Difficult Decisions

‘Choices’ clinic gives options for pregnant teens

Local+teens+speak+out+against+the+stigma+associated+with+teen+pregnancy.+

Local teens speak out against the stigma associated with teen pregnancy.

Macey Verner & Kailei Pritchard , Staff Writer

   Her eyes widened as she stared at the pregnancy test in her shaking hands. Never in a million years did she think her life would come to this. She had a life altering decision to make, have the baby, have an abortion or give it up for adoption? What would be better for her? Would she be able to handle the criticism and ugly looks from people at school? Her brain kept churning, but the biggest decision was how was she going to tell the father.

   Teenagers have become more and more sexually active which has led to many unwanted pregnancies among teens. This leads teenagers to make difficult decisions they shouldn’t have to make at such a young age. Many teens don’t realize the consequences that comes with having sex, whether protected or unprotected. According to dosomething.org, nearly 750,000 teens get pregnant every year nationwide and in Texas 35,000 young women find themselves facing this life changing altercation.

   “At first I was scared and shocked,” Lindsey Dolley said. “People were asking me questions and telling me about the decisions I need to make, which completely overwhelmed me. But once I got over the shock, I was excited.” 

   Sexual relationships can affect your physical and emotional well-being. If a teen is considering or has had an abortion/adoption then the “Choices Clinic” in Stephenville on Harbin Drive is available to guide and help you. “Choices” is a Christian Ministry dedicated to preserving the value of human life by providing abortion alternatives, practical assistance & education. It is located on Harbin Drive and is open Monday-Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

   Even if you take every precaution, deciding to have sex means accepting the unexpected. No method is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. Condoms break. Birth control fails or is used incorrectly. These things happen, and if you find yourself facing a teen pregnancy, there are options out there. 

  According to choicesclinic.net, when it comes to deciding between keeping the baby, adoption, or abortion, most teenagers choose an abortion over keeping or adopting out the baby. Teens believe getting an abortion is an easier, less complicated way to deal with the situation at hand. Numerous girls have an abortion without the parents knowledge or confide in one parent before getting one.  The young women who didn’t talk to their parents turned to an adult they trusted.

   According to aclu.org 90% of minors under the age of 15 involved a parent in their decision for an abortion.    

   “My appointment was made by a family member and I felt as though I didn’t have a choice,” C. Derrick said. “Once it was made, it was assumed that this was what I wanted.”

   Other girls just want what’s best for their baby and decide adoption is the better option for both of them. A majority of the time a teenager doesn’t have the support or the means to take care of a child, so instead of an abortion they chose to give the baby to a family that would love to raise a child. Adoption gives other couples who are infertile and want to start a family a chance to make a life for themselves. 

   “My experience with adoption is the most awe-inspiring love I’ve ever known,” Derrick said. “Due to my inability to conceive, My husband and I prayed for 15 years for a child. A young woman blessed us with the most amazing daughter that filled our hearts with overwhelming joy.”

   According to the “Choices Clinic,” there are 3,000 adoption agencies available for teenagers to provide a stable home for their babies. Some teens don’t realize what it means to raise a baby on their own. It can totally change your life. 

   Some girls are lucky and get the help of family members as they take care of this new life they were given. 

   “I got a lot of support through my pregnancy,” Lindsey Barrett said. “I have never loved anyone as much as I love my daughter Lucy.”

   Most of the rest – 58% single parents – have to go through the struggle of raising a baby on their own while trying to finish school and hold down a job. 8 out of 10 girls who become teenage mothers drop out and never finish high school. 

   Teenagers don’t realize there are resources in place to help young women to succeed, both for herself and her child. Here in our community the “Choices Clinic” offers all the support and guidance any teen girl might need when it comes to caring and providing for a baby. 

   The “Choices Clinic” offers young woman pregnancy tests, information on options, information about pregnancy, abortion and alternatives, adoption counseling, parenting, relationship and pregnancy support classes. This clinic has helped countless young teens decide on options that are best suited for them. 

   Over the years the United States has grown to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the western hemisphere which is steadily increasing due to the influence of the media, bad home lives, drug and alcohol abuse, and in certain cases rape. This leads to many girls becoming mothers before the age of 20.

   “I can only speak for my personal situation that got me pregnant,” Derrick said. “Which by law was statutory rape.”

   According to dosomething.org, it was recorded in 2017, that 3 out of 10 American teens will become pregnant before the age of 20. 

   Becoming a father in your teens appears to be associated with some negative consequences that can affect not only the father but the child as well. There is increasing evidence that teen fathers want to be involved in the child’s life, though this involvement might not always include financial support. 

   “I’ve had to be more careful with my money,” Amarion Pugh said. “I liked to spend money just to spend it, now I’ve had to learn to budget.” 

   According to seventeen.com, 8 out of 10 teen dads don’t marry the mother of their child. 

