Some of us at this board are old enough to remember when pregnant girls dropped out of school and went to live with Aunt Sarah and never returned to school. We can also agree that that was not ideal. Now, at school, we have pregnant girls with a significant drop-out rate who live the romantic notion of how "cool" it is to keep their babies. I've had girls tell me that their friends "didn't see how" they could give up their babies.
I think the pendulum has swung too far the other direction and not many people make what I call a "child-centered decision". You will clearly see that the courts view children as belongings. That is why children are returned to their birth parents after living with nurturing adoptive parents for years--because they "belong" to the birth mother. This flies in the face of anything we know and understand about nurturing, attachment and providing a secure environment for children.
Incidentally, I don't see this changing. Over 40 years ago when a cousin of mine became pregnant, her parents were the main decision maker in what would happen to the baby. The baby was adopted out. I would certainly intuit that there was heartache on my cousin's part. When teens get pregnant, NONE of the decisions are cost or pain free. Now, the pregnant girl herself is the main decision maker on the disposition of a teen pregnancy. Overwhelming trend is she keeps the baby. there is heartache and FREQUENTLY what a nursing acquaintance of mine called "the post-natal abortion" where the life a child is destroyed not literally but figuratively AFTER birth by a well-intentioned but incompetent mother. (Please, no hate postings by those of you who were teen parents and decided to keep the baby. I am aware that it can be done. I am also all too aware that it can have disastrous effects for all concerned over the long haul.)
Fergus, you mention fathers, particularly "sperm donor" fathers. The young ladies I have worked with had very little expectations of what the father would do. When I worked with young moms, we would say, "Does [baby's] dad help?" and they would say, "Oh, yes, he brought some diapers for the baby last week." My expectations are quite a bit bigger than that, as likely are yours. I think that the notion of re-working the role of father expectations will have to be done by communities, churches, families. (What was the name of that men's responsibility movement a few years ago? Promise Keepers?) Changes in Paternal role expectations are not necessarily amenable to nursing intervention that I can see but even though PK's message was a little noisy and "out there", nursing needs to support those kind of community movements and have a little mercy when they don't change things all at once. Attitudes and expectations change slowly.
As are you, Fergus, I am saddened by the burden of babies birthed to mothers who are eager to be loved by their babies. While I love my son immensely, at age 9, he's better at taking than giving. Also, Fergus, sorry you had to meet some people who do not understand that parenting is not a biological function but a behavior function. Quietly live your life in front of these people and they may come to be smarter.
Child rearing, be it adoptive or by birth, is not a risk free enterprise and not for the faint of heart.
[This message has been edited by MollyJ (edited April 14, 2001).]