If someone had told me just four short years ago that my life would be marked by more blessings than I could count, I would have looked at them with complete incredulity. I never dreamed I could be surrounded by the warm love and happiness I experience today.
It was all made possible by my unexpected pregnancy and a community that empowered me to take on the mission of motherhood.
I was raised in a small trailer with no electricity, let alone love, support, or a good example. I would try to take my younger siblings places and be outside, with them never knowing that my intention was to protect them from what occurred inside our small, four walls.
I couldn’t let my innocent siblings see or smell the copious drugs that had consumed our mother for years. They deserved as much of a childhood as possible, despite not knowing where their next meal would come from, which was often a bag of rice dusted with salt.
Taking on the role of “mother” toward my siblings as a young teenager was never in my plan. Needless to say, it was hard, and I was incredibly frustrated as a child raising three other children.
Then, at 15 years old and to my utter dismay, I became pregnant.
Getting an abortion was my immediate decision, thinking I could barely take care of myself let alone my three younger siblings. The mere thought of bringing a new life into this messy situation at my age was more than I could bear — or so I thought.
Knowing my situation, a teacher at my high school asked to connect me with the Pregnancy and Family Care Center (PFCC) in Leesburg, Florida, a ministry under the Christian Care Center. I was unsure of what to expect from the center, but not knowing where to start, I agreed.
After speaking with the thoughtful, compassionate female staff at PFCC, I was given a complete list of all of my options, in addition to more information about the abortion procedure itself. I realized I couldn’t put my child through such a horrific event, and I knew in my heart that I’d never cope with the regret that, tragically, so many post-abortive women feel. I ultimately decided to keep my child, which gave me great peace, even though I knew it would be hard to care for another little one at just 15 years old, while also raising my three siblings. This challenge has helped me grow in my faith and not limit my abilities.
Thankfully, the PFCC, as well as the surrounding community, were at the ready. They provided me and my baby with more free resources than I could imagine, ranging from ultrasounds to diapers, car seats, baby clothing and food, transportation, hygiene products, and even new clothes for me to wear at school — something I never had growing up. The women there became my mentors, my friends, and my family. Most importantly, they helped me to discover a real relationship with Jesus Christ, accepting Him into my heart forever and then following the Lord through baptism.
For the first time in my life, I had a devoted support system, and a firm foundation to raise my child upon. I was no longer worried about the atmosphere my son would experience because my world was now packed with kind, loving, and generous people who deeply cared about not only my baby but me and my younger siblings.
While not by blood, I was given a family that loved me as their own.
Today, four years later, I share my story to show other women that there is hope, love, and healing available to them. Due to my past, for my safety, and for the safety of my son though, I tell it anonymously.
I can’t even begin to count the blessings I have in my life. Despite the odds against me, I graduated high school on time with the rest of my class. I now have a wonderful job. My siblings and I currently live with our grandfather, and I’m thankful we’re still together as a family.
My son is, without a doubt, the greatest gift from God. Knowing the immense happiness he brings to my day, he is my greatest blessing.
My surrounding community and the women at the PFCC have been blessings not only for me, but for my family and my child. We are able to heal because of their love and support. I will never be able to thank them enough or repay them for all they have done.
When I count my blessings each night, I count them, and my baby, twice.