My wife, Wendy, speaks tonight in Pine City, Minnesota, for the Pregnancy Resource Center’s yearly fundraising banquet. It is the center she received counsel when she was a 14-year-old pregnant girl. It’s not a past she likes to speak about, but it is quite the remarkable and encouraging story.
Teenage motherhood may be a norm in some circles, but in the early 1980s it was taboo. Especially in the a small midwestern town where everyone knew everyone. Wendy would rather focus on the years following her teenage mothering years. I adopted Wendy’s two daughters within a year after our marriage, when they were 5 and 7 years old. The rest of the story consists of Wendy having 14 more children, being on television, writing books, and yada yada yada.
That’s all fine and dandy, but I believe the awesome story is the one leading up to the care she received in the 1980s. This care needs to continue for young mothers, and I believe Wendy’s story will help encourage this support.
Wendy comes from a most beautiful family whom we love to brag about, but it was riveted with turmoil in its early years. Wendy’s father left his family of six children when Wendy was three. Wendy’s mother and siblings all escaped their trauma in their own ways, some with addiction and others with withdrawal. Wendy will go into some detail tonight with her talk, but suffice it to say that her family was torn to shreds.
It was a mess, and messy people are typically overlooked and ignored. That’s when Wendy visited the Pregnancy Resource Center in Pine City.
This was Wendy’s crisis: 14 years old, pregnant from a man who did not care to help, embarrassed in a small community who knew Wendy came from a “messed up” family. I can only imagine the shame.
Meanwhile, a human being — unaware of the shameful actions and reactions of the adults outside her mother’s womb — grew and needed help. Wendy shares in her speech how she counseled with a woman named Renee, talking through the options of adoption and the responsibilities of keeping the baby.
Wendy chose to keep Alicia. She raised her as well as a 14-year-old could. Three years later she gave birth to Alissa, and after a failed attempt to go the adoption route, she brought her in, too, and raised both girls herself. In fact, this one thing impressed me about Wendy when we met in 1990: she was a most excellent parent of her children. I pursued her to be my wife for this primary reason.
These are rather dank realities of our family’s past, and I’m not sure why Wendy or I don’t really like revisiting them. We would rather gravitate toward the Polly Anna life after the “Crisis Pregnancy Center” (“crisis” used to be in the title of the center back in the day). Great marriage, big family, lots of Love in the House, etc.
But this dark reality is where the hopeful story lies. Tonight will be a time when Wendy travels back in time and shares about the dark valley she needed to walk through in the early 1980s. The result? The gift of two beautiful babies, one of whom is with us here in Minnesota.
Wendy’s crisis from her teenage years has made her stronger, and it has made her testimony incredibly encouraging to other young moms who are faced with similar circumstances.
Do you know of a young mom who needs encouragement? Please forward this post to her. And do you know a young man apprehensive about loving a single mom? Forward this to him, too. I have absolutely no regrets falling in love with Wendy and her daughters.