October 13, 2023

Our Works of Charity / David Bethuram

Teen’s decision to choose life leads to challenges, blessings

David Bethuram

Angela was your typical high schooler. She lived in a suburban home. She was an excellent student who got high grades. She had a happy family who provided for her needs. She was making plans for her high school graduation and college.

Then everything changed. Angela admitted she made decisions in high school that moved her away from her faith, and she fell in love with a guy who did not love or treat her the right way.

She found out she was pregnant with their son during her senior year. She was terrified and was not sure what to do. Her family was also not the most supportive, and she did not have a secure living situation. Her son’s birth father and his family had disappeared, and she had no support and felt completely alone.

When Angela finally reached her boyfriend, he wanted her to get an abortion. Angela felt so lost and scared and broke down crying. She had been raised Catholic and did not believe in abortion! Her family’s reaction went beyond disappointment. Her father stopped communicating with her.

Angela was at a breaking point. She googled for help and found St. Elizabeth, a Catholic Charities-operated program in New Albany offering women facing unplanned pregnancies confidential counseling and other services with the goal of helping women choose life for their unborn child. Angela said she was greeted with kindness and no judgment. Consequently, she made a life-changing decision: she chose life!

Angela graduated high school as part of a dual enrollment program with a local community college. Immediately after graduation, she moved to the dorms at a state university. She had applied for and was accepted by a local university online education program. The online school would give her the flexibility that would allow her to be both a mother to her son and a student.

To pay for college, she worked part time at Panera Bread and applied for and was awarded a Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarship Program. It provides selected students an ongoing cohort intended to help them develop their interests and skills related to civic engagement and leadership.

Only two weeks into the start of her new life, during the spring of 2017, Angela gave birth to her son, Vaughn! Angela and Vaughn navigated her college career together. Vaughn was born with a flat skull that required him to wear a protective helmet until it grew to cover his brain. He also was missing part of his pupil in his left eye and had to wear a patch on his good eye to strengthen the at-risk one. As Vaughn got older, Angela loved his interest in her work.

She said it was an amazing opportunity to be able to go to school while watching her son. She also liked being able to see his interest in her education, for him to be a part of it. She said it has been an amazing experience.

Angela’s relationship with her family was a difficult situation that, thanks to God, was mended by Vaughn. Angela and her family reconciled after her parents met Vaughn and instantly fell in love with their grandson.

Vaughn also mended another relationship: Angela is certain that Vaughn changed her life … and restored her relationship with God.

(David Bethuram is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. You can contact him at dbethuram@archindy.org.) †

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