updated 12/26/2007 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 12/26/2007 AT 1:30 PM ET
Jamie Lynn Spears’s hometown promises to continue to be a safe haven for the pregnant teen star.
“We’ll embrace and love the baby, just as we’ve loved Britney and Jamie Lynn,” a close family friend tells PEOPLE.
Connie Brabham, a local gift shop owner and longtime friend of the Spears family, says, “Kentwood respects Jamie Lynn because she could have quietly gotten an abortion but chose to have the baby.”
“This town has watched Britney and Jamie Lynn grow up, and we’re certainly not going to turn our back on them,” Brabham says. “Every family goes through hard times, and Britney and Jamie Lynn know Kentwood will always be here for them.”
Brabham adds that people should not judge mom Lynne Spears for brokering a magazine deal in which the controversial pregnancy was announced. “The word [of the pregnancy] was going to get out, anyway,” she explains. “Lynne was simply putting the story out on the family’s terms, doing what’s in her family’s best interests.”