My name is Jamie, at the age of 18 I was pregnant with my first child. I was excited to be a mom but never expected the worst. I met a guy that I left an abusive relationship for, he was my first true love and I couldn’t see my life without him. Well things can change in the blink of an eye. My first son was born April 23, 2004. June 5, 2004 my son was dead from shaken baby syndrome. I spent two weeks at the hospital seeing him 99% brain dead, catheter in his head from so much swelling on the brain and on a vent. I was in denial and didn’t want to believe the father of my child did this to our son. He was arrested and was bonded out. There was a protective order placed but we broke it, and I got pregnant with my second son. It was rough dealing with the trial, which lasted 3 days. Hearing on the confession tape that he shook our son like he had sticks in his hands was the worst feelings a mother could feel. That’s when I knew. Here I was sitting on the stand in front of a judge, my son’s dad, prosecutors, etc. and I knew I was going to be a single mom. I knew I had a struggle in front of me but I was willing to except that. My son and I were by ourselves for two years then I started dating a guy that was good to me, so I moved in with him. He loved my son like his own and would do anything for me and him but our friendship was too strong to be a couple. I thought it would be fun to have a one night stand, and got pregnant with my first daughter. Her dad abused me and was ok with that, I thought that was love. He threatened to kill her so I decided to place her for adoption. I was scared, hurt, angry, but I felt like I had to protect her. A year and some months later is when I found my first husband. Not the best decision I have made but didn’t see it at the time, I got pregnant with my third son on the first night. I couldn’t see the worst because I leaned on guys for love, I can admit that now, but then I couldn’t. I didn’t have the love growing up. A lot of abuse in the home. My dad drank a lot and my mom stayed home. My brother had a lot of behavior issues that he would hit my mom and dad. At the age of seven my mom and dad separated. From seven to fifteen it was nothing but moving around and being homeless and living the street life. Seeing my mom on drugs and sleeping with lots of guys who abused us was my life until my dad got custody of my sister and me at the age of fifteen. CPS gave my mom two choices, one going to jail or give custody to my dad. She packed up her stuff and her last words to me were, “have a nice life fat bitch.” That’s not what a fifteen year old broken teen wants to hear. I never knew how bad my dad was sick. Depression kicked in, and I tried committing suicide multiple times. I was very rebellious, mad, and angry, hurt, and had an attitude out of this world. Back to my third son, this guy I was so in love with walked out after the first week. Thought it would be okay, things will change (at least I thought they would). He wasn’t there at the doctor when I found out I was having his baby. I thought with me being pregnant it would make him change and want to be with me. I let him back into my life after a few days, not knowing at that time he was already cheating on me and doing drugs. As time went on we started arguing and he would leave then I would let him back. It started with shoving and hurtful words. I was wanting to be loved so bad that I thought ok I’ll let him back and things will change, which was not the case. Things went well for a couple of weeks then it ended both of us in Marion County jail. I’m seven months pregnant in preterm labor and all I’m hearing is if I have this baby while I’m there he’ll go to the state. The stress from that wasn’t helping my preterm labor. Luckily I was out of jail, but CPS got involved and investigated. It wasn’t the best feeling of worrying about losing your kids when you’re working to provide for your two year old son and an unborn child. Here I’m making excuses for a man that walked out on me, was on drugs, and didn’t love me. But had a little bit of faith kept me with him. I wanted that love. After my son was born I worked 16 hour shifts a lot I would come home be up all night without his help. I would wake him up but he would get mad and ignore me. I was at a point of what did I put myself into. But I was determined to provide and be the best mother I could be. I promised myself I would never be like my mom. So I just let it go and put my kids first. The depression got worse, my anxiety was making me pass out, had constant headaches, chest pain, stomach aches, etc. I lived with the guy I couldn’t date because of our friendship being so strong. Shortly after my son was born I got my own place with the guy I loved and my two children. We never used protection. Got pregnant again, found out first part of January of 2009. Mid-January I was being rushed to Methodist hospital, I was losing my child to ectopic pregnancy, the worst pain and feeling ever. Was rushed into emergency surgery where I lost my baby and my tube. Depression got worse but pushed it off because I had to be strong for my kids. Not even a month later I found out