An Open Letter to New York — Sincerely, a Former Teen Mom

New York

Dear New York,

You let fear win. You let fear of the unknown and the desperation of circumstances win.

These are not the things to base a life changing (life ending) decision.

I can say this because I’ve been there.

I remember being a scared, pregnant seventeen-year-old. I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s face when I held up that stick with two pink lines.

I remember the shame, I remember the hopelessness. I remember desperately wanting help.

I remember wanting a way out, any way out.

I remember one of my teachers telling me she was going to fail me no matter what. She didn’t want my pregnant belly influencing my classmates.

I remember the doctor pressuring me to abort my daughter.

I remember him telling me something was very wrong with her to begin with. He predicted Down Syndrome and being a teenage girl, that I would be ill-equipped to take care of her.

I remember the fear and desperation that clawed at my heart.

I remember the voices in my head telling me this was the way out—listen to the doctor.

Everyone predicted a bleak future. “You made your bed, now lie in it.”

“You’re a failure.”

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“You’ll never be successful.”

“You’ll never be anything more than a teenage mom working at the grocery store.”

Everyone said I couldn’t give her a future or create my own.

But here’s the thing, SHE CHANGED MY FUTURE. She gave me a future. She healed the shame. She became the face of hope. She pushed me to be better, work harder.

Cheyenne is 19, in college and is the brightest spot in my life. She is healthy and vivacious. She’s an artist that paints my world every day.

As for me? Married, three kids. Graduated high school, college, launched a women’s website, launched my own, helped co-found several ministries and businesses, and authored two books. How’s that for a bleak future?

The moment the doctor came back in and asked what decision I made, I remember telling him no. I remember how courage rose up above the shame and the fear.

I remember thinking, fear isn’t going to be her life or mine.

New York, fear shouldn’t win.

Fear shouldn’t be a life changing decision maker. We need to create a world where fear and desperation don’t push women to make the choice of abortion.

Let’s begin by not only standing behind our Pro-Life marches and posts on social media by standing in the gap.

Support foster care agencies in favor of re-uniting families.

Support single moms.

Volunteer in programs or ministries at women’s jails.

Start a Teen MOPS group.

Volunteer to watch her kids.

Bring a meal.

Befriend them.

Invite them over for coffee.

Give them a gas card.

Give them your child’s hand me downs.

Whatever the need, whatever your ability. Fill it.

It takes a village to raise a child, so let’s move our feet and open our hearts. We can’t let fear continue to win.


A Former Teen Mom

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Heather Riggleman
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone). She roams small towns looking for stories and coffee with her husband and three kids. She writes to bring the perspective of bold truths and raw faith into universal concepts women face from marriage, career, mental health, depression, faith, relationships, to celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, or at