In our Nov 15 webinar, Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, LCSW, introduced the topic of the intersection of abortion and addiction. And Special Projects Manager, Karin Barbito, shared her personal experience with abortion and addiction.

Karin talked about how addiction played a role as a coping mechanism for her abortion and other trauma experiences, and how she eventually found healing from addiction while in recovery, from codependency while in a rehab half-way house, and later from abortion while working at a pregnancy center.

Lisa defined addiction as a stress response and as “anything that feels compulsive that you can’t get rid of by yourself, that you do daily, or that occupies space and mind and experience.” 

The intersection of addiction and abortion plays out two ways: abortion can lead to addiction, and addiction can lead to abortion. People with active addictions often may engage in riskier behaviors including unprotected sex that can then result in unintended pregnancies, which can lead to abortion. Karin pointed out that the added stress can also lead to an increase in addictive behaviors. For Karin, the stresses of her abortion led to her addiction. 

Lisa discussed how pregnancy centers and recovery programs can better help their clients by including questions about reproductive experiences in intake, circling back for conversations about those experiences later in the recovery process, and using “intuition, discernment, and compassion” to know when and how to ask the next question. She emphasized the importance of ongoing conversations and having resources for those struggling with addiction and unplanned pregnancies. Karin echoed the importance of intake and discussion sharing that throughout nine addiction recovery programs, she was never asked about her reproductive history. She said that being asked about it could have helped her find healing sooner.

Pregnancy centers and abortion healing providers were encouraged to collaborate with local addiction recovery programs and normalize the intersection of addiction and abortion. Support After Abortion has created two new resources to help facilitate these conversations: an email template that providers can use for reaching out to local community recovery agencies and a one-page fact sheet with information and data related to the intersection of addiction, pregnancy, and abortion. 


Click here to watch the video of Karin’s Abortion & Addiction Story.

Click here to access the Addiction & Abortion Fact Sheet.

Click here to access the Addiction Recovery Program Outreach Email Template.

Click here to register for the next Abortion Healing Provider webinar.

Click here to access Support After Abortion’s Resource Library.

Click here to explore Support After Abortion’s services, resources, and training for Abortion Healing Providers.

© Support After Abortion



The first time a therapist told me I was codependent, I almost threw myself over the table and strangled him.

My mother was codependent, not me! Didn’t he know that I have a Master’s Degree in social work? I help women in codependent relationships – I wasn’t in one. And I was nothing like my mother. See Original Post

Months passed until I realized that the therapist was right. My life was falling apart on multiple levels, and codependency was at the root of it all. It hit me then that I had taken on the worst characteristics of my mother: a distorted house-of-mirrors version of the women we each wanted to be.

Six Dobbs Outcomes Affecting After-Abortion Healing

Six Dobbs Outcomes Affecting After-Abortion Healing

In fighting over abortion access, mental health access after abortion needs to be a top priority

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that returned abortion to the states after nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights. Our country seems more divided than ever into two camps – those who oppose legalized abortion and cheer and celebrate Dobbs and those who support legalized abortion and are angry and lament Dobbs. 

At Support After Abortion we focus on a third lane – outside the politics and ideology of the debate around abortion – dedicated to helping women and men impacted by abortion. We’d like to share with you the effects of Dobbs on abortion healing that we’ve seen over the past year. 

  1. Obstacles to healing due to pressure to keep silent

Women and men fear being condemned if they share that they’ve experienced abortion or being ostracized if they share they’re hurting after abortion rather than celebrating. This has intensified since Dobbs and is exactly what was on the mind of our staff members who were exhibiting at a pro-life conference the day the Dobbs decision was announced. They described feeling unsettled amid the hooting, hollering, screaming celebration. One shared, “We know that one in four women experience abortion, so my thoughts went immediately to the many women who haven’t shared their story and now may never feel able to. It was sad and alarming to hear so much excitement while losing sight of those around you in pain.” Another said, “I actually cried. I knew abortions would still happen, but people would be silenced and wounded in a lot of different ways.”

