Monday, January 11, 2010

Red Hot Issue! How do we help pregnant teens choose what is right for them?

After a recent post I received a question from a reader. "I work daily with young women who are in unplanned pregnancies.I don't think our discussions about adoption are getting through at all. These children are not able to care for a child, many of them have no outside support, yet they think they can do this and do it well.. My heart breaks for them and their children. How can we talk about adoption in a way that helps the young ladies consider this possibility for themselves..It is difficult but there is a better way...Thank you for sharing your story."

I have been contacted more times than I can count with this question. It is a difficult one to answer because adoption is such an unknown territory for so many. I have blogged before about how the media is teaching our children that it is alright to have unprotected sex, that the concequences really are not that bad, and that anyone can be a parent just because they have a child. There is no easy way to answer this question from this reader, but I will offer my OPINION as to what can be done to help anyone out there make an educated choice about how to best choose what is right for them and their child. So please bare with me as I begin...

First and foremost, we must understand what our teenagers are facing today and what they have grown accustomed to in their lives. This generation that we have coming into young adulthood have lived in an "Instatnt World". They do not remember a time in their life without computer access. They do not remember a time in their life with out cell phones. They do not remember a time when you had to be patient to find answers, to be patient in trying to reach someone, to be patient waiting for an outcome. Things in our world are so instant, so accessable at a moment's notice that we have all become a little impatient with patience. It is the toll that our society has to pay for technology taking us into the new century. It has been wonderful to have this world of "right now", but it does nothing for teaching life to our children. The instant world has ruined time management, attention spans, face to face contact and to some extent, our relationships. How many times have you  been somewhere and seen two people sitting having coffee and both are texting on their phones? Or been at a local baseball game or park and seen parents looking at their phones instead of their children paying? The teenagers today are living in a much different world than ever before.

Now, with that in mind let's take a look at why so many are not considering the option of adoption when they find themselves pregnant at 16. In order to even consider adoption, one has to put themselves aside and do what is best for their baby. This means you have to have maturity and morals. Have you had a conversation with a teenager today? There are so many that have no moral values or even respect for life. That is a bold statement, and I can back it up. Most youngsters are in serious denial about the value of life. Watch the news. There are reports of how people are walking into work places and schools and shooting people. There are reports that girls are having babies and throwing them into dumsters. There are reports of gangs of girls who beat each other up and video tape it so they can have their 15 minutes on television. There are reports of scandalous affairs that public officials and stars are having yet we forgive them because they are so talented! There are tv shows that are glamourizing teenage pregnancy, wait there are about 4 shows that do that. With all of this going on, why would our youth take the value of life seriously? Ask a teenager what a moral is and you might be looking for an answer all day long. If they do not value what they have, then how are they to be mature enough to make such a decision for their child? It is a sticky issue to say the least.

When you factor in the "instant world" with an absence of moral values, then we are just asking for trouble wehn it comes to these young minds who are confused and feeling alone. We cannot expect them to make a good decision because they have had no POSITIVE examples of what to look up to. Jamie Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin are not good examples of what to do when you are unmarried, young and pregnant. Who are? Well, I am but who the hell knows me? No one. The media does not want to promote a positive view of life as a birth mother because that would be morally wrong, at least that is what I have been lead to believe. So without a good example to look up to, these girls are instead left with the Kardasians and "Teen Mom" to help them decide what to do. This is not what should be happening. What needs to be done is these girls should be taken to women's centers and homeless shelters and meet the women who have children and are living on the streets. They should research what other mothers went through online and find all sides of the story. They should go to a youth group to seek peer support. Most of all, they should sit down and write out just how they are going to care for their baby for the first five years. How will they work to support their child? How will they continue to go to school? How will they find time to read to them, help them with preschool work, help them learn to walk and guide them through life. When will they find time to date and fulfill their lives? Ask them how their own relationship is with their parents, were their parents always around for them, helping them through life? Ask them to examine their own lives and really ask themselves if they are ready to be responsible enough to raise a child. Ask them what they would be doing if they were not pregnant. Ask them what their dreams and aspirations are, then ask if they can still accomplish that while raising a child.

