Meet Ashley “Pregnant at 16 and gave up my baby”

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Posted June 14th, 2010

I had a great trip to Indy.  It was one of those days when I am reminded how lucky I am to do this work.  I was asked to co-facilitate In the Know: A Conversation about Best Practices to Prevent Teen Pregnancy & STIs In Your Community, with Jonathan Stacks from Illinois.  We were brought in for the day long session to share our preventing teen pregnancy and disease expertise with teachers, ministers and those who work for youth serving agencies.  

The tone for the day was set by the opening presentation of a young woman, Ashley Wilkens, who became pregnant at the age of 16. Ashley works closely with The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy sharing her moving story with other teens, and telling them that adoption is a worthwhile option.

Ashley has been featured in USA TODAY and People Magazine, and has made appearances on Montel Williams, One Life to Live and Dr. Phil.

Here’s an excerpt from the People Magazine article.

GIVING UP HER BABY
ASHLEY WILKENS, 17

51% OF PREGNANT TEENS KEEP THEIR BABIES

Discovering she was pregnant at 16, Indianapolis teen Ashley Wilkens felt utterly alone. “It was,” she says, “like me against the world.”  With no support from the baby’s father, Ashley dropped out of high school, moved in with a friend and contacted an adoption attorney. Perusing profiles of childless couples, she was struck by one story that “touched my heart deeply.” The adoptive couple paid for Ashley’s living and medical expenses during pregnancy and provided emotional support. On March 28 Ashley delivered a baby boy, then relinquished her rights—to her mother Taunia Bowman’s dismay. “It had a devastating effect on our family,” Bowman says. “I would have raised that baby.” (Ashley has no contact with her own father, from whom Bowman is divorced.) But Ashley has no regrets. “I show pictures of [the baby] to people and they say, ‘Oh, I am so sorry,'” says the former track-team member, who is working toward her GED and considering a Naval career. “And I say, ‘No, I’m so proud of myself.'”  

The event attendees were all very passionate about working with teens which allowed for an interactive and rich discussion about their success stories and the barriers many have overcome in order to carry on do this work. It appeared to me that everyone left motivated and full of ideas to take back to their community!

Read more about Ashley:
People Magazine: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20171136,00.html
USA TODAY: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-03-09-juno-pregnancy-main_N.htm

Please visit the Sex Education and Resources page of my Web site for information and tips on how to talk to your children about sex and other parent resources on sex education. And, as always, please contact me if you need to talk. – Barb

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