Victoria's New Beginning
“I’m not alone and I found help for myself
and my baby when there was nowhere else to turn.”
17-year-old Victoria, and her 2-year-old daughter, McKenzie were admitted to the Children’s Home Network on June 7, 2017.
Victoria’s terror began early in her life, and again as a teenager when she made the effort to remove herself from her troubled home life. Like so many young adults, particularly those in foster care, Victoria fell prey to people she thought she could trust, but who intended to exploit her and she became a victim of Human Trafficking. The profound trauma endured impacted her socially, psychologically and emotionally. As a teen mother, Victoria had all the love in her heart to be a good mother, but was unable to cope in the aftermath of her difficult life experiences. For McKenzie’s safety, she was temporarily removed from Victoria’s care, causing yet another profound loss for this young mother to manage.
Victoria and McKenzie were accepted into the Adolescents in Motherhood (AIM) program so they could reside together, with the support and supervision of AIM’s trained caregivers, and not live separately within the foster care system. When Victoria arrived, she had bruises on her face and arms. Her unseen injuries; however, were evident as she showed little interest in taking care of herself, and was fearful and untrusting, isolated herself socially and rarely interacted with others. Her daughter was not reaching verbal milestones, and like her mother, seemed fearful always. Victoria was hesitant to engage with AIM staff, and she was terrified that her daughter would be taken away from her, again.
AIM caregivers were prepared for these common trauma responses and immediately tended to the family’s physical health and daily living needs. Victoria settled into a safe and comfortable place to live with her daughter, and CHN provided mental health and daily parenting support. Over time, Victoria began to relax, respond to and benefit from AIM’s structured home and campus environment. With the support of trained and trauma sensitive child caregivers, mental health and behavior specialists, a staff nurse and psychiatrist, Victoria began to show signs of healing. She learned positive parenting techniques and how to navigate community services such as daycare. To help Victoria prepare for her eventual departure from AIM into an independent adult, CHN prioritized her educational needs and made sure she was supported through one-on-one tutoring.
When the 2017 school year began, Victoria was more than ever determined to regain custody of her daughter. In addition to staying engaged and active in supportive services and afterschool tutoring, Victoria decided that one of her important goals included obtaining her GED and securing part time employment. Additionally, Victoria successfully obtained her driver’s permit, a normal adolescent milestone that is too often unavailable for youth in foster care.
We are thrilled to announce that in January 2018, the Judge re-granted Victoria custody of her daughter, and in May 2018, Victoria proudly graduated with her GED! She is very optimistic about her future, and is appreciative of the support she’s received from the Children’s Home Network. Victoria is enrolled in college, and plans to start classes in the fall, with the hopes of becoming a registered nurse. Victoria’s early life experiences will not define her future and she is defying the odds by breaking the cycle for herself and her daughter.
*The names in this story have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the children in our care.