Mothering a teen mom

All Woman

“WHEN the nurse do the pregnancy test and tell mi say, 'Yes', mi 11-year-old daughter pregnant, mi feel fi just beat har non-stop. All kinda things go through mi head.

“How mi could a mek this happen to mi little girl?” a 41-year-old mother, who will be referred to as Ruthy in an effort to protect her identity, recounted.

As her voice cracked under the pressure of guilt, regret and disappointment, Ruthy said after learning about her daughter's pregnancy, she wanted her out of her house; she wanted nothing to do with her.

“I never suspected anything like that from Ashura (name changed to protect her identity). She didn't even reach 12 [years old]. So when I find out, I wanted her out of my house. But, after the nurse [who administered the pregnancy test] called in CISOCA (Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse) and they questioned the little girl, that is when I find out that is never bad she bad, but it was my best friend who trouble (raped) her and get her pregnant. She didn't tell me anything; she said she was afraid,” shared Ruthy.

The single mother of one said her disappointment quickly turned to anger, then to guilt, as she blamed herself for her young daughter's state. However, she was determined to get all the help she could for her.

“The CISOCA lady told me to register Ashura at the Women's Centre [of Jamaica Foundation], but I never register her right away. I never wanted anybody to trouble her so I waited until after she have the baby to send her,” she informed.

The Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation provides adolescent mothers with the opportunity to access an education during pregnancy. It is the foundation's responsibility to ensure adolescent mothers are placed back into the regular school system after the birth of their babies. However, Ruthy said the Women's Centre did more than just provide an education for her daughter and a place at a high school.

“When she was going to the centre, she carry her baby with her and they keep the baby at the free nursery. She got time from class to breast feed the baby and play with him. Some days she would come home with pampers, baby feeding, and things for herself that she get at the centre,” the single mother said.

Although Ruthy and her daughter were getting assistance, she admitted that the blame community members placed squarely at her feet for her daughter's abuse, coupled with her inability to provide for her family, sometimes caused her to question her decision to adopt Ashura.

“People said I knew about the abuse and did nothing about it, and mi feel bad because mi know say it's not true. So sometimes I said I shouldn't have taken her from her mother. But mi know that she would be in a worst position if I did not do so,” she shared.

Ruthy hailed her church family and the counsellors at WCJF for encouraging and supporting her during her moments of doubt and regret.

She does farming to support her family of three and boasts about her daughter's participation in her school's track and field team.

“Ashura is doing well. She understands what happened to her. I talk to her about everything and I support her with everything, especially school. She just came home with four medals she won at her school's sports day. She is also on the track team, so I know I will be seeing more.

“I don't have to tell her to do her school work, she does it and I make sure I keep the baby as much as possible so that she can do her work,” she bragged.

Ruthy, having gone through counselling and seeing its benefit, encouraged all mothers to support their daughters who get pregnant in their teen years.

“Things do happen and even if your daughter never get rape but end up pregnant, all you have to do is support her. When we be good parents to our children, they turn around and be good mothers to their children,” she said.

— Latoya Rattray




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