This is not an easy subject to talk about. There is no correct answer to the questions above. Those questions will need to be answered, along with many more, before any woman or girl considers adoption. I think the biggest problem that we have today is the fact that in the instant world these girls cannot imagine having to wait to see or get updates from the adoptive parents. They are not patient enough to let time pass, to let time help them heal. They want to know right now what the baby is doing. They want to know right now how the parents will handle raising the child when the child wants to know their birth parents. They want to know right now that everything will turn out alright and their children will understand their reasons, their choices. They cannot fathom waiting a year to hear word that their child is saying thier first words. These are very real concerns that every mother has. The difference is the entitlement that the girls have today. They feel entitled to know everything, all the time. They do not know how to occupy themselves and work through problems, they want it all fixed right away ... just like everything else they have known. Adoption is not like that. Adoption is a giant leap of faith into an unknown world. A world that cannot be predicted or pre set with any certainty of the desired outcome. It is an act that takes incredible inner strength, a huge amount of maturity, a lot of self belief and endless self help. It is an act that can only be accomplished if one is willing to heal from within. There are so many who do not understand the guilt. The guilt of leaving your child. The guilt of having to admit on a very public stage that you cannot raise your child. The guilt of living with that decision for the rest of your life. The guilt of breaking your own heart. The guilt. That is what kills the birth mothers spirit.

If we can begin to show these girls the positives of placing their child for adoption, the joy that it brings to all involved, then we can begin to help them through the process. They need to know that someone is on their side, someone is willing to listen to their fears, their doubts, their sorrows and their self hatred. They need to know that there are others out here who have done it before and gone on to live happy, productive, accepting and appreciative lives. They need to know that life will and can be rewarding, but only if they are strong enoughto help themselves through it. They need to know that what they are choosing for their child is not only good for the baby, but good for them as well. They will have a second chance, a chance to move on and be proud that they helped a family begin. But we have to find and give them that support. Let's face it, no one thinks about the aftercare for a birth mother. If we did, there would be rehabs set up all over the country to help them. We are more than willing to send drug addicts, alcoholics, sex addicts and compulsive gamblers to rehab to help them. Why do we not have any systems set up for these women? They need it, believe me, they all need it. Why can't we make it just as acceptable for these women to seek help for emotional issues after giving birth Where is their rehab?

So, there are my thoughts on this issue. In short, be honest with them. Let them know that life will be hard what ever they decide. With adoption, they will know that they were able to ask for help at a time when most would not, when most would be to ashamed or scared to ask for help. And let them know that asking for help is sometimes the bravest thing anyone can do. This is why I call birth mothers Bravehearts.

Feel fee to ask questions or leave comments, I know you have an opinion. And to my reader who asked, I hope that this may have helped you in some way. Thank you for the thought provoking question, and thank you for all you do for those girls out there!

My views are my own opinions and I do not try and speak for all birth mothers. Everyone has a differents story, I just take pride that mine is a happy one.
The Best For You


The Millers said...

WOW! I thoroughly enjoy reading your insight. I just "discovered" you from the birthmom website I contribute to (I too am a birthmom). I do have to say that although "Teen Mom" isn't such a grand idea, it sure gives teenagers a bit of knowledge of what it might be like to single-parent or parent with your partner before either of you are obviously ready, and there is that cute little couple who placed their daughter for adoption.

I agree with you though, its a shame there isn't more positive media/TV Shows or programs out on adoption. I am hoping that it's slowly making it's way from not being taboo anymore. Thanks for providing such an informative website!

Kristina said...

you are an answer to my prayers right now kelsey....thank you SO much for all your honest truths and for being you xxxxoooo
Mama K.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

I thank you ladies for your words. Bravehearts like us do have to support each other and I am thankful that you have shown your support to me!

I agree that Teen Mom does have a purpose, I am not denying that. I think Caitlyn is a bright spot showing the courage that it takes to place a child for adoption and then try and move on with life. However, the rest seem to be playing house just as a child would. I find it heartbreaking that these young women did not get enough support or education while they were pregnant to make a decision that was right for them. I will not comment on the other girls because I am one who does not like to criticize those that have been in the same shoes I was wearing 20 years ago.

My purpose for this post was to raise awareness about the lack of care that is given to new moms after placement. Read some of the blogs out there in the world. There are some very angry birth mothers out there that are scaring the beejeesus out of other women and adoptive parents. I know why they are angry, believe me, I really do! But it is so obvious to me that they are reeling from a wound that cannot heal because no one has helped them with their thoughts, feelings, self hatred or grief. I cannot say it enough, there needs to be changes made in the system to help these women come to terms with the rest of their lives.

I again thank you ladies for your thoughts and encouraging words! Let's pray that someone will sit up and take notice of all the GOOD adoption has to offer, not just for the adoptive family but the birth parents as well.