Every year, about six million women throughout the United States become pregnant. Of those six million, more than 750,00 of them are teenagers. As a result, almost 250,000 of these teen mothers have abortions.
These numbers are staggering, but they have declined in recent years. Fewer and fewer American teenagers are becoming mothers. This can be best seen at our school since almost no girls at Leesville are expecting.
However, the handful of girls who are preparing for motherhood are eager to share their stories. I was able to spend some quality time with two such students, both of whom were willing to discuss their situations.
To protect the identities of these students, each of them will go by an anonymous name. The first of the teen mothers, Jane, is preparing for the birth of her twins towards the end of November.
“I’m not due till the 22nd of November,” said Jane, “but twins tend to come early.”
Jane’s goal has always been to keep both her baby boy and girl. “I’m keeping them,” she said. “I had thoughts of open adoption, but I would have felt wrong giving them away, just wondering how they would grow up.”
Having an abortion was never an option for Jane. “I didn’t actually know until the fifth or sixth month, so it would’ve been a little late for that. Still, I wouldn’t have gone with abortion; I just feel like it’s not right.”
One of the biggest worries of expecting mothers is the cost of having children. Jane described all the ways she plans to provide for her kids when she said, “I’m getting help from my family, social services, WIC and childcare services.” WIC, which stands for Women, Infants, and Children, is a nationwide program that provides federal grants to women who need help feeding their children.
Jane may be financially prepared to care for twins but that doesn’t mean that she’s mentally prepared. In fact, she is quite concerned about how healthy her children might or might not be. “There could be some serious health problems that might require NICU.” NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which is the specialized unit of a hospital for babies with serious health issues.
To add to her worries, Jane is still dealing with the pressures of high school. “There are awkward stares,” she said. “Sometimes, random people even ask me if they can touch my stomach. It’s kind of annoying.”
Even though her peers might not be accepting of her, Jane’s parents are on her side. “At first, they were mad at me. But now they’re realizing it’s going to happen, and I think they’re excited about it.”
Without her parents at the start of the experience, Jane turned to someone else for support. “My aunt has always been there for me.” She added that her aunt is even letting Jane move in with her and will be allowing her to stay there after the births.
Jane had little to say about the father and what his role in the children’s lives would be. Even though they are not together, she’s willing to let him meet the kids, but only if he chooses to do so. “It’s all up to him,” she said.
Even though Jane acknowledges the long road ahead of her, she’s still excited. “I’m not embarrassed at all and I shouldn’t have to be. It’s always been my dream to be a mom, especially a mom of twins.” Jane cannot wait for her baby girl, Sky Joyce, and boy, Keaton Corraine, to arrive.
“My aunt helped me decide on the names and overall, I’m happy with the way things are turning out.”
While Jane may be adamant about raising her two children, that’s not always the case. Another pregnant teenager at our school, Emma–her pseudonym for the articles–is dealing with her situation in an entirely different way.
“I’m giving it up for adoption; I just don’t have the resources to support it.” Unlike Jane, Emma is unable to provide for her child financially and as a result, has no choice but to give up the baby.
“I found out over the summer and started saving up as soon as I knew. Once I had counted up all the money though, I didn’t even have enough to last me two weeks.” Without the necessary resources needed to raise a child, adoption seemed a better and better choice for Emma.
She may be only five months along, but Emma has already picked a family and is more than happy with them. “They’re really nice people. It didn’t take me long to choose them, and they really want my child.” The adoptive family has agreed to all of Emma’s conditions and will be working with her throughout the baby’s life.
“I want to be a part of the baby’s life. I plan on seeing it at least once or twice a year, which is something I really pushed for,” told Emma. “It’ll know that my boyfriend and I are the real parents.”
Emma also differs from Jane in the fact that after the birth, she will be staying with her boyfriend. “I can’t be without him now; I just don’t know what I’d do.” Over the course of her pregnancy, Emma’s boyfriend has been her support, in much the same way that Jane has her aunt.
“He’s always been there for me. He’s helped me make all my decisions, and I can always turn to him. When I first wanted to keep it, he chipped in a lot of money too, which meant a lot. After we realized we would have to give it up, he helped with choosing a family and everything.” Emma is not the only one who understands the large contribution her boyfriend has made.
“The adoptive family wants to give the baby his last name. I think that’s a really good thing,” said Emma. She doesn’t know whether she’s having a boy or girl yet, but regardless, the adoptive family will choose the rest of the child’s name once they know.
Emma, being five months along, still has a long way to go on her journey. “I’m not expecting until sometime in February, so I’ve still got plenty of time to prepare.” For now, Emma is trying not to think too far ahead. “I’m just focused on getting through high school; I’ll worry about the rest later.”
Even though Jane and Emma are choosing different paths, they both have similar mindsets. Each plans to finish high school after having their kids, with dreams of college afterwards. Both also talked about spending less time hanging out with their friends.
The two are also starting to realize who their true friends are. Jane said, “The people who really care about me are starting to shine through.”
Emma talked about something similar when she said, “My real friends have been so supportive, and I can’t thank them enough for that.”
These girls may be stuck with their situations, but they have been lucky. Many teens suffer through the same experiences, alone and abandoned by their families and friends.
Society may see Jane and Emma as outcasts, only because they are different. Our culture tells us that those unlike us are inferior and not to accept them. At the very moment when these girls most need our comfort, we unjustly shun them and never think about what they are going through.
Each girl has been faced with a difficult, life-changing decision and each has chosen a different path. For as long as they live, both will have to deal with the decisions they make right now. However, only time will tell the struggles they may face going forwards.