Riley’s Story: Choosing Life, Choosing Adoption

Riley and Family

My name is Riley, and I am 19 years old. I am the birth mother of two beautiful children whom I have chosen to place for adoption. I became pregnant with my son at 17, the summer before my senior year in high school. I was blessed to be embraced and supported by my family although they were disappointed. Many people insisted that I have an abortion, especially because I was still in school. “It’s your senior year! You’ll miss out on all the fun!”, “Your future is going to be ruined!” The birth father even offered to pay for one. I knew in my heart that abortion was wrong; so I surrounded myself with people who could support me through all of the criticism.

Being pregnant in school was not as challenging as I expected. I was treated with courtesy and respect, and I was even given special amenities to feel comfortable. I decided to finish school at home and graduated soon after the birth of my son.

I had adoption on my mind my whole pregnancy, and I made my final decision when I was 7 months pregnant. I prayed this simple yet powerful prayer, “God, I want to do Your will… just set it up for me.” He was faithful to do just that! I met the adoptive parents soon after. They were perfect! We have such a beautiful relationship that God has authored.

I became pregnant with my daughter when my son was 6 months old. Telling my family was difficult, I thought that I should have “learned my lesson.” I felt very ashamed. I made the decision to live in a maternity home for the majority of my pregnancy, and it was a wonderful experience. During my stay there, I realized that I was making the same poor decisions over and over again from a place within me where I was hurt. I had to go to God for my healing. Finally, I realized my worth, which empowers me to make better decisions.

I decided to place my daughter for adoption with the same family as my son. It is so touching to see them interact. They adore each other! I have come out of the other end of my experience, and I am stronger, more compassionate and more confident than ever. I have grown more in these past two years than I ever have in my life. My children have completely changed my life. To be entrusted with such a special gift is revolutionary.

To any woman in a similar situation, embrace your motherhood! It is the most meaningful thing you will ever do. Choosing life, especially in a crisis situation, is the ultimate act of love. Love is unselfish; it is putting the needs of someone else above your own. It is refreshing in the midst of the negative world we live in.

Follow peace. Follow God. Choose Life!

 

Riley is sharing her story to show others the beauty of adoption. If you have a story to share, contact Beth Rahal at brahal@studentsforlife.org.

RA Kits- Real Answers for RAs

Resident AdvisorResident advisors are leaders, role models, and friends. Throughout the semester, RAs are available to guide their fellow classmates through the whole college experience– the good, the bad, and the ugly. A big part of this job is knowing answers and resources that are going to solve their peers’ dilemmas. Sometimes, the questions are simple: How do I deal with my sloppy roommate? Where is the science building? How do I do my laundry?!? These dilemmas can be resolved with ease. However, there will be times when the questions are hard, and the answers won’t come so quickly.

RAs are under a lot of pressure to provide support and advice to their residents.Even with hours of training, finding the right answers and resources may be hard when faced with a challenging dilemma. Let’s lend a helping hand to your RAs!

Resident Advisor Kits will be a huge help for your RAs! These RA Kits will help RAs provide real answers to students faced with an unplanned pregnancy, coping with an abortion, or parenting in college. Here’s what your group needs to do to assemble RA Kits for your campus.

Make your own Resident Advisor Kit

For your Kit, you will need collect the following materials. You can easily organize the materials in a folder or 3-ring binder.

  1. Write an RA Kit Letter that explains the Kit and its resources.
  2. Include your pro-life group’s contact information and provide a list of available resources (e.g. peer-to-peer support, campus resource guide, pregnancy resource center referral, babysitting services, scholarships, etc).
  3. Print a selection of the pregnant and parenting students’ rights documents:
  4. Download and print the RA Guide for Crisis Pregnancies.
  5. Download and print the Pregnant on Campus Resident Advisor programs to your Kit. Edit these RA Programs to customize them to your unique campus. Add facts about your school and local resources. Create group activities that play off of campus traditions. Don’t forget to include information about your student group!
  6. Print  outreach flyers for your RA to post around their dorm. Samples can be found here.
  7. Add materials from your local pregnancy resources center(s), adoption agencies, post-abortive healing programs, parent support groups, etc.
    • Business Cards
    • Brochures
    • Flyers
    • Pregnancy Tests
  8. Add educational materials to offer answers to questions on abortion, adoption, pregnancy, and parenting. Recommended materials are listed here. Order materials from their respective organizations, or contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator or by contacting the Pregnant on Campus Coordinator.

