Guest Author - Joyce Orzak
“My teenage daughter is pregnant! Now what…,” Is the silent cry endured by countless parents across the nation every day. You’ve envisioned her life all the way up to her graduating college, getting married and having babies of her own. Then you find a discarded pregnancy test in the trash and her life, as it could have been, flashes before your eyes.
Stop for a moment and consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Many pregnant teens go straight to a school nurse or friend who provide help in getting a secret abortion. The first thing you need to do as a parent is to hold your temper and emotions. This is the most traumatic experience your child has ever gone though and she needs your support and love.
As soon as possible, take a trip to your local crisis pregnancy center. They will direct your daughter to the medical care necessary for her pregnancy and provide vital support for the whole family. Most crisis pregnancy centers offer counseling for the entire family, support groups, answer questions and explore options such as adoption and raising the baby. They will be able to direct you to financial aid, adoption services and child-care services. Many centers offer a cash to learn type of program to teach your daughter vital life management and child-rearing skills.
After you have thought the situation through and gotten control of your emotions, sit down as a family and discuss the pregnancy and options. Let everyone, including your daughter, talk and vent his or her feelings. Make sure that you, as a parent, do so responsibly and continue to love her through the process. Teenagers who feel pressure from parents often react rebelliously. This is not the time to back her into a corner.
Find workable solutions for the decision she makes. Having a baby is a consuming and sometimes overwhelming experience for an adult and especially for a teenager. Offer to baby-sit for her while she attends classes or works a part-time job. Agree to give her a night off once in a while so she can go to a movie with her friends.
If she has decided to give the baby away, help her arrange an open adoption, where she can retain loose contact with her child in the future. Guide her and support her through the process of filling out paperwork and, if applicable, choosing the adoptive parents for her baby. Be her advocate without insisting she conform to all your ideas about the situation. What you do right now is laying the groundwork for your future relationship; be careful of building resentment over something as sensitive as choosing where to place a child.
Above all, don’t be ashamed of yourself or your daughter. Love her and love her precious baby. Together you'll work through this difficult time and come through it stronger.