  1. Obstacles due to fear of criminality and concern for safety and anonymity

Since Dobbs more clients contacting our After Abortion Line tell us they are afraid to reach out for help. They immediately ask about their safety and anonymity. Some are even scared to talk with their counselors because they fear criminalization. This led us to create self-help materials and ensure that our online Client Healing Center preserves anonymity. We launched Base Camp for men, a weekly virtual forum where participants don’t need to register and can choose to remain off screen. And we added an anonymous chat feature to our website

  1. Ripple effect – impacted family & friends 

People have shared with us experiencing the impact of abortion through loved ones sharing their abortion for the first time in public forums. They felt a double whammy – struggling with how to interact with their loved one and how to deal with their feelings of loss, especially with family members. For example, the day after the Dobbs decision, an After Abortion Line client sought advice on how to speak to her sister who had posted about an abortion on Facebook. She was struggling with reconciling finding out about the abortion publicly while also recognizing she felt grief over the niece or nephew she had never known. 

  1. Healing setbacks from condemning words

People who had been through healing after their abortions returned to us for help because their healing had been set back by the way people were speaking about abortion. They were especially hurt by condemning words posted on social media or spoken in person by people close to them who were unaware or unconcerned they were talking to someone who had experienced abortion. They felt wounded, attacked, and unprepared to cope with this new, post-Dobbs intense and often public lashing out. 

  1. Giant step backward in validation of men’s pain after abortion

Often the discussion of Dobbs has highlighted that male justices and legislators make up the majority of those making decisions on abortion access. We have seen these sentiments lead to a backlash against men who speak about their emotional pain after abortion. The result is men, who are already marginalized in discussions about abortion itself, are dismissed, ridiculed, and pressured to keep silent when they share their feelings about their personal abortion losses. Some men have even received death threats and threats of violence against their loved ones when they share their grief.  We have stepped up the outreach to men, hiring a Men’s Healing Strategist, speaking at men’s conferences, and publishing our National Men’s Abortion research and white paper.

  1. Increase in medication abortion resulting in women seeking help sooner

Since Dobbs, medication abortion has grown especially through telemedicine and mail order. Our research shows that the experience of medication abortion is often more intense physically and emotionally than women anticipate. As a result many women reach out to our After Abortion Line within days of their abortions rather than months or years later as in the past. They are often traumatized by the pain they experienced and what they have seen. Some describe seeing body parts, others share that they realized they were much farther along than they thought when they saw how developed the baby was. Their need for support, compassionate care, and healing is great.

  1. Triggered pain from the rise in “Shout Your Abortion” pride 

It’s nearly impossible to avoid hearing or reading about abortion since Dobbs. This can be very difficult for those who have experienced abortion – whether that was days or decades ago. One client whose abortion was 26 years ago said, “All this talk about abortion everywhere I turn now with all the politics has brought up all these memories of my pain and regret. Seeing people out there bragging about doing this is making me even more depressed.” 

Regardless of the Dobbs decision and aftermath, the after-abortion impact is unchanged. Our work is just as needed as ever – but Dobbs has made that work even more difficult in some ways. 

  • Before Dobbs one of our biggest challenges was awareness – our research shows that 82% of people who have experienced abortion don’t know where to find help. Since Dobbs, people now feel a mistrust of the helpers and a greater cultural pressure to not admit that they’re hurting.
  • While more funds are needed to create new abortion healing resources and options to address post-Dobbs concerns, donations are down because of the mistaken belief that Dobbs brought an end to abortion and the need to support people after abortion. Yet even if abortion were to end in America, the need for after-abortion healing would continue for the millions who have experienced abortion over the past 50 years. 

As people fight over abortion access, we have to remember the people hurting from their abortion experiences. For both those striving to expand or restrict abortion access, the need for mental health access after abortion should always be an essential priority.

We invite you to join us in focusing on compassion and support for women and men in pain whose needs are often ignored or dismissed. Your monthly or one-time donation to Support After Abortion will bring hope and healing to women and men suffering after abortion.



About Support After Abortion

Support After Abortion is a nonprofit dedicated to helping women and men impacted after abortion by (1) connecting them with healing options they prefer, and (2) equipping providers with curriculum, resources, and trainings. Support After Abortion’s free resources include an After Abortion Help Line, a national therapist and counseling directory, and an introductory abortion healing program.

