By COURTNEY BUZEK
Curtnisia’s day starts out like any other teenager’s. She wakes up and gets ready for a busy day of high school, where she is an honor student. Like other 16-year-old girls, Curtnisia enjoys hanging out with friends and being part of her youth group at Powerhouse Deliverance Temple in Hollandale. Curtnisia might seem like an ordinary 11th grader, but she is living in a unique situation. She has a son.
Curtnisia was only 15 when she realized she was unexpectedly pregnant. She remembers the day she saw a positive pregnancy test. Her younger sister was with her, but she didn’t want anyone else to know. “I was scared to tell anybody,” she says. “I felt like I disappointed my parents.”
She was the most scared to tell her mom. She knew her mom would be disappointed because “my mother sees that I have a bright future, and I would have messed it up if I had a baby.”
Curtnisia was right about her mom’s reaction. “My mom was upset. She was really angry at me.” As her mom expressed her feelings about the pregnancy, she immediately encouraged Curtnisia to get an abortion. She believed her daughter was too young to have a baby and that her future of college would be ruined.
Her mother’s reaction left Curtnisia feeling discouraged, but her father responded more calmly. “My dad (was thinking), we need to get you to a doctor and see if you are actually pregnant and get you on prenatals.” Curtnisia agreed. She didn’t want to have an abortion, but she didn’t feel like she had a voice in the conversation.
Despite her father’s more optimistic approach, Curtnisia says her mom won the debate on how to handle her pregnancy. Curtnisia’s family lives in Greenville, so they would have to travel to Jackson for an abortion. As Curtnisia’s mom Googled abortion options, she saw an ad for a pregnancy center located across the street from the abortion clinic. This ad would change everything.
Curtnisia’s mom had found the Center for Pregnancy Choices Metro Area (CPC Metro), a Christ-centered organization for women with unplanned pregnancies. Unlike the abortion clinic, the appointment at the CPC was free and would provide Curtnisia with a pregnancy test, ultrasound, and decision counseling. This seemed like a no-brainer to Curtnisia’s mom, so she booked the appointment for her daughter.
On the day of the appointment, Curtnisia’s mom decided not to make the trip with the rest of the family. Curtnisia felt upset and overwhelmed with emotions. She didn’t realize she wasn’t heading to the abortion clinic like she and her mom had previously discussed. When she arrived at the CPC, she sat in the waiting room, nervous and scared about the receptionist calling her name. Her heart was devastated about what this appointment would mean for her and her baby.
It was obvious to the CPC staff that Curtnisia was distressed, so the nurse asked her what was troubling her. Curtnisia began to sob as she explained she didn’t really want an abortion, but her parents thought it was the best choice for her. The staff quickly assured her that they do not refer or perform abortions but were there to give her information and resources so she could make the best choice for her and her baby. Curtnisia was met with hope and compassion in the exam room that day. She felt immediate relief and continued her appointment. The nurse began Curtnisia’s ultrasound, and for the first time, she saw her son, Major.
The moment Curtnisia and her family saw Major on the screen, it became the best day of her life. Even her dad felt overjoyed! “My dad — his face lit up with joy just to see the ultrasound and the baby moving and kicking, and it was just a joyous day … It was an amazing experience.” Being able to experience Major in this way reassured Curtnisia that choosing life for her baby was undeniably the right choice for her.
The CPC Metro met with Curtnisia’s family and allowed them to discuss their concerns. Her parents were able to sort through their emotions in a safe and confidential environment with a trained advocate. Curtnisia’s dad felt, “We’ll be able to get through it.”
Once her family was given factual information on abortion, adoption and parenting, they felt equipped to support Curtnisia in her decision not to get an abortion. Curtnisia’s mom was filled with hope and was thankful God led them to the CPC Metro.
The CPC Metro has a holistic approach to ending abortion. They connect patients from their clinic to the abundance of resources within the community that can help prepare women for motherhood — physically, spiritually and emotionally — so both mom and baby can thrive. Curtnisia was no exception.
Before she left that day, the CPC connected Curtnisia to First Baptist Jackson, one of many churches that host a single-mom support group called Embrace Grace. Both the CPC Metro and Embrace Grace believe the church is the place where women and men facing unplanned pregnancies should find acceptance and support.
