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The Myths of Pregnant Teens and Adoption

What to Know as a Waiting Parent

When it comes to adoption, there are many misconceptions and myths that swirl around. Common fabrications include: closed adoptions are the norm and expectant parents place their children up for adoption for the money.

The truth couldn’t be more different. Another easily recognizable misconception is the number of pregnant teenagers giving up babies for adoption.

With many pop-culture shows and movies portraying teenage pregnancy as a customary occurrence, it is less common than many might think. Pregnant teens looking for adoptive parents certainly do exist. But, if you are hoping to adopt an infant in the United States, there are a few important things you should know about pregnant teens and adoption before you start.

If you want to learn more about pregnant teens’ adoption, or if you are ready to start your own adoption journey today, you can contact American Adoptions now at 1-800-ADOPTION for additional free information. 

How Many Teenage Mothers Give Their Baby Up for Adoption?

It’s likely many hopeful adoptive parents have an inflated idea of how many pregnant teenagers there are in the U.S.

In a reflection of a larger trend, only about 10% of the women who place with American Adoptions are younger than 20 years old. Currently, an adoption plan plays into just three of every one hundred teenage pregnancies.

Additionally, as of 2019, about 9% of women having abortions in the United States were 19 years old or younger. The rest of the teenagers who became pregnant choose to give birth to their children (at a birth rate of 15.4 per 1,000 women as of 2020).

But, many teenage mothers are not adoption-minded. While awareness of adoption is certainly growing across the United States, it is still a rather misunderstood process.

Many women automatically think about abortion and parenting when they find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy, and teenagers are no different.

They often choose abortion to prevent themselves from carrying a pregnancy to term at their young age. Or they choose to raise their child, not truly understanding the reality of this choice and instead leaning on their parents for support.

How Does a Pregnant Teenager Affect my Adoption Opportunity?

While the number of pregnant teens looking for adoptive parents is low, there is still the possibility that you will be matched with one during your adoption journey. It will depend on factors such as:

You have the choice of accepting or declining any adoption opportunity that comes your way.

Additionally, just because there may not be as many teens wanting to place a child for adoption as you initially thought, this does not mean your chances of finding an adoption opportunity are lower. In fact, the adoptive parents who work with our agency wait an average of 9 to 12 months to receive an adoption placement after they go active with our programs.

What Does a Typical Birth Parent Look Like?

At American Adoptions, the majority of the women who place their children for adoption are in their 20s and 30s.

They are often already raising a child of their own, and they recognize that they do not have the means (whether practical, financial or emotional) to provide another child with the kind of life they deserve.

A woman chooses adoption out of love for her unborn child, and to give them opportunities she cannot provide herself, such as a loving, supportive home environment with a parent like you.

On the other hand, most unwed pregnant teenagers decide not to pursue adoption because they don’t have the same life experience.

Because they have never had a child of their own, they often don’t understand the responsibilities of parenthood. They choose this option instead because it seems like it might be fun and rewarding, or because a relative has offered their support in the childrearing process.

Of course, no two prospective birth mothers are the same, and it’s best to avoid generalizations. After all, you may end up adopting from a pregnant teenager who chooses adoption out of love for her child. Or your adoption opportunity may come from a woman who has a completely unique background and reasoning for choosing adoption.

There are no “typical” birth mother demographics — just a common desire to do the best thing for her child.

The Future for Pregnant Teens and Adoption

With the expanded availability of sex education and contraceptives, the teenage pregnancy rate in the United States has continually fallen over the last few decades. In fact, 2020 marked the 11th year in a row that the number of teenage pregnancies has declined.

If this worries you about your chances to adopt, as mentioned before, there is typically only a small number of teens wanting to place a child for adoption in the U.S. This means only a small percentage of waiting adoptive families ever receive an adoption placement from an adolescent expectant mother.

With American Adoptions, the outlook for waiting adoptive families continues to be bright. Despite the fact that the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate has declined, the number of prospective birth mothers who have contacted our agency has remained consistent.

Because of this, a family’s chances of adopting through our agency and their average wait time have remained steady over the last few years.

Don’t let the small number of teen moms who give a baby up for adoption dissuade you from this family-building process. There will still be the perfect adoption opportunity for your family!

No matter how the birth rates of pregnant teenagers change in the future, know that adoption is always an option for you as a hopeful parent.


When you work with our adoption agency, your adoption specialist will help you find the perfect adoption opportunity — whether that’s a mother in her 20s unprepared for another child or a teen mom giving a baby up in the best interest of herself and her child.

If you want to learn more about the chances of adopting from a pregnant teenager, or if you are ready to start your own adoption journey today, you can contact American Adoptions now at 1-800-ADOPTION for additional free information.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions does not allow gender specificity in adoption. Any family who wishes to be gender-specific in their adoption should contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION and ask about the possibility of an exception waiver before taking any other steps toward adoption with our agency. Any families who do receive an exception to be gender-specific may also incur an additional fee, which helps cover the additional advertising costs of such a request.

Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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