Customize Your Kit

Your pro-life group’s RA Kit is unique to your campus. Make sure that you include your group materials– such as a group business card or flyer– to identify this Kit as your work. Here are other ways that you can customize your Kit:

  • Add your group’s Pregnant and Parenting Resource Guide. This guide will provide RAs with the information that they need to direct students to pregnancy and parenting resources.
  • Create a quick, easy brochure with contact information for your health office, your pro-life student group, and local pregnancy resource centers. Include a step-by-step guide for who to contact in cases of pregnancy options, abortion recovery, or parenting needs. Remember to list pregnantoncampus.org as a resources.
  • Include a list of local pro-life doctors. Find pro-life doctors here.

 

Questions? Contact Pregnant on Campus Coordinator, Beth Rahal.

5+ Creative Ways to Advertise Resources

You surveyed your campus. You created a unique resource guide for your school… Now what?! Advertising pregnancy resources to your campus is an important and vital part of your group’s commitment to supporting pregnant and parenting classmates. Having created a resource guide, you already have all the information at the tip of your fingers. So now it’s up to you to share it with your campus. How do you do this? Here are 5 ways that you can share resources!

Pregnant College StudentCreate advertising materials

Your resource guide may be a bit to bulky to pass out to each and every passing student. So why not simplify it? Here are some ways that you can make your guide easier to distribute on campus:

Business cards for your group. Business cards are easy to carry and hand out. Include your group’s name, contact information, and Facebook. On the back, you should have a message such as “Pregnant? You are not alone” with a listing of contact information for your local pregnancy resource center and other pro-life pregnancy counseling resources.

Resource brochures. Break down your pregnancy resource guide into brochures. You may offer brochures such as:

  • “Pregnant? We can help!” – including steps to take if you find out your pregnant, who to talk to, what resources are available
  • “Financing Your Education” – outlining scholarships and grants available to pregnant and parenting students
  • “Parenting Made Easier” – providing listing of free pregnancy/parenting services, local childcare options, emotional and material support, etc.

Flyers. Never underestimate the power of a flyer! Pull tab flyers are particularly effective in providing valuable contact information for your group or for the local pregnancy resource center(s). Flyers should be easy to read and posted in high traffic areas of campus. For more tips, see here.

Host a Life Chain

Get your group together for a night of poster making. Members should create signs that highlight resources available to students. You should also include signs that offer positive, uplifting messages for pregnant and parenting students.

NStudents support motherseed help with sign slogans? Here are a selection of messages that you can choose from:

  • Pregnant? You are not alone. Call __________
  • (Your group’s name) offers (e.g. free pregnancy tests, babysitting, scholarships) for pregnant and parenting students
  • Pregnant? Parenting? We can help! Ask us about our pregnancy resources.
  • (Your group’s name) loves and supports pregnant and parenting students.
  • (Name of local pregnancy resource center) offers free, confidential pregnancy testing, counseling, and support.
  • Ask me about campus housing for single parents and families!
  • Pregnant? (Your group’s name) supports you!
  • Love > Judgement
  • Pro-Woman, Pro-Baby, Pro-Life

One you’ve made your signs, pick a time, date, and location for your group to host your unique Life Chain. Consider lining up along a high traffic sidewalk on campus between classes, or position yourselves in front of the Student Union around lunch time. Smile, wave, and talk to your classmates about your group’s efforts on campus.

Chalk it up!

Chalking is a simple, fun, and effective way to advertise resources. Like your posters, chalk displays should have a mix of resource information and positive messages. You can also get creative and use chalk to draw a trail or arrows to your pregnancy resource table or to your Life Chain. Make sure that your display is in a high traffic area of campus– such as paths to academic buildings or in a brick quad close to the Student Union. The more people who see this, the better! (See more chalking tips here.)

Write an article for your campus newspaper.

Write an article for your campus newspaper explaining the challenges of pregnant and parenting students. In the article, be sure to note helpful resources on campus and in the community– such as your local pregnancy resource center’s free services. You may even want to include notes about pregnant and parenting students’ rights to ensure students that they will not be punished academically or otherwise for their pregnancies.Don’t forget to give your group a shoutout for your efforts on campus! Share what your campus what your group does on campus, and tell students how they can support your efforts!

