Teen brother expecting baby

Archived Q&A and Reviews

September 2002

These boards have been extremely helpful in the past. Hopefully this community can help me this time. My brother is 17, so is his girlfriend. They live in Kentucky and are expecting a baby in March '03. I'm advising them to give the baby up for adoption. How can I sway them? I really don't want them to throw their lives away. I feel sorry for the baby too - being raised by teenagers is difficult for the child (My parents were teens when they had me!) Can a few of you post your feelings/experiences with adoption? I'd really like to forward them messages from adults who were adopted as kids and from families who've adopted kids. What can I say to them to help them make the hugest decision in their lives? Worried Big Sister

Two thoughts on this one. First, have a baby as a teenager is really tough. Second, despite my own feeling that I needed to be ''ready'' to have a child financially, emotionally, etc., I have to acknowledge that those definitions of ''ready'' aren't the same for everyone and can't be imposed. If your brother and the baby's mother are willing to consider adoption, then giving them support and resources is great! If they are not, would you consider being supportive of their decision to keep the child? I know a couple of circumstances where young adults, who I was sure were ruining their lives by having a child, have blossomed as parents and have happy, healthy children. Both had drug and alcohol history that compounded the worry. Both, I am happy to say, decided their responsibilities as a parent overrode everything else. Don't know your brother's circumstances, but life can evolve in the most unexpected ways. Don't lose hope. Kathi
I realise that you're woried about your brother, but please think very carefully about trying to persuade him to adopt his child. I was adopted by a mother who spent 8years on valium trying to live with her decision, and spent decades regretting it. Yes, of course it is difficult to be teenagers and have a child, but what alot of people don't realise is that giving a child away can be even more traumatic and life changing. It is a heavy burden to bear, and one that will never be forgotton by parents or child. Please pause, it must be their own decision either way. concerned adoptee
My husband had my step-daughter when he was 18 and he is the best father I have ever seen. He worked full time and got through college and now works for UC Berkeley. The daughter, who has lived with us for most of her life, is a fabulous child. Very smart, caring, healthy and beautiful. It has been a joy to have her. I can't imagine what we would do without her. Her father was young but he gave her all the love he had. She has blossomed as a result and is an ambitious child who loves life. If your brother wants to keep the baby and love it and be a real father to it then I say he should. Help him to realize that he has a heavy load in front of him and that he has to work very hard to become the best father he can be. I can only imagine how painful it is to give up a child escpecially against one's will. Good luck with this difficult situation. But maybe it isn't as bad as it seems. anonymous
Hello - this is a very delicate subject, indeed. In most countries around the world, it is not uncommon for 17-year olds to have babies. In this country, it is frowned upon - but I am here as a young mother who is raising my daughter with nothing but the utmost attention, love, affection and respect. It is possible for young moms and dads to be effective and incredibly mature parents!

Please don't judge them - have you tried talking to them about ways you can _help_ instead of shaming them? Pressuring them to give up their baby will only create problems if they have other plans. Only discuss this with them if they bring it up first, otherwise I would suggest keeping yourself out of their business unless you really want to help them with their new baby.

I'm not saying adoption is the wrong choice - but it is their choice, ultimately. I hope everything goes well. Take care! anon

Wow! We are adoptive parents (January, 2000) who are currently pursuing a second adoption. That means we are looking for birthparents who want to place their baby for adoption, and would consider us to be a good family.

Now that you know my bias, I would say the best way to support your brother and his girlfriend is to help them find the path that makes sense for them. I'd also welcome a conversation with you, and/or your brother and his girlfriend at any time. It's a big subject, and a big decision. I am happy to tell you our story and provide one example of how it might work for them. No pressure. It really is about helping them come to a decision that is right for them.

We chose to adopt our son through Open Adoption because it strongly emphasizes the birth parents' rights and roles in the process. Open Adoption is legal adoption where all parties know each other to some degree. Birthparents choose the family they want to place their child in based on their own objectives, and we collectively decide what the relationship should be going forward - not the courts, not the agencies, and not the attorneys. For some people that means going through the adoption process and never seeing each other again. For others it means periodic contact as agreed in the adoption process. For others still it means frequent contact, either in person or by phone/mail. The point is that the participants are in charge of the relationship.

We work with the Independent Adoption Center. Our office is in Pleasant Hill, but they have offices across the country. You can learn more about the IAC and Open Adoption by going to their website at www.adoptionhelp.org, or by calling them at 925-827- 2229. We like this agency because they place such a strong emphasis on supporting the birth parents. There are birthparent counselors at every step of the process, and continued birthparent support for years afterward. They are also extremely focused on helping the birthparents find their correct path - even if it means helping birthparents develop a parenting plan instead of an adoption plan.

