Every mother I’ve met so far has said she is happy to be pregnant or to have children of her own. All of them were between 14 and 16 years old when they first got pregnant. When asked what they had planned or wanted for their own or their children’s futures, none had a concrete answer. These girls live day-to-day, without regard for the long-term.
The Dominican Republic has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America, with almost 30 percent of teenage girls becoming pregnant.
A maternity counselor I spoke with said these girls are hoping for a way out of their own family’s poverty. They find a boy who promises to feed and shelter them, so they have children as a way to stay with him and have something, or someone, of their own.
The grandparents of these new babies usually are indifferent to the situation because they were teenagers as well when they first had children, the counselor said. A cycle of poverty perpetually leaves girls out of school and out of work.