Kennedy Griest was living the life of a normal, popular teen, but after one particular pool party, rumors began swirling that she was pregnant. Then she took a test and realized that the rumors – which had probably started as a joke – were in fact true.
Kennedy, from Brighton, Michigan, was enjoying her summer holidays with pals by the pool. She was about to go into her first year at high school and so was making the most of soaking up the sunshine poolside, hanging out with friends from Scranton Middle School.
Of course, it’s not unusual for girls to take photographs of one another, but when one girl took a picture of Kennedy and uploaded it to social media, her caption got people talking. It read, “Oh my God, look. Kennedy’s pregnant,” and the rumor mill went into overdrive.
Observers had, you see, spotted something that Kennedy had not. So when they inquired about her belly, she started by denying that she was pregnant. It seemed too absurd to her, and anyway, she disagreed that she looked as though she had a bump.
Apart from anything else, while she’d had a boyfriend whom she’d slept with, they had always used protection. And although the pair had started sleeping together at the age of 13, they had actually broken up many months before the picture started to make the rounds. Meanwhile, Kennedy was, it’s true, already dating again, and yet she had apparently only kissed the new boy on the scene.
Looking back on it now, however, the teenager sees that all the signs were there. She had just been on a school trip to the American capital and saw that what she had interpreted as flu was, in fact, morning sickness. She hadn’t had her period, either, but this irregularity didn’t strike her as odd, as she exercised a lot at school, so she put it down to her athletics training. The emotional roller coaster that she had been on prior to then was also explained away, this time to puberty. Hence, speaking to Livingston Daily, Kennedy said that she thought “it was all normal girl changes.”
Finally, though, her mom, Wendy Andrews, faced the music and asked, “Is there anyway you could be?” So Kennedy took three pregnancy tests and went to the clinic – and naturally she was shocked at the result: pregnant. She would have been only 13 years old when she had conceived.
What’s more, when Kennedy’s pregnancy was confirmed, the reaction at school was brutal. Children called her a w***e. Local gossip was rife. It goes without saying that kids can be unkind, and unfortunately for Kennedy, her peers taunted her relentlessly.
She also had to have a difficult conversation and tell her boyfriend. Fortunately, though, his response was reassuring and sweet. He reportedly said, “Okay, 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.”
When it came to her thought process regarding the birth, Kennedy considered adoption but never abortion. In fact, she has strong opinions on the subject. “To me, an abortion is killing,” she told Livingston Daily. And as for potentially giving up her baby, she knew she didn’t need to, as she had enough people in her life to rally round her. She has four older siblings who have trodden the teenage path before her, and her sister Mackenzie is apparently her “biggest role model ever.”
At the same time, Kennedy’s mom blamed herself. “I wasn’t asking the right questions. I didn’t think it was time,” she said. Indeed, she was surprised enough to learn that her daughter was sexually active, let alone pregnant. She also grieved over this time that Kennedy would never get back: the carefree years, traditionally unmarked by responsibility. That said, she was honest about her daughter’s attitude, saying that Kennedy was “very immature and into herself.” She was mainly worried that she would end up having to raise this unexpected child herself.
Meanwhile, Kennedy didn’t return to school in the fall. She studied online as a substitute for her usual classes, and when she was heavily pregnant, she went to see her brother being crowned homecoming king. There, cruelly, other students started chanting and throwing garbage at her, and while her brother’s buddies defended her, she felt sick to her stomach.
Following that awful experience in public, Kennedy quit social media and stopped checking her mobile. After all, she was getting horrible phone calls and messages that told her she “was going to hell.” In spite of this torrent of abuse, though, the teen stayed strong.
Kennedy didn’t have much time to find ways to cope, mind you, or even to get used to the life-changing news. In October 2014 she brought a little girl, Adalyn, into the world. And when Adalyn was placed on her mom’s chest, Kennedy burst into tears. This was the first time she fully understood that “this [was] actually real.”
What’s more, straight away Adalyn – now Addie – answered the call of nature and pooped right on her mommy! And if that isn’t an appropriate introduction to motherhood, then what is? At least Kennedy was reassured that her daughter was functioning healthily.
Kennedy does not want to be a stereotypical teenage mom, mind you. Now 17, she’s matured a lot. She juggles so much, including taking Addie with her when babysitting and while making spare change in other ways she can find. Plus, she drives Addie to dance lessons and supports her endlessly, even participating in performances herself.
Kennedy is also currently studying at Mercy High School, a Catholic college in Farmington Hills, and the institution has welcomed her with open arms. She even won an Outstanding Student Leadership award there, and part of the prize was a $200 check to a community group of her choice. Fittingly, Kennedy chose the Brighton Pregnancy Health Clinic, which was there for her at the beginning of her story. And as she told Livingston Daily, “I get clothes, I get diapers, furniture just for showing up. I’m giving it back because we don’t have a lot of places like that here that are helpful. I think people just ignore teen pregnancy.”
It isn’t plain sailing, however. Kennedy has admitted, “It’s not the ideal… teenage life, but I wouldn’t change it for a minute.” In term time, she burns the midnight oil to get everything done. She does her homework late at night and wakes up early to drive to school, where she is a high achiever. Her grades are good, and she is involved in loads of extracurricular activities.
Kennedy also has ambitious plans for her future. She wants to graduate from university and get a job so that she can be the kind of mom her daughter looks up to. Specifically, she wants to start an organization to aid expectant moms in their journeys. This way she can reciprocate all the kindness that she has been shown.
Kennedy is inspirational and now wants to spread her message of hope and resilience to those who find themselves in the same position that she was in. She is grateful for everything that has happened to her but knows it isn’t easy. But while she still endures criticism and judgement, now she knows to let it go.