Finding yourself unexpectedly pregnant is difficult enough in the best of situations. If you are having difficulty in the relationship with your child’s father, the added stress can be even harder to handle. It is important to maintain contact however arduous the situation becomes as you near your due date. While that may go against the advice to maintain a low stress level during your pregnancy, it is just one of those things that is necessary.
I am not suggesting that you run out and marry your child’s father simply because you are pregnant. I am suggesting that you maintain contact. Do not simply disappear, change your phone number or allow one another to fall off the face of the Earth. Whether you choose to parent or place your child for adoption, the biological father has rights and responsibilities.
Should you choose to parent, your child’s father has a responsibility to provide child support. More over, he has a right to some form of custody or visitation. That may not sit well with you. Perhaps you feel that your child’s father will not provide a good role model or environment for your baby. Unfortunately, that is for the court system to decide. Until your child’s father has been deemed unfit, he has a right to be involved. Work with him and realize that he’s unexpectedly moving into the role of father just as you are moving into the role of mother.
If you choose to follow through with an adoption plan, your child’s biological father still has rights. In fact, even if you sign the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR), he doesn’t have to do so. His signature, however, is required in most situations in order for the adoption to go through. (I do say in most situations because there are other ways to terminate parental rights but it is always more ethical to have his non-coerced signature.) He can also choose to parent the child. Don’t forget that if you are choosing open adoption, your child’s biological father may also wish to have continued contact with his child and the adoptive family as well. He does also have that right.
It’s difficult to sometimes step back from the situation, especially if you are angry with him, and realize that your child’s father has rights, responsibilities and deserves respect. I encourage you to talk about this in counseling or with another impartial party. Journaling your feelings is also a great way to deal with the emotions that this issue likely brings up.
Note: There are exceptions to this rule. Rape, domestic abuse and other issues where your safety or your child’s well-being are brought into question fall under those exceptions. If you are fearful of your child’s biological father for any of these reasons (and others too numerous to list here), please seek out the help of a trained professional. Do not feel guilty for doing so. A mother’s first priority should be to protect herself and her child. Do so.