I am a small town girl from Oregon and I’m so honored to be representing StandUpGirl. I was a teen mom and StandUpGirl was there to help and support me through my pregnancy with my daughter. I was so fortunate to have had such encouraging support from the Pregnancy Resource Center in Coos Bay, that I am able to stand here today and honestly tell you I am a proud parent of three beautiful children: Tailor seven, Trae four, Tomas two and one on the way.
I am a 26 year old dedicated Military Wife, currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan with my husband Kyle, who is a Sergeant in the Marines. Kyle and I have been happily married for six years and we have been together for ten. I am not going to say that it was always easy but we did it and we continue to stay focused on our faith, to use our story as a testimony to others. Having a baby as a teenager isn’t the end of your life, it’s just a new beginning.
I was raised in a Christian home with strong morals and core values with high expectations from my family. I would go to church twice a week, work a job, manage a youth basketball team, as well as be actively involved in a youth group. I have great parents who I have an inseparable bond with. My wonderful mom Roxanne, who is my rock, instilled in me at a young age how to be strong and resilient. She went through a rough first marriage to my biological father, but the neglect and abuse got to be too much. She was divorced by the time I was two and we were living with my grandma while my mom provided for me. During that time I don’t remember ever seeing my biological father. Thankfully, my mom eventually met Wayne, my forever dad and they got married when I was 4.
Wayne is the epitome of an amazing dad and husband. He CHOSE to adopt me and keep me for his own. He has always been there by my side willing to teach and encourage me through life. He taught me to be responsible and independent. He also taught me right from wrong and how to treat others. I could talk for days about how amazing my dad is. Wayne is the type of father that any daughter would aspire to have. His choice to CHOOSE me, was one of the many reasons I chose to keep my baby.
As a child, I was homeschooled up until 5th grade and my parents enforced strict rules and discipline in our home. At the start of 6th grade, I was not only entering middle school, but beginning my educational experience in the public school system. Let’s just say, things began to change. Because I was homeschooled, I was unaware of what really went on in public school. For the most part, I drifted through middle school as an innocent and sometimes naive kid. I had no idea about some of the topics my friends were talking about or the sexual innuendos that were said. It was very odd to me that kids my age spoke this way. I did my best to keep away from those situations and focus on my school work and church.
Once in high school, I was teased constantly. The kids called me a “goodie two shoes”, and “the church girl.” The teasing hurt, though I never showed the pain. I was strong and independent. I slowly stopped vocalizing my Love for Christ. I kept it hidden. I didn’t understand why my so called friends would make fun of me. I was taught to treat others how you would want to be treated, and because the teasing continued, I thought I was in the wrong and it must not be the cool thing to do. It was all very discouraging. A few months into my high school career, I decided to start attending a local organization called Young Life. The mission of Young Life is to help the teens in our community who did not know Christ, or did not attend church. Through Young Life, I realized again why I loved Jesus, and where my heart needed to be. This is where I met my now husband, Kyle.
At first I just wanted to understand his life and let him know I was there to help in any way possible. Kyle had a tough childhood, much different than my own, but Kyle had an amazing smile, and a mature outlook on life. He had a way of making me laugh and his non-judgemental attitude made me feel good about myself. He genuinely wanted to get to know me. He showed interest in my passion for Jesus and would always ask questions, and even started coming to church with me. We started hanging out more and by the end of summer my sophomore year, we began dating. As I started to pay more attention to Kyle, and hang on every word and compliment he was saying, I slowly started to turn my back on God, and my Faith. I was so focused on how Kyle was making me feel, and thought he was the answer to all unspoken prayers. I was in love.
There is a song called “It’s a slow fade,” by Casting Crowns that pretty much summed up my junior year of high school. The Song talks about giving yourself away… Slowly. I felt as though my life was in a slow fade. Slowly going away from what I knew was right. Slowly my grades were declining. Slowly I was focusing less on my school and family. Eventually, I hit rock bottom.
The summer before my senior year, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Tailor. I was devastated! I was mad at Kyle, but mostly I was disappointed with myself, because I was suppose to know better. We made the choice to not use protection, which made the choice to possibly get pregnant. Becoming pregnant does not just affect you, it affects your whole family; the people you care most about.