Remember to keep an eye out for other opportunities for you to insert yourself into campus media. Lookout for articles mentioning abortion, pregnancy, student parenting, etc. to jump on opportunities to write a letter to the editor.

car window signs

You never know when or where you may run into a young woman who needs your support. Candle in the Window has created awesome car window signs to help spread awareness and support for women in unplanned pregnancies. On the front, it encourages passersby to ask you for help. On the back, it lists national resources that support pregnant and post-abortive women so that you can quickly offer help. You can request these signs from Students for Life, or your group can create unique car signs using sturdy cardboard and small suction cups (to hold the sign to the window). These signs can also be stuck on your dorm room door or on the door of your group’s meeting room!

You have unlimited potential to transform your campus with resources! Take these tips and get creative. You can make a difference in your classmates’ lives.

 

This post has been contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. If your group is interested in expanding pregnancy resources on your college campus, contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator or Beth Rahal to get involved in the Pregnant on Campus Initiative.

Enough with the Talk! Get out and CHALK.

IMG_2195Summer is over. Enough with the meetings and chit chat. Time for some action! 

This September, Students for Life of America (SFLA) is challenging you to get out and CHALK. You can use this style of activism for all sorts of pro-life educational messaging, but let’s not forget your pregnancy resources! Chalking is a great, easy way to show your support of your pregnant and parenting peers and to advertise pregnancy resources.

Words that Matter

Chalk messages should be boldly, clearly drawn so that they can be easily read by passing students. If you are unsure about what to write, here are some suggestions for positive outreach on your college campus:

  • Pregnant? You are not alone. Call __________
  • Pregnant? (Your group’s name) supports you!
  • Pro-Woman, Pro-Baby, Pro-Life
  • Pregnant? Parenting? We can help! Learn more at _website_
  • Love > Judgement
  • (Your group’s name) loves and supports pregnant and parenting students.

Don’t limit yourself to words. Get creative with your art to grab the attention of your peers.

  • Draw a trail of baby feet leading to your pregnancy resources table or to a Pregnant on Campus Initiative display.
  • Chalk the words “FREE Pregnancy Tests!” with an arrow pointing towards your group’s pregnancy resources table.
  • Draw a silhouette of a pregnant student surrounded by the phrases “You are strong, “You are beautiful,” and “You are not alone.”
  • Feeling artsy? Frame your positive messages with images like Molly the Riveter or  the Pregnant on Campus logo.

Step up your game

Activism is meant to be noticed! Go big– or go home. Here are some tips to make a big impact:

  • Get the goods.  Why buy supplies when you can get them for free? Contact SFLA for your FREE chalking kit. Email info@studentsforlife.org for more information.
  • Get noticed. Divide your group into teams, and designate each team to a different area of campus. Or pick a different spot each night for a week. The more places that you chalk, the more likely your message will be noticed and responded to.
  • Get competitive. Take pictures of your chalky creations, and post them on social media with #sflachalkitup. (Enter to win awesome Rock for Life. Details here.)

You know what to do. Get out and CHALK!

Note: Chalking can be done on any public sidewalk. Chalk messages are within our First Amendment free speech rights. They do not qualify as vandalism because chalk is easily removed and poses no long-term or serious damage (as proved in such cases as this 2013 MN case). If you run into any issues with administration or fellow students, please contact Students for Life of America (SFLA) at info@studentsforlife.org

 

This post has been contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. If your group is interested in expanding pregnancy resources on your college campus, contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator or Beth Rahal to get involved in the Pregnant on Campus Initiative.

 

 

 

Pregnant in College? Here are 5 Helpful Tips!

Pregnant and in college? This video offers some helpful tips for things that you can do to make your semester more manageable. Check it out! Questions? Comments? Contact our Pregnant on Campus Coordinator, Beth O’Malley.

Teen Parents and HS Yearbooks: What’s your opinion?

In a two-page yearbook spread entitled, “I’m working a double shift,” Mesa High School featured their school’s teen parents with their children. Pictures of the young parents and their children were paired with a description about how difficult it is for young parents to balance parenthood and education.

Here is the Chanel 12 News report of the controversy:

In response to the feature, the community is divided over whether the feature was appropriate for the young audience.

Some parents and community members are in an uproar. In their opposition, they claim that such photos glamorize teen parenting and that such images are inappropriate content for a high school yearbook.

