Ann Marie's Story                                                                 March 2011
In This Issue

Ann Marie's Story



Dear Friend,
Parents Helping Parents and Children's Hospital Boston are co-sponsoring a lecture next Thursday, March 31, at 1 pm in Folkman Auditorium at the hospital.  Judy Langford form the Center for the Study of Social Policy will be speaking on "Preventing Child Abuse: Building on Family Strengths".  The lecture is in honor of our co-founders, Mike Turner and the late Joan Wheeler.  For more information click here.

We are also pleased to announce the opening or re-opening of parent support in Fall River, Medford, and Southbridge.  Several others should be opening in the next month.  For a current list of groups, click here.  Ann Marie, who has been attending a PHP group, wanted to tell people how much the group has helped her.  See her story below.
Happy holidays.

Randall Block
Executive Director

Ann Marie’s Story
 My name is Ann Marie.  I’m 27 years old and am the mother of two children.  I have custody of my 2-year-old son, Kaedyn, and my daughter, now 7, was adopted at birth. 
I want to share how Parents Helping Parents helped change my life not just as a mother but also a friend, sister, and daughter.
I grew up in Norton, MA, a wealthy, quiet town and went to school there until 8th grade.  My parents were active addicts and a big part of my story. My dad was an alcoholic and workaholic who I rarely saw or remember his presence much.  My mother was a full blown crackhead who lied to her children and husband, stole and cheated not only herself but her four children from a childhood.  DSS and the child welfare system have been involved in my life for as long as I can remember.  I hated them and always made up something to tell them because I didn’t want to be taken from my home.  At the age of 13 and looking for any love or attention, I was attracted to an older man who my mother allowed me to have sexual relations with.  This led to an unexpected pregnancy.  I had an abortion and was confronted by my dad about the relationship which then led me to having to testify against this man I was supposedly in love with.  Little did I know what love was.
The court situation and my mother lying to my dad about her knowledge of the situation led them to divorce after 23 years of marriage.  I then became a runaway, truant, and “stubborn child”.  I ran away to Florida, then to Maine until I turned 18.
When I was 18 I moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island and started experimenting with heroin.  I became addicted and it ruined my life.  A long lost drug dealer of my mom’s came into my life unexpectedly which made my addiction easy and convenient.  In 2003, we had a baby girl who was addicted at birth.  I could do nothing to get clean nor was I ready to become a mom.  I battled DSS for one year, then her uncle (dad’s brother) adopted her and kept her as far away from me as he could.  The pain of knowing that I gave my beautiful daughter away was unbearable.  I used more drugs to numb those feelings.
From then on my life became worse.  I was stealing, lying, and hanging out with drug dealers that wanted to ruin my life.  I went to jail for 18 months for possession of a firearm and crack cocaine.  When I got released on parole on Oct. 17, 2007, I knew I had to do something different.  I was paroled to the Salvation Army in Providence for 10 months.  I reconnected with my daughter’s father and we had a baby boy.  Unfortunately, one week before our son was born, his dad was sentenced to five years in prison. 
For my entire life I had been dependent on someone.  Now I didn’t have anyone to lean on so taking care of Kaedyn was especially hard.  Although I stayed clean throughout my pregnancy, when my son was 5 months old I relapsed.  I went into treatment for 11 months and my brother took Kaedyn into his home.  I got him back on Jan. 4, 2010.
I realized I didn’t know anything about how to be a parent.  I didn’t know anything unless it involved drugs.  After getting Kaedyn back, I met a nice guy in the AA program who was 4 years clean. I ended up pregnant and on Jan. 9, 2010, I gave birth but the baby didn’t survive.
I was a very angry person and had a lot of unanswered questions, WHY DID ALL THIS HAPPEN TO ME! 
Four months later I relapsed again and went into a drug treatment program where Kaedyn could live with me. That’s when I first was introduced to Parents Helping Parents.  PHP ran a group that was different from anything else in the program.  The group really belonged to us so we wanted to be there.  Before going to group all I did was yell at Kaedyn.  I had no patience.  The group helped me realize that I had to be responsible for someone else and that he came before me.  I learned that and so much more from the 1½ hour group.  I learned that I can tell someone “I don’t know”.  I learned that I can ask others for help.  Before, I thought I knew everything and nobody could tell me different.  Now I realize I can learn so much from talking to other parents who don’t judge me and know where I’m coming from.  They could help me through anything with just a little suggestion.  I also learned how to let other people know when I was angry in a way that was OK.
I’ll never forget the group meeting when we did a role play.  The next day I was scheduled to meet with my social worker who I was so mad at.  I told the group I was going to let her have it!  The group facilitator asked if I would like to practice the meeting by doing a role play.  So a parent in the group pretended to be the social worker and I practiced telling her just how I felt and what I needed. The other parents and the facilitator worked through this whole scene with me and helped me to stay in control and to be clear about my feelings without being abusive or aggressive.  When the real meeting happened, I was able to do what I had practiced.  It felt amazing that I was listened to.
In the PHP group I learned that all feelings are ok but it is what we do and how we show them that matters. I learned that when I am really angry, it can affect how I am as a mom. I learned to recognize when I’m angry and what I should do to calm down or get it out in a way that was ok for my son and other people. 
Today I have custody of Kaedyn and been clean since April 10, 2010.  I stay in touch with other parents and learn new ways to cope everyday.  I remember my daughter everyday but now I realize that I didn’t lose her; I gave her a better life. Believing in a higher power has given me the faith to forgive myself.  And that’s all because of what Parents Helping Parents taught me.

Parents Helping Parents and Children's Hospital Boston Child Protection Program are hosting a lecture.

"Preventing Child Abuse: Building on Family Strengths" will be held on March 31 at 1 pm.