I read a book a couple of years ago, Cinder Girl by Christina Meredith. It came to me at the most random time, but also at a time that, now, makes perfect sense. It was a time when someone would come back into my life after months of not knowing where she was or if she was alive. If I told you our story, you might not believe it: how our history began in 1984, ten years before she was even born. Here I am, 37 years later, interviewing the biological mother of my oldest son. Our adoption wasn’t conventional or traditional, but now that I think about it, quite possibly could be in this day and age. But this isn’t our story, this is her story.
She was born and raised in a small town in Kentucky. She lost her mother when she was 4 and her brother was 2. In and out of places and lacking the parental support she needed, she turned to a life of addiction. She was 17 when she had her first child with another one not even a year later. She was In and out of jail multiple times with stints in and out of rehabs in between.
LK: How old were you when you first started struggling with addiction?
LK: What do you feel led to that life?
JB: I feel like my addiction was led by lack of love, misunderstanding that I was a little girl that needed cared for and encouraged to be something great with my life. I was mentally and verbally abused from the time I was 12 years old. There was no time invested in me or Devin (her brother) like a child needs to be cared for. I cried all the time and when I wasn’t crying over my miserable life I was acting out in anger. My mother’s side or dad’s side never really knew how to help take care of us, in my opinion anyway. So when everywhere you went or visit, with family, and you felt like the love or affection wasn’t there, you decide to find your own way/other ways to feel somewhat okay, meaning using drugs.
LK: Was there a history of drug use in your family?
JB: There was no drug use in my family that I’m aware of. Dad drank on weekends but that was it and maybe smoked weed.
LK: You were also in and out of foster care, correct? How many different homes?
JB: Six total, two foster care and four family members.
LK: Were there people along the way that tried to help you get clean or get your life back on track?
JB: Yes, there were people willing to help me. Their way of helping, though, was sending me to family member to family member, and I never had a structured environment. I moved so much that I never really had a permanent family.
LK: Looking back, is there more that could have been done to help you? Or what do you think would have helped you the most?
JB: There was definitely more that could’ve been done to save me from going through what I went through but I truly believe I had to go through this to help others and to be the person I am today. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes I don’t understand why and neither will others but in the end we will learn what those answers were. Drugs were never part of my plan for my life. When I lived with my dad’s sister, I never even knew drugs existed. That was at age 12.
LK: Let’s change course. So being pregnant as a teenager and again the next year, first of all, what were your thoughts when you found out? And during those times, did you ever consider placing them for adoption?
JB: I was excited about being pregnant and scared at the same time. I wanted to take care of my babies but deep down inside I didn’t know how I was going to do it. My finances were not yet established, because, of course, I was 16 years old and my so called place I called home was not a good home, so I was scared. Honestly, I never thought about adoption. But I didn’t think about a lot of things that could have been healthier and better for my children at a young age. All I was thinking about was myself.
LK: So you have three kids, tell me about where each of them is.
JB: My oldest is ten and she is with my mother’s family, which are my grandparents. My second child is nine and he is adopted and the third is 23 months and he is with me.
LK: Why aren’t your children with you?
JB: Two of my children aren’t with me because I was addicted to meth and let it take control of my life.
LK: Was the adoption by choice?
JB: No, I never signed the papers.
LK: What were your thoughts on adoption?
JB: I was scared I would never be in my child’s life again. But thankfully I have someone like you as my son’s adopted mother and I am able to watch him grow through Facebook and learn things about him and we have set goals for the future to meet again someday. Also, in my opinion, me and you enjoy communicating about it and we do a very good job at it. I love how you always talk good about me and pray for me and never gave up on me.
LK: Back to the statement about how you didn’t sign the papers, you didn’t come to court that last time. What happened? Were you okay with it at that point?
JB: I remember I didn’t show up because I would have failed a drug screen. I just couldn’t stay clean at that point in my life. I was hopeless and had no where to turn. I was okay with the fact that I knew you would take care of my baby and give him a good life. You had your head on right and a good family so I knew he would be loved by so many people and cared for.
