Is Adoption Right for You?

35 Reasons Women Choose Adoption


The reasons why people choose adoption for an unplanned pregnancy are as complex and varied as each person themselves. Every situation, and therefore, the reasons to “give baby up” for adoption, are entirely different, which is why there’s no such thing as a stereotypical birth parent.   

Those who have never experienced adoption firsthand, especially those who have never been put in the difficult position of considering placing a child for adoption, often ask, “Why do birth parents choose adoption?” And, if they don’t understand the complicated emotions at play in such a decision, they may even wonder, “Why don’t they just put the baby up for adoption?”  

When a birth parent is asked, “Why did you give up your baby?” the person asking doesn’t understand the pain that such a question can elicit.   

First, because outdated phrases like “give up” make the decision sound like the birth parent simply “gave away” their baby, as if they didn’t care — and the reality couldn’t be further from that. We only use negative language like this within our articles because phrases and questions like, “Why do mothers ‘give up’ their babies?” are still the most widely used terms, although they are not preferred.  

And secondly, because the person asking questions like, “Why did you put your baby up for adoption?” is demanding to know why the birth parent would do such a thing. It’s clear that they don’t understand that the reasons to “give up” a baby for adoption are always complicated, and never small matters.  

To help these people understand, here are just 35 of those reasons to choose adoption 

1. They aren’t ready to be a mom.

Why choose adoption? Sometimes the reason is as simple as wanting to become a mom someday, but not right now. A prospective birth mother might not feel ready for any number of reasons, but ultimately, becoming pregnant when you weren’t planning on becoming a mom just yet is always a valid reason to choose adoption in and of itself.  

2. They don’t want to be a mom.

Why do birth mothers choose adoption? Another reason is that some women just aren’t interested in motherhood, now or ever. They don’t need any more reason than that to choose adoption. For these women, placing their child with people who desperately do want to be parents makes the most sense, and can turn an unplanned pregnancy into a positive (if unexpected) event.  

3. They’re already a mom and are unwilling or unable to raise another child right now.

Many of the women who place babies for adoption are already raising children. They may feel that having a baby and adding to their family right now would put too much physical, emotional and financial strain on themselves and on their other children. They may worry that if they have another child, they wouldn’t be able to spend the time, energy and resources on their older children that they feel they deserve. They also know that their older children can still have a relationship with their youngest sibling though an open adoption 

So, when women explain, “Here’s why I put my baby up for adoption,” they sometimes say that adoption was the best way to provide for their children instead of focusing on their own desires.  

4. Their family is complete.

They might simply be done having children. Many parents reach a point where they feel their family is complete, and another addition is not desired. That’s always a valid reason for choosing adoption and is commonly cited as one of the reasons to put your baby up for adoption 

They know that other people’s families are not complete — there are thousands of couples who have been waiting and longing to grow a family, and the pregnant woman may see adoption as a way to benefit both parties.  

5. They’re not financially able to raise this baby at this point.

Being pregnant and having a baby is enormously expensive, even with insurance. The cost of then raising that child into adulthood is even more costly.   

Parenthood is expensive — a woman may not feel that she is financially able to provide the kind of life she wants for her child. So, when asked, “Why did you give your baby up for adoption?” she may explain that she was already struggling to financially provide for herself or for her older children. Adoption agencies can help her with finances, like affording medical care throughout her pregnancy as well as helping with essentials like rent, bills and groceries, so she can get back on her feet.  

6. They’re not mentally or emotionally able to raise this baby at this point.

They may be struggling with mental health issues, or they may be dealing with personal struggles that make parenting this baby difficult. A child requires a lot of mental and emotional effort from a parent, and she may feel unable to provide for a child in that way.  

7. They’re not physically able to raise this baby at this point.

Raising a baby requires no small amount of physical fortitude and effort. She may have physical health issues that would make parenting this baby difficult. There are also other physical factors to consider in parenthood: the time that caring for a child requires, for one. She may not feel able or willing to devote the time required to physically care for this child in between work and other responsibilities.  

