“I grew up with parents who were drug addicts and they were there, but they weren't there emotionally and everything. When I was 12 years old, my parents went to prison,” Karlee Knuth remembers.
“I really thought that I was going to go in the opposite direction of my parents.”
The words hang in the air as Karlee begins to share her story. She takes a breath before she continues. Because as Neil Gaiman once wrote: “As we age, we become our parents; live long enough and we see faces repeat in time.”
After graduating high school, she fell deeply in love with a young man. When he left, her world fell apart. A roommate introduced her to methamphetamines.
“It took the pain away,” she confesses. “I loved it because I didn't have to feel. So, I started using and after that I ended up started losing things. I ended up having to move back home and I was the kid that was going to succeed and all these younger siblings looking up to me. I felt like I failed my whole family. So, I just got worse into it. Just deeper into the drugs and the lifestyle.”
She met a man. He also used drugs. Two weeks later, she found out she was pregnant.
After giving birth to Kyler, her subsequent journey is like that of many unknown addicts: paved with good intentions and effort followed by dark times.
Karlee went to rehab. She stayed clean for a month.
Then her dad died. She began using again.
She quit. It lasted three years. Then Kyler’s father got out of prison. She started again.
Child Protective Services removed Kyler from her care for eight months. She kept using.
She moved in with her mom to get clean. Her mom was using too. They used together.
Kyler’s father was released from prison a second time. He and Karlee got back together, and Karlee became pregnant again. Kase was born shortly after.
“It was the biggest blessing in disguise for me because I ended up leaving, this time leaving willingly like this is never going to work with my baby daddy,” Karlee says.
She entered into a drug rehab program and clung to her sobriety. After six months being clean, she started working with Heartisan’s Marketplace, a nonprofit organization in Longview, Texas, that helps women become self-sufficient. From there, she decided she wanted to go college.
“I got into Buckner Family Pathways,” she says. “It was like the greatest thing I've ever, it was just amazing feeling just to know that I was going to go the next step with my kids, and they weren't going to have the same mom anymore.”
The ministry wrapped its arms around Karlee and helped with “a million different things.” A safe, secure home. Parenting skills. Financial budgeting tools. Tutoring.
“There's all kinds of different things that Buckner provides here,” Karlee says. “It's just insane. I couldn't even go on and on about it. I'm very grateful of Buckner.”
Karlee has connected strongly with God, finding fullness in a relationship with him. She no longer seeks the approval of others to fill her needs; she is a child of God. She no longer dwells on her past, but looks forward to a bright future.
“Once you find that unconditional love from God, you don't need that love from everybody else or that man that I was searching for for so long. I was searching for that love in something that was not there. Now that I have that love with God, that other love don't matter.
Thanks to her hard work and the influence of Buckner, Karlee can move in the opposite direction of her parents. She’s a different person. And it’s making all the difference for her children.
“I think the biggest impact for my boys is they have consistency, stability. They see me succeeding so they want to do the same thing and I just feel like the stability and the consistency is the biggest thing, I think, that they – especially my 10-year-old boy 'cause he's been through it with me – sees their mom differently. There's all kinds of things though that go into that.”
This summer, you can shine twice as much hope into the lives of single-parent families than ever before, thanks to a generous matching grant from a donor family to support Buckner Family Pathways.
Should you feel led to make a special investment to be doubled by the Matching Grant, we’d be truly grateful. Any portion of the grant not matched will be lost, so we’re hoping for a strong outpouring of support to help mend more broken lives.