When Your Teen Becomes Pregnant

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Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/freedigitalphotos.net

After my divorce, I spent twelve years as a single parent. Over time, it became easier, and we fell into a rhythm of life that worked for us. But I kept an eye out for the right man to step into the father role for my daughters. I dated, but most men didn’t rate a second date. Of those who did, I allowed only a few to stick around beyond a third date.

I was a package deal. If I sniffed out troubles early on, I kicked the guy to the curb. I wanted my girls to experience a good father, one who didn’t use violence to control you. A man who cared and provided for his children and demonstrated the true love of a father. In the absence of this man, I relied on my father and men from church.

I did eventually find the man who would step into that role, but you can’t rely on a person to fix a situation, especially one that had been developing long before he entered the picture.  The only one who can fix something is God.

I believe He brought my husband into my life at this critical point, a time when I would need him to stand with me through tough times.

At the age of fifteen, my younger daughter became pregnant. After all I had done to try and teach her right from wrong, she chose to ignore my guidance and got involved with a boy whose family had very loose morals.

When I met my ex-husband, my parents strongly disapproved, driving me toward him, not away, so I vowed not to make that mistake. It was not easy. We caught her in a few lies related to the boyfriend. This only angered her more. No matter what we said or did, we never seemed to get it right.

One evening she ran away. We looked everywhere. Called the police. When we called her boyfriend’s mother she told me she wasn’t at their house and that her son was missing, too.

The woman lied. My daughter was at her house and spent the night with her boyfriend. What a nightmare.

Any surprise she became pregnant? I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but I wasn’t a fool.

I had vowed to not make the mistakes my parents made in this same situation, yet here I was. I tried to show more compassion than I felt I had received as a teen, so I found a Christian counselor to help her navigate this frightening time.

As she pondered her options, I worried.

She was too young to raise the child alone or to get married, although she didn’t seem to want to do that.

Should we raise this child as our own? Our daughter had become stubborn and difficult over the last few years. What would life be like if she and the child remained with us? Who would be legally responsible?

Her father, my abusive ex, offered to raise the child. I put my foot down on that idea, shocked that she even considered it.

We didn’t believe in abortion, so that wasn’t going to happen.

The last option, the one she eventually chose, was adoption.

And here’s where the ray of light, the silver lining, appeared in this situation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

My brother and his wife could not conceive and had begun looking into adoption. It took time for my daughter to decide, but she chose them to adopt the baby, a beautiful boy. She fulfilled their desire for a child, he remained part of the family he was born into, and my daughter had the opportunity to move forward in her life and still know her son.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

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Navigating Mountains and Valleys in Life

Mountains and valleys

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

If you’ve been following my story, then you’ve met me in my teen years and walked with me through teen pregnancy, teen marriage, domestic violence, divorce, single parenting and all of the trials and blessings that came from those experiences.

These events occurred so many years ago that it doesn’t even feel like my story anymore. It’s my distant past, not my present or future. Not to say I haven’t had my share of trials and hardships since. There have been mountain and valley experiences, but a strong faith in God helped me navigate the valleys.

Faith can help you turn mountains into mole hills Click to Tweet. In other words, I went through the fire and became stronger and more able to withstand what the world threw at me.

See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
Isaiah 4:10

What Were My Afflictions?

Disappearing Children

My ex disappeared with the children after an altercation where his own father called the police and reported him abusing our daughter. Luckily, he returned with the kids on Sunday, but we spent the entire weekend worrying about their safety and whether they would return. As horrible as this event was, it gave us the fuel to fight his visitation rights.

A Legal System with Issues

The investigator who arrested my ex on charges of criminal domestic violence asked the judge to cancel his visitation until the hearing. The judge agreed, but by the time my ex appeared before a judge, a different one presided over the hearing where he was charged.  That judge refused to order him to stop visitation until the court date.  Still, the investigator took him aside and advised him not to see the children.

A No-Win Decision

Did he listen to the investigator?  Of course not. While we waited for our case to go to court, I found myself weighing the options of what might happen if I refused him his visitation weekends.  To the average person, the answer was obvious—don’t let them go—but it wasn’t that simple. My attorney advised me that if I allowed him his visitation, I could be cited for negligence by the courts and possibly lose custody.  If I denied him visitation, I could be charged with contempt of court, arrested, put in jail for disobeying a court order, and lose my children.

Defensive Tactics

So I faced a catch-22 decision. No one should have to make that decision, but I did. I denied him his visitation. Each time his weekend rolled around, he attempted to get the children. To prevent the school from having to deal with his requests to pick them up (something they legally couldn’t deny him), I began picking them up from school early on those days.

