'16 and Pregnant': Valerie
This week we're introduced to Valerie. At 15, she finds herself pregnant after -- surprise! -- having unprotected sex with her beat-boxing boyfriend Matt. Seriously? What fantasy world are these gals living in that they think they're immune to the consequences of unprotected sex? "I didn't really use condoms ... because I was dumb," she tells a friend. If you're like me, it's at that moment that you yelled, "Of course!"
But there's more to her story.
Valerie comes from a special family. She and eight of her 11 brothers and sisters were adopted. And over the years, her parents have housed 98 foster children (never more than two or three at a time). Eyes popping out? Mine did too. And like most children struggling for some attention, Valerie "hung out with the wrong crowd at the wrong time of night." In the process, she found herself pregnant and home-schooled after skipping too many classes.
Then there's Matt. He, of course, is jobless and, well, kind of clueless. He's hesitant about owning up to his responsibilities even telling his sidekick, Eddie, that he was considering getting a paternity test. That's when I got really worried. Not for the baby. But for Eddie. Did he really just say "fraternity test"? Oh. Boy. But back to Matt. He has an aloof attitude. He will speak to Valerie only if it's about the baby -- "Hey, I was just calling to see if you were in labor and all that. So if the baby ain't born, don't even bother calling me back. Ain't no point cause I don't want anything to do with you. OK? Bye." (Gee, how charming.) And then there's the beat-boxing. Despite all those flaws, Valerie decides early on against giving her baby up for adoption. As an adopted child herself, Valerie wants the mother-daughter connection that she never had with her real mom. I'm no Dr. Phil, but even I saw that one coming.
And just when you're ready to write both of them off as parents, they kind of surprise you with a certain level of maturity. Valerie stays strong even through baby Neveah's medical scare. And she's not passing off her motherly duties to continue living her teenage lifestyle. She's there feeding, burping and rocking the baby to sleep. Heck, even Matt showed signs of maturity. He moved 200 miles away to find a job with health benefits and paid vacation days, so he can visit the baby. He even did his baby research on when it was OK to give a baby juice. I'm not saying he's perfect. But, really, in the larger scheme of things, he isn't nearly as worse as last week's devil teen father. That dude needed a smacking.
Still, it's a struggle. Valerie continues to be home-schooled after discovering going back to high school isn't financially feasible. And Matt's visits are scarce.
Not surprising, right? It's what we've come to expect with this series. A group of teens who find themselves in less-than-desirable situations because of their poor choices. And it's easy to judge when you're sitting on your couch or in front of your computer in a world completely different -- even one completely the same as theirs. And Valerie is very aware of that: ”I was very judging before I got pregnant. If I saw myself pregnant, and I was 15, I would have thought, ‘She’s nasty. She sleeps around with everyone.’ You’re just judging. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives.” A cliche teen thing to say, sure, but it makes you wonder.
So Show Trackers, what did you think of this week's episode? And is it just me, or have there been no episodes of teens getting pregnant even after having protected sex?
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Valerie and Matt with baby Neveah. Credit: MTV