Mesa Public Schools spokeswoman Helen Hollands said, “A yearbook is to commemorate the achievements of the students, particularly the senior class… Probably this would not fall into that category.” However, she did affirm that the school fully supports the students’ academic accomplishments.

Chaunie Brusie, author of Tiny Blue Lines, holds a different opinion. She says:

Recognizing teen pregnancy isn’t the same as encouraging it. … recognizing it is not the same as encouraging it, or even condoning it. Once a teen is pregnant or has decided to take on parenting, he or she deserves to be commended, not condemned, and it serves no purpose to demand that they hide in shame simply for trying to do their best. Talking about the issue of teenage pregnancy might even help parents and their children have a more open and honest discussion about what they want out of their lives. And there is no shame in that.

 

What do you think? Does 2 pages out of 255 pages “glamorize” teen pregnancy? Is it inappropriate to feature teen parents in a high school yearbook?  Is there a better way to address this issue? Voice your opinion in the Comments Section.

 

Mesa High School's yearbook spread on teen parents

Photo Credit: Fox News Screenshot

 

 

It’s a GIRL: An unexpected adoption story

Ashley and Charles Baldwin got the surprise of their life when they learned that they would soon be the parents of a baby girl! Here is the story of two pro-life activists who have gone above and beyond to help a young mother and to save her baby girl:

Baldwin FamilyWe received a phone call two weeks ago that has forever changed our lives. We were informed that there was a 15-year-old girl who was pregnant and seriously considering abortion. I was put in contact with her immediately and I could just hear her trembling with fear through the phone. She has big goals for her life and a painful home life that left her feeling like abortion was the only option.

We visited two different Pregnancy Resource Centers. After our visit to the first one, she was still leaning towards abortion.

I took her to lunch, and then to the mall to pick out some bigger clothes since her cute little bump was starting to show. Charles and I prayed fervently for a miracle, that God would just reveal to her how precious her little baby is, who was growing inside of her, and that everything I said to her would be from Him. I asked her to remember that at 25 weeks, her baby was already fully formed, and only need to get bigger and develop her lungs a little bit more.

After more counsel at Corona Life Services, and an ultrasound, she had a change of heart.

“God is in control, you are just His vessel” is all I remember saying to myself as she invited me back to the counseling room to reveal her decision: “I have decided to let the baby live”.

My eyes filled with tears of joy for the precious baby on the ultrasound screen. I was happy enough then, but then came the announcement: ‘I want you and Charles to be the parents.’

Grateful, blessed, undeserving, excited, nervous, these are just a few words to describe how I felt in that moment.

When I got home that night I shared the exciting news with Charles and we both began praying fervently for the Lord’s wisdom and discernment. We understand that there is a possibility our birth mom could change her mind after the baby is born. We know that the adoption process is a long road to travel, but we are moving forward with the adoption and pursuing our daughter as the Lord has provided.

The Bible says that “Children are a heritage from the Lord” and they are a gift (Psalm 127:3). Being involved in the pro-life movement for close to 10 years now, and being a Mama to a cute 1 year old little girl, I know how blessed I am to be chosen as this baby’s mother. We are just so honored and grateful that He has entrusted us with adopting and raising our precious baby girl due this August. It is a privilege to watch how God is orchestrating the whole thing!

How can you help?

Baldwin Family 2Baby Stella Kate Baldwin is due in just 3 months! As the Baldwins are preparing to welcome Stella into their home, here is what you can do to help:

  1. Pray. Pray for the Baldwin family, for the birth mother, and for their baby girl. Pray for the young birth mother as she courageously carries her daughter. Pray for peace in her decision to lovingly place her child in the arms of the Baldwins. Pray also that the Baldwin family are blessed with all the resources and support that they need to care for their growing family.
  2. Financial support. This unexpected adoption will cost the Baldwins as much as $7,000.Despite the gracious pro bono services of a pro-life attorney, the family will have to cover the cost of the homestudy, paperwork, court fees, background checks, and medical and personal costs associated with the birth mother. If you feel compelled to financially support this young couple, please consider donating to their campaign. Click here to learn how you can contribute.
  3. Share this story. Social media is a powerful tool! Share this story on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. so that others may reach out to support this family.

Thank you for your support of this family! Every prayer, kind word, and generous gift is appreciated.

Questions? Comments? Please contact Ashley Baldwin to find out more ways that you can support the Baldwin family.

 

Abuse, Violence, and Abortion: What can we do?