There's so much more to say...alas. Although it may seem overwhelming right now, please know that whatever decision your brother and his girlfriend make, everything will be alright. Blessings to you for your obvious love and compassion. Carolyn

Every time I think of it, which is often, I am filled with gratitude to the birthmothers of my children for having made them available to me to adopt. However, I am also thankful beyond words that I know (and can explain to my children) that these women were not pressured or coerced into their difficult decisions. It's fine to talk to your brother and his girlfriend about different options open to them, but then you should do something really hard, which is to stand back and let them make their own decision. Let them know you love them and offer them your support in whatever they decide to do. (And if they do decide to raise their child don't assume they'll do it badly!) An adoptive mom
I am writing as an adoptive parent whose 21-year-old birthmother placed her newborn baby with us as she recognized that she would not be able to provide the kind of life for the baby that she wished at that point in her life. I certainly understand your concern about your brother and his girlfriend and their situation. I have found that many people know little about adoption. Perhaps the most helpful thing you could do right now would be to educate yourself, and help educate your brother and his girlfriend, about their options. They should understand what the reality of having and raising a child is, as well as what the reality of adoption is. For example, there is closed adoption and open adoption and everything in-between; If they choose to place their baby for adoption, they could have an open adoption where they would be able to be in contact with the adoptive family if they wished. If they wanted a closed adoption and no contact at all with the family, they could do that. In the end, they will need to make their own decision about it all, of course. One thing I would encourage is to use the currently accepted language for adoption within the adoption community - you don't ''give up'' a baby for adoption, you ''place a baby for adoption'' or you ''make an adoption plan''. I believe it's an important distinction, because of the negative associations of ''giving up'' your baby. It is such a tremendously difficult position to be in to begin with, to imply that you are a failure because you recognize that you may not be the best person to raise your baby is making a difficult situation worse, in my opinion. In the best situation, the baby is raised in a loving home where s/he can be given the best possible environment to grow and thrive - this could be with the birthparents, or with an adoptive family, and if the latter, that the birthparents believe in their hearts that they did the best thing for the baby. Because ultimately it really is all about what is best for the baby. Our birthmother most recently wrote us the following regarding the annual letters and pictures we send her of our daughter and us (which was what she wanted in terms of contact after the adoption): ''Every year it always reinforces that I made the right choice. It seems the three of you make the perfect family.'' Adoptive mom
As a single adoptive mother this is my experience and perspective: This has got to be one of the most difficult decisions anyone will ever make, as any parent can imagine. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to make an adoption plan for a baby (this is more sensitive language, instead of saying place a baby for adoption or giving a baby up for adoption). It seems that the majority of teenagers who become pregnant choose to raise their babies themselves. Even if they start out making an adoption plan, many will change their minds once the baby is born. Most birth mothers who go through with adoption plans tend to me older, 18 - 26. Adoption has changed a lot in most places in the last 20 years, so your brother and his girlfriend may have many misconceptions. I don't know the laws in Kentucky (each state has its own adoption laws), but in California both domestic independent and agency adoptions are open adoptions, meaining that the birth parents choose the adoptive family, that is, the people who will raise their baby. Secrecy is out, openness is in. It also means that birth parents can arrange with adoptive parents to have an ongoing relationship with the child. How often letters, pictures, visits happen is negotiated. I suggest that you do some reading (there are lots of great books about open adoption, some of them written specifically for birth parents) and also talk with some good, ethical agencies that work in the field. Adoption Connection in San Francisco is very trustworthy; I don't feel that way about several other local adoption facilitators and agencies (unnamed here). I wish you and your brother the very best. Mona
This may not be the advice you wanted...but....are you sure it's the right thing to place the baby for adoption? Is there no family support for your brother? Would he and his girlfriend make awful parents?

I look at adoption as a true last resort. It can be VERY hard on the baby and the biological parents. My adoptive family was abusive and awful, and it's taken me years to recover. I think it can be a real risk to give a child up for adoption. In some ways, I think adoptive families have additional hurdles to overcome, not the least of which is the psychological challenge of the child growing up knowing he was ''given away.''

Many people have had happy adoption stories, but please try not to look at it as an easy solution. I hope I don't offend the adoptive parents out there...I'm sure there are many loving and sane ones....I just didn't happen to land with them! anon

I know what I will post will be controversial. I am the adoptive mother of a 5 year old who is the greatest joy of my life. Much to my regret the adoption was closed at the birth mother's request. This has been very painful for me and for my daughter. Although I think an open adoption would help I also think it that keeping the baby within the biological family is the best solution if the family can make it happen and provide some support. Needless to say I am thankful beyond belief to have my daughter, but if she got pregnant at 17 and decided to have the baby I would NOT encourage her to place the baby for adoption, and I would definitely give her whatever support she needed to keep the baby in the family. Adoptive Mom