We really believe in this organization. What a gift my son's birth parents gave me in helping me realize that dream! Two years later we heard about Pact. Fees worried us, but Pact worked out a manageable budget. Could we afford the fees? Would we be chosen?
It was important to us to work with an agency that understands race, is LGBTQ friendly and places African American children and parents as their highest priority. When Kory came home to us he became our son — forever and without a doubt — he is ours and we are his. Still, she is not ready to accept these results. Nurse Daly slides the second pregnancy test - its two pink lines undeniable - in front of Kyla. Kyla's soft features sag as she blasts out of the room to find her friend. Holy shit, the friend says, passing her cell phone to Kyla so she can call her mother.
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The question floats there, unanswered. Thank God, Kyla thinks. I just want to go home and eat tuna melts with my mom and breathe. Nurse Daly first noticed last October, about a month into the school year, that more girls than normal were wearing a path to her office for free pregnancy tests. Down at the local CVS, they're a hefty 9 bucks apiece. She'd confirmed four pregnancies, as many as she had the entire previous year.
More ominously, the kids - many of them under 16 - were returning week after week asking for new results, as if they were trying to get pregnant.
Inside the Gloucester Pregnancy Pact
Some were giddy when two lines glowed pink, others cried when the results were negative. By March, the tally of expecting teens, including Kyla Brown, ticked up to By May, after some pregnancy tests were administered, the count rose to 17, more than four times the previous year's total. And then, on June 20 - one day after tween idol Jamie Lynn Spears had her baby - Time magazine hit the newsstand with a story about 17 young Gloucester girls it would soon nudge up to 18 who had coordinated their efforts to get pregnant - a pact, the article called it.
According to Joseph Sullivan, the school's Irish-Catholic principal, not only had these girls planned this, but they were so desperate that one contrived to get knocked up by a year-old homeless guy. Suddenly, the blue-collar town of 30, about 30 miles up the coast from Boston was under siege. Every major network hooked into the story. Media outlets from as far away as Japan trained their halogens on this once-proud fishing village - chasing its abundance of young-looking mothers around Friendly's and McDonald's.
Since then, a handful of the Gloucester 18 have denied the existence of a pregnancy pact. The others have gone underground, protected by their laconic New England neighbors, the school, and privacy laws. Still, people talk. Suddenly, Kyla Brown's pregnancy seems utterly devious.
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Kyla, some whisper, slept around with a whole slew of guys, intent on getting pregnant. Kyla, some say, is part of that pact.
Perched on her porch next to her mother, Wendy, who is still sweaty from cleaning the tub, and flanked by two boxers on high alert, she wants to make sure that I know - that the world knows - she is not one of those girls. While a storm thunders around the sky-blue porch hung with discount-store paper lanterns, Kyla insists it's not as if she tried. It's just that, like many of the , other American teens who get pregnant every year, she didn't try too hard not to.
Then she rubs her belly, a dreamy smile floating across her young face. Explains her mom, "It was one of those teenage things, like, It won't happen to me.
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And abortion? I always knew that I was going to keep him," Kyla says as her mother nods vigorously. She refuses to talk about the father, except to say that they're no longer together but he's planning on being in the baby's life. Although she doesn't have a job or a diploma yet, Kyla does have a solid support system.
Her parents are Gloucester natives who've been together for 20 years. Her mom cleans rooms at a motor inn by the ocean; dad delivers packages for FedEx. Great-grandpa-to-be even surprised Kyla with a sage-green baby carriage, embroidered with giraffes.
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And, no, it's not as if this pregnancy is forcing Kyla to trade in a promising academic career for poop-stained onesies. Kyla hates school and hadn't given too much thought to college. But she will return for her senior year in November, eight weeks after giving birth, and, she hopes, secure one of seven coveted spots in the high school's free day-care program.
And not just in Gloucester. The Centers for Disease Control reported a 3 percent jump in the teen birth rate for —the first increase in 15 years. Some blame Hollywood's glamorization of unplanned pregnancy—cool-chick comedies like Juno and Knocked Up; year-old Jamie Lynn Spears's declaration on the cover of OK!
But it doesn't seem to be Greenwich and Santa Barbara girls who are susceptible to these messages. It's the ones in devastated inner cities and has-been towns like Gloucester, where fishermen are hurting for work since the shoals were stripped bare, while preppies colonize the coastline in multimillion-dollar mansions. Where Catholics battle progressives over whether schools should pass out condoms.
And where girls like Kyla Brown short-circuit their futures. When Amanda Ireland was 13, she and her father, a Gloucester factory worker who had a tough time keeping a job, were living in Ohio. There, Amanda lost her virginity in the living room of their decrepit apartment to a sweet boy named Donovan.
Delivered to Your Door
They'd had sex twice in one afternoon—the second time without a condom. After missing her period twice and being more tired and cranky than your average seventh-grader, she wanted a pregnancy test. Amanda had no money and wasn't allowed to walk through her neighborhood alone, so she asked Donovan to get her one. Later, a doctor confirmed that she had joined a statistic. Soon, she moved back to Gloucester. Amanda, now 18, sits at a local seafood restaurant where her aunt is a waitress. She picks up a beef kabob with her long acrylic nails, in swirling yellow-and-white polish.
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