Student Profile: Kihara and Adriana, Paulina, and Mia
Imagine being 15 and finding out you are pregnant, not with one baby, but three. That was the reality that Kihara faced almost four years ago. She went to the doctor for an ear infection and left with a positive…
Imagine being 15 and finding out you are pregnant, not with one baby, but three. That was the reality that Kihara faced almost four years ago. She went to the doctor for an ear infection and left with a positive pregnancy test. These days, Kihara is 19 years old and beginning her senior year at Florence Crittenton High School with aspirations to own her own business one day. Her three daughters–Mia, Paulina, and Adriana–are active, independent 3-year-olds who attend the FloCrit Early Childhood Education Center.
At 15, Kihara was living with her father. Her mother wasn’t very involved in her life. Kihara spent her time hanging out with friends instead of attending school regularly, and didn’t think too much about her future. That day at the doctor when Kihara found out she was pregnant, she didn’t know what to think. Luckily, her boyfriend was supportive and their relationship has continued to be an important part of Kihara’s life. The second surprise came at Kihara’s 18-week ultrasound. She wasn’t having one baby, or even two as the doctors had originally thought; she was having three. The thought of one, or even two babies, had been overwhelming. Kihara wasn’t sure what to do at first at the thought of having three.
Kihara continued to live with her father and attend school through the end of the year. “My family cared, but they were in their own worlds,” she says. When school ended, she moved in with her boyfriend’s parents. Her boyfriend’s mother took her to frequent doctor’s appointments, kept Kihara company, made sure she ate well, and helped her navigate social services like food stamps. Kihara is grateful to have had this surrogate mother during her pregnancy. “It’s hard when your mom is not around, because that’s the person you need most when you’re pregnant,” Kihara acknowledges. “Having [my boyfriend’s] mom show me that love really changed my perspective on everything.”
Kihara found out about Florence Crittenton Services from her doctor. After Mia, Paulina, and Adriana were born, she enrolled with much encouragement from her boyfriend, and excitedly started attending. Her daughters, however, stayed home with her boyfriend’s mother. Kihara saw how much the kids in the ECE Center learned and what amazing care they received. Her boyfriend’s mother wasn’t convinced, so Kihara took matters into her own hands, enrolling the girls on her own. The triplets have thrived at the FloCrit ECE Center. “At home they would just run around and watch T.V.,” says Kihara. “Here they paint, go outside, eat lunch and snack, and hang out with kids their age.” They’re on a regular schedule now, and Kihara is thrilled that she can now take all three of them to the store or mall without any incidents.
Being a teen mom provides so many challenges, and even those who have support at home like Kihara need extra resources and help. For Kihara, the family advocates and Baby Bucks have been the most helpful resources on the FloCrit campus. The family advocates support her as she navigates her life outside of school. They helped her get birth certificates for her daughters and coordinate transportation to appointments and human services offices. Kihara takes full advantage of the Baby Bucks attendance award system. She is motivated to come to school every day and bring the triplets to the ECE Center so they can all earn Baby Bucks, which she uses to get diapers, wipes, and new toys and clothes at the basic needs store on campus. “When I first came here, I had to buy two boxes [of diapers] a week,” remembers Kihara. “Now I rarely buy them. I don’t have to stress about money for diapers wipes, or toys or outfits.”
Kihara will finish her credits in the first half of the 2018-2019 school year and graduate with the Class of 2019. She is excited to start concurrent enrollment and take business classes. In the long term, she hopes to go to school for plumbing, run a small plumbing company, and have a few employees. Kihara has found strength and confidence in the woman-focused FloCrit campus. She sees strong women on staff succeeding and hears them tell her that she has a future. “It changed me a lot here, the environment, knowing I can do things,” Kihara smiles. “It’s helped me be more confident and empowered with where I’m going.” Life as a 19-year-old with triplets is challenging, Kihara admits, but also rewarding. Being a teen mom is “scary, but you can overcome it if you put your mind to it and really want to get somewhere.”