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A Complicated Life: Rebellious past

While living in Evanston Yolanda met Anthony Foster at Fleetwood Jordan Park, which was near where they both lived. They spent time talking and playing basketball at the park and became close, she said.

Soon Yolanda was pregnant with her first child. She was put in touch with a person who gave refuge to teenage mothers and was invited to live in the woman’s home with her newborn, she said.

Yolanda did what seemed right to her, but her decision to have the baby had an impact on her struggles today.

 

The statistical data on teen pregnancy offers a gloomy outlook for the future of teen mothers and their children. Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of high school than girls who delay childbearing: only 40 percent of teenagers who have children before the age of 18 graduate from high school, according to a national study. And roughly 25 percent of teen mothers under the age of 18 have a second child within two years of the birth of the first child, according to the same national study.

The struggles for teen mothers and their children often don’t end after childbirth but extend far into the future. About 64 percent of children born to an unmarried parent who did not finish high school live in poverty, according to federal studies.

“One of the biggest obstacles for teen parents … is just being able to make ends meet and to care for their child as well as for themselves … which is a huge stressor,” said Reagen Bradbury, a Teen Parent Services case manager for Champaign Urbana Public Health District.

In 1991, after living in the home for two months, Yolanda ran into her great-uncle, James Minnifield. After learning of her situation, Minifield invited Davis to live with him and his wife Martha in their Country Club Hills’ home south of Chicago, she said.

When Yolanda moved in with the Minnifields, her mother, Helen, finally signed to have Yolanda’s school records released and she attended Hill Crest High School after a two-year absence from classes.

A 17-year-old ninth grader, Yolanda began hanging around “the wrong crowd,” she said. “I became rebellious.”

At home, the Minnifields doted on Yolanda and her son, Anthony. “Martha was constantly buying us knew things. I had so many clothes that I needed more than one closet to fit them in,” she said.

While her aunt furnished Yolanda and her son with clothing and home-cooked meals, her uncle encouraged her to work hard in school and to set her sights on a college degree, she said.

Yolanda had other plans.

Even though Yolanda moved from Evanston to Country Club Hills, she stayed in contact with her boyfriend, Anthony.

“Sometimes on the weekends, he would borrow a car to come see me,” she said.

 Yolanda became pregnant with her second child while in the tenth grade and living with the Minnifields. Fearful of how the Minnifields would react, she tried to conceal her pregnancy. Yolanda started wearing sweat suits and other baggy clothing in hopes that no one would notice.

“One day I was sitting on my bed when Martha walked in and asked me if I was gaining weight,” she said. When Mrs. Minnifield left the room Yolanda broke down and began to cry. She knew she couldn’t continue to hide the truth from the Minnifields, she said.

 The Minnifields were disappointed but determined to continue to support Davis, and they encouraged her to stay in school. But Yolanda decided to quit school and find an apartment with Foster.

 “My uncle is disappointed with where I am in my life,” she said.

 James Minnifield declined to be interviewed for this story.

Yolanda gave birth to her second child on Sept. 11, 1993. She and Foster lived together in Albany, Ill., a small town located two and a half hours west of Chicago, and raised their two children.

 “Anthony worked at UPS and I was a stay-at-home mom,” she said.

After two years the couple went their separate ways. Eventually, the children went to live with their father.

By Will Atwater/ For CU-Citizen Access

¨ Copyright 2011 CU-CitizenAccess.