What happens when pregnancy help centers “win”?
Six women who made courageous choices for life in unexpected pregnancies thanks to community-supported pregnancy help told their stories of courage, sacrifice and love to two dozen U.S. Congress members Thursday afternoon.
The story each woman had to tell is of how she came to be called, “Momma,” as Heartbeat International took moms and babies up Capitol Hill for its 14th Babies Go to Congress.
“This is one event Planned Parenthood could never dream of pulling off,” Heartbeat International President Jor-El Godsey said. “Imagine the strength it takes for these moms to not only make the choices they have to give life to their children, but to then share their story with the decision-makers in our nation.
“Every one of these moms and their babies are living proof that pregnancy centers are good for America.”
The moms with stories to tell included two from Texas, one from New York state, one from Oregon, one from California and one from Washington, D.C., bringing the total to 120 moms who have participated in the event since Heartbeat International sent the first group in 2009.
Visiting senators and representatives from their respective states and districts, the moms had the opportunity to tell about how the life-saving and life-changing work of pregnancy centers had caused them to flourish as mothers despite serious the serious obstacles each encountered when she first found she was pregnant.
One mom, Teka Brown, flew in with her 7-year-old daughter, Tailor, from Okinawa, Japan, where her husband and family are stationed with the U.S. Marines.
In the summer of 2007, Teka had just finished her junior year of high school in Oregon when she found out she was pregnant. Her dreams of a nursing career seemed shattered. Her boyfriend was only 16 years old, and was much better prepared for the football team than for fatherhood.
Added onto that, Teka’s reputation as a “goody-two-shoes” added to the stress and shame she felt as a teen mother. After connecting with help and support from the online community at StandUpGirl.com, Teka went to her local pregnancy center to confirm her pregnancy and hear her baby’s heartbeat.
“As soon as I walked in, I felt this loom of shame, this embarrassment—‘What am I doing here? I just want to turn around,’” Teka said. “The thing that drew me in was, [the peer counselor] just sat with me, face-to-face. She showed me the pamphlet of where I was, the stage of the baby at 10 weeks.
“I had this flash of, ‘Should I have an abortion? I’m a senior in high school, I can’t do this. Who’s going to be my support?’”
After talking through her fears and getting more information about her pregnancy, the peer counselor did something Teka wasn’t expecting. She handed her a life-sized fetal model of a baby at 10 weeks.
It fit squarely in the palm of her hand.
“It sealed the deal,” Teka said through tears as she stood beside her daughter Wednesday night. “It was so amazing to see an actual life was growing inside me. I really appreciated her caring hugs and her thoughtfulness to give me that baby [model] and say, ‘Look, this is a life, but whatever you choose, we’ll be here for you.’”
Now, eight years after she thought her world had fallen apart, Teka’s life is more in tact than she ever dreamed it would be. She’s not only a mother of three—plus one on the way—but a licensed CNA, a small businesswoman and an active volunteer at the military base and with StandUpGirl.com.
Amazingly, she and Kyle, Tailor’s, father, who was only 16 years old at the time, have stayed together through it all and have been married for six years.
“As a teen mom, I do not know where I would’ve been,” Teka said, recalling the parenting classes and material aid both she and her husband received through the center.
At 7 years old, Tailor is excelling in math—even though it’s taught in Japanese—she loves to dance. As Teka says, “I don’t know where we would be without her.” (Teka’s full story can be read here.)
You can watch Teka and the rest of the 2016 Babies Go to Congress moms share their stories here. Click here for pictures from the day. If you are pregnant, and in need of help, you can contact OptionLine.org (1-800-712-HELP or Text HELPLINE to 313131).