My family helped mold me into the woman I have become.
I never knew what sacrifice was until I was faced with a life-changing experience at an early age.
The year was 1988, and according to Washington state Department of Health, the teen pregnancy rate for ages 15 to 17 was at 56.5 percent. I was 16 at that time and found myself part of that statistic.
It meant I would be making some decisions both mentally and emotionally that I was not prepared to make as a child myself. I felt alone and like I had no one to turn to. It was too late to think about the information I had been given on sex education from my parents, teachers and peers. I was now forced to tell the people who had higher expectations of me that I was pregnant.
Thank God I am blessed with parents who understand without being judgmental. Yet I still had to tell them that their little girl was expecting their first grandchild.
I chose to confide in a family member first. I wanted more than anything for this to just go away.
After speaking to my uncle, I felt confident that my parents would see this as an obstacle that I would not allow to stand in my way. I then told my parents and I felt like a weight had been lifted.
But then I had to think of my future.
I had to ask myself, “What about prom, sports, dating, and the most important – graduation?” This is when I found out what was truly there for me and how much support I would have.
My mother felt it was important that I speak to a counselor, which was very helpful to get me through this crisis. It was the best thing she could have done for me because, as I said before, I was a child now having to make grown-up decisions.
Some of those decisions included: Should I keep the baby. Do I consider adoption, or have an abortion?
I chose to keep her, and give her all the love I had.
Make no mistake, I still had no clue what I was about to face.
Overnight I became an outcast. I was forced to change the circle of friends I had to accommodate this new path in my life — doctor appointments, counseling sessions, school and all the changes my body was going through. In the back of my mind I still thought, “Am I making the right decision?”
It has been 23 years and I can honestly say that I am proud of the decision I made. Keeping positive influences and a strong support system greatly impacted that period of my life. Although my parents were there for me, they made sure I accepted the responsibility of raising my daughter.
Today, I try to keep the doors of communication open with my own children. I want them to know that they can come to me without hesitation as I was able to do with my parents.
To those who don’t have the support I had available, I would suggest as a resource the local office of Planned Parenthood, 402 Legion Way, Suite 201 in Olympia. The telephone number is 800-230-7526 and the website is www.plannedparenthood.org.
My story is the story many others can identify with. To those facing similar circumstances, I encourage them to speak with a family member or friend. They need to know that they are not alone.
Angel Roberson, mother and emergency room technician at Providence St. Peter Hospital for 11 years, is a member of The Olympian’s Diversity Panel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.