Teenage mothers in Brazil find support and hope in SOS foster home

Monday, May 27, 2024


Renata* and Teresa*, two teenagers living in one of São Paulo's SOS Children’s Villages foster homes, share a unique bond: they both became mothers very young. In the face of this challenge, they've embarked on a journey of learning, striving for a brighter future for themselves and their children. 


Living under the guidance of their caregiver, Shirley, they experience a nurturing environment that offers the love and resilience essential for their growth.  


As Shirley, their foster mother, explains: "Here it's very much like a family, so I – as their foster mother - will teach the girls how to take care of their children because often teenage girls do not have motherhood experience, and they don't know how to properly care for their children. So, the foster mother takes on the role of a mother." 


Children and young people thrive when they have a trusted connection with an adult who listens, validates their feelings, and ensures their safety. Such relationships help them to build resilience. Renata and Teresa are living proof of this belief, having overcome difficult circumstances to embrace motherhood together, supported by Shirley, who considers them like her daughters. 


Latin America and the Caribbean have the second-highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world. In the region, 18% of mothers are under 20 years of age


In Brazil, the Ministry of Health’s latest report shows decreased teenage pregnancy rates. However, the issue persists as a major social concern.  


In response to the challenges faced by pregnant teenagers and young mothers, SOS Children's Villages in Campinas, São Paulo, adopted a proactive stance, starting a foster home aimed at teenage mothers in February 2016. The initiative supports adolescents in vulnerable situations who face social risks such as abandonment, neglect, and domestic and sexual violence, among other risks. 


Since its inception, SOS Children’s Villages has supported 61 teenagers and their children. 


Renata, at 17 years old, envisions herself as a future doctor. She is the mother of two children, three and six years old. While the journey of motherhood initially posed challenges, Renata is determined to provide her children with a better life, break free from past hardships, and pursue higher education and a fulfilling career. She shares her dreams: "I want a better life, not just for me but for my children too – to study, attend university, work, and give my children the best care possible. That's my ultimate goal." 


Teresa became pregnant at the age of 12. Initially residing with her aunt and uncle, Teresa's life took a positive turn when she found her way to SOS Children's Villages in São Paulo. There, she found a new family and the support of young girls who, like her, were navigating similar life changes, all under Shirley's care. 


Teresa warmly reflects on the bonds she's formed, saying, "I consider her as my mother and the girls here as my sisters because they always help me, especially when I'm feeling down, offering advice and support." These nurturing relationships are crucial for children, helping them overcome adversities and build resilience. 


Teresa's 8-month-old son, Josué*, also thrived in the new environment. His sleeping and eating patterns improved significantly, positively impacting his early childhood development. "He didn't sleep at night; he stayed up all night," Teresa recalls. "Now he's already walking, sleeping through the night, and eating well." Teresa's dedication to her son shines through; she believes she's a winner for embracing motherhood despite her hardships. 


For Teresa, motherhood brings immense joy, and her son, Josué, is her constant companion. As she dreams of their future, she says, "I hope he becomes a great lawyer, finds happiness wherever he goes, and never strays too far from my side." 


Renata and Teresa's stories exemplify the power of love, support, and resilience in shaping the lives of young mothers and their children, offering hope for a brighter future. 


*Names changed to protect privacy. 

Canadians wishing to help vulnerable children are encouraged to sponsor a child, sponsor an SOS Village or make a one-time donation. Your support will change the lives of orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children. Please help today.