The first time Elizabeth utilized Family & Children’s Services of Mid-Michigan, she was 17-years-old and pregnant.

She was also at a standstill with her parents. They weren’t taking the baby news well.

“My parents were not too happy with me,” Elizabeth said. “They were like, ‘How did my A-plus student with a scholarship to MSU become a pregnant teen?’ They had a hard time with it.”

Wrestling with the idea of their daughter having a baby at a young age, Elizabeth’s parents told her that she needed to put the baby up for adoption. But Elizabeth wanted to keep her child.

She didn’t know what to do—or how to make her voice heard.

In It Together

Elizabeth’s parents contacted Christian Services, who advised them to contact Family & Children’s Services of Mid-Michigan (FCS) to walk alongside the family.

FCS is a partner agency of United Way of Midland County. United Way funds help support FCS services and assists in making these services—like high-quality counseling— accessible to the community.

“We needed family counseling to get on the same page,” Elizabeth said. “At first, my parents went separate from me. Then we went together.”

At FCS, she found the support she needed.

“I felt like someone was on my side,” she said. “There were a lot of decisions to be made and they helped counsel us through.”

Elizabeth said without the intervention of FCS, she would not have been able to use her voice to make the decision to keep her baby.

“I probably would have let my dad bully me into giving up my child, and I would have regretted that,” she said. “My parents and I wouldn’t have gotten back to the great relationship we had.”

She kept her baby. Her son is now almost 30-years-old.

Unwrapping the Layers

During her solo counseling sessions, it was also revealed that Elizabeth had been sexually abused as a child by a neighbor.

“I hadn’t ever told my parents that I was sexually abused,” she said. “Nobody knew. Counseling brought out what happened. My parents gained knowledge that they didn’t have about their child. It gave them tools to make decisions and to see me as a human having another human instead of an awful person.”

Thanks to FCS, Elizabeth was able to change her view of herself.

“I gained the ability to have self-confidence,” she said. “I realized I wasn’t a bad person. I could make better decisions for my child and myself. When my parents found out, I was basically the worst person on the planet. But Family & Children’s Services gave me the confidence to tell them what had happened when I was younger.”

She said without counseling through FCS, her relationship with her parents would be different.

“I don’t think my relationship would be good and I wouldn’t have forgiven them,” said. “They may not have known what happened when I was younger.”

Saving the Future

Nowadays, Elizabeth has served as a volunteer with FCS. She encourages people to call FCS—especially if they were in a similar situation to what she experienced.

“It’s going to be OK,” she said. “You are not a bad person. There are people there who are not going to judge you. They are kind and caring.”

She said the agency helped her find her voice—and their services are needed more than ever.

“Family & Children’s Services is a very, very needed part of the community,” she said. “Unfortunately, people are still assaulted, people still need counseling, and people need a voice. Family & Children’s Services help people find a voice. They are saving the future.”

By supporting United Way, community members can ensure that programs and agencies like FCS have the resources they need to best come alongside our neighbors.

Lives like Elizabeth’s are changed through these United Way partner agencies and programs. We are stronger together.