At nineteen I found out the I was pregnant by my long-term boyfriend. This was twenty three years ago. It shouldn’t have mattered that my boyfriend was black, but it did. My parents tried to understand and if we would have been healthy at all things might have been different. He was abusive and I was in love.
I don’t remember how my mother found out I was pregnant but she told me that I needed to have an abortion. See, I had given a child up for adoption at sixteen, so just three years before. It rocked the entire family and my mom wanted this to go away. There was an appointment made at an abortion center and she took my latest paycheck and put it in her purse to go toward the fee for the abortion. There was no way I could do it so I took the paycheck out of her purse and left.
My mother was beyond angry with me. Let’s face it I was no peach to deal with and she was remarried to a man from a very conservative family. They didn’t date out of their race and girls did what they were told….if not they didn’t get caught. That was a skill I never acquired. I always got caught.
The father of my child drove me down to Kentucky to stay with my dad. When we arrived we found that I wasn’t welcome in Kentucky either. I bounced from house to house for a week or two and then he came back and got me. I spent a couple of weeks sleeping in my car. Sometimes he would stay with me but I was alone most of the time. Eventually his mom allowed me to spend the night at her house. She told me that I needed to find somewhere to go. She suggested that I go to a homeless shelter. This thought was so scary but I had to find a place to stay. I was about four months along and I really felt the clock ticking.
One morning I opened the phone book and looked for shelters for women. I was from Woodridge, Il a very nice suburb one minute and now I was looking for any place that would take me. I called several places, and the people were anything but welcoming. I didn’t think I would ever find a place to go. Then I called The Lambs Fold. The lady that answered the phone had a very warm and kind voice. She had a thick Jamaican accent and told me that I absolutely should come and be assessed to stay there.
I couldn’t believe my luck. She told me that this shelter was for ladies in exactly my situation. The house was located in Joliet Il. I hadn’t even heard of this area but it was only about 45 minutes away. As soon as my boyfriend came by his mother’s house I had him take out to the shelter. I was so scared. I didn’t want to leave him and wanted desperately for everyone to be excited that my baby was coming.
It was late when we arrived. The house was dark. I rang the doorbell and a tiny little lady answered the door. It was the kind woman who I spoke to on the phone. She ushered us in and had me fill out some forms. She needed to find out why I needed help and so I told her. I was ashamed that I was in this situation. The father of my child is standing right beside me while I explain that I have nowhere to go. He wasn’t going to do anything to help me. He was probably happy to get me out of his hair. We were so young and he was far from ready to be a father.
I want to say her name was Tiffany or something but I don’t remember even though I can picture her face as though she were standing in front of me now. She took me to my room and I was pleased to find that there were only six women at the house at any one time. That is all it could hold.
The Lambs Fold, took care of us. They took me to the doctor and made sure that I ate properly. There was a schedule that hung in the kitchen that had all of our meals planned out and who was going to cook them. If your name was on the schedule to cook you cooked what was scheduled. On the meal plan there was a recipe attached that we were to follow. I hated cooking there. See I didn’t realise it but they were teaching us how to cook. To this day I make my chili exactly the way that little recipe card taught me.
You see the secret is that you use V8 juice instead of water. You are getting vegetables without even knowing it. It is so funny because see there were girls that wouldn’t eat any veggies in the house, but they sure loved that chili. I was 19 when I was at The Lamb’s Fold and now I am 42. I make that chili at least twice a month and my seven-year old who hates veggies eats my chili. Thank you for that.
We had bible study once or twice a week and mind you I hadn’t ever opened a bible. We did potluck at the church once a week, regular church on Sunday and a 12 step to Jesus one night a week at the church as well. I was loved there and taught to love myself. They went to doctors appointments with me and ooed and ahhed at his little heartbeat. This is what I longed for and they gave it to me.
Since there were five other girls in the house I got to see that as bad as I thought my situation was it could be worse. I watched as women who had, had their other kids taken from them were given the tools and support to keep their babies when they never thought it was possible. When someone went into labor we all went to the hospital and made sure the mommy and baby were fussed over and loved.
See, when I walked into the Lamb’s Fold I was about as low as I could be. When I left I left with my head held high and the tools to not only take care of myself, but raise one of the best people I know.
My son was the general manager of a local ice cream chain at the age of 16. By 20 he was making 40,000 a year at Chanel. He is currently one of 8 Chanel Certified Makeup Artists in the United States. He is a wonderful person, who might not be here if The Lamb’s Fold didn’t exist. My family thought if they pushed me away the pressure would get to me and I would crack and abort my baby. The Lamb’s Fold ensured that did not happen.
When I went into labor my mother and father both came to the hospital. There was no denying the change in me. After my baby was born, my step dad called all of his family and friends and told them that Chris was born and he had better never hear another racist comment from anyone.
From that day forward I was no longer a little girl I was a woman. Thank you to everyone at The Lamb’s Fold. Every year I hang a little lamb on my christmas tree and tell a little story about the people who saved me and my child.