20, pregnant, unwed: how this single mum in Singapore beat all odds
Love does weird things to you. It engulfs you in a passionate embrace, and throws logic out of the window. It takes you to great heights, the fall from which often leads to irreparable damage of the heart and soul. It was thus that Laura Tait found herself pregnant, unwed and heartbroken, all at 20 years of age.
She first met him through a mutual friend on a night out. She was 18 then, and he, 26. "Looking back now, I’m not sure what attracted me to him," says Laura, who is originally from the UK, but has been living in Singapore for the past 15 years.
"There were a lot of differences.He hadn’t really been exposed to a lot of Western culture or even just the way we do things and act. My parents were not impressed and not happy, they didn’t particularly like him but had always given me the freedom to make my own choices."
Her then boyfriend was an Asian, and cultural clashes were a given."It was difficult at times because he was very set in his ways. The relationship lasted around three years and was a constant battle. I took a lot of verbal and emotional abuse from him and we consistently broke up and got back together again."
"Being a lot younger than him I can see now how I was manipulated so much by him and although all of the warning signs were there, even from friends and family, I took no notice and was 'blinded by love'."
Things may not have been that great, but Laura was trying hard to make her relationship work. The big shock came when she realised that she was pregnant, at just 20, and while still at university.
"I was devastated, the factors leading up to me getting pregnant made me really think twice about whether or not I would continue the pregnancy," she reminisces, admitting that she had even considered aborting the baby, "However, he sat down with my parents and me and promised that he would take care of everything and provide for us and give me that happy family ending."
So did her boyfriend keep his word? Laura pauses for a while, trying to recollect some not-so-happy memories, "I would say the first three months were okay. Then he started becoming inconsistent, not turning up to to the doctor's appointments, even spending all of his money on drinking and clubbing. And basically, not wanting to financially support me with anything."
"We were back and forth again with splitting up for a few months, but I officially ended it when I was around seven months pregnant when he told me he didn’t want to be a father and that the baby wasn’t his," she mutters, her eyes welling up with tears.
Laura thanks her stars for having a good support system, "I was lucky to have my parents support because I was still in university at the time and had no income coming in to pay for any of the doctors' bills or items we needed for the baby."
And then, little Olivia Khiana came into the world and changed Laura's life forever. Did her arrival change things between Laura and her boyfriend, we wondered.
"He saw the baby six weeks after she was born. It was hard because part of me wanted the perfect family, and yet I knew that I was no longer in love with who this person was."
"He would pay here and there and I made it clear to him that if he wanted consistent contact with the baby then he would need to financially support me.", informing me that Olivia's father had a good job with a very good salary, yet complained about providing her and the baby $500 per month.
"He said he would only do so if I would get into a relationship again with him. I said no, and we ended contact when the baby was around six months old."
"It definitely has been a huge learning experience and has put so many things into perspective. A lot of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for the world," she proclaims, visibly proud of her four-year-old bundle of joy.
But doesn't she ever feel a bit lonely, and clueless in parenthood? She responds, "I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of people around me throughout my pregnancy, and since Olivia was born until now. The first six weeks were probably the lowest, and where I felt the most alone. But then I met my current partner, and he’s been here all this while, so I’ve always had that support of a father figure."
We have heard that single parents go through a lot of hell in Singapore. Does she feel that way too?
"Well, there’s not really much of a system here for single parents. I’m lucky enough to work for myself. So, if my daughter is sick or can't go to school then I am available to take care of her," says Laura, who has done her B.A (Hons) in Fashion Media and Industries in Singapore, and now runs her own business as a freelance makeup artist and beauty therapist.
She adds, "Singapore is a very expensive place to live by yourself, let alone as a single parent. It is definitely a struggle and I wish there was a system set up to assist in some way."
What about getting a house, we have heard of many a struggle there? Laura tells us that renting a house is the only option, "Single parents can buy a home if they are divorced or widowed only."
Being a Singaporean PR from the age of 16, Laura didn't expect any issues when it came to Olivia getting her PR. But things proved to be otherwise.
She elaborates, "The whole process of registering Olivia’s birth, and getting her birth certificate to apply for her PR, was just a nightmare. I decided not to put my ex partner's name on the birth certificate because I did not want him to have any rights or access to her.
"For me to do that I had to go down to the Supreme Court and declare an Oath stating that I was a single parent and that I had nothing to do with my ex-partner. A bit extreme if you ask me, but only then could I proceed with her PR application."
It did not end there. Since Laura declined to put Olivia's “father’s particulars” in the application, the process became very stressful. Even the lady who dealt with her seemed rather judgmental. To top it all, she later found out that her application had been rejected. So, Olivia has been on a long-term visitors pass for the past four years, and they have to renew it every year.
Our heart goes out to Laura, who had to go through so much turmoil, at such a young age. But it seems that all is well finally. She has found the man of her dreams, and a fairytale wedding is on the cards.
She can't stop gushing, "Dan has done nothing but exceed all expectations and do nothing but shower us with love, support and kindness. He is just the best thing that could have happened to both me and Olivia. He’s been there through all of the hard times and all of the good times and will always be there."
"It’s a complete turnaround from the last relationship and I am truly blessed. Olivia calls him daddy and we have just bought a house together and are getting married at the beginning of next year."
We asked Laura if there's something that she wanted to tell other single mums, something that they would benefit from. This is what she had to say:
- Don’t think about tomorrow, next week, next month or whatever you’re worrying about. Focus on getting through the next hour and the rest of the day.
- Take each moment as it comes, and remember, whatever situation you are in now is not going to last forever. It is not always going to be like this.
- Work your hardest to give your kids the best you can. Provide for them and let them see that a single parent can do as good a job as two parents.
Well, Laura, we are so glad that you finally found your happy ending. Here's wishing you lots of love and happiness!