Pregnant Teen and In Betweens
The first step of the pregnant teen challenge is help the young woman accept the pregnancy. Until there is acceptance, there are very few ways to cope with this crisis. For teens who deny pregnancy, you can observe and note symptoms, but the path to acceptance is critical. Janet is 17, and if she is pregnant, the due date will be after her eighteenth birthday. For all minors, in every state, any medical situation regarding pregnancy permits the minor to be emancipated for any medical issues regarding the pregnancy. In many situations, this adds another obstacle to parenting when it is needed the most. Not surprisingly, most pregnant teens are still children and are frequently more concerned with losing phone privileges than the serious issues confronting them. The emancipation rule allows medical access for teens that have the maturity to seek it, but it also keeps them away from the adults most concerned about their welfare. Janet’s denial of her pregnancy becomes increasingly ridiculous. Janet is slim, and in excellent physical condition, she easily conceals her condition by wearing more loose fitting clothes and not being interested in swimming. For people who don’t know her well, this could have been normal. I know she is proud of her shape and it is not normal for her to want to cover herself up. As time passes, I point out to her that she is losing her options with the passing of each day. I leave her medical card and numbers of women’s health clinics on the counter hoping she will seek help. I am keeping our social worker updated. Finally, Janet does seek help. She calls a clinic, makes an appointment and asks for a ride. I should point out that Janet has a bus pass, we live in a big city, and Janet knows very well how to get herself anyplace she wants to be.
In the waiting room of the women’s health clinic, Janet runs past me in tears. Instead of going after Janet, I go to the clinician who observed her running out and explain to her that I am Janet’s mother. She volunteers that Janet is 25 weeks pregnant and an abortion is no longer an option. I ask for any material available regarding adoption services, counseling or any other services we may need. Janet and I will talk very soon, now that the diagnosis is official. At this moment, I need to get home to Ivy and prepare for Lea’s visit.
I open my door to a very young and beautiful African social worker with a shy, pretty eleven year old African girl. Normally, I do not get into specifics about race because race is not an issue for me, and I choose not to create an issue. In this situation, race is a critical issue. Lea was born in Haiti and adopted as an infant by a white family. Lea has very little exposure to African American Culture. Since her arrival in the United States, she has always been in a white family. She has been the only African American in places where children develop outside the home such as school, church, or sports most of her life. Lea’s social worker wants her to live in a diverse culture so she will develop a positive opinion of herself. I have always lived in a diverse community. Lea would be guaranteed a school with African American teachers, a neighborhood with African American families, and even a doctor who is African American. Lea will have a white mom (me), white grandparents, and white sisters. We all agree that Lea will spend two weekends per month with our family and that if this is a good place for her, then she will be permanently placed in our home within the next two or three months. Ivy is thrilled to have a girl her age and shows her exuberance by little jumps, squeals, and hand claps. This makes us all laugh. It is rare that a new placement is so happily embraced by a child who currently lives in the home and the social worker and I look at each other and smile. This is not lost on Lea, who is also enjoying making her new friend and sister so happy. I do not tell Lea’s social worker about Janet’s pregnancy. I want to discuss this with Janet’s worker first. I also need to reflect on this and talk to Janet.
I do not trust Janet with a baby and I do not have the stamina for a newborn.