When a surprise pregnancy happens during adoption

pregnant adoptive couple

You know you’ve heard it before…  You tell someone you are starting the process of adoption only to hear, “Now you’ll get pregnant!”

It’s frustrating, especially after trying so hard for so long to be pregnant.  For most adoptive parents, it’s another comment you just have to chalk up to people not knowing what to say.  For a small group though, it becomes a reality.

Maybe it’s that the pressure is off, maybe it is just letting nature take its course, maybe it’s simply luck.  But whatever resulted in the pregnancy, it is something to be mindful of and make adjustments for during your adoption.  Here are some tips if you find yourself pregnant during your adoption journey:

Honor the ‘Safety Zone’

Most doctors advise patients to not tell everyone about your pregnancy until you are through your first trimester (about 13 weeks).  This is because 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and 80% of those happen within the first trimester.  Keep this in mind in your adoption, meaning that you don’t want to put everything on hold or alert your home study provider at this point.   However if you are at a point where payment is due, like starting your home study, you may wish to delay a few weeks until you get through the first trimester, and then choose a more permanent pause if everything is progressing normally.

Honor the Birth Mother

If you are newly pregnant and matched with a birth mother who is due any day, you may not wish to inform her. However if she is due in April and you are due in June, it’s going to be pretty obvious when you meet her that there was something you failed to mention.  Talk to her about it openly and honestly. Let her know you are still eager to adopt her child and were not expecting to be pregnant.  She may decide she wants to choose someone else, and that is her choice.  (If you would like your coordinator to share the situation with her, she will be glad to.  Or if your pregnancy has caused you to reconsider the match, again just let us know.)  She deserves to know up front, rather than finding out when she sees your pregnant belly.

Honor your Baby

Some families wish to continue pursuing adoption even after the first trimester has passed.  I usually advise against this for two reasons. First, birth mothers usually don’t want to choose pregnant women.  Not all, but most of them don’t want to place their baby with you when you are clearly going to have another one in a short time.  It seems like too much to handle.  Secondly, it definitely can be too much to handle emotionally, physically, and relationally.  Think about it, traveling when pregnant and with a newborn? The stress of wondering if a birth mother will change her mind? The challenges of maintaining your relationships when carrying a baby and caring for a baby  are exhausting.  Add to that the normal stress of adoption, finances, jobs, and more, it is a lot.  And somewhere along the line, someone may miss out.  Honor the baby you are carrying by putting your needs first and those of this little one that you have longed for.

If you find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to wait for the first trimester to pass, and then consider pausing your adoption plans.  Focus on the blessing of life growing inside you as you prepare for a lifetime together!