In New Jersey, a father cannot legally prevent an abortion, but he can prevent his child from being placed for adoption by withholding consent. Given these realities, what role can a father play in an unplanned pregnancy decision?
A typical guy might feel he is being supportive by telling the mother of his child, “I will support whatever choice you make.” But is that really support – or more pressure on an already conflicted woman? Now she is left to guess and stress about what this man really wants, how much he cares about her, and whether he will resent her and the baby for changing the course of his life.
What if a father had the courage to speak up? The following account is fiction, penned by Jan Ellison in her novel “A Small Indiscretion,” but I’d like to think it’s closer to the truth.
At the clinic, we went to the window and gave them my name. They didn’t ask for his name, only his money. It was my ordeal, apparently. It was my child. Did I think of you as a child? At least a part of me did. … I could not persuade myself that the life inside me was not a life. I could imagine a baby growing readily enough. A fetus that, uninterrupted, would grow eyes and eyelashes and limbs and fingers and toes. It would open its eyes and they would be blue, like your father’s.
In the clinic that day, I didn’t say any of what I was thinking out loud. I sat next to your father and filled out the forms and turned them back in at the counter.
We didn’t have long to wait. They called my name and I took a step forward. I gave your father a weak smile.
He stood up. He took me by the elbow and sat me down again. He spoke in a low, tender voice, the voice I had until then heard him use only in bed. “You know what?” he said. “I think we could handle this.”
“Having a baby. Getting married. All that.” . . . .
“But do you want to?”
“I do. I really do. If you will.”
We left the clinic. …
“Will you marry me?” he whispered.
He kept his forehead crushed against mine, and his face was so close to my face, it was as if I swallowed the question as soon as he posed it. I felt our held breaths as the words burrowed down inside me, where you were burrowing, too, so small but so certain, and where, right beside you, an answer had already been waiting.
“Yes,” I said. “I’ll marry you.”
At Lighthouse, we believe the role of a father is invaluable. That’s why we have men on our staff devoted to helping fathers be responsible, involved and committed dads, as well as loving partners. Please contact us for free assistance if you are facing a difficult pregnancy or parenting decision.