About the Author

Michele serves as Communications Manager for Support After Abortion. She and her husband have experienced reproductive loss through three miscarriages and stillborn twins. They live in Greenville, SC with their three daughters.

Helping men navigate lost fatherhood on Father’s Day

Helping men navigate lost fatherhood on Father’s Day

“Be prepared that the day – or parts of it – may be difficult,” said Support After Abortion’s Greg Mayo

Media Contact:
Dustin Siggins

NORTH PORT, FLORIDA—Men who have lost children to abortion can find Father’s Day celebrations challenging, said after-abortion healing expert Greg Mayo, who lost two children to abortion and leads Support After Abortion’s National Men’s Task Force.

“Men’s emotions and grief around abortion are often ignored or dismissed,” continued Mayo, who recently authored a white paper which included statistics from Support After Abortion’s national survey of men who experienced abortion through a partner’s termination. “But their pain and feelings are real, and Father’s Day can be challenging as their thoughts go to their missing children, perhaps even while celebrating the joy of the day with their living children.”

The Support After Abortion study found that 71% of men experience adverse change after abortion, regardless of their position on abortion or their involvement in the abortion decision.

Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, a licensed mental health therapist and social worker, encouraged families, friends, and communities to be sensitive during culturally celebratory times like Father’s Day.

One in four men experience a home without a father, and others may have had difficult relationships with their fathers. Men may be approaching Father’s Day with fatherhood wounds from childhood, with their own lost fatherhood, and perhaps with pains from their own parenting of other children.

Grief is a common and natural response to loss. It varies for everyone, and grief after abortion is no different. It’s important to acknowledge the very real emotions that some men experience after their partners have abortions.

Just like women on Mother’s Day, men who have experienced reproductive loss including abortion should give themselves permission to grieve during Father’s Day. Releasing emotions in a healthy way – from doing yard work to talking to a trusted friend to going hiking – can bring a measure of peace and allow men to participate in the rest of the day, especially if they have living children who want to honor them as a father.

“Be prepared that the day – or parts of it – may be difficult,” advised Mayo. “This Father’s Day, if a man among your family, friends, or community is hurting after abortion, respect his grief, make space for his emotions, and ask how he would like to be recognized.”

Men and women who are struggling after abortion may contact the Support After Abortion team for confidential, anonymous support here.

Mental health awareness means putting people ahead of stigma

Mental health awareness means putting people ahead of stigma

Abortion stigmas often get in the way of providing compassionate, safe spaces for healing.

Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, a licensed mental health therapist and social worker, released the following statement at the end of National Mental Health Awareness Month:

President Joe Biden launched National Mental Health Awareness Month with a reminder that “we all have a role to play in ending the stigma around mental health.” For those without mental health challenges, he correctly said their role “starts by showing compassion, so everyone feels free to ask for help.”

America has come a long way on mental health since the first Awareness Month in 1949. Unfortunately, some mental health challenges are still stigmatized, which is why the estimated 22 million Americans who struggle after abortion are often ignored because abortion is portrayed as a political or religious debate.

Support After Abortion’s research shows that 34% of women who experience a medication abortion and 71% of men whose partners or ex-partners experienced any abortion suffer adverse impacts. And over 80% of women and men have no idea where to look for emotional and psychological support. It’s no wonder that they often suffer for years in silence.

Our After Abortion Help Line and After Abortion Referral Directory were created to be a pathway to improved mental health. Our therapist, counselor, and other referral partners focus on the humans in front of them, using best practices from the Academy of Certified Social Workers, Support After Abortion’s research, and other resources.

For almost 20 years, I’ve worked with underserved communities facing mental health crises. I first helped teenage girls and their families; then girls and women escaping sex trafficking, and women facing unintended pregnancies. Today, I work with women and men who are facing emotional and psychological challenges after one or more abortions.

Each of these people deserves compassion for their struggles and the freedom to ask for help, even if it challenges the rest of us to go outside of our comfort zone.


Special Guests 

Support After Abortion was joined by special guests Melissa Ohden (Abortion Survivors Network), Missy Martinez-Stone (Reprotection), Michelle Lawler (Hugs Over Ginger), and Brittany Paladino (Abiding Love Adoptions and Charities). 

