Aryam’s Story

Being 14 years old and standing in the bathroom with my mom holding a positive pregnancy test was very scary. A whole bunch of questions came to my mind! How was I going to finish school? who would watch my son while I went to school? How would I provide for him? I was in shock for a week or two until me and my mom heard of the COPE program. That’s when I felt an instant relief of stress because I realized I wasn’t alone. I started attending COPE and met Ms. Debbie who was so kind and supportive and always brought sweets. At the time she had just started her organization Teen Moms Choose Life and I was assigned a Big Sister named Larissa. Little did I know that Larissa would have such an impact in my life. She always pushed me to be a better version of myself. Every time I felt lazy or got off track she would be there telling me to get up and work towards my future. She kept pushing me so much to go to school for Medical Billing and Coding. I have been working as a Medical Biller for three years and I absolutely love it. I am very thankful for the COPE program because I was able to finish school a year ahead of time and still feel part of a big family at Teen Moms Choose Life.

Ms. Debbie’s Note: Aryam still attends meetings at Teen Moms Choose Life and she was once chosen “Little Sister of the Year”. She has recently been asked to move up as a Big Sister. Her maturity shines through and will be a great asset to TMCL.

Elizabeths’s Story, Part 2

My name is Elizabeth (Lizzy for short), and the last time I shared my story with you all was back in 2012, so here is a five year update.
My son, Michael, is now 7 years old and in 1st grade! He is at the phase where he hates school because it isn’t fun like kindergarten was. His love for animals has grown stronger and I absolutley love it because it is something that we bond over. We plan to save as many animals as we can!
Chris and I are still together and married. We are still tryng to mend the wounds from our past and it’s a working progress, so we will see where life takes us. So far it has taken us from Florida to Tennssee, and from Tennessee all the way to the west coast up to Washington. This will be our last year as a military family, thankfully, and we plan to head back to Florida this summer.
Within these past five years, I actualy graduated from a Technical school for Medical Administrative Assistanting (medical office admin). I had hoped to get a career going in this field but luck wasn’t in my favor. I graduated in 2014 and I still haven’t been able to find a job. It is really hard not having a job because it would help with bills and allow us to give Michael the things I feel he deserves. I try not to dwell on the negative though. Not being able to have a career in that field has given me time to figure out my true passion, animals!
I have been volunteering at the Humane society here in Washington and I have also got the drive to go back to school once we are back in Florida for Zoology and Marine Biology. Yes, being a mother you need to have that income to provide for your family, so you usually go for the more practical jobs. Something you need to remember though, you are setting an example for your son or daughter. At least for me, I want my son to know that his dreams and ambitions are very important, and that he should always strive to reach them, because in the end, he needs to be happy with his life which includes his career. I want him to do what he loves and not what is easy. It’s something my grandparents taught me and I want to make sure my kids know the same thing.
When it comes to family, I have always been closest to my grandparents, and I still am. My mother however, is a different story. If you read my first story, you know about the incident I had with her. Since then, she hasn’t laid a finger on me which is good, but things still got worse. To keep it short, I basically only talk to her because my little sister is still stuck under her roof and I refuse to let her abuse my sister like she did me. I have tried to keep a decent relationship with her for Michaels sake, but sometimes you just have to cut out the negative people.
As to friends, I basicly only have one really close friend who I have known for 15 years. I pretty much just randomly see or talk to everyone else. They are more like acquaintances. It sounds sad, but I actually like it. Less drama!
All in all, this isn’t the life I had planned for myself when I was younger, but it is a good life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Everything Happens for a Reason.

Testimonials For COPE (2013)

By Avelyn Garcia

What School meant for me was being able to accomplish something for me that seemed to be far away because at that moment I had messed up. Oh, so I though I messed up but I decided to beat the odds and take advantage of an opportunity that was being given to me in COPE! I must say it was challenging with a baby that now depended on me and I was only 16 but I was determined to prove to myself that I can actually get back on track. The Teachers and Staff as well as the Caretakers made it possible for me and I gave it my all. I am so thankful and never regret even now 13 years later that I actually did it. I never gave up and kept on going. Thank You COPE with All my Heart!


