I have seen several articles and statistics lately regarding prenatal care for teenagers and other at risk mothers. There has been numerous government programs put in place and established task forces to address how to ensure the health of unborn babies and their mothers. I agree this is an important issue and that good health for an infant does start while inutero.
However, I think there is a bigger picture to recognize and address especially in the smaller and more rural communities. Regardless of abstinent programs and contraceptives readily available, teen pregnancy is at an all time high. As a social worker and director of an adoption agency, I’ve seen how an unplanned or crisis pregnancy can affect a teenager and her family.
Unfortunately, shows like “16 and Pregnant” sensationalize teen pregnancy. Though I have not watched the show, I do know that many of these teen moms are on the covers of various magazines and are definitely getting their 15 minutes of fame.
The reality of being a teenage mom is not so glamorous. I recently met with an 18 year old, who delivered twin boys. A product of the foster care system herself, she was sleeping on a friend’s couch with her five pound babies and the home was infested with roaches. She had quit school in the 10th grade, had no family support, no transportation, and no income. Unfortunately, she had also buried her 11 month old daughter due to SIDS, a few months prior to the delivery of these twins. With no job, no income, no education, no transportation, no housing, and no family support, this young girl was insistent on parenting her young babies.
So many times in communities, young girls find themselves pregnant and are adamant on parenting, regardless of their true ability to do so. Groups of adolescent girls in several places have made the headlines by all intentionally becoming pregnant. Oftentimes, grandparents and even great grandparents ultimately end up raising these children born to teen moms. Or worse, these babies and children are abused and neglected and the Department of Children and Families Services becomes involved. (I realize there are exceptions to every situation and I only speak to the generalization of teen pregnancy)
Adoption is not about giving away a baby. It’s about choosing a different path for your infant and yourself. It’s about using a difficult situation to improve your life. Adoption is the most selfless act a young and/or ill prepared mother can choose.
Parenting under the best of circumstances can be difficult. When you try to parent without the needed resources, it causes pain and hardship to the parents and the child. As parents, educators, and leaders, let’s all work together to educate our teens about the reality of parenting and prepare them to just wait!