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by Abigail Van Buren

Pregnant Teen Weighs Best Options for Her Baby's Future

DEAR ABBY: I have had a very strained relationship with my father for many years. My mother and I are not close because she was incarcerated for most of my life until recently.

I am 16 now, and just found out I'm pregnant. No one knows except the father of my child. For some reason, he is thrilled for us. I, on the other hand, am terrified of the uncertainties.

I know what my father will say. He will want me to get an abortion, but I would never choose that for myself or for my baby. My mother is struggling since she was released from prison and is still trying to get on her feet. I live with my grandparents, who don't have the means to support a child.

It seems like my only option is to move in with my boyfriend and his family while I finish school and then get a job. Please give me an unbiased perspective. -- UNCERTAIN IN THE SOUTH

DEAR UNCERTAIN: You appear to be an intelligent young woman, so I will give it to you straight. Although you think you know what your father will say, you can't know for sure until you talk to him and tell him what's going on. I'm advising you to do that because you may need his help. A loving father will give it to you. If you decide to have this baby, he can't force you to get an abortion.

You and your baby's father should also talk to his parents, so that, if necessary, you will be able to stay with them. You must also be sure to have the best prenatal care possible, so your child will be born healthy. Planned Parenthood has clinics where this care is offered, and you should contact it as soon as possible. If you check its website, www.plannedparenthood.org, you will also find information about adoption.

You must also make earning your high school diploma a priority, so you will be able to support and educate the child you're bringing into the world, if you decide to raise him or her yourself.