What is Wrap-Around Care?

Wrap-around services are part of a team approach to client care based on the strengths and specialities of various professionals who can support a particular client’s needs. This webinar’s guests addressed specialized care for clients who have survived abortion, parent survivors, desire justice after harmful abortion clinic experiences, suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum (a complication of pregnancy), or may be interested in birth-mother focused adoption placement, or who have experienced adoption placement. 

What is the Connection with Abortion Healing?

Specific circumstances have heightened risks of abortion and therefore intersect with the need for abortion healing. For example: women who experience failed, stopped, and reversed abortions often feel deep guilt and shame. Women who have experienced traumatic abortions and/or medical complications often feel intense anger, regret, and guilt. The severe physical, emotional, and financial toll on women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) leads many women to terminate otherwise wanted pregnancies. One study found 15% of women with HG terminated at least one pregnancy due to HG and 6% had multiple abortions due to HG. And, women who place children for adoption and do not receive after-placement support are more likely to choose abortion for a future unintended pregnancy due to undealt with emotions. There’s a beautiful intersection of healing across each of these organizations and providers were encouraged to collaborate to better care for clients with these needs.

Melissa Ohden – Abortion Survivors Network 

Melissa shared that people are often captivated by her story as a survivor of a failed abortion, but in the webinar she focused on the work her organization does. In addition to serving adult survivors of abortion, the Abortion Survivors Network works with women who experience failed, stopped, and reversed abortions. They support women who are raising their children afterward. They come alongside adoptive parents, such as a couple she spoke with yesterday who are parenting a 10-month old who survived abortion pills. 

Who is an abortion survivor?

An abortion survivor is “literally, a baby who survived an attempt to abort them,” Melissa said. She talked about the importance of language and noted that “some refer to themselves as an abortion survivor if their mother considered abortion,” but that is more appropriately termed “targeted for abortion.” 

How to care for women who experience failed medication abortions?

She discussed how pregnancy centers and other providers can best care for women in this situation. She said women who experience failed medication abortions are “in incredible crisis” and under “so much stress” because “This is not what they were told to expect. They were told this problem would go away.” 

She also emphasized what not to do. Melissa said, “This is NOT the time to say to a woman, What a miracle! Congratulations! No! We may not ever get there. What she needs to hear you say is, Oh my gosh, this must be so overwhelming. You’re probably shocked right now.

She said often they are “reaching out for answers on failed abortions” and will ask “tell me what I did to my baby?” They “want truth and need hope.” They need help to address their crisis and stress. 

Melissa said that the medical community’s response is to continue the process, “Unless they have a pro-life ob-gyn, they are being counseled for another abortion.” She explained that may be another medication abortion, and if the pregnancy still continues, then a surgical abortion.

Melissa urged providers to “assess, address, and reduce the stress the woman is under – it’s sky high.”

What support does the Abortion Survivors Network offer?

The Abortion Survivors Network offers one-on-one support through clinical social workers, grief support, and help biological mothers and adoptive parents who are parenting survivors of abortions (age infancy to 30yo). “Our care goes beyond pregnancy,” she said “into parenting and recovery from failed abortion.” She spoke about the need for long-term wrap around support in these situations for improved parenting. “The fear, shame, and guilt don’t end when the crisis is averted in pregnancy. This is not a green meadow where we get to just arrive and say, hurrah.” Yet she said, “As hard as that can be sometimes, it’s exciting to me because there’s hope in the midst of that. Those are circumstances we can all enter into with them to have a dramatically different outcome in families.”

Engaging attendees in the chat, Melissa said, “We are working on a research study that should be conducted this summer. We will be taking that research and creating a formal model of response and care–medically, emotionally, socially, even in messaging to her and how to speak to her/identify her when she’s coming into a pregnancy resource center or healing program. You can sign up on our website to be included in upcoming trainings we’ll be providing for that.”

