My girlfriend is pregnant, and suddenly I am a birth father. The term ‘birth father’ is a relatively new one for me. In January, when my girlfriend and I learned that we were pregnant, I began a journey that would open my eyes to a great many new things.

My girlfriend and I were both well on our way down our own individual career paths, and upon learning of the pregnancy, we both felt that our relationship was not ready to survive raising a child in the environment we would have liked to have provided. Thus we began the delicate process of deciding exactly what we should do.

As a man, I can never know the feeling of carrying a child inside of me, or what it is like to go through the act of childbirth. Therefore I feel the decision to give birth to, or not give birth to, a child can only be made by the woman whose body is pregnant. My opinion has always been that since it is her body, it must be her decision.

Therefore, I saw the most important role for me as the birth father was to support my girlfriend in whatever decision she made. Because of the nature of our relationship, my girlfriend needed to know what I thought as well. My feelings were important to her and part of the information that she needed to make her decision.

“What should I do?” and “Should I give up my baby for adoption?” were questions she would often ask me. What it all boiled down to was that she did not want to raise the child (even with my help), but that she didn’t feel comfortable with the option of abortion either, and as those two options gradually began to fade out, a third option, that of placing a baby for adoption, became clearer and clearer as the one that would be the best for her and the easiest to live with in the years to come.

As my girlfriend is fond of saying, “I am pro-choice, and I chose.” She chose to place our baby for adoption so that he would have the life that he deserved, so that he would be loved and provided for.

So now that I had decided to investigate adoption, what were we to do next? How did we start?

After some thought, we decided we wanted an agency that met these two criteria: 1) That the agency not be affiliated with any one religion (we did not want to pre-determine the religion of our child—that would be up to the adoptive parents), and 2) That the agency offer some kind of financial assistance should we need it (we had no idea what it cost to be pregnant).

We began searching for local adoption agencies that could help us with our adoption plan. I explained that my girlfriend and I were wanting to place our baby for adoption and didn’t know what to do next. I made an appointment with one of Adoption Associates’ caseworkers and our meeting went well. We were provided with the information we needed, and more. Our caseworker would help us throughout the entire pregnancy. We had a plan now and not just a bunch of unanswered questions.

We didn’t know how we would feel after the baby had gone to his new home, but we felt it was extremely important that the adoptive parents be as involved with us during the pregnancy as possible. We felt that the more we knew about the people who would be our child’s parents, the more peace of mind we would feel later. We would be able to look back and know we had done the right thing and chosen the right people.

In looking through many profiles of adoptive families individually, we narrowed it down to our own top three choices and sat down together to discuss them. We were surprised to find that we had both chosen the same couple as our first choice. This couple had also adopted a baby who was born two and a half years earlier.

Too many people hear the term “unplanned pregnancy” and assume that it means “unwanted child.” We both quickly realized how wrong this assumption was. Our child’s adoptive parents wanted him more than we could have imagined.

It was then time to meet the family we had chosen. Our caseworker was there to support us and to answer any questions we had. We were very nervous and worried about things like “what if they don’t like us?” or “what if we don’t like them?”

We met at a restaurant near our home and at first things were a little bit uncomfortable, but after a short while we were able to loosen up and begin talking about our families and our relationships. We found that the open and honest nature of the evening left us with a greater feeling of respect for one another. By the end of the evening, we were already beginning to feel comfortable around each other and we were laughing together at each other’s stories.

So, for the rest of the pregnancy, we kept in very close contact with the adoptive parents and with our caseworker. The parents came to birthing classes with us, as well as doctor appointments, and more dinners. Our caseworker’s continued support kept us in good spirits and she made sure that all of the legal aspects were taken care of.

One highlight of our experience was during an ultrasound that the adoptive parents were with us for. It was a very rewarding experience watching the faces of our child’s parent’s as they were able to see their baby for the first time. “Wow. This is real!” the adoptive father kept repeating.

The baby was born healthy and happy, and as my girlfriend recovered and we both caught up on sleep, the adoptive parents were given their own room so they could spend all the time they wanted with their new baby. We were able to see and hold the baby whenever we wanted, and I felt more like a surrogate birth father, and like I was holding somebody else’s child. We’d done a good job, my girlfriend and I, and now it was time to begin the healing process.

It was a tearful moment when it came time to say goodbye to the new parents and the baby we’d helped to create, but we felt secure in the knowledge that we’d done the right thing not only for the baby we’d brought into the world, but for ourselves as well.

Two weeks later, with our caseworker at our side, we appeared before a judge to release our baby for adoption. This chapter was over and we had new ones to begin writing.