The toy aisle at TJ Maxx might seem like a strange place to turn for unplanned pregnancy advice, we know? Yet a recent visit there led to our meeting with Steffi. She has found herself left on the shelf with an unexpected pregnancy and a whole bunch of questions.

Abrazo: Wow, what a surprise to see you here, Steffi?

Steffi: Tell me about it. Babydaddy just left me with this “welcome surprise”, ha.

Abrazo: Looks like you’re in your second or third trimester already?

Steffi: How can you tell? I don’t have insurance, so I haven’t seen a doctor yet. They’re in short supply around here, you know.

Abrazo: Well, be sure to apply for Medicaid and they’ll get you a list of local obstetricians who take Medicaid coverage.

Steffi: Thanks. I was planning to start community college or beauty school– having a baby really wasn’t in my plans, to be honest. I feel like having an education might help me be worth more.

Abrazo: Nearly half of all Texas pregnancies are unplanned, so we know how that goes. It is possible to still pursue your education and parent, too, you know?

Steffi: I know, but I grew up with a single mom so I really wanted to wait on having kids until I was married. I’d hate to put my kids through what I went through, growing up without a dad and a mom on welfare.

Abrazo: Have you talked with the baby’s father about the pregnancy? Maybe he’ll help out, even if he’s not ready to commit to a relationship.

Steffi: I did. He says it’s not a good time for him because he already has another baby on the way.

Abrazo: Ouch! Well, you can still file for child support. And maybe in time, he’ll take an interest. Or maybe you’ll meet somebody else who’s ready to fill that role?

Steffi: Yeah, I get it. But what if I don’t want to do the whole mom thing, is that bad?

Abrazo: Of course not. Only you can know if you’re ready for parenthood or not? But there’s nothing wrong with making other plans if you aren’t ready. Talking with a counselor may help you consider all your options, like foster care or a kinship placement or an adoption plan. Take your time to consider all the alternatives.

Steffi: I think about nothing else these days. How does adoption work, anyway? Is it temporary, or permanent?

Abrazo: The way adoption works here is that expectant mothers can get counseling, medical care, housing and support through our agency during pregnancy and even choose the prospective adoptive couple before birth. But an adoption plan doesn’t become permanent until the legal paperwork is signed, after the baby is born, 48 hours old or later.

Steffi: So what happens if I change my mind before then and decide I am ready to parent?

Abrazo: That’s your right. You just let the agency know and you owe nothing. You need to make whatever choices you feel are best for you and your baby.

Steffi: Hmmm. What if I try parenting out and decide it’s not right for me or the baby?

Abrazo: That’s also your right. Abrazo has loving homes available for toddlers and children, too. You take whatever time you need to make the best possible decision.

Steffi: I know my family and friends probably wouldn’t agree with adoption. Can they stop me from doing it?

Abrazo: Only a legal parent has the legal right to decide if adoption is right or not. Others may not understand the adoption process. Or they worry that you might make a decision you’ll regret. But with open adoption, often when family and friends see that you are at peace with your decision and you are still in touch with your child afterwards, it helps them better understand why you chose that for your baby.

Steffi: So what do you think I should do?

Abrazo: We can never tell anyone what the right choice is for them. Every unplanned pregnancy is always a crisis that takes a lot of time and thought to work through. Open adoption can be a positive decision, but it’s never an easy one. It should only be done the right way and for the right reasons. Parenting is never an easy road, either, and no matter what you choose, you deserve love and support.

Steffi: You’ve given me a lot to think about…

Abrazo: We’re just a phone call or text away if you need us. You can reach us anytime, day or night..

Unplanned pregnancy advice is only one of the services Abrazo offers, so contact us if we can ever help you (or any real-life Steffi you know who needs help she can trust to make wise choices in a time of uncertainty.)

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