Hopeful Beginnings guides teen moms

Laura Plata, Features Editor

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Hopeful Beginnings is  a non-for profit agency located in Arlington Heights that works with teens and women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.

Executive director Joanne Bratta stresses that “we think that it’s so important to listen to the concerns of what the teen wants. It’s not about what we think; it’s about what you think.”  

To assist young women on their journey, the team utilizes a problem solving approach where social workers offer a listening ear to young women who don’t know what they want to do and help them weigh their options.

In the words of Director Bratta, “Our mission is that every child deserves a good home. But what is a good home? Well, it’s one where you teach the young woman how to be a good mom while she’s pregnant.”

To that end, the agency offers extensive support services.  Through Hopeful Beginnings, young women can take part in counseling sessions, problem solving groups, parenting classes, and prenatal clinics. Their significant other may also become involved with a fathers class.

Even if the father is not necessarily together with the girl, they are still invited to learn about caring for their children and work with a male counselor to overcome some of their own obstacles.

“We’re not individuals on an island.” Bratta says. “I don’t think any of us could get to where we are without the support of our friends and family. Some women don’t have that family support, so we stand by them.”

Knowing how frightening it can be, the agency takes calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Two social workers are always available and, in the case they don’t pick up, Bratta will. The organization is ready to do things that maybe no one else would. From providing transportation to doctor’s appointments to helping a woman’s kids get their shots.

While Hopeful Beginnings was first founded by St. Mary’s as an adoption agency, their counseling today isn’t biased towards adoption.

Director Bratta, however, is resolved to debunk some of the myths concerning adoption. “It’s not giving your baby away. It’s giving your baby an opportunity, to give them maybe what you didn’t have and to allow you as a young woman to grow and go to college and meet your own goals.”

Social workers help facilitate a good relationship between the girl during her pregnancy and the parents she chooses for her baby. They may go out and visitations are quite normal.

In this respect, Hopeful Beginnings is different, Director Bratta says because “we don’t push. If you deal with another agency, the focus would be on adoption. When you deal with us, the focus is on you and what you want.

Pictures of smiling babies and families lining the walls of their office make it clear the agency has helped create happy homes. Director Bratta has seen a lot of the teen moms she’s worked with over the years also find great success. Whether it be an adoption story where the mother still sees her daughter regularly or a story of a young woman who chose to parent and is now at the top of her field.

“It’s possible to do whatever a woman wants” Bratta says. “If the girl knows exactly what she is getting into and what she wants to do, then we embrace that…It can be done with grace, but you have to be ready to give up stuff, set priorities correctly, and have family support that involves education.”

For Director Bratta, the name Hopeful Beginnings symbolizes the organization’s belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel. “For girls who are pregnant, they see it as there is no light. But there is light.”

Anyone who may be dealing with an unplanned pregnancy or simply needs someone to talk to call 1 847 870 8181 or email [email protected] They are located at Hopeful Beginnings, 300 E. Northwest Highway, Suite 200, Arlington Heights, IL 60074.

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