Mother Reunites With Family After Overcoming Addiction

Christmas will come early for Dixie Callan.

Callan, 25, will get her sons back after the two were put in foster care by Child Protective Services nearly a year ago.

Callan remembers the day she and her boyfriend fought and the police came to the house. Then came drug tests and home visits and finally the day when the social worker told her to pack up clothes for Jayse, 2, and Joseph, 8.

“I remember putting in a teddy bear my grandma gave me into the suitcase,” Callan said.

Callan, who was addicted to methamphetamine, said it took her months to have the confidence to get help.

Her life has not been easy. She had a baby at 16. Her mother committed suicide when she was 17. She was in abusive relationships. Her grandmother paid her bills.

When a former boyfriend pressured her to take drugs, she did.

But today, Callan is drug-free and confident.

She was one of 175 women accepted into Step2 this year.  Started in 1986, the Reno nonprofit provides treatment for chemically dependent women and their families. It includes addiction recovery, counseling and housing.

Step2 said recent state data show that approximately one in five women in Northern Nevada has a substance-abuse problem.

The program has a 60 percent rehabilitation success rate; similar programs across the country average a 17 percent success rate.

“Step2’s success is directly related to the length of the program and the wonderful community support,” said CEO Diaz Dixon. “We could not provide what we have without the generosity of this community.”

After living in Step2’s group home, Callan moved into one of 23 one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages run by the program.

Donations pay for the low-rent apartment’s furniture, which Callan can keep when she eventually moves out on her own.

“I’m so different than I was when I got here,” said Callan. “I love myself now.”

It was something that took counseling and the support from Step2.

Over the past two months, she has had overnight visits with her sons.  She is working full time and wants to go back to school to become a special education teacher.

But for now, the greatest present this holiday season is spending it with her children.

“It means so much to have my kids with me,” she said. In the next few weeks, her sons, who were separated in two foster homes, will permanently move back in with Callan.

She said she is looking forward to starting traditions and being a mom.

“Just cooking breakfast and watching a movie are things I’m looking forward to,” she said. “I know I can take care of myself and my kids, now.”

The Lamb’s Fold

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.

Stories Of Country Childhood

When I think about the things I enjoyed doing and was allowed to do as a child, it makes me sad for my kids.

I was in second grade and my dad rented a house in Corydon, Indiana.  It was a very old house. No hot water, wood- burning stove was our only heat and we loved it. I have a younger brother who is two years younger than me.  That would mean he was in kindergarten.

The first Christmas we were there, while opening presents my dad came rushing into the house and told us to go get our dog because it was fighting something in the yard. This was common, so we ran out to see what was going on.  Tied to a tree there were two ponies.  We were so excited.  The way I remember it we jumped right on them and began three years of adventure.

Our mother and father were separated.  She was in Texas and my dad had a live-in girlfriend.  She was only 19 or so.  My dad worked all week and some weekends, which left his girlfriend to watch us.  In truth, we were on our own other than the food she gave us and when we forced her to be a referee.

We would wake up early in the morning and half asleep we would grab our ponies and take off.  We set out to discover everything around us.  We traveled down the road in front of our house to see what was at the other end first.

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This the road we rode down.

We had no idea the wonders that lay at the end of it.

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This was just one of the cool things we saw.

A little farther was an old bridge.

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We actually took our ponies across this bridge.  Remember I was only in second grade and my brother was in kindergarten.  Below this bridge we liked to use inner tubes to ride the rapids.  This is Indian Creek, which wrapped around White Cloud.

One day we went down to the creek where it ran in front of our house and we caught Bobby Knight, the famously angry coach of Indiana University Basketball. We wouldn’t leave him alone because it was like running into a huge celebrity.  I guess he was pretty huge.

This was a huge deal.

Here is a better picture of him.

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So after we annoyed him forever he gave us two mud dogs that he caught that day.  With fishing line tied around their necks, he told us to take them to our dad.  We hadn’t seen one before.  If you haven’t check it out.

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A mud dog is a catfish with legs and a long tail.

At home, we ran into the house and presented these two fish to our father.  We were so excited.  Our dad shared his love of college basketball with us, so we just knew he was going to think it was pretty cool that Bobby Knight had given us something to give him.  He thought it was really cool that we ran into the famed coach but the mud dogs were not provoking excitement at all.  We thought we discovered a whole new species. We were adventurers, weren’t we?

Our dad told us to take them back to the coach, but we were too scared.  He had his brand new pickup truck parked across from our house where the path to the creek was.  To our horror, he took the two creatures and put them in the back of his truck.  I bet Mr. Knight wasn’t too excited about that.  It sure did make for a great family story, though.

There were countless nights that we would go down to the creek to fish all night long.  It was nothing to us.  We built a fire to stay warm and keep the bugs away.  In the morning ,we would ride our ponies back to the house and go to sleep.

Our ponies were always getting loose.  We had barns and no matter what we did to keep them secure they always found a way out.  When that happen we had to find them.  Somehow we always did.

These are just a few of the amazing times we had together.  I cannot imagine letting my first grader who in the fall will be in second grade do any of these things.  We don’t live in the country anymore, maybe it would be different if we did.

Thanks Dad for allowing us to do these things.  It was awesome.