Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily Two-year-old Adalyn and her 16-year-old mom Kennedy Griest share a kiss as they build Play-doh sculptures at their Green Oak Township home Friday, May 19, 2017.
How does a 13 year old survive when she’s pregnant?

A Michigan teen had to learn the hard way.

Kennedy Griest, is now 16 years old with a 2 1/2 year old Daughter named Adalyn.

In 2014 at a pool party, a then 14 year old Kennedy realized some shocking news.

A girl snapped a photo of Kennedy and then made a realization. “She said, ‘Oh my God, look. Kennedy’s pregnant,’” said Griest. “People started asking, and I was like, ‘No, I’m not. There’s no way.’”

Kennedy and her boyfriend has been having sex since they were both 13. The risk of pregnancy never crossed her mind.

She didn’t think she looked pregnant in the photo, and she didn’t feel pregnant – at least she didn’t think she did. In hindsight, the symptoms seem clear.

“Then this girl posts this picture, and my mom was like, ‘Is there any way you could be?’ I (said) ‘No. Well, I mean, I guess I could be, but we used protection.’”

Her and her then boyfriend had broken up and she had already moved on to the next boyfriend whom she had not had sex with yet.

Kennedy gave birth to a 6 lb, 9 oz baby girl in 2014.

Kennedy’s story is not the norm. Many young girls have to rely on Welfare, they don’t finish school and they are left to fend for themselves.

Today, Kennedy is an honors student at Mercy High School, an all-girls, Catholic college preparatory school in Farmington HIlls.

“I want to go to college,” she said. “I want to get a degree. I want to go work……provide for my daughter and be the best mom I can possibly be.”

Life was not all peaches and Cream though, she remembers being bullied and harassed while she was pregnant.

“As soon as parents started asking, once it came out that I was pregnant, everyone was saying, ‘No, she’s just the class whore,’” she said. “But no. Everybody was doing it, everyone I was around. It wasn’t like you would walk down a school hallway and talk about it, but it wasn’t like you were ashamed for doing it. Everyone just was, and everybody knew that.”

Kennedy’s Mom, Wendy Andrews was in total shock. It never even occurred to her that Kennedy and her boyfriend were having sex.

“The way they behaved, I didn’t even see it as a possibility,” said Andrews, who shares her home with her daughter and granddaughter. “We’re as close as a mother and daughter can get, but I wasn’t asking the right questions. I didn’t think it was time to ask those questions.”

Then reality started to sink in. Gried over her daughter’s lost youth, umbrage toward those who spewed hurtful words or urged Kennedy to get an abortion, gratitude for those who were supportive and worry, about her own future.

Kennedy was very immature and self absorbed. “I thought ‘How in the world is she going to be able to take care of a baby? I’m a 50-year-old single mom, and I’m going to be raising baby number six. There’s no way this selfish kid is going to get up in the night to take care of a child.”

The pregnancy created a lot of anxiety and stress on Wendy. “I couldn’t sleep,’” she added. “I didn’t want to leave my house or see people, because people would whisper and talk about us. It was definitely the most difficult time of my life.”

Kennedy thought about adoption, but she never considered terminating the pregnancy.

“I was scared out of my mind, but…I knew I had to do what was best for this child,” she said. “My mom raised me to value all life; everyone is worth something. Everyone has value. To me, an abortion is killing. It’s killing a human being.”

Due to the constant harassment and bullying, Kennedy did not go back to Brighton High School with her peers when school started that fall. Instead, she began taking classes online. She retreated into complete isolation.

Then in October, she decided it was time to stop hiding. Her brother was on the homecoming court. If he was crowned king – and he was – she wanted to be there to see it.

 So she sat in the school parking lot with an older sister and two friends, she sat in the car feeling nervous and sick to her stomach.

“I had this white shirt on, and I had it tied over my stomach just to show, just to be very obvious about (the pregnancy) because I didn’t want people to be like, ‘Oh my God, is she?’ If I was going to come out, I thought I might as well be obvious about it.'”

