A Lighthouse for Those Facing Unplanned Pregnancies

Unplanned pregnancies are surprisingly common, representing half of the 6.6 million pregnancies reported in the U.S. each year.  Most are amongst younger aged woman, typically between 18-24 years old, however, almost every age group across economic, geographic, and racial boundaries are well represented.

Too often, those in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy do not know what to do next, or where to turn. Will the father welcome the news?  Can the baby be cared for?  How can mom care for baby and also pursue higher education?  For some, there might be worry over whether past life choices will affect the baby’s health.  While, for others, pressure from family or friends may lead mom toward abortion, with little understanding of its own spiritual, moral, and significant health implications.

Since 1984, Lighthouse Pregnancy Center has been bringing hope to people facing unplanned pregnancies. Lighthouse operates pregnancy centers in Hawthorne and Hackensack, NJ.  A third pregnancy center, and largest to date, is anticipated to begin serving the Paterson community this fall.

In discussing the history and joyful experiences within her organization, Lighthouse Pregnancy Center Director Debbie Provencher shared a story about a young mom named Maria (name changed with permission), who came to Lighthouse and was truly scared and alone.  After scheduling and cancelling four different appointments for an abortion, Maria knew in her heart she could not go through with it.  Abandoned by her boyfriend and too frightened to tell her parents, Maria came to Lighthouse desperate for hope and guidance.

Two-thirds of the way through her pregnancy, Maria had not yet seen a doctor for prenatal care.  Viewing an ultrasound of her baby at Lighthouse confirmed Maria’s decision that she was not ready to be a mother and should consider adoption.  Having been adopted herself, Maria felt it was a positive option for her baby and worth any emotional pain. Lighthouse provided helpful information about adoption services and Maria ultimately chose to work with an adoption agency.

In less than two months after her visit to Lighthouse, Maria’s fear had been turned into hope. Hope for herself, knowing she could overcome life’s challenges, and hope that someday she may have a chance to be a mother.  Hope especially for her baby, who was placed in a loving home with an adoptive family she selected; and hope too for the new parents, whose own dreams of sharing their lives with a child were fulfilled.

Each year, Lighthouse serves nearly 1,000 women, men and teenagers, offering pregnancy testing and ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy; options counseling; prenatal and parenting education; material support, such as maternity/baby clothing and diapers; post-abortion recovery support; and STD screening.  All services are provided free of charge, as Lighthouse depends entirely upon gifts from individuals and a relationship network of over 40 churches representing various communities and denominations.

Lighthouse also invests heavily in its communities with REALife, an intensive public and private school outreach program that offers teenagers information and real answers about love, life, and relationships. Last year, REALife reached over 2,000 middle and high school students across different communities.

Most recently, Lighthouse embarked on what Provencher refers to as “our biggest step of faith ever” with its pending new center in downtown Paterson.  Despite being New Jersey’s third largest city, Paterson presently offers no other life-affirming pregnancy center to its community. Additionally, the Paterson project will be a first-of-its-kind pregnancy-plus center. The plus represents the unique partnership between Lighthouse and RENEW Life Center, based on their common goal to break the cycle of generational poverty and support life transformation beyond the pregnancy.  Out of shared office space, Lighthouse will offer its traditional services, whereas RENEW will supplement these and provide new parents with life counseling and mentoring resources; along with formal, practical training such as the nationally acclaimed “Getting Ahead in a Just-Get-By World” and “24/7 Dad” interactive adult education programs.

As Provencher describes it, “we see God moving in Paterson like never before, and are excited to be moving there with Him.”

For more information about Lighthouse, visit www.FriendsofLighthousePRC.org or contact their main office, 973-238-9047 x15.

-By Angelo Durso


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