Brooke Behrman, 17, and her daughter, 16-month-old Avrial Graisyn Hankins, play Friday night at the north end of City Park. Brooke, a Moffat County High School senior, will graduate from the high school today.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Brooke Behrman, 17, and her daughter, 16-month-old Avrial Graisyn Hankins, play Friday night at the north end of City Park. Brooke, a Moffat County High School senior, will graduate from the high school today.

Senior balances rigors of parenthood, academics

photo

Brooke and Avrial sit at City Park. Brooke's high school career was a challenge because she had Avrial early in life, but today, the MCHS graduate-to-be is happy she finished school. She will attend Colorado Northwestern Community College in the fall.

Disbelief was the word that came to Brooke Behrman's mind in June 2007, when she took her first pregnancy test.

The test came back positive. So did the second.

"I still didn't believe it," she said. "So, then I went to the (Visiting Nurse Association) the next day, and they told me I was" pregnant.

That's when fear replaced disbelief.

"I was really scared," she said. "I couldn't believe it happened to me."

The tidal wave of emotions didn't stop there for the young teen, who had just completed her sophomore year at Moffat County High School.

Health professionals at the VNA counseled Brooke about her options for the pregnancy. They talked to her about keeping the baby. They talked to her about adoption.

They talked to her about an abortion.

So did others - a lot of others.

The choices, none of which seemed ideal at the time, were difficult to think about, she said.

"At first, it was like it wasn't a choice," Brooke said. "It just seemed like I had to get an abortion, like that was the thing I had to do. That's what (a lot of people) wanted me to do.

People "told me it wasn't the right thing to do, but it was the best thing to do. They told me I wasn't going to get anywhere with a kid; they told me I wasn't going to graduate high school."

Tears streamed down Brooke's face Friday afternoon when remembering that fearful, uncertain day almost two years ago.

"I just hate it," said Brooke, now 17 and the proud mother of a 16-month-old girl, Avrial Graisyn Hankins. "I hate thinking that I wanted to get an abortion. : To me, the right thing, that's what's right in your heart."

It's been a difficult road, but Brooke has overcome several challenges and is scheduled to graduate today, along with about 140 of her 2009 classmates, from Moffat County High School.

She is graduating on time and with a year-ending 3.8 grade point average.

Brooke, who now lives with the baby's father and works part time as a teller at First National Bank of the Rockies, will attend Colorado Northwestern Community College in the fall. She hopes to someday become either a math teacher or a physician's assistant in pediatrics.

"I like to help people," she said. "I like to help them understand things better. Helping people intrigues me."

Brooke's life hasn't always had direction.

She said her pregnancy was the turning point of a life that had, until then, been centered on having a good time.

She was immature, she said. Sometimes she was moody, with bouts of being either "mad or sad." She ran with an older crowd, went to parties and paid little attention to school.

"Homework and going to class," she said, "wasn't really my thing."

Academically, she earned C's and did just enough to get by.

Then, reality hit home. Bad decisions had caught up with her.

So, she chose to grow up. She had to.

"When I found out I was pregnant, all of the sudden everything kind of turned around for me," Brooke said. "That's when I started thinking, 'I've got somebody else to worry about. Now someone is depending on me.'

"I couldn't just ride along through high school barely passing. No college was going to accept me if that's what they thought I would do. So, I stepped it up, and I started trying my hardest to get good grades. I started thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life because I want (Avrial) to be happy. I don't want her to struggle. : I decided I needed to grow up."

Brooke remained at the high school during her pregnancy. She stayed at the school - during and after her pregnancy - despite the opinions of some, who encouraged her to enroll in an alternative school.

She stayed at MCHS, she said, because she had something to prove.

"I wanted to prove to everybody that I could do the same things every other (student) was doing who doesn't have a kid, and still get good grades and succeed at it," she said.

Avrial was born Jan. 13, 2008. Brooke took care of the baby for about eight weeks before returning to school. She finished her junior year in the classroom strong, she said. Same goes for her senior year, during which she earned mostly A's in class.

But, if Brooke's story is an inspiring one, it's also one that's equally precautionary.

She concedes as much.

"I'm definitely not going to recommend you have kids when you're 16," she said. "It's definitely not an easy thing. If you choose to make grown-up decisions, you should be ready for the (outcome).

"But I wouldn't trade my little girl for anything. I don't regret her at all. You should be thankful you have a gift like that. Not everyone gets that."

For girls who are in the same situation Brooke was once in, she has some advice.

"You can still make something good out of it," she said. "You don't have to drop out and get a (fast food) job. It's not an ideal situation, but you make it work. You don't have to have the worst life because you have a kid."

Today, Brooke's family, along with Avrial, will be sitting in the stands at the MCHS gymnasium watching her graduate.

Brooke said she'll be proud of her accomplishment.

"What will it be like?" she said. "I don't know. Ecstatic. That I proved everyone who thought I couldn't do it wrong. What would be a good word for that?"

She's also quick to point out her time in the classroom isn't over. College is a new challenge, she said, a new goal.

"I just have to keep going," she said. "To me, I just can't quit. When you have a kid, you have to keep going."

Comments

tntangus 4 years, 11 months ago

Congratulations on your Graduation! Many times the baby is a wake up call and each baby is a gift from God. If the birth mother cannot keep the baby there is a mother out there somewhere with open empty arms waiting. Nice story.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.