By Jackie Semiday (1999-2001)

Staying in COPE meant so much to me. As a teen mom, brand new to Florida with not much family, the COPE staff embraced me and my daughter and helped me in my most difficult times. I learned through COPE that even if I was a young teen mom my life wasn’t over and I could still pursue my goals even facing very difficult life changing issues. Seeing my daughter’s face and using the methods that COPE equipped me with as a young teen mom I overcame these challenges victoriously. Life has thrown me obstacles I can write a novel but I wouldn’t change it for the world and I owe that to COPE and Mrs. Debbie and their is nothing that brings me more pleasure than being able to share that with my daughters. I thank god for sending Angels like Mrs. Debbie and the COPE staff. Keep on doing  Amazing work for GOD!


By Valerie Wojsiat 91999-20000

Being at COPE really gave me the skills and opportunity to grow up and know that I wasn’t alone.  Being a teen mom we were young but we had support at COPE. . I am living proof that making a wise choice to go to COPE was the best choice I made for myself and my family.


By Jackie Santos (2007)

Finishing school can be one of your greatest accomplishments. It is a huge example that you can show your kids. Do not let anyone look down on you because you didn’t finish school…be able to tell them YOU DID It! Continue to educate yourself and make a better life for you and your children. Graduating High School is the first step in the right direction.


By Shannon Hiracheta (Johnson) (1999)

I can’t believe 16 years ago I was in school!  Now my daughter is in high school and looking at colleges and preparing for her future.  I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to finish school, go to college, and raise my wonderful daughter to have dreams and aspirations for the future.  Thank you COPE for giving me a place to help raise Halle.  I would not be where I am today without your support.

Teen Moms Making Choices: An Essay by Larissa Camacho

Larissa and JoseTeen Moms Making Choices
Larissa Camacho
Adventist University of Health Sciences

Teen Moms Making Choices
Children having children is often a headline that we see very often in today’s society within newspaper articles, television shows and radio talk shows among others. Teenage pregnancy is becoming more popular and it’s consider an actual problem that society faces; whether it has positive or negative outcomes for the new parents to be, it is still judged terribly among most communities.

Surprisingly; some of these teenagers opt to have children at a very young age to escape life struggling situations, for example, claiming family problems and arguments, wanting to move away from home with a significant other and having a baby will make them stay together. Some teens are not completely educated in the consequences that having a child at a young age can bring and others simply want to actually have a baby. United States is one of the most powerful countries in the world and even thought the government offers free education maybe the information provided is not enough to prevent our country from having the highest teen pregnancy rates among the industrialized world (Hamilton, 2012).

Unfortunately, the outcomes of teenage pregnancy are not very positive. Teenagers are less likely to find family help or a close relative to count on meantime turning the situation into a bigger problem overall; these teenagers sometimes are left homeless and having to find a shelter where they can stay will only increase the poverty rates in the country and costs the government more money to fund these type of institutions. Education all of a sudden turns into a major dilemma, teenagers are suppressed from public schools, not by law but they are highly recommended to find a different option when it comes to continue their education to prevent any chaotic situation or scandal within their facility, teenagers therefore are left with no choice but to leave school behind and find a different job to support their new baby, and of course the issue turns into statistics when it comes to lack of education in United States.

Medical concern is among the negative aspects of teenage pregnancy, bringing a financial crisis for their newborns and themselves when seeking for medical care depending on government funds to qualify for insurance, however, the financial department is not the only worry but the health of teenagers as well. Medical professionals often explain how a teenager’s body in developmental and growing stage is not ready to give birth, which can cause birth defects and even death to both the baby and the mother.

Unusually, not all teenagers are young minded and choose the wrong path, more and more teenage moms are willing to accept help and counseling from community groups or nonprofit organizations that are out there to offer help when needed; this can result in positive outcomes for teenage mothers.
Crime rate decreases when teen moms choose to keep their babies, motherhood turns some of them into very mature young adults and despite of the struggle they are able to find a job to better their financial status and stay away from the streets even in rough areas of the country. Drug abuse also decreases. When these soon- to-be mothers seek for medical help they learn the severe consequences that alcohol and drug use causes to the fetus and themselves; by taking immediate action of the situation it decreases the statistics of drug intake within teenagers.