64 percent feel pressured- Online for LifeWhile abortion advocates spin the tale of “women’s rights” and “reproductive justice,” they have to knowingly ignore the truth to advance their agenda. More often than not, abortion decisions are not made freely or willingly; they are made out of fear and desperation. Despite years of slogans and rallies, legal abortion has not freed women. Abortion has opened the door for the exploitation and abuse of women.

According to a 2004 study by Rue et al., 64% of women who had abortions reported that they had felt pressured or coerced by others. In support of this data, you can find dozens of stories in the document “Forced Abortion in America” that detail how abortion has been used to manipulate and further harm women. For these women, life for their children was never an option. Abortion was even used to mask the abuse and violence. Here are just a few stories of women who have been exploited by legal abortion:

  •  In Arizona, a 13-year-old girl was sexually abused by her 23-year-old foster brother. He took her for an abortion, but Planned Parenthood did not report the abuse until he brought her back for a 2nd abortion after abusing her for another 6 months.
  • In Baltimore, the father of three teenaged girls repeatedly raped the girls over the course of 9 years and covered up the rapes with at least 10 abortions.
  • In Greensboro, Tanika Fox was shot in the head by her boyfriend. He admitted to killing her because she refused to have an abortion and he didn’t want to pay child support.

What can we do?

“Being pro-life” is more than saving the child. It is also about protecting and loving the mother. As activists and educators, we need to be well prepared to handle a variety of situations that we may face on our college campuses.

Unfortunately, safety is often overlooked by college students. We think that we are invincible! However, situations of abuse and harm are all too common. As college pro-life activists, we must be mindful of a variety of resources that can help women. Knowledge of such resources may come in handy for our peers who may be struggling not only with an unexpected pregnancy but also with an abusive relationship. In addition to your pregnancy help resources, your group should consider adding local resources to help women in abusive situations.

Here are two tools that may help a friend get out of an abusive relationship or protect them from harmful situations:

  • ASPIRE News: Dr. Phil’s wife released a brilliant new IOS & Android app for people in an abusive relationship. Aspire News looks like a basic news app. However, when you go to the “Help” section of the app, it leads you to domestic violence resources. This app also has a “Go Button” which alerts local authorities and emergency contacts if you’re in a compromising situation. The informational website has an “emergency exit” at the bottom. if you click it or press ESC on your keyboard, it will immediately close the page, but open a blank google tab and the weather channel in another.
  • Kitestring: Kitestring is a safecall service that may be helpful if you are going on a trip, out to a club, or to a place where you may not feel entirely comfortable (whether that be due to the setting or the people). This app checks up to make sure that you are safe after your event. If you do not return or respond to the check in, the app will alert your emergency contacts. You can even set up a “duress message” for emergency situations. (This may also be a great tool for parents!)

These two tools and other similar resources could save lives.  Sharing these tools may help a friend in need– or even you– escape a dangerous situation.  Please share these tools with your student group, post them as resources on your group Facebook or website, and advertise them on campus.

You Are Strong

 

This post was contributed by Beth O’Malley, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Beth at bomalley@studentsforlife.org.

 

This article refers to the following sources:

Summer Break: Time for a Vacation from Outreach?

Summer is here! Finally, you can enjoy 3 months of glorious sunshine, zero homework assignments, and carefree days! Just. In. Time. Time to take a break from pro-life activism, volunteering at your local PRC, planning the group events

Now, I’m not saying that you must abandon all your summertime joy and relaxation! However, keep in mind that the abortion industry does not take a summer vacation. All year round, women find themselves in unplanned pregnancy situations. This isn’t neatly packaged between August and May! Women need your love and support during the summer too. Although we are certainly tempted to sit back and work on our tans (or soothe our burns), we need to continue our efforts to provide support and resources to families in our local communities.

What can you do to stay active over the summer?

  1. Volunteer at a local pregnancy resource center.
  2. Organize a community baby shower.
  3. Establish a consistent sidewalk presence at the local abortion clinic.
  4. Create a unique resource guide for pregnant and parenting students at your school.
  5. Plan and strategize for your pro-life group’s Fall semester

These are just a few ideas for what you can do to stay involved over the summer. Check out more ideas on our Simple and Advanced Activities pages. You can also check out other pro-life events and activities on College.studentsforlife.org. Best of luck on your summer outreach!

This post was contributed by Beth O’Malley, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Beth at bomalley@studentsforlife.org.