Missy Martinez Stone – Reprotection 

Missy described the experience of pregnancy centers and providers whose clients tell them about a terrible experience at an abortion facility. “Before Reprotection, there was never really a consistent and safe place to take that information and make sure that it was acted upon in a way that was client-forward that really put the woman’s needs first,” she said. “We partner with pregnancy centers, we take that information,  we find out what law was violated and who is responsible for oversight, we get it into the hands of the authorities, and we make sure that they are held accountable for the harm that they cause.”

She offered examples of an abortion facility that was disciplined because their office manager was handling the informed consent conversations. Another example was a woman “running out of the facility screaming Call 911 because she was afraid for her life.”

Is there a fee for Reprotection’s services?

No. Missy explained that Reprotection’s work is not medical malpractice or civil litigation. They are not attorneys. Rather, they identify state and local agencies “responsible for general medical regulations,” such as medical boards, zoning authorities, and health departments to help women get justice. And they use government processes and resources for filing complaints. “We volunteer our time for clients,” she said.

What language and protocols does Reprotection recommend?

“Everything we do puts the client first,” Missy said. She encouraged conversation with clients and then providing general information, not  a client’s private information. 

She urged pregnancy centers to comply with HIPPA. She also said, “We have a policy that we don’t ever take information that was obtained illegally.” She told attendees, “Don’t violate any rules when obtaining information about the abortion facility. Don’t trespass onto property and dig through their dumpster.“ 

She also urged attendees not to take pictures. “People like to take pictures of ambulances at facilities. We don’t need it,” she said. “It can feel very invasive to the woman going through a complication. If she looks out the ambulance window and there’s a person holding their phone, that feels very insensitive.” 

Rather than client specifics, she encouraged providers to share with Reprotection trends they see as they talk with clients and listen to their experiences. For example, a center might share that several women told them “they were put in a room with ten other people and given the pill all at the same time.” Another example she offered was that of a case in Arizona where “people on the inside” of a Planned Parenthood facility told them when a particular doctor worked there would be “a lot of complications” because “he cuts corners.” She explained “That does not violate HIPAA. That’s not giving away any kind of patient information. So you can report that to us in a way that honors their privacy, honors their care, but also gets us the information we need to hold [the facility] accountable.” She continued, “We can use that information to figure out how is this facility running? What are their tells? How are they treating women? And we can use that information to create a strategy and narrative to take it to the agencies.” 

What training does Reprotection Offer?

Reprotection offers a Client Safety Advocacy class through Heartbeat Academy. They offer discount codes if cost is a barrier. The class “gets into the minutiae of how to identify violations.”

Missy described three categories of states in Post-Roe America: nearly illegal abortion, fully accessible abortion, and those in the middle. She described scenarios that might be observed. For example, in states where abortion is illegal, is someone doing illegal abortions? In states with full access, she said Reprotection is looking at cases of human trafficking, mandatory reporting violations, zoning rule violations. She also said, “It doesn’t have to be an abortion specific rule, especially in places like New York, California, Illinois. We can make cases of general medical negligence without ever touching abortion code.”

She said Reprotection’s philosophy is “If you see something, say something, and we can determine, if a violation occurred and what are the next steps.”

What questions to ask women when you get the sense something is wrong?

Who did you see? Where did you go? Did you feel heard and cared for during the process? Did you have any questions or concerns that weren’t answered? Did you feel prepared for what you experienced? Missy noted that especially with medication abortions, “We’re hearing they’re not being properly prepared for going home and losing their child in their bathroom and what they’re going to see.” Did you have complications? Missy commented that women are reporting facilities telling them they don’t do follow up appointments and telling women experiencing complications, “You’re not our patient. Go to the ER. This is not our problem.”

Missy said, “If they’re upset, you’re going to get an ear full. They’re going to tell you they want justice. They want to be told that what they experienced was wrong.” She explained that we’re taught to trust medical practitioners “so when that is violated, that is really traumatic. And when you have complications and they’re not answering your questions, it is really upsetting. This is a vulnerable place to be in.” And that’s why Reprotection exists – for “women who have an unsafe or traumatic experience who desire justice for the harm done to them.”