Joining support groups can guide young mothers to making good choices, it can increase highly their education and knowledge of good parenthood, and increase their skills in becoming good mothers, they can meet other girls that are in the same situation as them, and by not finding themselves alone it can decrease the possibility of depression, suicidal thoughts or anger against the baby itself. Education can be a key to many great outcomes, teenagers who are against abortion but would like to give the newborn for adoption gives the opportunity to many couples that are unable to have children within the country, yet again turning this into a positive outcome.

Concerns among Americans increase every time they hear or see about a teenage mother but with research shows that early motherhood is not such a bad thing, teenagers become more aware of their responsibilities and most of the new mothers are very positive about their future ahead, they understand that their education and other interests might have to stop or change for a period of time but they know it’s not impossible to continue in accomplishing future goals, they do not see childbirth as a matter of life ending, but instead a challenge that needs to be overcome to move on with their lives.
Many of the US born citizens often argue and criticize about the money and help the new moms obtain but they need to be reminded from time to time that millions of other Americans individually and institutions like jails and drug rehab centers also receive far more help, and are also contributing to the deficit of the country.

Thanks to the many organizations worldwide trying to help young mothers, they are becoming more and more successful every day; the latest statistics the US census provided shows us a decrease in numbers. We as citizens cannot stop teenage pregnancy but we can provide with support to prevent further decisions these teenagers might take.

Teen Moms Choose Life and COPE (Creating Opportunities for Parenting Education) were among some of those programs that helped me firsthand 9 years ago when I had my first son at the age of 15. Meeting numerous amounts of people that are willing to help was a blessing, providing me with mental support, donations, wonderful resources, medical attention, education, child birth classes, postpartum birth control, and finishing high school within a county program that provides free day care in the school and transportation to and from home are just a few of the things these wonderful people did for me.

Overcoming the challenge of having a child is the hardest step to accomplish but becoming mentally strong, having the will to excel with education, and becoming a dedicated mother is the key to success. It is not easy of course for teen moms to do this transition of weak and embarrassed teenagers to strong and dedicated woman, therefore, the more help they receive the easier it is for them to reach this stage. As a mentor of, “Teen Moms Choose Life” I get to share my experience with many new moms that come seeking for help, it is very rewarding to be able to help many girls that have potential to becoming successful woman in life and all they need is encouragement. It is very easy to judge, especially when you do not know the person and the story behind them, but God encourages us to look at the positive side of everything that we might encounter, and the same way I met someone nine years ago that help me become who I am today, I aspire to do the same for hundreds of other young females that are in need of guidance.


Hamilton, B., & Ventura, S. (2012, April 10). Birth rates for U.S. teenagers reach historic lows for all age and ethnic groups. Retrieve from

Lisette’s Story…..Class of “08”

Without COPE where would I be?, Possibly on drugs? with another child?, but most definitely without a diploma. COPE gave me motivation to be a better me not only for myself but most importantly for my son.

before COPE I had terrible grades, disrespected my mother, didn’t have a job, and was going down a terrible path. At COPE I did a complete 360%. I graduated with a 3.6 GPA as President of the Class of “08” I started working as a photographer after I graduated and went to Valencia to study Accounting. COPE taught me the responsibility of motherhood and the importance of a child;s education. My son is now being tested for gifted classes in Kindergarten because he is so advanced for his age. He is a very healthy boy playing flag football for the Osceola Kowboys.

When times were rough in high school and I didn’t have means to make ends meet let alone buy diapers or formula for my son, COPE was there and helped me provide for my son.

I am just one of the many young mothers that COPE has inspired to be the best mother they could be. To do without the program would be a tragedy. You would be taking away from the generations of children here in Osceola County that could utilize the help and become amazing young adults for our future…..Thank you for Listening!

Lisa’s Story

COPE to me means everything! It gave me the opportunity to finish high school and make a life for myself and my son. It’s difficult being a teen mom, especially when you are by yourself.

