Yes. And many 16-year-olds have done so. But, only you can decide if adoption is right for you.
“I’m 17. Can I Put My Baby Up for Adoption?”
Can you give your baby up for adoption if you are 17? Absolutely. Should you? That’s entirely up to you.
You’re probably approaching your senior year of high school, and if you’re thinking about parenting, you may have to put graduating on hold. You likely don’t have the time or resources to raise this child without the help of your family. Placing a child for adoption is never easy, but neither is parenting — especially at 17.
If you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant at 17, “giving your baby up” for adoption may be the right choice for you. Take some time to learn about your unplanned pregnancy options. You can speak to an adoption professional for free at any time and ask questions, without having to commit to adoption.
“I’m 18. Should I Keep My Baby or Should I Choose Adoption?”
“Why should I keep my baby when I’m 18 years old?” You’re legally an adult, but that doesn’t mean that you’re ready, willing or able to become a parent right now.
Many people at 18 are hoping to go to college or start a career. Becoming a parent would temporarily or permanently delay those dreams. For these reasons and more, many 18-year-olds choose to place their baby for adoption. It’s up to you to decide if you’re ready to raise this baby. Remember that you can always talk to an adoption professional if you have any questions. It’s free, confidential and there’s no obligation to choose adoption.
Choosing Adoption at 19
“I’m 19. Should I keep my baby, or should I consider adoption?”
At 19, you’re an adult who has likely gained some practical life experience. But, you’re at a very pivotal age that determines where the rest of your life will go and who you want to be. Choosing to either become a parent or to pursue your educational and career goals at 19 is one of the hardest decisions you’ve likely faced. Only you can know what’s right for you. Consult with an adoption professional to learn about all of your unplanned pregnancy options at 19, including parenting, adoption, or abortion.
What to Do If You’re Facing a Teenage Pregnancy — Adoption is an Option
So, if you’re wondering, “Can a minor give a baby up for adoption?” The answer is always ‘yes.’ You don’t have to be over the age of 18 to make whatever decision you feel is the most responsible in your situation.
If you’re recently found out that you’re pregnant, you’re likely feeling a little overwhelmed at this point. But just know that you don’t have to go through this alone. When a teenage girl is pregnant and wants to “give a baby up” for adoption, she’ll need the support and guidance of a licensed adoption professional. Contact a professional now to learn more about adoption. Teen pregnancy is frightening, but a professional can help you through it and provide you with information about your options, including adoption.
If you’re thinking about “giving your child up” for adoption, teen pregnancy counselors are always standing by to answer any questions you may have. Pregnant teens can also start by viewing profiles of waiting adoptive parents here.