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Teenage Pregnancy: Foster Care and Adoption

February 10, 2013

Teenage pregnancy: placing the baby in foster care or giving up the baby for adoption

Foster care and adoption are two options that may be considered for a teenage pregnancy.

Foster care

Foster care means placing a baby in the home of the foster carer. The foster carer will look after the baby for a period of time – it could be a few months or a few years. The good part of placing the baby in foster care is that the teenage mother will still have contact with the baby.

The teenage mother may sometimes already be in foster care herself and remains in foster care for the duration of the teenage pregnancy.

Foster care is suitable for:

  • teenage mothers who are alone with no family support;
  • teenage mothers who may have a problem with drugs or alcohol;
  • teenage mothers who may be depressed or with problems coping with the teenage pregnancy in the home environment;
  • teenage mothers who for any other reason need a safe and stable place for bringing up the baby.

Adoption

Adoption means giving up the baby and having the baby placed with adoptive parents for the rest of the baby’s life. Adoption is a permanent arrangement and the teenage mother gives up all her rights and responsibilities for the baby to the adoptive parents. The teenage mother usually will not have contact with the baby unless the adoptive parents (and the child) decides otherwise.

Issues to consider about adoption:

  • does the teenage mother have family support or support from the baby’s father?
  • what kind of a life does the teenage mother want for the baby?
  • what is the teenage mother’s financial and emotional status?
  • is the baby’s father willing or wanting to play a role in parenting the baby?
  • is the pregnancy a result of sexual assault?

If adoption is likely, in many countries including the US and Australia, open adoption is possible. Open adoption is a type of adoption that allows the teenage mother (and the baby’s father) to keep in contact with the adoptive parents and the baby. Open adoption still means that the teenage mother gives up the rights and responsibilities of her baby to the adoptive parents. However, in an open adoption, the teenage mother can:

  • have a say in who the adoptive parents will be (can choose the adoptive parents);
  • watch the baby grow up through photos, phone calls, letters or visits;
  • be assured that the baby is kept healthy and safe;
  • explain to the baby about his or her family background; and
  • know about the baby’s future.

Getting help

Some organizations that will be able to help or counsel the teenager on the adoption option:

  • Departments of social services or family services offered by the state, county or city health departments;
  • Mental health centers at the local health clinic or hospital (through a doctor);
  • Faith based counselors;
  • Adoption agency with pregnancy or option counselors;
  • Adoption lawyer.