Unplanned Pregnancy Guide: Navigating Choices and Finding Support

woman holding a pregnancy test

Sometimes, finding out you are pregnant can be a time for celebration and the answer to a prayer. If you’re reading this, I guess you might feel just the opposite…like this is a bad dream. The most important thing right now is to get the answer—Am I  pregnant? Most pregnancy tests you can buy anywhere today are pretty accurate. Most of the women we work with have usually taken 2 or 3 (or more!) by the time they come to us. By the time you get two positive results, it’s a safe bet you’re pregnant.  

No matter what decisions you make for yourself and your baby now, one thing is for sure…you will never be the same person you were before. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but a sure thing. Your life has forever changed with that little plus sign on the pregnancy test.

Who Do I Tell?

One of the first big questions most women wonder about is: Who do I tell? Hopefully, you have someone you trust in your life so that you’re not wondering about all of this alone. It will be so helpful to have someone you trust, who will respect YOUR wishes, to help you talk through all of your options. 

woman holding a pregnancy test in the bathroom
  • Is it your best friend? 
  • Your mom? 
  • The baby’s father?  
  • A teacher? 

Please know that your doctor, an adoption agency, or the crisis pregnancy center – none of those people are allowed to tell anyone about your pregnancy or the decisions you’re considering – not without your permission.  

You DON’T have to go through this alone. Even if you don’t have anyone in your life that you trust enough right now, there are other options to ensure you don’t feel isolated:

  • Crisis Pregnancy Centers  
  • Counseling Centers  
  • Adoption Agency

Exploring Choices 

When we talk about unplanned pregnancy, most people “clump” your choices into only two options:  

  • Abortion or “Keep” your baby 

We recognize that there are actually more than just those two options. Yes, you can have an abortion or keep your baby. But you can also:

  • Choose to have a relative take care of the baby  
  • Choose adoption  

Does it help to learn that there are more than two options? There’s a lot to consider.  

We’re not here to try to convince you to do one thing over another. That’s up to YOU and depends on what YOU think is best for your baby and you. We’re here to help you look at all the options.  

Everyone’s life is different. No one knows your life, your family, your struggles as well as YOU do. At Open Arms Adoptionsour goal is to help you sort out all that’s going on so you can make a good decision. 

Coping with Emotions

worried woman holding a pregnancy test

You may be thinking that you want EVERYTHING to JUST GO AWAY. ll of this pain, confusion, hurt, anger, and maybe even this sick feeling you have all the time. Can’t those all just GO AWAY?  

We wish the answer was an easy YES. Remember when we said you were changed forever now? Yep, this is it and these feelings are part of it all. That’s the bad news. The good news is that these intense feelings won’t last forever. They will come and go and, once you have a decision made that YOU are comfortable with, you will start to heal and move forward.  

Unfortunately, pain, sadness, and confusion are a  part of all your options now that you know you’re pregnant.


In Ohio, the rules about abortion are getting more complicated because of recent legal changes. There’s a lot of uncertainty, and things are still changing. It’s crucial to understand that the laws can change a lot. Given the current situation, it’s wise to know that the abortion rules might keep changing

What if I’m not 18 yet?  

If you’re not 18, one of your parents or your legal guardian will have to attend the pre-abortion visit with you and sign your consent. The only way that you can receive an abortion without your parent’s consent will involve you going to court. Even if this is the case, some people can help with this process.

When is it “too late” to get an abortion? 

The easy answer is this: The law in Ohio states that you cannot receive an abortion once you are past 19 weeks pregnant.  

Those are the facts about when and how you can have an abortion. But how will you feel afterward? Most of the women we’ve talked to who have had an abortion report that their first feeling is an incredible relief. That makes sense. There was a huge problem and now it’s gone. 

a developing fetus inside a womb, surrounded by amniotic fluid

However, all of those women we’ve talked to said that the feeling of relief didn’t last long. After that, we hear words like:

  • NUMB 
  • SAD 
  • SHAME 

We don’t mean to suggest ALL women who choose abortion feel this way. For some, maybe that’s the best option, there is never the feeling of “getting over it” and this too is a lifelong decision they have had to deal with.

Choosing Parenthood

As we said earlier, there are a lot of people out there who think that once you’ve reached this point, your decisions are over. We know differently. You’ve decided to have the baby, but now what? What’s best for YOU? What’s best for your BABY? How will a baby fit into the life you have now and the life you want?

Should I parent this baby myself? 

Being a mom is wonderful. It’s also exhausting, 24/7 hard work that can make someone feel alone in the best of circumstances! If you’re considering “keeping” your baby and parenting your child, there are a lot of things for you to think about:

expectant mother holding a sonogram of her unborn child in her womb
  • Do you have safe, stable housing? 
  • Is it somewhere where your baby can live and be safe?  
  • Is the baby’s father going to be involved? Will he pay child support? 
  • If you’re not finished with school (whether it’s high school or college), how are you going to finish with a baby? Will someone be around to help you with child care?  
  • Do you have transportation? Can someone help you with rides? How will you get your baby to doctor’s appointments?  
  • Who is going to help you? ALL moms need help.  Who will be there for you?

There are other things to consider as well; things that might make you feel selfish but which are every bit as important as anything else.

  • Is being a mom what you WANT right now?  
  • Are there things you want to do for YOU that you can’t do if you have a baby?  

           ⇒ Do you want to finish school? 

           ⇒ Do you want a career? 

           ⇒ Do you want more time to be young, without huge responsibilities, just to have fun? 

