An article published by CNN this week stated that there is a significant increase in unplanned pregnancy within our military servicewomen in recent years, nearly doubling the number of unplanned pregnancies in the civilian sector! We can all stand around and ask ourselves, “Why?” Or, we can ask ourselves, “What can we do for someone who is facing an unplanned pregnancy?”
CNN reports, “Nearly 11% of more than 7,000 active-duty women surveyed by the Department of Defense in 2008 reported an unplanned pregnancy during the previous year. That's 50% higher than the average rate in the United States, the study authors say. The study, publishing next month in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, also notes that the rate has increased since 2005.”
In the article, CNN also points out that when women were asked how they became pregnant, most women responded that they had no original intention of engaging in sexual activity on that occasion.
Through my work at my adoption center over the past 27 years, I have learned that once a woman realizes she is unexpectedly pregnant, dwelling on the, “Why,” no longer matters as much as meeting her where she is now. What matters now are the decisions she needs to make for herself and her child. Now, her future and the well being of her baby hang in the balance as she searches for the best way to cope with this life-changing circumstance. Now there is no easy answer. Even if she chooses to parent the child, we all know that parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world, especially if she is going to be a single mom!
As an adoption professional, I have worked with many servicewomen over the years, as well as women who are preparing to enlist. We also have prior military within our client support team. We know that a pregnant servicewoman has more weighing on her mind than the average woman. She may not be able to serve our country in the way she intended. She may need to take a time out from being considered for deployments, certain assignments that are unsafe while pregnant, or even promotions. She also may receive criticism from her peers and even supervisors when she shows up in maternity uniform. On the other hand, she might also find loving support within her military community as she shares her hopes and concerns with them.
I want us all to keep our military servicewomen in prayer. It may not be easy to stand up to the scrutiny and to make the decisions she knows are best for herself and the child. I pray that she can see that the long term blessings of choosing an adoption for her child are endless! Just because she has medical insurance and a career, doesn’t automatically mean she wants to become a mom right now or add a child to her family at this time. There is so much more to consider than just financially providing for a child -- this is a very personal decision.
We have had many military women choose adoption and find hope through choosing a better life for herself and the child. Many of the birth moms I have listened to have shared that they have so much more to do in life, so many more personal goals and dreams to reach, before they become a mother. They know that choosing adoption now doesn’t mean they will never have a child of their own. It gives me such joy to hear from birth moms who have gone on to medical school, to excel in the military, or to get married and have a family. It also warms my heart to hear the pride with which the adoptive parents speak of their child’s birth mom, especially when they share in serving our country themselves!
If you are a servicewoman facing an unplanned pregnancy, I want to first thank you for your service. We are here to help you and share what an adoption and even an open adoption could be like. We also have peer counselors you can speak with to learn what choosing adoption has meant for other women. You can start to look at families and even speak with a family who would like to keep in touch with you as the child grows up. There are also military families who share your values and would love to speak with you about your hopes and dreams for yourself and your baby. The choices are up to you!
I invite you to chat with us, text with us, or call our center at 1-800-923-6784 at any time. We have caring, compassionate, non-judgmental support and information for you here. You are not alone!
As the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is the author of seven books and has helped thousands of birth moms and adoptive parents, nationwide, unite through adoption since 1986.