At the tender age of 16, Courtney found herself trying to cope with her second miscarriage and, shortly after, also recover from a suicide attempt. She didn’t have anyone to turn to after she left Old Dominion Hospital’s mental health facility in Falls Church, Virginia.
“I was very emotionally unstable,” she recalls. “It was a living hell there.”
Courtney describes her family experience as one of abuse and addiction. She had not seen her mother since she was five years old, and her father, who battled with alcohol addiction was unable to care for his daughter either.
Struggling to find her way, Courtney moved from home to home, living with extended family members, and eventually with her 19 year old boyfriend, moved into an apartment, which she described as “kind of scary.”
She soon discovered she was pregnant again, and shortly after, her boyfriend lost his job. Courtney was no longer a juvenile, but too young to be admitted into a homeless shelter and she had nowhere to go.
Catnice, now age 21, tells a similar story of instability and a first pregnancy at the age of 14.
“My mom held my hand,” she says of that time. But once she was 18 and living on her own, “I ended up not being stable, so I had to go to a shelter.”
Fortunately, for these young ladies and their babies, they sought help and guidance from the Borromeo House in Arlington Virginia, which was founded in 1988 by St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.
The home, which is privately funded, offers a strict two year program to mothers between the ages of 16 and 22. While residents are there, the girls are required to learn financial discipline such as budgeting for their future as well as attend school. The home also takes steps such as educating the women on the health risks involved with future pregnancies to discourage repeat unplanned pregnancies.