Graduation Season 2019

School is over, and the high school graduating Class of 2019 is ready for their next phase of life. Congrats to all the youth on achieving this accomplishment! However, it’s important to highlight a special group of graduates worldwide that fought against statistics to achieve this significant milestone, foster kids. According to the, high school students in foster care have the highest dropout rates and the lowest graduation rates of all comparison student groups. This is because children in foster care are far more likely to change schools during the school year, to be in special education classes, and to fail to receive passing grades than their general population counterparts. And when you think that the odds can’t get any worst, imagine being a teen parent!

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, thirty percent of all teenage girls who drop out of school cite pregnancy and parenthood as key reasons. Rates among Hispanic (36 percent) and African American (38 percent) girls are higher. Educational achievement affects the lifetime income of teen mothers: two-thirds of families started by teens are disadvantaged, and nearly one in four will depend on welfare within three years of a child’s birth. Many children will not escape this cycle of poverty. Only about two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81 percent of their peers with older parents.

“That will not be my story, I will graduate!” said a teen mom resident.

This year, I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring three pregnant/parenting teen moms in foster care! Two of three mothers (one is still pregnant) all had their babies while in high school and still were able to earn their diplomas despite the haters, doubters, and staggering statistics!! Yes, they beat the odds and proved all the naysayers wrong! Special shout out to the graduating teen moms of Born for Nia Maternity Home, San Bernardino, CA.

ConGRADulations to these young mothers and the entire Class of 2019… you all have made it to the finish line. This is just the beginning to a long life ahead, so design your path and stick to it. You all completed this milestone, but as the late great, Nipsey Hussle said, “The Marathon Continues”!

Written by Symone A. Maddox

Teen Parent Discrimination… Let’s Talk About It!

I know. The terms “teen” and “parent” should not be stated in the same sentence unless it is to addressing each party individually. Society, as a whole, has made it clear that teens shouldn’t be parents by the maltreatment that they have given them. It is something that my organization, Purposely Chosen, Inc. and the teen parents that we serve face regularly.

So, let’s talk about it.

“Discrimination is the treatment of a person or a particular group of people differently, in a way that is worse than the way people are USUALLY treated…”

I was 19 years old when my name changed to “mommy.” I got married when I was 18 years old, and one year and one month later, I was giving birth to my firstborn son. Throughout my pregnancy, I found it difficult to express myself to “adults” although I knew what my needs were. I felt unheard by my Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB-GYN) physician, and often my concerns were ignored. My OB-GYN questioned the date of my last menstrual period as if knowledge of my own body couldn’t be trusted. So, at 42 weeks, I gave birth to my son through an emergency Cesarean Section. 42 weeks! Now, most would say that two weeks post-term delivery is ok; but how could it be ok when I had no other choice but to have EMERGENCY surgery? 

My labor was induced 14 days after my due date. While in labor, my son started showing signs of fetal distress. We later discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, causing his heart rate to fall during contractions. (The umbilical cord provides oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the developing fetus.) And after ten long hours of labor, I was rushed into an operating room with no clarity on what was happening. 

I’m not implying that having a caesarean section was 100% preventable; however, I am saying that my OB-GYN didn’t listen when I expressed my concerns about how uncomfortable I was and about how horrible I was feeling two weeks prior, on or around my due date. I felt dismissed and told that I was I “too young” and didn’t know what I was feeling. All my concerns were summed up as being “normal”. It is true that I didn’t understand everything that was said; however, no one asked if I understood. I only was TOLD what was going to happen.

I know my experience validates why most say that teens shouldn’t have babies. Regardless, I was a mom. No matter how young or old, I was a mom. I should have been educated, counseled, advised, etc. accordingly.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. My organization, Purposely Chosen, Inc. fight the battle of teen parent discrimination every day in the schools, hospital, with social workers, law enforcement, in grocery stores, the community in which they live, and this list goes on. The reality is that teen parents aren’t going anywhere. We must learn how to serve this population without judgment and biases.


Welcome to the Teen Parent Advocate!

This blog space intends to provide relevant, useful information and resources to providers that serve teen parents and their babies. It is also a space to offer resources to teen parents. We hope to engage and build a community of service providers, community members, and teen parents, all working together to create a big village of love and support. My desire is for everyone who serves teen parents, in any capacity, to understand the plight of being a teen parent but beyond just understanding, TAKE ACTION!

It is without question that being a teen parent is by far one of the most challenging callings in this life. The support that is needed is endless. There so much to do that one individual cannot fulfill the needs alone. It requires a village. A village provides a multiplicity of support services created to help members get access to resources, meet service needs, and promote physical, mental and emotional wellness.

Bottom line, teen pregnancy and parenting are not small circle issues. Teen pregnancy is considered a public health issue or “crisis” in some instances. Therefore, we, the public, have to “deal” with this issue. Likewise, teen parenting is a by-product of teen pregnancy that also need attention and resources. Neither can be ignored or left to fate or luck. I have been verbally attacked for my work in providing services and support for teen parents (i.e., baby showers, residential care, diapers, clothes, etc.) as if I promoted teens having sex and getting pregnant. I, one hundred percent, support the teen pregnancy prevention initiatives and programs, however, once they are pregnant, who is supposed to help them?

I invite you to be a part of my village of Teen Parent Advocates!