Your daughter has just told you that she is having a baby. After the shock and anger subside, where do you go next? It is going to be a tough road. Your daughter has a lot of decisions to make and she will probably be coming to you and asking a lot of questions.
Although you may not have the answers your daughter is looking for, be open to helping her find the answers. She may need you to guide her to information or maybe she will just want you to be there to hold her hand. Let her tell you what she needs from you. But here are some things you should discuss with your daughter as soon as possible to open up the dialogue on the situation and help her with her decision making:
If your daughter is thinking about abortion
- Encourage her to question her reasons behind wanting this
- Does she want a quick fix?
- Discuss the psychological effects of that decision
- Remind her that it is a permanent decision with long-lasting effects
- Encourage her to visit websites like Pregnancy Help Online to help answer some questions she might have about her options.
If your daughter is thinking about keeping the baby and parenting
If your daughter is thinking about adoption:
- Discuss the role of the baby's father
- Ask how she thinks it will work for her
- Help her look at all that will be involved:
The best thing you can do for your daughter during this time is to be supportive of her. She has a lot of decisions to make and may ask you for your advice. Although you probably have tons of advice to give, try to refrain from giving it to her. This is really something she needs to make her own decision on. You don't want her to have any resentment towards you for decisions that were made.
- Discuss how open adoption works
- Work with her to find more information on open adoption
- Visit Lifetime Adoption for more complete information on adoption
The best way to help her is by guiding her to information and letting her make informed decisions. Then once she has made a decision, do your best to support her. It may be hard, especially if you don't agree with the decision she has made. If she decides to parent, ask her to work on a written plan on how she will support her baby. If she decides on adoption she might want to look at an open adoption. With an open adoption, she is able to choose the adoptive parents for her child and they can remain in contact. She can find out more by visiting sites like Open Adoption.
But remember that it is her life and she is trying to make the choice that is best for her and her unborn baby. Keeping open communication between the two of you will be useful for both of you as you are transitioning through this part of your lives.
This is a very emotional time for both your daughter and yourself. Do your best to be a good role model for her. Try to answer the questions you can and guide her to professionals for the questions you don't have the answers to. Remember she is now a young person with tremendous responsibility and you can no longer afford to treat her like your baby. She needs your help and support in her search for answers while she is deciding her future.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P. is a Certified Open Adoption Practitioner, an award winning author of 2 adoption books AdoptingOnline.com and Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide. Mardie is also the talk show host of Let's Talk Adoption.com with Mardie Caldwell and the founder of Lifetime Adoption in 1986. She travels and speaks nationwide on adoption topics, family topics, infertility and writing. She has been quoted in and consulted for Parenting and Adoption magazines and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC, BBC, NBC, and Fox. Featured in Parade Magazine, Caldwell is an adoptive mother living in Northern California.