8. Their home environment is unstable, unsafe or emotionally unhealthy.

Not everyone has the luxury of a safe, loving and consistent home environment. A woman may feel that her current living situation is not the best environment in which to raise a child, let alone for herself. She may be bouncing around from place to place, she may live with too many people, in a home that is unsafe or unhealthy, with people who she feels aren’t appropriate for her baby, or she may be currently homeless 

Whatever her situation, she feels that adoption is the best way to provide her child with a safe, loving and stable home, and she knows that an adoption agency can help her secure better housing 

9. They know this baby is at risk for entering foster care, now or in the future.

One reason why you should choose adoption may be avoidance of Child Protective Services involvement. A prospective birth mother may have kids who are already in the foster care system and be working toward reunification, or her children may currently be in her care but have existing CPS (Child Protective Services) case files. If a caseworker learns that she is pregnant, it could jeopardize her chances at regaining custody of her children who are in state care. Or, she may know that her current situation would be considered an unsafe or unhealthy environment for a child, and if CPS found out, her baby could be taken into state custody — potentially forever.   

When a woman contacts an adoption agency (the only way to voluntarily place a child), she has the ability to choose the adoptive family, to choose the type of future relationship she has with her child and the adoptive family and more. However, if the child is involuntarily removed by CPS (you can’t choose to voluntarily relinquish a child to CPS), all of her choices would be removed — she would have no say in who fosters or adopts her child, and she would likely not have the option to choose an open adoption. Contacting an adoption agency is often the best way to maintain control over her situation and to preserve a relationship with her child.  

10. They are incarcerated.

One of the answers to why parents “give up” newborn babies for adoption is: Incarceration. If a woman becomes incarcerated while pregnant, she has three options: Allow someone she trusts to provide short-term care for her child, contact an adoption agency, or the child automatically enters foster care.   

Contacting an adoption agency is the only way to guarantee a future relationship with her child through open adoption, as well as the only way to preserve her ability to choose. Through an adoption agency, she is able to choose the adoptive parents and how open she wants her adoption to be.  

11. They have an unhealthy relationship with the baby’s father.

If a woman becomes pregnant and doesn’t have a good relationship with the father of the baby, adoption is always a valid choice. Her explanation of one of her reasons for “giving baby up” for adoption is that if she were to raise the baby, she would be tied to that man for the rest of her life. Additionally, she may not want her child to have a relationship with this man, especially if he is abusive or is facing struggles like addiction.  

12. They are not in a relationship with the baby’s father, and don’t wish to enter into a relationship.

Sometimes, one of the reasons to “give a baby up” for adoption is because the woman is not in a relationship with the baby’s father and has no desire to be in a relationship with him — especially not if it would be purely for the sake of raising the baby together.  

She may have become pregnant with someone she doesn’t know very well, or as a result of a “one night stand.” She may be seeing multiple men, and isn’t sure who the father is. No matter what her situation, she knows that entering into a relationship is rarely a good “solution” to an unplanned pregnancy.  

13. They are in a relationship with someone who isn’t the father of the baby.

One of the cited reasons to “give your baby up” for adoption is infidelity. When a woman becomes pregnant as a result of a secondary relationship, it can put strain on her primary relationship. If she and her primary partner choose to remain in their relationship, they may decide that the emotional complexity of raising another man’s baby may be too much for their relationship to bear. She knows that the adoption agency and the adoptive parents will never judge her for her situation.   

14. They have a good relationship with the baby’s father, but they both feel that adoption is the best choice.

Just because a couple is in a loving and committed relationship, or even married, doesn’t automatically make them ready, willing or able to raise a baby. And a lack of readiness, excitement, or ability to raise a child is always enough of a reason to choose adoption, even for someone in a relationship.  

15. They don’t have a support system to help with a baby.

Nobody can raise a child entirely on their own. It takes friends, family and professionals who are willing and able to provide enough physical, emotional and financial support to achieve even day-to-day necessities. A woman may not have access to affordable or consistent childcare while she works, she may not have the emotional support she needs, she may not have friends or family who can help her afford necessary costs and more. She may not even have someone to give her ride to her prenatal appointments.  

