Deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy can be difficult — in fact, it may be one of the most difficult decisions a woman can face. But for some women in this situation, they know one thing for certain: parenting is simply not an option for them.

Whether it’s because of financial concerns, your current circumstances, the goals you’re working toward or because you simply don’t want to raise a child right now, it’s perfectly okay if you decide that you’re not ready to parent.

However, deciding between your other two options may be more difficult. If you are debating between adoption vs. abortion and feel overwhelmed by your choice, read on for the information you need to help you make a decision.

1. Abortion vs. Adoption: Your Life, Your Choice

If you are deciding between abortion and adoption, the first and most important thing you should know is that this is your choice and yours alone. You are the only person who knows what is best for you and your baby in your individual circumstances.

Choosing abortion or adoption is an incredibly personal decision, and no one knows you or your situation like you do — not your parents, your friends, your counselor, your religious leader or even your baby’s father. As you consider abortion, adoption and even parenting, the most important factor to keep in mind is your personal beliefs about what is best in your position.

2. Learn the Facts About Adoption and Abortion

Part of making an informed decision about your unplanned pregnancy options is having all of the facts. As you consider adoption instead of abortion or vice versa, here are the facts you need to know:

Facts about Abortion

  • What it is: Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy, usually performed early in the pregnancy before the embryo or fetus is able to survive independently. Abortions must be supervised by a medical professional and can be completed medically or surgically.
  • How it works: Medical abortions are performed by taking medications to terminate the pregnancy. In a surgical or in-clinic abortion, a doctor uses tools to remove the fetus from the uterus, ending the pregnancy.
  • When to decide: The vast majority of abortions are performed during the first trimester. When you can get an abortion will depend on a number of factors, including your state laws and the type of abortion you are seeking. If you are seriously considering abortion, it’s best to talk to your doctor about this option as early in your pregnancy as possible.
  • What else to know: Legally completed abortions are generally safe procedures that involve low medical risks. Most states require minors to obtain parental consent before having an abortion. Abortion costs vary widely; according to Planned Parenthood, medical abortion can cost up to $800, while first-trimester surgical abortions can cost as much as $1,500. Abortions performed later in pregnancy are typically more expensive, more difficult to access and involve more medical risks than early abortions, so it’s best to seek an abortion early in pregnancy.

Facts about Adoption

  • What it is: Adoption is the legal and emotional process of transferring a child from their biological family to an adoptive family. For expectant mothers, adoption means creating a plan to place their baby with the adoptive parents of their choice. After the baby is born, the birth parents then legally consent to the adoption, terminating their parental rights to the child and making the adoptive family the child’s legal parents.
  • How it works: When a woman is considering adoption for her baby, she can work with an adoption professional to create an adoption plan, which outlines exactly what she wants her adoption process to look like. Based on her preferences for an adoptive family, her adoption professional will give her compatible adoptive family profiles to review. She can choose the family that feels right and get to know them through pre-placement contact. After her baby is born, she can legally consent to the adoption and continue her relationship with the adoptive parents and her baby through post-placement contact.
  • When to decide: It is never too early or too late for a woman to begin making an adoption plan for her baby. Her adoption decision does not become final until after she signs the adoption consent forms when her baby is born. She has the right to change her mind at any point in the process until consent forms are signed and her revocation period has passed (if applicable).
  • What else to know: The adoption process is completely free to prospective birth mothers, and many women are also eligible to receive financial assistance for living expenses during their pregnancy. Women considering adoption have complete control of the process, from choosing the adoptive parents to determining the type of post-adoption relationship they want to have with their child and more. Prospective birth mothers have access to professional counselors and attorneys to assist them through every step of the adoption process.

