If you’re sexually active, unplanned pregnancy is a risk that may become a reality. Unplanned pregnancy can cause a myriad of questions and concerns. Is paternity a question? Do you know the child is yours? Are you supportive of a pregnancy or is your first thought abortion? If your girlfriend is not interested in abortion, could you support her in parenting or is adoptive placement something you’d consider?
Researching your options is essential to making an informed decision. Knowing the procedural risks and effects of abortion is important to understand, especially if your girlfriend is hesitant. That is a huge decision that can’t be taken back and the long term emotional and sometimes physical effects can be hard to live with.
Parenting is a lifetime commitment to the child even if your relationship to the birth mother is not. Is marriage an option, or are you in or considering a long term relationship with the birth mother? If so, than explore that option, and that you are doing it for the right reasons, not just because there is a baby involved. Sometimes people can maintain healthier relationships outside of an unplanned, long term relationship, than in. Single parenting and co-parenting situations are everywhere and if both parties can be amicable for the sake of the child, then a long term, co-parenting relationship may be what’s best for everyone.
Things to consider in parenting would include visitation, financial responsibilities, and holidays. Long term decisions such as religious, educational and medical concerns should be addressed. These can be difficult to agree upon if both parents come from different backgrounds or perspectives. Be respectful in discussing these to avoid confrontation or absolutes so early on. Usually, when these sensitive topics can be addressed respectfully, a mutual understanding or agreement can more easily be determined.
If the birth mother wishes to place the baby with an adoptive family, takes some time to explore adoptive options. Meet with a few agencies and talk with attorneys so that you are aware, and informed in order to make the best decision. Understand what terminating your parental rights means to you. Decide whether you’d prefer to have an open or closed adoption. If the adoption is open, what type of visitation or contact will you maintain with the child? Will you play a role in selecting or choosing prospective adoptive parents?
You do have rights in an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, you have ALL the same rights as the birth mother. It takes two people to create an unplanned pregnancy, and both are equally responsible and accountable to make decisions for the baby. Most states have a Putative Father Registry, where unwed fathers of unborn children may register in order to take then necessary steps to protect their parental rights as fathers. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, please make sure you educate yourself to insure your understanding of your rights and responsibilities.