The Options

Parenting

If a pregnant person wishes to discuss continuing her pregnancy and parenting, the provider should offer information on prenatal care, labor and delivery, as well as infant care, to the best of his or her ability. The provider should also encourage a realistic discussion of whether a child would fit into the person's life, whether she is financially ready to have a child and whether she has enough support from family members or others for all that is involved in raising a child.

Adoption

If a pregnant person wishes to discuss adoption, this conversation should include information on prenatal care, labor and delivery. The individual should understand the definition of adoption, which means surrendering her legal right to parent her child and giving someone else permission to take on the legal rights and responsibilities. She should be advised about the distinction between “agency” adoption and “private” adoption through an adoption lawyer, as well as the various types of adoption, including open (able to have contact with adoptive parents and the child), semi-open (contact through adoption agency or lawyer) and closed (no contact) adoptions. She should understand that she will be able to choose which option she prefers. Birthfathers must also be included in the legal process of adoption. In Illinois, the soonest parents can terminate their legal rights is 72 hours after birth.

For specific questions about adoption, a pregnant person should be encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency for more information. Most adoption agencies have birthparent hotlines to get answers to their questions without having to provide identifying information.

If undecided about parenting and adoption, individuals can make both a parenting plan and an adoption plan. Until a parent terminates parental rights she has no legal commitment to the prospective adoptive family and can change her mind at any time. A good adoption agency will support a pregnant person during her emotional journey and respect the fact that her adoption plan may change during the course of the pregnancy and after birth. An established, ethical adoption agency will provide the necessary support to ensure the pregnant person is in control of her decision.

Illinois law requires all Illinois agencies that provide adoption services to be licensed by the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), and the law requires all out-of-state and foreign adoption agencies to be otherwise licensed, registered or approved by DCFS. 

Safe Haven Abandonment

Individuals in Illinois who choose to give birth but feel unable to provide for their infant have the option to anonymously relinquish the newborn at a safe haven. Illinois law allows a parent to leave their baby, up to 30 days old, with a staff member at any hospital, fire station, police station or emergency medical services provider in Illinois. (325 ILCS 2/).

The infant will be examined at a hospital and as long as there is no abuse present, there will be no attempt made to locate the birth parent. The hospital reports the relinquishment to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), who will ensure that the relinquished newborn is not a missing child. DCFS will then contact a licensed adoption agency so the child can be placed in an adoptive home.

Abortion

A discussion about abortion should include a factual description of the abortion methods available, including medication abortion as well as surgical or vacuum aspiration. The provider should discuss what to expect in general – prior to, during and after the procedure – and try to address any specific questions or concerns of the pregnant person (see additional information in the next section, “What to Expect with Medication and Surgical Abortion”). The counselor should encourage the pregnant person to discuss her feelings about abortion and to seek support resources if necessary.

Counseling on Abortion: Notes from a Social Worker

"There are multiple factors women and teens consider during their abortion decision-making process.  These factors include: partner and family relationships, peer community, support systems, physical and mental health issues,  cultural/religious/social/personal beliefs,  pressures, and stigma,  finances, employment, housing,  and parenting goals/desires.The degree of emotional difficulty and acceptance of the abortion decision is unique to each person.  It is a decision of the head and heart. Many women and teens are able to navigate the decision quickly and easily. They typically don’t need options counseling.  Others agonize over emotional, partner/family, and moral conflicts.  Still others shut down and have difficulty articulating their feelings. Comprehensive options counseling assists women and teens, in a nondirective and unbiased way, to help clarify what can be complex and emotional territory for some women."