The daycare is great with the kids and I never had to worry while I was in class. I knew my son would be well taken care of. Also, when I was down to nothing, we were able to receive donations to help out. Most importantly, Ms. Debbie’s Parenting classes are the best classes for any teenage mother to take. I learned most everything I know about being a responsible mother to my son. I learned so much that I actually saved my son’s life by learning the Heimlich Maneuver from Ms. Debbie in her class.

Every teen mother in Osceola County should attend COPE and gain the knowledge of Parenthood, as well as getting their education!

Stephanie’s story

My name is Stephanie I am currently 21 years old. I am a mother of 2 children.

I had my daughter at the age of 15 two weeks before my 16th birthday. Having my daughter was hard I won’t lie. Being a teen mom isn’t easy and T.V. show’s like Teen Mom don’t show all the hard times you really go through. Your baby is going to cry, you will lose friends and even family, you give up going out with friends and being able to sleep, eat and even shower when you want to. I had my daughter with my then boyfriend. We met when I was 13 in middle school and started dating shortly after. We didn’t have sex right away but when we did I told my mom so I could get on the pill. After being on it I started missing days taking the pill and just stopped which was irresponsible on my part. I was in 10th grade at Osceola High School when I started showing sgins of being pregnant. I had horrible morning sickness and heartburn. I told some friends but we all just blew it off and said I couldn’t be pregnant. One day I went to my school counselor and told her I thought I was pregnant. She said that by law she had to notify my parents. I broke down, I knew my mom and dad would be upset but my counselor helped me tell them. That day I took a home test and went to my doctor for a blood test. The home test was positive and I got the results from the blood test a short time later confirming it.The next day at school I told one friend and by 3rd period I had people I didn’t even know coming up to me asking if I was pregnant.

I had never considered what I would do if I got pregnant. I never thought it would happen to me. Honestly, I was the girl who judged another girl for being pregnant and being a teen mom. But the truth is it can happen to anyone. My boyfriend at the time and I decided to keep the baby even though my dad was agasint it(which lead to me moving in full time with my mom). His mom wanted us to let his aunt adopt the baby. I started COPE after christmas break of 2006, Osceola High School told me it would be the best option for me and still let me finish high school. I didn’t want to go, But I did. At COPE I had the most amazing teacher Mrs.Debbie and I met other teen mom’s that really changed my life.I gave birth to my daughter Gabriela Jade on June 27,2006. My life changed from that day on. My daughter was born at 2:02pm at Winnie Palmer and was 5 lbs. 11 ounces. Almost immediately she was taken to the NICU. She had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and had fluid in her lungs. Watching the nurse take her was the hardest thing ever. Thank God
Gabby was able to come home 7 days later and has been heathly ever since.

When I first had Gabby it was hard and there were nights I would just cry with her because I was so sleep deprive. There were things I missed out on and things I couldn’t do. I had to learn to give up things I wanted and make sure she had the things she needed. I hated school, As all my friends from COPE knew as well as Mrs.Debbie, I would find any reason to go home. But In May of 2007(On Mothers Day) I graduated High School and started working fulltime at a fast food resturant job. It didn’t pay much but my mom helped with what I was not able to cover. Her father could not hold a job down and after she was born her dad started partying and drinking alot and was not around. My mom basically filled in where he should have been. I stayed with him even though he was never around and always getting into trouble because I wanted my daughter to have her dad in her life. I tried hard to make it work even when the realtionship turned abusive. I stayed with him until my daughter was almost 3. What made me leave was he had not only been abusive to me but he had now started being abuisve to our daughter. I left him that day and took my daughter. I thought I needed to stay with him even after all the cheating and abuse because I thought my daughter needed her dad. But what i didnt realize was that he wasn’t a “real” dad. He was a boy who couldn’t grow up. We as moms have to be the strong ones and understand that we can’t stay with someone just because we have a child together, especially when you are in an abusive relationship. After we split my daughter’s father didn’t have much to do with her. He does not pay child support or see her. I met my current fiance shortly after leaving Gabby’s dad and he immediately stepped up to support Gabby. We eventually moved out of state to Tennessee where his family lives. On Febuary 18, 2011 I gave birth to our son Mason. He was 6 lbs. 4 ounces and 100% healthy. That fall Gabby started Kindergarten. I currently stay home with the kids for now but this fall I plan to enroll in school so I can give my kids a better life.

