When it comes to supporting a birth mother, there is not an “easy” option. Both parenting and adoption come with grief and loss.
Regardless of the birth mother’s choice, meeting her where she is, and with the heart of Jesus, can be transformative. As a woman whose life has been radically changed by adoption and the hope of the gospel, it is a tremendous privilege to walk with, encourage, and equip birth mothers.
Loving Birth Mothers
I was adopted as an infant into an incredible Christian family. My adoptive parents loved my brother and me and honored my birth mother and birth father. My mom had a huge heart for my birth mother, and that love was contagious! Now, as an adult, I have the privilege of passing on that same contagious and Christ-like love to others.
Over the years, I’ve seen how critical it is to love women in unexpected pregnancies, regardless of which pregnancy option they choose. As the director of the pregnancy counseling department at Lifeline Children’s Services, I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it can be for birth parents. While grieving an unexpected pregnancy, they must make the difficult decision between adoption, parenting, and abortion.
As the church, it can be challenging to know how to respond to an unexpected pregnancy. However, as followers of Jesus, we must consider how the church can wrap around those who are hurting and vulnerable.
How Can You Help?
First, we must remember our own brokenness and need for a Savior. We were all once drowning in our own shame and brokenness until the kindness of God led us to repentance. As we engage with hurting and broken people, we must respond with compassion and patience. We must listen, support, encourage, and help.
Once we have listened to a woman’s story, we can help her consider her options: parenting or making an adoption plan. There is not an “easy” option, as all come with grief and loss.
Most people first consider parenting. For many birth mothers, this can be a very rewarding option. Likewise, it can be a difficult road to walk alone. Single moms desperately need the support of their community, especially their local church.
How Can Churches Help?
Churches can include single parents in their parenting classes and children’s ministries. They can partner with local pregnancy resource centers, and reach out to ensure financial, social, and spiritual support is in place during times of need (especially around the holidays). Churches can help women who are considering parenting by helping them with life skills and financial planning. By welcoming birth parents into the church, Christians have the privilege of demonstrating that pro-life is a lifelong commitment!
An adoption is also a pro-life option! There used to be a stigma of shame around adoption, and it primarily took place in silence. Fortunately, in the past 25 years, things have changed dramatically. Like Lifeline Children’s Services, there are now gospel-centered adoption agencies that respect birth mothers and place children with adoptive families. These families desire an open and loving relationship with their child’s birth mother. In the process, birth mothers get to choose the family, the amount of openness, and what support will look like before and after placement. If you know a woman considering her unexpected pregnancy options, connecting her to one of these gospel-centered agencies is a great first step for her to gain more information.
Lastly, if you have women in your church who placed children for adoption in the past, you can include and honor them by mentioning birth mothers’ sacrificial choice or including them on Mother’s Day (or Birth Mother’s Day!).
How Do We Respond to Abortion?
The most challenging pregnancy option to respond to is abortion. Because we know the immense value of human life, it is painful to think of the ramifications. However, it’s important to remember that many abortion-minded mothers have been misled by a culture that says aborting a pregnancy, particularly in the face of financial lack, is an act of mercy or love. For this reason, we must uplift birth parents with hope and truth.
So church, find out why a woman is considering abortion. Her reasons are often very personal, and we should respond with grace and love, and remind her of her value as an image-bearer of God. Then we can remind her of her other options and that she is not alone.
The church has an incredible opportunity to walk alongside these women as they experience grief and pain. Many pregnancy centers have mentors who can talk with women who are considering abortion. Many also provide post-abortion services. None of the options a woman in an unexpected pregnancy faces are easy. They all involve grief, pain, and loss.
Meeting Birth Parents with Love
The best way to minister to a birth mother is to meet her where she is, offer her a listening ear, and be a support person as she processes her options. By knowing information and resources about parenting and adoption, your church can lovingly point her to a life-giving option.
By offering her a safe place of love and truth, regardless of her decision, you have the unique opportunity to share the gospel and demonstrate the love of Jesus through tangible support.