Michelle Lawler – Hugs Over Ginger 

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Michelle discussed her new ministry, Hugs Over Ginger, which she is developing to support women with a specific pregnancy complication called Hyperemesis Gravidarum(HG), which Michelle noted “literally translates to excessive vomiting of pregnancy” and is often described as extreme morning sickness. Michelle explained, “It’s not just vomiting, but it’s the feeling that you have to, so that it actually causes you to become malnourished and dehydrated, inability to eat and drink normally, inability to function.” She said women often need medications and intravenous feeding for nutrition and hydration. Michelle addressed the emotional, physical, and financial toll that HG causes for women who experience the condition.

Michelle shared that she realized only after the fact that she had suffered from HG during her first pregnancy. She said she was really sick throughout her pregnancy and lost 20 pounds but thought, “everybody gets morning sickness, why am I not handling this very well? I need to get over this. I had a lot of guilt and shame that I was missing work and being a baby.” She said she thought she could just “power through this pregnancy.” 

She anticipated the condition in her next pregnancy “because if you have it once, you’re much more likely to get it again.” She said, “I was sitting there thinking, I’m thankful that I have the support that I need around me when I get sick. But how many women don’t have that? They have other kids, and they can’t work, they can’t pay their bills. Everyone’s telling them they’re crazy. It’s in their head. And what about those women? Who’s there for those women? And that’s when I said, I need to do something about that.” 

She said it’s been a few years and the desire to help other women suffering HG has grown deeper, so she is launching Hugs Over Ginger as an official 501(c)(3) with the goal to “come alongside women” and to educate pregnancy centers about the condition “and help you walk alongside that woman.” 

One service she plans to offer is care packages tailored to HG. In answer to a question in the chat, Michelle said the care package “will include things such as socks, water bottle, headband, a devotional/journal that I am writing to keep her going each day in her pregnancy, coloring book, colored pencils, etc.”

Why is HG a pro-life issue?

HG is a pro-life issue because women suffering from HG have “a much higher abortion rate than your average pregnancy,” Michelle said, “because women are so ill and it just inhibits so much of what you’re able to do in your life.” 

One attendee echoed this in the chat, “I had horrible morning sickness on top of the unplanned pregnancy and all the stuff I was dealing with. I felt horrible all day and could barely make it to work. It was one of the main reasons I decided to terminate both pregnancies.” 

Michelle said online HG communities such as a Facebook group “were super helpful, because they help you with remedies or they give you encouragement.” However, if a woman “even mentions that they’re thinking of an abortion due to their condition, these women will just say, you go do that. You need to think about yourself in this situation.” She was even privately messaged by the group Admins when she offered an “alternative to their idea of abortion.” She noted the groups are “just inundated with very abortion minded people.”

What’s in a Name? Why “Hugs Over Ginger”

Michelle shared that the reason she named her organization Hugs Over Ginger. The H and G are a nod to the condition Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  “Ginger is kind of the classic remedy that people will offer when you say I’m sick with my pregnancy.” She shared that this is often a source of frustration for HG sufferers because it minimizes the extreme nature of their suffering. Hugs references the need to offer support, validation, and compassion.

“Once they’re in the heat of HG, you just have to really manage the symptoms and give them support,” Michelle said. One woman wrote Michelle, “I’m going to Planned Parenthood, I just can’t do this anymore.” Michelle said her message to the woman was, “You can do this. You are strong. This is temporary. And that’s all she needed – just the encouragement to keep going. She needed somebody to have faith in her and understand that she was hurting and she wasn’t alone.” 

Brittany Palladino – Abiding Love Adoptions and Abiding Love Charities

Abiding Love Adoptions is an adoption agency licensed in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. Abiding Love Charities is a separate 501(c)(3) national charity that offers after-placement support for birth mothers, adoptive parents, and adoptees. “What makes us different,” Brittany said, “is that we are only working with the expectant mom. We focus on her needs because making an adoption plan is a journey, not necessarily just a decision.” 

How do Abiding Love Adoptions clients find adoptive families?

Brittany explained that Abiding Love wants birth mothers to have “as much choice as possible.” They work with “trusted faith-based adoption consultants” so “she gets more choice of families that she can select.” She also said that because they work with consultants, they are not bound by a set wait list nor do they need to consider wait list fees. 

