Lynette Sharp is a freelance writer who lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her family. She had a memoir piece published in Under the Clock Tower, three poems made the finals, and she has twice had the privilege of being a judge in the writing contests for this same journal. She writes on a wide range of topics but the prevailing theme is human connection. She is a motorcycle enthusiast and is extremely serious about having fun. You can contact Lynette at email@example.com.
"Not one more thing God, please. I cannot handle one more thing." I was curled up in the fetal position in the corner of my bedroom with boxes all around me. I was crying like a baby because it was one of the worst times of my life: we had just moved again, making it three times in a year and a half, my husband had been laid off from his job, and our marriage was in serious trouble. That is when my sixteen year old daughter Kacey knocked on the door and made an extremely bad day catastrophic.
I composed myself as best I could and opened the door. Kacey handed me a letter and walked away. She had never communicated in a letter before, so I should have known to expect bad news, but I was numb from all of the pain and didn't see it coming.
The letter made it clear; she was pregnant. She said that she was sorry to disappoint us but that she needed our support because she wanted to keep the baby. She promised that no matter what happened she would still finish school and go to college.
To fully appreciate the gravity of this news, you need to understand our family dynamics and general approach to life. To say we were conservative Christians would be like saying the surface of the sun is hot. To say we were black and white would be like saying Mother Teresa was a nice person. I say "were" because we have learned some balance since that time, mostly because of all of the hits that just kept coming—life broke us down to the point that nothing made sense anymore. The description of hardships at the beginning of this story was only a quick snapshot of our lives; we had other even more serious issues we were dealing with that will have to wait for some other telling. Suffice it to say, this was not what we expected.
Of course I was devastated. I didn't see any possible way for this to turn out well. I immediately knew that the best choice Kacey could make would be to put this baby up for adoption. Her situation was difficult; the father of the baby was a fifteen year old boy who lived in Austin, where we had just moved from. He had long, shaggy hair, listened to death metal and dreamed of becoming a rock star. Her relationship with my husband, her stepdad, was not pleasant; she was in a very rebellious stage and they butted heads constantly. Her biological father had never been in her life, and that was for the best. She was just too young and not prepared for this. I knew it would be hard to convince her to put the baby up for adoption, but that is what I set out to do. I could see no other way.
I should add that when I was younger, I had an unplanned pregnancy and placed the baby for adoption. Walking through the doors of that adoption agency, leafing through booklets of prospective parents to try and choose the perfect family, making that decision and then meeting with them—it was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I've never regretted it, but as I've grown older and wiser I have wondered if it turned out as well for that baby as I had pictured in my head. At the time I thought that this couple could give my baby a perfect life. I know better now—life is not perfect, people are not perfect, parents are not perfect. Still, when I looked at the reality of what this baby would mean to my daughter, I thought I knew best. I thought adoption was the only correct solution.
My husband agreed that she should place the baby for adoption, and we talked to Kacey to help her to see that. She did not see it at all. She wanted to be with her boyfriend Eric, and they were going to raise this baby somehow. It was concerning to us that she didn't seem to have an actual plan for making that happen and didn't feel the need to make one. When we tried to talk to her about the specifics, she wouldn't listen. It is often the case that children just cannot hear what their parents have to say. We were getting nowhere, and we knew we needed outside help.
We talked with our pastor's wife; our church had a ministry to help unwed mothers. The problem was that because of Kacey's age, their ministry wasn't set up to help her. They referred us to a maternity home in Denton that could help her, and after talking with the house parents my husband and I decided that Kacey would move there. She was very upset, of course. She talked about not going; obviously we couldn't force her. We told her that she would have to if she wanted our help. The plan was for her to go and be educated about her situation, and be assisted by knowledgeable people who could help her sort through her options in a non-biased way. The only problem was that they were of the same mind as we were—adoption was the only correct decision. They didn't come right out and say that, but they said a few things that showed it, and that was fine by us.
Kacey went to the maternity home; and for over four months she did everything anyone asked her to do. She told me later that she prayed and read her bible every single day, asking God if she should keep the baby or put the baby up for adoption. She asked for a specific sign and felt she received it, so it was settled for her. She would not discuss adoption any further. The maternity home would not let it drop and would not assist her in making a plan to keep the baby, so I went and brought her home. It's amazing to me that my daughter was so strong that she was able to defy all of us and follow her convictions. I will always be in awe of her for that.
I can't tell you how happy I am now that Kacey made the decision to keep her child. She is a fantastic mother! She married the father of the baby and they live in their own apartment in Austin, Texas. My granddaughter, Alexa Nicole, is three years old now, and I love her with all of my heart.
Looking back now, I realize that I was trying to force Kacey to make the decision that I thought was best when in reality I was reacting out of fear. Of course it's scary when your sixteen year old gets pregnant, but fear shouldn't be what you operate from when making decisions. Age and wisdom are important, and children would do well to listen to their parents; however, parents would do well to remember that youth has its advantages as well. They have the courage born of inexperience and fearlessness, and they will make their own way. It may be different from our way, but they have the right to forge their own path.