   “I found out I was going to be a father when I was 16 years old,” Amarion Pugh said. “His mom and I aren’t together anymore and the relationship has its ups and downs but we are really trying to stay in communication without yelling at each other.” 

   There are free resources available in our community, like the “Choices” clinic here in town, to help young women make choices that best suit their pregnancy and help give them and their baby the best life possible. Pregnancy resource centers exist with mostly community supported donors, meaning they are truly non-profit. This is where the community can stand up for the life of future children and soon to be moms. Teenagers who find themselves pregnant and feel like they have nowhere else to go with  no one to turn to should contact the clinic for more information. 

    “We need to first get rid of the stigma that children hinder a woman from being successful and prepare young women to make choices they can be proud of,” Derrick said.

 

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

 

Surprise!

Pregnant teen mom chooses to finish school and raise baby

Former student Lindsey Dolley thought she was going to the doctor for stomach problems, she didn’t know her world would soon be turned upside down with the news of a baby girl on the way. Feelings of uneasiness and fear swept over her, but she soon felt comfort as she realized she would be welcoming a life into this world.

   “At first, I was scared and shocked. People were asking me questions and telling me about the decisions I needed to make which completely overwhelmed me,” Lindsey said. “Once I got over the surprise, I was excited.”

   Lindsey found out she was pregnant with only a month and a half to prepare; add this on top of high school and the stress became overwhelming for her. 

    In 2017, 50 % of teen moms dropped out of high school and only 2 % of teen moms  go on to get a degree by 30. It is important to maintain good relationships with people who love, support and can help you to make a future for not only yourself but your child. Not so surprisingly, 44 % of teenagers don’t know what they want to do after graduation.

    Lindsey was one of these students until she found out she was expecting a baby girl.

     “It was hard to get up and go to school because I was so tired, but it actually motivated me to figure out what I wanted to do for a career,” Lindsey said.

    As a high schooler, life is a lot like a fish bowl. Add being a pregnant teen to the mix, and it causes a lot of people to talk, which was Karen Barrett’s, Lindsey’s mother, biggest fear.

    “It was very upsetting because I knew students and faculty were talking about her and I couldn’t protect her,” Barrett said.

    Becoming a parent at any age means putting your own wants on hold and making your child the top of your list of worries.

    “She had to make really tough decisions about her priorities,” Karen said. “She gave up school activities and replaced them with work and being a mom.”

    As a teenager, you look forward to all the fun of senior year: football games, homecoming, prom, and so much more. For Lindsey, her senior year was centered around her daughter Lucy Dolley.

    “The first pep rally she attended her senior year was tough,” Karen said. “All of her friends were cheering and she was in the stands with her baby. She cried most of the time.”

    Though a baby can change your school lif, it also affects your friendships.

    “All of my friends from school have almost completely disappeared from my life,” Lindsey said. “It’s just because our lives are completely different now.”

    When you first become pregnant there’s always a lot of attention on you, both good and bad, but afterwards people tend to drift away.

    “Everyone is ecstatic when you first find out you’re pregnant and when the baby is born,” Lindsey said. “But after that you’re on your own.”

   Not to mention the stress a baby adds to any relationship, let alone one so young. This was true for Lindsey when she began to see a new side of her boyfriend at the time and now husband, Bryan Dolley. 

    “It was hard on us, but it definitely brought us closer,” Lindsey said. “It challenged us in ways we had never been challenged before.”

    High school relationships have enough pressure, add a baby on to that and the situation may become more difficult as your choices begin to affect more than just you. 

    “Our decisions didn’t only affect us anymore,”Lindsey said. “They affected our baby too.”

   50 percent of pregnant teens have the baby, less than two percent put them up for adoption, and 45 percent have abortion, this is because teens often don’t know what route to take. For Lindsey, there was never a doubt in her mind that she would keep Lucy.

    “I never considered any other option when I found out I was pregnant,” Lindsey said.

    Having a child at any age doesn’t have to hinder women from being successful or mean difficult decisions. Becoming a mother simply means choosing to love them above everything else. 

    “Being a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me,” Lindsey said. “I have never loved anyone like I love Lucy.”

    Being a teen mother doesn’t mean your life is over according to Lindsey Dolley.

   “If I could give any advice to a teen mom, it would be to be in the moment with your child,” Lindsey said. “Everything else on your to do list can wait because they will never be this little again. Soak up every moment because the years go by so fast. 

 

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

One choice equals lifetime of repercussions 

   As she walked into the clinic, it was as if a broken record was playing in her mind the words, you will never have to think about it again and everything can go back to normal. Unfortunately her feelings were just the beginning, little did she know they would last well into her twenties and would come with other symptoms not mentioned prior to her abortion. 

    “No one told me I may experience extreme guilt, remorse, shame, and regret to the point of wanting to die,” Derrick said.