What is best practice language to use regarding adoption?

Brittany explained why the frequent terms “put up” and “give up” are discouraged when discussing adoption. She shared that “Put up” derives from the Orphan Trains and said the focus was “not necessarily to be adopted,” rather “These children would be put up on platforms outside of the train station to see if there were families interested in adopting them to work on their farms. And when they weren’t adopted at that station, they were loaded back up on the train and then put up on another one. So that’s why we don’t say “put up.” It was a form of slavery. It is a really negative thing to say.“ She said, “give up is a little different.” 

Brittany said the term “give up” is a misnomer. As a birth mother herself, having placed a child for adoption almost 13 years ago, Brittany said when she hears the term “give up,” she asks, ” What makes you think I gave up on my daughter? Rather than “giving up” she said, “I explain it as a role change. Before I signed her paperwork, I am her biological mother. Now that that adoption has been finalized, I’m still her biological mother. But I’m her birth mother now, so my role in her life has changed, but my connection to her and my love for her has not changed.”

>So the best practice language, Brittany advised, is to say “she made a placement, she’s placing for adoption, or she placed with another family.” 

What’s the best way to talk about adoption on the sidewalk outside clinics?

“How about you don’t?” Brittany says she replies when asked how to have better adoption conversations outside abortion clinics. She encouraged attendees who themselves faced an unintended pregnancy and were in this situation. “What was your state of mind when you were outside the clinic? Were you open to logical, rational discussion? No. There are so many things firing on your brain and the one thing that isn’t firing is rational thought. She’s there. She’s frightened. And the only thing that she’s going to think at that point is, I just have to get this over with. So having a rational discussion with her about adoption is not going to work. In fact, it makes them more abortion determined – that’s what the research shows.

Brittany advises sidewalk advocates to “form better partnerships with your local pregnancy resource centers around that clinic.” She suggests they build relationships  and save contacts in their phones so when they’re speaking with a woman they can offer support and immediately connect them with someone at a center.

She discouraged the signs that say “I’ll adopt your baby” describing them as “not helpful at all.” She said the focus needs to be “getting her to slow down, getting her away from the point of entry so she has time to think things through.” 

“Does she need to make an adoption plan? I don’t know,” Brittany said. “That’s something we can learn as we get to know her.

Several attendees agreed with this approach and the importance of building relationship and being concerned for the woman and her situation. One said, “It may be the life of the baby that has you on the sidewalk, but it is the life of the mother carrying it in immediate need. Let us start there first.”

How can placing for adoption impact future parenting and unintended pregnancy? How can we mitigate that impact?

Brittany shared that “women who have placed children for adoption and women who have experienced abortion, when they’re parenting, have a lot of the same issues come up,” such as shame, guilt, and feeling undeserving like “I can’t be a good mother.”  Yet Brittany said, “There’s five times more help for women who have an experience in abortion than there is for women who have placed children for adoption.” 

She discussed the importance of after-placement support for women so that they can heal and move forward, similar to after-abortion healing. To meet that need, Abiding Love Charities has developed an after-placement healing program to support women who have placed children for adoption called Seen. 

“Women who have placed, who have not had any post-placement support are very likely to have subsequent abortions,” Brittany said. “Because whether that experience placing for adoption was real or perceived, it was real to her. If she feels wrong, forgotten, taken advantage of, the one thing she’s going to say is, I would never do that again

Brittany shared that “these are the stories I read about all day: They didn’t care about me. All they cared about was my baby. And after the placement, everybody forgot about me.”

This is why Brittany said, “There have to be more post-placement healing and recovery options for her. Maybe she doesn’t want to go to a support group, but she would like to talk to a professional counselor online about her experience. Maybe she doesn’t want professional counseling, but she wants a birth mother mentor like myself that she can call and talk to about the parts of her own adoption journey that feel hard.” 

Click here to watch this webinar and to register for next month’s free webinar. 

Click here to watch Support After Abortion’s weekly TV show where men and women share their abortion stories and we talk about the need for compassion, the need for healing, and the importance of this within the church and outside the church. 

Click here for the Reprotection questionnaire Here are some things to consider about your pregnancy termination appointment