Maggie Haag and Brooke Hughes with Decisions, Choices and Options recently spent two days speaking with Mrs. Major’s Leadership classes. Students listened to facts about what options teen have in the event of a pregnancy, which is valuable information considering that on average, one out of three teens across America will get pregnant before the age of 20.
80% of those pregnancies are accidental, and the results will be life changing.
Decisions, Choices and Options, a company based out of Tennessee, began as the result of a crisis pregnancy in 2002. The young woman chose adoption, because she knew that at age 15, she was not ready to be a mother. However, she later abandoned that plan, due to negative comments from her fellow classmates regarding adoption. When the DCO founder, Joi Wasill, realized that high school students thought adoption was a “bad thing,” she knew that correct information needed to be presented.
Starting with a presentation in one high school in 2002, DCO has grown steadily since then. In addition to Tennessee, DCO is now a part of the Health, Wellness and Family Life curriculum in schools in Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio.
Decisions, Choices and Options has spoken to over 40,000 teens since 2002.
Maggie Haag and Brooke Hughes visit high schools in Mobile and Baldwin County, as well as other parts of Alabama, to give students information and facts about pregnancy. The most important thing they want teens to realize is that in the event of a teen pregnancy, you have options.
The following information was presented in Mrs. Major’s classes. These facts, plus other information and resources, can be found at Decisions, Choices and Options.com.
What’s the big deal about sex?
1 in 4 sexually active teenagers are already infected with a sexually transmitted infection.
80% of students infected with STIs have no symptoms.
Nearly 9.5 million new STIs are diagnosed among young people aged 15-24 each year
According to the CDC, long-term health effects of STIs on your body if untreated are infertility, organ damage, cancer, and even death.
Less than 50% of teens ages 15 to 19 use condoms correctly.
67% of sexually active teens wished they would have waited until they were older to have sex.
Sex as a teen can be stressful.
The cost to take care of a child is about $10,888 annually.
Teen Pregnancy Outcomes:
59% choose birth and parenting
26% choose abortion
15% result in a miscarriage
Less than 1% choose adoption
Pregnancy Option #1 – Parenting
Only 4 out of ten teen moms graduate from high school.
25% of teen moms go on welfare within three years of a child’s birth.
25% of teen moms will have a second child by age 20.
Less than 2% of teen moms finish college by age 30.
8 of 10 teen fathers do not marry the teen mother of their child.
Teen dads earn less money than guys who don’t father a child as a teen.
For teen dads, monthly child support is at least $600 per month for 18 years.
Yet 3 out of 4 teen mothers do not receive any formal or informal child support.
Girls who marry at age 15-19 will get divorced at a rate of more than 50%.
The divorce rate for parents who have a child before they’re 18 is three times greater than for parents who have a child after age 20.
Here is a calculator that will show in total how much it will cost to raise a child from infancy to college.
Risks to the Children of Teen Moms
They grow up without a father.
There is a high percentage of school failure and drop out rates, in fact 50% can repeat a grade.
They often have insufficient health care.
Babies can have low birth weights and be born prematurely, often because the mom ate too much junk food, smoked, and abused drugs and/or alcohol.
Children are at a greater risk of abuse, neglect, plus sexual and physical abuse.
78% of these children live in poverty.
Boys 3-13% are more likely to be incarcerated.
When teen moms give birth to daughters, these girls are 22% more likely to have a baby as a teen themselves.
Pregnant Teens need:
- Prenatal health and wellness doctor visits
- Parenting classes
- Money for a doctor and hospital charges
- Pregnancy Care Centers or Health Care providers, and there are two of these locally.
Baldwin County – Women’s Care Medical Center in Robertsdale
Mobile – Women’s Resource Center on Airport Blvd.
At these centers, you can receive free pregnancy testing, free ultrasounds, and free classes with free prizes.
Facts About Fatherless Homes
Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to live in poverty.
Compared to living with both parents, living in a single-parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical or emotional neglect.
Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
Youths in fatherless households have significantly higher odds of going to jail than those in two parent families.
Teens without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent.
Of all high school dropouts, 7 out of 10 come from fatherless homes.
Pregnancy Option #2: Abortion
As representatives of Decisions, Choices and Options, Maggie Haag and Brooke Hughes do not give their personal opinions on this heated topic, they just provide the facts.
1.2 million abortions occur each year in the United States.
There have been over 56,000,000 abortions since 1973, when abortion became legal.
15 children are adopted for every 1000 children that are aborted.
