Neither Burnudecia Huey, Bonnie Stevenson nor Akilah Wofford were ready to get pregnant. Two – Huey and Stevenson – were teenagers and Wofford was 23. All were single.
Getting pregnant before they chose to be is not a road any one of them would choose to travel again. Despite making bad decisions and grappling with a torrent of circumstances in some cases, the experiences have not derailed their aspirations of achieving something worthwhile in life.
“I thought it would never happen to me. I was shocked,” said Huey, 18, relating her story to Minister Telisa Franklin, host of “The Telisa Franklin Show,” during a taping with Stevenson and Wofford Friday evening (Nov. 22) on the topic, “Voices of Teen Moms.” The segment will be aired soon on Franklin’s cable TV network on Comcast 31 in Memphis.
“There are extenuating circumstances sometimes that cause teens to make the wrong decisions,” said Franklin. “But those problems don’t always stop teens from exceeding in life. That’s why it’s so important to address the issue.”
Although the birthrate for teenagers aged 15-19 dropped 8 percent in the United States from 2010 to 2011, the latest data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows teen pregnancy is still a major concern affecting all population groups.
In 2011, 90 girls were reported to be pregnant at Frayser High School, about 11 percent of the school’s approximately 800 students. The staggering number of pregnancies received national attention and prompted local authorities and school officials to mount a campaign to urge and help young girls and boys make better decisions.
Huey had heard about the high pregnancy rate at Frayser, but never in her wildest dreams thought she would get pregnant. It happened when she was 17 and in the 11th-grade at Trezevant High School in the Raleigh-Frayser community.
“I didn’t find out that I was pregnant until I had five months to go. I wasn’t that big at all,” said Huey, now a senior at Trezevant running track, playing the French horn and trumpet, and keeping a steady 3.0 GPA.
Huey was in her second trimester and feared telling her mother. Her father is deceased. “When I asked Burnudecia if she was pregnant, she told me no,” said Laveta Huey. “But she kept sleeping a lot and gaining weight.”
Huey didn’t know how to break the news to her mother. So she wrote her a letter, which read in part: “I’m sorry. I know you’re going to be disappointed. I hope you still love me.”
Laveta Huey was disappointed, but not enough to reject her grandson. Instead, she gave her daughter the leeway to raise him with minimum help. “It’s her responsibility,” she said. “I have to let her be a mom.”
Jamarcous Graves is 10 months old now. His father, Huey said, is still in her life and caring for his son. Meanwhile, she is putting all the pieces together to become a nurse.