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Bring it up or give it away?
Member Name: lellagrace
Advantages: Consider all the options
Disadvantages: who can make this decision
I have not heard of anyone in Britain offering their baby for adoption for decades. This must be because it is now acceptable for an ummarried girl to keep her baby. I have heard of British couples adopting babies from abroad because apparently there are very few babies for adoption here. Older children yes, but not babies.
But what of this scenario? What would you advise? This is something which I have been asked my opinion on by friends of a pregnant girl.
The young girl who is pregnant is from a country where having a child out of wedlock is totally unacceptable. Not only that, but they are also very racist. The girl is black, her boyfriend (who has now deserted her, surprise, surprise!) is white, so the baby will be mixed race. She is so worried that the baby will be much paler than she is when it is born and everyone will realise its parentage.
I must admit I was quite shocked when I heard about this narrow minded thinking. Perhaps it is because I remember 30 or so years ago when a pregnant girl was either rushed to the altar or was forced to have her baby adopted. And if the child was mixed race (or half caste as it was called then) that was even worse. So, yes, it came as a big shock to learn that there are still countries in the world who have these attitudes even now.
Anyway, back to the girl. Her baby is due in January, she is so confused and having the child adopted had never occurred to her, but now she is being pressurised by her peers that this is the best option.
When she first realised she was pregnant and told her boyfriend, he made it known he was not interested and persuaded her to have an abortion. She couldn't go through with it, this was against her beliefs. Now, as the pregnancy has progressed, she has come to love her unborn child, even though the boyfriend has disappeared from their lives.
Being from overseas the girl is here studying and not eligible for state support for her baby. She has to finish her studies or pay back her fees. How on earth is she going to manage? That is what her friends are asking. Most of them are students too, so they are not able to help financially, but they are giving her lots of moral support.
My first concern when I heard was whether the girl had been receiving proper ante natal care, which thankfully she has taken seriously. But what about the birth and caring for a new baby? None of her friends have had this experience so they cannot advise her.
Returning to her own country is not an option at the moment as she is too scared to tell her parents about her pregnancy. But someday she will have to return, possibly with a baby. She could tell them she had got married in England and the father has died or divorced her, one friend suggested. But others seem to think she should have the baby adopted.
This is a girl who has come to love her child even before it is born. She would make a wonderful mother, but people in her own country would ostracise her if she keeps the child. But how would she cope with having the child adopted?
How does anyone cope with making such a decision? It is breaking my heart thinking about it. There must be an alternative surely? But then I remember how things were here in the sixties when an unmarried friend of my sister's was expecting a baby. Hushed whispers from shocked neighbours condemned her. The father was married already which made it even worse as he couldn't be forced into marrying her and when she announced she was keeping her baby, people were astounded.
Then of course when the baby arrived, everyone admired it, babies always win people over. They also praised the mother for coping so well on her own. Nowadays it is acceptable in Britain for unmarried mums to keep their babies, so acceptable that it is almost an epidemic.
Ah, but these are single mums who get help from the state or who have jobs they can return to when the baby has arrived, taking maternity leave. Yes, of course, it is a struggle financially but they have some income. Not so with the young girl I am concerned about. From what I understand from her friends, she will not be able to receive any kind of benefits and as she is a student she can only work part-time. Then there is the question of childcare and the cost of all those things that babies need. If she can continue with her studies, when she qualifies she will be able to make a good career in a well paid profession and able to support her child. But that is in the future, what happens in the interim?
The baby items are being donated by well meaning relatives of her friends, or bought secondhand, so she will at least have the essentials. I feel sure there will be creche facilities at college, but how is she going to feed and clothe a growing child with hardly any income?
However, let me return to my original problem - would it be best if she had the baby adopted? I truly believe that we can only present her with the pros and cons on both her options, but I know it will be heartbreaking for her if she has to give up her baby just because her own country has such outdated views.
We may condemn single parents in this country for having so many children, but anyone is entitled to one mistake (contraception is not 100%). Surely a mother should not be ostracised because she keeps her baby? Nor should she be made to part with her child and then spend the rest of her life thinking about it.
In years to come both mother and child will probably wonder about each other, as we know happens in cases where they trace each other. A friend of mine had her baby adopted in the sixties, none of us knew she had even had this child until he traced her a few years ago. She told us her parents had ushered off to a home for unmarried mothers and when her son was six weeks’ old she had to hand him over for adoption. No choice, no counselling, nothing. She had brought disgrace on her family and nobody mentioned it afterwards.
Is this what must happen to the girl my friend knows? I sincerely hope not, but the decision must be hers at the end of the day. I only hope someone can advise her properly on making this decision.
Summary: Adoption should not be forced on anyone