Discovering an unplanned pregnancy can be a very emotional (and often confusing) experience for expectant parents. With the many unplanned pregnancy options available today, deciding what to do after this initial discovery can also be particularly overwhelming. You may be here now as you have a patient working through this very decision. She has confirmed her pregnancy – with you or another clinical professional – and is ready to talk about her options. She is considering adoption for her baby.
In order to help your patient make an informed decision regarding her pregnancy, it is important to first get to know her and her current situation. If you are her primary care physician or counselor, you may already know about your patient’s medical history and current state of health. However, you may not know about her feelings, her values, or her life beyond your practice? Does she have a support system or feel safe at home? This is all critical information to have as you guide this young woman on her adoption journey.
As a clinician, the first way you can help your patient is by asking the right questions. This will help you better understand where she is and how she feels at this moment in time. Then, as she answers, offer a compassionate, listening ear as she works through this significant choice. Listening is often the best way to help a woman considering adoption. She will have many feelings, thoughts, and anxieties that will need sorting. Because she trusts you, she may look to you to help ease her mind, to offer her accurate adoption information, and to guide her to the right resource.
As a first step, sit down with your patient in a comfortable and confidential environment. Use an empathetic, non-threatening tone as you talk to her about her pregnancy. Do not ask questions that infer certain feelings; rather, ask questions that are neutral in nature (such as, “How do you feel about this pregnancy?” rather than, “Congratulations!” or even, “Are you happy about the pregnancy?”). Ask questions that are also delicate in nature, to ensure your client feels at ease every step of the way. Questions should be open-ended, so that the conversation flows openly and honestly.
To help you start the dialog with your patient, Adoptions With Love has compiled twenty of the most important and advantageous questions to ask pregnant patients who may be considering adoption.
Questions to Ask Patients Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy
- How do you feel about this pregnancy? If you are delivering the news of this pregnancy, you do not know how your patient will react. She may be excited. She may be upset. Even if the pregnancy was unintended, that does not mean it is unwanted. Try not to assume how your patient feels; instead, ask how she feels.
- How will the father of the baby feel about your pregnancy? If your patient is unsure who the father is, you may be able to help her pinpoint when she became pregnant.
- Do you feel safe with him? Do you feel safe at home? Questions about intimate partner violence are standard and important in order to keep your patient safe.
- Does anyone else know about the pregnancy? How have they reacted so far? Again, these questions will let you know if your patient feels safe and supported at home. If your client is an adolescent, you should also ask if her parents have been informed.
- Do you know what your options are? Would you like to learn more about each one? No matter your personal experiences with adoption, abortion, and parenthood, it is important to remain unbiased as you discuss her options.
- Prior to discovering you were pregnant, what were your personal feelings about parenthood? How did you feel about adoption and abortion? Understanding how your patient felt about each of these options before getting pregnant may help clarify which choice is the right one.
- Was motherhood always a part of your long-term plan? Ask her if parenting was a part of her future, and if so, under what circumstances she wished to have children.
- Do you feel ready to raise a child now, for the next 18 years and beyond? Many young women will consider parenting their child. If this is likely of your patient, ensure that she understands that parenting is a lifelong responsibility.
- Do you feel abortion is an option? Depending on how far along she is, as well as her beliefs and values, your patient may or may not be considering terminating her pregnancy.
- Do you feel adoption is an option? Is adoption for you?
- Will the father of the baby be involved in making this decision? Depending on your patient’s choice, the father may need to be involved with any associated legal processes.
- Do you feel pressured to make a certain choice? Ultimately, this is your patient’s choice. She should never feel forced into a decision that she is not comfortable making.
- What are your goals for the future? Does your patient have educational or career goals she wants to achieve?
- How will adoption/abortion/parenthood impact your goals? Each of these options will affect your client’s life and her goals differently.
Questions to Ask Clients Considering Adoption
- Why do you believe adoption is the best choice for your child?
- Why do you feel adoption is the best choice for you?
- Do you want to choose a family for your child?
- Do you want to have contact with your child and his or her adoptive family in the future?
- Do you want the adoptive family to be at the hospital the day the baby is born? Or attend doctor appointments with you throughout the pregnancy?
- Do you want me to refer you to an adoption agency to learn more about this option?
By asking these questions, you can help your patient assess her feelings, values, and to begin exploring her different unplanned pregnancy options. At the same time, her answers can help you gain a better understanding of how she feels about her pregnancy and refer her to the resource that will best answer her questions, meet her needs, and respect her desires as an expectant mother considering adoption.
For more questions to ask patients and clients considering adoption, or to learn more about the adoption process as a clinical professional, please download our free eBook, “A Clinician’s Guide to Adoption” below. If you have a patient you would like to refer to Adoptions With Love, please call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 today.