I was ashamed, embarrassed and extremely distraught for days to say the least and to top it all off we had to tell our parents. We decided to have both families over to my house, and Kyle and I told them together. My parents took it really hard, and my dad blamed himself, thinking he didn’t raise me right. When in reality, I was the one who chose to go against my values and discipline. They were sad and disappointed. We were all worried about the future, and at that point, who isn’t?
Kyle and I had plans of our own. He wanted to play football in college and I wanted to go on to be a nurse. Our goals suddenly took a drastic turn. Our social lives also took a turn for the worse. Some of our friends were understanding and supportive, while others turned their backs on us when they heard that we were expecting. We had to face the truth that from this moment on, our lives would never be the same.
After much consideration, prayer, and my revived faith in God, we chose to keep our baby. Despite what our friends and some family thought; there was no way we could ever “get rid” of our child. A baby is a miracle of life, who am I to decide to take it away? I mean, I may have lost my way in the mist of love and lust but I wasn’t going to punish my unborn child for my bad decisions. Of course Kyle and I were scared. We had no idea where to start to plan for a kid, as we were still kids ourselves. We didn’t know where to turn for help. That is where StandUpGirl came in.
A close friend of mine had been a part of StandUpGirl for a long time. She encouraged me to find the forums and get to know girls that were going through the same situation. The girls online were nonjudgmental. They knew how to answer the tough questions and be there on those tough days. Through the StandUpGirl website I also found a local Pregnancy Resource Center in Coos Bay, Oregon. I was able to go there, hear my baby’s heartbeat, and talk with a counselor about my fears and struggles. They let me hold a life size image of my baby at that moment. I was 11 weeks. The baby I held in my hand had its own tiny feet, and had a already formed a cute little face. It really put things into perspective. I had a baby. I was in charge of this Tiny human. I bawled right there in the room. The PRC volunteer held me as we all cried together. I left with amazing resources, and I met some amazing women both online and at the center. I read some wonderful testimonies and blogs about how they overcame their fears and found ways to keep pressing towards their goals. I was able to find encouragement and support through this small organizational network ran by volunteers.
Later, I was asked by Gayle Atteberry to take part in StandUpGirls mission of reaching out and helping young girls in crisis pregnancy. Of course I said yes! All of the support I received from StandUpGirl while I was pregnant gave me the courage to stand up for what I believe in, and I have been blessed beyond measure helping the girls who contact us! It is so satisfying to see an email that has an attachment that says, “Here is my baby!” or “Thank you StandUpGirl! I couldn’t have done it without you!” We are making a difference in the lives of the next generation. Although we are few, we all strive to send a message to women that “You CAN do this!” and it is possible to still achieve your goals in life. In the past few years, I have taken on the task of posting and managing our Facebook page. In this time, we have seen an 860% growth in the number of followers on our Facebook page and we are reaching out to millions of women in crisis worldwide with a life-affirming message of hope and courage!
I stand before you today, thankful and humbled, because without my sin and shame, I wouldn’t be here. I realized that the sin was in the act and in not the child that I was blessed to have. Without StandUpGirls support, I would not have been able to make it through like I did; and for that I am forever thankful. I was able to graduate high school, and finish getting my CNA license. Presently, along with being a devoted mother and wife, I volunteer with Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, which helps support our Marines and Sailors financially. I am the president of the base football team, the ‘Okinawa Bulldogs’, I am a Tiny Mite cheerleading coach, as well as manage my own at home business.
Kyle was able to graduate on time as well and joined the military soon after. He has done an amazing job in taking care of our family, despite our many setbacks. He is still an avid football player as well as coach to the Tiny mite football team. He was just recently promoted to Sergeant and is a strong Godly leader for his men and our family. Kyle is still the love of my life and I am eternally grateful to God for giving me such a wonderful man and father for our children.
I try to always remember that, no matter what anyone thinks, you DO have a choices in life and there are other women who have faced similar situations that I want to help and support just like I was. The decision I made to keep my baby was the best decision I have ever made and I’ve never regretted it. My daughter and sons are my reason for living. Given the chance to go back in time, I wouldn’t change my decision because it, along with StandUpGirl, made me the strong, confident woman I am today.