16. They don’t want to be a single mother.  

Many women are able and willing to raise a child without the support of a partner. There are countless successful single parents in the world. However, regardless of whether or not they’re able to parent on their own, not all women want to.   

17. They want their child to have two parents.

A common reason why a woman places a child for adoption is her desire to provide her child with a two-parent home. These women often say that their own upbringing influenced this desire. She may have grown up in a loving two-parent home and wants her child to have the same, or she grew up in a single-parent home and she wants something different for her baby.  

There are thousands of waiting adoptive parents out there who are in loving marriages, including both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Women know that they can find a family who will serve as a positive relationship role model for their child to one day emulate.  

18. They want to help someone else have the family they’ve been waiting and longing for.

There are thousands of couples and single parents who have been waiting in hope for the opportunity to love and raise a child. They may have struggled with infertility or pregnancy loss, are a single parent or a same-sex couple, or they’ve simply always wanted to grow their family through adoption.  

For these people, a child is their dream — a pregnant woman choosing them to be her baby’s parents is literally their dream come true. When a woman is facing an unplanned pregnancy, she may see adoption as an opportunity to help a couple as well as her child.  

19. They want their child to have every available opportunity.  

Every woman wants the absolute best for her child. Many women understand that love isn’t always enough. She may not be in a position where she is able to provide her child with the essentials, let alone opportunities like access to a good education, health care, vacations, treats or toys, nice clothes and other luxuries both big and small.  

Even though most adoptive families are not rich, they may be more able and prepared to provide for their child’s “needs,” plus the occasional “want.”  

20. They want to break a cycle of family toxicity or poverty.  

The reason many adoptive families are in such good situations is because they themselves came from families who had access to many opportunities. But not every family is so lucky. When people ask, “Why do mothers ‘give their baby up’ for adoption,” they may not consider socio-economic factors.  

Some (certainly not all) women who choose adoption grew up in families who have been poor for generations, or who hadn’t had much access to education or opportunity. Abusive families, a history of unplanned pregnancies at young ages, addiction issues and other struggles are often generational and systemic problems — it’s incredibly hard to break these cycles, because each generation inflicts damage on the next.  

Sometimes, when a woman from this background becomes pregnant, she wants the cycle of damage to end with her. She sees adoption as a way to give her child (and herself) a chance to break the cycle, and to hopefully have a happier life than her predecessors.   

21. They have goals that they want to complete, and a baby would delay or end their personal progress.

Can a woman complete her educational, career and personal goals while raising a baby? Often, yes! But, it is far more difficult.   

The biggest goal for many people is parenthood. But for some, parenthood is less of a goal than educational, career or personal progress. So, for these women, it makes sense to place their child within a family whose goal is child-rearing, so that she can continue pursuing her own path without changing course.  

22. They are not excited about this pregnancy, or about raising this baby.

Again, not everyone is excited to find out that they’re pregnant. They don’t want to raise this baby. It’s always okay if a woman doesn’t want, or isn’t able, to see an unplanned pregnancy as a “blessing in disguise.” Some women choose to, but nobody should ever be judged for not being happy about their pregnancy.   

Disinterest in being pregnant or in raising a child is always a valid reason for choosing adoption. A woman doesn’t need any more reason or explanation than that.  

23. They are struggling with addiction or unhealthy habits.

When a woman who is struggling with substance abuse or an unhealthy lifestyle becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she wants to do the best thing for her child. Placing her baby for adoption may be the best way for her to receive resources that can help her gain control of these struggles, and it may be her way of preventing her child from being raised in an unhealthy environment.  

24. They are an addict in recovery and worry that the stress of a baby would push them to relapse.

Recovery from these devastating illnesses is never easy under the best of circumstances, let alone under the stress of pregnancy and/or parenthood. She may feel she must prioritize her sobriety and health, and that placing her child for adoption is the best way to ensure this.  

