Sunday, June 12, 2005

Part Three: My Life Is Not My Own

I had begun dating a staff member of the apartment complex soon after my children were removed. After a few months he'd asked me to move in with him, but told me there was something I should know: He told me he was shooting up heroine. About a month after I broke up with him, I found out I was pregnant for the fifth time. I was terrified at the potential outcome of a child born of one parent's addiction to street drugs and the other's prescribed medications, which even the medical professionals admitted were harmful in the first trimester.

Nearing the end of November, I could feel myself slipping again. The exhaustion was worsening and I was again becoming disoriented most of the time. The house was constantly a mess and I was barely coherent enough to send my older boys off to school in the morning. I again tried to tell anyone who would listen, even to the extent of calling the social worker (who had, only a couple of months before, told me how wonderfully I was doing). She never answered my call, but did come out to the house a couple of weeks later in December of 2002 - to once again remove my children.

Some members of a local church who'd give door-to-door bible studies had become friends and asked me to attend their church with them that Sunday, which was four days since I'd lost my children for the second time. I prayed, asking God forgiveness for being such an awful mother to these beautiful children who made my life worth living. After I went home that night, I took about 40 pills of a medication that in overdose would cause unconsciousness, coma and finally death. No more pain. I remember screaming at the paramedics to let me die. I remember pulling out the IV. I don't remember much else of the three days I was hospitalized, but the baby I was carrying somehow survived.

I spent the next few weeks away from my apartment. I couldn't bear the thought of being there alone in utter silence, but I had also quit all my medications at once (of my own accord) and preferred to not be alone. Aside from a few lung-tightening panic attacks, all went smoothly.

I made an appointment with my doctor, who thought I was still taking everything he'd prescribed. I had to lie to avoid a charge of non-compliance with the social workers in charge of my case. My doctor told me that I was doing wonderfully. I asked him to allow me to go off of the medication, giving him no indication that I already had. He refused, saying he didn't want to ruin my current progress and attributed my returning energy level to the children having been removed. I knew he was wrong, as did everyone close to me, but I simply thanked him and never set another appointment.

I returned to my apartment to find that I had been locked out. There was no eviction notice, the rent was only about a week past due. The staff member I had been dating (and the father of the child I was carrying) was a friend of the apartment manager. I was forced, at five months pregnant, to enter a homeless shelter. I wasn't even allowed to remove my belongings until three months later when I got a court order to do so.

I was now homeless, had no car, no job and was quite obviously pregnant. Social workers tried to talk me into giving my children up to the foster family the younger two were with. I'd already lost custody of the older two because I had no transportation to the court hearings, and the social workers ignored my pleas for help to attend them. They instead went to the hearings and stated that I could not be located.

Doctors told me there was little chance my unborn child would be born completely healthy. Even though a series of sonograms came back normal, doctors were concerned about the cognitive abilities of the baby. Social workers urged me to have an abortion, or at least consider a special needs adoption if the baby happened to be born alive, especially since I had been charged with four misdemeanor counts of criminal child neglect over the first removal of my children and was now on voluntary probation (with total compliance on the volunteer program, the charges can be dismissed).

I had no intention of giving up any of my children. I felt horrible for what they'd been through, but I also knew that there place was with their mother. I wanted to make it right - for them and for me. I began to pray as often as I could find time alone to do so. I prayed for the life of my baby, for the return of my children, for normalcy in our lives.

I took busses and walked for miles every day and managed to find a job as a resident assistant at a local assisted living facility. It was second shift, and I had to tell my employer I was living in a homeless shelter when he insisted on giving me a ride home. He was an older gentleman and a Christian and would chat with me often. My faith hadn't diminished in the faced of what I was going through - it intensified.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't get to the rest of your posts. I have only read 3 and 2 but they stop in a weird spot, so I am not sure I am getting it all. And what is this about the wedding.....who's wedding??? I am nosy, and you left me hangin'! Let me know what is going on my friend. We have to catch up soon.
Miss ya,