Group maternity homes are residential facilities where women with unplanned pregnancies can receive help. Many of them are exclusively for teens, but some serve women of all ages. They usually have six to 10 beds. There are hundreds of group homes operating in the United States. These centers can give pregnant teens a stable and healthy living environment as well as provide a community of young women who are in similar situations.
Teen pregnancy was a more taboo reality than it is today. Young women who became pregnant were sometimes sent away to live in group homes with 30 to 50 others. They usually left before they began "showing" and came home after they gave birth, so their communities wouldn't know the real reason they left. The babies were typically given up for adoption. When abortion became legal in the United States, the number of group homes began to shrink. They still exist, but in smaller numbers and with fewer beds. Teens also have different reasons for choosing maternity homes today.
Some group homes for pregnant teens are funded by tax dollars. These tend to serve individuals who are homeless and troubled. On the other end of the spectrum are expensive boarding schools that cater to pregnant teens. Many places are funded by donations and have a strong focus on religion. Adoption agencies run some group homes, providing free services for teens who plan to give their babies up for adoption.
The purposes of group homes differ according to how they're funded and who runs them. Christian centers do whatever they can to prevent the teens from choosing abortion. Homes that are operated by adoption agencies generally ask women to leave if they decide to keep their babies. They're serving adoptive parents as well as the teens. But there are some group homes that provide blanket support without an underlying agenda regarding the outcome of the pregnancy.
These residential facilities usually provide some type of schooling and professional counseling. Therapy can help the teens avoid future pregnancies, deal with the emotions of adoption and make positive changes in other areas of their lives. Residents are able to focus on their physical and psychological health. They might also take part in childbirth or parenting classes. Access to health care, shelter, healthful meals and transportation is especially important for homeless teens. Many homes help residents apply for government benefits such as food stamps.
If you're thinking about going to a maternity home, it's a good idea to research the admission criteria, services and rules of various places before choosing one. A range of philosophies can be found in group homes. Some are structured and strict, allowing limited contact with family members or the outside world. Others are much more relaxed. Also, consider whether you'll need a home that continues to provide help after you give birth.
- Photo Credit Zanetta Hardy
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