Shelby County steps up for pregnant teens

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

We all make mistakes, but most mistakes fade over time. When I started digging into a story about teenage moms in Shelby County, my heart went out to the girls who made a decision that will stay with them forever.

Both of the teen moms I spoke with, Amber Shaw and Raven Allen, shouldered the blame for their decisions and were aware of the consequences. And while I don’t condone their decisions, I couldn’t help but admire their strength and determination to be the best mothers possible.

Shaw graduated from Vincent High School, started taking classes at the University of Montevallo and works 40 hours a week in Homewood. In addition to work and school, she continues working at her relationship with her son’s father and cares for their son.

“There are times when I don’t want to do this anymore, but even moms who are 40 don’t want to be ‘mom’ today,” said 19-year-old Harpersville resident Shaw.

While I don’t have children myself, I can empathize with these girls who are just beginning their lives. Both girls acknowledge the blessing of having a child, but regret the timing. I know many other 19-year-olds who wouldn’t handle this lifestyle with such responsibility and maturity.

Allen is a junior at Pelham High School and plans to continue her education to become a pediatric nurse.

Both girls found community with other teen moms through the Shelby Teens for Effective Parenting Program, a branch of Shelby Emergency Assistance.

I applaud STEP Program Director Carolyn Locke’s dedication to these young mothers. When I visited her at the SEA office in Montevallo, she glowed as she said she held three new babies that week. Shaw said Locke would be by a teen’s side as she gives birth, and will spend the night in the hospital if the girl asks her to.

Locke made it clear she doesn’t promote teen pregnancy, but she works diligently to support and advocate for parenting teens. She stands by her teens even when others won’t.

Shelby County offers other resources for teen moms including Sav-A-Life Shelby Pregnancy Resource Center in Pelham, Oak Mountain Missions Ministries in Pelham and a number of churches that offer baby showers and material goods for young mothers. These resources offer these young mothers what they need to take pressure off raising a child.

While they admittedly had children early in life, I’ve seen responsible teenage mothers who are working diligently to give their children loving care, parental guidance and every opportunity.

Christine is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 16 or by email at christine.boatwright@shelbycountyreporter.com.