You have better CHOICES
Make the choice that’s best for you and your child — a choice you can both live with.
People are there to help you
FFL’s ”Raising Kids on a Shoestring” is a holistic national guide filled with free and frugal resources, smart and creative solutions,
and practical support that pregnant women, expectant fathers, and parents deserve.
Consider your choices
Some couples who are facing an unexpected pregnancy choose to marry as one way to provide a supportive environment for each other and their child. Those who are already married may seek support from family or community resources.
Some couples decide not to marry, and they work together to support each other and raise their child.
Many women choose single motherhood, and many men choose single fatherhood.
Kinship Care & Guardianship
A woman may make arrangements for her child to live with other family members — like grandparents, aunts, and uncles — or close friends who can help raise the child. These arrangements may be made legally permanent.
For women who choose not to parent, there are various forms of adoption to meet their needs. Today a birthmother can, if she chooses, actively participate in selecting a family for her child — even identifying cultural, social, or religious preferences that are important to her in prospective parents. There are also a number of resources that may be available to birthmothers during and after their pregnancies. Adoption agencies can connect women to and in some cases provide these professional services, as well as advice and ongoing counseling.
Open or Semi-Open Adoption
Birthmothers today can choose the extent to which they have contact with their children. Many birthmothers choose some form of open adoption, which allows them to have regular, ongoing contact with their child and the adoptive family. Openness can range from visits, phone conversations, and email exchanges to more intermittent contact through the exchange of letters or photographs.
In many states, birthmothers can also choose a closed or confidential adoption that will protect their identity and privacy, though this arrangement may require initial disclosure of medical history, genetic information, or other non-identifying information to be provided to the child and his or her adoptive parents. In a closed adoption, there may be limited communication through a third party or a more anonymous arrangement for the exchange of information. In closed adoptions, birthmothers may also choose to have no communication with the child and adoptive family.
You have SUPPORT
Many women face financial, practical, and emotional obstacles to giving birth and parenting, but the good news is that all of these obstacles can be overcome, and you have a right to know how. Programs are available through your county’s Human Services, Social Services, and Health Departments. Pregnancy resource centers, listed in the Yellow Pages under “Abortion Alternatives,” are there to help you navigate your options. Many of these centers have staff or volunteers who speak more than one language.
Financial services available include
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, previously known as food stamps)
• Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
• WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Nutrition Program
Direct services available include
• Clothing, housing, furniture, and temporary shelter
• Medical care, including high-risk pregnancy services and help for victims of domestic violence
Other services available include
• Guidance in informing the child’s father and your parents
• Legal assistance, including obtaining child support
• Help with employment, education, domestic violence, and addictions
• Childbirth, breastfeeding, and parenting classes
• Postpartum counseling and assistance
• Adoption counseling
You have RESOURCES
For help in your area, look on the web or in the phone book under “Abortion Alternatives” or “Pregnancy Services,” or contact these organizations and resources:
Birthmothers: (877) 77-BIRTH www.birthmothers.org*
Birthright: (800) 550-4900 www.birthright.org
Catholic Charities: (800) CARE-002* http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org
Child Support Enforcement: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css select “Contact Your State or Tribal Child Support Agency” to find the contact information for your state or tribal Office of Child Support Enforcement.
Legal Aid: Look in your telephone directory or online for local Legal Aid services (also Law Clinic or Legal Clinic)
National Council For Adoption: www.adoptioncouncil.org*
Option Line: (800) 395-HELP www.optionline.org or text HELPLINE to 313131
Social Services: Look in your telephone directory or online for your local Department of Social Services
*These organizations focus on helping women planning an adoption placement.
Like you, your baby’s father has both rights and responsibilities.
If you are married to each other, family counseling is available through private and government sources.
If you are single and do not plan to marry the father of your child before the baby is born, ask him to voluntarily establish paternity at the hospital when the baby is born. This will provide the basis of financial support for the child and visitation rights for the father.
If you are considering adoption, talk to a local adoption agency about what the biological father may need to do, whether he has been informed of the pregnancy, and how his actions may affect the adoption plan.
If the father will not accept responsibility for his child, get as much information about him and his family as you can, including his Social Security number, home address, work and home phone numbers, medical history, his parents’ address, and his mother’s maiden name. This will assist you in securing child support if you choose to parent, and your doctors should have this information for medical purposes. And one day, when your child has questions, you can provide some answers.
Since 1995, FFL has advocated laws to strengthen child support enforcement and protect women who are being coerced into abortion by threats to withhold child support. The father of your child may try to tell you that he will pay for an abortion but will not provide child support. The law prohibits this. Remember, no one has a right to coerce you into having an abortion — not your boyfriend, not your husband, not your parents.
Child support cannot be enforced until paternity is established. Consider contacting an attorney to protect your child’s rights, or call your local Office of Child Support Enforcement and your local Legal Aid organization.
What we do
Feminists for Life’s College Outreach Program was inspired in part by the personal story of an FFL board member who became pregnant while attending college. She did not want an abortion, but she could not figure out how to care for her baby. “Without housing on campus for me and my baby, without on-site daycare, without maternity coverage in my health insurance,” she said, “it sure didn’t feel like I had much of a choice.”
Since 1994, FFL’s College Outreach Program has been a catalyst for change on college and university campuses across the country. FFL breaks through the rhetoric that pits women against their children and then works to foster creative solutions for pregnant and parenting students.
FFL’s Pregnancy Resource ForumsSM bring together students, faculty, and administrators to assess local resources for pregnant and parenting students and to create new solutions on campus. Our experience shows that people really are willing to work together toward practical goals to change the culture on their campuses.
Through other education and advocacy efforts, FFL has worked to reduce poverty among women and children, encourage the active support of fathers in the lives of their children, improve child support enforcement, prevent coerced abortions, and prevent violence against women and children.
What you can do on campus
There are many things college administrators and students can do to improve resources for pregnant and parenting students on their campuses.
Visit www.feministsforlife.org/cop for an overview of FFL’s College Outreach Program. Use FFL’s Pregnancy Resource SurveyTM to evaluate resources on your campus. FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums facilitate policy change in order to support pregnant and parenting students, communicate available resources, and create a central location for information on campus. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to host an FFL speaker or forum at your school, or get more creative ideas such as:
• Bringing one of our remarkable pro-life, pro-woman speakers to your campus! We will help your club start the dialogue on your campus for pregnant and parenting resources!
• Forming and training a volunteer babysitting corps to help parenting students find time for class, study, or a personal break.
• Purchasing diaper-changing stations for campus bathrooms.
• Raising money for student parents with a back-to-school rummage sale.
• Recording classes for pregnant and parenting students who must miss class.
What you can do in your community
• Order and distribute copies of this “You Have Better Choices” brochure in doctors’ offices, health clinics, pregnancy centers, dorms, student centers, community centers, places of worship, grocery stores, restaurants, shops, and libraries.
• Order and distribute copies of “Raising Kids on a Shoestring.” Connect people to the online version through your website, blog, Facebook page, or Twitter.
• Download and post Feminists for Life’s eye-catching and thought-provoking ads. (Always ask permission and follow any posting guidelines, regulations, or ordinances.)
• Advocate for pregnant women, parents, and birthparents at your workplace or school.
• Volunteer at a local pregnancy resource center, or donate maternity clothes and child care supplies.
• Join Feminists for Life and keep your membership current, helping us serve those in greatest need. Each of us counts!