There are two types of abortion methods, which are surgical and medical. Most abortions occur between 4-12 weeks, and many women who had abortions said they wished they had known several things before they had the procedure.
“Life begins with the union of an egg from a female and a sperm from a male.*”
* As soon as the 23 chromosomes carried by the sperm encounter the 23 chromosomes carried by the ovum…a new human being is defined.” – Dr. Jerome Lejeune, Geneticist
Baby’s heart beats at 18 – 22 days after conception.
Brainwaves are detected at 40-45 days after conception.
All major organs and body parts are present after 8 weeks of development.
Many women choose abortion without knowing exactly what the procedures are. These are facts that are important:
- Most surgical procedures are typically performed between 4-14 weeks of pregnancy.
- Ultrasound technology can be used to determine the size and weight of the fetus.
- The cervix is dilated, and using medical instrument, the fetus is dismembered, and the contents of the uterus is scraped.
- Complications can include pain, heavy bleeding, tearing of the uterus, and infertility.
*The Morning After Pill or Plan B can prevent pregnancy depending on menstrual cycle, ovulation, and timing of unprotected sex. To work as a contraceptive, this can only can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. The Morning After Pill or Plan B primarily stops the release of an egg from the ovary or prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg, conception and fertilization are the same thing. If fertilization occurs, it will prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the lining of the uterus.
*RU486 is administered up to 49 days from the first day of the last menstrual cycle.
A 3 step process:
Step 1. Mifepristone
- facility visit, administer pill/pills
- terminate the pregnancy
Step 2. Misoprostol
- taken two days after step 1
- uterine contractions
- expels pregnancy from the uterus
Step 3. Facility Visit
Within two weeks, evaluation of effectiveness of procedure, and if it is incomplete, a surgical abortion may be required.
Side effects include strong cramps, bleeding, nausea, vomiting fever.
The decision to abort a fetus is difficult because this pregnancy option is final. There is no after-choice to parent or put the baby up for adoption. There is no going back.
Pregnancy Option #3: Adoption
Over 2,000,000 couples are waiting to adopt, yet less than 1% of all unexpected pregnancies result in an adoption plan.
How to Become an Adoptive Family
Adoption is an intentional plan to determine who will parent the child. To become an adoptive family, many factors are considered in a lengthy process to make sure the child has the best environment for a home.
Home study process
Individual and couple interviews
Reasons Why So Few People Choose Adoption
People don’t know enough about it.
Peer pressure from friends and family.
Emotional attachment to the baby.
Media portrayal of adoption.
Negative language surrounding adoption.
Types of Adoption Plans
Common elements of open adoption:
· The birth parents meet potential adoptive parents to confirm their selection.
· The birth and adoptive families fully disclose identifying information.
· There is usually ongoing contact surrounding the pregnancy and birth as families build their relationship and develop trust.
· After placement, there is direct contact between families, either by telephone, e-mail, or letter.
· There are face-to-face visits between birth and adoptive families as the child grows up.
Common elements of semi-open adoption:
· The birth parents choose a family from written, non-identifying information and generally choose to meet face to face.
· An agency or third-party mediates the contact between the parties before and after the birth.
· Birth parents and adoptive parents may know each other by their first names only, or they may exchange full names.
· Correspondence is sent through the agency or third-party.
· Post-placement meetings are arranged and may be supervised by a third-party.
· Adoptive parents share the child’s pictures and letters with the birth parents and may include gifts, videotapes, etc.
· Birthparents share family pictures and letters with the adoptive parents and may send gifts.
Common elements of confidential adoptions:
· Birthparents may request that the agency choose the adoptive family.
· Birth and adoptive parents do not disclose identifying information.
· The adoptive family receives non-identifying information, including medical history, but there is not a planned, ongoing sharing of medical or social information.
· There is no contact between the adoptive family and the birth family, such as sharing pictures and letters or visits.
· Access to contacting a birthparent is limited by law and preferably is by mutual agreement when the child becomes of legal age. The adult adoptee should first contact the state’s central adoption registry and may contact the placing agency.
Outcomes for Birth Parents
Teen mothers/fathers are more likely to finish high school and less likely to live in poverty.
They are more likely to be employed.
None of these teen pregnancy options are easy, and any one would be an extremely difficult decision to make. But you always have options. The program presented by Decisions, Choices and Options is based out of love and a desire to give a child a safe, stable, and secure home.
Make an informed decision by knowing the facts, and remember that abstinence is a healthy lifestyle decision.