DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old daughter is pregnant and in the ninth grade. Her baby is due in five months. The father is 20. He has been to bed with a schoolmate of hers (also 15), and is now with a different girl on a regular basis. All of them are underage.
Abby, I have raised my daughter with no help or child support since her father and I divorced nine years ago. I worked two jobs and tried to be a good mother. I thought I could trust her. She went to a counselor twice, but refuses to go again.
I suggested she put the baby up for adoption, but she wants the baby and thinks she can take care of it and go to school.
What can I do about this? -- TROUBLED MOM
DEAR MOM: Call the young man and, in as friendly a manner as possible, ask how he intends to provide for his child. Keep the conversation cordial, since you will need his cooperation.
If he refuses to accept his responsibility, the district attorney's office in your city will assist you in getting child support from him. The D.A.'s office can also help you file charges of statutory rape, although the young man would be a better provider if he were out of jail and able to earn decent wages.
In 1990, I published a letter from a teen mother in Phoenix, trying to warn other girls of high school age. Perhaps if you show it to your daughter, she will realize what she can expect if she continues down the road on which she's headed. Read on:
"DEAR ABBY: ... I hear my friends telling me how much they'd like to have a baby, and how they wouldn't mind getting pregnant. All they think of is how much fun it would be to dress the baby and show it off. The truth is, once you have a baby, you don't feel like going out anymore. You don't anticipate the incessant crying, getting up in the middle of the night for feedings, the dirty diapers, the spitting up, the constant washing of clothes and bottles, and most important, the expense.
"I spent $600 in baby-sitting costs alone between March and May just so I could go to school and graduate -- $600 that I didn't have. That meant I had to get a job, which meant more baby-sitting costs.
"I was not, and still am not, emotionally prepared to be a mother. The stress is incredible. For the rest of my life, I am going to be a mother. If I don't feel like being a mother at some point and want to just go out and be an 18-year-old -- a typical teen-ager having fun -- that's too bad, because I will always be a mother first.
"Babies are wonderful gifts from God, but I believe they are meant for people who are emotionally and financially ready for them."
Of course, the purpose of the young mother's letter was to prevent other teen-age girls from having to experience what she was going through. In your daughter's case, it's too late for that. But perhaps when you show this column to her, it will help her to recognize the enormity of the lifelong responsibility she's assuming -- unless she recognizes the wisdom of putting her infant up for adoption. I wish you both the best of luck.