Situation 1: Mary is seven months pregnant and is looking forward to becoming a parent. However, she is worried that she will not be able to afford the expenses involved with raising a child.
Question: Are there any government assistance programs that can help Mary?
Answer: Yes! There are many assistance programs available to Mary. She may qualify for food stamps, health care, health insurance, and housing assistance.
Situation 2: Felicia is pregnant, and her parents are threatening to kick her out of the house if she does not choose adoption.
Question: Can Felicia’s parents force her to give the baby up for adoption?
Answer: No. Felicia’s parents cannot force her to give the baby up for adoption. The choice is entirely up to Felicia. Felicia’s parents are responsible for providing her with a home, whether or not Felicia keeps her baby, until Felicia turns 18 years old.
Situation 3: Rebecca just told her mother that she is pregnant. Her mother is very upset and does not agree with Rebecca’s decision to continue the pregnancy. Her mother has made an appointment for Rebecca to have an abortion.
Question: Does Rebecca have to have an abortion if her mother wants her to?
Answer: No! The decision to have an abortion is Rebecca’s, and hers alone, to make. Even if her mother takes her to the clinic, the doctor will not perform the abortion unless Rebecca gives her consent. As the patient, Rebecca is the only one who can consent to the procedure.
Many state programs can help with the support of a child:
Provides free or low-cost health benefits to adults, kids, pregnant individuals, seniors, and people with disabilities
Offers free or low cost medical and dental care to uninsured kids up to the age of 19 whose family income is above Medicaid limit but below their state’s CHIP limit.
Provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move towards self-sufficiency. Provides eligible people with benefits cards, used liked debit cards, to buy food at authorized grocery stores and farmers markets
Provides cash for a limited time to low income families working towards self-sufficiency. May also offer non-cash benefits such as child care and job training
WIC is a federally funded program that provides healthy supplemental foods and nutrition counseling for pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children under age five.
A minor that is a parent raising a child may get child support from the child’s other parent. Parents who are minors can apply for child support through the Maryland Department of Human Resources Child Support Enforcement Administration. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 5-203 (c). A request for child support can also start the process of finding out the identity of the father, if it is uncertain, by getting a court order to run a paternity test. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 5-1021.
It is also important to know that Maryland has a “Safe Haven” law. This law allows a parent to leave a baby under 10 days old in a hospital and not return for the baby without fear of being charged with a crime. Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-641(a)(1).
After the baby is born, the minor has parental rights to her own child, but she is not emancipated from her parents. This means that the teen’s parents are still responsible for the financial support, housing, food, clothing, education, and health of that teen parent.