One of the perks about being a birth mom is having the opportunity to attend Jr. High's and High Schools with the Utah Adoption Council and speak to the kids about teen pregnancy, adoption, abstinence, etc. I've also had the chance to speak to several young women's and relief society/priesthood groups. I learn something about myself every time I go to one of these and I ALWAYS meet some pretty amazing people. This last week I was invited to speak to a Young Womens group in American Fork. I did this with another amazing birthmom who I just adore. I won't say her name because I didn't get her permission to do so, but we'll just call her S. S got pregnant when she was 14, placed her daughter for adoption when she was 15. ENOUGH SAID. She is a-ma-zing. To be that young and make such a difficult, adult decision just blows my mind. I hadn't seen her since she was pregnant so I was so utterly pleased to see her get up and speak to her peers about choice and accountability. And open up about her own personal mistakes and what she did to make her life better. She shone that night. She has made such a giant turn for the better. She's graduating high school with her associates and has made leaps and bounds toward valuing her religion and maintaining a very close relationship with God. I was just so pleased with the way her life has turned out, all because SHE WORKED FOR IT. She was an example to me and I can't wait to see where life takes her.
We spoke to a very wonderful group of young women. All whom seemed very interested in what we had to say and asked lots of great questions. And I tried to let them know, as soon as I got up there to speak, that I remembered sitting where they were sitting. Listening to someone tell me in church that making out is dangerous, that cuddling alone leads to other things, that single dating might be a bad idea. And did I listen??? NOPE. Because 'nothing bad was going to happen to me.' I wasn't that girl. I didn't listen to those who had gone before me, who made the same mistakes. I didn't see why I had to. I believed in Christ, I had an amazing family, I wasn't into drugs or alcohol, and I had great friends. So nothing could touch me right???
I explained all this to the Young Women that night. That if they were the ones sitting there as I was speaking to them thinking, "I'll never do that. That won't happen to me." even when they had a serious boyfriend they spent plenty of time alone with, they might need to take a second look. And REALLY listen to what I was telling them, as someone who had been there, done that. I breaks my heart to see young girls getting themselves into trouble with boys or drugs or alcohol. I always think to myself when I hear of another one gone of the deep end, "Why? Why couldn't you learn from those gone before you? They made that mistake for you so you could see the consequences and abstain!" I always get a bit upset on the inside because my heart aches for those girls and what I know they're about to go through. But then I remember, that was me too. Some people just have to learn the hard way. I had others, in my own extended family even, who had made the same mistakes I did. And did I look at them and think, "I never want to go through that. I'll make sure I don't". NO. Because I was 'invincible'. I could have a serious boyfriend, spend time alone with him, and even if we did have sex. We'd never get pregnant. Sounds absolutely ridiculous right? Well ya, it is. Because hello 17 year old ShaNae!!!! 1 + 1 = 2!!! If you're having sex, YOU'RE GOING TO GET PREGNANT. That's how it works. And if you're not ready to raise a family at 17, then WHY ARE YOU HAVING SEX!? Even those teens who use protection are often unaware that NOTHING can fully save you from an unexpected pregnancy, except abstinence. It's fail proof. And it should be used until marriage because sex is for two things only. 1. To create life. It's a God given act that should be sacredly performed within the bonds of marriage. Why marriage? Well, that brings me to number two. 2. Because it's used to strengthen the bonds within marriage. Every SINGLE person you choose to have sex with takes with them a small piece of your soul. And whether it's a one night stand or a five year relationship, they will ALWAYS own that tiny piece of you. So why would you want that to be anyone but your husband?
I wish I would have understood all this back in high school. I wish I would have understood that I wasn't invincible. And that I was in a toxic relationship that wasn't going to last me forever. Maybe then I could have saved that piece of my soul for the right person, at the right time.
I can't stress enough how the small things WILL lead to the big things. We're human. We want what's forbidden, and we'll take little steps to get there. I constantly tell my younger sister who is in high school that kissing leads to making out, making out leads to passionate kissing and touching, and it's all down hill from there. We also talk about the effect words can have. I tell her, DON'T talk about sex, or sexual topics around boys. Because boys brains work like this: if she can talk about it then she is probably okay with doing it. Fact Ladies. If you don't want a guy to move in on you inappropriately, then you best make sure you haven't talked about inappropriate topics around him. And I thank the heavens I have a sister who listens. Who is nothing like me when it comes to learning life's lessons. She'll do great things;)
Whenever I go anywhere to speak to a group about adoption I always get the question, "What could your leaders or parents have done differently to make sure you didn't end up pregnant?" And I always have a hard time answering the question because I honestly don't know. I had been warned at school, home, and church about what sex can lead to. And why I should stay away from it. And even then, I didn't stop. I think if someone could validate to me they had seen the future and say, "ShaNae you are going to get pregnant if you keep this up." I may have ran far and away from the relationship I was in. In hindsight I can now see that I stuck with it for so long because he and I became co-dependent. I filled his voids, he filled mine. And we didn't know how to be okay alone. So, that's another word of advice I give. Make sure that you are confident and secure being alone (meaning, not in a relationship) before you commit yourself and your time to another person. Otherwise, like me, even when you know what you're doing is wrong and dangerous and it's not making you happy, you won't leave. Because without that dysfunction, you don't know how to function.
Being that girl that got pregnant in high school was hard. It sucked. It was embarassing. Every day was a struggle. I had to keep my sights set forward.
I touched the fire, got burnt, but then I bandaged my wounds and let them heal over time. I owe a lot of that to great friends, family, counselors, and leaders. And my ever so patient and enduring fiance;) And to Sophie and her family. Who root for me all the time. And who's continuous push for greatness in my own life is the one most felt by me. For those distant family members reading this, she's two and a half years old now. And she's doing great. Cute and smart and sassy as ever. And just the other day told her mom that redhead in the picture was, "Manae". So she knows exactly who I am, and that's the beauty of open adoption!:)