If you are walking through an unplanned pregnancy, you might be feeling overwhelmed or scared. Maybe your mind is racing with thoughts like, “I’m not in a place to parent. I can’t provide for a baby right now. I can’t be a single mom.” You may still be in the process of deciding what to do and you feel unsure of the way forward.
No one plans to parent alone.
Ali* loves kids and has wanted to be a “mommy” for as long as she could remember. But she hadn’t anticipated being a single mom at 19. She and her boyfriend started dating in high school and moved in together soon after graduation. Even though they had only been sexually active for a couple of months, pregnancy wasn’t part of the plan.
Early in her pregnancy, Ali thought about adoption as a possibility. She remembers that initially, she didn’t connect with her baby during pregnancy because her mindset was, “I am carrying this baby for someone else.” She had watched friends struggle for years with infertility and she imagined what it would be like if they raised her baby. She was comfortable with the idea of an open adoption. Open adoption provides a way to have an on-going relationship with your child and is a wonderful parenting plan for those who find they are currently unprepared or unable to provide for a child.
Ali’s boyfriend, however, remained opposed to the idea of adoption. By her third trimester of pregnancy, they had agreed to raise their baby together. Ali’s mindset shifted and she quickly found that she was connecting with her baby, as she began to think of herself as a mom. A couple of months later, Ali had an all-natural childbirth and said she felt empowered and amazed by what her body had gone through and an overwhelming amount of love for Cee*.
After Cee’s birth, life at home was growing more difficult. Ali struggled with postpartum depression and the relationship between her and boyfriend was becoming increasingly toxic. He had quit work and was now struggling with addiction and substance abuse. She was working two jobs and desperately trying to make ends meet. Ali finally broke off the relationship when Cee was just two months old. She had so many fears moving forward. She didn’t want her daughter to grow up without a dad. Ali had lost her own father at a young age, and she didn’t want the same heartache for her own daughter. While she didn’t want her daughter to experience the abandonment she had, she also knew that what they had been living with was just as unhealthy. But Ali also valued her independence and wanted to prove that she could raise Cee on her own.
So, Ali made some big life-changing decisions. First, she looked for jobs that would allow her to have Cee present with her. She worked in retail, as a nanny providing in-home childcare, and at a daycare. While pregnant, she started attending parenting classes offered through a local ministry, Hope Outreach. She continued attending classes and the “Earn-While-You-Learn” program not only provided education and encouragement, but also opportunities to provide for her daughter. She was able to purchase clothes, baby items, and toys, along with diapers and wipes.
Ali quickly recognized that Cee was depending on her to meet her physical and emotional needs. She chose to let go of the “normal” freedoms and activities of her peers, and focused instead on being the best mom she could be. She feared she would be missing out but realized, “It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.” And she was surprised to find joy in watching her daughter grow and recognizing the role she played as “provider”. Ali is proud to see how capable she is as a woman. Not only did she provide for her daughter as she developed in utero, she provided in those early months of life through breastfeeding. “Anything she needs is all on me.” Cee is smart and sweet and silly. And Ali can’t imagine life without her!
If you are pregnant and unsure what to do next, we want you to know that you are not alone. There is help and support, whether you choose an adoption plan or whether you choose to raise your child on your own. Parenting programs offer practical help and support and there are support groups for single moms. You don’t have to walk through these decisions alone. Pregnancy Resource Centers have caring staff and volunteers that will take the time to listen to your story, love you right where you are at in the process, answer your questions, and help connect you with the resources you need. Though this may feel overwhelming right now, you might be surprised to find JOY where you least expect it.
*pseudonym; names have been changed to protect anonymity
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