Nephew's girlfriend pregnant

I have a nephew whose girlfriend is now pregnant. Both are in their twenties, but mentally have the capacity of 12 year olds. Both have diagnosis of this from doctors and exams done on them by psychologist. My nephew doesn’t have his high school diploma yet due to so many learning disabilities. Now he has his girlfriend, who has learning disabilities and just living life disabilities, don’t know how to explain it. She is like a child. She still believes in Santa Claus and uses children’s cups to drink from. Her mannerism is also of a child. My nephew is not that bad, except daily normal things like making an appointment and understanding what is said between him and the other person is very difficult for him. His girlfriend has wanted to become a Catholic for some time now. I had to help them both fill out the form to do that. They need to make an appointment and has not done so because they are waiting for another adult to help them. Now you get a picture of them. Okay, on Christmas Day they announced to the family she is pregnant. Both are very scared. My nephew doesn’t want the baby and says he is not ready financially and he wants to do other things in life before having kids. I told him that is why one is suppose to wait to have sex until marriage. He is very scared and still wants his girlfriend to put the baby up for adoption. She does not want to do this. I talked with my nephew who lives with his mother and sister, also an adult, and they took in his girlfriend but she has her own room. They promised not to have sex until marriage, but they did and now everyone knows. When I talk to my nephew, he honestly did not understand the whole way you can get pregnant. He was innocent, very innocent until he met this girl who had more experience. Anyway, now they want to get married. They wanted to also before the pregnancy.
My question is can they can married in the Catholic Church while pregnant. My nephew wants his baby to be born with two married parents. Mind you they are not ready for parenthood, but what is done is done. My sister, his mother, also has her own mental health problems and that household is not well. She keeps telling her son that he ruined her life by having sex outside of marriage and mentally she is having a difficult time with the pregnancy. The girlfriend has yet to tell her mother who is dying. She has lung cancer.

Anyway, can they get married in the Church while she is pregnant? She plans to join the Church later.

Given the family situation and her mental issues, your nephew’s girlfriend sounds like a really good candidate for a maternity home, so that she’d have a lot of in-house support with learning how to care for an infant. Her current situation sounds like a very high risk one for a newborn to come home to. I also suspect that these two young parents will have a lot of trouble dealing with the baby from 1-3 (the adventurous toddler years), but the immediate hazard is the first several months, before there’s a routine, and when they don’t really know what to do with a baby. (But down the road, see if somebody can help them with baby-proofing.)

If there’s no space at a maternity home and you can’t take her in, maybe try some small material incentives for the girlfriend to nudge her in the right direction? If she’s that childish, it might not take much.

I also wonder if there is anybody at Catholic Charities who could point you toward appropriate help for this couple.

Good luck!

What a big mess. I believe that the Church does not marry or approve of marriage for “shotgun” type of situations like this, especially when the couple involved have mental disabilities. If they are this low in functioning, I am not sure how they were allowed to be alone like this. I think the priest would have to be consulted and they go from there. The child would be better off being placed for adoption than to be raised by low functioning parents or even problemed grandparents.

This is a very serious situation, and I think you do understand that. Because of the gravity of the situation, I feel I must address several issues here, if you would indulge. I will answer your specific question about whether they can marry in the Catholic Church, but feel there are other pressing issues.

Your nephew has wisely discerned that he lacks the ability to raise a child. Due to his limited mental and emotional development, he may never be truly ready to raise a child on his own.

The girlfriend, too, you say has similarly limited development. If this is the case, she may not have the capacity to raise the child, and even lack the capacity to understand this. I would strongly recommend that the probate court be brought in, possibly to appoint a conservator for this young lady. The conservator would be responsible for making decisions regarding her and her unborn child’s well being, including arranging prenatal appointments, counselling, and arrangements for child care.

The well being of the child is paramount. Even with the conservator, Child Protective Services may still become involved, and may even take custody of the child. Usually CPS will try to place the child in foster care with family first. Your nephew’s mother would be a first choice, although she has her own mental health issues. Are there other family members who are responsible and fiscally prepared to take the child in? Planning in advance can make this transition period less painful.

Finally, to address whether your nephew and his girlfriend could marry in the Catholic Church, I will state firstly that his girlfriend’s religion, or lack there of, would not be a barrier in and of itself. However, if there are they have developmental disabilities, they may not have sufficient capacity to be married. Married couples are expected to be able to financially and emotionally support each other; this does not seem possible here. The church may not allow them to marry, or may require a dispensation from the bishop before they are allowed to marry. I do not know what conditions may be required to seek such a dispensation.

There are very complicated issues involved. I can only recommend that the family first seek the advice of an attorney to help sort the custody and possible conservator issues. I would also refer you to their local parish. The parish may have a staff member or volunteer designated as the “Child Advocate”; this individual may have relevant training to offer advice.

My personal opinion, and I do not offer this lightly, is that the family should very strongly consider adoption for the child. An open adoption might allow the mother some continued contact with the child, yet not over whelm her.

I also cannot recommend the couple pursue marriage; they appear to have developmental disabilities that preclude them from marriage or raising children in the future. The couple should only see each other under strict supervision to prevent sexual contact. I hate to sound cruel, but for their safety, either the girlfriend or your nephew should move out, possibly to a group home where either could have support for daily living.

This is a very difficult situation, and I can assure you of my prayers. I do not know your relationship with the family, but I hope that you are able to help them navigate this difficult time. This is a stressful and emotional time. Encourage them to seek legal help, and help from a social worker, DPS, the probate court, or parish staff, depending on the situation.

Also understand that you will have limited influence over events, unless you are willing and able to offer foster care or to adopt the child yourself. Do not blame yourself if thing go wrong. I wish you the best, and hope that you and your extended family can find peace and joy in the remainder of the Christmas season.