LK: What are your thoughts on adoption, now?
JB: As the person I am today, I am not against adoption because I have been in a situation, too, where I was almost chosen to adopt my friend’s kids because their mom would not get clean. So, looking back, I can see where you were coming from. So I mean, I’m not against it. I would’ve taken those kids in a heartbeat. I will call social services on someone in a heartbeat because I’m not gonna let a child go through that. I don’t care, best friend or not, the child did not ask to be here and they need to be taken care of correctly.
LK: So how long have you been sober?
JB: I have been sober since March 2019.
LK: Was there something that made you choose sobriety?
JB: I’m not sure about what made me choose sobriety. I do know I learned a lot of skills and did a lot of counseling that helped me while I was in rehab for nine months.
LK: What made you decide to get clean?
JB: The reason for getting clean is Jesus! I can’t explain, Lisa, what happened that day in April of 2019 but it was like a light went off so bright that I was completely sick of my addiction, my choices, and the road that I was on. I had completely hit rock bottom. I was to the point where I was ready to give up hope and I didn’t care what happened to me. I remember laying in the hospital bed beside this woman that could barely move and she seemed so miserable but it was because she was older and her body had taken its toll. I remember thinking, man I would hate to be in that kinda shape but in all reality, I was in that shape because I was laying right next to her. I started thinking differently, I had a body that was fully capable but I was killing my body and I could’ve easily been in the same shape she was at 25 years old. I learned that day not to take my life for granted and to treat the body as a temple. This happened when I turned myself into the hospital to get help. I always prayed but never really seen God in action, if that makes sense, and knew he was there but didn’t really understand when He answered prayers or talked back or ya know, typical questions you have for a creator of the whole world, the skies, and the heaven and hell. But I prayed and prayed and prayed and I cried a whole bunch begging for help and everywhere I went, every detox, the rehab, the transition home, down to the community of Hope Housing, He has had someone at every stop encouraging me and asking to hug me and loving on me and supporting my every step. Those prayers were answered and are still being answered. It’s all God’s victory to my Heavenly Father that holds me like a baby, daily.
LK: What do you want to see in the future with all of your children? In a perfect world, where everyone was talking to everyone else, what is your ideal situation? Or hopes and dreams?
JB: Oh my gosh, this is a good one! My hopes and dreams for the future would be for my children to be involved in my life. To know that I once was lost but now I’m found, that God saved their mom! Just have a relationship with them. I’ll take anything at this moment, if they’re involved, I want to be a part of it.
LK: What are your life goals? Where do you want to be and what do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
JB: My goals are to own my home in four years. I do detail landscaping, plant flowers, etc…I’m obsessed with turning something ugly into something beautiful. But I’m working on opening a business for the passing of loved ones, like designing things, such as shirts, coffee mugs, pillowcases, posters, and so on. Something to remember their loved ones. I want to get involved with churches and other programs such as AA, NA, and all of them to support drug overdose awareness…that’s my main goal, to help people in addiction. It’s so sad how many people die every second from drugs. God chose me to save me and I want to help others.
LK: We’ve covered the hopes for you and your future as well as your children, what about your family?
JB: I hope for my family to communicate and love more. I want to be able to take trips and see the world with them.
One of my favorite quotes from Cinder Girl is, “Suffering is not sent down from God above to crush us frail humans. It is a gift in disguise that unlocks the hero within us.” So why did I choose to do this interview? I am hoping that no matter what side you are on, maybe you are a teen mom, maybe you are dealing with addiction, maybe you have a placement through foster care due to circumstances similar to these, but I’m hoping this can give some insight into the mind of a young mother who’s seen her share of suffering, and her journey from addiction to redemption, and to remind us all we have a hero inside ourselves.
If you or someone you know is pregnant and doesn’t know where to look for adoption support, please check out Adoption.org/support.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a foster parent, please visit Adopting.org for more information.