We can help you make the best out of what resources are available to you. Here are some of the most common problems single moms and dads bring with them when they first visit Crossroads.
Look into your housing options way before you deliver. Can you live with a friend or relative, your parents or the birth father's parents, or maybe even a Louisiana maternity home? You may also look into living in subsidized housing (may have a waiting list), or finding your own apartment. Look for a safe, convenient, and affordable place. If you are a student, ask if your school offers day care or family housing.
You can earn free maternity clothes and baby items through our MERITS for MOMS program. Earn items by going to your regular doctorís appointments, doing well in school or on the job, coming to counseling or educational appointments, or simply journaling about your pregnancy journey.
The birth father is legally responsible for providing financial support for your child. Louisiana has a child support enforcement agency that can withhold money from his paycheck. Your child has the right to receive this financial support, even if the father opposed your choice to give birth.
After the baby is born, apply for Louisiana child support online here, or visit the Bayou Region office at 1012 West Tunnel Blvd, Houma, LA 70360.
There are also other community agencies that may be able to help you with financial resources. Your Client Advocate can help link you to these support systems as part of your parenting plan.
In some states, the birth father's name is not even put on the birth certificate without the birth mother's consent. If the father has signed a notarized paternity affidavit, he has legal rights just like the mother, including visitation and the right to deny or consent to medical decisions for the child. More information on father's rights and responsibilities can be discussed with an attorney or the Department of Social Services. You Client Advocate at Crossroads will encourage both the birth mother and father to discuss individual rights and responsibilities with each other before and after the baby is born. A child's needs are best met with birth parents working together.
Dads, our Fatherhood page is just for you! Coming soon!
Having a baby does not have to mean that you will end up on welfare, even if you are having financial difficulties and are single right now. It may be more difficult to continue your studies while you are caring for an infant, but many women successfully complete their education as single moms. You, too, can have a fulfilling and exciting career while being a mom. Many of our clients feel even more motivated to succeed once that child is born. You want to provide for her now, but you want even more to be the best role model for her in the future. Donít we all want our children to have more than we ever had? Your own drive and determination determine you ability to live your dreams, not an unplanned pregnancy.
Most schools encourage you to continue your education. Many adult ed programs for parents offer night classes, so you can work or take care of your kids during the day. Some schools offer loans, childcare, and even transportation. You may take a semester off while you adjust to single parenting, but get right back into school when you can before you fall too far behind. High schools may consider you ďhome-boundĒ and send your work home with a special teacher while youíre out. If you have an uncomplicated delivery, your doctor may allow you to go back to school within a few weeks.
Being a parent may limit your dating. If you strive to be a good parent, your child will come first and will need so much time and attention. Some of your boyfriends may not be able to share your attention with a child, yet other guys may not mind at all. Before getting into a serious relationship, consider the effect on your child. And ALWAYS be up front with the guy about the fact that you DO have a child. Try to balance freedom and responsibility. You will still need to allow yourself some "fun time" without your child, but donít go crazy. Never introduce a man into your childís life until you have been dating for many months and it looks like this could be a really long-term relationship.
If single parenting becomes too difficult and you look into adoption, you are not a bad parent. It takes courage to realize that you are not ready for the responsibility of parenthood. Separating from your child would be difficult, but sometimes it can save you both from actions that may hurt either of you- like neglect or abuse. A trusted professional counselor can help you and your child through this process.
Crossroads Client Advocates provide peer counsel and education. Client Advocates are not substitutes for professional counselor.