The moment Missy* found out she was pregnant everything changed.
She struggled for years with drug and alcohol addiction as well as unhealthy relationships. Her life wasn’t where she wanted it to be nor was where it needed to be to raise a child properly.
She called Buckner in Longview, Texas, to explore creating a placement plan for her child. She even met a prospective adoptive family. But, she couldn’t go through with the process. This baby was a gift from God, a reason to get her life together. They were meant to be together.
“When I decided to keep him, Buckner said, ‘OK, how can we help you?’” Missy said. “They extended the branch of help.”
Missy hasn’t touched drugs or alcohol since discovering she was pregnant. Buckner also honored its commitment to her, providing a variety of items for her as well as ensuring she attended her doctor appointments.
Nine months later, baby Jaspyer was born. A smiling, happy boy, he brings joy to Missy’s life.
“My life is very busy,” she said. “It’s exhausting. But it’s perfect. I can’t imagine my life any other way. I really can’t. I’m thankful for every second of my life. I’m so thankful for God.”
Missy knew she had a lot to learn, so she joined Project HOPES, a Buckner program supported by the state that provides education and screenings to parents about child developmental milestones. Project HOPES is part of the work being encouraged by the Prevention and Early Intervention Division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Serivces.
Initially, Missy met Project HOPES Parent Educator Tisha Grotemat every other week. From Tisha, Missy learned how to help Jaspyer sleep through the night and how to connect emotionally with him. Missy was encouraged to talk to Jaspyer and play games like peek-a-boo with him.
“That’s stuff I didn’t know,” she said.
In addition to providing practical knowledge, Tisha provided Missy emotional support. Where many new mothers turn to their mothers for that mentoring role, Missy couldn’t. Tisha gave Missy someone to talk to when parenting was difficult, someone she could rely on for guidance.
“This is critical support,” Tisha said. “There is so much more that takes place beyond deciding to keep and raise a child. This program is just perfect for Missy. Parenting can be very stressful and having someone be a sounding board can be very helpful.”
The support was particularly needed when Tisha noticed Jaspyer wasn’t sitting up on his own at 6 months old. Missy would prop him up, but he would fall forward each time. Tisha noted the developmental delay and referred Missy and Jaspyer to Early Childhood Intervention Services for help.
With their assistance, Jaspyer was soon running around their apartment. He was back on track. He was thriving.
“That delay was pretty significant,” Tisha said. “Had it gone untreated, he would have still been delayed. Instead, he was walking by his first birthday.”
Missy has grown into a tremendous mother, Tisha said. She devotes time to become a better mother each day, soaks up knowledge about being a parent and applies it quickly.
“Missy is doing well with her parenting,” Tisha said. “She always keeps her visits. She’s always prepared and ready. She has worked hard to make her apartment baby safe. She reads to him all the time. She has books around for him.”
Missy credits the presence of Jaspyer for changing her life. She wants a better life for herself because she wants the best possible life for him. He’s led her to reconnect with her faith and remain substance free.
“Since I’ve been going to church and Celebrate Recovery, I have much more of a foundation. I read my Bible. I talk to God. I read my devotions. I can feel God working in my life,” she said.
“My future looks good with Jaspyer, with God and whatever life throws at me. I know now that whatever bad comes, it will pass. God will make it good.”
*Name has been changed for security reasons.
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