An unexpected pregnancy is not how you thought your teenage years would go. If this is what you’re experiencing now, it’s surely a difficult time. There are overwhelming emotions that come with an unplanned pregnancy, especially when it was the last thing on your mind. You are left wondering what to do, and how to reclaim any sense of normalcy in your life.
You probably have a lot of questions about how to move forward. What are my unplanned pregnancy options when I’m a teenager? Do you have to be a certain age to give your baby up for adoption? Does a minor have the right to give a baby up for adoption? Can a minor choose who adopts their baby? Can a minor place a child for adoption without their parents’ permission?
These questions and many more may be running through your mind, and this guide on being underage and giving up a baby for adoption is here to provide some answers. In a situation like this, just knowing what is possible helps you feel more in control.
Do You Have to Be a Certain Age to Give Your Baby Up for Adoption?
Anyone, at any age, can place their baby for adoption. If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy as a teenager and asking, “I’m pregnant. Can I adopt my child if underage?” then the answer is yes, you can.
Depending on where you live, there could be some differences between a minor and older person giving up a child for adoption. In 40 states and Washington, D.C., the adoption laws allow minors to place a baby for adoption without any differences in the process.
However, the 10 other states require an adult to participate in the process in some way. In five of these states, someone who is underage and giving up a baby for adoption is required to have legal representation. These five states are:
This legal requirement may not actually change the way the adoption process works, because nearly all women who choose adoption work with an adoption attorney.
The five remaining states require parental involvement in some way. In four states — Rhode Island, Minnesota, Michigan and Louisiana — parental consent is required for a minor to place a baby for adoption. Some states do have a different definition of which age constitutes being a minor, so you’ll need to check on that in your state’s law. The other state in the group, Pennsylvania, only requires parental notification, but not parental consent. If you live in those first four states, your parents will need to give official notification that they support the adoption.
If you don’t live in one of these states, there won’t be a difference between a minor and older person giving a baby up for adoption. The process will be the same for you as for anyone else. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the adoption process.
How to Give Your Baby Up for Adoption When You Are Underage
As we said, this process could like a bit different for you if you live in one of the 10 states that require some form of adult involvement, especially the four states that require parental consent. It’s impossible to say exactly how the details of your situation will play out. Generally speaking, these are the steps when any woman decides to choose adoption for her baby:
Step 1: Decide if Adoption is Right for You
This is a big choice. It’s understandable, as a teenager, to feel that parenting is impossible. It very well may be. Still, take the time to make sure adoption is what you want to do. Consider the benefits of adoption, and wait to start the process until you’re sure.
Step 2: Work With an Adoption Professional
Adoption isn’t something you can do on your own. When you are underage and giving a baby up for adoption, you will need to find an adoption agency or adoption attorney to work with. You can choose between a:
Step 3: Choose an Adoptive Family and Get to Know Them
When you place a baby for adoption, you choose the family you think will be best. Your adoption agency will show you adoptive family profiles, and you can pick the parents who you believe will be right for your child. Thanks to open adoption, you will also have a chance to get to know the parents. This isn’t something you have to do, but most domestic infant adoptions are at least semi-open. Getting to know the adoptive parents personally can help you feel confident in your decision.
Step 4: The Hospital Stay and Placement
Before you’re ready to give birth, you’ll create a hospital plan with your adoption professional. When the time comes, everything will be ready and everyone will know what to do. Giving birth probably sounds really scary, but there will be people all around you to help make your hospital stay as smooth as possible. After you’ve given birth, you can consent to the adoption, and the baby will be placed with the adoptive parents.
Step 5: Post-placement Contact and Moving Forward
The open adoption communication you had pre-placement can continue post-placement. Whether it’s letter updates, video calls or in-person meetings, you can have an ongoing relationship with the adoptive parents and your baby. You can also move forward with your own life. An unplanned pregnancy is disruptive, especially as a teenager. After the adoption, you can continue working toward your personal goals knowing you did what was best for you and your baby.
Resources to Help When You Are Underage and Giving Up a Baby for Adoption
Whether adoption is right for you, or a different unplanned pregnancy option is better, there are resources you can turn to for help. Going through a pregnancy as a teenager isn’t easy, and it’s always okay to ask for help. You might want to look into things like:
- Child Welfare Resources
- American Adoptions 24/7 Pregnancy Support Line
- Planned Parenthood
- Adolescent Health Services
- The Bump
There are likely more local resources to look into as well. Wherever you are, you can find help, and you can make the best of this unplanned pregnancy.