The best advice is for you and for them to talk to their priest and to Catholic Charities.

We cannot tell you if they can be married or not, the priest must perform a thorough premarital investigation.

P.S. I see that you were a nurse at one time. You probably have more insight into how the system works than any of us. I can only encourage you to use your instincts and training to help your sister’s family navigate this difficult time.

I agree this matter is very serious and that is why it worries me. My nephew doesn’t want this baby but his girlfriend wants it. The two are abusive to each other in words and still they stay together. Their relationship is dysfunctional. My niece, his sister, is 28 years old and said that she would take the baby. She is moving to Virginia, but the girlfriend won’t give up the baby. My sister is mentally sick and some of her views she says out loud and they are mentally abusive to her son and his girlfriend. The household is dysfunctional. My niece is morbidly obese because of problems in the home. She won’t move out because she won’t leave her mother alone. Again, this whole situation is bad. I don’t know what to do. :frowning:

I don’t believe there is anything you can do beyond encouraging counseling for the couple with their priest and Catholic Charities.

Once the child is born, if you witness abuse or neglect contact social services.

Yes.

This is potentially a very dangerous situation for a helpless little baby to come home to.

This is a really hard situation. Honestly, marriage sounds like a horrible idea to me.

Hi everyone,

I hope that in this situation, where I can’t seem to do anything about, you will pray for my nephew and his mother. Things have gotten worse. We are finding out that this girl is very controlling and a liar. She has HIV and kept it a secret. We are all upset about it. I tried talking to her as to why she did not disclose this to my nephew and the rest of the household. She was sarcastic to me and started to yell at me. This was over the phone and I just hung up. She called again and I told her if she yells at me, I will hang up again. It was like talking to the wall. Some of what she said made no sense and some things unrealistic. She has mental health issues. The problem is that she yells at my sister and she is mentally not able to handle this. She is so depressed and she wanted to admit herself to the mental ward. I told her it was her house and if anyone needs to go, my nephew did and his girlfriend. She is being manipulated and because he thinks that he is stupid due to his learning disabilities, he thinks he won’t find anyone else. My sister was asking him and his girlfriend to leave, but my mother found out and said they have no money and will be living in a car to not do this. I don’t know what will happen now. This situation is very sad. I told my nephew once this baby is born and I see she can’t care for it, I will call children services.

I can’t do anything else. I have tried to get her to go to a maternity home, she won’t go. Her parents do not want her and left the state. I told my nephew that says a lot about her. He is so confused. He told me he feels trapped and doesn’t know what to do. He is suffering from severe depression. This girl again hit him and I told him that this is not good and if he marries her, she will be the same. She wants them to get married through the courts. She keeps calling herself Mr. XXX my nephew’s last name. She believes in Santa Claus and other unrealistic things. She keeps saying my nephew is very intelligent with a high IQ and I told her that I know his IQ and it is below average and she just said she only believes that it is high. I told her that she can believe all she wants but it is untrue. She is sick man. i hope my nephew sees this soon. Please pray for him. His first name is Miguel. I pray that St. Michael will pray for him. Please pray for him. He is still angry at God.

Obviously, your nephew needs to get tested for HIV asap. I would be curious as to how she contracted HIV. I know there are lots of ways, but I wonder if she is a drug user or had multiple sexual partners. Is your nephew 100% positive he is the father of this child?

I believe this child is in danger. He or she may be HIV positive and it is uncertain the type of behavior the mother is engaging in. Unfortunately, I don’t know what you can legally do until this child is born. If she is striking your nephew, adult protective services may need to be called.

Many prayers to your family!

You might want to call CPS in advance of the birth, since there are so many safety issues. They can evaluate the girl to determine if the child would be in danger. If so, they might be able to help the girl make an adoption plan, pick out an adoptive family, and so on.
And hopefully the OB/GYN is aware of her HIV status.

I wouldn’t let her know that you called CPS however. We have a similar situation in our family, and even though I wasn’t the one who called, the baby’s mother blamed me for months. She refused to let me see the baby, but I wanted to make sure he was safe, so my stepdaughter visited frequently, Now it is all smoothed over and I babysit occasionally.
God bless.

He was tested recently and it was negative. She got HIV from her mom. She was born with it. Since she lies so much and her mom too, we talked with her dad and he told us she was born with it. She thinks she got it at seven years old but that is when it was discovered. She has HIV undetected is what she tells us. Who knows because she lies too much. She is on three HIV medications.

If I call now, she will know it’s me because I have told my nephew and her how I feel. As you said if someone calls I will be blamed anyway.

If I were in your situation, the very first I would do is to call CPS and ask them if this is something that they can help with. I would also find out if there are any other options available for this couple. Even if they can’t do anything now, you might get some good ideas about other things that can be done, and you can alert them (and the hospital) when this woman gives birth and they can evaluate her then and maybe take the baby into protective custody. BUT if she gets prenatal care, the docs or their office might do something as well, surely they notice how immature and child like she is.
I do hope she is getting prenatal care.
She also needs to inform her OB that she’s HIV positive. I’m not sure if the drugs are good for a pregnant woman or if she might need some changes in her medical regime.
Then, I’d go have a long talk with your priest

I also think that somehow/someway that y’all need to get her out of the house and away from your nephew.

And if she’s hitting your nephew, she most likely will hit the baby as well. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like she can raise a child.

And if she gives birth and they are a couple and plan on keeping this child, I’d make darn sure that a DNA test is done before he accepts responsibility for the baby.

I’m so sorry that you are going through all this, it must be frustrating to have so little say in what goes on. It sounds like one of those danged if you do and danged if you don’t situations.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.