She said she's pregnant. Now What?
First of all, don't panic. You may feel shocked or overwhelmed and you may have a lot of questions flying through your head. Take a deep breath and count to ten. Try not to overreact! Remember, your reaction and the words you speak can build up the relationship or tear it down.
We are here for you, if you need to talk.
Meanwhile, here are some answers to a few of the questions you might have.
"How does she know for sure that she is pregnant?
While most over-the-counter pregnancy tests are accurate, some are not. If she hasn't already had her pregnancy confirmed at Bella or by a physician, you can encourage her to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. You can also volunteer to come with her for support.
"How can I know for sure that the baby is mine?"
Trust is a one of the most important elements in a relationship. Without trust, the relationship will not last, even under the best of conditions. If you have no reason to doubt your partner's faithfulness, it is important that you trust her at this time.
If on the other hand, you know that she has had sex with other guys, you have every reason to want an answer to this question. Unfortunately, you may not be able to obtain an answer until the baby is born. Very few doctors will perform DNA testing prior to a baby's birth because of the risk factors for the baby. For those who will, it could be very expensive. Because of these factors, you may need to wait until the baby is born to establish paternity.
"My girlfriend wants to have an abortion. What are my rights?"
Legally, only the pregnant woman has the final say in whether or not to have an abortion. However, if you want her to carry to-term, you should share your feelings with her in a non-judgmental, non-threatening manner. It is also important to let her know in what ways you are willing to help her if she were to change her mind and have the baby.
"What if my girlfriend doesn't want to include me in her plans?"
There could be a number of reasons for this but try not to jump to conclusions. Honest and open communication is the key to identifying and resolving issues. If she isn't willing to talk to you alone, perhaps she would be willing to join you for some dialogue with an impartial mediator that you can both agree upon. This person should be someone who can listen to both of you and help you make the best plan. A client advocate at Bella, a professional counselor, or a pastor may be good options to consider.
"I'm no longer with my girlfriend, but I still care about my baby. What can I do to be a part of his/her life?"
Let your ex-girlfriend know how you feel. Tell her that you care about your child and would like to be a part of his/her life. Ask her if she would be willing to sit down with you and make a plan for after the baby is born. If you are not on good terms with her, it may be helpful to seek the help of a mediator as described under the question above this one.
"What legal rights and responsibilities will I have if my girlfriend decides to parent alone?"
In most states, you will be required to pay child support until your child is 18 years old. If you desire, you may also have legal rights for visitation, joint custody, or even full custody of the child. Consult with an attorney in your state for further information.
"My girlfriend plans to have the baby, but I'm not ready to be a parent. What are my options?"
First of all, make sure that this isn't just a knee-jerk response to the news of an unplanned pregnancy. Give parenting a complete and thorough investigation before dismissing the idea all-together. The way you are feeling now, may not be the way you feel nine months down the road. If, after careful consideration, you realize you are unable to do what it takes to be a good father at this time in your life, there are two options: she may choose to parent alone, or if she is in agreement, the two of you may make a plan for adoption.
"What if we want to make an adoption plan for our baby?"
It takes a lot of maturity to recognize that you are not ready to parent right now. Bella is not an adoption agency, but we can provide you with important information on this option. We can also refer you to an agency or lawyer that does facilitate adoption. If adoption is being considered, give us a call and let's talk.