He caught on and tried sending his current wife to the school even earlier. For some reason, I anticipated his move and got there right before she did.

My Daughter as Witness

The day of the hearing, our oldest daughter testified against her father.  The guardian ad litem stood between her and her father, so he couldn’t intimidate her by staring at her.  Her attorney did not give her the same understanding.  She was twelve years old.  The hearing left all of us drained, but he lost his visitation rights.

Employment Ups and Downs

During the months between the altercation and hearing, I lost my job. I found another one quickly, but that employer didn’t want to give me the whole day off for the hearing. She couldn’t believe the hearing would last more than an hour.  It lasted all day and almost went into a second day. My job involved speaking to businesses, organizations, and churches about protecting yourself from a crime. Here I was dealing with a very personal crime against my children, and she booked me to speak to a group that night. I made it, while my children went home with my mother and my father went with me. It wasn’t right, but that’s the hand dealt to me that day.

Refined Silver (Blessings)

Not everything during that period was bad.

  • My oldest daughter got a part in a huge production of The Nutcracker. The dance troupe she performed with was the best one in the upstate, so this was a huge honor.
  • My second daughter did NOT have to testify against her father.  I’m glad, but she was upset about it.  She wanted to participate, too.
  • I bought a house!
  • I started dating a wonderful man whom I later married. With him, I gained three more children to my family.
  • My experiences all added to my ability to reach people with my crime prevention messages and later created the opportunity for me to work with single mothers through a welfare-to-work training program.
  • My children and I grew very close to my parents.
  • In all that happened, the church stood by us and cared for us.

In each life, we will have mountains and valleys. Although we don’t love the valleys, we aren’t meant to live on a mountaintop Click to Tweet where the view is amazing, but it’s cold and windy, and offers no life-giving resources like water. We must move off the mountain and experience the valleys. Life can be good on the downhill and uphill trek if we rely on God to guide us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using Your Passion to Give Back to God

cropped-barbara-evers-2-finalrt2.jpgOne of the challenges I’ve faced while writing this blog has been demonstrating a balance between explaining the crises in my life and sharing the blessings. No matter what the crisis, I know my life led me to my faith.  I wouldn’t change a thing, but I wouldn’t want to repeat any of it, either.

I’m a better person because of what I went through and have lived a fulfilled life, so far.

I didn’t remarry for twelve years after my divorce although I seriously dated two people.  They didn’t work out, and I’ve realized that’s a good thing.  If someone is not right for you, you don’t want to spend your life with them. God knew what I needed, and I eventually found the right man.

In the meantime, I established many friendships, discovered truths about myself, and found ways to reach out to others who suffered in ways I had.

Believe it or not, I got a job because of my story. Most job interviews don’t include conversations about your experience as a pregnant teen leading to an early marriage, a divorce due to domestic violence, and the struggles of single parenting.  That’s definitely not the information you want to share, unless it applies to the job.  In my case it did.  I got a job directing a welfare-to-work training program thanks to my background. This happened ten years after my divorce. My story got me the job, not my degree and work experience. I’ve often thought about how God’s timing works, and how He takes the messes we make of our lives and uses them to help others.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

When welfare law changed, I moved from the non-profit world to corporate training.  Thanks to that one job, I discovered my passion:  helping others achieve success in their lives.

If it hadn’t been for the trials and hardships in my life, I might never have found my career.

Training others increased my opportunities to speak to groups, and over time, I found ways to share my story with church groups.  Except for the urban league position, for many years I didn’t discuss my sordid history with others.  The people I knew then didn’t know about my background, so it frightened me to lay it all out there. The first time I shared my story in a church setting, I felt ill, but I discovered that people appreciated it.  They needed to see me, a professional woman who had gone through the fire and come out stronger. By telling my story, I gave them hope.

Most trainers and speakers write, and writing was my passion from an early age, so it wasn’t a reach for me to start this blog. This blog isn’t the only thing I’ve written, but it has been the hardest. The spoken word can be forgotten. The written word lasts. I know I’m helping thanks to the people who comment either here or to me directly. Someone might discover my posts a year or two from now and find the hope or the courage they need to take that first step toward faith and a better life.

Sharing my story has become one of the most significant acts I can give to my Lord.

Do you have a significant act (or acts) that gives back to God? It doesn’t have to be huge, it just needs to glorify Him and reach out to others while doing so.

I would love for you to share your significant acts in the comments.  If you don’t think you have one, ask someone who knows you well. You might discover you are providing something without even trying. If you still don’t think you are, then it might be time to look at your passions and find a way to use them for His glory.