Adoption as an Option for Unmarried Pregnant Teens

By Custer, Marcia | Adolescence, Winter 1993 | Go to article overview

Adoption as an Option for Unmarried Pregnant Teens

Custer, Marcia, Adolescence


In the United States, adolescent pregnancy and child rearing is recognized as a contemporary health and social problem because of its sustained high rate compared to other developed nations, and its association with other social ills such as reduced educational attainment, underemployment, substance abuse, suboptimal parenting, and welfare dependency. Rarely are young unmarried mothers economically or developmentally prepared for parenthood without considerable help and support from others.

Abortion is the route chosen by more than 40% of pregnant adolescents (Hayes & Hofferth, 1987). National concern has been expressed at this high rate and increasingly, relinquishing the child for adoption is suggested as a positive alternative. This option, much more popular a generation ago, is chosen by fewer than 5% of teenagers who give birth. Public interest in increasing consideration of adoption is related to a desire to maximize the welfare of the adolescent as well as her child, and to reduce the cost of supporting dependent families. In view of the absence of any information to explain the change in relinquishing practices among teenagers who do not or cannot choose abortion, this study explored the reasons for such low interest in adoption among this "at risk" population.

Literature Review

Between 1970 and 1987 19 studies were reported that related to option consideration by pregnant adolescents. These studies were primarily quantitative and disclosed a number of variables such as education, SES, family structure, age, school achievement and goals, and religion that were found to be predictors of pregnancy decisions for the various populations studied. There were, however, few insights into the reasons adoption is so rarely considered. Since variables were usually preselected, it could not even be assumed that the right questions were asked. Two of the more current adoption researchers particularly noted the need for more inductive, theory-building research to increase the usefulness of existing research for clinical practice (Resnick, 1984; Mech, 1986).

Studies by Kallen and Griffore (1989) and Resnick (1987) employed matched sample designs (relinquishers/nonrelinquishers) with relatively large samples to validate and expand comparative information on important decision-making variables. Such findings, however, still did not indicate the meaning of these variables to the adolescent and her family, or how they influence the decision process.

Mech's (1984) study, the Orientation of Pregnancy Counselors Toward Adoption, validated the general low level of accurate information about adoption, as well as the reluctance of helping professionals to encourage unmarried pregnant adolescents to consider adoption. Of special significance to nurses in Mech's finding that persons providing counseling and information in health settings were even less informed about adoption and less inclined to help pregnant teenagers explore options than was the case in agencies that were not health related.

The purpose of this study was to analyze data on the meaning of phenomena related to adoption consideration by unmarried pregnant adolescents. The results will assist helping professionals increase the frequency with which they encourage thoughtful consideration of adoption as a result of their greater sensitivity to the meaning and interpretation of adoption by such clients. It is believed that the life opportunities for optimal outcomes of both the adolescent and her child would be enhanced if adoption was carefully considered so that abortion would not be viewed as the only alternative to parenting, and that parenting would be by choice, not default.


This study combined phenomenologic and constant comparative approaches (Omery, 1983; Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Swanson-Kauffman, 1986) to answer the question: What are the meanings of phenomena identified as influencing attitudes, beliefs, and decision-making about adoption as an option among adolescents experiencing an unplanned pregnancy? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Adoption as an Option for Unmarried Pregnant Teens


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.