3. Know the Truth Behind Common Myths

There are many widespread misconceptions out there about adoption and abortion, and sometimes, a woman ends up choosing abortion over adoption or deciding on adoption rather than abortion based on false assumptions or misinformation. Here are some common myths about abortion and adoption to be aware of:

Myths About Adoption

  • Myth: I would be giving up by choosing adoption.
    Fact: You have probably heard the term “giving a baby up for adoption.” Maybe you’ve even used this phrase yourself. But while it is common to encounter this type of language, adoption is not “giving up” — in fact, adoption is about a woman taking control and making a proactive, loving plan for her baby’s future.
  • Myth: If I choose adoption instead of abortion, my baby will end up in foster care.
    Fact: When a woman makes an adoption plan, she is pursuing a private domestic infant adoption. This process is very different and completely separate from the foster care system. With private adoption, the baby is placed directly with the adoptive family that the birth mother chooses.
  • Myth: No one would want to adopt my baby.
    Fact: Some women are concerned that adoption may not be an option for them because their baby could be born with potential medical issues or special needs. However, there is a family for every child, and many families are open to adopting a child with special medical, physical, mental or developmental needs.
  • Myth: If I choose adoption, my child will grow up to hate me for my choice.
    Fact: Today, adopted children are raised knowing their adoption story and understanding the loving decision their birth parents made by choosing adoption. Most birth mothers remain an important figure in their children’s lives, so it is very rare for adoptees to wonder why they were placed for adoption or resent their birth parents for their adoption decision.

Myths About Abortion

  • Myth: Abortion is dangerous.
    Fact: When completed legally, the most abortions are medically safe and involve only minor side effects. An abortion will not lead to long-term health effects like infertility or breast cancer.
  • Myth: Abortion isn’t legal where I live.
    Fact: While abortion laws and guidelines vary by state, abortion is a legal option for women throughout the United States.
  • Myth: Abortion is the quickest and easiest solution to an unplanned pregnancy.
    Fact: While most women who choose abortion report that they do not regret their decision in the long run, many women find that it is difficult to gain closure following an abortion, and some do struggle with intense feelings of grief, loss, shame or guilt following their abortion procedure. In addition, there are many barriers to obtaining an abortion, from state laws to clinic locations to sometimes prohibitive costs.

Of course, this is just a short list of the many myths about adoption and abortion. As you make this decision, it is important to do thorough research to ensure you’re making your choice based on the facts — not a false portrayal or biased opinion about your options.

4. Weigh the Pros and Cons

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, adoption and abortion share many of the same advantages:

  • You can continue working toward your personal goals.
  • You won’t have to parent before you’re ready.
  • You won’t have to raise your child as a single parent or be forced into a hasty marriage or long-term relationship with your baby’s father.

They also share many of the same challenges — adoption and abortion are both emotionally difficult decisions to make. You may experience feelings of grief and loss, regardless of which option you choose.

But there are also some unique advantages of choosing adoption over abortion and vice versa; which you choose will ultimately depend on your individual circumstances and priorities. Here, learn more about some common reasons for adoption instead of abortion, as well as some advantages of abortion over adoption.

Why Choose Abortion Instead of Adoption?

While adoption and abortion are both alternatives to raising a baby before you are ready, they are still very different processes with very different effects. Ultimately, many women choose abortion over adoption for some of the following reasons:

  • You will not have to experience pregnancy or childbirth if you don’t want to.
  • You may choose abortion if continuing your pregnancy would put your life at risk.
  • It may be easier to conceal your pregnancy and prevent others from knowing about your abortion decision.
  • Your life may go “back to normal” more quickly following an abortion, which is obtained early in the pregnancy. (With adoption, you may need to make adjustments to your lifestyle for the duration of your pregnancy.)

Why Choose Adoption Over Abortion?

On the other hand, some women decide that adoption, not abortion, is the right choice for them when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. There are many reasons why a woman may end up putting a child up for adoption instead of abortion; here are some of the advantages of adoption over abortion for the women who choose this path:

  • You can meet and hold your baby when he or she is born.
  • You can watch your child grow up through an open adoption.
  • You can fulfill another family’s dream of becoming parents.
  • You can choose adoption at any point in time, even after your baby has been born, so there’s no need to rush your decision.
  • Adoption is completely free, and you can get financial assistance throughout your pregnancy.
  • You can be in control of the process, choosing your baby’s adoptive parents and the type of life you want for him or her.

5. Get Help with Your Decision

Remember, the question isn’t whether adoption is “better” than abortion or abortion is “better” than adoption — the question is which option is better for you. Every woman’s situation is different, and you are the only person who can decide what’s right in your circumstances.

However, you do not have to make this decision alone. Professional options counselors can give you the information and support you need as you consider adoption vs. abortion. If you need help making your decision, contact an adoption agency, abortion clinic or pregnancy center for free and with no obligation.