For many new parents, their child’s birth is a day filled with so much love, hope and excitement for all the chapters to come in their lives together. But for some, like “Desiree,” it can be a day of overwhelming fear. While Desiree loved her son unconditionally the second she laid eyes on him, the realization that she alone was responsible for the life of this tiny human in her arms was a lot to handle.
Having a child was not in Desiree’s plans, and to make matters worse, shortly after giving birth to her son, both Desiree’s parents passed away unexpectedly. So there she was – a young, single mother, coping with the loss of her parents and support system, while trying to navigate motherhood with no one to turn to.
So, she made a bad decision. “I was covering the pain with drugs and alcohol,” Desiree said. “I thought ‘What am I going to do? How will I take care of my son?’” Without a car, house, or a steady income, Desiree spiraled into addiction and depression – until one day changed her life.
While under the influence, Desiree took her son into a restaurant where a patron noticed her state and called the police. She spent four days in jail and her son, who was less than a year old, was taken from her custody by the Department of Child Services.
“I was homeless for 30 days,” Desiree said, “Change is very painful.” While she spent time in a homeless shelter, Desiree began working with a case manager from the United Way-supported Children’s Bureau. The case manager helped Desiree with recovery and scheduled supervised visits so she could still bond with her son while in the process of turning her life around.
In addition to supervised visits, Desiree’s case manager helped her find affordable housing and child care for when her son was returned to her custody. While Desiree recovered from her addiction and got a job, her son stayed with a foster family.
Now, Desiree has a promising career, a car and has regained full custody of her son. “Our bond is stronger than ever,” Desiree smiled. “The love has grown so much.”
In addition, Desiree has kept in contact with her son’s former foster parents. “We’re really good friends now. We talk every day,” she said. “I like to call them Nan and Pop! They love my son.” Although Desiree’s parents have passed away, they act as grandparent figures for her son and continue to help when they can.
To anyone in a similar situation, Desiree gave this advice: “Change is the hardest part. Keeping a positive mindset is huge. And work hard. It pays off. It did for me and my son.”
Because of Desiree’s own hard work and change in mindset, she has turned her life around and become the mother and role model that her son needs. Because of you, Desiree had the support, guidance and resources from United Way and the Children’s Bureau that she needed to get there.
Note: United Way fights for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of everyone in our community. Children’s Bureau, Inc. is a United Way-supported agency addressing one or more of these priorities by preserving families and protecting the future of Indiana's children.