Dear Ms. Feverfew –
I was over at the LDS Family Services website a few months ago, trying to see if they had any information/support/services available for post-relinquishment mothers such as myself. While I didn’t find what I was hoping to find, I did find this list of questions. It is intended as a tool to help single mothers who are considering parenting their child think through a wide range of things. As I read through the list, I started laughing. I actually had to call my mom because I thought it was so funny.
And this is why I found it so hilarious: Why is it perfectly fine for LDS Family Services to ask a woman who is single and considering parenting these kinds of questions but not all those fresh-out of high school, newly married (in the temple, of course), stars-in-their eyes women these same questions? Aren’t they valid questions for any person considering to be a parent? And if they are, where are these questions found on the LDS Family Services website for married women who might be considering parenting? Oh that’s right…they don’t have one of those.
And come on, let’s be honest. What woman between the ages of 18-25 has the financial stability to be a parent, unless she is a trust fund baby herself? If she is anything like the typical married LDS woman at that age, her husband is still in school (dental or law, of course) and she is most likely working to support him. And what 18-25 year old woman is aware of community resources that could help her unless someone has told her? And how many struggling newlyweds have already started a college fund for their children, especially when they are most likely still in school themselves? I could go on and on this morning, but I will save that for another post.
I guess what makes me roll my eyes and giggle the most is that both my mother and my mother-in-law would have answered the questions pretty much the same way I did at 19, married or not (just an FYI, they were both married by the time they were 19 AND had a baby). In fact, I bet my friends who were married when they were 18/19/20 (and trust me, there are pleeeeeennnnntttttyyy of girls like that in the LDS community) would answer the questions pretty much the same way I would have at that same age. Why they weren’t told to place their babies for adoption because they didn’t know the basics of child development, or have plans, budgets, college savings for their future children, and resources of every kind, I will never know.
So enjoy, Ms. Feverfew, and savor the delicious irony of it all.
- Do you have a strong desire to be a mother right now?
- Do you have information on all of your options and have you taken time to carefully consider each of them?
- Do you have realistic expectations about what it would be like to be a single parent? Would you be the sole caregiver of the baby or would your parents, the father, or other caregivers be involved or even take over?
- What are your plans for the future? How will raising a child affect those plans? How will a baby affect your likelihood of going to school or getting a good job?
- Do you have the financial stability to be a parent? Have you prepared a budget outlining expenses you should expect in raising a child? Will your baby have access to regular medical care?
- Are you prepared to ask others for help?
- Do you live in a home where you could care for a newborn? Is it an emotionally and physically safe place for a child?
- Do you think that the home you provide will be the best one for your baby?
- Do you know about the basics of child development? Nutrition? Discipline?
- Are you aware of community resources or programs that could help you?
- How much time will you be spending at work or at school? How much spare time would you have?
- Who would your support system be if you decide to parent? Would that help and support be steady over the next 18 years?
- What is your relationship with the father? How involved would he be? How prepared is he to be a father? How involved would you like him to be? Are your expectations for his help realistic given your current situation? If the father is not involved, are there men in your life that could be a consistent male role model?
- How would you maintain friendships?
- Do you plan to get married someday? How will having a child affect those plans?
- Would you date? What will your social life be like? How would you determine when to tell those you date that you have a child?
- Who would take care of your baby when you are away?
- How do you plan to discipline your child?
- Are there a friends or family members you can talk with about their experience as a single parent?
- Are you ready to put a child’s needs before your own throughout his or her life?
- Will you be able to save for your child’s future education?
- Do you effectively manage feelings of anger and frustration? Can you control your emotions so that you don’t take them out on others?
- Would counseling help you better understand the realities of being a single parent?
The more honest you are with yourself, the more likely it is that you will make a solid decision about what is best for you and your baby.