We’ve been talking about educating youth about adoption, caring for babies, and life in general. In the middle of the twentieth century, the majority of girls and young women who gave birth while unmarried placed their babies for adoption. Now, the figure is less than two percent in most areas. The director of our agency’s adoption program told us that most of the birth mothers in their program were college-age. He said almost all of the high school students decided to parent their babies.
Yet, most social service workers agree that children of single teenage mothers are at higher risk for being abused and neglected. It is too easy for a teen to say, “I’ll never do that!” After all, many of us still have a tendency to take on too much and not allow for fatigue and burnout. How much more so might teenagers who think they are invincible!
Adoption is often beneficial for birthmothers as well. Statistically, young women who place their children for adoption are much more likely to finish school, avoid going on welfare, and go on to successful employment than are teens who choose to parent their babies. Young mothers who place children for adoption are also less likely to become pregnant out of wedlock a second time.
So, why do so few teenage mothers place their babies for adoption?
Peer pressure is definitely a reason. From the days when having a baby out of wedlock was considered shameful, we have now gone the other direction. Many times, I hear people say, “How could she have given up her own child!” Girls and young women are made to feel that they are not good mothers, and indeed that they are something less than human, if they place a child for adoption.
Another reason is lack of information about adoption today, leading young birthmothers to wrong assumptions—that they will never know if their children are dead or alive, that their children will hate them for giving them up to adoption, etc.
I will address the need for teens to have direct education about adoption in the next blog.
Please see this related blog: