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Your Options: Parenting

Welcome to being a parent! Whether your baby has already been born or you are newly discovering that you are pregnant, you already have a child which means that you are already a parent. This may strike fear inside of you but if you sit quietly for a moment you may find that there is a part of you that feels joy. That is natural, normal and ok.

You probably have questions about living arrangements, providing for your child, and receiving support.  

Below are some commonly asked questions:

Where can I live with my baby?

Look into your housing options before you deliver. The Lake Superior Life Care Center has Client Advocates who can work with you to identify housing options.  Some possibilities include living with a friend or relative, living with your parents or the birthfather’s parents, living in a home for single mothers, or living in public, subsidized housing.  You may qualify for housing assistance; if so, you want to apply as early as possible.  Look for a safe and affordable place to live. Consider childcare options in each situation. If you are a student, ask if your school offers daycare.

Can anyone help me get items for my baby?

The Lake Superior Life Care Center offers our Earn While You Learn Program where parents can earn points by completing one-on-one lessons and redeem those points for diapers, wipes, clothes, and many other baby items.  The Life Care Center also offers Parenting Classes to eligible parents.  
In addition,many churches and community agencies can help with needed baby items. Your client advocate can connect you with parenting classes and other resources, including information about public assistance for medical and financial needs.

I'm receiving public assistance.  Can I get job training?

If you are receiving assistance, you may be eligible for programs to help you with job training, tuition, and childcare.  Our Client Advocates can help you explore your options.  With determination and job training, you can earn security for yourself and your baby.

If the father chooses not to be involved, how do I explain that to my child?

Not having a father present may be hard for a child to understand. Explain that because of complicated circumstances, he is unable to be part of your family. Talk as positively about the other parent as you can without being dishonest. Even if you don’t like him, he is someone special to your child. Respect your child’s interaction with other male role models. How your child perceives caring adults of either gender will affect how he or she will relate to others as an adult.

Can I still go to school?

Most schools encourage you to continue your education. Some educational programs for parents offer night classes, loans, childcare, and even transportation. You may decide to take a semester off while you adjust to parenting, but your educational goals are still reachable. No one will force you to quit school.

Can I still choose adoption later if parenting becomes too difficult?

If parenting becomes too difficult, you may consider adoption. It takes courage to realize that you cannot provide all that your child needs by yourself. But separating from a child with whom you have bonded with is difficult.  It takes courage to realize that you cannot provide all that your child needs by yourself.  Look for an agency that can help you make a loving adoption plan that you can feel positive about.

How do I get support from the birthfather?

The birthfather’s legal responsibilities include providing financial support for your child. Most states have a child support enforcement agency that will withhold money from his paycheck if he is unwilling to pay. Your child is entitled to financial support. If, however, you cannot get child support, you must plan how you will care for your baby without it.

What rights does the birthfather have?

You and the child’s father should discuss with each other your individual rights and responsibilities. A child’s needs are best met when birthparents work together.  If he has signed a notarized paternity affidavit, he has legal rights, including visitation and the right to deny or consent to medical decisions for your child. Discuss his rights and responsibilities with your counselor, attorney, or your state social services department.

What rights do grandparents have?

State laws vary about grandparents’ custody and visitation rights. By law, birthparents are the only ones who have rights and responsibilities toward the child. Grandparents, however, are important people in your child’s life and history. They can be very helpful to you and your baby. Appreciate their help as supporting you and your baby.

 (2004.Bethany Christian Services.www.bethany.org)