Hopeful Beginnings guides teen moms


A board in the Hopeful Beginings office showing various happy adoptions over the years.

By Laura Plata

Hopeful Beginnings is a non-for profit agency located in Arlington Heights that works with teens and women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.

To assist young women on their journey, the team utilizes a problem-solving approach where social workers offer a listening ear to young women who don’t know what they want to do and help them weigh their options.

The mission of the agency, in director Joanne Bratta’s words, is that “every child deserves a good home.” But what is a good home? “Well, it’s one where you teach the young woman how to be a good mom while she’s pregnant.”

To that end, the agency offers extensive support services. Through Hopeful Beginnings, young women can take part in counseling sessions, problem solving groups, parenting classes, and prenatal clinics. Their significant other may also become involved with a fathers’ class.

“We’re not individuals on an island.” Bratta says. “I don’t think any of us could get to where we are without the support of our friends and family. Some women don’t have that family support, so we stand by them.”

It’s giving your baby an opportunity … and to allow you as a young woman to grow and go to college and meet your own goals.”

— Hopeful Beginnings director Joanne Bratta, on adoption

Knowing how frightening it can be, the agency takes calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Two social workers are always available and, in the case they don’t pick up, Bratta will. The organization is ready to do things that maybe no one else would. From providing transportation to doctor’s appointments to helping a woman’s kids get their shots.

While Hopeful Beginnings was first founded by St. Mary’s as an adoption agency, their counseling today isn’t biased towards adoption. Bratta, however, is resolved to debunk some of the myths concerning adoption. “It’s not giving your baby away. It’s giving your baby an opportunity, to give them maybe what you didn’t have and to allow you as a young woman to grow and go to college and meet your own goals.”

Pictures of smiling babies and families lining the walls of the Hopeful Beginnings office make it clear the agency has helped create happy homes. Director Bratta has seen a lot of the teen moms she’s worked with over the years also find great success; whether it be an adoption story where the mother still sees her daughter regularly, or a story of a young woman who chose to become a parent, and is now at the top of her field.

“It’s possible to do whatever a woman wants,” Bratta says. “If the girl knows exactly what she is getting into and what she wants to do, then we embrace that…It can be done with grace, but you have to be ready to give up stuff, set priorities correctly, and have family support that involves education.”

For Director Bratta, the name Hopeful Beginnings symbolizes the organization’s belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyone who may be dealing with an unplanned pregnancy or simply needs someone to talk to, call 847-870-8181 or email [email protected] They are located at Hopeful Beginnings, 300 E. Northwest Highway, Suite 200, Arlington Heights, IL 60074