25. Their baby has additional needs.  

A pregnant woman may have learned that her child will require additional medical, emotional or financial care. Her child may have a health issue that can be resolved, or it may be a lifelong disability. If she feels that she is physically, mentally, emotionally or financially unable or unwilling to meet the extra needs that her child will require, she may decide to place her child into a family that is willing and able to meet those unique needs.  

26. They personally know a family whom they feel is the best choice to raise this baby.

Sometimes there is a kismet situation where a woman becomes unexpectedly pregnant and feels either unwilling or unable to raise the baby, but she knows a person or family who has been hoping for a child. For her, adoption may seem like the “obvious” choice in addition to feeling like the right choice.  

27. They would face backlash if certain people in their lives found out about the pregnancy.

Whether from the father of her baby, her parents, friends, family members or other important figures in her life, a woman may face repercussions for her pregnancy — let alone if she chose to raise the baby. If she decides that abortion is not the right option for her, then she may feel that adoption is the only option left.  

Some women risk losing their partner, their sources of financial, emotional or physical support, their home, reputation, children, or even their lives if a certain person learns of her pregnancy. In these situations, she may choose to seek the help of an adoption agency who can help her relocate, temporarily or permanently, so that these people remain unaware of her pregnancy and adoption.  

28. They were the victims of rape, sexual assault, or incest.

Unfortunately, not all children are conceived out of loving or consensual situations. In such circumstances, a woman may see a future of raising the resulting child as a daily reminder of a painful and traumatic event. For these reasons and more, she may decide that adoption is the best path.  

29. They feel that neither abortion nor parenting is the right choice for them.

If a woman has ruled out parenting and abortion, then her pregnancy choice is adoption. Every woman has the right to choose whichever of the three options is best for them. While abortion or parenting is the right choice for many women, for others those aren’t the right fit. Their choice is then clear — adoption.  

30. They have religious or moral reasons for choosing adoption.

Some women strongly believe that abortion or single parenthood is not right for them, and these feelings may be grounded in their personal religious or moral beliefs.  

31. They want to maintain a connection with their child through an open adoption.

At first, some women consider parenting, because they want to have a relationship with their child. They see the loss of this connection as one of the reasons to not ‘give your baby up’ for adoption.   

However, they may later learn that they can still have a relationship with their child by choosing to have an open adoption. So, if they feel unable or unwilling to raise their child, they find a kind of “middle ground” by choosing open adoption, which allows them to stay in touch and watch their child grow throughout the years.  

32. They tried to raise the baby, but ultimately decided that adoption is best.

Not all women choose adoption right away. Some may try to raise their child at first, after considering all the reasons not to ‘put your baby up’ for adoption. Then, after they have brought their child home, they find that the physical, emotional and financial responsibilities are too much for them to handle at this point. There is never any shame in a woman deciding that she is no longer able to care for her child as she had originally hoped.   

33. They have a personal connection to adoption, and they know that it can be amazing.

One of the answers to, “Why do people ‘give up’ their baby for adoption?” often surprises people. Quite a few of the women who choose adoption have a personal connection to adoption. They may have been adopted themselves, or they may have a friend or family member who was adopted. Or, they may know and love a birth parent or an adoptive parent.   

For them, adoption may feel like it was “meant to be,” or a way of “paying it forward.” Or, they may simply have a better understanding of the many positive things that can come from adoption. 

34. They want to create a “silver lining” to an unplanned pregnancy.

Again, nobody should ever expect a woman to “make the best” out of an unplanned pregnancy. And yet, some women can and do have this attitude. Although she wasn’t planning on being pregnant and she has decided that parenting isn’t the right choice for her, she may see adoption as a “win-win” for herself, for her baby, and for adoptive parents who have been dreaming of this child.  

35. They love their baby and want the best for him or her, even if that means adoption.

Regardless of any other reasons that led them to choose adoption, every birth mother chose this path because she loves her child beyond measure. Birth mothers want the best for their children — even if that means sacrificing her role as her child’s mother. Placing a baby for adoption always comes from a selfless, sacrificial love.  

Do you think adoption might be the right choice for your pregnancy? If so, contact a licensed adoption agency now for free, confidential information.  


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