You’ll also need to consider what you want for your baby and what your baby DESERVES

  • Do you have a lifestyle that’s healthy and best for a baby? Ask yourself, and be honest: 
  • Do you use drugs? 
  • Do you drink a lot? 
  • Do you like to party? 
  • Are you in a relationship where you’re not safe and not willing to leave? 
  • Do you have other children that someone else already has to parent? Are they in foster care or in someone else’s custody?  

Maybe it’s simpler. . . 

  • What kind of life do you want your baby to have?  
  • What do you hope your baby can have and achieve? 
  • Can you provide that?

Maybe My Mom Can Keep This Baby? 

We’ve spoken with lots of women who plan to have their mom, their aunt, their cousin, their sister…someone other than them…raise the baby. In some families, this is a great solution. It’s great when a family can come together, work together, and make a decision that’s best for you and the baby. Is this the kind of family you have? If so, that’s fabulous! Even so, this can get tricky, so it’s best to have some difficult conversations before the baby is here. 

a mother holding her new born child
  • Who will name the baby? 
  • Will you be expected to pay child support? How often will you get to see the baby? 
  • What will the baby call you? 
  • We encourage you to think about how that will feel— 
  • How often will you see the baby? 
  • How will it feel to see your baby that often? Will it make you feel better or worse? 
  • When you have a new boyfriend or friend – how will you introduce the baby?

The Gift of Adoption 

Adoption has changed a LOT over the years. Lots of people still think that adoption means you don’t see your baby at all, you know nothing about his/her life, you don’t meet the family, and you never know if your baby is happy or healthy. NONE of that is true today unless you want it to be that way.  

As the mom, YOU have the right to make choices about your baby’s adoption. Some of the choices you get to make include: 

  • The kind of family you want for your baby.  

Even more specifically, you get to CHOOSE the family who will adopt your baby if you want.  

Who will be with you in the delivery room? Do you want your partner, another family member, the adoptive parents? The choice is YOURS.  

  • Do you want to hold your baby? 
  • Feed your baby? 
  • Take pictures with your baby?  

After the adoption, how much information do you want about the baby and the family you chose? 

What is “openness”? Openness means the amount of information you have about your baby and the family you select. Most adoptions today are what we call “semi-open”. In a semi-open adoption: 

a baby drinking milk from the baby bottle
  • You’ll know the family’s first names and they’ll know yours. 
  • You’ll know the name that the family chose for the baby, and, if you named the baby first, they’ll know the name as well. If you choose to name your baby, this name will appear on their original birth certificate which you can have a copy of.  
  • You can get pictures and letters from the family (usually through the agency or social worker) so you can see how the baby is doing. 
  • You can send photos, letters, gifts, etc. to the adoptive family and baby (again, usually through the agency or social worker). 

Lots of moms and adoptive families even communicate through email or testing long after the adoption! If everyone wants it, there can even be visits! 

In Ohio, an agreement for how many contacts a birth mom will have with the baby and adoptive family is referred to as a “good faith agreement”. While it isn’t legally binding, it’s a verbal agreement that adoptive parents and birth parents make with each other. 

It’s a HUGE leap of faith for everyone and is made, in the best interest of everyone involved.

Adoption isn’t an easy choice, but it’s definitely NOT “giving up.”


Making an adoption plan allows you to pursue the life you want for yourself and your baby. Adoption allows your child to receive all the love, hugs, and bedtime stories you want for your child, even if you are not the one giving it. Adoption is a GIFT. For your child, it is the gift of  LIFE. A life YOU choose for them. A life YOU make possible. Because of YOUR selflessness, and because of YOUR most loving decision. For the family you choose for your child, you are providing the GIFT of family, the GIFT of a very precious child. Most people who adopt either cannot have a child biologically on their own or maybe they aren’t able to have the family that they dream of without the gift of adoption.  

Either way, the gift you give to an adoptive family by entrusting your baby to them is the  

most precious gift of all. All with one decision. We know that the are so many complicated issues. There are so many things to think about, oftentimes with many complicated emotions attached. Sometimes, though, women just know what’s right and need someone to support them through the process. And even if they don’t know what’s right for them and their baby right now, they have questions and are looking for some answers.  

Seeking Help and Support

Open Arms Adoptions wants to be there to help you sort out if adoption is right for you and your baby. If it turns out to be the best plan, we will hold your hand throughout the entire process and walk you through everything. Our promise to you is to ALWAYS be honest with you and to help you make the best possible plan for you and your baby.  

The counseling we provide is free and confidential. You can text or call anytime at 330-697-4751. Our social workers will meet you where you are. You don’t need to come to one of our offices. We work throughout the state of Ohio.  

All states have their regulations and laws concerning abortion and adoption. Regulations and laws referred to in this document relate to Ohio. 

Read More Articles
Creating Forever Families
Creating Forever Families Through Adoption

Open Arms Adoptions is 501(c)3 non-profit agency licensed by the State of Ohio.

Our mission is to provide a loving, stable home to every child in need. We work tirelessly to create an environment that embraces the unique set of circumstances each of our birth parents, prospective adoptive parents and children bring to us. 
Main Office
11 River St., Ste. B
Kent, OH 44240
Central Ohio Office:*
11 N High St.
Canal Winchester, OH 43110
Delaware Office:*
18 E. William St.
Delaware, OH 43015
*by appointment only. All correspondence should be mailed to the Kent address
© 2024 Open Arms Adoptions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.