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Loni's Story

     I was a single female teacher in 2016. I was also a professional boxer at the time. Someone who barely knew me from the gym asked me to help her get her daughter back because she was in CPS custody. Her daughter was 4 at the time and her name is Divine. I told her that I would help her out and I gave her my name and phone number so that the caseworker could call me. The caseworker gave me a call, got my information and then I never heard anything else from her.

     Fast forward a few months later and Divine's biological mom saw me again and questioned why I haven’t helped her. I told her I gave the caseworker my information but never got a call back. She told me there was a new caseworker and asked for my number again. The new caseworker called me a few days later, which was the last week of October 2016. She asked if I was willing to do a home study and background check, and of course I said yes! A week later, on November 1, 2016, Divine, now age 5, was brought to my house. Her biological mom sent me a message and said she was pregnant again, due in January, and CPS doesn’t know about it. I mentioned it to our caseworker because I knew she was using drugs. All I could think about was this baby possibly being born addicted or her giving birth and hiding the baby from CPS. CPS made her take a pregnancy test at the next court date. She was already showing since she was only a few months away from giving birth. The caseworker said that the mother was working her plan and passing drug tests so chances are high that CPS would not remove the baby at birth. The mother and caseworker both seemed very sure about her keeping the baby.

     The mother gave birth to a baby boy on December 3, 2017. He was born prematurely, weighing only 4.7 lbs and 17 inches long. Sometime between December 3rd and December 8th the mother refused a home study, so on the evening of December 8th I got a call from the caseworker telling me the baby had been born and wanted to know if I could pick him up from the hospital the next day. On Friday, December 9th, Divine and I went to pick up Giovanni from the hospital. The day I picked him up, I met Yesenia, a board member for SHOES Ministry, at an ARD meeting and mentioned to her that I needed to keep my phone on because I was expecting a call to pick up a newborn baby. She got my contact information and told me to let her know once the baby was home with me.

     That weekend, SHOES Ministry brought me several bottles of Neosure formula for preemies, diapers, wipes, a diaper bag, a baby bouncer, clothes and some baby shampoo, powder, and lotion. I am on a teacher’s salary, supporting a 5 year old, and now this tiny human. It was the biggest blessing to me and my kids and was not expected! I will forever be grateful for SHOES Ministry. I ran in the SHOES Ministry 5K a few years ago and won 2nd place overall and 1st place in the female division. I adopted Divine on November 1, 2017, and Giovanni on July 25, 2018. Thank you for helping my kids and I when we needed it the most. 

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