Am I Ready to Parent?

Deciding if You’re Ready to Raise This Baby

I was not ready for a baby, but pregnant. I put everything I had into it. I was with my son when I wasn’t at work. I breastfed. I woke up twice every night for feedings. I worked a full-time job to provide for him. I loved him. I bonded with him. I monitored his shot schedule. I took him to every appointment. I was an amazing mother. But, I wasn’t ready to be a parent.

I am a great mother. I chose adoption. How do you choose between adoption or to keep your baby?

Parenting isn’t a late-night comedy on television. It isn’t a Disney collection of the greatest hits. Parenting is sacrifice. Parenting is responsibility. Parenting is leadership, guidance, availability, nurturing, and so many other things. Parenting is not something life skills class in high school can ever prepare you for. Even the most prepared planned parenting is difficult. Parenting is a real challenge. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Parenting isn’t for anyone at any time. Parenting is permanent and committed. I wasn’t ready to be a parent.

There are so many precious moments to be captured. There are so many milestones to achieve. Parenting is a blessing. Parenting is beautiful. I just wasn’t ready to be a parent. I was not ready for a baby, but pregnant.

How do you know if you are ready to be a parent? What do you do if you’re not ready to be a parent? How do you decide to keep a baby or not? Too bad there isn’t a uniform guidebook. It’s based on everyone’s specific circumstances. It varies from person to person and situation to situation.

I made a commitment to parent, and for the first six months of my son’s life, I was his custodial mother. It wasn’t until six months in that I realized that I couldn’t provide for him everything I wanted for him and take care of myself at the same time. I chose adoption instead of keeping the baby when my son was six months old. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, the most painful thing I have ever been through, and the greatest move I have ever committed to.

Am I Ready to Be a Parent? How to Know if Adoption is Right for Me

I knew I wasn’t ready to for a baby, but pregnant. I had a decent concept of what the responsibilities of parenting entailed, and I tried my best to overcome the difficulties I faced as a single mother for six months. I am ever so grateful that I had my son for the period that I did, but even more grateful that I found his parents when I did.

My son’s adoptive parents were ready to be parents. They had spent time in preparation and knew that they were ready for a child and to be parents. It’s not that I didn’t have the luxury, it’s that my life took me down a different path than the path that his parents walked. We made different choices that ultimately led us to each other.

If you find that you are questioning whether you are ready to parent or not, or if you are debating between parenting vs. adoption, or how to decide whether to keep a baby, then please consider the following factors in determining parental readiness:

  • Check your motives.

To be completely honest, I wanted to remain with my son. I didn’t necessarily want to place him for adoption. I chose adoption because I knew it was the right choice. Sometimes the hardest choice and the right choice are the same. It was for me.

My motives in wanting to continue to parent my son had to do with my own selfish desires. My thoughts revolved around the fear that I would fail as a woman if I didn’t have my son with me. I wanted to hold him every day and feel close to him, regardless of what we were going through. My motives in wanting to remain a custodial mother were not selfless, they were selfish. I chose adoption because it was the unselfish choice, and the right choice.

Children are not meant to be our friends or our safe place. Children need to be parented by mature adults. Loneliness, fear, and the sensation of emptiness are not good reasons to keep a child. Children need at least one solid and mature parent in their life to thrive. Children are the ones who need the support and attention from adults, and if motives are the other way around, then adoption should be seriously considered.

Becoming pregnant and choosing to parent should not be based on the need to solve some sort of problem. Children are not meant to heal wounds. And although a child is a blessing, and healing in nature, this is a result of having a baby, and should not be a reason for having one or maintaining custody of one.

  • Financial Responsibility

Parenting requires a high level of “adulating.” Children cost money, as does life. There are already bills to be paid every month, let alone the added costs of raising a child. Children need food, medicine, doctors, co-pays, diapers, emergency and random expenses, education, and many other resources that cost money. Financial resources exist from the Department of Health and Human Services through each state, but, in my opinion, should not be relied on to support a child.

When I was parenting, my son and I were living with friends so that we would have shelter. I was working full-time, had hired a nanny, and was solely responsible for the finances needed for my son and me. I was a single mother. I wasn’t a separated or divorced mother; I was my son’s only parent in his life. After all the necessary bills were paid, diapers were purchased, and the nanny was compensated, I had almost no money at the end of the week.

The reality of life will surely hit you when parenting becomes financially difficult. If you find that you cannot support yourself, perhaps ask yourself if you have the financial resources to support a child. Is it in your child’s best interest to maintain custody without being able to provide for him or her?

However, if you find that finances are tight, but with some additional support resources, taking care of your child is doable, then perhaps parenting can be an option.

  • Support Available

Taking care of a child doesn’t necessarily mean that you are with that child 24/7. Typically, a single parent is required to work. Plus, everyone needs a break from time to time to recharge. Paying for childcare can be a great financial burden, and it is typically only available during the work days. What about a night out on the weekend or help in the evenings?

