*Name changed for anonymity. She is a former employee at House of Hope.
"Both of my parents were addicts. I was removed from my home at 10 months old and placed into the foster care system. I stayed with the same foster care family throughout my childhood and was eventually adopted by them. My foster care parent, 'Granny,' was a single woman who raised her own three children and two of her grandchildren. I am the person that I am today because of Granny.
As a toddler, I would go on 'visits' during weekends with my Mom and Dad. I actually don’t remember ever seeing either of my parents sober. When I was 3 years old, my three siblings and I watched our mother murder our father. It’s because of my upbringing, I can relate on a very real level to the domestic violence situations our [Hope Center for Children] HCC children have witnessed. I lived it. I know exactly what they’ve been through.
My mother was incarcerated after my father’s murder and I was permanently removed from her home. After her incarceration, she was placed in a rehabilitation center. I visited her there but she was never able to get 'clean.' Our visits were supervised but not court mandated. So, she didn’t show up a lot. When I was 10 years old, my mother overdosed and died. It was at that time that Granny and her family adopted me.
So from addict parents, to domestic violence and supervised visits, my childhood mirrored in many ways the lives of our HCC kids. I love being part of the Hope Center. Unlike me, these children get to experience their moms as a healthy, sober person. I love that! I feel drawn to House of Hope and the Hope Center because I feel such empathy for these little ones. My Granny said to me – 'I feel like this job is healing some of the emotional bruises you had from your childhood.' She was right.
Each morning, when I come to work, I try to show these kids as much love as possible and instill in them core values. I want them to know this is a safe environment because so many of our HCC children have never lived in a safe environment. We provide that for them at the HCC! These little children want to feel safe. They want boundaries. They want to feel loved. They want limits. They are resilient and they open our eyes to how much love they really have to give every day. Even though they may be with us for a short time, the HCC positively impacts their lives! It’s amazing to be part of a program that is trying to facilitate a reunification between mothers and their children. This program could have been a game changer for me and my mom. I wish my mom had been given the chance, like these mothers at House of Hope, to learn parenting skills and then implement those while living in the program with their children. We’re not just teaching these women how to be good parents or how to deal with their addictions. We’re teaching them skills and then having them apply those skills with their children in real time. They’re held accountable for their parenting because we see them working with their kids. We teach skills during parenting classes, model the behavior, mentor and give constructive feedback and encouragement. The best part about this program is that we give mothers a place to parent their children in a healthy sober environment! I often share just a little of my story with our women in recovery because they need to know there is still hope for themselves, for their children and families. We all have challenges, but with the right support, like a healthy and sober mom, these kids have bright futures."