Wednesday Jun 03 2009
Growing up with baby
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
15-month-old daughter changed everything for the better for one teen
When Taylor Richardson walks up the stage to accept her high school diploma Friday, there will be a special member of her family there to cheer her on – her 15-month-old daughter, Addalynn. While graduation itself signifies a milestone for many high school teens, giving birth to and raising Addalynn is the life-changing achievement that Richardson said she is most proud of accomplishing while she was a student. “Being pregnant as a teen and the fact that I’m still walking and getting a diploma is a big accomplishment,” Richardson said Wednesday. Richardson, now 18, was 16 when she became pregnant. “I was mortified, scared, in disbelief,” Richardson recalled. “It doesn’t really hit you though until a few months later.” Once the reality sunk in, Richardson said she applied for a job at Target to start saving money and focused more on her future. She admitted that it was difficult when she strangers would make rude remarks about her young age and pregnancy. “You would get people everyday saying a rude comment to you but I did the best thing for myself and not get an abortion,” Richardson said. “It made me grow up completely.” At 16, Richardson said she had no desire to pursue higher education – “I just wanted to be done with high school” - and would get into trouble. “I was not on the right path, basically,” Richardson said. Realizing that she was going to be a mother, however, changed everything. Richardson officially graduated from Chana High School in October 2008, but will dress in cap and gown and accept her diploma with her class on Friday. In September, she will begin criminal justice classes at Western Career College. “I knew I needed to do it because I want to give her the best life she deserves,” Richardson said. “She’s been my motivation.” Richardson said she hopes to become a juvenile probation officer in Placer County. She later wants to continue her education and earn a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento. The Child Development Center at Chana High School was a “blessing,” Richardson said. Staff helped Richardson get rides to doctor’s appointments and Addalynn was able to stay in the on-campus day care while Richardson attended classes. Laura Barhydt, Teen Parent Program supervisor, said Richardson is a role model for other young mothers. Barhydt said not many students make it to the point Richardson has when the same obstacles are put in front of them. “She really puts being a mom first,” Barhydt said. “She’s amazing. She’s going to go somewhere in life.” While Richardson is getting to where she wants to go, she spends her days taking care of her daughter while working the night shift at Target. “It’s the only time she sleeps,” Richardson explained. She and her daughter’s father live together in an apartment in Auburn. Richardson is proud of the fact that they are self-sufficient despite the difficulties that come along with that independence. “I’m proud I could provide everything for her and not ask for a dime of money from my parents,” Richardson said. “Me and her father are able to support her and give her everything she needs and more.” Richardson still finds time to volunteer. She helps out at feed-the-hungry events for her church. She is also a speaker on the teen-pregnancy-prevention panel for the development center where she tells teens that having a baby at a young age is “not all fun and games.” And she’ll still get to celebrate her graduation with a party thrown by her parents. “Getting pregnant changed everything,” Richardson said. “Luckily for me it changed it for the better.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at email@example.com or post a comment.