I was pregnant again. One morning I received a phone call saying I was possibly having another ectopic pregnancy, which was scary. I was put through so many ultrasounds, blood work, and every other day to check my beta HCG levels. Thank god I was able to carry her. Between all this he was walking out whenever he wanted to losing job after job. Stress level was going up, but I always found a way to pull through because I had my kids to provide for. Then here came the denying of his daughter. I was a “slut, cunt, bitch,” everything but a white girl. I was losing my house on top of that and my job. I wanted a relationship with my mom so I contacted her. She would always say I will be there. I was vulnerable so I believed her. Thought she had changed but she didn’t. At first she was doing well, she was there but if I didn’t give her money for cigarettes, pop, and pills, she would call me a “fat bitch, I wasn’t her daughter, I was no good,” etc. So on top of not having the guy I loved in my life now I had another person tearing me down and still trying to stay strong for my babies. As time went on I got sick of him walking out and cheating on me, so I thought giving him a dose of his own medicine would solve the problem. Not at all just added more stress. I had to move again, find another job, and still provide for my kids. He would do well for a couple weeks then our so called relationship would go south. By this time I was wearing myself out but still telling myself that I needed to stay strong for my babies. I noticed I was crying on a daily basis crying out to Jesus to take some of the stress off. Please just let me find a way to provide for my babies. I wasn’t taking care of myself. Before I knew it I was having to find another place and job. Their dad was charging me to watch his own kids then would leave after I gave him the money. Then I noticed he was stealing, and the mind games and lies were worse, and the name calling. So I moved into a house which I was excited that my kids would have their own yard to play in. Being a single mom, working 16 hour shifts day by day got difficult. My second son has ADHD, so he was acting out so my other two children thought it was okay to act like that. Things were not stable, I was worried about losing my job. If I had a babysitter when would the guy I loved so much would come back. Six months of him laying up in a hotel with a prostitute, he denied all of his children. I was so angry at him. My mom started back in my life then it became a money issue again. I was fed up that up that I spoke my mind to her. My brother made a threat to burn my house down with my children in it. I made a police report, he was running on a warrant so he went to prison. The next thing I know CPS was back at my house again, by this time I knew I had to make a decision for my kids to better their lives. I contacted KidsFirst Adoption Services, so CPS did not intervene because of that. I was so stressed out, scared, worried, hurt, depressed that my mind couldn’t focus. After speaking with the agency I knew I finally had someone that cared. I was at a point I didn’t know how my kids were going to eat, how I was going to eat, or if I was going to lose my house and job again. I lost my car so it was hard to find work. In May of 2012 I placed my 2 year old daughter and 3 year old son for adoption. Then in August of 2012 I placed my oldest son, age 7, for adoption as well. It was a hard decision but I don’t regret it knowing that my children have a stable and happy home where they can be successful. It was hard to admit that I couldn’t provide for my kids. I didn’t want my kids seeing the things I did as a child. The nights I would cry on frustration of not being able to be stable, being loved, why I was not good enough for anyone, and why I couldn’t be successful, especially working the hours I was working. The agency was my support of faith. I knew I could call and they would listen and reach out the hand of understanding. I didn’t know which way to turn but the agency helped me and supported me through the process. The compassion, love, caring, understanding, and not judging me was amazing. Being able to make the decisions of the family and my options were the priority for me and my children. I never knew how many options I had until speaking with them. As a mom I didn’t want my kids in the states hands. I was afraid to tell my story at first but the reassuring and support they gave me, I knew my kids would have a second chance at life. I wanted the best for my children. I wanted to share my story to help other women know that there are options. Don’t be ashamed of asking for help or doing the right thing for your kids. You have to put your kids first. My best advice I can give is that it’s okay to turn to someone for help. Domestic violence is not love and it will destroy your family. Please ask for help. You are loved and worth something, don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. I have amazing adoptive families that let me be a part of my kids’ life and keep me updated. Adoption is not a bad thing. I hope hearing my story will touch people’s lives so I can help someone.