Pregnant and unwed at 19, her parents kicked her out after she refused abortion

Sophie said her boyfriend had been happy when he found out she was pregnant but his parents did not want them to get married. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PEXELS

SINGAPORE - When Sophie found out she was pregnant at 19 last year, her parents issued her an ultimatum: Get an abortion or get married.

She chose to tie the knot.

But Sophie (not her real name) and her chef boyfriend, who is five years older, broke up before their wedding after a big fight.

She said her boyfriend had been happy when he found out she was pregnant, but his parents did not want them to get married.

Both sets of parents felt the couple were too young to be parents. Their relationship, Sophie, now 20, said, crumbled under all that stress.

She also could not bear to get an abortion, which was what her parents wanted her to do after her relationship ended. It was a tough time for Sophie, who was studying and working part time as a waitress at the time.

She said: "Abortion is the easiest thing (to do in my situation) and there is no baggage in that sense. But it didn't feel right. I didn't feel like the baby deserved to die."

Eventually, her parents, who are both professionals, kicked her out of their house. Sophie was three months pregnant with only about $3,000 to her name.

"I felt this sense of abandonment at my worst stage in life, when my parents kicked me out. I didn't keep my child to lose my family," she said.

Sophie turned to Babes, a teenage pregnancy crisis service, which referred her to Safe Place.

An initiative of Lakeside Family Services, Safe Place offers pregnant women in distress a temporary place to stay, counselling and other forms of support.

It provided Sophie with shelter for more than three months for free.

Sophie said: "The biggest help has been from Safe Place. My social worker has been there for me from Day 1 until now."

She also received $480 a month from the Government's ComCare financial assistance scheme for about six months.

Her parents eventually asked her to return home before she gave birth.

While they are not supporting her financially, they are now "less aloof" to her and her baby, said Sophie, whose son is now six months old.

Safe Place gives her free baby supplies, such as milk powder and diapers, which she said is a great financial help.

Sophie, who has a diploma, is now looking for a job in the food and beverage sector that offers her office hours, as infant care centres usually operate from 7am to 7pm.

She said she feels her chances of getting a job are lower when she tells potential employers she is a single mother.

Her financial worries aside, the sense of loneliness can also be hard to bear. She is no longer in touch with the baby's father.

As an unwed mother, she said she is also afraid her son would be mocked when he goes to school, but hopes society can be more understanding of unwed mothers and not point fingers.

She said: "Despite all the struggles and hardship, I feel very happy that my baby is here. I have no regrets."

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