I have come along way since I was 15 and I have learned alot of life lessons. Being a teen mom was hard but I did it. I learned you can’t make someone grow up or be a dad, and you shouldn’t stay with someone just because you have a child together. You will lose friends and even family but at the end of the day the people who matter are right there with you.

Amanda’s Story

My name is Amanda. I am 21 years old. I have 3 AMAZING kids! I currently live in North Carolina and I am a stay at home mom! I’m not gonna tell my entire story because that will take a really long time but I am going to sum it up for you!

This is my story..
I fell in love with my 5 year old’s father when I was 13. We had the “perfect relationship” except for the fact that my mom didn’t like him or his family and his parents didn’t like me or my family! On January 27, 2006 I went in for a typical checkup. I didnt suspect anything, everything seemed normal! That was until they pulled me out of the room and told me I was pregnant! What? How could this happen? We were careful when we had sex! I am only 15. How am I gonna tell my mom? What are my options? I can’t have a baby right now, I’m still a “kid”. These are all things that were running through my mind at this point. They gave me the option to tell my mom or they could tell her for me! I was so scared and upset at this point that I asked them to tell her while I wasnt in the room! I didnt know how my mom would react, I had promised her I wasnt having sex! What was she going to think? What would she say or even do? When I walked in my mom was crying hysterically. She asked me what I was going to do and told me I only had two options. That was either give the baby up for adoption or keep it! I decided the only option I had was to keep my baby! I needed to stand up and face my consequences! Later that day my mom and I went to his moms house and we told her and his sister.( at the time was my best friend) He had just gotten arrested earlier that day so he didnt find out until three days later!
I was forced out of my school! I went to a charter school in Saint Cloud and was only in 8th grade! I was pretty much told that I couldn’t go there anymore because I was a bad example for the school and students! In March of 2006 I started at COPE! I didnt want to but I did. I met the most AMAZING teachers! I had a great support system! I was able to walk with my 8th grade class in May! But I lost 90% of my friends because I was pregnant. I couldnt go out and party anymore so nobody wanted to hang out with me! But I gained alot of new great friends along the way!
On September 11, 2006 at 3:53 pm, I became the mommy to a healthy 6 pound 14 ounce little girl! I named her Alexis Kay. Her dad and I stayed together off and on until she was 1. He has been in prison since a month after she turned one! She doesnt know him except through letters! His mom has absolutely nothing to do with her. His younger brother and dad live close but dont come see her, they call but thats about it!
In February 2008 I ended up not having a place to live since I was kicked out of my moms house at 17. I had to drop out of school. I had no other choice but to ask my dad if she could live with him for a couple months just until I found somewhere to live. Well the tables turned and he refused to let me see her. I didnt have my daughter for 2 1/2 years.
In August 2010 I found out I was pregnant again, I was even more scared this time because I didnt have any support at all! I was living from place to place. So I moved back to my moms! We went in October 2010 and got my oldest daughter back finally! I got together with my fiance in November 2010. Then in December I moved back to Florida! I not only had a child of my own but I also took on the responsibility of raising my fiance’s son because his mom left them! So I was raising two kids and pregnant with another!
My pregnancy was really rough with my youngest! I kept going into labor from 29 weeks on. I was living in a homeless shelter. We couldnt find jobs or even babysitters. Finally on April 12, 2011 I gave birth to an unhealthy 6 pound 13 1/2 ounce babygirl. Her name is Hailey Reign! She was in the NICU for a week. She was born with pneumonia, and fluid in her lungs. She had to be recussitated 5 different times before she was even an hour old! She was on oxygen, and had tubes down her throat and in her nose for the first 5 days of her life! Finally she came home on April 19th.
The shelter we lived in paid for us to move to North Carolina to live with his mom! On April 20th 2011 we moved once again! We lived with his parents until February 2012. We now have our own house and he has a great job!
My oldest is 5 now. She starts School in August! My son is 4, and my youngest is 1. I honestly believe I would either be in jail or even worse dead if it werent for the support I got from COPE! I didnt finish school yet but I plan to get my GED! I am thankful for Ms. Debbie and the rest of the staff at COPE for everything they did for me!