    After completing a Bible study, taught by the Choices Clinic of Stephenville, Derrick was on her way to becoming a Board Member and Abortion Grief Recovery Leader of the clinic. Derrick, who still serves as a Board Member, saw dozens of women receive healing during her 11 years as the Abortion Grief Recovery Leader. She has made it her duty to use her experience to help others in similar circumstances and respect the life of her unborn child. 

    “My purpose is to speak truth with love and share my experience to help others while honoring the life of my baby,” Derrick said.

    In C. Derrick’s case, like 50 percent of other victims, her abortion was the result of statutory rape and the choice a family member made to get rid of the “problem.” As a teenager, she had her whole life in front of her and abortion was assumed to be what she wanted and what was necessary.

“The appointment was made by a family member and I felt as though I did not have a choice,” Derrick said.

    Like many women in similar circumstances, Derrick was not made aware of the effect that this one choice would have on the rest of her life. More times than not, women are uneducated or wrongly informed in their choices regarding their baby. Instead of letting it be her decision, people weigh in making the mother feel inadequate and pressured.

    “I was not counseled or given thorough information about the procedure and there was no evidence whatsoever of fetal development, heartbeat, or a waiting period to make an informed decision before ending a life,” Derrick said. 

    Like many others Derrick tried to forget this tragic event. She didn’t speak of her abortion for six years until she was introduced to the Abortion Grief Recovery group here in our own small town community.

    “I completed an eight week healing Bible study that changed my life allowing me to receive forgiveness and freedom from a life sentence of regret and living in the past,” Derrick said.

    After receiving healing from a decision made long ago, she then started on the journey to become a co-leader and eventually leader of the abortion grief recovery group of the “Choices Clinic.” The clinic is a local ministry dedicated to preserving life and preventing abortion by offering other resources.

    “In the 11 years serving the abortion grief recovery group, I witnessed over 30 women from our small rural community seek relief from the devastation abortion caused in their lives,” Derrick said.

    When getting an abortion, many women don’t consider the aftermath of their decision. For Derrick, these 30 women and many others, the list of effects can become overwhelming. 

    “The outcomes following their abortions which I also experienced included eating disorders, relationship problems, trust issues, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, addiction(drugs/alcohol), divorce, perfectionism, promiscuity, anger, nightmares, flashbacks, loss of motivation and infertility,” Derrick said.

    While women may not suffer from all of these, experiencing one or more of them is very common.

   “Even though each of our circumstances are different, we all suffered one or more of these life altering consequences,” Derrick said.

    Once she had been healed from her abortion, she and her husband began praying and seeking for a daughter, but due to her abortion she was unable to conceive, and they would eventually adopt a baby girl.

    “We were blessed with the most amazing daughter that filled our hearts with overwhelming joy,” Derrick said.

    Not many people can say they have experienced the  two different decisions of pregnancy, but Derrick can. She went through the pain of an abortion and the joy of an adoption.

    “After going through the process of adoption and witnessing the sacrifice of the birth parents, I can testify to the difference in choice,” Derrick said. “I cannot imagine my life without my daughter and I’m eternally grateful that her birth mother chose life and that she was truly empowered to make a decision she is proud of.”

    The most important thing for any expecting mother is to do what’s best for the child, whether they keep the baby or put it up for an adoption. She is making the first choice as a parent that will change the course of her life.

    “Because of her choice, she knows that the child she conceived is safe, loved, and protected,” Derrick said.

    Sadly, many young girls end up feeling like getting rid of the baby is their only choice at a successful life. On Jan. 5, 2020 actress Michelle Williams accepted a Golden Globe award giving thanks to abortion for giving her the chance to choose.

“I’m also grateful to have lived in a moment in our society where choice exists, because as women and as girls, things can happen to our bodies that are not our choice,” Actress and Golden Globe recipient Michelle Williams said.

    Celebrities know they have a platform to make a difference, some use it for good other use it for bad.

    “When a famous person uses their status as a platform to influence through media it may glorify the situation,” Derrick said. “What the actress failed to mention in her speech is how abortion truly affected her life and how devasting it is.”

    Williams references the fact that many women become pregnant by violation and force. Not only did she fail to mention how the abortion effected her, but how it effects others.

    “The abortion resulted in post-traumatic stress and grief above and beyond the circumstances of the rape and pregnancy,” Derrick said.

    Williams, like many others, has enforced the idea that children hold a women back and can keep her from reaching her full potential. While having children young may keep teenagers from what is said to be the more “glamorous” parts of adolescents it doesn’t prevent them from being successful and we as society need get rid of the idea it does. 

    “We need to first get rid of the stigma that children hinder a woman from being successful and prepare young women to make choices they can be proud of,” Derrick said.

    No matter the circumstance, there are people and resources to help young women on their journey to motherhood. 

    “Based on my personal experience with abortion and adoption, my stance is to do whatever it takes to give life to the baby,” Derrick said. 

 

  (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)