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Gabriela's Story


Finding Her Footing in Motherhood

Gabriela grew up in an unstable home — her father’s drinking habit led her parents to divorce and though they eventually reunited, Gabriela’s relationship with her dad remained strained. During her teen years, Gabriela was left largely unsupervised. She began dating a man who introduced her to opioids, which they took together recreationally. This escalated into daily use, and eventually into using harder drugs. She felt trapped, and wasn’t sure what to do.

Gabriela got a wake-up call when she discovered she was pregnant with her son, Liam. Her mom helped her get into a rehab facility, where she was able to find freedom from her addiction and learn coping strategies to deal with some of the underlying stressors that led to it in the first place. 

“I worked hard at my treatment,” Gabriela says. “All I ever wanted to be was a mother, and I finally had that chance. I didn’t want to harm my baby any further.”

After Liam was born, Gabriela and Liam were matched with one of our intensive in-home services (IIS) specialists, Kristina Gardner. IIS provides immediate, short-term, in-home crisis intervention and education for families who need extra assistance and are at risk of losing their children due to any number of circumstances. For Gabriela, it was just the kind of extra support she needed.

“It was a godsend,” Gabriela says. “I felt really alone. Everyone I knew was from when I was an addict, and I lost all my good friends. It was so nice to have someone that I could talk to.”

Together, Kristina and Gabriela worked on parenting skills such as safe sleep and breastfeeding, and put together a relapse prevention plan. Kristina also connected Gabriela with community recourses that she could lean on after completing the IIS program. During their visits, they developed a real friendship, and Gabriela grew in confidence as a parent.

“I felt like Kristina was genuine and that she was here to help me,” Gabriela shares. “She also praised everything that I did right. It was so nice to have someone reassuring everything I did, because I was a mother for the first time, and though I had an idea of what I was doing, I didn’t know completely.”

“The families that we work with didn’t wake up one morning and decide to abuse their children, or to use drugs and have it effect their children,” Kristina explains. “They’re good parents, and they love their kids. They just need a little help from us to successfully parent their children.”

Today, Liam is safe at home with Gabriela, and she is thriving as a mom. She relays her story with tears of joy as she recalls the darkness she came from and the hope that she now has because of the assistance she received.

“I love being a mom,” she says. “You have no idea what each day is going to bring, and it brings so much joy that I never had before. He’s just amazing. I’m so happy that I have my life back.”

Stories like Gabriela’s are common. We believe strongly that preventative services are the most effective way to avoid additional trauma and help families before situations become serious enough that children need to be removed from their homes.