As they entered the stadium, she made eye contact with a boy she knew from middle school, then kept her eyes on the ground as she walked toward the 50-yard line. She realized too late that she had to walk past her peers.

“I made eye contact with another kid,” she said. “I saw him turn around and then almost every head in that students’ section looked at me. It felt like the everyone went silent.

Then someone yelled ‘w-h-o-r-e!” she said, spelling out the word to spare Addie’s young ears.

The students, she said, continued to shout insults. Someone changed the words to a school chant and others joined in. Former friends and classmates hurled empty cups and wads of foil.

“I felt like I was going to vomit right then and there.”

When she returned home, she went anonymous. No more social media and locked her phone in the family safe.

“I’d been getting calls for a while, from blocked numbers, late at night,” Griest said. “One night, I got over 60 messages…each time saying I was a whore and I was going to hell … all these terrible things.”

Kennedy joined the Pregnancy Help Center in Brighton. The center offers a teen mom support group, as well as parent mentoring and a baby boutique, where mothers can “earn” diapers, clothing and other baby necessities by meeting with a mentor and engaging in parent education programs.

Kennedy Griest checks out daughter Adalyn’s schoolwork at Tot Spot Preschool & Child Care in Brighton. (Photo: Submitted)

Griest recently won an Outstanding Student Leadership award from the Farmington Hills Optimist Club, awarded each year to one junior at each of the area’s high schools along with a $200 check to be given back to an organization in the community. She decided to give her money to the Brighton Pregnancy Help Clinic.

Kennedy decided it was time to tell her current boyfriend. He wanted to know how long she’d known, and if she’d known when they began dating. She told him she found out two days prior.

“He goes, ‘OK well, it makes sense as to why you’ve been sick…just know this doesn’t change anything. I know we’re young, but you’re a great person, and I want to be with you, and I want to help you through this.’”

They’re still together.

Wendy believes her daughter has “matured a lot” over the past several years and she couldn’t be more proud.

“She’s become more patient,” Andrews said. “From the beginning, she was such an attentive mother. It amazed me how wonderful she was and how quickly it happened. She comes home from school and she’s not on her phone, not watching TV, she’s doing things with Addie. She’s a mother first, always. She tells me that, she tells her friends that and she tells her boyfriend that. ‘I’m a mother first, always.’”

These days, Griest stays up to study until about midnight during the school year. And every morning she gets up at 6 a.m. and drives an hour to Mercy High School, where she maintains a grade point average of 3.56 going into her senior year.

Addie attends preschool a few days each week and stays with Wendy. the other days while her mom is at school or at work during the summer.

When Kennedy gets home, she takes Addie along as she earns money babysitting, driving kids to activities or doing other odd jobs. She takes Addie to dance class, where the toddler hams it up, and they spend afternoons, evenings and weekends together.

Kennedy Griest, 16, prepares for the mother and daughter performance during a recital at Theresa’s Academy of Dance, where Adalyn attends dance classes. (Photo: Submitted)

“I know it’s not the ideal…teenage life, but I wouldn’t change it for a minute,” Griest said. “She is everything to me. I’m thankful for each day that I have and that everything turned out the way it did. I’ve seen people who have not been supported, and I’ve seen things go differently for people. I…don’t take it for granted, how lucky I am.”

More than anything, She wants other teens to know they have “more than one option” when confronted with an unexpected pregnancy.

“It’s not something that you should be shunned for,” she said. “It’s something everyone needs to be aware of because it happens and, in most situations, girls aren’t as lucky to have the perfect setup for all of this, the perfect family, the perfect support system.”

Wendy shares the sentiment as well as the well of love for her granddaughter.

Kennedy Griest, left, and her mother, Wendy Andrews, each plant a kiss on 2-and-a-half-year-old Adalyn at the famiy’s Green Oak Township home. (Photo: Laura Colvin/Livingston Daily)

“There’s no other love in the world” she said. “I’m enjoying it so much. Addie is the biggest blessing I could ask for. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s the love of my life.”


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