Family and friends will be the greatest resource and support for a single parent. Friends and family can nanny or babysit while a mother catches up on chores, sleep, errands, or when she just honestly needs a break in the form of a night out with her friends to recharge. This support is crucial in effective parenting.

If you find that you are in a position in which you have little or no support, please consider if having a child now and parenting is realistic. If you find that times may stressful, but finding time away is doable, then perhaps parenting can be an option.

Everyone needs a break from time to time as a parent. This is normal and nothing to feel guilty about. However, if you don’t find you have support to help, and you know that you cannot parent on your own, please consider the option of adoption.

  • Mental Health

Mental health is crucial to maintain all the time, including throughout an unplanned pregnancy and parenthood. Everyone has different needs when it comes to mental health, and there are those that require medication to maintain their mental health. If medication is what you need, and you are unable to take it throughout an unplanned pregnancy, this may pose a threat to your mental health.

Please stay in touch with your mental health care provider to ensure that you remain properly medicated while going through an unplanned pregnancy. Maintaining mental health is just as important as maintaining physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Looking back, I believe that I suffered from some postpartum depression after giving birth. While I confessed my feelings of despair to my friends and family, it never occurred to me that postpartum depression could be affecting me. Mental health and depression, whether during or after pregnancy, is another reason why it is important to have a doctor. Your support system and your health team may be able to offer you useful information and advice regarding your options if you are struggling with your mental health as you make your adoption vs. parenting decision.

  • Environmental Factors

Children need to be raised around healthy influences, which means being raised around healthy people. Relationships and interactions with others will be a significant factor in shaping a child’s reality. If a child is constantly exposed to negativity, fighting, and discord within relationships, then the damage could be extensive. However, if a child is constantly exposed to love, respect, and comfort, then the impact would be very positive.

There is no way for us to know what kind of people our little children will grow up to be. It is our role as parents to give them the tools to be successful in life, and allow them to use those tools as adults so that they can decide for themselves what they want their lives to be. Once children reach an age of accountability, and legally become responsible for their own decisions, it is up to them to make them.

However, it is up to parents to give their children the best chance possible at a healthy and happy life. If you find that you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, and the relationships around you are toxic, negative, and strained, then perhaps such an environment is not suitable for a child. A significant change in the environment must occur if this is the case. One option is to cut off all unhealthy relationships for the sake of the child. Another option is to place the child into another environment entirely through adoption.

  • Time Commitment

There are two different ways of looking at the time commitment required when it comes to parenting: short-term and long-term.

Short-term time commitment consists of the day-to-day requirements that it takes to raise a child. Within any 24-hour period, there are at least three meals, play time, learning time, running errands, providing comfort, practicing discipline and maintaining a schedule, and on some days it can be overwhelming, especially when the child is sick. Short-term time commitment is the commitment a parent makes to their child when they wake up in the morning. Short-term, a parent determines how the day will go, and those plans usually change.

However, for those ready to parent, this short-term time commitment is what they live for every day. A woman who has chosen motherhood and decided to keep her baby will, hopefully, embrace the everyday time commitment to her child.

Long-term time commitment is the fact that once you become a parent, you are always a parent. Some may say that it is an 18-year time commitment, since 18 years of age is when a child usually becomes responsible for themselves legally. However, a parent knows that they are never done being a parent. There are hard times, good times, events and holidays, celebrations and mourning, and the whole family goes through life together. I am a birth mother now, and I will be a birth mother beyond now. I was a mother in my heart from the moment I accepted the fact that I was pregnant, and my heart will hold my son forever.

There is nothing wrong with a woman who is facing an unplanned pregnancy to question whether she is ready for the time commitment of parenting. Short-term, she may not have the resources to provide 24/7 care to a child. Long-term, she may not be ready for that commitment. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and wondering if adoption is right for you and your baby, please don’t forget to consider the time commitment of motherhood, whether it is birth motherhood or custodial motherhood.

Maturity Means Reflection

I think it’s a great sign of maturity for a woman to ask herself if she is ready to be a parent. I have known of women who have glorified parenting and pregnancy in their minds before going through it, and they had to face a rude awakening upon the actual experience. Questioning and assessing readiness for parenting is absolutely a sign of maturity. That alone does not indicate one isn’t ready to be a parent.

A tell-tale sign for a woman who isn’t ready to parent, though, is when her reasoning for parenting is completely selfish. When a woman is ready to sacrifice her own needs for the needs of a child, then parenting may be an option. However, as stated, there is no blanket rule for when a woman is ready to parent.

Should I Keep My Baby?

Ask yourself what your motives are in wanting to parent, or what your motives are in not wanting to parent. Seek out support, pregnancy counseling from a pregnancy center, and learn about all your options: adoption, abortion, or parenting. We have choices. A woman I once knew used to say, “It is not our abilities who make us who we are, but the choices we make that shape the pe