Lizzy’s Story

My name is Elizabeth, Lizzy for short. I’m currently 19 years old and I am a Teen Mom. I found out I was pregnant in January 2009 when I was 16. Most people think girls who get pregnant at a young age sleep around but I got pregnant with my high school sweetheart, Chris, my first and my only. We were the typical high school couple, on again off again type thing and when I got pregnant we were off. My mom was out of the country at the time for plastic surgery so I had about a week or so to think about how to tell her. I decided to wait until she was healed up and less stressed, but that decision took a turn for the worst. I’m not going to get into too much detail because you’ll be sitting here all day, but to sum it up I turned into her punching bag. It wasn’t the first time but it was probably the worst. She beat me with a belt, kicked me out, called the cops, and since she had stitches and she was swinging at me she ended up bleeding and decided to tell the police I did that to her. So, since the adults are the ones to believe, I got arrested. Even though she left a bruise about six inches long across the right side of my stomach I got punished and she got nothing. What hurt the most was when she said she was happy to see me get punished. Honestly I don’t think I will ever forgive her for that.
After that incident I was scared to tell anyone about my pregnancy so we kept it a secret until I was about 5 months along. Throughout those months we thought about all of our options, both adoption and abortion. Came close to both but didn’t go through with either for one reason or another. The first person I told was my best friend, Andrea (I actually told her on her birthday, ha ha). I really needed someone to talk to about it and she was the only on I could trust with a secret that big. After her was one of my good friends mother, Lori. She actually realized it on her own, made an appointment for me and everything. Lori told Chris’ dad, Chris told my mom, and my mom told my dad and step dad. That’s when the word got out to pretty much everyone and my friends started dropping like flies. Found out who my true friends were.
My relationship with Chris was not healthy what so ever. Most anything you can think of that could go wrong did, leaving me for other girls, cheating, lying, constant fighting, hurtful things were said, etc. but for some reason I stayed. I believed things would change and I wasn’t going to give up on what could be a good thing. I moved in with him and his father at about 6 months, things just went downhill from there.
September 27th, 2009 1:14PM; that was when my son, Michael, was born. 100% natural birth, 7lbs, 14oz. Everything went smoothly and I had a lot of visitors that day. The entire time in the hospital Chris was distant. I had passed out in the shower because of blood loss and even then he seemed to be in his own little world. After 3 days in the hospital we got to go home. I still couldn’t walk well but I had to fight through it because I had no help. Chris would do absolutely nothing for neither Michael nor I. About a week after we got home he told me he was in love with someone else and that he thinks I should move out. Things just kept getting worse and worse for us, and again I stayed. He had an accident one night, 2nd degree burns on the left side of his face, neck and arm. I think that’s when he realized what he was losing. I was the one who stood by his side and took on another person to take care of. He started to apologize and try and make up for the things he had done. We started to try and work things out. Problems continued for a while but then things slowly started to get better.
Today, my son is 2 years old and he is a very healthy and hyper boy, with a slight attitude problem, which I will admit, he takes after his mother. I do not have a job or have yet to start college, but I am an Army Wife (yes, I am still with Chris) and I am also a high school graduate. I wouldn’t have made it through regular high school because I did not have a babysitter but I did find out about the COPE program, and if it weren’t for the teachers, daycare ladies, and the new friends I made I would have never made it through that either. Took me an extra year but in March 2011 I was officially a graduate!
Being a mother is hard, but I would say being a young mother is even harder. You have to be able to juggle sleep, school, social life, a baby, and some even a relationship and/or a job. Money is always tight and you can very rarely do things for fun, either no sitter or no money. You lose friends, family could turn their back on you, anything really. You’ll be stressed, lonely and depressed at times, and you’ll struggle with different challenges in your life, but at the end of each day, it will all be worth it. If you’re not pregnant, keep it that way, because anything I said above, plus some, could happen to you. If you are pregnant, you can’t only look at the bad things, it will only make it harder for you, look at the good. You make new lifelong friends, find people who support and believe in you, accomplish goals you would of never strived for if not pregnant, find out who you’re true friends are, and most importantly, you’ll have a beautiful baby boy/girl right by your side, every step of the way.