Liya initially came to Abria seeking counseling. Alone in a new country, she was conflicted about continuing her pregnancy.
A community leader in her home country of Eritrea, Liya had fled to the United States several months before seeking political asylum. Soon after, she became unexpectedly pregnant. Through a referral from the Center for Victims of Torture in St. Paul, an agency that provides support to refugees and asylees who have been tortured by their governments, she came to Abria where her needs specific to pregnancy could be adequately addressed.
Liya had several challenges surrounding her pregnancy. To begin with, the father of her baby had made it clear that he wasn’t interested in supporting her in parenting. She was also seriously contemplating abortion because going through with the pregnancy would mean facing the shame that her out-of-wedlock situation carried in her native culture. More than anything, though, she was afraid of parenting alone. In her homeland, when a woman gives birth, her relatives and friends come to her home and take care of the new mom. For weeks after the birth, they cook for her, help her to start breastfeeding, and teach her how to care for her infant. Thousands of miles from home, she couldn’t imagine parenting without that support.
In counseling with Laura Houlton, Abria’s professional counselor, Liya saw beyond her challenges and found both her own inner strength and the outside practical help she needed to parent in a new culture. For women like Liya who are still unsure about their choice for their pregnancy, Abria’s suite of personal support services, including counseling, offers a chance to work through the fears, traumas, and other factors that may be influencing their decision as well as provide practical assistance and education for pregnancy and parenting. In Liya’s case, Abria also provided crucial help in navigating both her unexpected pregnancy and the American norms in which she would be raising her child. For Abria’s staff, the strength they see in their clients like Liya inspires them every day.