I’ve been sharing Jane’s* story with you over the past few weeks. I’ve been asked why I’ve chosen to tell her story, and here is why…
To begin, Jane* was kind enough to tell me her story, and give me the consent to share it with you. This was extremely important to me. I wanted to give her the opportunity to share her story, in her words. Her honesty and insight humbles me.
Secondly, Jane’s* story is just one of the many tragic stories I have heard from female inmates over the years. Their stories are complex, and when listening to them, examine the circumstances that lead to their incarceration; you realize just how deep their pain runs.
All I ask of you is to continue to listen to Jane’s* story. Listen with an empathetic ear; open yourself to her experience and think of yourself, the choices you’ve made and the judgements others have made of you.
We continue with Jane’s* story…
At the end of July, the babies and I were in the process of moving into a little house across the street, next door to my friend James and his mom. DHS made another visit, with close to the same accusations as the first time, only this time they included sexual abuse, imagine that! Once again there were some things that needed to be fixed and she did tell me that if she had to come back —-even if the claims were false, she would have to remove my babies. She set me up with an agency by the name of CHUBS-but still no deprived child petition was filed. She never believed that I was an unfit mom or that I neglected my babies.
I don’t in anyway want to give you the impression that I don’t accept responsibility for my actions. I don’t deny for a second that there were problems and things wrong during those two DHS visits. I don’t want it to seem as if I feel that I was completely in the right. I know that there were things I needed to correct. However, I fully believe that even DHS agreed that those problems were not the result of neglect, but rather the result of someone who just plain didn’t know better. My babies were in no way abused or neglected.
I moved into that little house and I was working on getting my life together. On August 7th, my friend James and I took the kids out to the lake for the day. They loved the lake. When we got home that evening I got the news of a job possibility; and, I started the training the next day. I had a bad battery in my car so James and I went out of town to pick one up. We brought Isaiah and Makayla with us and left Christian at home with the neighbor. We got back from getting the battery at about 11:00 that night and put all the sleeping babies safely in their beds. We then went outside to the front porch. James decided that he would go and put gas in my car so that I had one less thing I would have to do in the morning. As he was pulling away from the driveway his mom (my neighbor) called me over to talk. It was midnight and the babies were sound asleep and I was only walking across the driveway —what could possibly happen? The windows were open and I was less than 35ft away. If they woke up crying I could hear them. I never imagined that anything could happen. I was so wrong. My house caught fire and despite desperate attempts we could not save my babies. I tried so hard to save them. I realized I could not get to them from the inside so I ran around back to their window begging them to come to me. Nobody would leave to call the fire department, so I reluctantly left to go to my neighbor’s house. It was only two houses down and when I got back the entire house was in flames.
There is nothing worse for a parent than seeing their children in distress, and being unable to help. As parents we make decisions every day that appear harmless and then (as in Jane’s* story) the worst case scenario happens.
Next week I’ll share the last part in Jane’s* story. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to post them here on the blog or email me directly anytime.
In a few weeks I’ll begin to share with you the stories of our volunteers. They will share with you why they have chosen to give their valuable time to help these ladies, what continues to motivate them, and how this experience has changed them. If you’re interested in volunteering, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re not sure, check out my blog over the coming weeks and hear what our amazing group of volunteers have to say.