Women Who Decided to Parent
At age 29, most women are married
and have children. However, my case was different. I was 29 and
pregnant; without a marriage or support of a man. I didn't know
what I was going to do about my life. I found that most of the programs
only help pregnant women who meet the age criteria (25 or under)
and I certainly didn't fall into that category. However, I later
discovered a Real Alternatives - funded maternity home; this maternity home was
I went to the home for an interview with
a counselor and she told me to be honest about my problems. I was
afraid to open up because I didn't want my problems to limit the
chance of me getting in the home. However, I explained my situation
to her and I still received housing. It didn't matter what problems
I had, or how old I was, they still provided me with care. It really
lives up to its name as a crisis pregnancy home.
Ever since I joined the home, I have received
housing and school programs to help me. I plan to pursue a degree
in social work because of the counselors' great influence on me.
Just to know that others care has helped me turn my life around.
I found out I was pregnant while I
was attending my first year of culinary school. After the shock
settled, I tried to think of what I was going to do. I knew my family
wouldn't want me to have the baby. I didn't tell anyone. Then late
one night, I was watching TV and thinking about the options that
I thought I had. A commercial came on advertising the number 1-888-LIFE
AID and explaining how they could help me during a crisis pregnancy.
I decided to call the number and see what they had to say. The receptionist
directed me to a Real Alternatives - funded maternity residence.
The first month was very difficult for me
because I was still unsure of what to do. At this point, I told
my family and they made it clear that they didn't want me to have
the baby. They told me that if I had the baby, they would not speak
to me. My mind was going in circles. I was a little cautious because
I didn't know the people at the maternity residence that well, but
they did seem nice. I kept wondering if the residence could replace
my real family. After many talks and the support of the maternity
residence women, I realized having my baby was the right choice.
While I learned to love and support myself, I also learned that
love and support would come from the residence as well. Because
of their support and offers to help me through the hard times with
my family, I was excited to have my baby!
On August 3, 2000, my baby boy, Karmon,
was born. I love him more than anything. Karmon and I now live in
an apartment, while I finish my training to become a certified nursing
Last year I was 22 and called the
Real Alternatives toll-free 1-888-LIFE AID hotline, convinced that
I needed an abortion. My husband was in jail and I was raising three
young children by myself. All of my bills were past due and the
thought of having another baby was overwhelming. The toll-free counselor
talked with me and explained that Real Alternatives' service provider
network is designed specifically to support women like me. The counselor
shared a personal story with me explaining how things can work out
even when the situation seems hopeless. The counselor offered to
connect me immediately with a counselor in my area; however, I refused.
I was assured that if I changed my mind, I could call back, and
they would be happy to help.
Two weeks later, I called back. I had gone
to an abortion clinic, but I wasn't sure if I could go through with
it. I remembered the invitation to call back to Real Alternatives
and wanted to know what support and resources were available. I
was relying on welfare and food stamps, but winter was approaching,
and I had no heating oil. My most immediate concern was providing
a warm home for my children. Even though I was still skeptical that
help was available, I called back. They connected me with Harriet
of the Catholic Social Agency (CSA) of Allentown. Harriet reported
that a donor had just provided a large sum of money specifically
intended for mothers with immediate needs to provide for their children.
I immediately felt relief. With continuing support from CSA, my
family and I were able to continue the pregnancy and ultimately
welcome a new little success.
I am a young college graduate and
a recent example of a woman who was considering abortion. Unexpectedly,
I became pregnant and received no support from the baby's father.
I questioned whether I could handle being a mother at all. Even
though it was against everything I knew and believed, I seriously
thought that abortion was my only real option.
Luckily, I turned to the Women's Care Center
in Erie, PA. I found a supportive counselor, Brenda, who also serves
as the Director. Simply working from one visit to the next, I was
able to sort out my feelings. Ultimately, I reached a decision,
based in love, rather than fear and panic. I decided to have the
child, instead of an abortion.
Recently, I returned to Women's Care Center
to thank Brenda for my precious baby. My baby's life is of more
value to me than anything else I could have imagined.
Two weeks before Christmas 2000, I
came to Mary's Shelter in Reading, PA. I felt scared and alone,
even though there were ten other girls living in the shelter. A
Christmas party had been planned for the residents, which included
Christmas music, cookies, hot chocolate, and gifts to open. Thanks
to the staff, we shared the joy and excitement of a "family" Christmas,
and I knew this was HOME.
My daughter, Jazzmine, was born on February
23, 2001. I knew if I wanted my daughter to have a happy home, I
had to be motivated to change my life. Mary's Shelter helped me
enroll in a wonderful educational program. It was not easy, but
now I have my GED and a certificate in Certified Nursing Assistance
In Decemeber 2001, Jazzmine and I moved
to Mary's Home, which is an extension of Mary's Shelter. It provides
transitional housing for young mothers for an additional one to
two years. Here I will continue to take classes while learning to
be more independent and self-sufficient. I made a promise to myself
and Jazzmine to be the best mother possible. Mary's Shelter has
filled me with hope and given back my DREAMS.
At 13, my baby and I were living with
my cousin, with no real future plans, before my placement at St.
Vincent's Mother/Baby Residence.
St. Vincent's staff provided direction and
helped me to set goals. My primary education goal was to complete
assignments and advance to the next grade within three months. With
the support from St. Vincent's, I succeeded! I am now an honor roll
student at Roosevelt Middle School, from which I will graduate in
June. I will then advance to high school.
I was nominated by my school for a scholarship
through the American Foundation For Negro Affairs (AFNA), a scholastic
National Education and Research Fund Program. I was accepted due
to my continued academic success. During the spring semester, I
attended a Temple University program for AFNA scholars. On March
20, 2002, I completed the program with members of St. Vincent's
staff there to support me and assist me with childcare.
I have become a good mother and cooperate
fully with the program at St. Vincent's. Because of their help,
I am a friendly, goal driven, and determined individual. I have
learned to manage my time, maintain excellent school attendance,
keep regular doctor appointments for my baby and me, attend Parenting
Education Programs twice weekly, stay in contact with my family,
prepare and take my son to day care, and keep on top of my other
responsibilities at St. Vincent's. I am planning a career in either
nursing, teaching, or law.
Parents of Pregnant Daughters
My 18 year old daughter, independent
and hardworking, had found her way into the working world. She was
young and full of spirit when she met a guy that promised her the
sun, moon, and the stars. However, after a sudden turn of events
fell upon her, she discovered that the promise was going to be broken.
My daughter became pregnant and the father showed no desire to support
her. Not only had she become pregnant, but the apartment which she
was sharing with her aunt, had come up for eviction. I didn't have
any room in my tiny apartment to take in my own daughter. We were
desperate until we found the number to a Real Alternatives - funded maternity home.
As a mother and soon to be grandmother,
it was hard for me to hand over my own child; but what else could
I do? I stood by her decision to keep the baby and offered her nothing
but unconditional love.
Throughout the next few months, I started
to notice a remarkable change in my daughter. This future mom had
goals: getting her driver's license, getting involved in the New
Direction program, working carefully on finding a home, and making
a decision to further her education.
After my daughter left the maternity home
with her baby, she entered herself into transitional housing. Now,
three years later, she is living in the same apartment complex as
me and attending her last semester at the local community college,
while raising her joyful, opinionated young son. My daughter has
provided a stable and cheerful environment for her son and will
continue to grow because of her own determination and Real Alternatives