By Joseph Walker
Katie (not her real name) is a junior in high school. She is pretty, petite and popular.
Oh, and one other p-word to complete the alliteration: she is pregnant.
This was not in her plan for her life. She was planning to go to the senior prom and become all state in volleyball. She was planning to finish high school and then go on to college. She was planning to become a teacher. She was planning to meet and marry Prince Charming one day, and to have four or five children.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. But it did Сjust as it happens to nearly three out of every 100 teenage girls in America today. That number is nearly half what it was 20 years ago С a positive trend, to be sure. But that doesn’t help Katie, who should be trying to decide which shade of eye shadow goes best with her prom dress, not what she is going to do about her baby.
“I love children,” she told her spiritual advisor. “But I’m not ready to be a mom. And the baby’s father has made it clear he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the baby or me. What sort of life could I give a baby as a single parent when I feel like I’m still just a kid myself?”
Katie has a point. Statistically, unwed mothers who choose to keep their children tend to slip to the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder. That’s because pregnancy is the No. 1 reason why young women drop out of high school. Which means those young single mothers are rarely able to secure meaningful employment. Which means a significant percentage of them end up on welfare.
Other social statistics indicate that children raised by unwed mothers are more often abused. In fact, the unwed mothers themselves are often the victims of physical and sexual abuse, and their children tend to demonstrate a higher incidence of behavior problems.
Not a pleasant picture, is it?
Katie didn’t think so. Which is why she started looking at alternatives. But the only alternatives her school counselor suggested were keeping the child or aborting it, and her religious convictions made it impossible for her to accept abortion as a possibility.
Finally, almost as an afterthought, someone mentioned the adoption option.
“At first I didn’t like the idea,” she admitted. “I wasn’t sure I could give up my baby after carrying it around inside of me for nine months. I felt like, if I was going to have this baby, I wanted it to be mine.”
But the more she thought about adoption, the more she softened to the idea. Sure, it would be tough for the next seven months. But then she could get on with her life. And best of all, her baby would be given to a couple who desperately wanted a child and were able to care for her baby in ways she could not. At least, not right now, at this time in her life.
Of course, there are many people who don’t consider adoption as a viable alternative in such situations. But for Katie, whose values preclude abortion as a possibility, it is a way to make the best of a bad situation for her and for her child. With the help of her parents and an attorney, she has been able to find a terrific home for her baby, and she is now looking forward to returning to her life and its promising future.
Unfortunately, Katie’s case is unusual. Only a relatively small percentage of children born in America to single teenage girls each year are given for adoption, making it a distant third among the solutions available to young mothers.
But since November is National Adoption Month, it’s a good time to remember that there is a way for young women like Katie to preserve the life of the unborn without forever altering their own. While offering a child for adoption may not be in the plan for most teenage girls, it surely it deserves a place in the discussion when there are lives at stake С both the born and the unborn.
(To read more by Joseph B. Walker please go to www.josephbwalker.com.)