You're pregnant, and you're not keeping it

Pregnant - not keeping it

In Canada you have many options available to you, plus a variety of places to turn to for support when faced with an unwanted pregnancy.

Deciding to terminate a pregnancy or place your baby for adoption is possibly the hardest decision you will ever make. Luckily living in Canada means you have options and support to help you along the way. So when you find yourself pregnant and know you cannot keep your baby, what are your options?

Adoption

There are a number of things to consider when you decide to make an adoption plan. The first and most important is to find out how far along your pregnancy is and how it is progressing, and then decide if adoption is the right path for you. Tara, a 29-year-old from Red Deer, Alberta, was only 19 when she discovered she was pregnant and within a week of the discovery she and the baby’s father made the decision to place the baby for adoption. “My original choice would have been to terminate the pregnancy, however I found out I was pregnant too late to have an abortion,” she said. “As both the father and I were young and in college, living at home and wanting more for ourselves and our child, we decided to make an adoption plan.”

Once you know with certainty that adoption is the right choice for you, finding the right adoption agency will become the primary focus. In Canada, the most traditional route for adopting is through a public child welfare agency or a government adoption agency. However, the use of private agencies, which allow for direct placements between a pregnant woman and the adoptive parents, has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the lack of children under the age of two within the public sphere and the fact that many adoptive parents seek to adopt newborns.

Confiding in friends and family is very important during this time and their support and advice during these decision making days will be essential to ensure that no decision is too rushed or made in haste. Remember, your head may be a little cloudy and overwhelmed at this point and letting someone help a little with the load is always a good idea.

For Tara and her boyfriend, friends and family supported their wishes but Tara knew that many of them secretly wished they had parented the child themselves, including one friend who urged her to try and get her child back after the adoption had taken place. Luckily for them, however, this was not the end of their relationship with their child.

“I knew I couldn’t place my child for adoption and then just walk away and not know anything about the child,” she said, which was the main reason she and the baby’s father opted for an open adoption.

Deciding whether to proceed with an open or closed adoption is undoubtedly the most important decision you will make following the decision to make an adoption plan. In years gone by adoption was often an isolated, secretive experience and the birthparents relationship often ended the moment their child was handed over to the adoptive parents.

Today open adoptions are far more frequent and the lines of communication far more mailable for birth parents who wish to continue to know their child, whether just through vague yearly updates or face-to-face monthly visits. Nine years after giving up their child, Tara and her baby’s father see their child and the adoptive family a few times a year and correspond through emails and the occasional phone call.

The aftermath of adoption

And once all the decisions are made, there is little else to do but keep yourself healthy and wait for the arrival of your baby. For, as many have said before, there is little that can prepare you for the emotions that comes with giving up your child. Described as the “single most heartbreaking thing [she'd] ever had to do in [her] life”, Tara says that giving up her child was similar to the loss and grief that one experiences with the death of a loved one. “However, it’s complicated by the fact that the baby didn’t die and that society as a whole does not accept your loss and grief as valid since you were the one who chose to do this.”

Coping, Tara said, came with the help of a tight social circle that included her boyfriend (the baby’s father), her mom, a few close friends, and her agency social workers. Getting to know other birthmothers, like herself, also played a huge role in helping her overcome the pain of losing her child, she said.

So what happens in the aftermath of adoption? The biggest question may be ‘will I regret it?’ That all depends on your outlook on the situation and how you deal with it, says Tara. “I have regrets about how certain things happened during the process and I regret ever allowing myself to need to place my child for adoption, but overall [I have] no regrets.”

Abortion

While regulations and accessibility varies between provinces across the country, Canada is one of the only nations in the world with no legal restrictions on abortions. A plus and a minus in many eyes, what it means for a woman who finds herself in an uncertain pregnancy is that she has a choice.

It is important for any woman who is considering an abortion that it is a very final solution that can often come with a number of physical and emotional side effects that one needs to be prepared for.

Women have abortions for any number of reasons and talking these reasons through with your partner, your family, and close friends is essential at this time. The decision making process during an unwanted pregnancy can be stressful and deciphering who is supporting your decision and who opposes it, as well as how those people’s opinions affect your own, is extremely important, says the National Abortion Federation (NAF). Look at your future goals and figure out how abortion will affect those goals, and then think about your immediate plans and how continuing this pregnancy will affect them. Most important, says the NAF, is deciding what your personal stance on abortion is and how you will feel about your decision in one month or one year.

Once decided there are two types of abortion procedures available to women. The first is a surgical abortion, which is more evasive but with less pain and little recovery time (most women are usually back to their daily activities within a day) or a medical abortion, which is less evasive but can result in severe cramping and bleeding that can last a number of days. Deciding on your method will again depend on your beliefs and comfort level, as well as the stage you are at in your pregnancy (medical abortions can only be used in the first seven to nine weeks of pregnancy).

Following the abortion a majority of women feel a sense of relief but, as the NAF warns, some women can also experience feelings of loss, sadness, and grief. “There is no right or wrong way to grieve [after an abortion],” says the NAF. “The feelings are real, and you should give yourself permission to have them.”

Most clinics will provide post-abortion counseling for those women who are having trouble coping with their emotions, however if they do not, and you find yourself in need of such care, most can provide a referral to a clinic which will be able to assist you. And much like the adoption process, do not forget to surround yourself with loving and supportive people. They will make the biggest impact on you and your emotional state during this time.

Resources for adoption

Adoption Council of Canada
Your one stop website for anything and everything related to the adoption precess in Canada, including the provincial mandated legalities, statistics, FAQs, and a glossary of adoption terms.
www.adoption.ca

Canadian Adoption Resources
An online networking service for birth mothers (as well as adoptive parents) including information on adoption myths and risks, choosing the right adoption agency, and what you should and shouldn’t do during the adoption process.
www.canadaadopts.com/

iVillage Message Boards
Has a great section of its message boards devoted strictly to adoption with more that 110,000 posts and hundreds more posted each month by those considering adoption, those who have adopted, those who’ve already gone through adoption, and those who have been adopted.
parenting.ivillage.com/messageboards

BirthMother.com
An information and discussion site for birthmothers both in the pre-placement and post-placement stages of adoption. Included articles, stories, support forums, and information on how to cope before and after your adoption.
BirthMother.com

Resources for abortion

The National Abortion Federation: In Canada
This Canadian division of the National Abortion Federation offers information about services and resources throughout the country.
www.prochoice.org/canada/index.html

AfterAbortion.com
Offers message boards and chat rooms for both pre- and post-abortion women, as well as structured recovery support groups which place 15 women together to provide “an online, non-religion based, non-political healing program for women recovering after an abortion.”
AfterAbortion.com

eHealth Forum
This website hosts countless forums and answers millions of medical questions. It also includes a general abortion forum that covers an endless number of topics and provides answers to a number of posted questions on both abortion and adoption.
ehealthforum.com

The Experience Project
An anonymous open forum that allows anyone from anywhere to post experiences of any type. Today, more than 3 million have shared some of their most personal and daunting life experiences including decision to terminate pregnancies and give babies up for adoption. An insightful and inspiring website for another who feels alone in this world.
www.experienceproject.com

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