At 14 years old I was lost and confused. I was an addict, self-medicating with meth and pot and I was also pregnant. This was my situation when arrived at Crittenton Services Inc. in West Virginia in 2008.
Before Crittenton, I had been in and out of foster homes that were just temporary places for me to stay – they didn’t really care about me. I would leave them and go back to my mother but things always fell apart. If I hadn’t been pregnant I probably would have ended up in a juvenile detention facility because I had seven criminal charges pending against me. It’s not an excuse, but I had a very tough childhood without any stability or structure because my mother was an addict and was always in unhealthy relationships and my father was in and out of jail as a registered sex offender.
I didn’t like it but I needed the structure provided living at Crittenton to support me in breaking old patterns and to help me learn to be a good parent. On May 5, 2009 my amazing daughter Alexis was born. While I was at Crittenton I quit using drugs, was in therapy and caught up academically so when I was discharged I was at grade level. I decided to go and live with my grandparents in Florida when I left Crittenton because I knew living with my mother would not be good for my daughter and I.
Today I am drug free, happy being a good mother and continuing to pursue my educational goals. I know that I could have ended up losing custody of my daughter and living on the streets as a drug addict and I’m grateful I got the support I needed. It’s still hard for me to believe but last year I was able to testify before a work session of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth in Washington, DC about my experiences and I saw that important people were listening to me and that there are lessons in my life that can help others.
Life is still tough for me but I just keep remembering what I learned at Crittenton, which is to not give up, that I can make it, that I am worth it and that my success is my daughter’s success too.