This is a story about love — when it is in short supply, and when its abundance overwhelms.
Love like Haley Carlow had never experienced, until she gave birth to her son.
As a former youth in care, Haley, 24, is discovering, much to her surprise, that she loves everything about motherhood.
“I love that I feel so much: the pride I feel when I look at him, his laugh, and dressing him up,” said Haley. “I’m not an emotional person, but these feelings I have for him, they’re so deep and amazing, and it’s weird.”
Haley is the recipient of the Demonstration of Courage Award, one of several honours given out during Child and Youth in Care Week (June 4-10, 2018) by a steering committee comprised of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks and other youth-focused organizations. It’s an annual tradition that originated eight years ago, because of advocacy by youth in and from care. The week is an opportunity to celebrate young people, like Haley, for their diverse talents, accomplishments and resiliency, and show them that there is a community that supports and stands with them.
It was the kind of support that Haley didn’t experience during childhood, in part as a result of her mother’s choices in abusive partners, and the abuse Haley suffered as well.
By the time Haley was 12, the ministry intervened. She ended up in foster care. By then, she had already begun seeking out marijuana and hard drugs. Her drug use extended through her teenage years and into early adulthood, making every day a struggle.
Last year, she found herself pregnant and knew she was in no condition to be a mother. She had to make a choice. With just one bed available at a special program for mothers with drug and alcohol challenges, she took it. Two days later, she gave birth to a healthy, 4.1-kilogram (nine-pound) boy.
“From the first moment I saw him, the love I felt was overwhelming.”
She stayed in the program for two months and attended other live-in treatment programs for moms. She’s been on methadone and clean ever since.
Now with continued support from a ministry social worker and a therapist, as well as attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, she’s planning for her future by enrolling in a work-skills program.
“He’s my sole reason for getting clean,” she says about her eight-month-old baby. “I just want to give him all the love that I didn’t feel as a child.”
She laughs thinking about one of his especially loveable moves.
“He has this way of rolling over halfway and grabbing one of his butt cheeks, as if he’s posing like a little male model,” said Haley.
The joy in her voice was palpable.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development partners with the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks, the Adoptive Families Association of BC, the Indigenous Perspectives Society, the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, First Call and the Federation of Community Social Services of BC to host celebratory events and administer the awards around the province during BC Child and Youth in Care Week.
Children and youth in care need diverse, loving and capable caregivers. Learn more about foster caregiving at: https://fosteringconnections.ca/
Other stories from Child and Youth in Care Week:
Former youth in care uses martial arts to explore his feelings and his future: https://news.gov.bc.ca/17315
From government care to helping others look and feel their best: https://news.gov.bc.ca/17332
Arts and crafts help build connections for former youth in care: https://news.gov.bc.ca/17360