Curtnisia was excited to join a group with other women who would be in the same season of life as her, but the class was in Jackson, and she lived in Greenville. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to participate. Group leader Jenna Bailey quickly found a solution by offering Curtnisia a virtual class. “They were going out of their way to include me,” Curtnisia says.
Her group met for 12 weeks, and she stayed faithful in attendance through the whole course. She heard from other moms who shared their pregnancy experiences, which gave her hope and encouragement about her pregnancy. The curriculum used in Embrace Grace focuses on teaching women about their identity in Christ. They learn about being a daughter of the King and part of His chosen family. They also learn to see the beauty and value of the life growing inside them. Women learn how to connect with God and how to see themselves the way He sees them.
At the end of semester, the women in the group have a princess day and baby shower. Volunteers from local churches and the community provide the moms a day of pampering, with professional makeovers and maternity pictures. Even though Curtnisia was in Greenville, the CPC Metro and Jenna made sure she was able to have her baby shower and princess day. They partnered with a church in Greenville, where Curtnisia had all the same accommodations as the ladies in Jackson.
As Curtnisia reflects on her experience, she says, “Embrace Grace was amazing,” and that if there are any single expectant moms looking for a place to plug in, they should join a group.
Curtnisia’s faith in the Lord grew through Embrace Grace, and she stays committed to her walk with Christ. She regularly attends her local church, Powerhouse, where she is active in her youth group. She says her church family has been very supportive of her and Major. “They are a great help with him, and I actually feel welcomed.” In fact, her church sponsored a skating trip that she and Major attended. “They watched (Major) while I had a little fun … They held him while I ate.” Curtnisia doesn’t get to have as many youthful experiences now, so she is grateful for the ones that loving church members are providing for her.
Curtnisia knows she is beating the odds. She works at a restaurant when she leaves school in the afternoons. She maintains being an honor student and has every intention of attending college when she graduates high school in 2023. She says it’s not easy balancing school, work, and being a mom to Major, but she is doing it and doing it well. She has created a routine for them that keeps everything flowing from day to day.
Curtnisia isn’t letting her age prevent her from making mature decisions about being the best mom she can be for Major. During one of her free parenting classes through the CPC Metro, she learned about breastfeeding and the benefits it would have for Major. Mississippi has the lowest rate of breastfeeding in the country, but like 83 percent of CPC Metro’s clients, Curtnisia opted to breastfeed Major, despite her busy schedule.
Curtnisia credits the breastfeeding class she attended to how she’s been able to stick it out. She says breastfeeding “wouldn’t have been as accessible” if she hadn’t participated in the class, because she wouldn’t have learned about different holding positions. Whenever she’s feeding Major and a position isn’t working, she remembers what else she can try.
In another class she took with CPC Metro, Curtnisia learned about labor and delivery. She knew how to count her contractions and what to expect on the day of delivery. She says the CPC Metro helped prepare her for being a mom with their educational courses, and by introducing her to Embrace Grace.
Curtnisia isn’t naïve about her age. She knows she will face challenges as she continues to work, go to school, and look for a college that provides childcare options. But her faith is strong that the Lord will see her through. “He has brought so many blessings upon me,” she says. “He allowed me to keep my son.”
She feels a special connection to 1 Timothy 4:12, which says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Curtnisia sees her life as an example of this. She chose life for Major even though the road would not be easy. She keeps her faith in God about her future as she sets her sights on being a registered nurse. She’s already looking into colleges that would be a good fit for her and Major. She has put dating off for the time being and is focusing on her career goals and being a mom.
Curtnisia hopes others will learn from her story that “age doesn’t determine your capabilities.” A situation might not be ideal by other people’s standards, but there are resources and people like the CPC Metro and Embrace Grace that want to help and give support.
Curtnisia reminds girls who are facing tough situations that they have to remain “strong. It’s a process.” With enough determination and strength from God, anyone can get through their hardships — at any age.
Courtney Buzek is community relations coordinator for the CPC Metro. She lives in Star, Mississippi with her husband, Jonathan, and their two kids, and has been a faithful member of Restoration Church in Florence for more than 20 years.